A Simple Discussion on the Sovereignty of God

 A brother in Christ recently sent me this quote in an email to which I include my reply:
Men choose their course by what seems to them a free will and they glory in the fact that they are wise enough to adjust themselves to circumstances, but God is the Author of circumstances.
He may give latitude to men, but their sphere of freedom is never outside the larger sphere of His eternal purpose.
The failure at this point with high Calvinists [hard determinism] arises from the fact that, in their zeal to defend the doctrine of divine sovereignty, they do not recognize how the very sovereignty of God in its out working utilizes the human will as its instrument, not, however, by any form of coercion, but by that form of persuasion which enlightens and engenders holy desires to which the will may respond and by which it may be motivated.
Only tragic misconceptions have been the fruit of an extreme Calvinism which conceives of the human will as overpowered by God, and of a fallacious Arminianism which makes no place in its reckoning for the inherent, constitutional necessity of immediate divine action upon the human will before the right choice can be made at all.
Lewis Sperry Chafer, American Theologian (1871-1952)
Thanks for sending this along! Can you give me the source for Chafer’s quote? I would have to say that I agree closely with this position. I have long-held to the dangers of categorizing oneself as being in the Arminian camp or the Calvinist camp. We should never define a Christianity and a faith, which supersedes by 1500 years these two well-respected men and their writings, with these anemic labels. I refuse to do it if for no other reason than the fact that a single label can conjure up all kinds of pre-conceived ideas and opinions about that moniker, whether real or imagined. 
When I see Scripture as presenting two obvious truths in multiple places in the Bible, and good, God-fearing men of the Word in disagreement as to the conclusion that must be drawn from these truths, I then am apt to conclude that perhaps both are true. Such is the case with Jesus‘ humanity and divinity. He is fully human and fully God. How can that be? It is difficult to understand this paradox, but it is nonetheless true and something we all agree upon as a basic tenet of Orthodox Christianity. Jesus could not have pulled this off if he were not fully God first (from eternity past) but were only a man (at the incarnation) trying to be God. 
Another example is the Trinity. Is God one God or is He three? The truth is that He is both, another paradox that challenges our ability to grasp fully intellectually. And so it is with the whole Sovereignty /Free Will debate about our salvation. Does God choose who will be His or do we have a part in the process with our own God-given free will? It is a difficult paradox to reconcile, but both are true I believe. And just as Jesus could never have become fully man, at the same time as being fully God, without first being fully God from eternity past, so too our salvation flows from God first as an act of His sovereign will. He, in His sovereignty granted us a will to choose to respond in faith to the conviction and “persuasion which enlightens and engenders holy desires to which the will may respond and by which it may be motivated”. It is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone! Make no mistake, only God saves us, not we ourselves. He gives us an opportunity as creatures created in His image to respond to His free gift of grace. 
Just as a husband chooses to woo and court his bride-to be and then proffer a proposal, she must accept his proposal or they cannot be legally wed. So too, no matter how much this woman may want to become the wife of a man she may love and admire, until he proposes and carries through with his intent by choosing and then consummating union with her as his bride, there is nothing she can do to become his, though she may desperately seek it even at great lengths and with many tortured tears. Unless, of course, one believes in coerced or arranged marriage. But I think that we all see the Biblical picture painted of marriage as being one of mutual love and submission, where both husband and wife choose to spend the rest of their lives together, not out of coercion or duty, but out of love and desire and commitment. God (Our Husband-Jesus) initiates this relationship (and without this initiation it could not exist) and we (His Bride-The Church) respond willingly and joyfully and fully. 
This to me is a much higher, more beatific view of God’s sovereignty than that of the “hard determinism” of high Calvinists and elevates His sovereignty to something more than just a “big stick”. His sovereignty rather becomes a marvelous and yet mysterious expression and out-working of His good and loving heart, the kind intention of His will! It also explains the paradox of scripture, which to any honest inquirer, reveals multiple verses which speak both of the primacy of God’s initiation and gracious gift being first necessary to bring about our salvation (and extended to the world at large-which it is said He “loved”) as well as of the exercise of our power to respond and choose, to see and believe the unseen (faith), and to enter into an eternally lasting relationship with our Creator. 
This is a wondrous relationship based in spirit and truth. And such the Father seeks to be His worshippers; to be His children forever!

