Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Free Will

Genesis 3:
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?"
2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
3 but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'"
4 But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.
5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Did Eve eat of the tree of her own "free" will, or dd the "devil make her do it"
If the serpent made her do it, then her will was controlled by the serpent. This mindset is the foundation of virtually all deliverance ministry. Unfortunately these ministries also teach that man freely chooses God, and His salvation, of his own will. So we have at best a partially free will. Man freely chooses or declines God's offer of salvation out of his own will power, but is controlled by the devil.
Following that line of argument, we can conclude that man's will which can be overridden by Satan, is still able to override the will of God. This then makes God's will submissive not only to man, but also to the devil.
The same ones who promote this teaching also support the interpretation, according to a flawed interpretation of 2 Peter 3:9, that is is God's will that everyone should be saved.
This is the "catch 22" of all free will philosophy.

Paul wrote in Romans 9:

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,
7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named."
8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.
9 For this is what the promise said: "About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son."
10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,
11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad--in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls--
12 she was told, "The older will serve the younger."
13 As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means!
15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."
16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."
18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
19 You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?"
20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?"
21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory--
24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

This passage first of all, proves that Israel is jew and gentile, and always has been so. Israel is not separate from the church, Israel is the church.
Just as important, verse 11 reveals the fact that God's sovereign process of election,which is not based on the criteria of our actions good or bad, but based on His sovereign will and foreknowledge, has also been so from before creation. Jacob was chosen over Esau, in an act of His sovereign will, so that God's purpose of election MIGHT CONTINUE. In other words, this was not the first demonstration of God's willful election on this earth. (take Abel, Enoch or Noah, as examples)
Paul then presents the heart of this revelation; All vessels are God's; some appointed to mercy and some appointed to wrath, and we have nothing to say in the matter..Since Paul is writing to the post- ascension church in Rome, we can safely conclude that this truth applies to all of mankind, past present and future. Remember that this is a letter, and all of this is based on the foundation which was laid out in the beginning of the letter in chapters 1,2, and 3.

The rhetorical question is presented: 19 You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?"
The answer (which is implicit in the question) is; NO ONE.
Now if 2 Peter 3:9 says that it is God's will that all men be saved ,then based on Paul's point here, all men would come to saving faith and salvation would be universal. As Paul said no one can resist the will of God. The issue is the translation from the Greek. Both the word "boulēma" used by Paul, and the word "boulomai" used by Peter, are obviously related. In Peter's usage the word is better translated as wishing or desiring, (that all come to repentance). In Paul's context he is talking about the will of God that is set in stone. (see Job 42:1-2)
Peter is also addressing this specifically to the readers of his letter, and it is about them not all of mankind.

2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

God's will is that all the elect come to repentance. It must be recognized that repentance is not an action by which a man obtains salvation, it is the action of one who is saved already.
Peter is giving encouragement to those who are being beset by mockers who attack the saints for their belief in the Lord's imminent return, (verse 4)
The Lord is sanctifying his elect.(Hebrews 10:14)

Needless to say, not all will come to belief, as not all are elect.

Looking back at Adam and Eve and their choice to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, the letter to the church in Rome needs to be studied one more time:

Romans 3:
10 as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one......"

Romans 1:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.............

Both of these passages continue on in their point.(in Romans 3 Paul is actually quoting from Isaiah and the Psalms)
The gist is however that man in the flesh can only serve the flesh.
Romans 7 is the great revelation of the believer's battle to overcome the flesh and find freedom for his will which is trapped in a body of death. The victory, which is revealed in chapter 8, is to be found only in Christ. At His return we will have incorruptible bodies and will be completely free able to do the good that we will to do. (1 Cor 15:49-50) This makes Peter's point in the passage cited from his second letter, even more salient.

Eve chose to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because it was ......

"good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate,"

The fruit appealed to the flesh. It not only satisfied physical hunger and taste, it satisfied the desire to advance oneself in life. In this case to be godlike.
Eve was not able to overcome the flesh by strength of her will. She knew what God commanded re: what could, and could not be eaten, and quoted it to the serpent verbatim. However she was unable to do the good which she knew to do. This reinforces Paul's point in Romans 7.
It does not stop with Eve as we well know.

"and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate."

Paul writes in Romans 1:

32 Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Eve encouraged Adam to eat, He ate for the same reasons which she did, but more so he could not refuse his wife's offer.

