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Proud of Me?

Proud of Me?

No, God couldn’t be proud of me.

He sees all my pettiness, my failures, my self-centeredness, my sins.  I look back at my life and it seems like one series of mess-ups after another.  I look at me now and I can’t believe how I keep making mistakes and end up not being the person I want to be.

God can’t be proud of me.  He’s probably proud of Billy Graham, but no way he’s proud of me.

I don’t know whether you’ve ever said words like those to yourself, but I sure have.  And if you look honestly at yourself, you think the facts are indisputable: no way God could be proud of you.

But if you are a child of God, if you through faith in Christ have been born again, then you are forgetting some other facts that are more important than all of your failures stacked up in a pile as high as Mount Everest.

Fact #1   God Created Me & Chose Me

Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world… Ephesians 1:4

God from the beginning chose you for salvation. 2 Thessalonians 2:13

Read these verses, slowly, and personalize them with your name.  “God chose John to be in Christ before He even created the universe.”  Think of that.  Even with all my frailities, God specifically created me and chose me.  I am His.  He made me.  Made me to be in Christ. 

When I have crafted an essay or a poem and step back and look at it, I am proud of my creation.  Even if I know it won’t win a reward, even if it might not be the best I’ve ever written, I’m still proud.  When my child scribbles a picture I put it on my refrigerator.  Does it belong in an art gallery? That doesn’t matter, it’s my child and my heart is well satisfied with their efforts.  So, how can we not realize that a perfect Creator does not step back from us, His creations and beam with pride?

Fact #2  God Has Forgiven Our Sins Through Christ

God will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19)

All of the failures, all of the sins, all the mistakes that convince us that God cannot be proud of us— they are cast into the depths of the sea.  God has forgiven us.  Just picture this conversation:

God:  I am so proud of you.

You: I know you’re really not.  Think about how angry I got today at my friend and mistreated her.

God: Uh, I don’t remember that.

Well, yes, God actually can remember everything, but get the point: forgiveness with God is not just a mushy feeling: it is also judicial: all of our wrongs are forever not counted against us in any way.  Through Christ’s death God is free to forget our sins.

Fact #3   God Has Clothed Us in Righteousness

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  (Isaiah 61:10)

Not only does God forgive us, He does much more: he actually clothes us in Christ’s righteousness.  As Christ took our sins in God’s eyes, now we take Christ’s perfect righteousness in God’s eyes.

Fact #4  God Rejoices Over Us

The LORD your God is with you,
       he is mighty to save.
       He will take great delight in you,
       he will quiet you with his love,
       he will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)

It’s undeniable, it’s in the Bible: God delights in His children, He sings with delight over each and every one of us.  He created us, He forgave us, He clothed us, and now He can rejoice over every one of His children.

Fact #5 God is Pleased to Give Us Life With Him Forever

Even if this life was all that there was, all that God has done for His children would be proof of His affection for us.  But there’s more.  Much more.  Incredible, abundant life for all eternity:

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ (Matthew 25:34)

What will I one day hear?  “Come, John, blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”  I just let that sink in and it completely blows me away.  Jesus will one day invite me (me!) into a kingdom that God has prepared for me.  And the joy and the love will just keep growing forever and ever.

Whenever your heart is down, comfort yourselves with these truths.  If you are His child, you have a proud papa, one who chose you, who has forgiven you, blessed you, and who is preparing an eternity for you.

There in the stars or a smile of a child,
We glimpse how His joy fills eternity.
This is His pleasure to give us Himself, His glory, His heaven, His peace.
And soon all confusion will fade from our sight,
With wonder we’ll dwell in His kingdom of light.
Perfectly wonderful, mystical joy sings for creation’s great dance.
God bids us to join Him in all that He has,
Delighted to give us the chance.
God is delighted in all He has done,
Nothing can end all the joy He’s begun.
His children delight in Him through His own Son.
God is delighted in all He has done.  (Steve Green)

The Fortress of Faith

Note: The following is article #10 in a series reflecting on chapters in John Piper’s book Future Grace. More information on the book from Amazon.com is available here. A list of all the articles in this series so far is available here.

In Chapter 8 of Future Grace Dr. Piper discussed the great truth of Romans 8:32, what I termed Faith’s Greatest Foundation.  In Chapter 9 of the book he goes on to another one of the great promises of God, Romans 8:28:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

Every Christian knows this verse and most of us would say that we believe it.  But I think we have only an inkling of what it would mean to really live our lives within this truth, within this fortress of faith.  Listen to how Piper describes true life within this promise:

If you live inside this massive promise, your life is more solid and stable than Mount Everest. Nothing can blow you over when you are inside the walls of Romans 8:28.  Outside Romans 8:28 all is confusion and anxiety and fear and uncertainty.  Outside this promise of all-encompassing future grace there are straw houses of drugs and alcohol and numbing TV and dozens of futile diversions…once you walk through the door of love into the massive, unshakable structure of Romans 8:28 everything changes. There come into your life stability and depth and freedom…The confidence that a sovereign God governs for your good all the pain and all the pleasure that you will ever experience is an incomparable refuge and security and hope and power in your life.  When God’s people really live by the future grace of Romans 8:28— from measles to the mortuary— they are the freest and strongest and most generous people in the world.

It really does seem “too good to be true”— a truth so magnificent, so awesome, so life-changing.  That is why Paul goes on in the next two verses to describe four “pillars” that are driven into the bedrock of God’s unchanging plan for the universe that show that verse 28 can be absolutely counted to be true:

For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)

Why do these two verses follow the great promise of verse 28?  To show us the why, the absolute surety, of why God is working together all things for the good for those who are called according to His purpose.

