Dear called out ones in Jesus Christ – over the next few weeks we are going to give credit where credit is due. To man and to God. We want to give the credit to man – to us – for plunging us into sin. We want to give credit to God for saving us. The mature thing is to take responsibility and not to go around playing the blame game. The world and our hearts are all too good at that. We don’t want to hear the words “its your fault.” Totally and 100% your fault. And of course, if there is something good, we would love to take some of the credit. That is just the way we are. And today we are going to discover why we are the way we are by asking some difficult questions, and offering some answers that at the end of the day may feel unsatisfactory – but that will not make them less true. So here we go.
Who are we and where do we come from?
We Believe that God created man of the dust of the ground and he made and formed him after his own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy. God created man from the dust of the ground. We are creatures of this earth. Yet endowed with the image of God. Creatures bound by time and space, yet in relationship with the God who stands outside time and space. We were created by God himself, for God himself.
That was our purpose and that is our purpose. We were to not be like God, but act like him. And in order to act like him he endowed us with goodness, righteousness and holiness. So that we could rule with justice, care, and love.
That was who we were. Righteous. Holy. Good. Loving. That is what we did. We acted right, lived pure, did good, and loved with all our heart soul mind and strength.
As the confessions says, “His will could conform to the will of God in every respect.” What this means – this means that we were created by a personal being. That there is purpose to live and meaning to live. That we are not the creation of some impersonal forces of nature. We were created to be in relationship. And his will was our will. We were united in the desire to see what was good to become even better so that it might bring glory to the one who is infinitely worthy.
It was mankind’s will to do Gods will. They were perfectly synchronized. That is what he truly wanted. He was living in perfect relationship with God and because he was in a perfect relationship with God, he was also in a perfect relationship with each other, and with creation. There was life. There was flourishing. There was growth in every dimension of his life. The future was truly boundless.
But the problem was we did not just want to act like God we wanted to be like him. We had no appreciation for what we had – and we wanted something more, something else, something different then what god wanted for us. So “when he was in his high position, he did not appreciate it nor did he value his excellency. He gave ear to the words of the devil and willfully subjected himself to sin and consequently to death and the curse.”
Humanities current state
“He did not appreciate… he did not value… he gave ear... He willfully subjected himself…” it goes on. “He transgressed the commandment… he broke away from God… he corrupted his whole nature… he made himself liable to physical and spiritual death.” This was humanities choice. We did it. It was not God who forced us. It was us who wanted it. This was our choice. Totally 100% our choice. We are totally and 100% responsible. We submitted ourselves to the slavery which we find ourselves in today. We submitted ourselves to the bodily decay and death we see all around us. We submitted ourselves to the darkness that reigns within the unregenerate heart. We did it. It’s our fault. and the result are devastating.
The fall was radical. The fall took us from the highest high to the lowest low. It effects every part of our being. Mind, will, and emotions. Head heart and hands. Listen to what it says, “Since man became so wicked and perverse, corrupt in all his ways, he has lost all his excellent gifts which he had once received from God.”
You see that it says… “All his excellent gifts.” And it goes one, “He has nothing left but some small traces, which are sufficient to make a man inexcusable.” Wow! The natural man is darkness. We are dead. We are without hope. Without God in this world.
There are a lot of people who believe in humanities progress without God. If the news today isn’t changing your mind, this article makes clear that the Bible says man without God is a lost cause. All of our technology, all of our ingenuity, all of our know-how without God has just caused division, war, bigger weapons, destruction. The west has left God and is rotting and crumbling not from enemies from without but from the evil within. O that the church would be a beacon and cry out to all of humanity – “God and God alone is our only hope! The only hope of all mankind!” O that the church would plead before there God on behalf of a dead humanity, lost in darkness and as that he would come down in grace, and flood the world with light so that the yes of man might be opened.
For as we confess along with Scripture, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.”
