Daily Archives: March 20, 2019

March 20 Our Greatest Victories

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 55:1–9

Key Verses: Isaiah 55:8–9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

How do you normally respond when the world seems to turn against you? The wrong way to respond, sadly, is what we most often experience. This is marked by bitterness, doubt, depression, and hopelessness. These feelings mount up, causing the pressure of adversity to increase. This pressure is usually released in one of several common ways: we look for someone to blame, develop a deep desire to escape, deny the problem, or fall into depression. These are certainly not the results God wants to see in our lives!

In contrast to these wrong responses, there are a few things we can do to make the best of hardships in our lives:

  • First, we must strive to view everything from God’s perspective. His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8), and He wants us to examine the issue from beyond our normal human point of view.
  • Second, we must pray, “Father, what is Your goal for my life in this adversity?” God can turn any time into a teaching moment.
  • Third, we must surrender to the will of God and then rest in His faithfulness to see us through the ordeal.

Sometimes, our lives require a major disruption in order to realign our thoughts with the Lord’s. Though sometimes painful, these times can become our most life-altering moments and lead to our greatest victories, depending on how we respond.

Lord, in difficult times, help me to turn from bitterness, blame, and depression and seek to discover and surrender to Your perspective.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 83). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Unconditional Election: A Catalyst for Worship, Humility, and Evangelism | The Master’s Seminary

Although election is a challenging doctrine for many, it is a glorious catalyst for worship, humility, and unwavering evangelism. If you want to grow in godliness and strengthen your effectiveness for the Great Commission, the doctrine of unconditional election is worth your meditation.

Whether you are reading or preaching through the Bible, the outcome is inevitable.

Eventually you will encounter the unshakeable truth of unconditional election. This is not an obscure doctrine; it is not tucked away in the ambiguous passages of the minor prophets; it is not a confusing compilation of questionable inferences.

As Charles Spurgeon aptly wrote, “[The doctrine of election] is written in the Word of God as with an iron pen, and there is no getting rid of it.”

Election is everywhere in the Bible.

Unconditional Election, Defined

What is the doctrine of unconditional election? It is the Biblical teaching that in eternity past, God appointed a number from every tribe, tongue, and people to be saved by Jesus Christ. Before time, the Father hand-selected specific souls and entrusted them to His Son. Jesus then willingly went to the cross to purchase the elect with His own blood.

The Gospels make it abundantly clear that Jesus had the elect engraved upon His mind during His earthly ministry. In the Gospel of John, Christ regularly speaks of the souls given to Him in the dawns of time by the Father (cf. John 6:37; 10:29; 17:2, 6, 9). When questioned about coming times, Jesus’ mind went to the purity and preservation of His elect (Matthew 24:22, 24, 31; Mark 13:20, 27).

The doctrine of election should lead to an overpowering realization that life is not your own

The doctrine also fills the preaching and letters of the apostles, as seen in Acts, when Paul preached to the Gentiles and “as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). The author diligently explains that the Gentiles did not believe and then were appointed to eternal life. Rather, they had already been appointed to eternal life, and then they believed.

Paul also taught this beautiful doctrine in his letter to the Ephesians, explaining that God “chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world” (1:4). Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “God chose you from the beginning for salvation and faith in the truth.” And, finally, in the book of Revelation, John writes that before the foundation of the world, the names of all those who would ever be saved were written in “the Lamb’s book of life” (13:8).

While many in the church can articulate the tenets of this doctrine, few understand its far-reaching implications. Sadly, many believe if election was in fact true, it would empty prayer, preaching, and evangelism of purpose.

For this reason, I have compiled nine implications of unconditional election that prove this to be one of the most profoundly practical doctrines of the Bible.

9 Implications of Unconditional Election

1. A Reminder of Ownership

The doctrine of election should lead to an overpowering realization that life is not your own. You exist for the glory of Another—for the majesty of Jesus Christ and His coming kingdom. Election is the most blatant reminder of this.

2. Evidence of God’s Love

The doctrine of election is one of the greatest evidences of God’s love. God did not forfeit salvation to random selection. Salvation is eternally intentional. Election means that He chose you. Not someone like you, but you. He called you by name and gave you to His Son Jesus Christ, who would die to purchase you with His blood. Your salvation has always been deeply personal to God.

3. The Richest Security

The doctrine of election is the richest security that the elect will not only be saved, but will stay saved. The phrase “once saved, always saved” is true, but it halts short of completion. It is not too strong, but too imprecise. It neglects the beautiful in between – the reality that between election and glorification, God secures all the means for the believer to persevere in the faith.

