The End of Erroneous Theology: The Beginning of Revelation

Hi People! Do you repeat scripture for a desired outcome from God? If so, understand this: God cannot and won’t be managed by us. We must always seek and yield to the Holy Spirit’s instructions. I am delighted to share with you an eye-opening, must read post written by dear friend, mentor and colleague Hakim Hazim. The post comes from his and co-founder Dan Jackson’s Freedom Squared blog site. Launched in 2011, Freedom² is a web-based Christian think tank whose premise is “spiritual freedom x political freedom= Freedom².” I invite you to review other articles on their blog site. Thank you Hakim for sharing this great piece with us!  -Nicole

Hakim Hazim, Co-Founder of Freedom²

Hakim Hazim, Co-Founder of Freedom²

John 7:14-18 (English Standard Version)

14About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning,d when he has never studied?” 16So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’se will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.

Most theology begins with the careful observation of patterns. Although many world religions do not know the God of the Bible, they know many truths and something of His creative power, character, wisdom and the life He has animated all things with. This is called natural theology. Common sense dictates that when we see intelligent design, we attribute it to a creator. The problem lies in who we attribute Creator status to. Many false spirits claim to be the Designer and raise up prophets in their names, but the truth is there is only one God, revealed to us in sacred scripture.

Historically, the people of the covenants: Old and New — Jews and Christians, have run into different problems. We cling so tightly to what God has done, that we form superstitions, doctrines and theologies around His past movements, believing we can tap into divine power as a scientist taps into natural laws. Folks love to quote scripture and stand on passages that they believe will meet their needs, not consulting God in the process while demanding that He move on their behalf. One of the most innovative things is the repeated quoting of scripture for a desired outcome. Many think they can bind Him to select verses of scripture as one might bind a created thing to a rope or chain. Folks I take no pleasure in saying this, but such actions are dead works at best, at worst — sorcery. God will not be handled or managed by us. We should rejoice in what He has done and be filled with joy regarding the untold wonders yet to be revealed.

The-Bible-007

The Christian walk is a walk of yielding to God via His spirit. The idea of yielding means you have a general sense of direction regarding where you are going and you follow the things that God has revealed to you to date. We allow the scriptures, our hearts, minds, instructors and experiences to teach us about faith. We move based on these instructions, but we always allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us and we should always submit to the instructions we receive.

The majority of believers are so locked into what God did in the past that they gear their lives toward attempts to recapture these personal or collective movements. In their obsession they miss what he is doing. Gideon sounds like many believers today when he had this discussion with the Angel of the Lord in Judges 6:12-14 (New International Version):

12When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

13“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

14The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

You see Gideon clung to a God of the past who he believed had abandoned his generation. His theology was dispirited — void of any hope in the future. Believers today cling to hope in a decaying world replete of all the things scripture condemns. But let me caution all the doom and gloom preachers — the day is still ours. We simply need to see the Risen Christ. The work continues. He is not done, nor has He abandoned his people. Perhaps our view is simply obscured by our theology. Christ had this discussion with the Jews of His day. They were clinging to the theology they created from Moses words, refusing any instruction beyond it. Jesus revealed who he was time and time again. In John 5:16-44 Jesus turned the table and laid out His claim to complete equality with the Father — divinity. He pointed out that Moses only had part of the revelation of who God is; yet, He came to complete the narrative. In short, He rebuked them for taking the partial and making it into a complete picture of God. This incensed them and they sought to kill Him, rejecting perfection in the process. Jesus words in John 5:45 — 47 should make us shudder.

45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

Are you placing your hope in someone other than Christ? Here are some options for you to choose from. I call it Yellow Pages Christianity. You can believe in…

1. A theology that brings you comfort and peace

2. A theology given to you by your parents

3. A theology that is consistent with your ethnicity, culture or national psyche

4. A theology that empowers you and is consistent with your personality and preferences

5. The Living God who will lead and guide you all the days of your life

I choose option five. Be warned, God is not subject to your theology. Be encouraged, God still saves in spite of our bad theology. It starts with a revelation of the risen Christ, and it continues as we seek to know Him more. Our erroneous theology should end where revelation begins lest we miss the mark. Our musings about God cannot produce life. Revelation via the Spirit produces life. God the Father has uttered the most important things that need to be said through His Son. Man’s doctrine produces death, but the Son produces life. Christ will give you life and He desires to do just that. Make Him your shepherd not your judge.

