Monday, September 12, 2011

God is gracious, He won't chase you forever

Did you know that you already know about God? That you have known about God since you were small? Yes, you have! God put knowledge of Him inside us all. "Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them." We have a God-intuition, a sensitivity to a higher being that He puts within us, and goes a step further, and makes it evident.

He also makes Himself known another way, as well.

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)

What the verse is saying is that God's attributes of creativity, intelligence, and love in preparing for us such a beautiful planet to live on are clearly seen simply by looking around. The verse also says that no one will have an excuse because it is so clear that God made the world.

He made this place for us, He loves us, and He made a way for us to be reconciled to Him through Jesus, and be made righteous. He does not like it when you know all this, and you deny Him anyway.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." (Romans 1:18)

But wait! There's more! He draw us to Him, too!! "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." (John 12:32). What He is saying here is that "After I shall have died and risen again, by the preaching of my word and the influence of my Spirit, I shall attract and illuminate both Jews and Gentiles."

"The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness." (Jeremiah 31:3)

When men suppress this knowledge, His wrath is revealed. Why? Because He also draws us to Himself, as well. "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44). It takes work to suppress all this knowledge. It is hard to blot out the knowledge intrinsic within us, and external to us, and is being used to draw us to Him as well. Therefore those who suppress it, earn His wrath.

Wow. He goes to lengths and extremes to ensure that all people on earth have an equal chance to respond to Him. However, we know that some reject. Those who continually reject Him don't have a lifetime to keep their option open. At some point it closes. Then He hardens your heart against Him.

"For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.' So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires." (Romans 9:17-18)

He also gives you over to your preferences, whichever sin it is that you are indulging in besides repenting and turning to Him. When you persist in remaining in your sin, after an unknown period of time, He lets you remain in them and refrains from drawing you to Him any longer. See the following block of text from Romans 1:21-28:

"For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."

"For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,"

Three times it says that God gave them over. He gives you over to your lusts, your degrading passions, and/or your depraved mind.

Let's use an earthly metaphor to make this initial pass at understanding the concept of hardening your heart and giving you over.

When you send in a resume for a job, and the prospective employer likes you, he calls you to set up an interview. If you receive the message on your machine, and ignore it, the prospective employer may become perplexed but if he is really interested in hiring you he may call you again. If you ignore his message a second time, how many more times do you think he will call you back? None? Likely. Even if he calls a third time and you exhibit no interest, it is more than probable that your prospects for employment in that company are now nil. And that's OK. That is normal, and we give no quarrel to the employer because the lack of interest on the part of the potential employee was so firmly demonstrated.

Let's say you had a date. You thought it went well, and you called back for a second date. But you do not receive a response. You may try again, and possibly again. How many times, really, will you continue to call, asking for a second date? Three? Four? Too many times and we'd likely call the police and resister a complaint for stalking. So it is normal to quit calling after one or two or possibly three tries.

So why do we charge God with abnormal behavior when He stops calling at the door of our hearts after a lifetime, decades of rejection? He instills within our hearts knowledge of Him, He imbues into the world knowledge of His attributes, and then He draws us to Him...over and over through the course of years. He goes the distance. We have no quarrel with Him when in His sovereign knowledge and power He decides to harden whom He will harden.

When you continually reject Him you run the risk of being given over to your sins, or having your heart hardened. As Barnes Notes says, "None can come at first, unless he be drawn by the Father; and none can continue, unless he continue under those sacred influences which God gives only to those who do not receive his first graces in vain."

Are you failing to receive His graces? Do not think in your narcissism that God is a doormat beholden to pursuing you your whole life. He isn't and He won't. The problem is, we don't know when the moment comes for each person who has rejected Him. I implore you not to take a chance. Don't put it off until tomorrow. Your death may come. Therefore you should "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;" (Ecclesiastes 12:1). In other words, sooner rather than later. The risk is too great.

Just what is a person risking who puts off reconciling their sins with the Creator before they die? If they die in their sins, or have rejected Him frequently enough and are hardened and given over, also to die in sin, then "It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long for ever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable: For "who knows the power of God's anger?" (Sinners in the hands of an angry God")

The call to your heart is ringing now. Answer it. Please.

6 comments:

  1. What about interceding on behalf of people? Is it ok, is it useful to pray for God to soften hearts that have been hardened to him or to pray that God will open the eyes of those that have bought into a non existent God or disbelief in Christ as Saviour? I remember before I truly came to Christ, I could literally feel my heart hardening towards God, I remember even thinking it in the depths of my mind (I had believed in God all my life but suddenly started to truly believe in my heart and my mind that he did not exist).

    I know Jesus said narrow is the way but I have had such a desire to pray and pray for the unbelieving and the lost recently.

