On Salvation – Once Held, Never Lost

Among Arminians there is this notion that men can “fall away” – that is that once a person is saved they can, somehow, lose their salvation, if they choose to walk away from God (Whether one “choosing to walk away from God” is how all Arminians see this issue of how losing salvation is brought about, I know not; this is merely how it has been explained to me by them). And while they’ve been able to at least somewhat articulate their belief, not once have they ever quoted scripture to me concerning this matter; regardless, I wish to dive into this matter and really explore this matter without labels i.e. I do not intent to say, “I’m a Calvinist therefore Perseverance of The Saints,” because while that is true (I am a Calvinist’s Calvinist and adhere to all the Doctrines of Grace) I don’t wish to give the typical response. I wish to give everyone who reads this a (possibly) new perspective on this issue that I myself just came to the realization of. Now with that said that does not mean I will not use “proof-texts” such as John 10:27-29, on the contrary I will examine the scriptures that uphold the biblical truth concerning salvation. But enough introductory words, let’s get into this topic.

Now some may say that it is possible to fall away, to lose their salvation. They say this because they see people who seem to be followers of Christ, who go to church, who know scripture, and then go off to college and come back an atheist. Or who fall into certain life styles and such. And these real-life examples are what they generally use – as I stated earlier, I have not once been quoted scripture in favor of this Arminian notion – to support their position. And while these “real-life” examples may seem hard to argue against I must remind us all that scripture trumps all life experiences that we may have; I would further remind people reading this that taking our own life experiences above the authority of scripture leads to one end: believing a lie, whether that lie be free will, Catholicism, atheism, agnosticism, or relativism, or any other lie. So while those “real-life” experiences may seem to be over scripture I call you all to remember that it is not “scripture” but rather “Scripture”. This is the very word of the sovereign God, and therefore what it says overrides whatever we’d like to think about anything. Now this notion of people losing their salvation: what does this whole issue rest upon? Many will point to the sovereignty of God in salvation, and they are right, the sovereignty of God in salvation is part of this whole controversy, but I’d wish to call your attention to the very core of salvation: atonement. Truly this is the core of salvation: for only with the atonement of Christ there is salvation, but without the atonement of Christ there is absolutely no salvation. And because of that fact, the losing of salvation heavily relates to atonement. So let’s look at atonement.
How are we justified in God’s sight? Through what is atonement accomplished? Divine scripture is very clear on this: 
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. – Romans 3:23-26
Here Paul says that we are “justified by his grace as a gift,” through what? “Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” We see clearly that through Christ we are justified, by his redemption which is a propitiation of his blood, not by works or anything that we do, as the apostle more clearly states: “20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20). Very clearly it is not by our works, but by grace as he says in another place: “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Thus it is not our own righteousness that saves us, and why is that? Well quite simply, because our “good works” are like filthy rags before the eyes of a holy God. 
So then if not by our own righteousness, then by who’s righteousness are we justified before God? We know they by faith we are justified, but by faith in what? Faith in a guy who died on a cross? No there’s more to it than that. You see as scripture says, God will not justify the guilty (“keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” – Exodus 34:7) so therefore there must some sort of transferring of righteousness between two parties to make us righteous in the sight of God. We have faith upon Christ to supply that righteousness that is given to us through faith as the prophet says:
1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by. – Zechariah 3:1-5

We are Joshua in this passage, and the clean robes that we (those that are in Christ) wear are not our own but they were given to us. And the wee given to us from Christ, and he took our filthy clothes and bore the punishment that is rightfully ours for us, as it is written: 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5). 