4. The Deepest Root of Humility

The doctrine of election is the deepest root of humility. The believer must humbly confess that he made not the least contribution to his salvation. Salvation then pivots from being man-centered to God-centered.

5. Enjoyment of God Himself

The doctrine of election reminds us that salvation is not a reward for faith in Christ. Salvation is not a commodity to be enjoyed independently of God. Rather, salvation is the everlasting enjoyment of God Himself. Salvation is the Triune God allowing believers to share in the mutual affection that each Person of the Trinity has for the other.

6. A Cataylst for Worship

The doctrine of election is one of the greatest catalysts for heart-felt worship because, had God not initiated redemption, you would reject Him still.

7. A Refuge for Hope

The doctrine of election is one of the safest refuges of hope for despairing sinners who feel that they have fallen too far from grace. God’s eternal choice is not determined by one’s sinfulness or lack thereof. It is not based on man’s actions, thoughts, feelings, or choices.

God alone decides the elect. No man has the right to declare himself beyond God’s election. None of an unbeliever’s filth or stains prove the absence of his election. Rather, the unbeliever must drink deeply from the bidding of Jesus: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

8. A Signature of Guarantee

The doctrine of election has profound implications for global missions. The missionary can have confidence that even in the darkest corners of the earth, God is calling His elect to Himself to build His church. God’s plan will be accomplished, the nations will be reached, the darkness will be penetrated, and the church will be built – the doctrine of election is God’s signature of guarantee.

9. Assurance of Gospel Effectiveness

Rather than diminish the need to pray, preach, and plead with sinners to repent, election assures the effectiveness of the proclamation of the gospel. Mysterious and contradictory as it may seem, election removes not an ounce of the believer’s responsibility to plead with sinners to repent. Instead, it provides the confidence that Gospel-proclamation will not return void. In other words, election doesn’t make evangelism meaningless, rather, election guarantees that our evangelism cannot fail.

Unconditional Election: Worth Your Meditation

Although election is a challenging doctrine for many, it is a glorious catalyst for worship, humility, and unwavering evangelism. If you want to grow in godliness and strengthen your effectiveness for the Great Commission, the doctrine of unconditional election is well worth your meditation.

All too often we have the habit of thinking that the “deep things” of the Bible are beyond our grasp and have no practical value for everyday life. The truth is, it’s just the opposite. The secret to a thriving soul is not to avoid thinking deeply about God, but to push deeper than ever into God and His ways. Because the more we see the sovereign majesty of God over our lives and the world, the more stable, secure, and satisfied our lives become. And when our lives become like that, they become lethal instruments in the hand of the King.

Jerod Gilcher is a graduate of The Master’s Seminary (M.Div. ’09) and the lead pastor at Christ Community Bible Church in Arlington, Texas.

Source: Unconditional Election: A Catalyst for Worship, Humility, and Evangelism

March 20 Chosen by God

Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 1:3–12

Key Verse: 1 Peter 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Can you remember the rejection you felt when you were not chosen for one of these?

• The basketball team

• The promotion at work

 

• The cheerleading squad

• The college of your choice

 

Now, think of the thrill when you

• made the basketball team.

• received the promotion.

 

• were selected for the cheerleading squad.

• were accepted by the college you desired to attend.

 

You experienced great joy and gladness in being chosen.

Did you know that God chose you for salvation before the foundation of the world? Did you know that He was working out the miracle of your new birth in His mind before there was yet one evidence of creation?

Such undeserved love should stagger you, humble you, and drive you to profound adoration for the goodness, mercy, and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God chose you. Think of the value that places on your life. It does not matter where you live, what you look like, what kind of car you drive, or your level of income.

Rejoice. You have been chosen by God and are forever His.

Dear heavenly Father, I often feel rejected by others. Thank You that You selected me for salvation before the foundation of the world. I am accepted. I am chosen. Thank You![1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 83). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

A Response to Some Concerns by Francis Chan — We Are Church

From what I hear from friends and critics (I stay away from social media, etc), there have been a lot of conclusions drawn from my decision to speak at The Send conference as well as other venues. Some people have questioned my willingness to take pictures with anyone who asks for a picture with me. So I thought it might be helpful to explain some of my theological beliefs which have come under scrutiny as of late, as well as some of my practices/decisions. I realize there are many questions, but let me at least clarify a few things.

What do you believe regarding the “Prosperity Gospel”?

My understanding of that term is that it refers to teachings which imply that if you follow Jesus, He will make you healthy and wealthy. It is often used to attract people to make a decision to follow Jesus so that they can spend the rest of their lives in health and prosperity.

