Hmmmm…….grandchildren + Christmas = this has possibilities……teaching children the sovereign freedom of the living God in the salvation of sinners….hmmm….quite a concept, if you ask me (thanks to Triablogue).
Posts Tagged ‘Indian River Baptist Church’
This is being written looking out a window at a Northern Michigan day in late May – a day which is overcast, the air dripping with humidity. There is but the slightest of breezes coming in the window and one hears a solitary bird singing its song in the woods across the road. This day is like many others which have occurred in the 30 years we have lived here. Sometimes it is warm, sometimes it is cold, sometimes in between. One could arrive at my age and think of how all the days in the rearview mirror of like run together and how one day has no meaning different from another. How wrong that would be.
Yesterday around 5:30pm I walked out the back door of our little house and around to our car in front, leaving to go to Chippewa Correctional Facility. After I had taken a few steps, I was stricken about how this walk is one I have made umpteen times and how it could become ‘mundane.” But it isn’t. It’s special. Why would I think that? The next thought was this – the men whom my mentor and I along with another friend would be driving 65 miles to visit at Chippewa would love to participate in such a mundane activity as walking to one’s vehicle. I became aware of how thankful I was at God’s generosity in granting me the ability to walk to my vehicle. Even more, I had the freedom to do that – I didn’t have to ask permission. The men we went to visit at the prison last night live in a very confined world. They live in a very confined world – even amongst prisoners. Their world is their housing unit – holding about 140 prisoners and it is isolated from the rest of the prison. They don’t get to go to the ‘Big Yard’ like other prisoners at that facility can. They only get to go in the immediate area right outside their housing unit – maybe 40-50 away from the unit.
In that 40-50 feet, however, they can see through the fence across the road to a gas station which is the center of commerce in that area. People entering, people leaving, people putting gas in their vehicles, people standing outside talking, people walking to and fro. And the prisoners can’t. Going to the gas station may be a mundane activity for almost everyone. It isn’t for me.
But why? Because even mundane activities like going to a gas station or walking to a vehicle are things we do which can glorify God. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (10:31) How can putting gas in your car glorify God? How can walking to that car glorify God? We can do that by having a mindset of gratitude for what God has done. We can acknowledge Him as the Creator – He is the One in whom we live and move and have our being, to cite Paul in Acts 17. Every beat of our heart – every breath we take – is an act of the grace and mercy of the one, true, living God.
There are two parking lots where I am permitted to park at my place of employment – one would give me about a 100-yard walk in and the other gives me a bout a quarter of a mile walk. I always park in the ‘back’ lot – why? (Yes, I even park there in the middle of the winter, and I don’t take the shuttle provided unless it’s absolutely pouring rain. Two shuttle rides so far in the six or seven years that lot has been open) I park back there for a couple of reasons. First, I know there may very well come a day when physically I won’t be able to make that walk and in the meantime, I’ll walk it. I was reminded of that when I was in the hospital in August 2011 in critical condition. Upon release, the reason for the walk became more manifest. Second, it gives me five minutes on the way in and the way out to appreciate the glory of God’s Creation. The walk includes a view of Little Traverse Bay, with our
building sitting on a bluff overlooking the Bay. It’s beautiful and at times, breath-taking. Could this walk be mundane? Sure, it could. But it isn’t. It’s a time to think about the glory of God and how one day all Creation will be redeemed and as beautiful as it is now, how much more will it be on the last Day!
Getting back to our friends at the prison, however. many years ago as I was walking in for the Bible study, I was by myself, alone with a corrections officer who was escorting me. We had to walk against the flow of much prisoner traffic on the sidewalk and as I approached one prisoner – whom I had never seen before and haven’t seen since, he walked right up next to me and said,
You get to go home tonight.
Now, was I aware of that? Sure I was. I already had six or seven years of volunteer service inside prisons at that point. But such a simple statement carried great import. He was absolutely right. I did get to go home that night and every other night of the hundreds I’ve entered prisons. Ever since that night, the walk out has been certainly not mundane.
Why is a walk to a car or going to the gas station not mundane? Because of what I truly deserve. My sin deserves death. All of our sin deserves death. As R.C. Sproul says, every sin is cosmic treason against God. Every sin a capital offense against God. But for some reason known only to Him, he loves me. He loves me enough to have rescued me from the eternal consequences of my sin by granting me faith and repentance and by providing redemption in the Person and work of His Son, Jesus the Messiah. If we are honest with ourselves, many of us have done things which ought to have resulted in us being in prison like our friends last night.
The stories you hear in prisons are heart-rending. Last night a man talked about his phone calls with his nine year-old daughter – and about how he had discussed things with her before the other times he had gone to prison. Think of the price paid by that little girl for the sins of her father. Think of the price that man is paying in the separation from his daughter. Think of a little girl who probably just wants her dad to hold her – but he can’t. No one here is denying the need for the offender to do the time – but there is a horrible human and societal price to be paid for sin and we all know it. Something mundane like a little girl wanting to talk to her dad – or vice versa. I can do. All I have to do is pick up the phone or jump in the car and go visit my children and grandchildren. My friends in state blue last night? They would love the world of the mundane in which you and I live.
