Being Your “Self” and Raising the Dead - Purity 943
Purity 943 01/17/2023 Purity 943 Podcast
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Today’s photo of poolside palm trees overlooking the rooftops of buildings in the valley below at sunset comes to us from a friend who captured this scene at the Pura Vida Resort and Spa in Carrizal, Costa Rica while at a corporate retreat. Our friend seems to be making the most of the trip as he has enjoyed hot tub dips during the breaks, has captured shots of parrots in the wild, and went zip lining through the jungle along the coast of the Gulf of Nicoya this past weekend! While zip lining someone caught a photo of him literally upside down which he changed to his FB profile with the caption: “Be your self, no matter what position life puts you in…”
Corporate retreats in Costa Rica… yeah some guys have it rough! Well, it’s Tuesday and for many of us it will be the end of an extended weekend while the rest of us had our case of the Mondays yesterday. Although it is back to work it doesn’t have to be to be met with depression or disdain. In fact as much as I joke about envying my friend’s trip Costa Rica, I want to point out what I believe is the most important thing about what our friend’s comment and experience can teach us.
While there is definitely some wisdom in our friend’s sentiment that “No matter what position life puts you in, be yourself…”, let’s qualify that by saying let’s be our “best self” or what I would say is “the person God created us to be”.
While we shouldn’t deny our feelings, when I think of people advising others to be their “selves” I some how get the impression that we are not encouraging one another to be depressed, petty, angry, or selfish people. Our “best self” – the person God created us to be is the “self” that displays the fruit of the Spirit: peace, love, joy, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, patience, and self-control – although I am sure there are many a “wild child” who would dispute that and claim their rights to “be who they are" which would include their tendencies to be angry and selfish, those responses that come when my “self” isn’t getting everything that “I want.”
The impression I get from my friend’s sharing from his trip was that he was not only indulging in his selfish desires but was experiencing and sharing joy with others by appreciating the beauty of God’s creation where he was and by taking advantage of the opportunities to relax and explore where the Lord brought him. He was also tagged in a video where co-workers were dancing which indicates to me that others appreciated his zeal for life and enjoying the retreat. Our positive attitudes are the perhaps the best thing we can take with us through life. Whether we are travelling to distant places through out the world or if we are just going back to our regular 9 to 5, our ability to experience joy and our ability to return to joy demonstrates our spiritual maturity.
No matter what position life puts us in, those of us in Christ have infinite reasons to be joyful and to face each day with gratitude and a sense of contentment and wonder. When we stay in those places: joy, gratitude, contentment and wonder – we like who we are because we best represent who we are in Christ.
Paul’s final advice to the Thessalonians demonstrates that these attributes are supposed to define who we are as Christians:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT2)
16 Always be joyful.
17 Never stop praying.
18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
So remember who you are in Christ, and let the truth of your new identity as God’s beloved son or daughter fuel your day and fill you with the abundant joy and peace that is defines your “self” – no matter what position life puts you in.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verses are:
19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power
20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
Today’s verses encourage us understand the power that God provides to those who believe in Him, and it encourages us to not put a limit on what God can do in our lives.
While many an enthusiastic spirit filled Christian can make bold claims about raising the dead through our faith, resurrecting miracles are not common. Miracles by definition are rare, although raising the dead is possible with God. So if you are in a situation where you feel the Lord is inviting you to pray to raise the dead, go for it. But be willing to accept bitter disappointment.
Hey that’s our faith. We hope for the best and pray for good things, but we accept God’s will and the fact that we don’t perfectly know it.
In 2019, a woman in California lost a toddler and despite her pastor and church’s belief in raising the dead, the child did not rise, despite their undoubting faith and prayers that lasted for a week. So we have to realize that the vast majority of the time dead is dead.
Having lost an infant child myself I can understand praying for resurrection. I wasn’t the Christian I am today and when my son Holden died, I prayed and called out to God to not let him go right up until the emergency room doctor had to tell me what was quite obvious, my son was cold and had stopped breathing long before we got him to the hospital. My son was dead. But I did pray, man did I pray. But then you accept it. I can’t imagine persisting in prayer for over a week, and I don’t recommend it.
What? Where’s my faith? Don’t I believe that we have the same power that raised Christ from the dead?
I do but because I believe I also accept that His will be done, not mine.
Also, hello, we are Christian – dead isn’t dead. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Should we really be praying to bring people back from God’s kingdom? For his purposes? Yes. To give Him glory? Sure. But otherwise we have to realize that the dead person if in Christ, is in a better place than we are!
That was something I didn’t understand fully when my son died. Nobody wants anyone to die, okay, but despite our pain we should accept God’s will (He calls everyone into eternity) and remember the “good state” that departing Christians go to.
We should grieve but stand in faith by thanking God for the love we had and for bringing our loved ones into His presence.
This is one of those “hard truths” of Christianity that we struggle with and that can be misapplied, so tread lightly and meditate upon these things.
