About Me

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I am the Pastor/Teacher of Rivers of Joy Baptist Church in Minford, Ohio since August 2008.  I am married to Charity since June 14, 1969.  I have four grown children.   Having served in the local church for over forty years as Pastor/Teacher, Asso., Youth Pastor, Minister of Education, Building Upkeep, Camp Director, Sunday School Teacher, etc. Also I have worked in the public place for as many years as I have preached. Charity and her sister are co owner of Union Mills Conf. (Bakery) in West Portsmouth Ohio

Our Free Will Went Out of Order With the Fall

 
First, the Bible does not approach this subject from the perspective that everyone is entitled to a chance at heaven, as do most Americans. Now it makes for a wonderful system of government when we see things democratically everyone has a vote and everyone is equal before the Law, and that in order to be fair, everyone should have an equal chance to participate in the process. We can all exercise our vote, make a decision, and really change things. God, however, is not democratic and he does not operate according to American democratic ideals.
 
The Scriptures do not begin with human freedom, as it is argued, they begin with the fall of Adam into sin and its consequences.
 
This means that we lost our vote and our freedom in the Fall! And because the entire human race fell with Adam, we are everything that the Scriptures say about us.
 
Thus, as Christians, we must begin where the Bible does, with the fact of human sinfulness and with the idea clearly in our minds that no one deserves to go to heaven, and that none of us can do anything to get there.
 
To start with the presupposition that unless we have free will to choose God whenever we want to, or else Christianity (and by implication - God) would not be fair, we miss the point. God does not owe sinners anything. And if we are thinking this way, we have, perhaps, imbibed too deeply from our democratic culture, and we are not approaching things, as we should, from the perspective found in the Holy Scriptures.

Second, the degree to which we argue that we contribute something to our salvation is the degree to which we deny sola gratia. It was Charles Spurgeon who said, "he that thinks lightly of sin, thinks lightly of the savior." It is really very simple. Either God saves sinners who are dead in sin, by calling them forth from the grave when they could contribute nothing, or else sinners have something good within them is that not somehow tainted, corrupted, polluted our damaged by the fall. As we have seen the Scriptures teach the former rather than the latter. To add anything we do to grace alone, is to deny grace alone! You cannot have it either way. As Calvin puts in the Institutes, "Whatever mixture men study to add from the power of free-will to the grace of God, is only a corruption of it; just as if anyone should dilute good wine with dirty or bitter water." Since we are sinful from head to toe, from hair to toe-nail, whatever our contribution we might add to God's grace, only can serve to pollute, not to activate the grace of God! And so when we look to as answers for questions like, "Why does God save this one rather than that one?" we do well to answer as one Puritan divine put it, "There is no reason to be given for grace, but grace." God is God and we are sinful creatures. It is not ours to ask why.

Third, sola gratia is the basis for our comfort and assurance as sinners before a Holy God. Since any contribution that I am supposed to make to make my salvation possible is necessarily tainted by sin, I will always be plagued by doubts about what it is that I am supposed to contribute, and whether or not I contributed it in the right way. If I think that I am saved by my decision to accept Jesus as my Savior, how do I know if I really meant it when I asked him into my heart? If I am saved because of my faith, what do I do when my faith is weak, or when I am in sin or else plagued by nagging doubts? Do I need to be saved all over again? This is not religion of faith but a religion of fear and of pride. Since the Scriptures teach that we are saved not because of anything that is in us, and that the merit necessary for our salvation comes to us from the person and work of Jesus Christ, we look, not within at what we have done, but we to our savior to see what he has done. For in Jesus Christ we see what it means to be saved by grace.

We look to a savior who calls the dead from the tomb when they still reek of their sins; a savior who promises never to leave or forsake us, even when we go astray. We look to a good shepherd who will lose none of his sheep and who declares; "all that the Father gives to me will come to me, and I will lose none of them, but raise them all up on the last day." We look to a savior who died for all of our sins and who kept God's Law perfectly every minute of his life, so that his perfect righteousness could be given to cover our unrighteousness. We look to a savior who was crucified, but who conquered death and the grave and who rose again who ascended into heaven, and who even now is ruling and reigning, all the while praying for us, as our advocate and defender. Sola gratia is most clearly seen in the fact that Jesus Christ came to do for us they very thing that we could no do for ourselves. For he came to seek and to save that which was lost. This beloved is sola gratia, the sinless Son of God, dying upon a Roman cross for the sins of the world, rising from the dead for our justification, and making us alive, through his word, when we were still dead in our sins. Blessed be the name of the Lord.