Archive for the ‘The Glory of God’ Category

The Glory of God 46

November 18, 2015

An attribute of God must be determined from what He is within Himself rather than judged by our own standards. God is the standard of Himself and of all things.

Acts 17:22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.

When the pride of sinners is shown to them and they see how arrogant and proud that they have been toward God when in fact all that they have is given to them by Him, they should be drained of all pride and simply fall in utter helplessness before God and His self-sufficiency. There is nothing they can do unless they are upheld by Him and there is nothing spiritual or good that they can do unless they receive that from Him first. This should promote great humility in people, but instead we are seeing the promotion of self and pride within the professing churches. It is thought that God enables people or helps them a little or perhaps helps them some rather than people being utterly dependent upon His self-sufficiency. It is a high form of pride when men think that God will help them rather than themselves being utterly dependent upon God for all things.

In light of who God really is, which is to say that He is supreme in His sovereignty and self-sufficiency, sinners (converted and unconverted) should see that God has no need of them or of their help. When a person realizes that intellectually as true and as reality, a person will have an inward fight with accepting this as ultimate reality and as bowing to God and loving this about Him. This is not an easy time for the soul in moving from an intellectual acceptance to bowing in a vivid realization of the reality of it. The next step is for the soul to be moved by grace (though it was grace in all the previous steps too) to love God for who He is and to love being at His disposal.

1 Cor 1:26-29 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”

The passage of Scripture above is hated by the proud when they really understand it. The supremacy of God shines out and is seen in that He chooses people to be saved and He saves the foolish things of the world and the weak things of the world. He chooses the based things and even those who are despised. He does this so that no man may boast before God. There is no boasting before God and as such men have nothing to boast about. Instead of men boasting in their own wisdom, God has set forth Christ Jesus to be their wisdom from God. Instead of men boasting in their own righteousness, God has set forth Jesus Christ to be their righteousness. Instead of man boasting in their own sanctification, God has set forth Jesus Christ to be their sanctification. Instead of men boasting in their redemption, God has set forth Jesus Christ to be their redemption. God is fully sufficient in Christ and man adds nothing at all. Men should sink into nothingness in themselves and burst forth in admiration in the full sufficiency of God coming to sinners by free-grace.

Matthew 11:25-27 Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”

In the Matthew 11 passage just above, if we look with spiritual eyes we see the blazing beauty of the sovereignty of God, the freeness of His grace, and the total sufficiency of God. Jesus praises the Father hiding spiritual things from the wise and intelligent, but also in revealing them to infants. This way was and is well-pleasing in His sight. How our mouths should be shut when we see that no one can know the Father except the Son and other than the Son only those to whom the Son wills to reveal Him know Him. We are utterly dependent upon His sovereign hand which comes to sinners by free-grace and that is fully sufficient. It takes grace to humble our hearts to where we bow in admiration and loving adoration that these things are true. Only those that Christ has humbled will love these things and admire the beauty of God in them. The self-sufficiency of God demands that only the humble will see and love these things, but also that He alone is sufficient to humble our proud hearts.

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The Glory of God 45

November 17, 2015

An attribute of God must be determined from what He is within Himself rather than judged by our own standards. God is the standard of Himself and of all things.

Acts 17:22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.

The chief end or primary purpose of each human being is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Since the fall into sin man was at enmity with God and had no desire to glorify Him and enjoy Him apart from the new birth granted some by sovereign and free-grace. Yet with the religious (used generically here of professing Christians) there is a huge difference in how this chief end is to be sought. Some think that converted people have a power in them and that they are to seek and do things which make God look good or do things which honors God. Essentially, that turns out to be a work and it depends on the sufficiency of man to do so. A person that truly does something for the glory of God has to be relying on the sufficiency of God and it has to be the work of God in and through the person. This is why humility is so necessary in the presence of the self-sufficient God.

The true God is absolutely sovereign and self-sufficient. The proud deny both of those things either in theory or in practice. The proud depend upon themselves to a greater or lesser degree, and the proud are puffed up with themselves and their own sufficiency. As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 1:8: “knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.” The puffing up of knowledge blinds a person to his or her own utter inability and helplessness in spiritual things. This puffing up is the blindness of pride in spiritual things. Humility, then, is the bowing of all of our supposed rights and the giving up hope in the strength of self and our ability to obtain righteousness before God. Pride thinks it can do something before God, humility says all sufficiency is in Christ.