John 5:19-22 (New International Version)

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

God will reveal what’s next for you and His people. We just need to listen.

About Hakim Hazim

Hakim Hazim, author of several published books and articles, nationally recognized criminality and national security theorist is the co-founder of Freedom², which focuses on believers in America and other free societies. Hakim, who is based near Boise, Idaho, was raised Muslim and is a born-again Christian since 1993. Daniel Jackson, a former youth pastor, is the organization’s other founding member and technology expert with a Fortune 500 company. Other project partners include researcher Charles Holmes, Jr., and Dracy Jenkins. Hakim is also the founder of the Christian-based national security consultancy, Relevant Now, which provides clients with ”timely, insightful and transformative information.” Hakim has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas and a Master of Arts in National Security Studies from the California State University San Bernardino.

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Assured of His Promises

Psalm 119:38-“Reassure me of your promise, made to those who fear you.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!,” is the well-known intro verse from the song hymn “Blessed Assurance” written by Fanny J Crosby. If you were assured of immortality, what would you do? Would you go skydiving? Would you traverse the Sahara desert in search of hidden jewels cached beneath the sand? What if you were assured infinite wealth? Would you go to Turks and Caicos and lounge in the sun? Would you buy a yacht to navigate the seven seas? If guarantees were possible, everyone would live in bliss. However, our lives here on Earth aren’t assured, which is why our hope must be in Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins and granted us eternal life. Too often we seek insurance to battle the unknowns in our lives, only to find out that not everything can be covered. Therefore, seek out that long-term investment plan to store and build the spiritual currency needed to garner a secured future. For the interest will triple and the blessings will rain down. Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  At his current age of 23, Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the PureHope advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.

Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.

Remove False Labels

Psalm 139:14- “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (New International Version)

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

I love this verse from Psalm 139:14. In reading it, a joyful feeling comes over me as I think about the care and love God put forth in creating me.  He created me with purpose, and not by accident or out of coincidence. Every feature He created for me and you is by His design.  A step further, I smile as I consider my name given me by mom and dad. My name Nicole means “the people’s victory” or “victorious one.” I love it! In reading Psalm 139:14, the meaning of my name, and countless other scriptures concerning what God says about me, I am confident in who I am in Him.

What is in a name? Certainly part of our identity. Given whatever good meaning of your name, why would one ever embrace a name or label that negatively describes them? A label so negative that even if said in jest or in passing, some assume the label and wear it. Labels such as “failure,” “not very smart,” “not pretty/not good-looking,” “unlovable” and a host of other untruths (or “clutz” was the label I used to wear). If God doesn’t define us this way, why do we place these labels upon ourselves or allow others to?

In truth, Satan hopes you allow the negative labels to talk you out of accomplishing your purpose. That would be one less person focused on advancing God’s Kingdom. However, I am here to confirm you were born with a purpose; created for a special work. In Jeremiah 1:5, God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart.” (New International Version)

If you are wearing or associating yourself with negative labels, revamp your thinking. These labels are false and not representative of you or your purpose. Ask God to show you, “What labels have I attached to myself or my life that may be limiting what God wants to give me? What labels have I bought into that are hindering what God wants to do through me?”

Chasing God Together

Good Day, People!  The following post by our guest blogger, Herbert Bowen, Jr., is 100% needed when it comes to relationships and marriage. In a world that is driven by “need it, want it now” it seems contradictory to wait on the spouse God desires to bring into your life when you could easily seek who you want. I can attest, waiting on God means sometimes He can really take his time to answer the desires of our heart. Sometimes we wonder if He will ever answer, but we must trust He is working things out for our good.  He will answer you! Herbert’s piece is confirmation that when God brings two people together for His purposes, the success is exponential.  Thank you Herbert for sharing today’s message as you congratulate your friends Justin and Brooke Lehmann for living this example.  -Nicole

Ecclesiastes 4:9- “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

Here is a phrase from Justin that has never left my memory banks: “A relationship will only grow if you are chasing God together.” Wow, I was a boy who believed that love was for no one other than God, my family, and my spiritual family, until God brought Irina into my life. It was there I began to see two people chasing God together. It was there that success finally began to knock at the door. It was there where love was found and the warmth of reading God’s word kindled a fire between two kindred spirits that no one could extinguish. Chasing God requires patience and courage to wait and let God deliver the right companion, to avoid needless heartache. So, may we all be encouraged by Justin’s words, for they are sound and proven through his marriage to his beautiful wife and childhood sweetheart Mrs. Brooke Lehmann.  Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  At his current age of 23, Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the PureHope advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.

Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.

Filling the God-Shaped Vacuum Within Us

Dear Friends. I am happy to share with you a guest devotional from a great brother in Christ, Dracy Jenkins. His devotional reminds us that when we were formed in our mother’s womb, God deliberately created a void within us that only He can fill. People seek other people, things and behaviors to fill this void and find themselves feeling empty and always seeking but never finding the joy, love, peace and security only He can provide.  Thank you Dracy! God bless each of you.   -Nicole

There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ. Blaise Pascal (17th century mathematician, physicist and Christian philosopher)

Dracy Jenkins, Devotional Writer

Dracy Jenkins, Devotional Writer

Philippians 1:9-11- 9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ —for this will bring much glory and praise to God. (New Living Translation)

I still remember how I tried to fill the emptiness in my life with so many different things, in order to bring me joy and happiness.  The more I purchased or did, the more that was required to appease the desire to be someone that I wasn’t.  At that time, like so many of us, I had bought in to the lie that to be somebody, I had to look and act like what was being portrayed in the media.  And every time, I achieved a certain level or purchased the next great thing, I was left emptier than before.

It wasn’t until I was in the midst of my frustration, despair and anger, that I was able to hear Christ knocking at the door to my heart.  I heard Him speak to my spirit and tell me that I wasn’t created to be like the world, and that no matter how hard I tried to fill my life with anything other than God’s love, I would never be satisfied or complete.  He said that only He could adequately change me into the person that would be pleasing to God and to me.  He then said it was my choice.

Maybe you are struggling to be satisfied with your life and are looking to fill that emptiness you feel inside with everything you see or hear from society.  Can I share with you how futile that is going to be?  Maybe you already realize it.  But the reason that the things of the world will not fit the void in our lives is because that void is shaped exactly like a cross.  It’s an old rugged, wooden cross, where our Savior Jesus was nailed to and died upon for our sins.  There are many things of the world that appear to fit, but a closer self-examination will show gaps, voids, air pockets and holes, that continue to leave one incomplete, unfulfilled and without hope.

But I’m here to tell you that Jesus is still knocking on a lot of our doors with the answer to our incompleteness.  He wants to fully fill that emptiness in your heart, but He’s not going to force Himself into it.  You have to ask Him.  It’s your choice.

My prayer today is that we all will do a self-assessment to determine if there are holes or gaps in our heart.  If so, let’s remove those things that are inappropriately in the cross-shaped vacuum of our hearts and allow Christ to complete us and make us whole again.  He’s standing at the door and knocking.  Will you open the door?

God bless.

Seeking God in a Busy World

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

“Oops upside your head, said oops upside yo’ head.” While God’s Word will comfort you, give you joy, restore your peace, embolden your faith for challenges ahead—His Word can also cut and punch you with truth.  As much as Voices Against the Grain is a platform/vehicle to share God’s truth that may punch you, believe it can punch me too, at times. Sometimes I’ll read a passage and will be like, “oh my goodness. He got me today.”

Such is the message from this morning’s devotional from Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. The devotionals are rooted in scripture and presented in the perspective of Jesus speaking to you. Today’s message encourages us to “steal away” and carve out time with God before everyone else gets our time in this busy world in which we live. Most times, I set aside my early mornings and late nights for Him—yet, I recall mornings where I rise, thank Him for the new morning, say a quick prayer, begin my day and dash to a meeting. This is not the quality time the “First Man” in my life deserves.  The fact is, I ENJOY my time with Him. Sometimes I get perturbed when I can’t get that time in with Him because something else requires my immediate attention. Fortunately, He is forgiving and doesn’t withhold His love from me. He also knows the intentions of our hearts despite the tempo and demands of this world placed upon us.

Isaiah 55:6 reminds us to, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” (New International Version)Worry-Seek-God-First-278x300

Here’s this morning’s devotional from Sarah Young:

COME AWAY WITH ME  for a while. The world, with its nonstop demands, can be put on hold. Most people put Me on hold, rationalizing that someday they will find time to focus on Me. But the longer people push Me into the background of their lives, the harder it is for them to find Me.

You live among people who glorify busyness; they have made time a tyrant that controls their lives. Even those who know Me as Savior tend to march to the tempo of the world. They have bought into the illusion that more is always better: more meetings, more programs, more activity.