Clearly we see that Christ’s death, His holy life, and his resurrection are the things that justify us. Now you are probably asking yourself, “What does this have to do with whether or not one can lose their salvation?” But consider, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, what the implications of Christ’s righteousness, Christ’s death and resurrection, being the thing that justifies you is. Consider these questions: if it is by the righteousness of Christ and by the punishment that He endured for us, how then can we lose our salvation? If we can lose our salvation by anything that we do, that would mean that we can make the righteousness of Christ and the payment of Christ on our behalf defective. Tell me, o man, how can we make Christ’s righteousness unrighteous? How can we nullify what He has done? Does not Paul say, “3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” ” (Romans 3:3-4)? If God is true even thought every man be a liar, then must not Christ be righteous though every man is a sinner? 
As you can see, nothing we can do will ever make the righteousness of Christ any less righteous than it is, how then can we lose our salvation if it is based on Christ’s righteousness, which we cannot affect? We cannot affect Christ’s righteousness, therefore we cannot affect what our salvation rests upon, therefore we cannot affect our salvation. 
And that is why Calvinists say: If saved, always saved. Why? Because how can we make the righteousness that saves us, which isn’t ours but Christ’s, unrighteous? Simply we cannot do that, it is literally impossible. 
And furthermore, Christ says:
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. – John 10:27-29
When Christ says that “no one will snatch them out of my hand” he mean it. “No one” means no one, nobody, no one! When he says that “no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand,” it means NO ONE has the power, the ability, to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. And if no one means no one, then that includes the sheep, the redeemed. Therefore it is impossible for us to lose our salvation. 
Once held, never lost.
Blessings to all my brothers and sisters in the faith,

Michael Hall

On Salvation – Once Held, Never Lost

On the Sovereignty of God

Today we’re going to look at one of the key pillars of Reformed Theology, as well as one of the key pillars of Biblical Christianity and that pillar is the sovereignty of God. This pillar has been reduced to a mere stuble, if you will, in the eyes of modern day Christianiry. It’s a doctrine that’s been abused, diminished, and even flat-out rejected. It’s a doctrine that has been controversial in recent times. And today we’re going to discuss it; we’re also going to be looking at the biblical aspect of it; namely, what is the sovereignty of God, according to scripture? Is there any limitations to that sovereignty that God posses? And if so, where are those limitations set? And even, is God sovereign? These are some of the questions I wil atempt to answer today. And I hope that it edifices you, and that you learn something new about God; and if it’s just an overview of what you’ve already learned than I hope it will bring some things back to your memory that perhaps you may have forgotten. Let’s get started and, as always with me, you will need your Bible for this.

In this day in age, many professing Christians do not truly believe in the absolute sovereignty of God; the idea that some one is in control of every aspect and event in their life is irritating, if not infuriating to some; the idea that there is someone who can “violate their free will” is often maddening to some. But what is sovereignty? Charles Hodge once wrote this in his Systematic Theology, “Sovereignty is not a property of divine nature, but a prerogative arising out of the perfections of the Supreme Being.” So then sovereignty is not a characteristic like omnipotence, which stands on its own; no, sovereignty rests upon the perfect perfections of God, so before we deal with the actual sovereignty of God, we must first deal with this question: is God perfect?

Of course any Christian’s natural response is, “Of course!” but I do not want to rely on all of you giving that response, so look at Deuteronomy 32:4.

4 “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are just. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright in love.” – Deuteronomy 32:4

Here Moses is declaring that “all his ways are just” and that he is “without iniquity” and finally, “his work is perfect“. So then by this one verse we see that yes, God is perfect. But I’d like to go a little deeper, when we say that God is perfect that means Hos love is a perfect love; His power is a perfect power; His holiness is a perfect holiness. It means that everything about God is perfect. 

And now we must answer yet another questuon: can God be perfect and not also be sovereign? I give an emphatic: NO! For if God is perfect that must mean that He has perfect wisdom, perfect goodness, and perfect power; if you combine those with the right of ownership(which belongs to God alone, as it is written: “I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I have commanded all their host.”), and then with all those invested in one Being, that Being [God] has not only the ability but also the right of being totally sovereign. Charles Hodge also wrote this in his Systematic Theology, “If God be a Spirit, and therefore a person, infinite, eternal, and immutable in his being and perfections, the Creator and Perserver of the universe, He is of right it’s absolute sovereign.” which is true and the “immutable foundation of His dominion”, as Charles Hodge put it, is his perfect wisom, goodness, and power combined with the right of ownership. Thus, in the light of all that, God has not only the perfect ability to be sovereign, but also the perfect right to be sovereign. And who are we, mere humans who cannot even add one minute to our life, to mentally try and rob God of that right and ability? Just who do we think we are?