Neither Adam nor Eve possessed a free will. They both succumbed to the flesh and its desires. God created the serpent, and Adam named it. (Genesis 2:19-20) The whole scenario was predestined by God. They were destined to fall. They made the only choice the natural, unregenerate man could make Satan did not make them do it. He could only entice through the lie. Their "choice" was birthed from fleshly bondage.

Glory to God that the undoing of all that had been wrought was also foreknown.

Acts 4:
24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, "Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,
25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, "'Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'--
27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

John 1:
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
13 who WERE born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

We receive Him and the right to be called His children only if we are born again by His will.
Thank the Lord for all who are born again by that sovereign will and power of His Spirit. He did not leave the choice up to you and me. Had he done so, we would have never chosen Him.

Romans 7:
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.
22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,
23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Soli Deo Gloria

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Soteriological Cogitations #2

The Foundations Of Grace

Genesis 6:
5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 9These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.

The story of Noah and the ark is one that is well known. It is so well known that there are those who do not hold to belief in God, or His Word that are familiar with many aspects of it. It holds a certain fascination, and has been depicted in film, song, cartoons etc.; even in a television commercial. (Remember the buckle up/carpool advertisement of some years ago)Sadly the actual revelation and truth of the story are glossed over, more so in a church which should have understanding of this The premise of the flood, and its’ consequences reveal man’s depravity, and God’s incredible, and irresistible grace.

Genesis 6

First and foremost man is wicked. The thoughts and intents of the hearts of man are evil. I use the present tense here, as nothing has changed since Noah’s day in terms of the unregenerate. Total depravity manifests in man’s fallen state. God sees it all. Nothing is hidden from Him.
This portion of scripture is NOT saying that God was unaware of this, evidenced by His creation becoming a grievous thing to Him.
Those who promote “open theism” say this passage proves that God is not prescient, i.e. completely omniscient, but that is not the case at all. A good example would be a military leader who has to send an army into battle, knowing full well that many will be killed. Yet in that foreknowledge, he sends them in, and it is a grievous thing.
As Robert E Lee is reported to have said, and I paraphrase; to be a good soldier you must love the army, and to be a good general you must also order the death of the thing you love.The all knowing
God is a greater and more perfect example than this. He foreknows the names of all who will fall, and all who will live.God’s nature requires the destruction of all that He has made.
Wicked men, and a creation that is tainted by rebellion and sin, cannot stand in the sight of a holy and righteous God. However one man, Noah, finds favor, i.e. grace in God’s eyes.
Let us please have understanding here. Noah is not being portrayed as being perfect. He did not find God’s favor in his own efforts. It is bestowed favor, that is, grace.
The Hebrew word “found” ( מצא ;mâtsâ' ;maw-tsaw') denotes an acquiring such as gift is acquired, something that comes to you.
Noah was a sinner, as all men are sinners and fall short in every way. (Romans 3:9-18)
Noah’s being called righteous and blameless, just as we are found to be righteous and blameless, does not speak of sinless perfection. This can only be accomplished by sovereign grace, through the atoning death of Christ.
Noah was foreknown from before the foundation of the world, just as Jesus is the Lamb foreknown from before the foundation of the world. This is God’s will concerning salvation.
(1 Peter 1:20-21; Eph 1:4; Phillipians 1: 10 and 2:15;Colossians 1:22;1 Thess 3:11-13 and 5:23;Jude 1:24; 1 John 1:8-10)
We are even shown one of Noah’s weaknesses depicted later in Genesis 9:20-21
It can then be rightfully concluded that God’s choosing of Noah and his household, as well as all the remnant of creation that was saved in the ark, received unmerited favor. Grace!

The Hebrew for favor, (חן ;chên ;khane) is defined as grace, graciousness, being favored. It is taken from the same root that gives us the names Hannah and John/Jochannan; Hannah meaning the favored one and John denoting the “I Am” who bestows favor. This is an interesting word study in and of itself.Needless to say Noah was not righteous of his own accord. God chose him, and he discovered the grace of God in being chosen. This is the nature of true revelation.