Posted in Arminianism, Calvinism, Christian Living, Christianity, free will, God's Love, inspirational, Jesus, sovereignty of God, theology, truth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Lesson Learned From Tom White

Today, I was deeply saddened to learn that a man I admired for his passionate involvement in a Christian organization I whole-heartedly support passed away last week. That such a man would pass from this life at the relatively young age of 64 and leave a void in the leadership at the top of this important ministry is reason enough for grief. That he died at his own hand, after having allegedly been involved in the sexual molestation of a 10-year-old girl, is beyond the pale! It is one of those heart-numbing bits of news that come at you from out of the blue that is so shocking in its telling that you are literally floored after hearing the report. I must admit that I wept bitterly several times today, when first hearing the news very early this morning (after a fitful night’s sleep), and later in the day as I thought further of the tragedy of what had transpired. Disbelief, heavy sadness, anger, questioning, and a heart breaking not only for Tom White’s family but also for his staff at Voice of the Martyrs, and, of course, for the little girl who was allegedly molested and her family.

I greatly admired Tom for his adept leadership of this important ministry started by Richard Wurmbrand several decades ago. I have a special place in my heart for Wurmbrand as he was a Romanian Christian who suffered persecution for his faith, having been a prisoner for 17 years in Ceaucescu’s brutal Romanian penal system. I have served in Romania with several Christian organizations over the years and my wonderful son, Christopher, was adopted by my wife and I almost 22 years ago from a city in northwest Romania. Tom himself was held captive in a Cuban jail for nearly a year and a half back in 1979 for distributing the Gospel. He knew first hand the rigors of persecution. His insightful and passionate commentary on behalf of the millions of persecuted Christians around the world given in his column each month on the inside cover of the VOM magazine was inspirational and will be sorely missed. The value and impact of his frequent and oftentimes clandestine trips inside of dangerous countries to minister to the persecuted church cannot be overestimated. The World-wide Church owes him a great debt, and it is his dedicated service to these down-trodden and oft-times forgotten believers that I choose to remember about Tom. I hope that this will be his legacy remembered by others as well.

I do not minimize in the least the depravity of his sin, whatever the details of it are. Whether this had been an ongoing problem or a one-time evil choice I do not know. I will not judge him by a single act of evil, but rather by his years of faithful service. But, I am devastated that he would think that, in spite of the seriousness of the allegations, that he had nowhere to turn and no recourse but to take his own life. In reading once again in recent days C.S. Lewis’ classic “The Problem of Pain“, I am reminded of his comments about good and evil. That there is “simple good” in this world, acts of charity and kindness and such as well as “simple evil”, words and actions (such as he is accused of for example) that are evil in their intent and outcome. Yet God, in His sovereignty, is able to “exploit” these acts of simple evil and turn them into a “complex good”. We may not see it initially, especially when in the pits of despondency, how that God can work all things for good. Romans 8:28 But He can, and furthermore promises, that He will. I think that Tom knew this, but could not see his way to believe and trust it in the midst of the spiritual darkness he found himself in. That is the real tragedy, that he would turn his back on God when he needed Him and His light most in his life. Lord forgive him!

