Thursday, May 19, 2011

God, His Plan and His Gifts (Part 4)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.  Ephesians 2:8-10

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. (James 1:17-18)

God is Decisive
Now James moves into the arena of God’s saving work in our lives.  The unchanging God has taken action on behalf of helpless, sinful men, to give light where they lived in darkness and life where they experienced death.  “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth.”

Saved By an Exercise of His Will
This is one of a number of clear texts that speak of God’s action in our salvation.  The emphasis in the Bible is that salvation is all of God.  It is not a combination of God’s help and our diligent work.  James has already set this forth in verses 1:14-15 when he explained the heart and nature of man as continually inclined to sin.  If man is as sinful and helpless as the Word of God describes, then unless God intervenes in saving grace man will not have even the least desire for seeking after God. 

Saved By the Expression of His desire
It is God’s action prior to our own action and God’s will prior to our will being exercised that is necessary for our salvation.  What else can this statement mean: “in the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth?”  Can we soften it to still include man’s ability at the heart of his salvation?  Can we shift the wording a bit or use creative interpretation to get around the reality of our own spiritual deadness and the necessity of divine grace preceding even our desire for Christ?  Or can we suggest that God exercised his will only after He saw what our will would be, as if God had suddenly become dependent upon us for his actions?

The word translated His will literally means His desire.  In other words, it was divine choice prior to our choice that determined ultimately our salvation.
But, someone might say, I just had a great desire to trust Christ before I knew anything of God’s grace.  That is true from your side, indeed, but behind it all, James is explaining, God exercised his eternal will, choosing you for himself.  As our Lord expressed it, You did not choose me, but I chose you” John 15:16; or as Paul put it, But by His doing are you in Christ Jesus.  I Corinthians 1:30  In the same way that your physical birth was the decision of your parents, your spiritual birth is the decision of the Lord, who graciously gives.  Without God demonstrating mercy toward us, we will never take the action to seek after him nor to love him with our hearts.

When I praise God for my salvation I praise Him for ALL of it.  He drew me to Him and revealed to me my sin and lost condition.  He gave His Son for me and redeemed me through His blood.  He secured me with the Holy Spirit and holds me until the day of my completion in Him!  HE is to be praised!  

Scripture to Claim:
I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD.  Psalms 40:1-3

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