The proud heart depends on something from itself, but the humble heart sees its utter helplessness and nothingness. Clearly, the humble heart is consistent with the self-sufficiency of God and His doing all for His own glory. Pride, on the other hand, is as opposite with the self-sufficiency of God as two things can be. The humble heart is taught by Christ that God is self-sufficient and so the humbled heart knows that it has no sufficiency at all. This means that the humble heart gives up all hope in self to ever gain a right standing before God by anything it can do. The humble heart knows that it can obtain no merit before God on its own and so it looks to God for all sufficiency. The humble heart looks to God for free-grace, then, as there is nothing we can be or do to obtain grace other than God Himself being completely and utterly self-sufficient to do so based on Himself. The humble heart is free of seeking to do or be anything other than what God will give it based on grace.

I Peter 5:5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

By basic definition the one and true God exists of Himself, is self-sufficient, and is absolutely sovereign. That God created all things out of Himself and by Himself and did so for Himself. It is only fitting that God would be opposed to the proud and yet give grace to the humble, but it is also fitting that those who are humble do not attain humility as a work. True humility comes to the soul of a creature that God has prepared and that God has broken from its pride. There is an important distinction that needs to be made at this point or we will end up thinking that if we can work up humility ourselves and if we do that grace comes on the basis of our working up humility. There is the humbling of the soul and the humiliation of the soul that Christ works in the soul in delivering it from the bondage of pride. But the life of humility can only come from the living and humble Christ sharing His life with us as He dwells in the soul. We can only be clothed with humility if we have Christ and we must seek Him for that, but we can never work for it or earn it in any way. Grace is no longer grace if we can do anything to get it, which would then be a denial of the glorious self-sufficiency of God.

The Glory of God 44

November 16, 2015

An attribute of God must be determined from what He is within Himself rather than judged by our own standards. God is the standard of Himself and of all things.

Acts 17:22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.

The self-sufficiency of God gives a beautiful view of God and how it is that the Gospel is of Christ alone and grace alone. The self-sufficiency of God gives us the basis (in some respects) of free-grace and how it is that grace must be free or it is not grace. But something must happen in the hearts of men for them to desire grace and then to receive grace. The hearts of men are born full of self and pride and as such their hearts are opposed to free-grace and their need of a Savior to save them to the uttermost. Since God only gives grace to the humble and men are proud and full of self, something must change their hearts or they will always stand opposed to grace. The natural man hates free-grace though he does not mind a little help if he needs it, but the idea of needing to be saved from even the best that he can do is something his pride cannot and will not accept. The biblical teaching that even the very best of our works (man’s works of righteousness) are as filthy rags is hateful to the proud.

The Gospel is of free-grace alone and the only works allowed are those by Jesus the Christ. Jesus, who is the sufficiency of God, will only save sinners when He is sufficient and nothing that man does is sufficient for the slightest addition to the sufficiency of God in Christ. While pride is the puffing up of self, humility is being emptied of self. Only those who are emptied of self will be emptied of pride and as such will look to grace alone for salvation. One pastor reported a member of his church as saying this: “If Jesus came one million miles to save me, that last inch is mine.” That was a man who refused the full sufficiency of Christ and wanted some little part reserved for himself, but of course that little part was far more than he thought. It was control of when he would accept Christ (so to speak). That was a man who did not know his own heart or the sufficiency of God in Christ, which means that instead of looking to free-grace he looked to himself. His heart was not changed.

Matthew 18:1-4 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

In Matthew 18 the disciples did as they did on several occasions, they wanted to know who was the greatest. This was a question among them because each of them wanted to be the greatest. Jesus took this particular opportunity to teach them and all who were to follow a basic truth. That basic truth is that a person must be turned by God and become like a child in order to even enter the kingdom. The person that has not become like a child will not enter the kingdom. The heart of man must be changed from one that is seeking greatness to that of a small child which receives all from another. All that a small child can possibly do is to receive from others, so all that a man with a changed heart can do is to receive grace without trying to earn it or use it to be great in the eyes of others.

