THE CALLING OF GOD

In my last post, I examined the enthusiastic love that God has for Christians (aka declared righteous sinners). But in order to more accurately understand God’s enthusiastic love, we must back up and examine the calling of God.

WHAT IS CALLING?

Jude and other NT writers (Rom 1:6; 1 Cor 1:9, 24; Gal 1:6; Eph 4:1, 4: Col 3:15; 1 The 4:7; 2 The 2:14; 1 Tim 6:12; 1 Pet 1:15, 2:9, 21, 3:9 to name a few)  describe Christians as those who are called. To be called means to be invited or summoned. This means that those God knows are not those who take the initiative to know God. God invites (calls) and those invited (the called) respond to His invitation.

GOD IS CALLING; Man is called!

The called cannot take the initiative to know God because their complete depravity prohibits them from taking the first step toward God (a subject of my next post).  Rather, God MUST take the initiative to make Himself known to them!

Romans 8:29, 30 tells us: For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;  and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified (NAS).

God, through Paul, is telling us that for a person to enter heaven (i.e. to be glorified), he MUST be justified, and that to be justified he MUST be called. If he is called he MUST be predestined and if he is predestined, he MUST be foreknown by God. More simply put, our salvation is a sovereign act of a graciously selecting God who chooses whom He will call…not because He knows they will respond to His call, nor because they really want to be called by Him but because He graciously and sovereignly, before the creation of the world chose them to be invited. Calling, then, is God’s move to graciously and sovereignly awaken the sinner in order to move him to believe the Gospel. To accept the call is to become a justified or declared righteous sinner.

THE NECESSITY OF GOD CALLING MEN

To better understand this concept, Ephesians 2:8, 9 must be read in the context of Ephesians 2:1. Faith is a gift given by God to man, not an expression initiated by man. Man cannot initiate faith because ‘dead’ people are not capable of initiating action or responding to external stimuli. The spiritually ‘dead’ MUST be made alive in order to respond with faith to the stimulus of the Gospel, and even the faith of a sinner resulting in justification (i.e. to be declared righteous) must be given by God or the transaction for salvation would not take place. Some of the dead are made alive and called (or invited) to believe and be justified (i.e. declared righteous).

It is important to note that ‘why’ He chose and called only some who would believe is not explained. The closest explanation we can obtain from scripture is found in Rom 9:14-18, Ex 33:19, Rom 9:19-21 and Jer 18:4-6. However, the necessity for Him to call is based upon another very important concept regarding our God – HE does not share His glory with ANYONE!  Isaiah 48:11 tells us: ‘For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.’

To claim “I figured out the Gospel, and I accepted the Gospel” is an audacious and arrogant claim that affronts the glorious work of our Sovereign God. But to proclaim that “He (God) caused me to understand and invited me to accept His Gospel for salvation” is a humble expression of acceptance to the truth taught in Scripture. More importantly, God retains His glory in salvation which He will not share with another. Incidentally, God not sharing His glory with another is a major reason that God separated Himself from Satan. He could not tolerate that Satan attempted to surpass God’s glory (Isa 14:12-15; Exe 28: 12-18)!

APPRECIATING GOD’S CALL

A proper understanding of calling should cause us to appreciate our salvation and drive us to holy living with the proper motivation of recognizing His gracious, loving initiatory work in our lives. It also is a better prompter to confess and repent of our sin when we fail to live holy. No longer are we driven to obey God out of fear of losing our salvation or to gain some type of favor,  but we are driven to honor God with obedience in order to show our appreciation for His work in our lives that will ultimately result in our being eternally in His presence. 2 Corinthians 7:1 tells us: ‘Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.’

Once chosen and predestined by God, it awaits the timing of God in an individual’s life to experience the calling of God. It is at this point that the mind of man interferes with understanding the sovereign calling by God because a man struggles to answer the question ‘why did He choose to call this or that person, let alone me?’

