23 February 2015

A HEALTHY CHURCH CONTINUED




Is God, a jealous God? Well, “Jealousy” by definition is a resentment against an opponent, vigilance in maintaining or guarding something. A biblical definition of “jealousy” is "apprehensive of loss of exclusive devotion", it’s an intolerance of competition or unfaithfulness" The bible is very clear when it comes to God and His jealousy. Why? God has a passionate desire that things should transpire as He desires, which is always in accord with His character. "You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God,..” Exo 20:4-5. In Deut 4:23-24 we read “Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the LORD your God has forbidden you. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” Joshua said “You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good." Joshua 24:19-20

God is also jealous that we should not sin against Him, because it provokes Him to anger. The warning and the consequences went out to the people of Israel as they turned to worship gods created by man. "The LORD would not spare him; for then the anger of the LORD and His jealousy would burn against that man, and every curse that is written in this book would settle on him, and the LORD would blot out his name from under heaven.” Deut 29:20. “For they provoked Him to anger with their high places, And moved Him to jealousy with their carved images.” Psalm 78:58. Paul warned the church about playing games with God.“You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?” 1 Cor 10:21


What is something that we all have done and may still struggle with today that provokes God to anger? Our desires over God, I will do what makes me happy! This is Idolatry! This is something this church family turned from, to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel. But what is idolatry? “idolatry”  “is an image, form or representation, usually of a man or other animal, consecrated as an object of worship; a pagan deity.” Idols are usually statues or images, carved out of wood or stone, or formed of metals, particularly silver or gold. I always like to use Erwin Lutzer explanation of idolatry because it goes even deeper than that. Erwin, leaves no room for compromise for today’s generation when it comes to idolatry! He says “an idol can be a physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero. If I can simply define idolatry! It is something that gives you and me more pleasure (fulfillment) than GOD” It was John Calvin who said “our heart is an idol factory.”

In a fallen world, people regularly seek things they can worship, even though the Creator is before us in plain view.......Watch sporting events! Our homes even! Churches around the globe! Movies and television. The “idol factory” is hard at work and it does everything it can to get your eyes off of Christ, and gets our eyes fixed on temporal pleasure and passions that lead to destruction. 

Do you have any gods in your life at the present time? If we are not! Consuming our lives with more of Him and less of this world were susceptible to falling into the sin idolatry. If we are not! In drenching our lives, or families........in the Scripture, in prayer, sharing the hope of Christ and communion with the saints! Then, we are at risk of becoming an idolater! That’s how easily idolatry can happen to a person. It can be something as simple as…..
  • Idolizing your pastor…..He is so cool.
  • Idolizing personal prosperity……I love my money and stuff and all that bling.
  • Idolizing self-worship…..the “I love me” syndrome.
  • Idolizing of background…we can more proud to be a Canadian then we are a Christian at times.
  • Idolizing hobbies ……I find more pleasure in these over spending time with God.


Understand this though! God hates idolatry! And God says this is a major problem. Why?


Idolatry is an Abomination......“for it is an abomination to the LORD your God.” Deut 7:25

Idolatry is forbidden.......“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” You shall have no other gods before me.” Exo 20:2-3

Idolatry is changing the glory of God into an image.....“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. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” Rom 1:21-23

Idolatry is changing the truth of God into a lie......“because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator,…” Rom 1:25

Idolatry forgets God and brings judgment......“And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.” Deut 8:19-20

The bible is filled with idol worship. The Nation of Israel built a Golden calf to worship because they were impatient with Moses and return from the mountain. (Exodus 32). King Jeroboam had two golden calves build for the people to worship because it was to much for the people to go to Jerusalem. (1 Kings 12:28). Mannasseh had alters build in the house of the Lord. (2 Kings 21:4-7). Amon walked in the way his father did. (2 Kings 21:21). Nebuchadnezzar had a 90 foot statue of him built for people to worship. (Dan 5:23). The people of Lystra thought Paul and Barnabas were Greek gods to worship (Acts 17:16)

