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Room for All
Gen. James Green
G OD HAS a BIG heart. Love emits from the heart of God. But there is another side of God's heart we really don't like to talk about, e.g. HATE/PUNISHMENT. I've already dealt with these two characters at length in our "Wrath of God" magazines; in which I contrast "love" and "wrath." Both are Scriptural, but the church mainly wants to teach: "God loves you." While this is true, will His love always overlook men in their sin? Ps. 7:11 says that “He is ANGRY every day with the wicked." This ought to concern us, especially ministers. Ps. 5:5, 6 tells us that “God HATES ALL workers of iniquity" (see also Hosea 9:15; Ps. 11:5; Jer. 12:8; Rom. 9:11, 13; Lev. 20:23; 26:30; Ps. 78:59; 106:40; Prov. 22:14 etc.).
I want to write about there being ROOM FOR ALL. Within this truth, we must deal with MONERGISM VS. SYNERGISM (monergism=God's all-sufficient grace and power, He is able to save WITHOUT the aid of His creatures; Synergism=the cooperation of the creature in his/her own salvation).
Let it be said (and staunch Calvinists mock this), that the Father decrees His salvation (He wants All to be saved): Jesus, the Son died to obtain the sinner's redemption, and the Holy Ghost (or Spirit) exercises His divine power in bringing conviction to the sinner so as he/she will confess and repent. I deal at length with all this in our “Once Saved, Always Saved?” trilogy (Contact us today for a free copy of this series).
While the above is true, it is also true that not ALL will accept the call for eternal salvation. They will die in their sin and be damned eternally. This is also Biblically correct.
First John 5:11, 12 is a good place to start this Bible study, "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." The KJV uses the word "record" whereas the RSV uses "testimony." John is speaking of that inner kind which the believer has "in himself" (v. 10). Do we know that we are saved eternally? We ought to. Verse 11 tells us that God has given us eternal life, which is in His son, BUT we have a part in this: confessing our sins, repenting of our sins, turning 180 degrees around from our sins, believing upon Jesus Christ the Lord, receiving Him as Saviour/Lord, THEN we are saved; we are justified and forgiven.
You see, the "Gospel" is about repenting and receiving eternal salvation. This includes "the life is in His Son" (Jn. 20:31). It follows that "he who has the Son has life" (Jn. 3:36). This is merely our "new birth" (Jn. 3). Our ABIDING/OBEDIENCE in the Lord is then modulated to the conception of our being "born of God" (“born again”). John 3:3, 5, 6
These verses ought to be studied. Some poor (lost) souls believe that if they belong to a church THEY ARE SAVED. Sorry! It doesn't work this way. God doesn't save anyone without them FIRST repenting of their sins. Period!!
Prof. Robert Shank points out (concerning that discussion between Jesus and Nicodemus in Jn. 3) that "Although somewhat obscurely, the doctrine of a scriptural birth from above does appear in embryonic form in the Old Testament, numerous passages disclose the nature of the Scriptural birth from above" (“Life in the Son,” p. 86). One should take the time to research these texts: Dt. 14:1; 32:6, 19; 1 Chron. 29:10; Ps. 82:6; 103:13; Isa. 1:2; 30:1, 9; 43:6; 45:11; 63:8, 16; 64:8; Jer. 3:4, 19; 31:9; Hos. 1:10; Mal. 1:6; 2:10; Ez. 36:25-27; and see Jn. 3:5.
YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN
This whole business of men being so DEPRAVED that they cannot utter the words "Jesus save me!" is really ridiculous indeed. So depraved, mind you, that God has to save them before they can repent and confess. But this is not what Jesus says in John 3:3, 5, 7: "Ye must be born again." The second birth is not something which men must or can accomplish of themselves, true; but something they can achieve in and through the power of conviction—as men submit to God's Will through confession, repentance, and by faith that God bestows. God enables men to confess/repent, then man confesses/repents. So, GOD AND LOST MEN WORK TOGETHER.
