People often talk about the streets of gold in heaven or the mansions or even seeing Jesus face to face as what they can’t wait for in Heaven. For me, it’s simpler than that. I want to be stripped of my desire to sin. I want to know that I am no longer capable of causing harm to the name of Christ through my actions, intentions, words, and thoughts. I want to know that I cannot cause harm to the God who saved me – who, upon each and every sin that I now commit, while wholly understanding what Christ had to endure to purchase my salvation, He is made to experience more pain and more suffering in my place because of my own short-term desire for satisfaction. I want to be rid of the “me” that Jesus died to redeem, and finally be able to sit back and revel in the work that He has done on my behalf. I don’t want riches, or crowns, or honor – I want peace. Peace from my self, and peace to finally be able to thank the God who saved me with a clean heart and a clear mind.

I’ve read quite a few comments on Facebook today stating that because of this vote in NC regarding gay marriage, that “God wins”. That’s true, but totally unrelated. Had the amendment not passed, God would win. If our next president was gay, God would win. If the entire country were to become the most god-hating, wicked, immoral nation on the planet – God would still win. Remember when Joshua met with the commander of the army of the Lord (many ppl believe this is a Christophany)? What did he say when Joshua asked him if he was for Israel or their adversaries? “NO.” What? That doesn’t make sense – what do you mean “no”. He then clarified the answer by saying that He’s for the Lord. (Joshua 5:13-15) God is not “FOR US” but for Himself. He is “for” those who are in His adopted family – purchased through the blood of Christ, but that’s because those who are in His family share His interests and seek to glorify His name.

The beginning of the Bible opens with God creating and proclaiming what is good, and man chooses to rebel against his Creator and plunge the rest of humanity into the effects of the fall. Death, disease, hatred, malice, immorality, pain, fear, all of these things come from the fall – all of them can be attributed to the sin of the first family – and even in this – God wins. 1400 years later, the entire earth has become wicked and hostile toward not only God but to themselves. God chooses one man named Noah and his small family to build a boat so that He can judge the whole of the earth. Noah and his family build that boat, God populates it with the creatures He chooses to save, and he then brings the flood which wipes out all the land-based animals on the planet. The ensuing flood and geologic changes transform the entire landscape, creating mountain ranges, burying vast mats of vegetation which then become our coal seams. At the end of the flood, vast inland seas are created and when those inland seas finally burst their temporary constraints they create deep and wide valleys and canyons. Days turn into months, months turn into years and the water finally subsides enough for those that God has spared to walk on dry land. Even in all that destruction, God wins.

The Israelites are God’s chosen people – born through adversity from a man of deep pagan roots. God spoke to Abraham and he trusted in God, leaving his former life and following after Him in the wilderness. His son Isaac had two twin boys, one was named Jacob (meaning “he cheats”) who later was named Israel. He had 12 boys who were the heads of the 12 tribes of the nation of Israel. They, through sin and deceit sold one of their brothers into slavery and God orchestrated his path until he was the prime minister of all of Egypt. His position allowed the infant nation of Israel to find a home in a safe place. That safety only lasted for a short time and they were made to be slaves in Egypt. God raised up Moses to bring them out – provided 10 plagues on Egypt to make the Israelites (now nearing 2 million people) abhorrent to the people of Egypt and they cast them out. Through another miracle at the Red Sea God delivered them finally from the reach of the Pharaoh. God wins.

That nation, now delivered into the wilderness to learn about the proper worship of their God who had delivered them from that bondage in Egypt, saw the physical manifestation of God’s glory day and night in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. At times they heard directly from God whose first premise was that they will not worship anyone or anything other than Himself and that they would not fall into idolatry. Sure enough, in the first two years with God actively interacting with them directly they not only built idols of gold to worship, but openly rejected Him, and his ability to deliver them from their enemies into the land He had promised to them, and wanted to return to Egypt, even into slavery, because they didn’t trust the God who could split the sea and who has proven His power over all of life and nature before them. All but two of those people died in the wilderness, never setting foot in the promised land. Even Moses, whom God had chosen to lead and instruct them sinned against God and was not able to enter into the land. God still wins.