    I have another unrelated question that has been bugging me and I could only think to ask you. I have been pondering Ephesians 1:4 ("Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him." NASB) and I've just been trying to grasp WHY God chose me and every other present and future Christian. How did he choose us before time if we have free will? Did He choose us because He knew if He drew us unto Him that we would eventually choose Him? I don't even know if that makes sense because it still seems to depend on our act of free will. Sorry for the random question and thanks for your wonderful blog.

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  2. Hello,

    Thanks for your comment and your question. YES it is absolutely wonderful to pray for people. We are told to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17). We are told to pray for each other (James 5:16b) We are even told to pray for those who persecute us (Mt 5:44).

    Zacharias was an old, old man when the angel appeared and told him that "your prayer is heard."

    What was that prayer? For he and his wife to have a child. Now, Zacharias was an old man and his wife was greatly advanced in years. Do you suppose that their prayer for a child had dwindled out long ago? Yet the angel says in the present tense, '"But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John." Luke 1:13.

    God hears prayers. He may take a while to answer, but he hears them! They are a sweet incense to Him. Please keep praying!

    As for your question about choosing us, you are referring to the Doctrine of Election. It is the most controversial and anger-inducing, denomination-splitting doctrine there is in the bible. But it doesn't have to be. The bible is clear on it, even though the clarity it offers is beyond our understanding!

    Anonymous, I will answer your good question but it will have to wait until tomorrow. It will take at least an hour to write it. Tomorrow, then! And I am off to bed.

    ReplyDelete
  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jza0f_VPG7M&list=PLCDB844A9113F938C&index=3

    Charles Spurgeon Sermon - Sovereign Grace and Man's Responsibility / Romans 10:20-21

    This is one of the best sermons I've heard on Anonymous, September 12, 2011 9:47 PM 's second question to you. Charles Spurgeon was greatly used by God during his life and the Spirit's Words, preached through him, continue to have impact today in the lives of many people.

    A list of his sermons, written before audio recordings existed, and read aloud can be found here:
    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=CDB844A9113F938C

    "A video treasury of the works of men greatly used of God such as C.H. Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, A.W. Tozer, A.W. Pink, John Owen, Oswald Chambers, Andrew Murray. John MacArthur, E.M.Bounds, John Bunyan, Geroge Whitefield, and many more; covering topics on many aspects of the Christian life." may be found here:

    http://crucifiedwithchrist.host22.com/

    Rather than watching television in the evenings, my husband and I will often put on a sermon and listen while he plays a computer game and I weave or do other hand work. Afterward we have some great discussions. I hope this will be beneficial to others as well!

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  4. Thanks Anonymous, Spurgeon was a great one and is always good to refer to. I also offer John MacArthur's recent series on the Doctrine of Election, here

    Part 1:
    http://web.gty.org/products/Audio+Lessons/90-273_The-Doctrine-of-Election-Part-1

    Part 2:
    http://web.gty.org/products/Audio+Lessons/90-274_The-Doctrine-of-Election-Part-2

    Part 3:
    http://web.gty.org/resources/Sermons/90-275_The-Doctrine-of-Election-Part-3

    at each link you can listen, watch, read, or download it free of charge.

    God does choose us and not choose others. The bible makes that concept clear. We also know that no man comes to the Father unless He draws him. The sermons you have for reference give the verses.

    This fact does not negate the person's free choice to accept Jesus though. Initially it seems like the two concepts are in conflict with each other. I prefer to say they are in a paradox, because the bible does not conflict. The controversy comes where people say that IF God elects then we don't have free will, or that SINCE God draws, no one is chosen. Just because the two notions are at odds in our minds, they are not at odds. How do I know this? Because the bible clearly teaches both, and GOD is satisfied with them.

    They both are taught in the bible- clearly, but the unclarity comes in our puny minds trying to reconcile the two to our own satisfaction. We cannot. We cannot know, understand, or have the cognitive brainpower to accept how God elects AND we retain our own choice.

    All I know is, God is sovereign. He chooses. He does not look down the halls of the future and then decide what to do based on what man's actions are or will be.

    Please do take some time to read or listen to the sermons on the doctrine...and let me know if you have further questions.

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  5. Two great minds understood this doctrine quite well. Read The Bondage of the Will, by Martin Luther, and Freedom of the Will, by Jonathan Edwards. Sounds like they are in conflict, but when you read these classics, you will see that they are not.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks so much for all the information! I will definitely check them out.

    There had been something that truly bothered me after reading a biography of someone who dealt with the same things I dealt with in the past but the difference is that he ended up taking his life. It just hit me hard because I wondered why me and not him. I gave it all to God and He gave me peace about but it did lead me to ponder about the doctrine of election more. Thank you all so much again and God bless you!

    ReplyDelete

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