Many answers have been proposed – two of which are given above – “God knew I would respond and believe, or “God knows I REALLY want to know Him”.  Both diminish God’s glory and exalt man. Neither ultimately brings a man any comfort because deep inside, the humble man knows he does not deserve to be called or chosen, and that there is not enough he can do before a holy God to encourage even an approving glance from Him. The only satisfactory explanation is found nestled in the sovereignty of God coupled with the enthusiastic love of His Son that spills over on those who are called.

But this love must be carefully defined. God is not emotionally driven toward us as is seen in the 1 John 4:8 & 16 description of God. The love used to describe God in this verse (and elsewhere in the pages of scripture) is  agape  which means  ‘self sacrificial service toward another’. Thus, Wayne Grudem (Systematic Theology, pg 198) correctly defines the love of God as God eternally GIVING Himself to others.

It is truly unfathomable to understand completely that a holy, sinless God would eternally give Himself sacrificially to sinners. This is why Paul says: ‘Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways’ (Rom 11:33)! It is why he prays that Christians (i.e. declared righteous sinners) ‘…may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.’ (Eph 3:18, 19). Put another way, it is unfathomable to fully comprehend how the holy Creator could willingly continue to give  Himself to His sinning, ungrateful creation!

Some intellectual relief does come by examining Isaiah 62:5 where God expresses His emotional delight over His chosen ones. But, as the Bible proclaims, God’s love is not the result of our initiatory love toward Him. Rather, it is His initiation of self-sacrificial love that prompts our response to love Him. Even then, our inconsistent expression of love is feeble in comparison to His consistent, unfailing love toward us.

THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING CALLED

What is the reason for His delight over His chosen ones? It is because the called  have been chosen to understand and have bowed their knee to worship the Chosen One – His Son (Psa 2:12)! It is not about us, it is all about Him! What a privilege, then, to be called by God to receive His love!

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GOD’S ENTHUSIASTIC LOVE FOR SINNERS

I have just returned from attending the Resolved Conference in Palm Springs. 3,200 attendees heard the likes of John MacArthur, Al Mohler, Steve Lawson, Rick Holland and CJ Mahaney preach God’s Word. All that was taught from God’s Word spoke to my heart.

In particular, I meditated long on Jude 1:1b taught by CJ Mahaney….Christians are called, loved and kept by Jesus! He reminded us that the LORD has an enthusiastic love for sinners who love His Son.

That the LORD loves sinners is no mystery in scripture. John 3:16 is one of but many passages that describe the love of God. But enthusiastic love for sinners? How can the LORD enthusiastically love anyone who falls far short of His holiness? Holiness is a key ingredient for having fellowship with the Righteous One!

By Divine providence, my reflection upon Jude 1:1b coincided with my reading Psalm 147:10,11 two days after the conference. It reads:

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor His delight in the legs of man;
the LORD delights in those who fear Him,
who put their hope in His unfailing love.

The LORD tells us through the Psalmist that He delights in sinners who do two things: 1) reverence Him (a part of the meaning in this Hebrew word for fear); and 2) put their HOPE in His unfailing love! Notice that the LORD is not impressed by our love for Him but in our hope of His love.

Why does he LORD delight in hoping sinners? In the Hebrew, delight means to find pleasure. This is no casual concept. To find pleasure in something is to experience a high degree of gratification or extreme satisfaction. According to Psalm 147:11, the LORD is extremely gratified and satisfied when sinners reverence Him by confidently and patiently place their hope in His unfailing love promised in the Gospel. Or, putting it another way, the LORD is enthusiastically satisfied with sinners who put their hope in the work of His Son!

At this point it is necessary to clarify our understanding of biblical hope to fully appreciate the reason for the LORD’s enthusiastic love for sinners. The Hebrew word for hope is very interesting. It does not have the concept or meaning of unconfident, wishful, unassured thinking. Rather, biblical hope is a confident, assured expectation patiently waiting to be experienced. Or, expressed in the light of the Gospel, the LORD is not impressed with those who pride themselves in their works of love, but in those who are confident in His work of love through His Son (Psalm 2:12).