Let’s look at these four pillars of God’s grace in these two verses. The first is that the ultimate goal of God with His children is our glorification, that we will all someday be stripped of our sin and our old nature and will be like Christ, conformed to His image, for we will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).  All things are working to our good because God’s ultimate goal is our glorification.

And who will be glorified? Everyone who God has justified, everyone who God has declared to be righteous and free from the penalty of sin because of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.  Everyone who has started the walk of faith and passed from death to life, no matter how hard the road, no matter how many the setbacks, everyone who has been justified by faith in Jesus is guaranteed by God to one day be glorified.

And who will be justified?  Everyone whom God calls.  Every person who God speaks the truth of His love and mercy to will hear the voice of the good Shepherd (John 10:27) and follow Him, and God will take their dead heart of stone and replace it with a new living heart (Ezekiel 36:26) and they will pass from death to life (Romans 6:13).

And who will be called?  Everyone who God foreknew, every man & woman who God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, chose before time began to be His child (2 Timothy 1:9).  As Piper says, “God did not call us without a specific aim or purpose in mind.  He had a destiny in mind for us and called us according to that purpose.”  That grace that began in eternity past, is the oldest, deepest, and surest bedrock in the universe for the great promise of Romans 8:28, that God before time began knew us, chose us, called us, justified us, and glorified us, and that everything, everything that is now happening to us is part of that glorious plan started in eternity past.

What glorious grace, what glorious promises are ours as children of God!  May we spend the rest of our lives, indeed the rest of eternity, mining the depths of the riches of His love and grace and wisdom, and trust in the promise that all things work together for our good.
 

 

Chosen By God

God can no more leave your life unchanged than a mother can leave herr child’s tear untouched. It’s not enough for God to own you; He wants to change you. He refuses to settle for any dwelling short of a palace. After all, you are His house. (Max Lucado in Just Like Jesus)

God Chooses to Change!

The foundation of understanding how God changes lives is in realizing that God chooses to do so. So our first look at how we are Changed by God will deal with the topic of God’s choice.

God is sovereign— meaning that God is in control of everything and what He wills to do, He does. God makes a deliberate choice to change a person’s life. The fact that God chooses to change lives is theologically called election. Let’s examine five basic questions about election and the answers that the Bible gives:
Question 1: Did God Specifically Choose Me?

I know whom I have chosen. John 13:18

You did not choose Me, but I chose you. John 15:16

Now when the Gentiles heard the gospel, they were glad and glorified the word to the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. Acts 13:48

No one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father. John 6:65

I believed and responded in faith to be saved, but it was God who chose me and gave me the ability to believe and respond in faith. My inability to respond to God in faith without Him first directly working in my life is theologically called total depravity.

Answer: God specifically chose Me.

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Question 2: When Did God Choose Me?

Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world… Ephesians 1:4

God from the beginning chose you for salvation. 2 Thessalonians 2:13

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:34

To put it another way, when did God decide, “John Hollandsworth will be saved.”? God chose everyone who will ever be saved before He created the universe. Redeeming sinners was not God’s plan B— it was His whole intent from the start. Our salvation, redeeming humanity, to glorify His name is the reason that God created the universe. The fact that God chose me to be saved before I was born, before I had ever done anything good or right in His sight, without any conditions that I had to fulfill, is called unconditional election.

I know I don’t deserve a part in this romance
Still You turn Your gaze to me and take me as I am
Said You knew my heart was Yours before the world began
It’s not a chance, not just a whim, no conditions and no what if’s
Not a chance, not just my luck, just Your choice, Just Your love

(“Not A Chance” by Scott & Christine Dente and Charlie Peacock)

Answer: God chose me from the foundation of the world

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Question 3: How did God make His choice from the foundation of the world happen in my life?

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me. John 6:37

My sheep hear my voice John 10:27

Whom God predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified… Romans 8:30

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins Ephesians 2:1

Before I was saved, God in His mercy worked in my life to bring me to Himself. The Greek word “come” in John 6:37 actually means to compel, to bring by force. God called me to Himself and called me to salvation. God’s merciful calling to bring me to salvation is theologically called His irresistible grace.

And even in my youth You were chasing me
Whispering in the dark and running through my dreams
Each day I’ve lived You were calling me

(“Even in My Youth” by Erin O’Donnell)

Answer: God called me to Himself

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Question 4: Will God ever change His mind about me?

Jesus said, “All God has given Me I should lose nothing.” John 6:39

“no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” John 10:29

(Nothing) shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29

Once God chooses us, we stay choosed! Since our sin, past, present, and future, didn’t have anything to do with God’s choice, and it was God who brought us to Himself, nothing will change God’s choice. Theologians call this the perseverance of the saints.

Answer: God chose me for all eternity.

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Question 5: Why did God chooose Me?

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing. John 6:37, 39

You (The Father) have given Him (Jesus) authority over all flesh, that He (Jesus) should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. John 17:2

My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. John 10:29

This last question is the most important one—why did God choose Me? What is the reason that God allowed Christ to come to earth and redeem a fallen humanity? The Bible is clear: we are the Father’s loving gift to His Son. God has made Christ the first born among many brethren, so that the church, the people God chose to be redeemed, might become the bride of Christ, a gift beyond all gifts to glorify Christ.

The Bottom Line: God chose me from the foundation of the world, called me to Himself, to be a gift to His Son for all eternity.

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What should my response to knowing I am chosen be?

Humility—We can claim nothing of ourselves in our salvation, only God’s mercy and grace

Love toward God– We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Peace– I am a chosen child of the omnipotent God John 14:27

Joy– “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven” Luke 10:20

(many thanks to John MacArthur for the basis of the structure of this teaching)