Let us never minimize the importance of the quickening wrought by the overshadowing Holy Spirit in the new birth whereby one is made a new creation/creature in Christ Jesus.
Regeneration is a re-creating and transformation of the repentant person (see Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23) by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 3:6; Titus 3:5). Through this process, "eternal life" (a quality of life plus never-ending life) from God Himself is imparted to the believer (Jn. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:4; 1 Jn. 5:11), and he/she becomes a child of God (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 8:16, 17; Gal. 3:26), and a new person (2 Cor. 5:17; Col. 3:9, 10). He/she no longer conforms to this world (…hopefully; see Rom. 12:2), but is now created after God "in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:24).
Regeneration is necessary BECAUSE apart from Christ Jesus, ALL people, by their inherent natures (darkened by sin), are sinners incapable of obeying and pleasing God (some may be very "religious" but we must have God's righteousness, see Ps. 51:5; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 8:7, 8; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:3).
Regeneration comes ONLY to those who REPENT of their sin, turn to the Lord (Mt. 3:2), and place personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (Jn. 1:12). Joining any religious club, church, lodge, etc. will not, and cannot SAVE.
By and through the act of repentance on our part, and God's forgiveness and justification, the person is set FREE from the slavery of sin (Jn. 8:36; Rom. 6:14-23) and receives a spiritual desire and disposition to obey God and follow the leading/guidance of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13, 14).
Now, let us examine Acts 10. But, before we do this, look at Matt. 1:21: "And she (Mary) shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins" (Jesus is the Greek form of the Heb. word Yeshua (Joshua), meaning, "The Lord is salvation"). His people were the Jews of His day. Great! He tried! But what of all those "other" peoples that were sinners? Did God care about them? Yes! God has a BIG heart!
Our story starts when Peter went up upon the housetop to pray (10:9), he goes into a trance (v. 11), saw Heaven open, saw all manner of beasts/creeping things/fowls of the air (v. 12), heard a voice, "Rise and kill, and eat!” (v. 13), contends with the heavenly voice (v. 14), the voice says, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common" (v. 15). Peter got the spiritual message, "God is no respecter of person" (v. 34). In other words, "I see quite plainly that God has no favorites." From now on the Gentiles would be in God's heart, not just the Jew. Jesus no longer was to be the Jewish "Lord and Christ," but Lord of ALL (all races are welcome. Thank you Jesus!! – v. 36). The fulfillment of purely national Messianic expectation falls into the background of history and Jesus is present not only as "Christ," but as judge of the living and the dead (v. 42).
God shows NO partiality: Literally "God is not a respecter of faces/races" (1 Pet. 1:17), who judges each one impartially. Hence, the inclusiveness of character of Christianity has been born…beginning with Jesus. His Way/our way in Him rises far above any political religious systems of the world. This is not all. Loyalty to Him stands far above loyalty to any particular nation. Watch out American Christian, idolatry of nation offends our Lord.
In Christ, there are no superior races/nations. All are welcome in the family of God IF each person believes in Christ and repents of their sins.
It was a SHOCK for the Jews that God welcomed the Gentiles, GOD'S INCLUSIVENESS EXCLUDES UNREPENTANT SINNERS. He made the rule, not me.
Acts 11:1 says, "And the apostles and brethren (Jews) that were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had ALSO received the Word of God" What? "Gentiles joining the Christian church?" What a triumph for the New World Order. Of course, the converted Jews didn't really like this idea (most protests came from the "circumcision party"). Believe it or not, there are still "parties" within the church that have this same spirit. We have encountered certain denominations that despise any and all who work in their area (one in particular we've encountered is the Assemblies of God).
There is "party loyalty" that amounts to treason (even murder!); liturgical parties, theological parties, ecclesiastical parties, racial parties, political/sexual parties—ALL NEED TO REPENT!
The Jews used the word "also" in a pathetic way, but we find "also" used in an uplifting way in verse 18: "…Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." This, no doubt carries the technical Jewish sense of admitting a pervious error, for which John 9:24 expresses, "Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner." This "also" would fit well with the preceding phrase "they were silenced;" and the meaning would be that they withdrew their objections to Peter's conduct.