But if there are any reading who still doubt the sovereignty of God I wish to call them to the logical implications that occur if God is not sovereign: If God is not sovereign, how then could we (the believers) have any hope that any promise of God will be kept? For if God is not sovereign, then His promises would, at the end of the day, have the same dignity and reliability as that of a promise of man, in the sense that we do not know for sure without any doubt that we will be able to actually carry out that promise despite anything that may occur. And why is that? Simply because we are not sovereign, because we are not perfect; we also have no power, in and of ourselves, to control the world, other people, or anything else in the way that God does, for the Psalmist declares, “Our God is in the heavens , he does all that he pleases.”; after all not only do we not have any power, in and of ourselves, but we cannot even save ourselves from the slavery if sin and even if we could save ourselves from the slavery of sin, we still couldn’t do all that we please; how then can we exalt ourselves so high, and drag God down so low? And also consider, in the creation account when God commanded the darkness saying,”Let there be light.” And then out of the darkness there was light, with no sun, moon, or stars, for they were created on the fourth day (Genesis 1:14-19), but the commanding of light to come into existence, in the absence of sub, moon, or stars, was uttered on the firs day (Genesis 1:1-5). And while virtually all Christians will accept the clear truth of scripture concerning the Creation acclunt, which is that God created the universe and everything contained therein, many will not accept the logical and necessary implications of the power that is clearly displayed in the creation account: for God to create Ex Nihilo (Latin for “out of nothing”), it naturally follows that out of His perfect, an nearly incomprehensible, power flows forth sovereignty. 

But just think: what if God is not sovereign? That would mean that God could not guarentee that His promises will come to pass despite anything that may occur; how then could we have any genuine and sure trust in Him? If Christ’s words: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they will never perish, and no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” are a promise and God is not sovereign and therefore not able to bring it to pass without chance of failure, then, tell me, what hope do we have? None! J.C. Ryle once said, “Take away the cross of Christ, and the Bible is a dark book.” which is extremely true, but I say: “Take away the sovereignty of God, and Christianity becomes a hopeless, and therefore worthless, faith.” Without a sovereign God there is no guarantee of anything good, without a sovereign God all we could ever have is doubt. And also consider this: if God is not able to sovereignly bring to pass any and every promise that He makes, this not only robs Him of His majesty, but this also calls into question the general principle characteristics of God; for if God makes us these promises and presents them to us as absolutes, while fully knowing that they are not absolutes, and therefore subject to chance or circumstance, does that not make God a liar? And if not a liar, does that not still call into question His goodness in general?

That is what the logical implications are if God is not sovereign, and truthfully they are terrifying, but thank God that our God is a sovereign God, and that His sovereignty is His forever, regardless of what mortal man says.

However, now that we’ve dispensed with the logical implications that occur if God is not sovereign, let us turn to the scriptures and see what they say concerning His sovereignty: by now, I hope that by now none are opposed to the idea of the sovereignty of God, now that we see the effects that come to be if He is not sovereign; in fact, I expect most to be hoping for scripture to support the sovereignty of God boldly, since the alternative leaves us hopeless.

Firstly, I’d like to be establish the God’s ownership, since out if His ownership comes His sovereignty.

1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, – Psalm 24:1

Here the psalmist is not putting any limits on God’s ownership in away way, in fact, he’s doing quite the opposite: he’s presenting God’s ownership a never ending, all encompassing. He says that “the fullness thereof” is the LORD’s. Under that one word “fullness” is included all the riches that the earth is adorned with. Even we are, in one way or another, belonging to God as the psalmist says, “the world and those who dwell therein”; I do not see any limitations being placed on God’s ownership of this world and what it contains, after all does He not say through His prophet Isaiah, “I made the earth and created man in it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens and I command all of their host.” (Isaiah 45:12)? If God has made the world and everything therein, then by right, God is the owner of literally everything.
Now, in light of His all encompassing ownership, we cannot say, “It’s not fair that God allows this to happen!” Or “It isn’t fair that God controls everything!” Or “It isn’t fair that Hod predestines salvation to some and not others!” But yet, people – even Christians – do say things like that, and when we bring up such statements we must never forget how in the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard – which is found in Matthew 20:1-16 – how they owner of the vineyard, the character of the parable that represents God, says to some of His Laborers, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” You see, we owe God for every breath that we take, and the moment we say to God, “That’s not fair!” we forget His graciousness in that He freely chooses to sustain our existence, when He is absolutely not required to. And not only that but we forget that all on earth and in heaven belongs to Him.

So now that we’ve established ownership, and thus the right of God to be sovereign, let us see to what degree does God exercise His divine right:

3 Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. 