I found myself asking, “God, what in the world is going on here?” This type of behavior (and worse) is becoming more and more the norm, a common occurrence in the world we live in today. It is shocking! The effects are devastating to all involved and impacted by it. The severity of the repercussions are inestimable. So why is it happening more frequently (we read of such stories on an almost daily basis)? Besides being a result of a moral and spiritual decline that has been gaining momentum over the past 20 years in our country (Has America Become A Pornographic Society?: A future blog post on this site), I believe that Satan himself is orchestrating these kinds of “take downs” of high-profile spiritual leaders. There are too many examples to elaborate on here. It is no coincidence, in my opinion, that this would occur now, given the dramatically increased levels of persecution of Christians around the world, especially in Muslim countries. Fine organizations such as VOM, Open Doors, and others are serving a huge need in the body of Christ ministering to these persecuted saints and their families, bringing attention to their plight, something that the mainstream media rarely does. To shame and discredit the Executive Director of this vital ministry for the past 20 years (and by association the organization itself) is a masterful tactic by one whose stated goal in Scripture is to “steal, kill, and destroy” John 10:10  Or, as Martin Luther wrote in his famous hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, “For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.”

We must all remember that we too have an ancient foe and that he can find the “chink in our armor” just as he did with our brother Tom White. So shore up your armor Saints! Difficult times are here. But, take courage and remember to hold fast to the rest of the words from Luther’s hymn as well:

        A mighty fortress is our God, 
	a bulwark never failing; 
	our helper he amid the flood 
	of mortal ills prevaling.  
	For still our ancient foe 
	doth seek to work us woe; 
	his craft and power are great, 
	and armed with cruel hate, 
	on earth is not his equal.

	Did we in our own strength confide, 
	our striving would be losing, 
	were not the right man on our side, 
	the man of God's own choosing.
	Dost ask who that may be?  
	Christ Jesus, it is he; 
	Lord Sabaoth, his name, 
	from age to age the same, 
	and he must win the battle.

        And though this world, with devils filled, 
	should threaten to undo us, 
	we will not fear, for God hath willed 
	his truth to triumph through us.  
	The Prince of Darkness grim, 
	we tremble not for him; 
	his rage we can endure, 
	for lo, his doom is sure; 
	one little word shall fell him.

Please be in prayer for the families affected, the White family, the VOM family, the victim’s family, and the Family of God around the world. Jesus will be victorious. Count on it. And Satan? One little Word shall fell him. From the mouth of He who is Faithful and True! Revelation 19:11

Posted in Christian Living, Christianity, comfort, culture, God's Love, inspirational, Jesus, sorrow, suicide, Voice of the Martyrs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Does It Matter When We Celebrate Easter? ( a re-post from April 2011)

It seems as if every Easter someone comes out of the woodwork to challenge the Christian tradition of Easter. In years past it has been Time magazine or some other liberal, anti-Christian rag who tries to stir up the faithful by challenging scripture (remember Satan’s taunt to Eve: “Did God really say?”). Leave it to liberal MSNBC to  instigate things this year. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/42643674?GT1=43001
The date of Jesus’ birth is generally thought to be between 4-6 BC and his crucifixion between 29 and 33 AD. As to the exact date, there are many opinions on which we are unlikely to ever come to universal agreement. As to whether He had the last supper on a Wednesday or Thursday is really irrelevant. In reading the gospels, it appears to me that he took passover supper with His disciples on Thursday, was crucified on Good Friday, laid in the tomb Friday afternoon, remained entombed all day Saturday (the Sabbath) and rose early on Sunday morning (the Third Day) before sunrise. That is in line with the traditional view, but is not universal in its acceptance.

What matters is that a historical Jesus really was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died an ignominious death on a cross to save us from our sins and give us peace and reconciliation with God, and rose triumphantly from the grave to conquer death and sin. He then proved He was alive to many eyewitnesses, commissioned His disciples to take this Good News to the uttermost parts of the earth, and ascended to Heaven to join the Father, sending His Holy Spirit to indwell all who believe and put their faith in Him-as our Helper and as a down payment for what is to come. That is what we celebrate at Easter; our victorious risen Savior and King! Someone always seems to want to complicate the issues of simple faith…

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A Love Letter Just In TIme For Valentines!