But there is hope for the idolater! There is mercy and grace for sinners to find rest in Christ, and to be set free. We see it in this chapter of Paul’s letter……praising God for their transformed lives from idolatry! Again, not only were the Thessalonians living a Christian life commendable by all these things we have been looking at over the past month...But they showed the world that they were transformed by the living God....not a false or a dead god. The power of the Gospel changed the way these people…

  • Thought
  • Lived
  • Breathed
  • Desired
  • Who they worshipped
  • Who they would die for
Their testimony to everyone outside in the community and surrounding cities was so powerful and noticeable. That even an idolatrous people could see something different in them. But they were a church transformed by the power of the Gospel that Paul proclaimed to them. What’s more amazing is……the people outside the church knew it! Why? By what (v8b -v9) says! “for they themselves declare” the people who came in contact with the Thessalonian believers.This was a church that had a body that knew what it meant to worship the true Living God and people took notice of that.

THE MARK OF A HEALTHY CHURCH IS A BODY THAT HAS TURNED TO SERVE THE TRUE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE.


Paul wrote “You turned” (v9)

Which means “motion toward, to turn about, around or toward and then to convert.” Note the order, as it is not "accidental". First we fix our eyes on God. Then we turn from idols. When our eyes of faith are opened to see the true and living God, the vain, dead so called gods are seen for the empty unsatisfying worthless created things they are. The Gospel changes our lives from idolatry to repentance, a turning away from idols to a faith that submits to Christ alone. This is why Paul continues to write about this changed life in the following chapter. “ For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively (successfully)works in you who believe.” 1 Thess 2:13. William MacDonald rightly observes... “that they turned to God from idols, not from idols to God. It wasn’t that they had become fed up with their idols and then decided to give God a chance. No, they turned to God and found Him so satisfying that they dropped their idols. Let us never lose the sense of thrill and awe that is implicit in this account. Two men go into a heathen city with the word of the Lord. They preach the gospel in the power of the Spirit. The miracle of regeneration takes place: men and women become so enraptured with the Savior that they abandon their idols. Next you have a local assembly of believers praising God, living lives of holiness, bravely enduring persecution, and winning others to Christ. Truly the Lord’s service is the prince of callings!” See, it isn’t that their idols became boring or unpleasant to them. It’s because the gospel penetrated their hearts and they saw that it was sin. They didn’t just drop their idols….they repented because they were their gods for a season. “Turned” is same expression we use when a person repents over their own sin! Genuine repentance is evidence to the supernatural work in your life through the gospel. We see this in action! “Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38. The bible says that after Peter preached the gospel to the people they turned from their idols! In Act 2:41 we read “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” Jesus said “….but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3b. “Repentance” a change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abomination of one’s past sins. Salvation involves a person turning of what they loved over God to God and His goodness and grace. Repentance requires taking in a whole new point of view; looking at it God's way. 

A great example of a people turning from idols is ……..Asa, the first good king who tore down all idols and burned them (1 King 15:9-14). Mannasseh later in his life turned and destroyed all the idolatry in the house of the Lord and in Jerusalem. (2 Chron 33:15). The city of Nineveh! “Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish." When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.” Jonah 3:4

God truly hates idolatry, because He created us to worship Him. This is why we need redemption. Every single one of us were idolaters’ before the gospel penetrated our sinful heart. We need to understand God hates idolatry and He does not take pleasure in the unconverted man or woman perishing because of the bondage of sin. Ezekiel penned these words “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die……Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” Eze 18:21-23. This church family had their eyes opened to see the glory of the cross and to understand Christ is our greatest treasure. Our prize for all eternity and His is [should be] our only desiring for worship, nothing else.