                          – Psalm 115:3

Firstly, we see God’s divinity described by this verse (“Our God is in the heavens;”); then secondly, we see to the degree that God exercises His divine right: “he does all that he pleases”. Note that it does not say, “some of what he pleases” or “most of what he pleases”;no, it says, “all that he pleases”. “All” encompasses everything; every thing that Godj wishes to do, He does, according to the psalmist. 
Next let us look at Daniel 4:35.

35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?                    

                          – Daniel 4:35

Here I think it is imperative that we take into consideration just who is actually saying these words. And if we look at verse thirty-four if this chapter in Daniel, we see that it is not Daniel speaking here but rather King Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Neo-Babylon, a heathen king; and even this heathen king knew and proclaimed God’s absolute truth concerning God’s absolute sovereignty. And if a heathen king can know and declare God’s absolute sovereignty, then why is it something that is questioned, lessened, attacked, slandered, and degraded? That question I leave to you to meditate on but let’s look closely at what Nebuchadnezzar says: “and he does according to his will among the hosts of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth;”, not ice how he does not say “he does according to others’ will”; no, he says, “he does according to his will”, but among what? “Among the hosts of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth;”, now what does that leave outside of God’a control? If He does what His will is in heaven and on earth, then what is left outside of God’s sovereign hand? Quite obviously nothing is! Furthermore, he says, “and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” ” None can stay his hand, none can stop God from doing what He wills. And none have the right to question him saying, “What have you done?”; after all, who are we? Mere men who cannot count the hairs on our head, and mere men who cannot add one second to his life than what God has sovereignty determined Him to have. Thus we see a pagan king acknowledging the absolute, all encompassing sovereignty of God with boldness. 

Next let us look at Ephesians 1:11.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, – Ephesians 1:11

Generally this verse is used as a proof text to support predestination – which it does and also predestination has been called by many theologians one of the most magnificent example of God’s sovereignty at work – but today I’d like to call your attention primarily to the phrase: “of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,” here Paul does not put any limitations on God’s sovereignty but declares it to be over “all things”, here Paul is even more clear and blatant than King Nebuchadnezzar is in Daniel 4:35; and also notice how Paul does not say “orders all things” or “commissions all things” but rather says “works all things”, here Paul is saying that in His sovereignty, God is a working God, He is an active God, not a stale, unmoving God. After all scripture says concerning Him, “But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and everlasting King.” (Jeremiah 10:10a), and a living God is active, not one who sits lazily in the heavens amusing Himself by tossing our destinies around aimlessly and without purpose; rather, on the contrary! God is a living God, a working God, who has a purpose for all of His actions, as Paul declares, “having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Now according to that one verse, God’s actions have purpose and therefore are not arbitrary or based on the throwing of a dice but on actual purpose which is “according to the counsel of his will” not according to just anyone’s will, but His will, according to the will of the God of the universe! And now are we seriously going to question the validity of the God of the universe’s actions? As God questioned Job: “Where you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding” (Job 38:4). 

Lastly let us look at Romans 11:36.

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. – Romans 11:36

Here Paul declares that all things are from God, through God, and to God; the end result of those three explicit things is total sovereignty, for if all things are “from him, through him, and to him” the what limit is set on His authority and power? What limit is set on His right to be sovereign? What limit is set on His exercising of that divine right? None, there are no limits with God, for Christ Himself says, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you.” (Mark 14:36), and when Christ said “all things”, believe me, He meant it! Indeed, because Christ says that we clearly see, especially in light of Romans 11:36, that there is no limit set on God’s ability to work all things according to the purpose of His will. 
And if there are any who still doubt the sovereignty of God, I leave them to wrestle with Paul’s words:

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time-he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. – 1 Timothy 6:13-16

However, for those of us who are convinced – by scripture – of the sovereignty of God, we see that this sovereignty is 1.) over all things, the sovereignty is controlling everything thing that ever has happened and everything that ever happens; 2.) it is His absolute right, and therefore we have no right to question God’s doings or God’s reasons, He says to Job, “Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?” (Job 40:8); and 3.) it is a just, righteous, and holy sovereignty, not random, not sadistic, not evil, but good, and just, and righteous, and holy sovereignty. 

