Today’s devotion comes from Acts 20:25-31.

“And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face.  Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.  For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.  Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.  I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;  and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.  Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”  Acts 20:25-31.

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“Article 8.  For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation:  that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father;  that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death;  should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing;  and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.

Article 9.  This purpose proceeding from everlasting love towards the elect, has from the beginning of the world to this day been powerfully accomplished, and will henceforward still continue to be accomplished, notwithstanding all the ineffectual opposition of the gates of hell, so that the elect in due time may be gathered together into one, and that there never may be wanting a church composed of believers, the foundation of which is laid in the blood of Christ, which may steadfastly love, and faithfully serve him as their Savior, who as a bridegroom for his bride, laid down his life for them upon the cross, and which may celebrate his praises here and through all eternity.”  SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby of Canons of Dordt.

This is “… the gospel according to the power of God, who 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,”  2 Timothy 1:8-9.

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestined, He also called;  and these whom He called, He also justified;  and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”  Romans 8:28-29.

“… God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, …  For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.”  So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”  Romans 9:11 and 15-16.

“…  In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.  In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.”  Ephesians 1:8-12.

“… Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing;  but that she would be holy and blameless.”  Ephesians 5:25-27.

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”  Revelation 21:5.

“9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
11 Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country.
Truly I have spoken;  truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.”  Isaiah 46:9-11.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | December 5, 2019

“testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 20:13-24.  Here is a link to this Scripture – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+20&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.  And when they had come to him, he said to them,

“You yourselves know, from the first day that I (Paul) set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews;  how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.  But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”  Acts 20:17-24.

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Other doctrine testifies of the gospel of the alleged free-will of man.

But, Reformed Doctrine testifies of the gospel of the grace of God.

Other doctrine testifies that God loves everybody, Christ died for everybody, and that whether or not an individual is saved depends on the works of the individual or at at least the free-will choice of the individual.

But, Reformed Doctrine testifies that salvation of an individual depends solely on whether or not God chooses to extend His grace to that individual.  Salvation is by the grace of God alone from beginning to end:  from the beginning of “Unconditional Election” through “Limited Atonement” through “Irresistible Grace” to the end of “Preservation of the Saints”, the “U”, “L”, “I”, and “P” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, more fully taught in the Canons of Dordt.

“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.”  Ephesians 2:8-9.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.  …”  Ephesians 1:3-8.

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestined, He also called;  and these whom He called, He also justified;  and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”  Romans 8:28-29.

“For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.”  So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”  Romans 9:15-16.

“but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.  But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  1 Corinthians 1:27-31.

“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.  It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | December 4, 2019

“Do not be troubled”

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 20:1-12.  Here is a link to this Scripture – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+20&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.  There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together.  And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep;  and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead.  But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, “Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.”  When he had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left.  They took away the boy alive, and were greatly comforted.”  Acts 20:7-12.

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Today’s Scripture leads us to meditate on Scriptures that also comfort us by the words:  “Do not be troubled”.

“Do not let your heart be troubled;  believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many dwelling places;  if it were not so, I would have told you;  for I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”  John 14:1-3.

“Peace I leave with you;  My peace I give to you;  not as the world gives do I give to you.  Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”  John 14:27.

“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things;  for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  Matthew 6:31-33.

“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?  But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed.  AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;”  1 Peter 3:13-15.

Thus, in summary of the above Scriptures, we should not be troubled for the following reasons.  Jesus has prepared a place for us in heaven to be with Him.  Jesus gives us peace.  God provides the necessary things to live such as food, drink, and clothing.  And, even if we should suffer for the sake of righteousness, we are blessed.

But, maybe the biggest reason why we are troubled is that we are like Martha in the following Scripture.  We are distracted and bothered by so many things that are not necessary.  We will experience peace (and not be troubled) when we choose “the good part” and focus on God and His word. 

“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village;  and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.  But Martha was distracted with all her preparations;  and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?  Then tell her to help me.”  But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;  but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:38-42.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 19:21-41.  Here is a link to this Scripture – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+19&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way.  For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen;  these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business.  You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all.  Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.”