Have you ever written a love letter to someone you really care about? There is a deep well of emotional energy in us that causes us to want to express, in no uncertain terms, the depth of our undying love stirring within toward the beloved. There has sprung up in recent years, both in this country and around the world, a whole multi-million dollar cottage industry revolving around February 14th and the need to vent our pent-up love on Valentine’s Day. However, it is certainly not limited to a single day out of the year when we feel this profound need to express our deepest emotions toward our hoped-for “soul mate”. Many of us do this early in the relationship and then never, ever again once the beloved gives in to our eloquences and concedes to become ours alone. There is a term that refers to this emotional impetus. It is called “limerence” and it is a strong and intense emotional drive to envelope oneself in the person who “has your heart”, to think of them every waking minute, to long for them romantically night and day, to wrap yourself up in everything about them. Who of us hasn’t at some point in their life felt a deep-seated need to express our intense romantic longings, either through poetry or prose, to the object of our highest affections? My son, who recently became engaged, just informed me that he wrote a “love letter” to his betrothed last week as a verbal expression of the depth of his love toward his fiancée’. This coming from a college athlete, a jock with little sentimentality and an aversion to writing anything at all!

Unfortunately, most of us “outgrow” this phase of courtship and move on to less frequent, less intense verbal expressions of our romantic devotion. In many cases, especially after years of marriage, these expressions may disappear altogether. Once we have wooed the object of our esteem, we no longer feel the same need to maintain that high-octane level of sentimentality. Freud had much to say about this, and perhaps he was not totally off base with his psycho-sexual explanation of this phenomenon. But I believe that it goes much deeper than the interaction of the ID and the libido. This need for intense expression and verbal declaration of our love is a really just a poor reflection of the grandiloquent words of love expressed by the very God who made us in His image.

God’s love and desire for His beloved are expressed in many places throughout the Bible. Perhaps none more graphically and metaphorically than in the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament, or more powerfully and explosively than in the 19th and 21st chapters of Revelation in the New Testament. But I believe that the ultimate “love letter from God” is found in the First Epistle of John. Consider that this small book of the Bible contains over 46 mentions of the word love, loves, or loved. It is also filled with flowery prose, grand visions of love’s highest virtues, and an unparralled hope and future promised to the object of His love.

The book of I John uses the Word of Life as the self-described authentication of its content. Life, fellowship, and joy are attributes of the relationship it describes. Light, walking in light, righteousness, truth and purity are held up as benefits arising out of this paragon  relationship. Forgiveness of sins, freedom from judgment, punishment and fear, and a certainty of eternal hope in an everlasting life are all held up as the ultimate outcome of the promises of this heavenly “Valentine Card”.

But most notably it is about love, God’s love for us and our love in return for Him and for those around us. It is an active love of which He speaks, one that is based in intentionality and giving and not in emotionality and taking. For you see, God is a giver through and through. As George MacDonald puts it in his Unspoken Sermons“The God and Father of Jesus Christ could never possibly be satisfied with less than giving Himself to His own! Man finds it hard to get what he wants, because he does not want the best; God finds it hard to give, because He would give the best and man will not take it.”

And then these astounding words: God is love! (I John 4:8, 16) We love Him because He first loved us! (I John 4:10, 19) When we are born of His love (I John 3:1,2; 4:7; 5:1) we then become the recipients of the blessings of His love, the hope and future that brings. We also are able to love Him in return because we abide (live and breathe) in His love. We are thus then empowered to love one another even as He has loved us, because we now understand for the first time something of the grandeur of His love for us. And it is this love that enables us to overcome the world! (I John 5:4,5)

What the world needs now is love, sweet love” wrote Hal David and Burt Bacharach back in the mid-60’s. They were right, but were looking for love in all the wrong places. Instead of making that same mistake, why not take a few minutes to read God’s “love letter” to you this Valentine’s Day? And then share it as a personal love letter by reading it with that special person in your life. Nothing you have said, can say, or ever will say can have as much significance in communicating the essence of true love as these Words of Life this Valentines Day!