Matthew 16:
17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

James 1: 17 EVERY good gift and EVERY perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Paul received such revelation from Christ Himself. (Galatians 1:11-12)

Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Noah. Peter, James, Paul, all received the knowledge of saving grace. Favor, calling, election, all speak of that which comes from outside of ourselves.As we continue on in Genesis 6, the original point is driven home;

Genesis 6:11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”

The Lord then gives detailed instruction re: the construction of the ark, and all that would be brought aboard be it man, animal, or foodstuff. The rest of the story is well known. The rains came, and the earth was flooded resulting in the destruction of the rest of mankind, all animals, and plant life. The earth was wiped clean.
God’s grace is demonstrated in the preserving of a remnant that represents the whole. This is what the tithe speaks of; the tenth is a representation of the entire. This is why the resurrected Christ is the first-fruits of all who are in Him ( 1 Cor 15:20-23), the saints are a type of first-fruits of creation (James 1:18; Rev 5:9-10;Rev 7:9-10), and true biblical Israel,i.e. the elect is the remnant of both jew and gentile, ( Romans 9:11-13;11:1-11; 11:25-27; Acts 15:13-21; Amos 9:9-12; Eph 2: 11-22)
After the rain and flood waters subside, the Lord makes a covenant with Noah, who is symbolically, the federal head of the new creation.
Genesis 9: 1-7 is a virtual repeat of the instructions given to Adam. (Genesis 1: 27-31)
The Lord then makes known His covenant to Noah and his sons.

Genesis 9:9 "Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of 12 And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." 17 God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."

What we call a rainbow, is a sign that never again will all mankind be destroyed by flood. However that does not mean that all mankind and creation will be spared destruction in any other form:

2Peter 3:5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

The everlasting covenant given to Noah, speaks only of destruction by water.
This brings understanding to the prophetic declaration of Christ in speaking of His return.

Matthew 24:
35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

One will be taken and one remain. After all was said and done, Noah and those aboard the ark remained. Corrupted creation including the rest of mankind was swept away, that is, taken.The unregenerate are unaware of their fate.Those who are called to “board the ark” are those who have been baptized, into His death, and united with Him in His resurrection. They are those who have been saved by grace, through faith, created in Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit, for the works which glorify God. This is the favor we “find” in the eyes of the Lord. Grace testifies that it is all His doing.

Hebrews 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Our salvation finds completeness in His return.

Matthew 24:
43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.
44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed,' 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The warning to be ready is given only to the elect. What if Noah had been found to be disobedient and tarried in building the ark?
There will be those that are His, like the 5 foolish virgins and the slothful servant, who will find themselves unprepared for His coming.

2Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Obedience to the call which comes by election is the testimony of its authenticity. He desires the obedience which walks in the works prepared beforehand, not sacrifice which speaks of OUR good intentions and works. Sovereign grace carries the responsibility of obedience. It requires not only hearing, but doing.

James 1:25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

May we like Noah be blessed in our doing.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Soteriological Cogitations #1

2 Cor 2:
14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

2Cor 4:
1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.

Paul alludes here to the roman custom of triumphal procession. Part of the ceremony and pomp involved in welcoming a conquering hero was, the burning of incense and the tossing of flowers, hence Paul's use of "aroma" as a way of describing the effect of the Gospel message.Christ leads the procession as the "conquering ruler" and we the apostolic church, intercessors and prophets, evangelist, shepherds and teachers spread the fragrance of the Gospel and the person of Christ everywhere.For those who are under the rule of the conqueror it is a time of joy and pageantry. Sadly for those who are the wrong side of the battle it brings death.

Rev 19:
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, "Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great." 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

The Gospel is the fragrance of life to those who are alive, i.e. the regenerate.It is the aroma of death to those who are dead in their sins, therefore they hide from it John 3:1-21
It is a veiled message to the dying. They refuse to see and hear.

Mark 4:
11 And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that "they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven."

Acts 28:
24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: "The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: 26 "'Go to this people, and say, You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 27 For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their 28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen."

The sovereign and unconditional election of God is the only "way" to salvation and eternal life ,i.e. the new creation. This election is summed up in Christ who is the Truth and the Way. The religious of the day twisted scripture and taught a form of salvation by works.
Matthew 23;John 5:19-47;Eph 2:8-10

However there is Christ alone, by grace, through faith alone, preached through the Word alone, for the glory of God alone.

John 5:
21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.

John 10:
25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of 30 I and the Father are one."

This is the Gospel Paul preached. The smell of death to the dead,(no wonder they run from it), and the aroma of life to the living. Only those born again by the Holy Spirit hear the Word that brings faith. The unconditional election of God is not based on man's goodness or choosing, and most certainly not withheld because of our sins. Where has the church gone off track in evangelizing? Christ did not save by having coffee with the sinner, but by dying for them. May the church lift up Christ crucified and may the Father draw those who are being saved, to the Messiah. Acts 2:42-47

"I may be called Antinomian or Calvinist for preaching a limited atonement; but I had rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than a universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of man be joined with it."
Charles Spurgeon

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Rich Young Man And God’s Plan Of Salvation

Matthew 19:
13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away. 16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" 17And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." 18He said to him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, 19Honor your father and mother, and, you shall love your neighbor as yourself." 20The young man said to him, "All these I have kept. What do I still lack?" 21Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Let us begin with the account of the same incident in Luke.