Now, with the first point above – and also the third point – the question will immediately come from someone: if God is sovereign – and that sovereignty is good, just, righteous, and holy – how then can evil exist? And to be honest it is a good question, it’s been named, over time, the ‘Problem of Evil’. But I have found it has a rather simple answer, which comes in a question: why does God have to make this world perfect for you when all people do is sin against Him? God is not required to make everything perfect for your life, in fact you make you’re own life not perfect – and therefore the world – by your sin. God doesn’t control you like a robot, you have a will – which is in slavery to sin, but it is still there – and your will is to sin, and if everyone sins then you have events such as the Holocaust, legalization of abortion. We – humans – cause the evil to exist by our own actions, and God simply is allowing us to follow the passions of our flesh, which is entirely sinful. Now, would we so misrepresent God by blaming Him for the consequences of our own actions? Would we try to get out of our guilt and place it on to the holy God? Would we condemn God that we may be found in the right? How dare we! How dare we even consider that God is responsible for our sin; no, we are the party that is responsible, not God. So do not blame God for mankind’s sinfulness; no, blame mankind. 

Now, there are a few issues in which the sovereignty of God has been abused, which I feel that it is absolutely necessary that we deal with them:  

1. Some forsake the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) because of God’s sovereignty; they say, “Because God is sovereign I don’t need to proclaim the gospel to others.” This is heresy and apostasy, plain and simple. Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God commands you to proclaim the gospel to the world and you say, “No, that’s not necessary because you are sovereign, Jesus.” You foolish people! Do you not see that by forsaking the commandment of Christ you prove yourself not to love Him? For Christ says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15), and therefore by not keeping His commandments you prove to all that you do not truly love Christ, for if He gave so much for your own salvation and if He truly is the Lord of your life, doesn’t He then have the absolute right to command you? And that you then must obey His commandments? You see many miss the point when it comes to God’s sovereignty and how it relates to proclaiming the gospel. You see God has sovereignly determined the end, but but He has also sovereignly declared the means to that end! And by His word, we see that proclaiming the biblical – and therefore true – gospel is His sovereignly declared means to His desired end:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20
This is not an optional thing; this is not a request; this is a command from Christ Himself! You can’t say, “No, that’s not really necessary.” because here Christ is saying, “Oh, I say that it is necessary, and if you love me you will obey me!” We are in no position to say that it isn’t required to obey the Great Commission, we are only in a position to obey it! And on a side note, if you are truly saved you will not be able to not keep the Great Commission! If you are truly saved you will shine as lights in the darkness. 

2. Some say that because God is sovereign that therefore they cannot lose their salvation (which is true, I assure you of that), but then they take that as an excuse to live however they want, since that they cannot lose their salvation.this is not Christianity; in fact, this is ANTI-Christ, against everything Christ stood for, for after healing some does he not say, “Sin no more,” (John 5:14; 8:11)?

Firstly, if one does not have a heartbroken remorse over their sin, I question whether they are truly saved, and that relates to this in this way: how can one have a true heartbroken remorse, then later make an excuse for their sin? Truly, if they have true heartbroken remorse for their sin, they will not make excuses for it. Furthermore, before one can say, “I can’t lose it, so I can live however I want,” that same must make sure their calling as the apostle Peter says, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” (2 Peter 1:10). And even once you’re calling is confirmed and sure, even then you cannot live however you wish – by this it is generally meant that one can live in sin – for the apostle Paul declares, “19.) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20.) for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). But let us examine a more explicit text on this subject.

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:1-4
In this passage the apostle Paul is telling us by no means, how dare we even think, that we may continue in sin while being in the body of Christ, for he says that we have died to sin, just as also says, “We know that the old self was crucified with him in order that the body be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (Romans 6:6), and with the reality of our death to sin, Paul asks, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2), which is a rhetorical question: it is simply impossible to be dead to something and yet still live in it, we must be either dead to sin and alive to God, or alive to sin and dead to God; there are no other options, for does not Christ say, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)? And we knew that everyone who commits a “sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34), how then can we live in sin, which is to be its slave, and at the same time live in the Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, which is to be their servant? Truly, we cannot do such a thing, it is impossible. Thus the sovereignty of God exercised in holding you in His hand (John 10:27-29) is not to make an excuse for living sinfully but to provide assure and this increase our sanctification, for Paul the apostle says, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13). The apostle Peter also says concerning this, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16). 
Now I must clarify this, lest any unnecessarily question their salvation: living in sin and sinning are two different things. Living in sin is being enslaved by it, and controlled by it, living in it and – usually – enjoying it; sinning is sinning, falling short of the glory of God, but yet at the same time taking no pleasure from our sin, but being heartbroken over it, feeling guilt over it, and wishing that we had never committed it. The first (living in sin) – I am convinced – is a mark of a false declaration of sin; the second is a mark of a regenerate person for how can a spiritually dead man feel the weight of sin? Indeed, he cannot. Thus there is a difference between living in sin and sinning.
Now, I am sure that there are many, many other ways which the sovereignty of God could be abused but these are the two most common – at least to my knowledge – however, there still remains a very important question: how should we respond to the sovereignty of God? I once had an atheist say to me how I “always had to have Daddy upstairs watching over me”, he meant it as an insult to me, but it’s true: I have a God looking out for me at all times, a God who is both just and loving, both holy and merciful, a God who gave much for the salvation of men, as Paul says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all,” (Romans 8:32), that’s the kind of love that God loves us (the elect) with, a perfect love, now we not only have a sovereign God but a loving God who is sovereign, a merciful God who is sovereign, a holy God who is sovereign, a compassionate God who is sovereign. So how should we respond? With joy! Why should we have despair as God’s elect because of His sovereignty? There is no reason to have any reaction to God’s sovereignty that isn’t one of joy, comfort, and utter peace if you are one of His elect.
Now may the true peace be given to all my brothers and sisters in Christ,