But there is a qualification in the LORD’s love for sinners. The LORD has no time for unrepentant sinners – those who live for their pleasure, their will and their own self-righteousness (Rom 2:5). He does, however, delight in justified sinners – sinners who He has declared righteous (the meaning of justification) by the faith He has given them in the work of His Son, Jesus!

In the same way that the LORD’s delight in sinners is not for those who pride themselves in their works of love toward the LORD but in their confident expectation of His unfailing love, the LORD’s delight in sinners is not for those who take pride in their self-righteousness but in the declared righteousness conferred upon them by God for the confidence He has given them in the work of His Son, Jesus! (BTW: repentance means to change your mind about something. Salvation is changing your mind about who Jesus is and what He has done for you – You no longer believe He is just a man who died a tragic death but you now believe that He is indeed the righteous Son of God who died in your place to take the punishment you deserve for your unholy living, and conferred upon you a declared righteousness accepted by God for all eternity. Importantly, Acts 26:20 tells us that all who repent will bring forth fruits of repentance).

God’s enthusiastic love for declared righteous sinners is not based upon their expression of love toward HIM, but in the hope He has given the declared righteous sinner through His Son’s work of love on the cross The privilege of being on the receiving end of God’s enthusiastic love for declared righteous sinners is magnified in the calling highlighted by Jude in 1:1b – the topic of my next post.

BEING CHILDREN OF GOD

TUESDAY – BEING CHILDREN OF GOD

Another personable term describing our relationship with God is ‘children of God’.  It is used in the very comforting verse, John 1:12 (‘sons of God’ in the KJV is an inaccurate translation of the Greek word teknon):

NAU John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

NIV John 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

KJV John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name

It is also used in the theologically encouraging verse, Rom 8: 16, 17:

NAU Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

NIV Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs– heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

KJV Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

And in the sanctifying verse of Philippians 2:15:

NAU Philippians 2:15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,

NIV Philippians 2:15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe

KJV Philippians 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world

The greek word for children, teknon, is used interchangeably with Sons of God in Romans 8. But where the Greek word for Sons stressed the legitimacy of familial relationship, teknon stresses the dignity and character of one made prominent by birth. Although there is no direct physical, familial connection of believers with Mary, the mother of Jesus, there is a direct spiritual family connection of believers with Jesus by the spiritual rebirth experienced through faith in the finished work of Christ and the legal adoption into the family of God accomplished through the faith transaction.  Bottomline: Believers are in a close family relationship with the Living God that is made legitimate by God’s work in the spiritual rebirth accomplished through faith. Not only are we slaves as pointed out in previous posts, we are close members of God’s family as Sons, Daughters and Children by our faith connection with Jesus. Let us rejoice and be glad in His work.

SONS OF GOD – ADOPTED NOT EARNED

MONDAY – SONS OF GOD – ADOPTED NOT EARNED

An even more personable description of Christians is the term ‘sons of God.’ It is used by Paul in Romans 8. It is significant that he uses the term in Romans 8 because the previous chapters have been describing the salvation of God that comes to those embracing the work of Christ on the cross by faith alone. In Romans 8, ‘sons of God’ is used to describe the intimate relationship of those who have embraced by faith the teaching of Romans 1-7.

NAU Romans 8:14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

NIV Romans 8:14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

KJV Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

Sons of God’ describes a family relationship. While being ‘a Friend of God’ is honorable and desirable, being a ‘Son of God’ is more so. Sonship indicates legitimacy as opposed to illegitimacy.  However, the ‘Sonship’ of a Christian is not naturally acquired but legally acquired. We are ‘declared righteous’ through faith alone in Christ’s work and following this legal theme, Christians are legally adopted by God into His family:

NAU Romans 8:15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

NIV Romans 8:15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. {15 Or adoption} And by him we cry, “Abba, Father!”