Luke 18:
15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." 18 And a ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 19 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'" 21 And he said, "All these I have kept from my youth." 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.

And Mark:

Mark 10:
13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. 17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 18 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'" 20 And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth. 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

All three versions of this encounter establish agreement as to the context of the episode. Jesus was blessing children that had been brought to Him. Luke says some were infants. So we can assume that these are small children, infants to toddlers perhaps a little older. The disciples rebuked those who had brought the children to the Lord. Compare this to the story of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:22-28. Like us it seems the disciples were slow to learn.

Jesus’ response re: the children was to the point; don’t hinder them from approaching Him, since this is how one enters the Kingdom of Heaven. We approach the Lord as His children would; in absolute confidence and faith, knowing that He is our Father; which is how any child would approach his/her loving father. A true and loving father requires no good deed in order for his children to come to him, as even when the child errs and disobeys, he or she can still approach their father to receive his love, which is also demonstrated in correction.(Hebrews 12:5-11) The love of the Lord is not earned.
This does not mean the Kingdom belongs to the childish. Jesus is talking about faith, innocence, and God’s election. This is much the same as Paul’s statement that the Lord chose the foolish things of the world in order to confound the wisdom of men. Unfortunately the church tends to think that in both instances we are given permission to act childishly, immaturely and foolishly. All such behavior dishonors God.
Now comes the wealthy young man, who seizes this opportunity to question Jesus.

“What good work must I do to inherit eternal life, i.e. a place in the Kingdom?”

Jesus’ response is interesting. He does not begin with a list of good works, but asks a question in return.

“And Jesus said to him, why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”

Why call Him good indeed? If only God alone is good, (and that is a true statement), then one who calls Jesus good, must also be acknowledging that He is God. I believe that the Lord was asking Him, are you acknowledging that I am God; that the Father is in me, and I in the Father? (John 14:6-11)
Then Jesus basically tells him, you know the Law, keep it. It is curious that the young man asks Jesus in Matthew’s account, “which ones?”
You would think that the answer would be; How about all of them? However, the Lord gives Him a list of commandments from the ten listed in Exodus 20 as well as Lev 19:18, love your neighbor as yourself. The response from this man is he has kept those from his youth. I have no doubt that this man may have tried to keep these commandments faithfully as he said, but I also have no doubt that he had broken other commandments. Aside from that, we know from Paul’s letter to the Romans (chapters 2-8) that the Law was given to make us aware of the wrong we were already doing, The Law has never saved anyone simply because we are unable to keep it.
This brings the dialogue to it’s climax.

The Lord looks upon this young, wealthy, “righteous” man with compassion, as he delivers the ultimate blow;

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

Upon hearing this the young man turned and left; totally disheartened, sad, sorrowful. There is no question that this person was completely sincere in his quest for eternal life, he was not ready to hear that he could not save himself out of his own righteousness. For if salvation comes by grace through faith, not of works, and even the faith to hear and believe is a gift from God, as the scripture says is so; then even selling all that he had and giving the proceeds to the poor would not save this man. He couldn't even bring himself to do this, let alone begin to follow Christ. Good works performed in the following of Jesus, come after one is “saved” (Eph 2:8-10)

We will continue on in Matthew to the conclusion of this study.

Matthew 19:
23And Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." 25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" 26But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Here the Lord is not saying that a rich man will be able to enter in, but it will be tough work ahead, since we know that no none is saved by works, no matter how noble the efforts. He is saying it is difficult for a rich man to hear the message, believe and act upon it, as worldly wealth is an obstacle to entering the “heavenly economy” of God’s Kingdom, i,e, giving up the worldly treasure, for the sake of the true treasure in heaven.

Matthew 6:
19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I will not address the cultural context and meaning of the camel and the “eye of the needle” here, as the Lord’s point is simply that it is impossible for a rich man to enter God’s Kingdom based on his wealth, position, or self-righteousness.

The bewildered cry of those following Him drips with despair: "Who then can be saved?" If someone who is wealth,schooling, and even a form of righteousness cannot be saved, then what chance does the ordinary folk, the poor have? Praise God for the answer;

26But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Compare this to:

Romans 7:
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Romans 8:
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Only God can save men, through the incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension of His Son.