The teaching of Christ in Matthew 18 can be looked at in a few different ways, but one thing that is very clear is that the heart of man must be changed by another (God) from proud and self-seeking to a humble heart that receives all from another. This is what must happen to the heart of proud man or he will forever hate free-grace. God must change that heart and He alone can change the heart from being proud to being humble. The Lord Jesus Christ and His free-grace cannot be received by a proud heart and a proud heart despises free-grace as well. In the marvel of the passage above we can see that not only are sinners saved by free-grace, but free-grace must change the heart to where it will even desire free-grace. Oh how men must not despise the self-sufficiency of God and look to their own sufficiency. Instead, men should look to the sufficiency of God alone to change their heart and make them willing for free-grace in the day of His power.

The Glory of God 43

November 14, 2015

An attribute of God must be determined from what He is within Himself rather than judged by our own standards. God is the standard of Himself and of all things.

Acts 17:22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.

The Gospel is the demonstration of the sufficiency of God in saving sinners apart from anything in them to move Him to save Him. This sufficiency is the grace of God. Man constantly wants to add something or contribute a little to a lot, but the Gospel of God will have none of that. Not only is salvation by grace alone, sanctification is by Christ alone and His grace alone as well. God does not save sinners by His grace alone and then leave them to their own devices and strength for sanctification, but only He is sufficient in Christ for that as well. Oh how sinners are stripped of their pride and self and humbled in the dust in order that they can see and understand that Christ alone is sufficient to save to the glory of God alone.

Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Where do we see anything in the text just above that makes the slightest room for men to add to their own salvation? It is God our Savior who appeared and He saved us because of His kindness and love. He did not save sinners based on their deeds or their righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy. He does not save sinners based upon their good hearts, but by His sovereign work of grace in regenerating sinners and renewing them by the Holy Spirit. He does not give the Holy Spirit to sinners because of what they have done, but He gives the Spirit through Jesus Christ who is the full and sufficient Savior. In all of this sinners are justified completely and totally by His grace and there is utterly nothing that they have contributed, will contribute, or can contribute. Grace does not need, want, or condone any attempts to help. To the degree that sinners try to help, they show that they don’t rest in the sufficiency and grace of God alone.

The Gospel of God tells us that God alone is sufficient for anything and all things regarding salvation and sanctification. The Gospel tells us that we have nothing to do with our own salvation though man is always wanting to do one little thing. The Gospel of God puts His sufficiency on display and yet it tells man that he is sufficient for nothing in this context. Man has nothing he can do but receive. Man has nothing that he can boast about but the cross of Christ. Man has nothing to contribute to his own salvation but the sin from which He is saved from. Man has no ability and no sufficiency and so God is not anxiously waiting on us to contribute out part in the matter, but instead it all rests upon His sufficiency.

Are sinners able to contribute to the wisdom of God in Christ? Are sinners able to help God justify themselves? Are sinners able to contribute to the price Christ paid for their redemption? Are sinners able to contribute even the slightest to the propitiatory work of Christ on the cross? Where, then, is the sufficiency of human beings in salvation? They have none. God alone is sufficient for all things and man can do nothing and can add nothing to the sufficiency of God. The glory of God in Christ shines forth and it is as if the heavens are declaring that God is sufficient in Christ to save sinners.

The Glory of God 42

November 13, 2015

An attribute of God must be determined from what He is within Himself rather than judged by our own standards. God is the standard of Himself and of all things.

Acts 17:22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.

While Paul spoke to a people who believed in an unknown God, it appears that there are many in our day who have an unknown Gospel. The Gospel has nothing to do with what man can help God do or what man can contribute to his own salvation, but it is all about the glory of grace and the full sufficiency of God. The attributes of God are not an exercise in academic knowledge, but instead the attributes of God comprise the most practical and vitally important field of study for all people. The Gospel is not stuck in a corner somewhere apart from the attributes of God, but instead the Gospel flows from and is inextricably linked to them. The self-sufficiency of God, while it can be distinguished and studied in one sense apart from the Gospel, cannot be studied very far apart from the Gospel and the Gospel is not set out very thoroughly apart from teaching it in connection with the sufficiency of God. We must always remember that the attributes of God shine out in everything to do with God, so the very heart of the Gospel of God will always be the attributes of God.

Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

We can see vital aspects of the Gospel in the passage above, but we can also see that the passage is full of the character and attributes of God. What is sufficient to raise dead sinners to life? Can a dead sinner contribute or add anything to the character and actions of God? Is God alone sufficient to raise sinners from the dead or does something else have to happen and or be added? The text does not allow for any action to be added to the actions of God. He is rich in mercy because of His great love, so we have no need (or ability) to try and make ourselves worth of mercy and love. Who is it that actually makes sinners alive in Christ? It is God who takes dead sinners and makes them alive with Christ, but not only that, He seats them with Christ in the heavenly places. Why does He do that? So that He will manifest and show the surpassing riches of His grace. If sinners could add anything to their own resurrection from the spiritually dead, it would detract from the riches of His grace. In fact, it would make grace no longer to be grace. The grace of God and the power of God are sufficient for the whole salvation of sinners. There is nothing they can possibly contribute to or add to regarding the Gospel.

The grace of God is sufficient to save sinners quite apart from anything they can add to His work. The text (Ephesians 2:4-10 above) tells us that it is by grace that you have been saved. This is the same thing as saying that it is by the self-sufficiency of God that sinners are saved. Verse 8 follows or is given as a reason to explain how it is that God has saved sinners by raising them from the spiritually dead in order to show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward them for all eternity. Yes, grace comes to sinners through faith, but the verse goes on to say that even that faith is the gift of God. Works also have no place in this because there is no room for boasting either. The Gospel is all about the grace of God which is to say that the Gospel relies on the self-sufficiency of God. The sinner has no room for boasting because there is nothing that the sinner has to do with his salvation. Not only is faith a gift, but God prepares works for saved sinners to do. All comes from the self-sufficiency of God and nothing from the sufficiency of man, so clearly the Gospel is all of grace and all boasting is to be about God.

The Glory of God 41

November 11, 2015

An attribute of God must be determined from what He is within Himself rather than judged by our own standards. God is the standard of Himself and of all things.

Acts 17:22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.

God did not create anything out of sense of lack, but more of a sense of fullness. Out of love for Himself and His own glory He created all things to manifest His own glory to Himself for His own pleasure. Creation was for the glory of God and He beholds Himself in it to some degree, but far more than His glory in creation He made mankind who is made in His image. The purpose for man is to glorify God as well. But the highest point of all the beauties and glories is the Lord Jesus Christ. The earth and mankind have a purpose by which God displayed His glory in and through Christ in His conception, birth, life, crucifixion, and resurrection. Oh how Christ is the very glory of God shining forth and how God beholds Himself in Christ and all whom Christ dwells in. God alone was and is sufficient for all of that and humanity should bow in utter humility before Him.

Romans 4:16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,

The Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ is by grace alone and the promise of God is guaranteed to all the descendants of Abraham, that is, all those who are in Christ. As Galatians 3:29 sets out so beautifully, “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” Only those who belong to Christ are the descendants of Abraham and heirs according to promise. The promise God made to Abraham was to him and his seed, which we are told (Gal 3:16) is Christ. “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.” The Gospel is all of grace because God saves to the glory of His grace (Eph 1:5-6). While people argue about faith, what Romans 4:16 shows us is that faith cannot be a work because God uses faith in such a way that the promise is in accordance with grace. This destroys all hope that man can contribute anything to His salvation and sets out the full sufficiency of God in Christ. Men can argue as they please about faith, but faith is a gift of God and that is in full accordance with free-grace and anything that makes faith out to be a work of man is an attack on grace and an attack on the sufficiency of God in Christ.

Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

We can see how Romans 4:16 works in accordance with Romans 11:6. Whatever is a work makes grace no longer to be grace. We must always keep in mind that grace is always linked with the full and complete sufficiency of God and is always opposed to the works of man for salvation or anything else that depends on man doing the works in his own strength or so-called free-will. Once again, any work makes grace no longer to be grace. We can say with confidence that for grace to be grace it must be 100% grace or it is not the grace of God. In the same way, God is either completely self-sufficient or He needs somebody to add some little something. If something is added, regardless of how small it is, then self-sufficiency is completely overthrown. So if God sets out the Gospel to be by faith so that it is in accordance with grace and grace to be grace must not have the slightest work added to it, then we can see with clarity that faith is not a work and cannot add anything to grace. God alone is self-sufficient and the Gospel is of grace from beginning to end and that includes faith which comes from Him as a free gift. His self-sufficiency shines in the Gospel of grace alone but it falls when someone tries to add some little something (like faith) to it. We must not do that or we will be preaching another Gospel and a different god than the true God.

The Glory of God 40

November 10, 2015

An attribute of God must be determined from what He is within Himself rather than judged by our own standards. God is the standard of Himself and of all things.

Acts 17:22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.

The sufficiency of God as shining forth in Christ is seen at its highest points in the cross and in the Gospel of Christ crucified. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Gospel of God is the Gospel of grace alone because the Gospel of God is the Gospel of the self-sufficient God. This Gospel of the self-sufficient God is one that tells us that He needs no help from us and that in fact when we try to help Him that will be seen as not looking to His sufficiency alone. The Gospel of grace alone is the only Gospel that there is. When people fall away from grace alone, they have fallen away from the only real and true Gospel, which is to say that they have fallen away from the self-sufficiency of God to some aspect of their own sufficiency.

The Gospel of grace alone sets out that God’s salvation is sufficient apart from any works we can do and apart from anything we can become. The Gospel of the sufficiency of God is the Gospel of grace alone and it tells us that salvation is by grace alone apart from one or many works or merit of a human being or many human beings. God sees sinners as they are and they are dead in sins and trespasses and utterly obnoxious to His perfect holiness, which is to say that there is nothing in them to attract Him and there is nothing they can do but sin against Him and as such they have nothing to offer Him and nothing to move Him. If they are going to be saved it will be by His sufficiency alone (His grace alone). There is no other hope but in Him because there is nothing sufficient in saving sinners but the sufficient God alone.

Romans 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.

What Romans 3 proclaims to us in the context of God and His self-sufficiency, is that sinners are justified by His grace and that grace alone. There is nothing in the sinner that could possibly move God to save the sinner, so this grace is a free-grace which is a sovereign grace that God gives because of who He is and not because of anything found in the sinner. Can the sinner pay any part of his own redemption price or does God pay the whole price? Is the payment of Christ sufficient payment or is something lacking on the part of the sinner? Was something lacking in the propitiatory sacrifice offered up by Christ or is it completely and totally sufficient? This is a huge dividing line between the biblical teaching of God and Arminianism (not to mention Pelagianism). What God has done is completely and totally sufficient and there is no need of anything for man to contribute to. However, men will still try to add to the completed and perfect work of God in Christ saying that they must contribute faith. This is still an effort to contribute something of the human flesh to the completed work of God.

God has demonstrated His righteousness in Christ and Christ is either completely sufficient or He lacked something. If He lacked something, then we have to make that up in order for God to be just in saving sinners. However, God only declares just those who have faith in Christ. If a person has faith in self, even just a little, then the person does not have faith in the self-sufficient God who has displayed His sufficiency in Christ. God declares guilty sinners just because of Christ alone as what Christ has done is fully sufficient. Who are sinners to boast in? Are they to boast in themselves or in Christ? All boasting in self and the work or works of self is done away with. Self has done nothing but sin and so self has nothing to boast about. The Gospel is about His self-sufficiency and His self-sufficiency alone. There is no room for us to add the slightest to the Gospel.

The Glory of God 39

November 4, 2015

An attribute of God must be determined from what He is within Himself rather than judged by our own standards. God is the standard of Himself and of all things.

Acts 17:22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.