Michael Hall 

On the Sovereignty of God

On The Deity of Christ

Recently, I posted a reformed theology commentary on John 1:1-5 and spoke of the deity of Christ within the context of that passage. But now I’d like to focus on the deity of Christ throughout the entire Bible. This will probably be a more lengthy post but I hope that it will edify you in your understanding of the deity of Christ, as well as give you scriptural passages that you can use to defend the deity of Christ against any who may object to His deity. 

Now firstly I’d like to look at John 1:1, now don’t worry I’m not going to go too indepth to this verse but it is an essential verse to the deity of Christ so we shall look at it.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.    – John 1:1

Here Christ is called the Word, the λόγος (logos), but one might say, “Christ is not explicitly declared in this passage, but instead this “Word”.” And this is a objection that we must answer. Now, turn your attention to what John writes later in that chapter, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14). Here John explicitly teaches that this Word “became flesh and dwelt among us”. And also that It’s physical gender was a He: “and we have seen his glory,”. Now we see that this Word was “full of grace and truth”, but later John also says this, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17). Here we see that through Jesus Christ was grace and truth, which is what the Word is full of. Thus, those two verses combined explicitly prove Christ to be “the Word”. Now let us go back to John 1:1 and briefly examine it.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – John 1:1

Here Christ was in the beginning, or before the beginning as the Greek word for ‘In’ can also be translated ‘Before’ (see On John 1:1-5 – Reformed Theology Commentary for more detailed information regarding the Greek text). Thus if Christ is before the beginning He is, most definitely, eternal. Christ was also with God, but not just with God, He was with God from before the beginning in the most intimate way possible. This idea of being “with” is an intensely intimate thing in the Greek. And lastly here we see that Christ is God. Not meaning that God and Christ are one in the same, on the contrary, Christ being with God shows a distinction, so in light of that we must understand that when it says “and the Word was God” that is speaking to Christ’s equality with God, while yet being a disctinct person from God the Father. 

Now I’d like to deal with another question that arises concerning this verse and that is this: why is Christ Jesus called “the Word”? This was a question that I myself had bouncing around in my head the first time I ever seriously studied the prologue to the Gospel of John, which is now my favorite Gospel. And I shall give you the biblical answer, in fact the answer comes straight from the mouth of our Lord. 

26 “I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” – John 8:26

For the purpose of answering that question, I’d like to focus on Jesus’ words “and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.”; now, we all would agree that the “him” is the same as “he who sent me”, whom Jesus often calls “Father”, no even more so, “my Father”. Now we will get into statements like those more indepthly later but for now just know that “him” and “he who sent me” is God the Father. Here we see that Christ tells us that He declares what He has heard from the Father to the world, thus He is called the “Word” because He utters the words of God, as John the Baptist says, “For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.” (John 3:34). Now Christ is the one whom God has sent, and He doesn’t speak on His own but speaks what He has heard from the Father, and He does not do His own will but the will of His Father, as it is written: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38). Thus Christ is called the Word because He utters the words of God.