Therefore we reject all teaching contrary to this concerning the free will of man, since man is but a slave to sin. Man either has free will and is not utterly dependent upon the grace and mercy of God or he is depraved and wholly dependent upon such grace and mercy. It is either or; it cannot be both. We believe without God man will always choose against him. Not under compulsion but willfully. There is not one ounce of our humanity that is not radically affected by sin (Rom. 3:9-18, 23; Eph. 2:1-4; Col 1:21; Titus 3:3; etc). Far from being free our wills are bound by sin. We are enslaved to it and unable to liberate ourselves from this state.
In fact, the confession says we went so far that our will is in bondage to sin. It does not mean we have no more “free will”. It simply means the fallen man will always choose against God. Now many would object to the strong language of our confession, when it says, “we reject all teaching contrary to this concerning the free will of man, since man is a slave to sin.” They suppose that if our will is "free" to accept or reject Christ, many will accept him.
But is that true? If our first parents (Genesis 1-3), whose wills were truly free, chose against God, do we suppose that any of their children, who are sinners, would make a more godly choice than they? Would we, who were enemies of God, controlled by ego, surrounded by a thousand temptations (Adam and Eve faced one), make a better choice than they? I think we can confidently say if they sinned, we stand no chance. Our will is "freed from righteousness" and bound to our ego (Romans 6:20). It always says no to God. It does nothing for God. This is what Martin Luther called The Bondage of the Will. "Free will" is what God permits to the terminally unrepentant. He allows them the freedom from him and in the end, it kills them. It is a one-way ticket to destruction in Hell. If salvation came through our free choice, we would all be lost.
This is also one of the things that the Law of God shows us. It is the hammer which crushes us and exposes how dead we are. So that we find life in Christ. It is the hammer as Luther said, that breaks us to piece’s so that we seek our salvation and peace in Christ alone. The law removes all illusions that we can be good with God through out works. It exposes and magnifies the wickedness in our hearts so that we trust in God alone and magnify the cross of Christ. We don’t just say that we trust in Christ for salvation. but we feel a sense of our utter lostness apart from Christ.
We rejoice that Christ has saved us from our perversity and wickedness. Evil is no longer used to describe others like Osama Bin laden, or Jacob Zuma. We confess and acknowledge our own sin, and it does not leave us in misery but in the cross, we rejoice in the love of God that he has rescued sinners. We need not hide from God; God hides us in himself.
The first Adam brought death. Slavery. Darkness. The second Adam brings and indestructible life. Total freedom. An eternal light. The first Adam was created from the dust as we confess, the second Adam from from heaven. And if you are in him you will be made like him, going from glory to glory!
As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, “The spiritual, however, was not first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so also are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so also shall we bear the likeness of the heavenly man.”
Thanks be to God that he does not just make salvation possible, he actually saves! Thanks be to God that he does not make healing just possible, he actually heals!
Dear Church of God the beauty of the Gospel is that our sufficiency is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5)! And it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
God in Christ sets the captives free. He arrests us by grace, opens eyes to see his beauty, behold his grace, and even love him. But note, the one who initiates this is not the sinner, it is the Savior. Ad Peters says, “Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope though the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” God is the one who acts upon the unregenerate man or woman to make them alive.
And when he does they come. And they repent. And they rejoice in the hope glory. Indeed, the sinner is not coerced into the kingdom that he comes kicking and screaming to the kingdom of God nor does he come pounding on the doors of heaven, they come by grace and all of grace, chosen by God and for God (Jn. 1:10-13). They come according to his will which bends their will so that they come willingly.
Indeed in Christ the gates of heaven are wide open to all who believe. To whosoever! This is the clarion call of the gospel! If you would turn and be saved, you will be saved. Today if you here is call do not harden your heart, but may he soften your heart so that together with us you might be made alive in the second Adam.
There is a saying that written on the gates of the kingdom of heaven as you enter are the words, "Whosoever will let him come and take of the water of life freely" (Revelations 22:17); but after entering, we see over the inside of the gates the words, "Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4).
As the Poem goes,
“I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek him, seeking me
It was not I who found, O Savior true
No, I was found by thee.