The Scriptures show very clearly that God is self-sufficient and has absolutely no need and also that man is utterly insufficient and is full of needs. Fallen man, however, is blind to this and so thinks that he is sufficient for himself and that he can do things for God. It is an appalling switch from the truth to error and from reality to utter pretense. The hearts of men are full of self and pride and in that they think of themselves as far greater in terms of worth, ability, and morality than the facts warrant. In fact, apart from Christ man is less than nothing to God, has no ability to please God at all, and is utterly unable to do one thing out of love for God. God alone is self-sufficient and man has no sufficiency at all but what God gives man in Christ and by grace alone. Even the fall sets forth the self-sufficiency of God if we have eyes to see.

2 Timothy 3:2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.

The description of men (from the passage above) shows men as those who think that they are sufficient in themselves rather than those who rely upon the self-sufficiency of God. Man, in his pride and presumption of self-sufficiency, loves himself and thinks that he has the power of love within him to love as he pleases. What he does not see, however, is that true love is far different than the love he has in himself. True love only comes from God and only those who are born of God and know God truly love (I John 4:7-8). In fact, though it is not wrong to think of man as full of self-love, in another very real sense those who are full of self-love are actually those who hate others and themselves as they do all that they do with enmity towards the true God.

Those who love themselves long to be sufficient and as such they will love money which they think of as giving them power and will make them independent of all others. It is so amazing to see that those without grace still hold to a form of godliness despite the fact that they are so opposite of the children of God. Christians are known by their love one for another, yet these people are unloving. Christians are to be known as lovers of holiness, yet these people are unholy. Christians are to be known as those who forgive each other and protect the name of each other, yet these people cannot be reconciled to others and are malicious gossips. Indeed they may have a form of godliness, but it is far from the truth of what godliness is. However, it is a godliness that they have worked upon on their own and it depends on them in their natural strength. It is a form of godliness because it does not depend upon the sufficiency of God and instead depends on the sufficiency of man.

Christians are to love what is good and to be faithful to God and all others, but those who have a godliness based on their own sufficiency hate what is truly good because it comes from the one and only true God and they hate true faithfulness because true faithfulness receives all from the sufficiency of God. Those with a form of godliness that relies upon themselves and their own sufficiency love pleasure rather than God because they are sufficient to do what pleases them rather than relying totally upon God for love to love Him. True believers live by grace alone (at least that is the ideal) and as such they live upon the self-sufficiency of God rather than anything found in them of anything that they can do. True godliness is really a true God-centeredness where men receive all from Him. True ungodliness is when men have an outward form of godliness but what they have is from self rather than the grace of God. The godly person lives by grace alone which is to say s/he lives upon the self-sufficiency of God and does not look to self for any sufficiency at all. It is, to put it simply, to live by free-grace which is God’s self-sufficiency found in Christ and in Christ alone.

The Glory of God 38

November 3, 2015

An attribute of God must be determined from what He is within Himself rather than judged by our own standards. God is the standard of Himself and of all things.

Acts 17:22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.

As we view the world and even the professing Church, why do people love money and trust in it? What is it about money that is so trustworthy that men and professing churches trust it and covet it more than God Himself? The love of money comes from a love of self and self loves what money can do for it. Self thinks it can look out after self better than God can look after self and self does not trust God to do what the wisdom of self thinks God should do. The professing Church is much the same as those who make no profession at all. It trusts in money and it is constantly asking for money from the people. The love of money stems from self not wanting to be dependent upon God and His sufficiency and instead wants self to be self-sufficient rather than God.

Why do people want to be dependent on themselves? People don’t trust God and don’t really believe that He is sufficient for all that they really need. People don’t believe that God is wiser than them and so they strive to be sufficient for themselves. Unbelievers love themselves and hate God, so they trust themselves rather than God. This dependence on self and the wicked sufficiency of self both flow from a heart of self-love and as such a heart that does not love or trust God for anything. This is at heart the very nature of sin. The nature of sin flows from the selfish and proud heart while holiness flows from a humble heart that loves God and others.

Why are people so full of pride? It is because people are full of self and the love of self which desires to depend on self rather than love God and depend on Him fully. Proud man loves honor from others, but he cannot see that this great desire for others to honor him makes him dependent on others. This love of honor makes man think that he is self-sufficient, but it is nothing but an illusion. As man seeks honor from others, the heart of what he is doing is to place himself on the throne and seek what God alone should have. While we should seek the honor and glory of God, the heart that loves self seeks the honor and glory of self. The proud heart thinks that it is sufficient to gain these things from others, thus we see that man’s desire to depend on self and the sufficiency of self has many wicked tentacles.