Don’t overlook the mundane. The ordinary. The commonplace. God is present in those days and times as well. There are now two birds singing sweetly in the trees, to quote the hymn. ”How Great Thou Art” applies to what we may label as mundane, ordinary and commonplace. Our everyday lives. If we are truly God-centered and God-focused, nothing will become mundane because the God who governs the universe is not mundane. He is awesome. He is mighty. He is holy, just righteous, kind, generous, gracious, merciful and so much more. Life only becomes mundane when we allow our remaining sin to make it seem so. In heaven, life is not mundane and upon the last Day, life will be not mundane, either. Life itself is not mundane - life is special. Let us look forward to that – and worship and praise God in what is everyday, ordinary and – to us – mundane.
(I am taking a six-week sabbatical from teaching Sunday School. Our pastor, Jeff Gwilt, will most ably take over during this period…he is, after all, our pastor)
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
1 Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us;
look, and see our disgrace!
2 Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers,
our homes to foreigners.
3 We have become orphans, fatherless;
our mothers are like widows.
4 We must pay for the water we drink;
the wood we get must be bought.
5 Our pursuers are at our necks;
we are weary; we are given no rest.
6 We have given the hand to Egypt, and to Assyria,
to get bread enough.
7 Our fathers sinned, and are no more;
and we bear their iniquities.
8 Slaves rule over us;
there is none to deliver us from their hand.
9 We get our bread at the peril of our lives,
because of the sword in the wilderness.
10 Our skin is hot as an oven
with the burning heat of famine.
11 Women are raped in Zion,
young women in the towns of Judah.
12 Princes are hung up by their hands;
no respect is shown to the elders.
13 Young men are compelled to grind at the mill,
and boys stagger under loads of wood.
14 The old men have left the city gate,
the young men their music.
15 The joy of our hearts has ceased;
our dancing has been turned to mourning.
16 The crown has fallen from our head;
woe to us, for we have sinned!
17 For this our heart has become sick,
for these things our eyes have grown dim,
18 for Mount Zion which lies desolate;
jackals prowl over it.
19 But you, O Lord, reign forever;
your throne endures to all generations.
20 Why do you forget us forever,
why do you forsake us for so many days?
21 Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored!
Renew our days as of old—
22 unless you have utterly rejected us,
and you remain exceedingly angry with us.
1Ti 4:10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
The question arises concerning the latter half of the verse, concerning those for whom God is Savior. Owen gives his explanation:
Let us look at another proof. Perhaps it will strengthen the uncouth distinction we oppose. It is 1Tim. 4:10, “Who is the Savior of all men, specially of those who believe.” Had it been, “Who is the Mediator of all men, specially of those who believe,” it would have been more likely. What are these men thinking? Is there any word here spoken of Christ as mediator? The words preceding this phrase indicate that it is the “living God” in whom we trust. He is the Savior mentioned here. And is Christ ever called our Savior with regard to his mediation? I showed before that God the Father is often called Savior. And it is the Father who is intended here, as all sound interpreters agree. That is clear from the context, which speaks of the protecting providence of God. It is general towards all, and special, or specific, towards his church. Thus he is said to “save man and beast,” Ps. 36:6. The Hebrew for save, Yasha [OT:3467], is rendered Soter in the Greek [NT:4990, from 4982 sozo], “You shall save or preserve.” It is God, then, who is called the “Savior of all” here. He is the Savior by his deliverance and protection in danger, which is his providence. This providence is specific towards believers. What proof this offers for universal mediation I do not know.
The context of this passage will not allow any other interpretation. The words offer a reason why believers should cheerfully go forward, runing the race that is set before them with joy, despite all the injury and reproaches with which the people of God are continually assaulted. It is because God preserves all (for “in him we live, and move, and have our being,” Acts 17:28; Ps. 145:14-16). He will not allow any of them to be injured or unrevenged, Gen. 9:5. And so he is especially the preserver of those who believe. For they are the apple of his eye, Zech. 2:8; Deut. 32:10. If he allows them to be pressed for a season, the apostle encourages them not to let go of their hope and confidence, nor be weary of well-doing, but still rest on and trust in him. What motive would he have to tell believers that God would save those who will never believe? To say nothing of how strange it would seem to have Christ be the Savior of those who are never saved, to whom he never gives grace to believe, and for whom he refuses to intercede, John 17:9. Yet this intercession is no small part of his mediation by which he saves sinners. Neither the subject nor the context of the phrase “He is the Savior of all men,” is rightly apprehended by those who twist it in support of niversal redemption. For the subject, “He,” is God the Father, not Christ the mediator; and the context is a providential preservation, not a purchased salvation. That is, the providence of God protects and governs all. But God is watching in a special way for the good of those who are his, so that they will not always be unjustly and cruelly slandered and reviled, among other pressures. The apostle also shows that it was God’s course to do so, 2Cor. 1:9, 10. “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead: who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;” for “he is the Savior of all men, specially of those who believe.” Paul reveals the basis for his confidence in going through his labors and afflictions in these words: “Because we hope in the living God,” 1Tim. 4:10. If anyone thinks instead that these words express the sum of the doctrine for which he was so turmoiled and afflicted, I will not oppose it. For then it would only be an assertion of the true God and Paul’s dependence on him. And this dependence is in opposition to all the idols of the Gentiles, and any other vain conceits by which they exalted themselves into the throne of the Most High. But instead, they are saying,
1. that Christ would be a Savior of those who will never be saved from their sins, in the same way that he saves his people, Matt. 1:21; or
2. that he is a Savior of those who never heard one word about saving, or about a Savior; or,
3. that he would be a Savior in a two senses – first for all, and then secondly for believers; or,
4. that believing is the condition by which Christ becomes a Savior in a special way to someone – and that condition was not procured or purchased by Christ.