Here we have it—God's heart being enlarged—the continual extension of His love and mercy, till the WHOLE world would hear about His Son…who takes away the sin of the world. Biblical Christianity is inclusive (by and through repentance only). It came not to exclude men, but to INCLUDE them. But, again, there is the CONDITION OF REPENTANCE FIRST. Any theology that shuts out sinners who seek, confess, and repent is bad theology. Yet we have whole denominations that do just this. "Election," dear ones, is not "exclusive," but "INCLUSIVE." The 9th chapter of Romans proves this (see other studies). It tells the racial Jews, in shocking language, that God is greater than they are, and that in His great love/mercy, He is going to gather all the lands and people of the earth into one. "Divine election" is all about all (that will repent), not about the few selected as "favorites." While it is true that a few will find salvation, these few were the ones to meet God's condition of repentance.
Saved by Grace
Some teach the error today that since we are "saved by grace" (Eph. 2:5, 2:8) that unrepentant sinners are accepted and taken to Heaven because of the "graciousness" of God. One minister's booklet (I have) says "Grace is not an attitude of God toward sinners who claim to believe God. Grace is our New Covenant in Christ Jesus." He is right. There are plenty of people who "believe God" or "believe in Jesus" who are still LOST. Even though salvation through faith, or by faith is a free gift, this still requires the seeker to do what is required to receive it: REPENT.
Our salvation as a Jew or Gentile can only be appropriated by the human response of faith. Saving faith is not only a profession about Christ, but also an act of repenting of our sins and seeking to be saved from them.
So, FAITH involves, first, repentance (or we might start out believing in Christ which automatically will lead us to repentance), i.e., turning from sin (with godly sorrow (Acts 17:30; 2 Cor. 7:10) and turning to God through Jesus Christ. Saving faith ALWAYS requires repentance. Believing isn't enough, although we must believe.
Faith for salvation is both the act of a single moment (it doesn't have to take hours or days) and a continuing attitude for life that must grow and be strengthened (Jn. 1:12). What the Bible teaches is "instant conversion" and "daily continuance."
Now let's examine "grace." One minister puts it this way: "Grace is God's presence and love through Christ, given to believers by the Holy Spirit and imparting to them mercy, forgiveness, and the desire and power to do the will of God (see Jn. 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:10; Phil. 2:13; 1 Tim. 1:15, 16).” Other ministers may explain/define grace in different words.
First Cor. 1:4 states, "…for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ," which means that unbelievers receive a portion of grace in order that they may be able to fully believe on the Lord and be saved. Not that we are entirely saved without the act of repentance, but God's love for us enables us to follow through for salvation. I really can't explain this in theological terms (I'm not a theologian nor Bible scholar/expert) (see also Titus 2:11; 3:4 etc.).
ON THE OTHER HAND, GOD GIVES GRACE TO THE BELIEVER (AFTER SALVATION) TO BE MADE FREE FROM SIN AS ROMANS 6:20, 22 TELLS US. Not only this, but He gives us the will to do His will as stated in Phil. 2:13; Titus 2:11, 12 etc., to grow spiritually as 2 Peter says (3:18), and to be a witness as in Acts 4:33 and 11:23.
It also needs to be stated that His grace can be resisted (which today's church is guilty of!, see Heb. 12:15). It can also be received in vain (2 Cor. 6:1). This explains why we see so many sinning believers today. It can be quenched (1 Thess. 5:19), and it can be abandoned also as Gal. 5:4 tells us. There are those who will turn purple arguing that one cannot lose their salvation/grace. But what does "fallen from grace" mean?
In the case of some of the Galatians (5:4), they had transferred their faith in Christ to faith in legalistic observances of the law (see 1:6, 7; 5:3). The apostle Paul states without apology that they had FALLEN FROM GRACE. To fall from grace is to be alienated from Christ (Jn. 15:4-6) and to abandon the principle of God's grace that brings us life and salvation. It is to have one's association with Christ NULLIFIED and to no longer "abide in Christ" (Jn. 15:6; 2 Pet. 2:15, 20-22 etc.). "Once in grace, always in grace" is only true when one remains "in Christ faithfully till the end."
