Beloved People who are NOT Beloved

Romans 9:25 I will call them my people, which are NOT my people.....

Romans 9:25-26 contains an amazing truth that should serve to encourage you even when life seems to be falling apart and nothing appears to be going your way.

Paul describes a group of people who are not blood descendents of Abraham—this would include nearly everyone who is presently reading this posting. (I am not aware of any orthodox Jews reading what I write.) These people are called Gentiles.

According to verse 26 they are not God’s people. They were not born with the special designation of being God’s people. Only Israel has that special designation of being able to claim to be a nation chosen by God and Christians should affirm that claim. Israel has been preserved by God and for God. And in verse 26 these people who are not Israelites get called “children of the living God.”

Don’t miss this point. In verse 25 Paul quotes an Old Testament prophecy by Hosea about a time in the future when God will call people who are NOT His people His people. By the call of God they by faith move from being NOT His people to His people. They are not born children of God—they, by faith, must be born-again when God calls them His people. They, by faith exchange unrighteousness for righteousness. They, by faith, exchange a status of being a created being to becoming a son of the one true living God.

They, by faith, exchange a dependency upon doing right, keeping the law, looking a particular way, etc. to a realization that God grants righteousness through the person and work of Christ and this realization is a belief system given by God when He called them sons of the living God.

Verse 30 sums up how one gets saved in the Bible quite well. Paul writes:

What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.

That was me—a Gentile—a boy following NOT after righteousness. I didn’t have a right standing with God. There wasn’t anything about me that met God’s standard. I continually fell short moment after moment, day after day, week after week until God called.

And I, by faith, exchanged my fifthly rags of righteousness to the perfect righteousness of the King of Kings and Lord of Lord when God declared that I would be one of perhaps millions of sons of God who have no blood relationship to Abraham who are redeemed by the work of Jesus on the cross of Calvary.

If you are a child of the King—He knows your name and He cares for you. No matter what your struggle or heartache you can know that nothing will separate you from the love of God and this trial has been ordained and permitted by God for good. Notice I did not say your good—I just said good because that’s what the Bible says:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

If God has called you His child, the son or daughter of the one true living God, then you may claim this promise even during the most difficult trials of life.

......Now, through Christ Jesus, God calls you "beloved which were NOT beloved" (Romans 9:25).

Nothing can separate the beloved from the love of God--nothing--not even the heartache and trial you are going through. Beloved of God claim that promise today!

Two Important Qualities for Every Christian

In Nehemiah 7 the walls of Jerusalem have been rebuilt after years and years of neglect during the exile.

Now Nehemiah has decided to return to King Artaxerxes (probably to report on progress) and needs to appoint leaders in his stead to remain and continue to lead the effort to restore the city.

Two men are selected Nehemiah’s brother and the governor of the castle. For some reason the scripture records why Nehemiah selected the governor of the castle over other men. There is no indication that Nehemiah needed to justify his decision, but he does and it works to encourage all of us on two central expectations God has always had for His servants for all of time.

First, Nehemiah says the man was faithful. Who can find a faithful man? Who can find a faithful woman? Where are the dependable people of God? Where are those who you can count on day in and day out?

Merriam-Webster defines faithful like this: “firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty.”[1]

Are you faithful to your duties and responsibilities in the House of the Lord, in the city God has placed you to live? Would Nehemiah see you and describe you as a faithful person?

Second, Nehemiah says the man feared God more than many. Do you fear God? Is there any indication that you are concerned with standing before God some day to account for your life? Or have you bought into the lie that Christians have nothing to fear about the Judgment Seat of Christ?

Do you order your life in a particular way and made decisions based on the reality that there is a Sovereign God for whom you will give an account one day? Or have you decided you don’t have to sell out to God?

King Solomon declared that the whole duty of all human beings could be summed up with this one verse.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man (Eccles 12:3).

We all struggle from day to day but Nehemiah encourages me to keep a healthy fear of who God is and be faithful till God calls me home.

How about you?

[1] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary., 10th ed. (Springfield, Mass., U.S.A.: Merriam-Webster, 1996).

My Understanding of the "Freewill" of Man

For the sake of succinctness, addressing man as a person and creature is both biblical and helpful in this discussion. We (representing the pastors at Berean) believe the personal freedom that God gives mankind is perhaps the most difficult concept for humans to understand when one attempts to reconcile man’s freedom with God’s sovereignty.

The complexity of man, as the only being on the planet made in God’s image, is conceivably most seen in the fact that man is both a person and a created being.

As a person, he is capable of making choices (Josh 24:15), setting goals, accomplishing objectives, searching the Scriptures (John 5.39), choosing God (with God’s grace), hardening his heart, rebelling against or worshipping God (or idols) and coming to Jesus (Matt 11:28).

As a creature, man is clay completely dependent on God, the potter, for the air he breathes and the life he has (Job 12:10; Romans 9; Col 1:15, James 4:15); and when he is converted he becomes a new creature (2 Cor 5:17). We believe that the Bible addresses man, the person, with a duty and capacity to respond to compelling invitations (Luke 14:23; Matt 11:28-30; 22:8; Rev 22:17); preaching and persuasion (Mark 16:15-16; 2 Cor 5:14); commandments to love, serve and repent (Matt 4:10; Mark 12:30; Acts 17:30); and conviction from the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37). We also believe the Bible addresses man, the created being, with a complete inability to seek God (John 6:44; Rom 3:11), repent unless God grants it (Acts 11:18), confess that Jesus is the Christ unless the Father reveals it (Matt 16:16-17), nor come to Jesus but for the Father’s drawing him (John 6:44). Moreover, we believe this total inability will not remove man’s responsibility and accountability for his failure to obey the Gospel at the final judgment (2 Thess 1:8).

Learning from Jim Elliot

God is breaking my heart and showing me what it means to love Him through Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot. This morning I read for 90 minutes straight as found myself hearing from God. If are not familiar with the story of the missionary martyr Jim Elliot let me encourage you to pour into one of the many works about his life.

This one is a compilation of journal entries and letters to his future wife and family back home; it is packed with who Jim Elliot was as servant of God committed to be bringing the gospel to the remotest regions of South America.

Over and over again I find myself in tears as I consider what Jim experienced for our Savior and His love for our Lord, as it drove him to make sacrifices beyond my comprehension.

Over and over, I am reminded of the necessity of the grace of God and the reality that this is His church and He will build it as He sees fit. I must rest in Him and Him alone. Dear, God help me to learn from men like Jim Elliot.

Elliot reminded me that it is God who opens the heart of man to hear the gospel. Elliot reminded me of the necessity to pray for the harvest. Elliot reminded me that it is not about numbers but individuals. Elliot reminded me that I am blessed beyond the comprehension of billions of people across the planet and that is all because of God's grace in my life.

Elliot reminded me that my little problems are nothing in the hands of Almighty God.

Once again, I am reminded of the value of reading Christian biographies in the life of the believer.