Matthew 19:
27Then Peter said in reply, "See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?"

What Peter is saying here is that he and the other disciples have done what the Lord asked the young man to do. They gave up their very lives, all that they had, even their families, to follow Him. So what is their reward in the Kingdom? They may not have had as much to forsake as the rich man, but they gave it all. The question is, why did they forsake everything to follow Christ? How were they able to do this? The answer is simple; because HE called them and they responded to His call, His voice. (Matthew 4:19; Mark1:17;Luke 5:27)

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

It matters not whether we are rich, poor, or middle class. We are to forsake all to follow Christ. Just as Abraham left the land of his father and the life he knew, because he heard the voice of the Lord, so do all who are called, and believe by faith, i.e. the elect.(Genesis 12: 1-6; Genesis 15:5-6)

Romans 4: 1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness."

John 10: 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Romans 10: 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Therefore all who are called to faith, are able through the power of the Spirit, to obey the commandments of God, and follow Christ.

Romans 8:
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

The conclusion of the matter is this:

28Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

The reward for the apostles will be the authority to sit in judgment over God’s people. This is not speaking of judgment as condemnation. This is ruling and reigning in the Kingdom of God. It is the administering of the Lord’s justice, equity and peace, that is ,the “shalom” of God
For ALL who have forsaken everything to follow Him, i.e.those who are called, there will be a reward and an inheritance also. These are all who walked with the Lord and the apostles on earth, and all who come to faith based on the word of the apostles. (John 17:19-21)
The exalted will be humbled, and the humble will be exalted. Well did James warn the church:

James 2:
1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "You sit here in a good place," while you say to the poor man, "You stand over there," or, "Sit down at my feet," 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Is this not what the Lord told the wealthy man to do? Though he claimed to have done this, the truth was shown in that he could not sell all that he had and give it to the poor.

1John3: 8 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

The modern western church is enamored with wealth, talents, position, and celebrity. This is not the Kingdom of God. The “sum” of the parts is this; The story of the rich young man is not the defining of a “social gospel” as some would suggest. It is the revealing of God's salvation. Salvation lies solely in the unconditional election and call of a sovereign God. There is nothing else. What is impossible with men, is only possible with God.

Romans 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Blood of Christ/The Face of God/The Light Of His Face

9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."

A question was recently presented to me re in regards to the efficacy of the blood of Jesus, and the issue of God’s looking upon us or not. i.e. His countenance turned toward us, or turned away from us. The immensity of this subject soon became apparent as I began to study it.I would like to first start with this quote from Dr. John Piper:

“Beware of the pleasant view of God that He is so kind and loving that of course He will forgive us. Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept cost the agony of Calvary. Forgiveness cost God the cross of Jesus before He could forgive sin, and remain a holy God. The revelation of God is that He cannot forgive, because it would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God by the atonement of Jesus’ shed blood.”
John Piper (From: God is the Gospel)

In conjunction with this quote we have this rather alarming passage where Joshua speaks to the people. He had just declared “as for me and my house we will serve the Lord” and the people responded that they would also serve the Lord. This is Joshua’s response to their declaration;

Joshua 24:
19 But Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins."

What he said here is true. No one is able to serve the Lord, that is of their own power and will. God is holy and jealous. If they err in their service He will not forgive their sins nor their transgressions. This supports the quote from Piper. God is perfection and His perfection is the standard in all things. Now thanks be to God for giving us Jesus Christ, His Son, who is the Lamb that was slain and who is foreknown from before the foundation of the world. God foreknew the need for the shed blood of the lamb before He even began to create this universe.

1Peter 1:
17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot, 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

The righteous wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb, and only those who do so can enter the New Jerusalem. The blood washes clean, it doesn’t even leave a “bloodstain”. The robes of the righteous are made white when washed in His blood. This is an important point.

Rev 7:
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?" 14 I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Rev 22:
14Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

A blood-washed garment is a requirement for entering the New Jerusalem.

Matthew 22:
11 "But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 For many are called, but few are chosen."

I will leave this for a moment and go to the issue of God’s face, looking, or not looking, upon us. Here are 3 passages among many that deal with this:

Ezekiel 7:
22 I will turn my face from them, and they shall profane my treasured place. Robbers shall enter and profane it.

Ezekiel was giving this word from God to Israel.

Psalm 27:
9 Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!

