Sovereign Grace, Fuel for Worship, Power for Holiness.

by Potters_Freedom

By Todd Mason (Exodus 33:12-23 ESV)Moses said to the LORD, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen. (Ephesians 1:1-14 ESV)“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” At the core of God’s glory is His absolute freedom to be who he is. Fuel for Worship First a quick note on the worship.When I use the term worship what I don’t mean is a particular style of music, position or placement of the human body. Are you Charismatic? Or are you in a church building? When I use the word worship I mean Adoration, Trust, Resting in, Satisfied in, Delighting in, placing you hope in Christ. Worship to me can be summed up with phrase. “Jesus is more than enough” or “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21 ESV) “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1 ESV)Worship is an inner, Godward experience of the heart manifest in everyday life. – John PiperIn Exodus when Moses asked God to show him his ways and to show him His glory part of his response was “And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy”. In Ephesians Paul says we are predestined to the praise of His glory. The more clearly we see God’s sovereignty the more clearly we see of His glory, and this in turn results in higher praise for His glorious grace. When we understand God’s absolute freedom in choosing a people for his namesake we are freed to worship Him for all that he is. We bring nothing to his majesty; it is untainted by our efforts or contributions. When worshiping God we don’t have to keep one eye on ourselves to see why He chose us. We can keep both eyes focused on His glory. We can dive into self-forgetting worship more fully because we are not trying to pay Him back for choosing us. He chose us because of His glory. A View of the Cross:Seeing the Cross of Christ in its full glory and power is at the center of God-Centered worship. Jesus didn’t die just to make it possible that I would be saved, He secured it decisively and completely. The Cross of Jesus is not only an offer of salvation, but actually secured our salvation. The Cross of Christ did something for us and to us. When you see the death of Jesus for you in this manner you will never be the same and your worship will be transformed. Jesus accomplished everything he set out to do by His death and resurrection. Jesus is absolutely sovereign in the rescue of His people! What he did on the cross he did completely and eternally. To see this is to have our heart set aflame for our champion redeemer! The higher our view of the Cross, the more God is glorified, and the more God is glorified, the more our hearts are satisfied. (to paraphrase John Piper) God created us to praise His absolutely sovereign glory. (Eph 1:6,12,14) The more glory we see in what Jesus accomplished the more we worship Jesus.(Luke 7:36-50 ESV)“One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair (Worship). You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. (Worship) You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. (Worship) Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven. ”Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”When we begin to see the magnitude of God’s grace shown toward us we worship Him more intensely. A fuller understanding of God’s grace in rescuing us from our sin and His righteous wrath result in more fuel for worship. Power for Holiness(Jude vs 24-25 ESV) “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”One of the great practical benefits of understanding God in all His sovereignty is in the power for personal holiness. Knowing how much authority Christ has over our desires and will is very important for our piety. Sermons that read like Christian Self-help manuals (An oxymoron if there ever there was one!) have no power to transform the human heart. The attitude that Jesus has done His part and now you must do your part, just don’t work! Any system of theology that believes that man just needs help will leave people struggling with sin all their days. We need completely new hearts and a transformed will. For years I struggled with this thought. If I have a free-will how could I possibly ask God to change it? How could I pray that God would change my desires and will? After all, wouldn’t that be a violation of my free will? God might assist me, but in the final analysis isn’t it really up to me? This is where Arminian Theology can actually be harmful. It leaves people as the decisive factor in the fight for personal holiness. The old Nike tag line “Just Do It!” has no biblical merit and leaves people where it found them. Only a Calvinist can pray with Saint Augustine “Grant what thou commandest and then command what thou wilt.” Only a Calvinist can honestly pray the following.“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”(Psalm 51:10) “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” (Psalm 119:36) “Incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.”(Psalm 119:112) “Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.” (Psalm 119:133)If you pray these types of prayers and really mean them you are asking God to perform a sovereign action on your will. You are asking God to do whatever is required to transform your desires so that you will follow after Him in holiness and purity of heart. Again, as in the last subject I must concentrate on the Cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus died to give us the right and power to offer up these types of prayers. (Jeremiah 31:31-33 ESV)“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Zechariah 9:11 ESV) “As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.” (Luke 22:14-21 ESV) “And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Hebrews 9:15 ESV) “Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” The blood of the Jesus brings us forgiveness of sins and power for a new life. Jesus died so that we would have new hearts given us through the Holy Spirit. A new heart with new desires. A new heart has a different set of things it “wills” to do. God doesn’t cause us to do things we don’t want to do, he changes our hearts so that we want to do what we ought to do. We must be given new hearts so that we will have new desires flowing into new actions. Only when we get the order of regeneration correct can we teach people how they can live lives of holiness. There is massive power for holiness in knowing that it is God working in us to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Phil 2:13) (1Peter 1:3 ESV)“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”(John 10:28 ESV) “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”This promise is only as good as power, goodness and strength of the One making the promise. (Hebrews 1:2-3 ESV) “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” An analogy:Suppose you are climbing a great mountain and during your journey you come to the point of exhaustion. You know that if you don’t keep moving upwards that you will die. At the moment of lost hope a strong and good climber approaches you. He tells you that he has paid the price for you to make it to the top of the mountain and further more he will be with you each step of the way, giving you the strength and the will to finish the climb, and because of this you can be absolutely assured that you will arrive safely to the top. Will you stop climbing and stay where you are because of his promise or will you have faith and trust the promises of your new strong friend? Real faith results in perseverance. A proper understanding of God’s sovereign power in causing us to be born again to a living Hope, Jesus Christ, causes us to persevere in our faith. The knowledge that I will never perish and that I will not fall away is of the greatest power in not falling away! It might cause laziness in some that might not be born again but that is a terrible reason not to preach and believe what is biblical, God-glorifying, Christ-exalting and a chief weapon in the fight for holiness. A Side Bar on False Assurance:The doctrine of eternal security certainly has and will continue to be abused in the church. Especially when it is separated from a proper understanding for God’s sovereign role in the regeneration of our hearts. When we teach people that they can “sign a card” “join a roll” and be saved eternally without a transformed life we have a system ripe for abuse. But the God that has caused us to be born again to a living hope also has much to say about what being born again looks like. (1 John 3:9 ESV) “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”(1John 5:4 ESV) “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”(1John 5:18 ESV) “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.”(1John 1:6 ESV) “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”God most assuredly keeps and protects our faith in Christ. But it is also very clear from the previous versus that we are fooling ourselves when say we have saving faith and take a light few of sin. To be born again is to see Jesus as more desirable than sin. Please don’t misunderstand me and think I believe we don’t sin after becoming Christians. Indeed we all do. The following scriptures make that abundantly clear.(1John 1:8, 10 ESV) “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”(Romans 3:23 ESV) “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”Paul was a Christian when he wrote Romans 7! Conclusion:(Ephesians 1:4-6 ESV) “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”The love that God has for us through His son is sovereign love. I bring nothing to Him but my need for Him, and He being completely self-sufficient brings only Himself. This causes the heart to sing in worship.(2Corinthians 4:6 ESV) “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”God in his great mercy creates light and life in our dark dead hearts and that light and life is the glory of God in the person and work and Jesus Christ. God the father sovereignty lights the flame of faith and worship in us and he will most assuredly keep it burning forever.

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