If that is the sense of this passage, then I say, “credat Judaeus Apella:”1
To me, nothing is more certain than that Christ completely saves those to whom he is in any sense a Savior in the work of redemption. He saves them from all their sins of infidelity and disobedience, with saving grace here, and glory after.
1. Literally, “Let the Jew Apella believe it,” from the Satires of Horace. He could have said, “Tell that to the Marines,” the final authority on tall tales. It refers to an obvious absurdity. See Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.
From the 2010 Expositor’s Conference.
52 “I have been hunted like a bird
by those who were my enemies without cause;
53 they flung me alive into the pit
and cast stones on me;
54 water closed over my head;
I said, ‘I am lost.’
55 “I called on your name, O LORD,
from the depths of the pit;
56 you heard my plea, ‘Do not close
your ear to my cry for help!’
57 You came near when I called on you;
you said, ‘Do not fear!’
58 “You have taken up my cause, O Lord;
you have redeemed my life.
59 You have seen the wrong done to me, O LORD;
judge my cause.
60 You have seen all their vengeance,
all their plots against me.
61 “You have heard their taunts, O LORD,
all their plots against me.
62 The lips and thoughts of my assailants
are against me all the day long.
63 Behold their sitting and their rising;
I am the object of their taunts.
64 “You will repay them, O LORD,
according to the work of their hands.
65 You will give them dullness of heart;
your curse will be on them.
66 You will pursue them in anger and destroy them
from under your heavens, O LORD.”
The Holy Stones Lie Scattered
4 How the gold has grown dim,
how the pure gold is changed!
The holy stones lie scattered
at the head of every street.
2 The precious sons of Zion,
worth their weight in fine gold,
how they are regarded as earthen pots,
the work of a potter’s hands!
3 Even jackals offer the breast;
they nurse their young,
but the daughter of my people has become cruel,
like the ostriches in the wilderness.
4 The tongue of the nursing infant sticks
to the roof of its mouth for thirst;
the children beg for food,
but no one gives to them.
5 Those who once feasted on delicacies
perish in the streets;
those who were brought up in purple
embrace ash heaps.
6 For the chastisement of the daughter of my people has been greater
than the punishment of Sodom,
which was overthrown in a moment,
and no hands were wrung for her.
7 Her princes were purer than snow,
whiter than milk;
their bodies were more ruddy than coral,
the beauty of their form was like sapphire.
8 Now their face is blacker than soot;
they are not recognized in the streets;
their skin has shriveled on their bones;
it has become as dry as wood.
9 Happier were the victims of the sword
than the victims of hunger,
who wasted away, pierced
by lack of the fruits of the field.
10 The hands of compassionate women
have boiled their own children;
they became their food
during the destruction of the daughter of my people.
11 The LORD gave full vent to his wrath;
he poured out his hot anger,
and he kindled a fire in Zion
that consumed its foundations.
12 The kings of the earth did not believe,
nor any of the inhabitants of the world,
that foe or enemy could enter
the gates of Jerusalem.
13 This was for the sins of her prophets
and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed in the midst of her
the blood of the righteous.
14 They wandered, blind, through the streets;
they were so defiled with blood
that no one was able to touch
15 “Away! Unclean!” people cried at them.
“Away! Away! Do not touch!”
So they became fugitives and wanderers;
people said among the nations,
“They shall stay with us no longer.”
16 The LORD himself has scattered them;
he will regard them no more;
no honor was shown to the priests,
no favor to the elders.
17 Our eyes failed, ever watching
vainly for help;
in our watching we watched
for a nation which could not save.
18 They dogged our steps
so that we could not walk in our streets;
our end drew near; our days were numbered,
for our end had come.
19 Our pursuers were swifter
than the eagles in the heavens;
they chased us on the mountains;
they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
20 The breath of our nostrils, the LORD’s anointed,
was captured in their pits,
of whom we said, “Under his shadow
we shall live among the nations.”
21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom,
you who dwell in the land of Uz;
but to you also the cup shall pass;
you shall become drunk and strip yourself bare.
22 The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter of Zion, is accomplished;
he will keep you in exile no longer;
but your iniquity, O daughter of Edom, he will punish;
he will uncover your sins.
13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.