The people then moved into the land, destroying the wicked nations that were occupying it. God fought for them and led them in battle, wiping out the inhabitants and setting their borders. He provided for them a fertile land that was prepared for them – a nation that they needed to merely occupy. Sure enough, one generation after Joshua and they fall into idolatry. God still wins. God allowed nations to remove them from the land and place them under slavery again, then provided deliverance for them time after time, giving them judges to rule over the people and to bring them back to worship Him. Every time a judge would die the people would rebel. God still wins.

Finally they ask for a king to be like the other nations. God allows them to have the finest looking and most worldly qualified king they could want. He rebels against God and ultimately runs a failed administration. God provides for them the man who He desires to be king – He trains him in the wilderness, sets him in power. The people flourish under him and under his son, Solomon, who was born through sin, deceit, and murder, but Solomon can’t honor God consistently and breaks God’s laws time and time again. Immediately after Solomon’s death the nation of Israel splits in two. God still wins.

Over the next 330 or so years the nations struggle with God’s rule. There are wars and troubles, and times of great restoration, but ultimately God strips them off the land due to their repeated forays into idolatry and rejection. God still wins.

God restores them to the land and then after a 400 year silence His Son, Jesus, comes onto the scene. Jesus fulfills the law, never sinning even once. He teaches the people, heals nearly every sickness and disease in the whole region, and ultimately is killed because the people He came to save wanted a conquering king, not a humble servant. God still wins.

Jesus is resurrected, proving that everything He said was true – hundreds of followers become thousands. Thousands become hundreds of thousands. Hundreds of thousands become millions. There are deep persecutions laid upon the church. Nearly all of Jesus’ inner circle of followers is martyred in one way or another and many more follow. 300 years later the Roman emperor Constantine legalizes Christianity and that’s where the church begins to encounter even more trouble as the political battles for which is the “true” church begin to take place. God still wins.

1050 years later, God’s word is finally becoming translated into common languages so the people can break free from the oppression of the Roman Catholic church. The RCC responds by killing the translators and burning their manuscripts. God still wins. This continues until a German priest finally translates it into German and distributes it. The protestant reformation of the church begins and, along with it, the birth of thousands of Christian sects. Each one thinks it to be the “one true church” and many are good but even more are very, very bad. Numerous sects become whole religious institutions. Today we see that present in the main bodies of the church -Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc. Due to issues associated with denominationalism numerous “non-denominational” churches erupt. Christian “nations” like France, England, and Germany become post-Christian and their influence wanes. America is born and now its Christian influence is waning. Other countries like China and India are beginning to eclipse the USA in their Christian influence – to the point where Christian missionaries from China are starting to hit the US borders. God still wins.

This up coming election has no influence on whether God wins or not. He is the alpha and the omega – he controls all of nature and all time. He controls nations and laws and weather and even our personal situations. God owns it all. God always wins.

An open letter to Christians who stand by gay marriage/civil partnerships, etc:

In your own words can you please explain to me why it’s important not to define marriage in the same way that the Bible states it – between one man and one woman? Also, does it matter what the Bible says on this subject and where do the limits begin for where the Bible becomes important? Basically, if the Bible is wrong in what it says about some things, who are we to determine if it is wrong in others? Who determines what is accurate in the Bible and what isn’t? Our desires? Our ‘hearts’? Our feelings? Does God have the right to tell us what is right or wrong about anything in our lives? I suppose if you don’t believe that He exists you can do whatever you want but for those who call themselves Christians and who say they believe in the Bible enough to surrender control of their lives over to Christ, at what point do you stop trusting in what He has said in scripture (where you get the information that led you to trust in Him to begin with) and say “no – I can’t believe in that”?

Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t about judging people. God does that – His law does that. We’re called to love everyone and we do. I do. But we are also called to be holy as God is holy. God’s view on homosexuality isn’t just an “old testament” view – read Romans 1:16-31, 1 Cor 6:9-10, 1 Tim 1:8-11 . But God offers deliverance from it as He does from all sins: 1 Cor 6:9-10 doesn’t just end at the condemnation:”Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God”, but the next verse shows that He forgives these things upon repentance of them and trust in Him for salvation: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ~ 1 Cor 6:12”.