Yesterday I saw a FB friend share a picture of David Bowie with the caption – rest in peace dear one. I get it you loved his music and his artistry. But he has been dead for a while and regardless of his final destination, Mr. Bowie is not resting. Anyone who dies is either experiencing joy and new life in heaven in God’s presence, or experiencing torment in hell until the final judgement, the second death. But in either case – nobody is resting. So can we give “rest in peace” a rest?
Anyway, enough about the dead who live elsewhere currently.
This passage does the speak of God’s power and Paul’s words encourage us that it is a mighty power without limits, except God’s will of course. So what does it mean for us?
It means we can overcome. It means we can have victory over the personal struggles of our lives because we are free from sin. It means we can have peace even in the face of death because we know the truth concerning the afterlife.
God’s power is mighty but besides the rare miracle it can be applied to our lives, by faith – by believing – to transform us.
So pray at all times and don’t surrender against the “impossible situations” in your life, God is with you and if you keep walking and talking with Him you may discover that His path will take you over and above what you think is impossible.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God.”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
By ARTHUR W. PINK
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN SALVATION, continues.
1. The Sovereignty of God the Father in Salvation – continues
“A remnant according to the election of grace.” Here the cause of election is traced back to its source. The basis upon which God elected this “remnant” was not faith foreseen in them, because a choice founded upon the foresight of good works is just as truly made on the ground of works as any choice can be, and in such a case it would not be “of grace;” for, says the apostle, “if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace;” which means that grace and works are opposites, they have nothing in common, and will no more mingle than oil and water. Thus the idea of inherent good foreseen in those chosen, or of anything meritorious performed by them, is rigidly excluded. “A remnant according to the election of grace” signifies an unconditional choice resulting from the sovereign favor of God; in a word, it is absolutely a gratuitous election.
“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty: and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:26–29). Three times over in this passage reference is made to God’s choice, and choice necessarily supposes a selection, the taking of some and the leaving of others. The Choser here is God Himself, as said the Lord Jesus to the apostles, “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). The number chosen is strictly defined—“not many wise men after the flesh, not many noble,” etc., which agree with Matt. 20:16, “So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many be called, but few chosen.” So much then for the fact of God’s choice; now mark the objects of His choice.
The ones spoken of above as chosen of God are “the weak things of the world, base things of the world, and things which are despised.” But why? To demonstrate and magnify His grace. God’s ways as well as His thoughts are utterly at variance with man’s. The carnal mind would have supposed that a selection had been made from the ranks of the opulent and influential, the amiable and cultured, so that Christianity might have won the approval and applause of the world by its pageantry and fleshly glory. Ah, but “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). God chooses the “base things.” He did so in Old Testament times. The nation which He singled out to be the depository of His holy oracles and the channel through which the promised Seed should come was not the ancient Egyptians, the imposing Babylonians, nor the highly civilized and cultured Greeks. No; that people upon whom Jehovah set His love and regarded as ‘the apple of His eye’ were the despised, nomadic Hebrews. So it was when our Lord tabernacled among men. The ones whom He took into favored intimacy with Himself and commissioned to go forth as His ambassadors were, for the most part, unlettered fishermen. And so it has been ever since. So it is today: at the present rates of increase, it will not be long before it is manifested that the Lord has more in despised China who are really His, than He has in the highly favored U. S. A.; more among the uncivilized blacks of Africa, than He has in cultured (?) Germany! And the purpose of God’s choice, the raison d’etre of the selection He has made is, “that no flesh should glory in His presence”—there being nothing whatever in the objects of His choice which should entitle them to His special favors, then, all the praise will be freely ascribed to the exceeding riches of His manifold grace.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ: According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him; in love having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.… In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:3–5, 11). Here again we are told at what point in time—if time it could be called—when God made choice of those who were to be His children by Jesus Christ. It was not after Adam had fallen and plunged his race into sin and wretchedness, but long ere Adam saw the light, even before the world itself was founded, that God chose us in Christ. Here also we learn the purpose which God had before Him in connection with His own elect: it was that they “should be holy and without blame before Him;” it was “unto the adoption of children;” it was that they should “obtain an inheritance.” Here also we discover the motive which prompted Him. It was “in love that He predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself”—a statement which refutes the oft made and wicked charge that, for God to decide the eternal destiny of His creatures before they are born, is tyrannical and unjust. Finally, we are informed here, that in this matter He took counsel with none, but that we are “predestinated according to the good pleasure of His will.”
