Conversion: Faith (John 1:12-13) Part 4 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 01 June 2017

If we are saved by Christ alone, then how does "faith alone" fit in to our salvation? This is where we have to get a little technical. When we add "alone," this is what we should say: we are saved by Jesus alone but we are justified by faith alone. You see, salvation is more than justification. There are effectual calling and regeneration and conversion prior to justification as well as adoption and sanctification and glorification after it. And as we will see later, while justification is by faith alone, sanctification is not by faith alone; it requires also our works of faith (1 Thess. 1:3)--that is, our faith working itself out in obedience to God, which our faith will do if it is genuine. Faith and its works are inseparably connected like fire and its heat. But they are not the same thing.

 

Faith is what indicates that the inner transformation is taking place. It shows that the Spirit of God has blown over us and given us a new birth from above, which is the beginning of that inner transformation. As such, faith has an intellectual dimension: we have to know what it is that we believe. We cannot just believe: our faith has to have an object--that which we believe: in God, or in science, or in fate, or Buddha, etc. And we have to know something about that something to actually believe it.

Conversion: Faith (John 1:12-13) Part 3 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 01 June 2017

One has to be spiritually dead to reject something as good as the gospel of Jesus Christ. As you know, "gospel" means "good news". It is the good news of God saving sinners. It proclaims that, though we are sinners who deserve eternal damnation, God has delivered us from it through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son. This has got to be the best news that can ever strike our ears and touch our hearts when we think about what we are saved from. Think about the worst pain you have ever felt, physically or emotionally. Multiply that by 100 or 1,000 times. And stretch that out for all eternity. It boggles our mind, doesn't it? It's beyond the farthest stretch of our imagination. Our mind refuses to go there for its horror. Hell is not something to joke about. Hell is not something to take lightly. One of the frustrations I have as a preacher of God's Word is that I take hell way too lightly. I mention it too casually. Even when I speak of it with the deepest pathos I can muster, I know that I don't do justice to the weightiness of it. I know it's bad, really bad, but I don't know how bad it really is.

 

 

Even though we will never know in this life how bad Hell is, we can be sure that it will be far worse than our greatest nightmare. And if we can remember what we are saved from, what would be our response to even the greatest miseries in this life? We would laugh at them. Sure, we will still feel the sting. How can we not? Even then, we will not lose a sense of gratitude if we can use it to remind ourselves of how we have been saved from a far greater misery. Someone who survived a deadly bout with cancer will laugh at the colds he catches--he may even be thankful that all he has are just colds! No more bad days for those who are in Christ!

Conversion: Faith (John 1:12-13) Part 2 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 01 June 2017

The problem is that man's natural condition in his fallen state is spiritual death. To be spiritually dead is to be alive to sin and dead to God. In that condition, man gets enamored, excited and energized by sin. But when it comes to God and the things of God, there is just a long yawn, an awkward silence, if not a virulent hostility against God. The gospel to him is foolishness and a scandal. Take a look at today's passage. V. 12 is used a lot in gospel tracts in inviting people to put their trust in Jesus Christ: "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…." This communicates a clear promise that those who put their trust in Jesus will be adopted as God's children. But there are two things we need to notice.

Conversion: Faith (John 3:12-13) Part 1 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 01 June 2017

Last time, we talked about regeneration, which we said is the fancy way of saying being born again. So, the answer to this question should come fairly easy to us. We need to be born again before we can believe. (This is the Calvinist answer, by the way.) Arminians believe that we must believe first in order to be born again because of their view of man's free will (which we will address later). They also want to preserve their understanding of God's fairness. They claim that Jesus died for everyone, but it's up to each individual to receive it or not. This sounds good, but it demeans Jesus' role as our Savior. He only provides the possibility of salvation (for all). He can't actually save until a person chooses to believe in Him.

Regeneration (John 3:1-9) Part 5 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 17 May 2017

Then in what sense is God's love for us, or God's election, unconditional? In the sense that nothing in us or about us is the reason for God's election--not because we are more intelligent or more moral or better looking than others. The reason for God's election resides in God Himself, which we do not and cannot know. This is why the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit seems as unpredictable as the blowing of the wind. We think that some people deserve to be saved and they are not. And those we think should never be saved are. Of course, God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts and He does not see as we see. The varying degrees of virtue and vice we see in people are no more than the difference between a light bulb and a candle in comparison to the noonday sun. We are all dead in trespasses and sins, as dead as dry bones, all deserving of eternal damnation. No one deserves to be saved, even the saintliest ones among us. So we wonder, "Why have You chosen me out of millions Your child to be?" If we dare to give one reason for God's election, there are a thousand more reasons that we should not be chosen in view of our many flaws and failures.

 

If anything, this should strike holy fear in us and stir up godly reverence for this sovereign God. Without God's effectual calling and the Spirit's regenerating work, we will continue to live in sin, following Satan, the prince of the power of the air, not caring about God one bit. When this finally hit me in the second year of my seminary training, I trembled in cold sweat in fear and awe. To think that my eternal destiny would be in hell if God did not choose me to show His saving grace to me! And to think that I had nothing to do with His choice and that it was totally up to Him!

 

 

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