Paul also said “They Served” (v9)

Which means….”to serve as a bond-servant (doulas) to be a slave, the most demanding form of servitude” “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Rom 6:16-18. We welcome slavery towards the Lord Jesus Christ…………..I know, I do! The Thessalonians’ had turned from mindless devotion to false, dead demonic idols, to a new (born again) welcome slavery to the ONE TRUE Living God! THE ONLY GOD THAT IS WORTHY OF OUR PRAISE ADORATION......We serve a living God......WHICH MEANS?

  • A Breathing God
  • A Caring God
  • A Loving God
  • A Sovereign God
  • A Wrathful God
  • A Patient God
  • A Merciful God
  • A Righteous God
Not a god made by……. man or of wood, silver, gold, or a statue, a cross or fallible man! We serve a God who desires and deserves our adoration and thanksgiving. That’s why I wake up every morning thankful, that he turned this wretched man that stands before you this morning, from false idols to the truth of the Gospel and the power of His salvation. So that I could be used for His glory in the local church to serve Him with my life! So that I could serve Him in the way He intended me to.…..by enjoying Him forever and bringing Him glory! What have you turned from to follow the Lord Jesus Christ? What was your idol or your god before salvation came? Do have any idols in your life this morning? As R C Sproul Jr said this week “Every idol, if you scratch it, is a mirror. We worship ourselves.” I know who I use to be, but the gospel changed my life forever! If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Could you prove beyond reasonable doubt that your faith is true and genuine? What does the mirror of your life say now? Only you can answer these questions.


01 February 2015

A HEALTHY CHURCH IS A CALLED CHURCH




What do we know about God? Well, according to the scriptures we know that He is…….

  • Omnipotent [all powerful]….(Job 42:2)
  • Omnipresent [everywhere present]….(Ps 139:7)
  • Omniscient [all- knowing]…..(1 John 3:20)
  • Self-sustaining……(Job 12:10)
  • Self-Exist…….(Exo 3:13-14)
  • Sovereign……(Isa 46:10)
  • Great………. (Psalm 104:1)
  • Love…..(1 John 4:8)
  • Just….(Gen 18:25)
  • Wrathful ……(Rom 9:22)
  • Merciful…….(Micah 7:18-20)
  • Truth…..(John 17:17)
  • Holy…….(Isa 6:3)
  • Immutable….(Heb 13:8)
  • Transcendent……..(Heb1:3)
See an "Attribute “a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something. The attributes of God are generally a collection of descriptions from Scripture of who God is. An "attribute" can be defined as something God has revealed himself to be. Perfection a quality, trait, or feature of the highest degree of excellence; the act or fact of perfecting as seen in……..Ps 18:30-31 “This God—his way is perfect…” They are the qualities of the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)
They are permanent qualities. They are inseparable from the being or the essence of God. They belong to His nature and that outwardly reveals His essential qualities. They are His permanent or essential qualities of His nature which He has made known to us in His Word. The Bible declares though various passages that these belong to God! Here is what I want you understand though! We find comfort in these attributes as God’s children in knowing this truth, but this knowledge or illumination only came to us when God drew you to Himself when you were at the bottom of the sea, dead in your sins and trespasses. John penned these words that Jesus spoke “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44. We were all dead, drowning in a well until the Lord gave us new life.

God asked Ezekiel? In Ezekiel 37:3 we read “And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." Then God told Ezekiel to do something. “Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD." So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live." So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then he said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.' Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD." Eze 37:4-14