“But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13). There are three things here which deserve special attention. First, the fact that we are expressly told that God’s elect are “chosen to salvation.” Language could not be more explicit. How summarily do these words dispose of the sophistries and equivocations of all who would make election refer to nothing but external privileges or rank in service! It is to “salvation” itself that God hath chosen us. Second, we are warned here that election unto salvation does not disregard the use of appropriate means: salvation is reached through “sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” It is not true that because God has chosen a certain one to salvation that he will be saved willy-nilly, whether he believes or not: nowhere do the scriptures so represent it. The same God who predestined the end also appointed the means; the same God who “chose unto salvation” decreed that His purpose should be realized through the work of the Spirit and belief of the truth. Third, that God has chosen us unto salvation is a profound cause for fervent praise. Note how strongly the apostle expresses this—“we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation,” etc. Instead of shrinking back in horror from the doctrine of predestination, the believer, when he sees this blessed truth as it is unfolded in the Word, discovers a ground for gratitude and thanksgiving such as nothing else affords, save the unspeakable gift of the Redeemer Himself.
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 1:9). How plain and pointed is the language of Holy Writ! It is man who, by his words, darkeneth counsel. It is impossible to state the case more clearly, or strongly, than it is stated here. Our salvation is not “according to our works;” that is to say, it is not due to anything in us, nor the rewarding of anything from us; instead, it is the result of God’s own “purpose and grace;” and this grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. It is by grace we are saved, and in the purpose of God this grace was bestowed upon us not only before we saw the light, not only before Adam’s fall, but even before that far distant “beginning” of Genesis 1:1. And herein lies the unassailable comfort of God’s people. If His choice has been from eternity it will last to eternity! “Nothing can survive to eternity but what came from eternity, and what has so come, will” (George S. Bishop).
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2). Here again election by the Father precedes the work of the Holy Spirit in, and the obedience of faith by, those who are saved; thus taking it entirely off creature ground, and resting it in the sovereign pleasure of the Almighty. The “foreknowledge of God the Father” does not here refer to His prescience of all things, but signifies that the saints were all eternally present in Christ before the mind of God. God did not “foreknow” that certain ones who heard the Gospel would believe it apart from the fact that He had “ordained” these certain ones to eternal life. What God’s prescience saw in all men was, love of sin and hatred of Himself. The “foreknowledge” of God is based upon His own decrees as is clear from Acts 2:23—“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain”—note the order here: first God’s “determinate counsel” (His decree), and second His “foreknowledge.” So it is again in Romans 8:28, 29, “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son,” but the first word here, “for,” looks back to the preceding verse and the last clause of its reads, “to them who are the called according to His purpose”—these are the ones whom He did “foreknow and predestinate.” Finally, it needs to be pointed out that when we read in Scripture of God “knowing” certain people the word is used in the sense of knowing with approbation and love: “But if any man love God, the same is known of Him” (1 Cor. 8:3). To the hypocrites Christ will yet say “I never knew you”—He never loved them. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” signifies, then, chosen by Him as the special objects of His approbation and love.
Summarizing the teaching of these seven passages we learn that, God has “ordained to eternal life” certain ones, and that in consequence of His ordination they, in due time “believe;” that God’s ordination to salvation of His own elect is not due to any good thing in them nor to anything meritorious from them, but solely of His grace;” that God has designedly selected the most unlikely objects to be the recipients of His special favors in order that “no flesh should glory in His presence;” that God chose His people in Christ before the foundation of the world, not because they were so, but in order that they “should be holy and without blame before him;” that having selected certain ones to salvation. He also decreed the means by which His eternal counsel should be made good; that the very “grace” by which we are saved was, in God’s purpose, “given us in Christ Jesus before the world began;” that long before they were actually created God’s elect stood present before His mind, were “foreknown” by Him, i.e., were the definite objects of His eternal love.
Before turning to the next division of this chapter, a further word concerning the subjects of God’s predestinating grace. We go over this ground again because it is at this point that the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in predestining certain ones to salvation is most frequently assaulted. Perverters of this truth invariably seek to find some cause outside God’s own will which moves Him to bestow salvation on sinners; something or other is attributed to the creature which entitles him to receive mercy at the hands of the Creator. We return then to the question, Why did God choose the ones He did?
What was there in the elect themselves which attracted God’s heart to them? Was it because of certain virtues they possessed? because they were generous-hearted, sweet-tempered, truth-speaking? in a word, because they were “good,” that God chose them? No; for our Lord said, “There is none good but one, that is God” (Matt. 19:17). Was it because of any good works they had performed? No; for it is written, “There is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Rom. 3:12). Was it because they evidenced an earnestness and zeal in inquiring after God? No; for it is written again, “There is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:11). Was it because God foresaw they would believe? No; for how can those who are “dead in trespasses and sins” believe in Christ? How could God foreknow some men as believers when belief was impossible to them? Scripture declares that we “believe through grace” (Acts 18:27). Faith is God’s gift, and apart from this gift none would believe. The cause of His choice then lies within Himself and not in the objects of His choice. He chose the ones He did simply because He chose to choose them.
“Sons we are by God’s election
Who on Jesus Christ believe,
By eternal destination,
Sovereign grace we now receive,
Lord Thy mercy,
Doth both grace and glory give!”
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 59–65.