Back to Acts 10
The conversion of (Gentile) Cornelius and his family is a wonderful story—a true story. Peter makes a revolutionary statement in v. 35: "But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him."
Putting vv. 34 and 35 together, we get the revelation that God no longer esteemed the Jew above the Gentile. The words "respect of persons," is used in reference to unjust decisions in a court of justice, where through favor, or interest, or bribe, the lawbreaker is acquitted and a righteous or innocent person is condemned (see Lev. 19:15; Dt. 1:16, 17, and 16:19). The Jews were guilty, really guilty of abusing God's grace (as Jesus bore witness to over and over). Some Gentiles lived better lives than many "religious" Jews. So it is even today among the churchites.
Verse 35 literally means, "In every nation he or she who, according to his/her light and privileges, fear God, worship Him ALONE (for this is the true meaning of the Word), and worketh righteousness, abstains from all evil, gives to all their due, injures neither the body, soul, nor reputation of his/her neighbor, is accepted with Him” (Prof. Adam Clarke).
We must understand, therefore, not only the notion, kindred, profession, mode, or form of worship that the just God regards, but also the character, conduct, and state of mind/heart of the given individual.
You see, Cornelius was accepted with God because he watched, fasted, prayed, gave alms while other Gentiles around him did not. This does not mean that any "religious" person that does the above will be accepted with God. Peter gave his speech (vv. 34-43), mentioning that "whosoever believeth in Him (Jesus) shall receive remission of sins" (v. 43). Repentance of course was all part of believing. We know that Peter preached "repentance," for in Acts 2:38 he states, "…repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…" The same held true for Cornelius and his family. Repentance, forgiveness of sins, and baptism are all required. Being baptized in water without first repenting will only make one a wet sinner.
John the Baptist and Jesus Christ both preached "repentance." Therefore, we know that the Gentile Cornelius repented because God does not pour out His Holy Spirit upon unrepentant souls (10:44).
Room For ALL
Nowhere in the New Testament do we find Jesus or the apostles preaching about a little selected company. Never did Christ say to anyone, "You are just too bad." He was quoted as saying, "Thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven."
Let me end with this: the Holy Spirit desires the salvation of all people, if this were not true, we would not have Matt. 28:19 and 2 Peter 3:9 in our Bible.
Hence, we have the "great commission" (which today="great omission!") and "WORLD MISSION." We're to take the gospel of Jesus to ALL the world…centered upon "repentance and remission (forgiveness) of sins" (see Lk. 24:47). Not only this, the promise of receiving "the gift of the Holy Ghost (or Spirit according to Acts 2:38),” and the exhortation to “separate from this wicked generation” (Acts 2:40; this is something which the church currently refuses to do).
Jesus said that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among ALL nations (Lk. 24:47; Matt. 28:19), to ALL the world and to EVERY creature (Mk. 16:15) and unto the UTTERMOST part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Paul's statement "There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek (or Gentile): for the same Lord over ALL is rich unto ALL that call upon Him. For WHOSOEVER shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:12, 13). This "calling upon" always includes repentance. ALWAYS (see also Col. 3:10, 11)!
The apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost was persistent in contending that the Gospel of Christ is for ALL RACES—and for both genders. He wrote that "we testify to the Jews, and to the Greeks (Gentiles), repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). “Be it known unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles” (Acts 28:28). “Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also" (Rom. 3:29).
THERE IS ROOM FOR ALL IN GOD'S HEART, JESUS' HEART.
Racism is like sexism (many "Christians” believe that women are of less importance than men. We encountered this when we went to Malawi, Africa back in the early 1980s. Our host said that women and children had no souls! What? Well, later, after many Bible studies, he became a champion for both. Amen).