When they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”  The city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia.  …  After quieting the crowd, the town clerk *said, “Men of Ephesus, what man is there after all who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of the image which fell down from heaven?  So, since these are undeniable facts, you ought to keep calm and to do nothing rash.  For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess.  So then, if Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a complaint against any man, the courts are in session and proconsuls are available;  let them bring charges against one another.  But if you want anything beyond this, it shall be settled in the lawful assembly.  For indeed we are in danger of being accused of a riot in connection with today’s events, since there is no real cause for it, and in this connection we will be unable to account for this disorderly gathering.”  After saying this he dismissed the assembly.”  Acts 19:23-29 and 35-41.

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God was not only sovereign in causing His word to grow mightily and prevail;  God was also sovereign in using a town clerk to quiet the crowd and protect Paul and the disciples.

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.  Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God;  and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.  For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.  Do you want to have no fear of authority?  Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;  for it is a minister of God to you for good.  But if you do what is evil, be afraid;  for it does not bear the sword for nothing;  for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.  Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.”  Romans 13:1-5.

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.”  Psalm 103:19.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | December 2, 2019

“So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.”

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 19:11-20.

“God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out.  But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.”  Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.  And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”  And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.  This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus;  and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified.  Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices.  And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone;  and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.  So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.”  Acts 19:11-20.

——————-

“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”  Isaiah 55:11.

“9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
11 Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country.
Truly I have spoken;  truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.”  Isaiah 46:9-11.

God accomplishes all of His good pleasure.  Total Perfect Triumph.

“Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;  but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth;  for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.”  Jeremiah 9:23-24.

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.”  Psalm 103:19.

Article 7.  Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, he hath out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen, from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the foundation of Salvation.

This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than the others, but with them involved in one common misery, God hath decreed to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call and draw them to his communion by his Word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true faith, justification and sanctification;  and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of his Son, finally, to glorify them for the demonstration of his mercy, and for the praise of his glorious grace;  as it is written:  “According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love;  having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved,”  Ephesians 1:4,5,6.  And elsewhere:  “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called;  and whom he called, them he also justified;  and whom he justified, them he also glorified,”  Romans 8:30.  FIRST HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of Divine Predestination of Canons of Dordt.

“6 Seek the LORD while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
12 “For you will go out with joy
And be led forth with peace;
The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
13 “Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up,
And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up,
And it will be a memorial to the Lord,
For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.”  Isaiah 55:6-13.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 19:8-10.

“And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.  But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.  This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.”  Acts 19:8-10.

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Paul protected himself and his disciples from those who were “hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people”.  Paul withdrew from them and took away the disciples.

“A prudent man sees evil and hides himself,
The naive proceed and pay the penalty.”  Proverbs 27:12.

“14 Do not enter the path of the wicked
And do not proceed in the way of evil men.
15 Avoid it, do not pass by it;
Turn away from it and pass on.”  Proverbs 4:14-15.

“He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will suffer harm.”  Proverbs 13:20.

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.  Reject a factious (quarrelsome) man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.”  Titus 3:9-11.

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.  For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,  unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power;  Avoid such men as these.”  2 Timothy 3:1-5.

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.”  Psalm 1:1-3.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 19:1-7.

“It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples.  He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”  And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”  And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?”  And they said, “Into John’s baptism.”  Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.  There were in all about twelve men.”  Acts 19:1-7.

———————–

Not all the people who receive the Holy Spirit speak in tongues.  Not all the people who receive the Holy Spirit prophesy.    

“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.  And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.  All are not apostles, are they?  All are not prophets, are they?  All are not teachers, are they?  All are not workers of miracles, are they?  All do not have gifts of healings, do they?  All do not speak with tongues, do they?  All do not interpret, do they?  But earnestly desire the greater gifts.

And I show you a still more excellent way.”  1 Corinthians 12:27-31.

Loving others is more excellent than speaking in tongues and prophesying.

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge;  and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous;  love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly;  it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails;  but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away;  if there are tongues, they will cease;  if there is knowledge, it will be done away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part;  but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”  1 Corinthians 13:1-9.