The scripture that I see as to why this is an issue for us as Christians is Hebrews 13:4: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” God will handle those who are sexually immoral before Him, but we are to hold marriage to be a high honor, holy and pure before God. Jesus used it as a symbol of Himself and the Church (universal church of Christ to include all Christians, not members of one specific church).

We’re called to love all but not support that which God despises. I don’t want to fall into the category at the end of Romans 1: “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. ~ Romans 1:31”.

We, as God’s creation, on God’s planet, breathing God’s air, eating God’s food, and enjoying God’s blessings are under every obligation to listen to what God says about what He wants us to do. God is absolutely sovereign in all of His decisions and plans. His law is perfect because HE is perfect and it is us, because of our sin nature, who are at odds with Him, not Him with us. In light of that, I love my homosexual friends but I’m not going to disobey the God who died in my place through supporting them in their sin. I don’t have different rules for individual sins, but the same rule for all. I’m not going to support people who go to NAMBLA parades, or stand up for the rights of a man to cheat on his wife. I will love them and be broken for their sin, pray for them, and tell them about Jesus, but I won’t support them in their sin.

At church today we were asked “what is your motivation to go to church?” This is a subject that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about in the past two years and this is pretty much what I’ve come up with. Understand that I don’t mean what I think of as the role of the Church, but what I am looking for in the heart of a church service.

My motivation to go to church is to view the deus nudus – the naked God – in all His glory: Holy, perfect, and just. He is forever separated from me because of these qualities. I want to be reminded that my humanity and my innate sin nature keeps me from standing in His presence forever, then to be reminded that it is Jesus and His sacrifice in my place – on my behalf, that purchased, cleansed, and redeemed me. That Jesus’ work on my behalf has not only paid the price for my sins but adopted me into the family of God and granted me a place at His table and free access to His holy throne room forever. Before this happened my only chance to see God was from His judgment seat but now it is from His lap, as a child speaking in prefect safety and trust with the Father who he knows loves and cares for him forever. That is my motivation when I go to church. Show me my God, my separation, and my Savior.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
~ Titus 3:3-7 ESV

Remember that prayer that you prayed, or the time you raised your hand during an “altar call”? Yeah – that didn’t save you. Jesus saved you. You’re not good enough to save, you’re not smart enough to have God look at you and say, “I HAVE to have THAT GUY with me in Heaven!” There’s no amount of “good deeds” that you can do to warrant God’s saving work to be applied to your life. If anything, everything you do to “work off” your salvation or make yourself worthy is just an affront to God and mock Him for His work on your behalf. It’s not you who hold onto God, but God that holds onto you. You can’t be lost – you can’t “walk away” from your faith because it’s not “your faith” to begin with. God is the one who started the ‘good work’ of salvation within you and He will not lose a single one whom the Father has given Him. You are secure because of God’s love for you, not because of God’s love of you.

Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.

Translating that which was first in French, then translated into the King’s English into regular English so y’all can follow along. Buckle up, good theology ahead!

Book 2: Of the knowledge of God the Redeemer, in Christ, as first manifested to the fathers, under the law, and thereafter to us under the gospel.

Chapter 4: “How God Works In The Hearts Of Men.”

Section 6: While some actions themselves are neither good nor bad, the freedom with which they are acted upon has not yet been explained. While man has no ability to do good, God has the ability to use men for His own purposes. Throughout the old testament God has repeatedly stepped into the lives of people to turn their affections in the manner of His choosing. This is shown in the following places in scripture: Exodus 11:3; Genesis 43:14; Ps 106:46; 1 Sam. 11:6; Lev 26:36; and Deut. 28:65.

Section 7: Those examples cannot be assumed to be the general rule. They are written in scripture because they are peculiar and to show that God can and does direct people (or their situations as to lead people to His intended end) for His own purposes. Our judgement fails – even in simple things, our courage wanes, our resolve dissolves, and our strength weakens. Who are we to say that God is not the cause of these events? Solomon agreed with this when he said, “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both” (Prov. 20:12), and “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Prov. 21:1). God can guide the thoughts and intentions of all mankind to fulfill His plans – peasants and kings. Augustine states, “Scripture, if it be carefully examined, will show not only that the good wills of men are made good by God out of evil, and when so made, are directed to good acts, even to eternal life, but those which retain the elements of the world are in the power of God, to turn them whither he pleases, and when he pleases, either to perform acts of kindness, or by a hidden, indeed, but, at the same time, most just judgment to inflict punishment,” (August. De Gratia et Lib. Arb. ad Valent. cap. 20).