We come to a part in this passage that causes many people to step around it or ignore it all together. But this passage conveys to us a beautiful truth that exemplifies the dry bones in Ezekiel! It gives me such comfort and rest in knowing that a Holy God saw my helpless state and breathed into me a new life. See, the doctrine of Election teaches us that God chose certain people in Christ before the foundation of the world. Paul said “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” Eph 1:3-6. Listen to what Paul calls the church at Thessalonica “Beloved by God” Which means “Christians are the recipients of the sovereign love of God.” See, Christians are the elect, chosen of God solely by His sovereign, loving, purpose, apart from any human effort or wisdom. But we also need to understand that this wonderful doctrine does not teach that He chose some to be damned. If men are finally lost, it is because of their own sin and unbelief. See, the same bible that teaches election, also teaches human responsibility. You can either respond to this wonderful free gift or you can reject it. It’s not that you accepted Jesus, it’s that Jesus found you and drew to Himself and by that act of His love and your heart is receptive to His gift of salvation. We see that response to God’s prompting in (v6) “received the word” which simply means “they had believed the gospel and been converted.” As John MacArthur says “Election is the act of God whereby in eternity past He chose those who will be saved. Election is unconditional, because it does not depend on anything outside of God, such as good works or foreseen faith (Romans 9:16). This doctrine is repeatedly taught in the Bible, and is also demanded by our knowledge of God.

Again you might struggle in this area of life because the word “Election” is only for the religious elites or the pastors to debate, study or argue over. But it’s not! Because it’s written that you might rest in His sovereign hands. This truth is not to divide, but to encourage you in your Christian walk to know how personal and how much God is invested in your life. Again, a holy God saw our helpless state and rescued us from danger; which is Hell. Is it hard to comprehend this doctrine to fit into our finite-minds? Yes. Sadly though, some try to dismiss it or reconcile it with their own predispositions. But Spurgeon warned such people about this way of creating theology to fit our life styles. He said “Men who are morbidly anxious to possess a self-consistent creed, a creed which will put together and form some a square like a Chinese puzzle, - - are very apt to narrow their souls.” So we can’t ignore this wonderful truth found in God’s word. The church will never be able to reconcile this doctrine, but we must not turn our backs on such a blessing found in this truth of God’s election. For example! Take this book you hold in your hands for a moment, to help you understand how God “called you” out of darkness. Jesus said “I’m the Way the Truth and the Life...............no one comes to the Father but by Me!” Jesus also said Broad and wide is the road that leads to destruction.....and many will go in by it! But narrow is the way....which is difficult, which leads to eternal life and few find it! Matt 7:13. This was a church that received the Gospel with much affliction because of the Roman presence and there brutal war times tactics....and their hatred to the Gospel because it was exclusive! Not only the Roman Empire! But they also faced ..............Jewish people, leaders (who were haters of the Gospel) going in and disrupting the fellowship or the Gospel that was being proclaimed by Paul and his faithful brothers in Christ. (Act 14-20)…………..all because it was exclusive through Jesus Christ.

See this was a church that - Heard the Gospel and responded to the calling and prompting of God’s grace. They were once dead, but God made them alive again as He did with the dry bones.They were a people who were transformed by the Gospel and it was exemplified in and through their lives.

A HEALTHY CHURCH IS A BODY THAT HAS BEEN CALLED TO A GENUINE SALVATION.

God’s election give evidence to your new “calling” Why? There has been a dramatic change in your life which is demonstrated through the new birth! The Bible says prior to salvation, all people are dead in sin--spiritually dead. And in this state of death, the sinner is utterly unable to respond to any spiritual motivation and therefore unable to…… love God, obey Him, or please Him in any way. Eph 2:1-3 we read “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. This is where the beauty of election shines into our lives……God doesn’t just sort or save you for a while or a certain sin behaviour. He saves with His perfecting love by choosing [adopting you] into His family through the gospel. As Paul Washer said “When God saves a man, He is regenerating his heart, turns him into a new creature, and the evidence is this … he will live like a new creature and he will confess Christ.” God in His mighty power gives us the ability to understand this great love by demonstrating this through ……A working faith, a labour of love and steadfastness that is irremovable found in the hope of future things. It’s by the power of God through the HOLY SPIRIT (v5)