I believe this is a dangerous teaching for several reasons. First and foremost (in my opinion) is that it contradicts the teachings and example of Christ and the apostles. Jesus taught His disciples “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24). It was not a call to come and prosper but rather the opposite- a call to come and suffer. The New Testament is full of passages explaining the suffering that comes with a decision to follow Christ. I once gave a sermon where I went through every book of the New Testament and showed how suffering was in every book but one. Jesus was clear that following Him meant forsaking things of this earth to find a treasure far greater (Luke 9:58, Matthew 19:21, Matthew 13:44-46). This was exemplified by the martyred apostles who spent their lives joyfully suffering. Paul speaks about this when he compares his lifestyle of suffering in comparison to false teachers living in luxury (1 Corinthians 4:8-13, 2 Corinthians 4, 11). It is dangerous because it is not the gospel.

Jesus is the greatest prize. He is the bread of life. In John 6, as people were coming to Him looking for another miraculous meal, He refused to give it to them. Instead, He asked them if they wanted Him alone. He refused to be their genie, granting every wish they might have. Jesus let great numbers of people walk away in that moment because they wanted Jesus only if He would provide for them materially (prosperity gospel). He was then left with the disciples who treasured Him regardless of if they were homeless and poor because of it. For the Christian, Jesus is the focus of our affections and aspirations. The prosperity gospel distorts this by putting the focus on what Jesus can do for you rather than the beauty and value of who He is. This results in many people coming to Jesus (or so they think), not because they have fallen in love with Him, hate their sin, and would die for Him, but because they believe He will give them the desires of their heart in health, wealth, and prosperity. This is not Christianity, and if this is the motivation of people “coming to Jesus”, they are not truly Christian.

Another reason this teaching is dangerous is that it gives false hope to listeners that can result in confusion and discouragement. Prosperity preachers often promise greater wealth if their listeners will give more to their ministries. This is never promised in Scriptures. We can never hold God to something that He has not promised. In many impoverished nations, this has resulted in listeners giving their resources without anyone becoming rich besides the preacher. This can lead them into questioning the faithfulness of God. People need to be warned against this kind of teaching so that their faith is not damaged.

The New Testament does not teach that everyone should expect riches on earth. Instead, it teaches that we shouldn’t really care about earthly possessions. We have been given something far greater, so we can be content with basic necessities (1 Timothy 6:8). Jesus taught his disciples to pray “give us this day our daily bread”. We are promised provision, but not riches on earth (Matthew 6:31-33). If we are given more, it just means that we’ve been entrusted to use those resources for His Kingdom (2 Corinthians 8:1-15, Luke 16:1-15). Beware of teachers who spend a lot of time talking about becoming wealthy (1 Timothy 6:10).

God is supremely valuable. In an age of exaggeration, there are no words left to describe His worth. Any teaching that places focus on earthly riches gives a diminished picture of His glory.
There is much more I could write, but I think you get the gist.

Why do you sometimes accept speaking engagements in places that tolerate theology that is different from yours?

I speak at events almost every week of the year. Often times, it’s more than one event a week. I don’t really enjoy it—I hate the travel, but try not to complain about it. Despite the toll it can take on myself and the family, it is always an honor to preach the Word. I believe it is my calling. Some question my choice to speak so often, but my best discernment and the discernment of the elders of our church is that it is still a part of my calling in this season.

I am asked to speak at approximately 500 events a year. I decline approximately 90% of the requests. It’s a difficult thing to do. Often times, I decline because other speakers will be at the event who believe almost exactly what I believe. My reasoning is that it may be a waste of Kingdom resources for all of us to be there, speaking largely to people who already agree with us. It seems more effective to speak where there is less Bible teaching. It has not been my practice to ask who will share the platform with me and to research the other speakers. While some may be dear friends, there are many that I know little about. This current experience has caused me to consider exercising more caution and to develop a team to help me research. That being said, I speak in many places where I am not in alignment theologically. I actually believe that is where I can be most effective, as long as they give me freedom to address anything I believe the Lord wants me to address.

I recognize, now more than ever, that sometimes my participation can give the impression that I align with every other speaker at the event. I’m not sure what to do about that other than to tell you that I don’t. Unless the elders of my church direct me differently, I will continue to be found preaching in venues with those I disagree. I will preach in just about any kind of setting if I’m given freedom to preach from any passage of scripture. The elders and I are trying to come up with more safeguards for future events to hopefully prevent misunderstandings. Pray for us.