Section 8: Free will is not, therefore, a question of what someone can do regardless of outside influence, but whether he has freedom to judge and desire. If men possess both of these freedoms, he is as free in a prison as he would be while ruling a country.

Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.

Translating that which was first in French, then translated into the King’s English into regular English so y’all can follow along. Buckle up, good theology ahead!

Book 2: Of the knowledge of God the Redeemer, in Christ, as first manifested to the fathers, under the law, and thereafter to us under the gospel.

Chapter 4: “How God Works In The Hearts Of Men.”

Section 1: Thus far we’ve determined that man cannot of his own good nature aim at good either in wish or pursuit, and that a distinction has been drawn between compulsion and necessity where it’s clear that even though man sins necessarily, nevertheless he sins voluntarily. From here we recognize that man seems to be more led by the devil’s will than his own, it’s necessary to explain the agency of each will and if man’s bad actions can be attributed to God. Augustine compares the will of man to that of a horse and that God and the devil are the two possible riders. “If God mounts, he, like a temperate and skillful rider, guides it calmly, urges it when too slow, reins it in when too fast, curbs its forwardness and over-action, checks its bad temper, and keeps it on the proper course; but if the devil has seized the saddle, like an ignorant and rash rider, he hurries it over broken ground, drives it into ditches, dashes it over precipices, spurs it into obstinacy or fury.” It is not that the will of man is forced to submit to the devil, but that it is so fascinated by his promises that it yields to his guidance. God grants those whom He does not favor over to the agency of Satan. In 2 Cor 4:4, Paul states that the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, and in Eph 2:2 he describes the devil as the spirit that works in the children of disobedience. These are called the works of Satan, though their cause is not to be found anywhere but in the sinful hearts of men – where the root of evil lies.

Section 2: Calvin now turns to Job to show God’s sovereign hand in what happens in the life of someone who has been elected by God to obedience and salvation. The wicked acts of the Chaldeans upon Job, stealing his flocks and killing his shepherds, is by the hand of Satan, but was originally found at the hand of God. Job recognizes this in Job 1:21 where he states,”The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” How can this evil act be attributed to God? He allowed this situation to take place to exercise Job’s patience through adversity. To Satan, he had the ability to do whatever he wanted but in actuality he was limited to only what God allowed. “God also is said to act in his own way; because even Satan when he is the instrument of divine wrath, is completely under the command of God, who turns him as he will in the execution of his just judgments.” There is no inconsistency in attributing the same act to God, to Satan, and to man, “while, from the difference in the end and mode of action, the spotless righteousness of God shines forth at the same time that the iniquity of Satan and of man is manifested in all its deformity.”

Section 3: Ancient writers have often had trouble relating those things well for fear that they were speaking irreverently of the works of God. Calvin, while agreeing with their fear of God does not see any problems with merely reflecting what Scripture clearly states. Augustine himself states that sins are not merely of divine permission or patience, but of divine power. Those who say that God merely grants permission to people to commit sin merely are either not reading the text clearly or are cowards, afraid of the truth of Scripture. “God is very often said to blind and harden the reprobate, to turn their hearts, to incline and impel them, as I have elsewhere fully explained (Book 1 c. 18). The extent of this agency can never be explained by having recourse to prescience or permission.” There are two methods by which God acts which are depicted in scripture: First, where He takes His light away, His Spirit is withdrawn and we immediately turn from the right path. The second is where God acts through Satan by granting him limited reign over our lives to wreak havoc and lead us to sin. In both instances, God is the cause but He does not sin. “Thus when Moses relates that Simon, king of the Amorites, did not give the Israelites a passage, because the Lord “had hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate,” he immediately adds the purpose which God had in view—viz. that he might deliver him into their hand (Deut. 2:30). As God had resolved to destroy him, the hardening of his heart was the divine preparation for his ruin.”