“Power” means specifically miraculous power (usually by implication a miracle itself), ability, abundance, strength, mighty wonderful work. Think about it! Your new life is a miracle on display of God’s handy work in your life. See it’s a miracle that God has allowed anyone of us to be saved! The bible says.......
It’s by His unmerited favour and grace to wretched sinners like us (you and me). He humbled Himself and by Himself on the cross to reconcile us back to the Father! Please remember: He does the saving...You don’t. Why? Because all we know how to do... is SIN! And God must get the glory! As Psalm 79:9 says “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name's sake! LISTEN TO WHAT JESUS SAIDYou did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed (selected) you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain ...” John 15:16. Though He was talking with His disciples about their future ministry! Shouldn’t these same principles apply to our lives a well? We see the answer in (v4). In 2 Timothy 1:9 informs us that God "has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity." In 2 Thess 2:13, the apostle Paul tells his readers, "God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation." The Thessalonians embraced this truth because it was the power of the Spirit that brought and produced conviction of sin…..repentance and conversion. And we see that they accepted this wonderful truth (v5). This is only possible through the saving work of God through the Holy Spirit through the preaching of His word. We read that truth in 1 Cor 2:9-12 “But as it is written: "EYE HAS NOT SEEN, NOR EAR HEARD, NOR HAVE ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN THE THINGS WHICH GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

Again I cannot stress this enough.......He does the calling........you don’t! It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that any person will ever be saved. The Bible says faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God. Don’t get me wrong! That’s a major part of everyone’s conversion! But there is more than just hearing someone preach the Gospel.....there are many people who have heard the Gospel and refuse to come to the cross of Christ! Take For example......2 people hear the same gospel message proclaimed by the preacher......the invitation is given to come forward and confess your sins to a holy God and to follow by faith in the Risen Saviour. The first person goes forward, but the second person turns around and walks away! Why did one go forward and the other turn around to go home? They both heard the same gospel message! And sometime we shake our fist at God angrily and ask “Why don’t you or why you didn’t save my_______?” SEE the simple answer is this! It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to go forward.....Because He gets the glory in a person salvation.........................not the other way around! As Paul said In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Eph 1:11-14. It’s the power of God through the Holy Spirit that anyone is saved! It’s only by His grace I’m able to breath His air, the smile that I have, the food I eat, my position as pastor, my amazing family, my everything, is all [and only] by the Grace of a sovereign God, who looked upon me and saw nothing good but saved me despite my fallen state. It’s only by grace He saved me and you! What is the Mark of a Healthy Church?
This church had a genuine salvation by the power of the Holy Spirit the third person of the Godhead (v4) 

Knowing this truth...We can personally be assured of the great love of God towards us in Christ based on our own election. Though we may not fully know God’s purposes, how election works, or why the Lord chooses as He does, but, we do have enough to encourage, comfort, and inspire us as we walk by faith, fulfill the good works prepared for us by God. Election is good and glorious; it is beautiful and it displays for us the glory of God in your salvation. As John Piper said “It is good news to know that the root of your salvation goes down forever and ever into eternal grace and never gets to a point where it is contingent and fragile and dependent on your foreseen faith or your foreseen good works.” Are you confused yet? I hope not! Maybe you’re asking yourself! Why hasn’t God saved my spouse, my parent, my son or daughter, my co-worker or neighbor? I guess the ultimate question of why God chose some for salvation and left others in their sinful state is one that we, with our finite knowledge, cannot answer. But! We do know that God's attributes always are in perfect harmony with each other, so that God's sovereignty will always operate in perfect harmony with His goodness, love, wisdom, and justice. The doctrine of election is an evidence to God’s saving grace, which in turn produces a healthy church for the glory of His name. As R C Sproul said “If God did not act first, no one would be saved. The divine initiative is the only possible principle that can account for any person coming to Jesus Christ. God has chosen to save some people and bypass others. We don’t know the reason for this, but he does act in this way. It is his decision, based on his nature, character, and plan. We cannot understand his reasons, but we can be grateful that he chose to save us.” Remember that truth! Because He chose to save you and me. We are walking miracles by the grace of God, that there is still a hope for sinners to be saved through the gospel. And God uses the church as a means to display this glory - His “called out ones!”