KJV Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father

Sonship, however, has responsibility. Just as children have the responsibility to represent well the family name, so Christians have the awesome responsibility to represent well the Name of God who has adopted them as sons and daughters into His family. Loving, lending and doing well to our enemies should be a trait of God’s adopted sons and daughters.

NAU Luke 6:35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

NIV Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

KJV Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

Being a peacemaker should also be a trait in the life of an adopted son of God:

NAU Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

NIV Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

KJV Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

What an honor to be called Sons of God by God, our Father. Though adopted, the term expresses legitimacy – not because we earned the right, but because He did the work to make us legitimate to enter into His family.

Christians have a kind Father who has adopted them into His family, and He treats us more kindly than we deserve. In a kind family, the father and mother treat their children – both natural and adopted – with discipline, kindness and respect. In return, their children live to honor their parents with a lifestyle that reflects the values of the family. Let us live as Luke 6:35 and Matt 5:9 describe the adopted sons of God.

BEING A FRIEND OF GOD

WEDNESDAY – BEING A FRIEND OF GOD

Although the foundational description for appreciating our relationship with the Living God is as slaves, the status of the redeemed is elevated by other biblical terms. Notably we are called ‘the friends of God’. This was first used to describe the relationship that Abraham had with God:

NAU Isaiah 41:8 “But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend,

NIV Isaiah 41:8 “But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend,

KJV Isaiah 41:8 But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.

Isaiah was written between 740 and 680 B.C. or roughly 1,300 years after the time of Abraham. This concept of God as friend introduced by Isaiah was followed up by the author of 2 Chronicles whose inspired writings can be dated roughly two hundred years later between 536 and 515 B.C:

NAU 2 Chronicles 20:7 “Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?

NIV 2 Chronicles 20:7 O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?

KJV 2 Chronicles 20:7 Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?

To be a friend – the Greek word is teknon – was to be someone close, a dear one or beloved. This is no mere acquaintance but one who is a confident, one who is aware of another’s deep thoughts. This was demonstrated by God in the life of Abraham in Genesis 18:16-33 but especially in verse 17 in the reporting of God’s plans for Sodom and Gomorrah:

NAU Genesis 18:17 The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,

NIV Genesis 18:17 Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?

KJV Genesis 18:17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

As a friend of God, Abraham is allowed to be privy to the intimate plans of God. But it is left to James in God’s revelation to explain why Abraham is called the friend of God:

NAU James 2:23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God.

NIV James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” {23 Gen. 15:6} and he was called God’s friend.

KJV James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

It was Abraham’s faith (i.e. confidence or trust) in God that resulted not only in the imputation of righteousness but in becoming God’s friend.

Are you a friend of God? A friend of God is one who trusts God for the care of his/her soul. God demonstrated His care for our soul by promising a remedy for our soul-sickness (i.e. sin) through the work of Christ. Our trust in God’s care for our soul through Christ’s work results in our enjoyment of the remedy – imputation or being declared righteous and therefore able to enter eternally into the presence of God. Such trust is rewarded by being called the friend of God – an elevation from our status as slaves.

BIBLICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF BELIEVERS

TUESDAY – BIBLICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF BELIEVERS

I think one of the reasons that some believes struggle with the Lordship of God is the picture it portrays. It is a picture of servant hood. At least, that is the sanitized designation assigned by modern man. The actual biblical portrayal of the Greek word is slavery. This word produces many mental images – mostly negative. In its benign form it is simply a picture of a Master with a servant, a Lord who has absolute control and the final say over another individual. This can be a positive experience as portrayed in Exodus 21:1- 6. It can also conjure up the negative images of abuse to Africans by some of the British in England during the 1700’s and by some Southern Americans during the 1800’s, or in the modern day by African Muslims to African Christians.