I have called you to follow Me on a solitary path, making time alone with Me your highest priority and deepest Joy. It is a pathway largely unappreciated and often despised. However, you have chosen the better thing, which will never be taken away from you. Moreover, as you walk close to me, I can bless others through you.

Accompanying Scriptures: Luke 10:41-42, “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42- but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her.”

The world will keep spinning like a top with all of its “busyness.” The emails, text messages, chiming meeting reminders, voice messages, to-do lists, will be there awaiting your reply. Seek first the quietness and stillness of God who will order your steps calmly and joyfully in the chaos. Make him your priority.

It’s Not Over

Good Day, People!  I invite you to read this short, powerful and encouraging post by our guest blogger, Herbert Bowen, Jr.  He was in part inspired by his friend Ana Martinez, to write the piece. It is a reminder to us in times of struggle that we cannot fear but continue to believe in God’s great power.  He is not through with you yet! The best is yet to come.  Thank you Herbert for sharing God’s message with us!   -Nicole

Isaiah 43:19- “For I am about to do something new. I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

ONLY GOD CAN MAKE SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING. However, when is nothing felt? Is it when that U-Haul never ceases to be rented, or is it when the business isn’t breaking even? Or maybe it’s the significance of dwindling faith forming a shaky foundation for you to stand on. Oh my friends, please do not lose faith because GOD WILL MAKE A WAY OUT OF NO WAY. Can anyone attest to this bold statement? Has anyone felt the power of a 1,000 men when God pulled you out of the sinking sand? For it is the Counselor of Peace, who will bring you rest like Job, who for 38 chapters waited for God’s response! Thus, how many of us are 38 chapters away from hearing God’s voice? ‘Cuz after God responded Job’s life (due to his faith) was restored. So don’t quit, ‘cuz the last four chapters of your life have to be read so you too may be made whole. Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  At his current age of 23, Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the PureHope advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.

Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.

Jesus: A Name Above All Names

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Hi Dear Friends. Reflecting on this week’s events whereupon I have engaged in more prayer and praise as of late, there’s something unmistakable: The name of Jesus will take you there. Sitting in the quietness of my worship space, the mere utterance of His Name…my body even responds in such a way as to give Him reverence as best as a mere human can. Sometimes it’s just the uplifting of my hand(s) that signifies His nearness to me and presence. Thank you Lord for being a God who desires to be near us, loves us and is interested in our needs great and small.  The name of Jesus is powerful. Who would use His Name for any other purposes other than to worship Him? Some use His name recklessly, unaware of the power and authority it holds.

Jesus-name-above-all-names

Today I share with you this morning’s devotional from Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. The devotionals are rooted in scripture and presented in the perspective of Jesus speaking to

jesus_names_2you. It reads:

“WHENEVER YOU FEEL DISTANT from Me, whisper My Name in loving trust. This simple prayer can restore your awareness of My Presence.

MY Name is constantly abused in the world, where people use it as a curse word. This verbal assault reaches all the way to heaven; every word is heard and recorded. When you trustingly whisper My Name, My aching ears are soothed. The grating rancor of the world’s blasphemies cannot compete with a trusting child’s utterance: “Jesus.” The power of My Name to bless both you and Me is beyond your understanding.”

Accompanying Scriptures: John 16:24, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”  Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Hallelujah for His Name!

Thank you Lord for all you have done for me. Jesus, I lift up your name, which is above all names. I am reminded of this song’s words:

Daily I will worship thee

Lamb of God who died for me

Who extendeth endless mercy

Daily I will worship thee

May you find him ever so near to you today, as near as calling on His Name.

Seven Bitter Fruits of Sin

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Hi Dear Friends. I am delighted to share with you the following LifeKEYS devotional written by Pastor Colin Smith sent by dear friend and sister in Christ, Rachel Hart.  Pastor Smith created LifeKEYS as a tool to “unlock the Bible and help persons to experience more than just information, but a life-changing transformation through Jesus Christ.” Pastor Smith’s devotional below, is short, to the point and unquestionable in meaning. Please read “The Seven Bitter Fruits of Sin.”  Thank you Rachel for allowing me to share this message with others. -Nicole

 

By Pastor Colin Smith

 

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan… 2 Thessalonians 2:9                                                  Bitter rotten fruit

If sin is the secret activity of Satan at work in the soul, what does it produce in a person’s life?