Yet, we should still desire earnestly spiritual gifts, especially those by which we can speak to edify and exhort and console others.

“Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.  For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God;  for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries.  But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.”  1 Corinthians 14:1-3.

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;  until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”  Ephesians 4:11-13.

“So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”  Romans 14:19.

Thanksgiving Day

“In God we have boasted all day long,
And we will give thanks to Your name forever.  Selah.”  Psalm 44:8.

————————

As we count our blessings on this Thanksgiving Day, the following Scripture comes to the front.

It is like we are in a fog of a variety of pleasant sights but then the fog lifts and we see the one rock-solid mountain of God’s grace.

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  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.”  Ephesians 2:1-9.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | November 27, 2019

“those who had believed through grace”

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 18:23-28.  The next devotion, God willing, will be Friday, November 29, 2019, because on Thursday, “In God we have boasted all day long, And we will give thanks to Your name forever.  Selah.”   Psalm 44:8.

“And having spent some time there, he left and passed successively through the Galatian region and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus;  and he was mighty in the Scriptures.  This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord;  and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John;  and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue.  But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.  And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him;  and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.”  Acts 18:23-28.

——————–

Although today’s Scripture is filled with elements of a successful mission trip, the converts “believed through grace”.  Verse 27.

Consider all the favorable elements of this successful mission trip.  There was a preacher who was instructed in the way of the Lord, and he was eloquent, fervent in spirit, speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus.  He was speaking out boldly.  There were others who sharpened him and encouraged him and introduced him to the disciples to welcome him.  His preaching was powerful and persuasive.

And yet, those who had believed did so, not through all of these elements, but they “believed through grace”.

Other doctrine trust man and “the variety show” that the preacher presents with flashing lights and loud, repetitive music performed by rock stars and followed by cute jokes and stories by the preacher, all of which combine to draw our attention to man.  

But, Reformed Doctrine trusts God and His grace and His Word, all of which combine to draw our attention to God.  

Consider what the Canons of Dordt states in the section THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof.

I quote here the last sentence followed by all of Articles 11 and 12.  “Wherefore also, man is himself rightly said to believe and repent, by virtue of that grace received.”

“Article 11.  But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illumines their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God;  but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man;  he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens;  from being evil, disobedient and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable;  actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.

Article 12.  And this is the regeneration so highly celebrated in Scripture, and denominated a new creation:  a resurrection from the dead, a making alive, which God works in us without our aid.  But this is in no wise effected merely by the external preaching of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of operation, that after God has performed his part, it still remains in the power of man to be regenerated or not, to be converted, or to continue unconverted;  but it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable;  not inferior in efficacy to creation, or the resurrection from the dead, as the Scripture inspired by the author of this work declares;  so that all in whose heart God works in this marvelous manner, are certainly, infallibly, and effectually regenerated, and do actually believe.  – Whereupon the will thus renewed, is not only actuated and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence, becomes itself active.  Wherefore also, man is himself rightly said to believe and repent, by virtue of that grace received.”

“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.”  Ephesians 2:8-9.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | November 26, 2019

“If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 18:12-22.  Here is a link to this Scripture – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+18&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila.  In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.  They came to Ephesus, and he left them there.  Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.  When they asked him to stay for a longer time, he did not consent, but taking leave of them and saying, “I will return to you again if God wills,” he set sail from Ephesus.

When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and went down to Antioch.”  Acts 18:18-22.

———————

Paul set a good example for us by stating:  “I will return to you again if God wills”.

Paul recognized that even if he strongly wanted to return to Ephesus, intended to return, planned and fully prepared to return, the purpose of his return was to preach the gospel and strengthen the church, and had every other good reason to believe that he would return, he was mortal and God alone was sovereign Who would totally control whether or not Paul would return according to God’s will.

Other doctrine believe and teach that events are controlled by man’s alleged free-will.

But, Reformed Doctrine believes and teaches that events are controlled by God’s will. 

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”  Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”  James 4:13-15.

“The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9.

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