Paul's contention, and it is ours too, was that by ONE Spirit we are ALL baptized into ONE body, Jew or Gentile, male or female (see 1 Col. 12:13). Gal. 13:28 is explicit that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond (slave) nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are ALL ONE in Christ Jesus." Here Paul removes ALL ethnic, racial, national, social, and sexual distinctions—with regard to one's spiritual relationship with Christ. ALL in Christ are equal heirs of the grace of life (1 Pet. 3:7), the promised Holy Spirit (v. 14; 4:6), and renewal in the image of God (Col. 3:10, 11). Let it be understood, within the context of spiritual equality, that men remain men, and women remain women (transgenderism is a gross sin!, see Gen. 1:27). Their God-assigned roles in marriage and society remain unchanged (same-sex-marriage is an ABOMINATION to God!, see 1 Pet. 3:1-4; Eph. 5:22, 23; 1 Tim. 2:13, 15. Write for our Gay Way series detailing all this).
There is also room for ALL sex offenders IF they repent and turn from their evil ways (this includes both homosexual and heterosexual; all must likewise repent and change their ways). All this current teaching that God accepts practicing sex offenders is ONE BIG LIE. TURN AND BE SAVED. Amen.
Closing Prayer :
Here is a prayer by a minister (deceased now) that may help:
“Oh Heavenly Father, I am so thankful to know and understand the Gospel and to believe what it says. I believe on Jesus Christ and I repent of my sins and, by faith, I now receive you as my personal Saviour and Lord.
You were without sin (Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 2:22), yet you died for my sins (1 Cor. 15:2; 1 Pet. 2:24). You took my place, assumed my judgment, and suffered my penalty in order to ransom me and to restore me to God as though I had never sinned (Isa. 53:4-5; Rev. 1:5, 5:9; Rom. 5:1).
You took my sins and now, by accepting you, you impart to me your righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). I have come to realize what a price you paid to prove how you value me. Your blood was shed to make me clean (Rom. 5:8-9).
Oh Jesus, my Lord, since you paid the full price for my transgressions, there can never be anything further for me to pay (Heb. 10:8). I believe that I am saved, now and forever, because of the good news of what you accomplished when you died in my place.
Now I am restored to God my Father through Jesus my savior. I do believe that you have now come to live in me like you originally planned when you created me.
I believe I am saved (Eph. 2:8). You and I are one again because of what your Son, Jesus, did in my place. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me (1 Jn.1:7). The life of Jesus Christ regenerates me (1 Pet. 1:23). The joy of Jesus Christ fills me (Jn. 15:11).
Thank you that you love me. I am yours (Jn. 6:37). You have made my body your temple (1 Cor. 6:19-20). I am redeemed and accepted. I am commissioned in the Kingdom of God to represent you in this life (2 Cor. 5:19-21).
My debt is paid. I am saved—here and now (2 Cor. 6:2). I believe, and I am free (Jn. 8:32, 36; 2 Cor. 3:17; Rom. 8:32).
Thank you, Lord, for the power that makes me your child (Jn. 1:12), and that makes me a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17) now that I have welcomed you home to live in me.
Thank you that I am part of your plan now. I have a place no one else can fill (Eph. 2:10). No longer will I condemn myself (Rom. 8:1; Jn. 3:17; 5:24). No longer will I destroy what you value (1 Cor. 6:20).
Now I am accepted (Eph. 1:6). I can do your work (Jn. 14:12; 20:21; 1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 3:5-6). I am born again (Jn. 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:23). I am a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). I have repented of my sins. I have changed my mind about myself and about other people. Knowing how you value each human person has given me a new value of human life (Gal. 1:4; Tit. 2:14; Rev. 1:5; 5:9).
I see you, Oh, Lord, with new eyes (Ps. 34:2-7; 21:6; 119:135; Acts 2:25-26, 28; Heb. 12:2-3). I see others now as you see them. I see myself in your own image (Gen. 1:26-27; Ps. 8:4-6). Thank you Lord, that you live in me (Col. 1:27; Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 6:16; Jn. 14:20; 15:7). In Jesus' name. AMEN!”