Section 4: Where do we see this in Scripture? For the first method, where God reels back His guidance and lets people walk according to their own will, we see the following references:

Disaster comes upon disaster; rumor follows rumor. They seek a vision from the prophet, while the law perishes from the priest and counsel from the elders ~ Ezekiel 7:26

He pours contempt on princes
and makes them wander in trackless wastes ~ Psalm 107:40

He deprives of speech those who are trusted
and takes away the discernment of the elders. ~ Job 12:20

He takes away understanding from the chiefs of the people of the earth
and makes them wander in a trackless waste. ~ Job 12:24

O Lord, why do you make us wander from your ways
and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage. ~ Isaiah 63:17

And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. ~ Exodus 4:21

But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, ~ Exodus 7:3

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, ~ Exodus 10:1

But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. ~ Exodus 3:19

It is clear from the text that God executed His judgment in these actions to bring about His will. God hardened and turned their hearts against His plans or His chosen people and left the sin to those whom He had hardened. God also turns hearts and minds to bring good things for Israel:

He will raise a signal for nations far away,
and whistle for them from the ends of the earth;
and behold, quickly, speedily they come! ~ Isaiah 5:16

In that day the Lord will whistle for the fly that is at the end of the streams of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. ~ Isaiah 7:18

And I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare. And I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, yet he shall not see it, and he shall die there. ~ Ezekiel 12:13

I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare, and I will bring him to Babylon and enter into judgment with him there for the treachery he has committed against me. ~ Ezekiel 17:20

Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it,
or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it?
As if a rod should wield him who lifts it,
or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood! ~ Isaiah 10:15

When men sin, they do so by their own hand, but the end result of that sin is owed to the hand of God alone.

Section 5: Satan is used to bring the unconverted to action when the Lord so desires it to accomplish His works. It is said repeatedly in first Samuel that an evil spirit from the Lord came upon Saul and troubled him (1 Sam 16:14; 18:10; 19:9). This cannot be the act of the Holy Spirit, but an impure spirit which acts under the will of God. Paul adds to this in 2 Thess. 2:11-12 where he states, “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” There is always a wide gap between what God and Satan do, in that Satan is merely a tool of God who acts as controlled chaos to bring about the will of God; for our good and His glory. Satan, however, only has control over the lives of the unconverted whereas God reigns over both.

Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.

Book 2: Of the knowledge of God the Redeemer, in Christ, as first manifested to the fathers, under the law, and thereafter to us under the gospel.

Chapter 3: “Everything Proceeding From The Corrupt Nature of Man Damnable.”

Section 12: Some people say that Paul in 1 Cor 15:10 states the he was a co-operator in grace. This is absurd as he does not say that the grace of God labored with him, but he pushes the whole merit of the labor to grace alone. He states clearly that in the labor which he provided, he did so more than all the other apostles, and that his labor (which was more than the others) was inspired, engineered, and acted through him and completed by the grace of God alone. He was nothing but an instrument in the hands of his master.

Section 13: Turning to Augustine to defend this point as there are Pelagians in any age who will refuse to accept it, Calvin refers to the second chapter of Treatise De Correptione et Gratis addressed to Valentinus where Augustine explains at length that Adam had the power to preserve in goodness but not the will to use that power. Quoting Calvin, “The grace offered by the Lord is not merely one which every individual has full liberty of choosing to receive or reject, but a grace which produces in the heart both choice and will: so that all the good works which follow after are its fruit and effect; the only will which yields obedience being the will which grace itself has made. In another place, Augustine uses these words, “Every good work in us is performed only by grace,” (August. Ep. 105).”