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The Baby Jesus: I AM Legend

Many of the unbelieving multitudes will be asking this time of year, either out loud or silently to themselves, why such a big deal is being made over Christmas and the birth of a baby in a middle-eastern manger over 2000 years ago. There are also those of the faith who themselves do not fully appreciate and comprehend the magnitude of the scope and significance of the First Advent.

Every other religion in the world, those before the birth of the Christ Child in Bethlehem and every one since then, seeks to find God and gain His acceptance and blessing, usually through performing various and sundry rites, rituals, ceremonies, works of merit or participation in the offering some sort of sacrifice on their own behalf or that of others. Like some obscure primitive South Pacific island tribal culture, many modern religionists metaphorically throw their human sacrifices into the cauldron of the volcano in an effort to appease an unknowable, angry god and win, albeit temporarily, his favor.

The chosen race of the Jewish people, the Israelites, do the same as well. For though they had entrusted to them “the oracles of God” (Romans 3:1,2) they have repeatedly tried and failed to secure a right relationship with the Living God, Jehovah, by attempting to diligently keep the Law of Moses. Judaism (and all other religions) are merely man’s futile, though at times noble and well-intentioned, attempt to reach God. Not so much in order to have an intimate relationship with a good and loving Heavenly Father, as to stave off His wrath, while perhaps earning a modicum of His favor.

Jesus, however, invaded our human condition which was infected with the disease of sin, in order to make provision for us having a healthy, genuine, lasting relationship with the Father, one based on grace through faith which comes wholly as a gift undeserved and without us being able to earn it or forfeit it. (Ephesians 2:8,9) Jesus is God, the great I AM, in love reaching down to us in our fallen, sin-diseased condition to bring healing, a restoration of His original design of a healthy, vibrant, living relationship with our very relation-centric Creator. (John 3:14-16)

We are all, every last one of us humankind, infected with the insidious disease of the corrupted self which is euphemistically known as sin. Sin is endemic to the race. It is systemic to the individual. Sin is incurable and inevitably terminal 100% of the time. All of humanity throughout the ages has died or will die, many in a slow, agonizing fashion in a myriad of ways which can defy even the most morbid of imaginations. There is no cure for this malady, this pandemic of the populace. Or, should I say there was no cure, until the appearance of a tiny, helpless baby on “that endress night” so long ago.

Medical researchers and epidemiologists, in order to find  a cure for an heretofore incurable disease, need to locate a host who is naturally immune to the pathogen and who has the necessary antibodies in themselves to stop the disease and kill it. One could accurately say “the cure is in the blood!”

A few years ago a movie came out which uses intentional typology to beautifully illustrate this truth. This science fiction film was called “I Am Legend” and starred Will Smith as the intrepid military physician, Col. Robert Neville, who as one of the few remaining survivors of a mutant virus responsible for the death of millions of human beings around the globe (but not before they turned into savage, grotesque, and vile creatures), tries to singlehandedly find a cure for the earth-wide epidemic. He spends years fruitlessly trying to develop an antidote, working tirelessly in his secure underground bunker-lab. In spite of injecting and testing thousands of laboratory rats with the virus (and several of the deformed, infected human creatures too) he could not find a cure. Not until he infected himself that is, and found out that he was immune. He found the cure and the cure was “in his blood”.

This film had strong Christology woven into its message, with the disease representing sin, the deformed and dying creatures representing fallen mankind under the deadly effects of sin, and Smith’s lead character representing a type of Savior. He even lays down his life willingly in the last scene of the movie in order to assure that his blood makes it out of the lab and gets distributed and dispersed to humankind as the only cure for the disease.