We also see that people want to save themselves and trust in their own righteousness or at least some or just a little bit of their own righteousness. Man may rationally accept the fact that he has no righteousness of his own, but his heart which is so deceptive can trust in itself for many things as it convinces itself that it is trusting in Christ alone. Even the whole idea of faith can lead men to trust in themselves for faith rather than looking to the free-grace of God to give them faith. Man will leave places here and there for them to have just a slight part (they tell themselves) in some little aspect of salvation and yet trusting in self in one part is a mixing of works with grace which makes grace no longer to be grace. Man will fight and fight to retain some little part because to give up all hope in self and to look to Christ alone is to count all the righteousness of man as dung and that is beyond the power of self-sufficient and proud man to do.

Oh how the wickedness of men who fight for some little ability or the smallest amount of righteousness before God is seen in the things of religion. Man, in wanting to be like God, tries to bring honor to self in things like prayer and giving. Man longs to do good works that others see and while his mouth gives the praise to God, that can be just another way of getting people to praise him. It is in looking at the truth of the self-sufficiency of God that we see man in his desire to be like God and so understand sin as man trying to be like the self-sufficient God. Man wants to be sufficient for his own righteousness (or at least part) and he wants to be sufficient in and of himself to do some little something to please God. That little something is actually a huge sin against God and is at enmity with free-grace.

The Glory of God 37

October 29, 2015

An attribute of God must be determined from what He is within Himself rather than judged by our own standards. God is the standard of Himself and of all things.

Acts 17:22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.

The glory of the self-sufficiency of God shines in Christ and man as made in the image of God should glorify God in that. However, Satan deceived the woman regarding self-sufficiency and she wanted to be like God and so ate of the fruit and gave some to her husband. Man is now full of self and longs to be self-sufficient. Man thinks that he is sufficient in wisdom to determine who he is to live and then how to be saved. Man thinks that he is sufficient to do good and to do something that helps save himself. Man is full of pride and self and trusts in himself rather than look to Christ for grace alone. Man, in wanting to be like God, leans on himself and his own sufficiency rather than rely on God for all things. The Fall occurred when human beings were turned from trusting in the sufficiency of God alone to their own sufficiency.

Luke 12:15 Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” 16 And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. 17 “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”‘ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ 21 “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Jesus warned against greed and of thinking that life consists of an abundance of possessions. The parable that He gave is really a warning against our own self-sufficiency. Greed is the desire to have many things, while resting in God is to be content with what God gives. The rich man wanted to store up a lot and then he would live as he wanted to live (v. 19), which is simply to say that he wanted to be self-sufficient and live according to his own wisdom and sinful heart. But God called the man a fool and told him that his would be required or him that very night. All that the man possessed would be given to others. This is what happens when men long and strive to build treasure for themselves which is an effort to be self-sufficient for both now and the future. Man’s possessions cannot make him sufficient to ward off death and there is no way man can be sufficient in spiritual things.

When we view the doctrine of sin in light of God’s self-sufficiency, what we see is that man is trying to be sufficient apart from God. Man wants to depend on himself rather than God and man wants to trust in himself rather than God. Man would rather trust in his own efforts and works rather than the sovereignty of God and His giving all things in accordance with grace. This is seen in the parable of the rich fool above. He thought that by building and storing enough for years that he was sufficient to live the good life. However, what he had could not deliver him from the hand of God in death. What he had was not enough to save his soul from hell. God alone can give man his life, every breath, and all things. It is God who sustains men, though He works through their work as means. However, it is God who sustains them. When men die, they will find out just how much God sustained them and of how their very work itself was out of pride and a wicked self-sufficiency. When men die they will find out that all that they did out of love for self was idolatry since it was not out of love for God. When men die they will see their utter and absolute need of Christ as their all-sufficient One. We live in a vale of tears and much sorrow, but we are so blind when we don’t see the sovereign hand of God working through second causes.