1. Deceptionwith all wicked deception… (2 Thessalonians 2:10)

Evil deceives; that is its nature. Where you find sin attractive, that is where Satan deceives.

2. Perishingfor those who are perishing. (2:10)

For those outside of Jesus Christ there is an unraveling of life that is going on, a taking down, a becoming less. By nature we are perishing.

3. Refusingbecause they refused to love the truth… (2:10)

The greatest barrier to faith lies not in the doubts of the mind, but in the desires of the heart.

4. PleasureAll… who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2:12)

“Had pleasure in unrighteousness” explains why they “did not believe.” Where the heart loves wickedness, the mind cannot embrace the truth.

5. Delusiontherefore God sends them a strong delusion… (2:11)

When a person keeps resisting Christ and pushing him away, God eventually gives him or her over to what he or she desires.

6. (False) Beliefso that they may believe what is false. (2:11)

When a man feels that he is his own God, his own law, and that he stands on his own goodness, you know he has swallowed the lie.

7. Condemnation

All [will] be condemned who did not believe the truth… (2:12)

This is why we need a Savior, and why we rejoice in these words: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”(Romans 8:1)!

Invitation of God’s Elect

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

(Because the topic of God’s love and election is complex, we will revisit this in a follow up post)

Imagine receiving an elegant, white shiny envelope, hand-delivered by courier. You flip the envelope over to read your name written to suggest this invitation is elite. You open the nicely sealed envelope and see the gold foil lining, and pull out the card which reads in gold gilded text, “By Invitation Only.”  Reading the invitation’s event details, you are in awe—uncertain what you did or who thought so highly to invite you to such an elite event. The shocking fact is this: You didn’t do anything to deserve it.

Such is the invitation from God extended to us through Jesus when He died on the cross for you and me, so that we may be freed from the weight of sin and death and live freely and eternally with Him.  God loves all and desires all would seek Him. Ultimately, many will not choose Him. God chooses those with willing ears and open hearts to receive Him for this invitation. God called me in my early childhood, drawing me to lay it all down for Him at age 12. I’ve been following Him since. So why doesn’t everyone hear this call?

by invitation only

In the simplest answer, some things are a mystery and left to God. This concept is complex for even the most mature believer in Christ to fully grasp. A person’s unbelief/rejection of Christ, unrepentant nature or hardened heart can certainly lead to this. British Christian theologian, J.I. Packer wrote an article,  Election: God Chooses His Own that perhaps offers one of the clearest explanations of this concept that I’ve been able to understand. In the article, Packer begins:

“The verb elect means “to select, or choose out.” The biblical doctrine of election is that before Creation God selected out of the human race, foreseen as fallen, those whom he would redeem, bring to faith, justify, and glorify in and through Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-39; Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9-10). This divine choice is an expression of free and sovereign grace, for it is unconstrained and unconditional, not merited by anything in those who are its subjects. God owes sinners no mercy of any kind, only condemnation; so it is a wonder, and matter for endless praise, that he should choose to save any of us; and doubly so when his choice involved the giving of his own Son to suffer as sin-bearer for the elect (Romans 8:32).”

Romans 9:15-16, God says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 

Fact is, God loves all and it is God who saves. God seeks the earth to and fro examining the hearts of those for who will follow Him. “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear” (Isaiah 59:1).  THIS is why Christians will forever, gratefully celebrate (sometimes with tears of joy as we remember our lives before and now) the goodness and love of God! But for His grace and mercy, “he saved a wretch like you and me.”

This very notion of God choosing who He wants to follow Him confuses some people. Isn’t the invitation open to everyone? Doesn’t God want to save everyone? What then is the Christian’s duty if God already knows who He will and won’t choose?

God knows people’s true hearts and intentions. We don’t.  As Christians, we are asked to be a loving and willing vessel of His light and love to others. It is not for us to judge or question who is/who isn’t “savable.”

Our role as Christians (appropriately worded by my dear friend Rachel) is “we are laboring to harvest the elect.”  This is a great way to view our calling as opposed to “working to save souls.” That’s the role of the Holy Spirit. Our role is to be willing to plant the seed and allow the Holy Spirit to draw those intended. Wow. Paints the picture a little differently, doesn’t it?

If He is drawing you, listen.  Turn to  Him.  Answer His call. This invitation, for which I am grateful to have received and accepted and did not deserve,  is given by His grace.