That was Hollywood fantasy. But we are under an even more serious curse then the fictional creatures were in this compelling film. We suffer from a terminal, flesh-eating disease that we cannot control. Some may be able to mask its symptoms for a while (even covering them up with religiosity, proper behavior, and church related activity in some cases), but we all must succumb at last to its deforming and ultimately deadly effects. Except for the blood…You see, God knew that the only cure for our sin-sick condition was to send a host who had immunity to sin and was able to resist it, and thus pass this immunity on to all who would receive this cure “in His blood”. (Numbers 21:6-9; II Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:13,14)

But, another crucial requirement for a lasting cure is that the host be of the same species as those infected. So, God in His infinite wisdom, came to earth, invading the human race with the God-child. His name is “Immanuel” meaning “God with us” (or “one of us”, Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). He is the Perfect Host in whose blood alone is contained the cure for sin. He came along in lowly fashion, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin girl in a lowly manager so long ago. Only to be found in Jesus’ blood is the melding of the Spirit given DNA with the human DNA of His earthly mother necessary for our eternal and lasting antidote for sin.

Because He had to enter the human race and experience the human condition in its totality to effect a cure, it was necessary for him to come into the world crying and needy and messy just like any other baby would. But this baby was certainly unlike any other. His name was called Jesus “because it is He who will save the people from their sins”. (Matthew 1:21)

Only Jesus could do it! Only God could come up with such a remarkably effective plan as this: a little babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, birthed and lying in a lowly manger entering our world. A baby born to die that we might live (Hebrews 9:16). Bethlehem was the beginning, but Calvary’s cross was the destination. It was the only way for a loving Father to reconcile His children to Himself, removing the effect of the disease that infects them and separates us from Him; to cure our malignancy in order to enjoy a love relationship with Him forever. Jesus, I Am, is legendary. O, come let us adore Him!

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The Love Of Jesus Above All Things

We are well into the holiday season and the multitudinous holiday gatherings and gift shopping excursions are shifting into high gear. It is easy in the hustle and bustle of Christmastime, in the midst of the focus upon materialism and even the good cheer of friends and family, to forget that Christmas is really about Jesus. It is easy to lose sight of the Love that sent Him to invade our humanity and redeem us all those many, many years ago. And because He loved us first, we can love Him. In fact, He tells us to love Him above all others, above all things, whether material or relational. (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26) So, this is a good time of the year to reevaluate our relationship with Jesus, to look deep into our own hearts and answer the question our Lord poignantly posed to Peter after His resurrection; “do you love Me?” (John 21:17)

A Reading:

How truly blessed is the man or woman who has a real understanding of what it is experientially to love Jesus. And what it means to hate and despise himself for Jesus’ sake. It is the most demonstratively valuable act a lover can do, to forsake all things, whether material or relational, for their Beloved. He alone is to be loved without condition or reservation above all things. The love of things, especially material possessions, is deceptive and soon brings emptiness to our soul. Materialism over-promises and under-delivers!

The love of Jesus, however, is true and endures for a lifetime and on into eternity. And if you try to find your consolation in your fellow man then you are guaranteed to be disappointed. You will fall when they fall. It is inevitable! But he that fully embraces Jesus Christ will be made to stand steadfast forever. Love Him and keep Him for your best friend. Then, when all other so called friends have deserted you and are gone, He won’t leave you or turn against you. Nor will He, when you are at death’s door, allow you to perish , but will stay with you unto eternal life. You will be eventually separated from everyone else you know-friends, family, associates-whether you want to be or not. So hold fast to Jesus in life and in death and put your trust in His faithfulness. He is the one who alone can help you when all others fail or abandon you.

The nature of the Beloved is such that He will admit no rival; He alone must abide in your heart of hearts and reign there as King upon His throne. Empty your heart of all other persons, hating them by comparison to your love for Jesus, and He will gladly make His home there within you. No matter what it is that you depend upon in others, if you don’t have Jesus it amounts in the end to nothing. Don’t put your trust in “wind-blown reeds”, for “all flesh is like grass and the glory of man like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word (the living and abiding Word of God) lasts forever.” (I Peter 1:24)

If you trust in outward appearances in your dealings with others you will quickly be taken in and deceived. If you seek comfort, approval, and validation or to profitably gain from your associations with others, you will in the end suffer painful loss. Seek Jesus first and only in all things and you will surely find Him and keep Him; or rather He will keep you. If you seek after your own self-interests you will find that it is to your own ruin. The man or woman who does not seek Jesus in his life, who ignores Him in his or her heart and turns Him away, causes more injury to himself than as if the entire world made itself his worst enemy!