Here David is asking the Lord not to hide His face from Him, this actually is preceded by his declaration in verse 8;

8 You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, LORD, do I seek."

So David is seeking God’s face, but he also is aware that if God chooses to hide His face from us, all such seeking is in vain. Ezekiel’s prophecy shows us that God did turn His face away from them, and He had done this not just once, but several times as they were always lapsing into the sin of idolatry. There was a constant cycle of obedience and disobedience throughout the history of Israel. God was constantly turning His face from them, but promising to turn back to them if they would repent. Repentance under the Mosaic Covenant required man to turn back to God but also required God to turn His face back towards men. There had to be a permanent solution to this. David foresaw this;

Psalm 51:
9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

An amazing revelation was given to David which led to this prayer; that God could hide His face from David’s sins, but not hide His face from David. All of his iniquities were to be blotted out, i.e. as if they never existed. God cannot tolerate sin in any way. However a way had to be made for Him to “look upon” the sinner. How was this made possible?

Hebrews 9:
22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Hebrews 10:
1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

God gave the Law at Sinai to Moses along with the directions concerning the appropriate blood sacrifices for the covering of their sins. This blood sacrifice covered sins, but did not “remove” them.The sacrifices had to be offered in a yearly cycle. This was God's grace to those who lived under the Mosaic Covenant.

Hebrews 11:
39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

As Paul would later write:

Romans 7:
10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

The Law and the ceremonial ordinances point the way to the fulfillment of all things in Christ, which would include the need for the shedding of blood. Even the Passover account, which has men applying the blood to their homes, and the destroyer passing over every house where God sees the blood, points forward to Christ as fulfillment.( Exodus 12:13)

Matthew 5:
17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

God had a better way which was to come:

Hebrews 9:
13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. 15 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.

By the shedding of His blood as the Lamb who is the final sacrifice, Christ fulfilled the righteous requirement of the Law.

12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds," 17 then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more." 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Christ entered into the holy of holies in heaven itself as the great, and last high priest, with His own blood, as the great, and last, sacrifice. He then sat down at the Father’s right hand awaiting the day when He will return.

Ephesians 1:
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Christ is head over His Body, the church, which of course would be us and all who are His. This is taken literally. We are His actual body, but here is even more:

Ephesians 2:
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Because we are His body, we are seated with Him right now in heavenly places.So now the Father can look upon me and not see my iniquities, He sees His Son in whom we are placed. Our transgressions and iniquities are washed clean in the blood, which He himself brought into the holy of holies. They are gone forever. We are perfected for all time and there no longer remains any sacrifice necessary for the forgiveness of sins. The blood washes white as snow.

Isaiah 1:
18 "Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

I believe that the blood-washed robes are made from lamb’s wool. The scarlet garment has become white as snow. The blood washes away the stain of sin revealing the robe of wool. (Rev 7:14)

Romans 8:
29For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

The Father now looks upon His obedient Son, who is also High Priest, and King of kings,He doesn’t even see the blood, as He did on the doorposts at Passover.That blood was applied by men. Christ as High Priest sprinkles His own blood.His sacrifice is done once, for all time. I had referenced Revelation 7 earlier which says; "They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”Our robes are washed WHITE, by the blood. Even the blood is not visible. It doesn’t just cover, it “takes away” the stain of sin, and leaves no stain of its’ own.

John 1:
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

We are in Christ. He sees all of His sons and daughters in and through His Son.

Psalm 80:
3 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved! (Also verses 7 and 19)

God’s face shines upon, i.e. illuminates whatever He looks upon.

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

We who are restored in this manner, (that is, those who walk in the light), are walking before the face of God. That place is where we confess our sins and the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood is evident. All sins are forgiven and washed away.They do not exist, as nothing unrighteous or impure can exist in His sight/light.

Eph 5:
13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

Christ is the light of God’s face. There was a time when The Father could not look upon us, who were once dead in our sins. This also meant that we were not able look upon Him.

John 14:
9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

Now the Father looks upon us through His Son and we look upon the Father in the same manner.The light of God's face,i.e. Christ the light, is now the eternal propitiation.

1John 2:
1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Hebrews 7:
25Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more." (Hebrews 10:17 and Jeremiah 31:34)

The blood of Christ is so effective in its’ work that the Father no longer remembers our sins.

15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face, 16 who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted.

The shed blood of the Lamb of God is the way by which God will forever look upon us and we upon Him.

1 To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm; A Song; May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah!

Soli Deo Gloria!