Section 14: Man is not drawn by an outward compulsion to trust in Christ, but is inwardly led so as to obey from the heart. Declaring that grace is given specifically and without measure to the elect, Augustine writes to Boniface, “We know that Divine grace is not given to all men, and that to those to whom it is given, it is not given either according to the merit of works, or according to the merit of the will, but by free grace: in regard to those to whom it is not given, we know that the not giving of it is a just judgment from God,” (August. ad Bonifac. Ep. 106) He later argues strongly that grace is not given to human merit as a reward for not rejecting the first grace. Pressing Pelagius to confess that unmeasured grace is necessary for us to complete any action, and since it is true grace, works are made of no effect. Quoting Calvin, “The matter cannot be more briefly summed up than in the eighth chapter of [Augustine’s] Treatise De Correptione et Gratia, where he shows, First, that human will does not by liberty obtain grace, but by grace obtains liberty. Secondly, that by means of the same grace, the heart being impressed with a feeling of delight, is trained to persevere, and strengthened with invincible fortitude. Thirdly, that while grace governs the will, it never falls; but when grace abandons it, it falls forthwith. Fourthly, that by the free mercy of God, the will is turned to good, and when turned, perseveres. Fifthly, that the direction of the will to good, and its constancy after being so directed, depend entirely on the will of God, and not on any human merit.” Thus the “free will” which is left to man is one which can neither be turned to God, nor continue in God except by grace, and that will derives all of its ability to do good at all from grace.

Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.

Book 2: Of the knowledge of God the Redeemer, in Christ, as first manifested to the fathers, under the law, and thereafter to us under the gospel.

Chapter 3: “Everything Proceeding From The Corrupt Nature of Man Damnable.”

Section 10: When our will moves us, we cannot choose to obey or resist it, but it pushes us until the end result is achieved. This is not the idea that God merely offers aid and we choose to accept it, but that God drives toward the goal of salvation despite our desire against it. If it were left to us, no one would ever be saved – our fallen natures would prohibit it. “The Apostle’s doctrine is not, that the grace of a good will is offered to us if we will accept of it, but that God himself is pleased so to work in us as to guide, turn, and govern our heart by his Spirit, and reign in it as his own possession. Ezekiel promises that a new spirit will be given to the elect, not merely that they may be able to walk in his precepts, but that they may really walk in them (Ezek. 11:19; 36:27).” Everyone who is led by God to salvation, is saved, and cannot be broken free from this salvation. Augustine goes further, stating, “How came you? By believing. Fear, lest by arrogating to yourself the merit of finding the right way, you perish from the right way. I came, you say, by free choice, came by my own will. Why do you boast? Would you know that even this was given you? Hear Christ exclaiming, ‘No man comets unto me, except the Father which has sent me draw him.’” Jesus clearly refutes those who refuse to believe in predestination or election, when He states in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”

Section 11: Those who refute the idea of the eternal perseverance of the saints, have lost the battle before they even began to fight. If our salvation is orchestrated by God, as we have already shown so clearly, and if God has promised to hold us to Him, after replacing our hearts and converting our will, then it is impossible for us to fall away as it is our sovereign Creator who holds us fast to Him. Scripture defends this in Philippians 2:13 where Paul states, “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” If God is the one who works in us to His own good pleasure, then how can we fall away, even when we do sin. Our sin has been paid for by our Creator. We do not “co-operate” in our salvation by any means. If we did, we would not be able to hold ourselves to Him who saved us. “If it is meant that after we are once subdued by the power of the Lord to the obedience of righteousness, we proceed voluntarily, and are inclined to follow the movement of grace, I have nothing to object. For it is most certain, that where the grace of God reigns, there is also this readiness to obey. And whence this readiness, but just that the Spirit of God being everywhere consistent with himself, after first begetting a principle of obedience, cherishes and strengthens it for perseverance? If, again, it is meant that man is able of himself to be a fellow-labourer with the grace of God, I hold it to be a most pestilential delusion.”

Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.

Book 2: Of the knowledge of God the Redeemer, in Christ, as first manifested to the fathers, under the law, and thereafter to us under the gospel.

Chapter 3: “Everything Proceeding From The Corrupt Nature of Man Damnable.”