My Paraphrase of “The Imitation of Christ” Book 2, Chapter 7, published in 1418 A.D. by Thomas A Kempis.

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

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Longingly Awaiting Our Adoption

I don’t know about you, but whenever I sin, I mean when I really blow it, that is the time when I feel my utter sinfulness within me. It causes me to groan. To become weary. To get discouraged. To lose heart. And at times to even doubt that He could possibly love me or that He will ever come for me and deliver me from myself and sin’s quandary.

The Apostle Paul had similar experiences, as chronicled for our benefit in Romans 7 and 8. “For the good that I wish, I do not do” Romans 7:19; “O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from the shackles of this body of death?” Romans 7:24 Amplified Bible; and again, “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” Romans 8:23

Isn’t it interesting that just a few verses earlier in Romans 8, verses 14-16, it says that we are sons of God, that we have received a spirit of adoption. So why do we still wait eagerly for our adoption? The best way to illustrate this is to draw upon my own experiences as an adoptive father, and as someone who has worked extensively with overseas orphans. When my wife and I adopted our precious daughter from abroad, we first chose her as the one we felt God was leading us to adopt and make our own. He subsequently confirmed this as we waited and prayed and sought His will in the matter. Then we went through the arduous application process, with what seemed to be endless filings and re-filings of paperwork, both with our agency and government as well as with the child’s foreign government. This took many months, hundreds of hours, and thousands of dollars. But at last, all legal requirements were completed and we were ready to adopt her. She had been set aside for us and, had she been old enough to understand at the time, was “positionally” our child. She was merely waiting for us to come for her, to swoop down from the sky (in our commercial airliner of course) and receive her to ourselves to confer upon her the full rights and privileges of being a part of our family forever, along with citizenship in the new, far-away country she could only have hoped and dreamed of. So, I believe that this is a picture of what God has done, and is doing, for us as his adopted children. (See Ephesians 1:4-14)

We were chosen long before the formal process was completed. He predestined us (made the necessary legal arrangements) to adopt us, because He planned in love, with a purpose of His will, out of kindness of intent, to make us His own that we might share in His glory and participate in The Inheritance along with all His other adopted children, to live forever with Him as heirs in His marvelous, far-away kingdom. The first part of this adoption has been completed, but not the last part of it, the consummation and conference of son-ship. We have been given the Spirit as a pledge and guarantee, a down payment if you will,  of our coming full and complete possession of this inheritance. So it is this Spirit of adoption that we now have, that groans within us, longing for the completion of the adoption process, to go home and be with our new family forever. In the meantime, this body still is subject to sin and its myriad sufferings. Our daughter, even up until the very day we arrived to take her from the arms of the nurse at the children’s hospital (she was running a fever and was sick and dirty and malnourished) suffered up until the moment of her adoption, when she became ours completely. We then washed her, administered medicines and tender care to restore her body, and then brought her home to be with us where she has since received all the gifts of love and grace afforded to her as our child, along with all the many benefits of her new home (including a beautifully appointed room of her own filled with toys and stuffed animals and many lovely things such as  she never even knew existed). And all as part of her inheritance as our daughter.

So, whenever I groan, suffering the effects of sin in my life and longing for my full redemption, I need only remind myself that it is coming, just around the bend. I hold on to the promise that my heavenly Father will soon swoop down from the sky and whisk me off to His heavenly home, my new and forever home, of which I can only imagine! (I Corinthians 2:9-12) Then I will be able to leave behind this body of sin and death once and for all and exchange it for my new, incorruptible body, full of life and light and the glory of God!!!

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