Now that we have dispensed with John 1:1 let’s move on to another passage which I believe will hold ample edification:

2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’ 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”-he then said to the paralytic-“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home.  -Matthew 9:2-7

Now for the purposes of today do not spend time on the mircale (although it is an amazing thing, as are all the miracles of Christ) but rather focus on the following: 1.) Christ claiming to be able to forgive sins, 2.) His knowledge of the Pharisees thoughts, and 3.) the authority exemplified in the miricale.

Let’s take them one at a time, from first to last:

  1. Christ claiming to be able to forgive sins. Here Christ claiming to be able to forgive sins is not a little thing, because forgiveness is the prerogative of the person who has been offended by another. Now when we sin, we do not always sin against others but we always sin against God. Therefore Christ saying, “Take heart my son; your sins are forgiven.” is not claiming anything less than equality with God. 
  2. His knowledge of the Pharisees thoughts. After Jesus tells the man that his sins are forgiven, the Pharisees present begin to question what Christ said, thinking that Christ is wrongfully claiming equality with God. They do not do this verbally but internally – mentally. And then, Jesus questions their thoughts! He answers the doubts, the accusations, that they are bringing up concerning him in their hearts! As it is written: “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts,” (Matthew 9:4). Now understand this is not some vague or uncertain knowledge, on the contrary, this is certain and clear knowledge. But who else, besides God, knows men’s thoughts in and of their own power? No one, but God, for it is written, “would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.” (Psalm 44:21). 
  3. The authority exemplified in the miricale. Jesus said to them,”For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” (Matthew 9:5). Here Christ is asking which is easier to say, not which is easier to do. Now, naturally, to a paralytic, it is much easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven’ than ‘Rise and walk’. Now since this question’s answer is so easily attained, it would, most likely, lead one to say, “If Jesus merely says, ‘Your sins are forgiven’, then really, it’s all just empty words!” And to this logical realization that Jesus brought about by asking the previous question, Jesus answers thus, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”-he then said to the paralytic-“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” (Matthew 9:6). And how does the man, the paralyzed man, respond to this direct command of Christ? “And he rose and went home.” (Matthew 9:7). Here, by doing the harder of the two, Christ’s actions imply this question: “If He can do what is harder to say, then can’t He do what is easier to say?”

Now that we have finished with that verse let us move on to another one. Since I’ve shown two examples from the New Testament, let’s look at some Old Testament passages.

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

Here we see the prophet Isaiah speaking of a child to be born, earlier  he is more specific and says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14), but this child who is to be born of a virgin shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Prince of Peace. Does not the scripture say, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (John 1:18)? Here John is calling Jesus, the logos, “the only God”, and is not the only God mighty? Indeed, He is mighty, for the scriptures say concerning His might, “Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!” (Psalm 24:8). And if one is the Prince of Peace, then is not peace His to give? And who gives true peace? Christ Jesus, for it is written: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27). Who gives us peace? And whom’ peace do we receive? We do not receive the world’s peace, which is fleeting and false, but we receive His peace, the peace of Jesus the Christ. Thus who is to be called Mighty God? Who is to be called Prince of Peace? None save Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God! 

Next let us look at another passage, this one comes from the New Testament:

16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him.

17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:16-17

Here these two verses are clearly speaking to deity, but who all this attached to? Who is “he”? We must look at Colossians 1:15: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Who is the physical image of the invisible Father? Christ, for it is writtten: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) and again: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:3). Thus it is Christ who is the image of the invisible God. Now that we know that in Colossians 1:16-7 the “he” is Christ, we then see that by Chris, through Christ, and for Christ all things were created. And not only that but in Christ all things are held together! This statement of Christ’s deity is similar to John 1:3: “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”. So we see that the deity of Christ being expressed this way is not exclusive to one New Testament writer but two! Both being the most prolific writers in the New Testament. 

Combining all these passages we’ve looked at together, we see that the deity of Christ is not only boldly proclaimed but also repeatedly proclaimed with boldness. 

But I would like to look at one last passage:

17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.

18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”  – John 10:17-18

Here we see the Gospel laid out by Christ Himself. But see here: Christ lays down His life “that [he] might take it up again”. And He also says: “I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”. The word for ‘authority’ can also mean ‘power’. Christ has the power to lay down His holy life, and to take it back up again! Essentially, Christ is saying: I will raise myself from the dead. If that is not deity, then I don’t know what is. 

Therefore, my brothers and sisters in Christ, don’t ever doubt the deity of your Savior. 

Much Blessings,

Michael Hall

    On The Deity of Christ