I realize that many will not agree with my decision to speak at certain events. I hope you will at least consider the burden of trying to weigh potential outcomes good and bad. Over the past few years, I have seen many people come to truly follow Jesus, have a deeper love for the scriptures, and a deeper commitment to the great commission. There are millions of souls that sit under weak or unorthodox teachings. It thrills me to think about what the Spirit might do through His Word in those situations. My personal belief is that there are 2-3 million orthodox American Christians who consume all of the same books, blogs, and podcasts. Meanwhile, there are millions who will never hear strong biblical teaching unless teachers are willing to go. I might be fooling myself, but I feel like the Spirit enables me to lovingly confront difficult issues. And I have seen repentance result from it. 

Why have you not publicly denounced certain preachers?

I believe it is absolutely biblical to call out certain false teachers and beg people to run from their teachings. We see Paul do this in the scriptures. As I was growing in my faith, I was grateful for radio shows where false teachings were exposed. I have always wanted to be a person who did not shy away from controversy, boldly willing to call out false teachers. In my zeal, I often denounced teachers and denominations without having my facts in order. I was sometimes motivated by pride rather than love. I have had to repent before true brothers in the Lord that I one time slandered. As a dad, it’s a terrifying thought to know that I inappropriately slandered one of God’s sons or daughters.

I still strive to boldly call out false teachers, but I have found it hard to collect accurate data. I am willing to do it, but I want to do it with caution. I will be judged for every careless word spoken (Matthew 12:36). Whether it is due to carelessness or a desire for fame, many Christians have fallen into the worldly practice of creating fake news. Exaggerations are made because it makes things interesting, driving more traffic to their sites, leading to greater revenue and attention. Over the years, many things have been said about me that simply are not true. I can’t know the motives, but I am sure it is untrue. In the same way, friends of mine have been misrepresented and their reputations unfairly tarnished. I want to make sure that I am not guilty of the same thing.

We live in a time when it is hard to discover the truth about any one person because there are a slew of voices quick to state their opinions as fact. So I now have a team of people researching to try and differentiate between rumors and truth. As I gather that information, I will seek out the teachers and address the issues in a biblical manner (Matthew 18). I will pray for and seek their repentance in love. If there is not repentance, I believe it is right to warn against false teachers and separate from them.

Having said all of that, I refuse to slow down in my preaching to the lost, caring for the local church, sending missionaries to unreached people groups, collecting and distributing aid to the needy, in order to research false teachers. It is important. I admit that I have not done enough research and will do more without neglecting the other responsibilities I have before the Lord.

Why did it take so long for you to write a response?

Early in my ministry, I had a professor warn “don’t spend your time defending yourself. Let God defend you and those closest to you defend you. You can spend your whole life dispelling rumors.” I have followed that advice for the past 30 years. I hope this response doesn’t sound like a person who is trying to save his reputation just for the sake of saving his reputation. My hope was to bring clarity to those who might trust my life and preaching and assume that my being in a picture or on a stage with someone means that I align with them. In regards to pictures…I live a very strange life. Most people take pictures with their friends and family. I end up taking thousands of pictures with complete strangers who ask to take pictures with me. I have struggled over the years with whether it is wrong to sign books or take pictures with people. I would be perfectly happy to never take another picture or sign another book. It just feels rude and discouraging to say no. My intention was never to show allegiance with those who request selfies.

Another reason I took so long to write this response is because I read Paul’s defense of his ministry. He was able to do it out of love for people and the furtherance of the gospel. I needed a little extra time to make sure I wasn’t responding out of anger, pride, hurt, or cynicism- things that I have been guilty of. I think my heart is in a good place now, and I am writing because I believe I have a calling to proclaim the gospel and preach unpopular truths in a crooked generation. Though some are trying to deter people from my ministry altogether, I believe God has given me a calling to teach His Word. I plan on teaching faithfully until I die. I hope you take this in the spirit in which it was written.

One final thought- We should all be careful to guard against false teaching of any kind. In the process of refuting false teachers, however, we can unintentionally falsely accuse good teachers. That might be equally harmful to His Kingdom.  God desires unity in His body, so it is no small crime to bring division into the church.

“As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.”  Titus 3:10

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”  

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Jesus deeply longed for unity amongst His children. This should not come at the expense of truth. There are times when the truth will divide. Let’s all humbly beg for wisdom from the Holy Spirit to know how to love our brothers without compromising truth. As we diligently confront false teaching, let’s show equal fervency in defending those who are truly our brothers and equal zeal in confronting those who unnecessarily divide the body.
— Read on wearechurch.com/blog/2019/3/16/a-response-to-some-concerns-by-francis-chan