Section 6: Calvin now turns to investigate the work which God does within the heart and mind of the natural man leading toward conversion. Philippians 1:6 states that it is God who begins the conversion of our will, and who will continue to keep us until Jesus comes back. “God, therefore, begins the good work in us”, states Calvin, “by exciting in our hearts a desire, a love, and a study of righteousness, or (to speak more correctly) by turning, training, and guiding our hearts unto righteousness; and he completes this good work by confirming us unto perseverance.” This is not God “aiding” us toward Him, but a whole replacement of our will and desires. Ezekiel 36:26-27 states, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” We have already proven that the heart and desire of man is evil continually; how is it that now we can achieve righteousness with only a few causal promptings from our divine creator? It is impossible! Instead, it is necessary that our whole will is removed and replaced with one that is engineered to seek God. We are not only incapable of doing God’s will without His direct intervention, we are ill-equipped. God, therefore, HAS to work within us to lead us to Himself. Philippians 2:13 drives this point home when it states that “it is God who works within us, both to will and to work for His own good pleasure.” Remember, that is not directed toward the unconverted, but to the Christian. If God so has to work in those whom He has justified, how much more does He work in the lives of the unconverted, who is wholly bent toward His destruction, to bring him to trust in Jesus alone for his salvation? All good things that we have in our lives come from God alone (1 Cor 8:6; 12:6), and the good works that we perform are merely an act of worship to the God who redeemed us. The whole of our turning, repentance, trust, salvation, restoration, justification, sanctification, and eventual glorification are from God alone, to God alone, for His glory alone.

Section 7: Refuting the idea that, once God prepares the will for conversion, that it then acts on its own to bring about the trust that leads to salvation, Calvin quotes Augustine, “grace precedes every good work; the will accompanying, not leading; a handmaid, and not a guide (August. ad Bonifac. Ep. 106).” The Lord destroys our depraved will, and replaces it with a good will from Himself. It is this good will, which is a replacement of our human will, that is receptive to God’s call for repentance.

Section 8: Since this is the crux of the issue for most who refute Calvin’s claim that it is God alone who orchestrates our salvation, He turns to Scripture to support him. He states that while his belief is founded in the writings of Augustine, he wants to make himself clear. First, while it is easy to prove that goodness comes only from God, and that no one of their own will is inclined toward good, the cause of election must be sought out. It follows that a right will is not native to that of mankind, but a gift from God. The beginning of right will and action is founded in faith, and that faith itself is a gift from God. There is nothing within man himself that leads God to provide that saving faith to man, so it is therefore founded in grace alone. God opts, out of His own good pleasure, to give to mankind what is necessary to bring him to repentance and faith, not based on the merits found in that man, but based on God’s own desire to see that man saved, paying no regard to whatever works, good or bad, he may have committed. “When the Lord, in the conversion of his people, sets down these two things as requisite to be done—viz. to take away the heart of stone, and give a heart of flesh, he openly declares, that, in order to our conversion to righteousness, what is ours must be taken away, and that what is substituted in its place is of himself.” Where is this supported in scripture? Jeremiah 32:39-40 states, “I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.” Ezekiel also states, “I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19) Calvin concludes, “It always follows, both that nothing good can proceed from our will until it be formed again, and that after it is formed again in so far as it is good, it is of God, and not of us.”

Section 9: This is confirmed in the prayers of the saints. Solomon prays that the Lord may “incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.” (1 Ki 8:58), stating that the heart of man is perverse and it is God who must turn our wills toward Him, and keep us focused on His good pleasure. Psalm 119:36 states, “incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain”, relating the same idea of our own failure to focus on God until He does the work to turn us. This is reflected in God’s insistence that the Jews follow God’s rules regarding the Sabbath – that they work hard during the week, but stop and rest every 7 days and trust that God will defend and support them. Jesus verifies this for us in John 15:1,4, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. … Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” We, according to our Savior, will wither and die if we are separated from God who sustains and supports us as the vine supports all those who are attached to it. Continuing this theme, Jesus, in Matthew 15:13, states that “every plant that [God] has not planted will be uprooted.” As we discovered before in Phil 2:13, it is God who does all good works within us, and who sustains us to do those good works for His good pleasure. “Were it said that God gives assistance to a weak will,” states Calvin, “something might be left us; but when it is said that he makes the will, every thing good in it is placed without us.” God also sustains us until we are called home into glory. David asks God to protect him from sin, that it may not have control over him (Psalm 119:133). This reveals that God not only begins the work of salvation and sees it through to completion, but that he is actively involved in our daily lives, protecting us from sin, and leading us toward Him in repentance and faith.

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(e.g., John 1 or God's love)

The Ultimate Statistic