However, it should be noted that slavery to God was a concept embraced by Jewish and Christian leaders in Scripture. There was Moses who was considered the slave of God:

NAU Revelation 15:3 And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!

NIV Revelation 15:3 and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.

KJV Revelation 15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

Incidentally, the term bond slave or bondservant is an unfortunate English translation of the Greek word doulos. It is best translated slave. The word refers to a person on the lowest level of servitude and one who was willing to give himself over to the will of another. This is what Moses did in his relationship with God as did James:

NAU James 1:1 James, a bond-servant of God

NIV James 1:1 James, a servant of God

KJV James 1:1 James, a servant of God

Peter:

NAU 2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

NIV 2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

KJV 2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ,

Jude:

NAU Jude 1:1 Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ,

NIV Jude 1:1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ

KJV Jude 1:1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ,

John:

NAU Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,

NIV Revelation 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,

KJV Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

And Paul:

NAU Romans 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus,

NIV Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus,

KJV Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,

NAU Titus 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of God,

NIV Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God

KJV Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God.

It was also embraced by Paul’s fellowworkers, Epaphrus and Tychicus:

NAU Colossians 1:7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant,

NIV Colossians 1:7 You learned it from Epaphras , our dear fellow servant,

KJV Colossians 1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant,

NAU Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ,

NIV Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus

KJV Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ,

NAU Colossians 4:7 As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information.

NIV Colossians 4:7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.

KJV Colossians 4:7 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:

In fact, Peter tells all believers to have an attitude of being slaves:

NAU 1 Peter 2:16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.

NIV 1 Peter 2:16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

KJV 1 Peter 2:16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

More importantly it is a term used to describe Jesus:

NAU Philippians 2:7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

NIV Philippians 2:7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,

KJV Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,

If Jesus did not reject this term then neither should we. We are, after all, slaves of God not only because He created us but, more importantly for believers, because He is their Redeeming Lord. We were stripped naked exposing our pitiful yet unacceptable self-righteousness before God and redeemed from this pitiful condition for relationship, friendship, and sonship (terms all to be discussed this week) with God. Yet slavery to God is the foundation for appreciating the rest of the terms that we will examine this week.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)!

REDEMPTION: EARNED OR APPRECIATED

The tyranny of the urgent has struck again! No post on Monday or Tuesday, and now a late post on Wednesday.

The delay, however, has given me a lot of time to think about Jesus as the Lord of Creation and as the Lord of Redemption. It has dominated my thinking. It caused me to think more deeply about the limitations of accepting Jesus as ONLY the Lord of Creation.

Bowing to Jesus – whether now or at the end of our time on earth – as Lord of creation benefits no man. This is a great acknowledgement but it is not the acknowledgment He is looking for in Psalm 2:12 and Isaiah 45:23. He is looking for the demonstrated recognition that accompanies bowing to Jesus as Lord of the Redeemed as a result of believing the Gospel. The tragedy is that most who hear the Gospel will reject its message and miss the honor of knowing Jesus as Lord over the Redeemed.

But my contemplation of Lordship took me in a different direction as well. I asked myself, ‘Am I serving Jesus as my Redeemer Lord because I appreciate His work of Redemption or because I am seeking His approval for redemption?’ As a young Christian years ago, I did not at first clearly see the fullness and the richness that faith in Jesus’ work on the cross provides. There was a sense of still needing to seek His approval through acts of goodness rather than resting by faith in Jesus’ substitutionary death. As I have grown over the years in my understanding of the greatness of His work on the cross I understand more and more my helplessness to gain His favor through any act of goodness. As a result, I appreciate more and more His work to provide by faith what I cannot do through effort. This appreciation causes me to obediently serve Jesus as my Redeeming Lord.

So today’s post is a reminder and a challenge. Are we doing acts of goodness to ensure our redemption or because we appreciate His work of redemption? If our motivation is the former, we need to accept the Gospel through faith and then appreciate our Redeemer with actions that show our love for His work.

NAU 1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

NIV 1 John 5:2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

KJV 1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.