Salvation by Grace Alone, Simple Family-Integrated Worship

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Articles, devotionals, study guides, and other writings from Pastor David Wise and other select writers.

Does God Love the Whole World? Election & John 3:16

As Primitive, Original Baptists we strive to uphold the teachings of the original church as we see presented in the New Testament scriptures. One of the distinctive doctrines that we find in the scriptures that Primitive Baptists uphold is the doctrine of “unconditional election”. When some people first hear of the doctrine of election, I have seen it cause a good deal of anxiety and confusion when this doctrine is not properly understood. One of the first rebuttals I will usually hear against election is that “God could not have chosen a people to salvation before the world began because John 3:16 says that God loves the whole world and offers salvation to any that will believe in Jesus Christ.” It is true that John 3:16 does say that God loves the world. However, we will consider the rightly dividing of that verse in context to see that Jesus is not teaching Nicodemus that God loves everyone without exception, but that God loves the world without distinction, particularly that God has a people outside the natural Jewish nation among the Gentiles. I believe we will see that John 3:16 is not an invitation to eternal life to anyone that is willing to believe, but that verse is an assurance text to all that do believe that they already have eternal life through Jesus Christ. We want to have a thorough discussion together of how to properly reconcile the doctrine of unconditional election with the verse in John 3:16. We hope you can read this article with an open mind, considering the scriptures referenced, and study these things out for yourself to see if these things are so. “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.” (2 Tim. 2:7)

Danger of Rumors & False Assumptions

“11) And the children of Israel heard say, Behold, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh have built an altar over against the land of Canaan, in the borders of Jordan, at the passage of the children of Israel. 12) And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them.” (Josh. 22:11-12)

In this lesson among the eastern and western tribes of Israel, we see the danger of rumors and imposing false assumptions on those rumors. The people of God get to the brink of war just because they imposed their own assumptions on others’ actions and did not follow the biblical command to verify this information by asking the people directly. Once they actually got around to asking the eastern tribes and getting an explanation, they understood it was a reasonable decision, and the conflict was resolved. All of this conflict was created because they did not ask the people directly and attempt to reconcile the issue before escalation. Unfortunately, even today the world and God’s people are not any different. We assume we know “why” others do something, impose our own false assumptions upon what we heard, and then create conflict based on totally wrong information. What is the remedy for this danger of rumors and false assumptions? Simply follow the scriptural pattern to ask the offending parties directly for an explanation before we assume anything regarding their actions. Our speech needs to minister grace and edification to our hearers, and gossip and unverified rumors need to cease when they reach our ears.  

Labouring Fervently in Prayer

“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.“ (Col. 4:12)

We see here an amazing example of Epaphras, a minister (maybe the pastor) at the church at Colossae, of the tenacity and laboring of his prayers for others. Sometimes we feel like our prayers are not effectual, but actually, the scriptures clearly affirm that the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man (and woman) availeth much” (James 5:16). Some of the most significant impact we can have on the kingdom is by laboring in prayer for our fellow kindred in the church. Some older people who are physically limited, in nursing homes or even bedridden, might feel that they might not have anything left to do in the kingdom. Well, there are no physical limitations that prevent anyone from laboring fervently in prayer for the saints. I believe some of the most diligent, devoted, and tenacious “prayer warriors” have been old sisters who can’t even attend church anymore, but they are still laboring in the kingdom in fervent prayers for the church. Notice Epaphras was not laboring for himself but laboring “for you”, for the saints in the Colossian church, in prayer. Our prayers need to be more “selfless” and “others-centered” than selfish and self-centered. Part of the community of the church is other saints bearing one another’s burdens, and we need to pray more diligently “for others” and help bring their burdens to the Lord for healing and relief.

Spread It Before The Lord

“And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.” (2 Kings 19:14)

When facing the blasphemous threat of the king of Assyria, Hezekiah shows us the proper pattern of prayer to spread our troubles before the Lord in prayer. We need to go into the house of the Lord, the church, and spread our cares and concerns to the Lord in prayer. There is no need for us to have pretense before God in prayer, to try to present ourselves better to God or act like we have it all together. We need to be fully open and honest to our God because he knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts anyway. Spread all our cares and concerns before our loving Heavenly Father, and God will answer our prayer and defend his people, as he did with Judah by destroying both the Assyrian army and king Sennacherib as well.

Our Eyes Are Upon Thee

“O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” (2 Chron. 20:12)

When facing perilous circumstances and a strong approaching enemy, Jehoshaphat sets a great example for seeking God and how we ought to respond to challenging times in our lives. He acknowledged in a natural, military sense, Judah had no might to defend themselves against this great company of armies. They don’t know what to do, but their eyes are fixed upon Jehovah God for deliverance. There are many times in our lives when we feel helpless and don’t know what we ought to do. During those times of desperation, we need to seek God in prayer, confessing our lack of clarity and not knowing what to do, but affirming our eyes are fixed upon God for deliverance and mercy. When we don’t know what to do, that is the time we need to turn our eyes to God in faith in prayer for deliverance.

Proverbs Topical Verse Summary

There is tremendous value for God’s people in studying the wisdom of the book of the Proverbs. However, a large portion of the book is very sporadic with short proverbs jumping from one topic to another very quickly, many times changing from one verse to the next. I have attempted to summarize the book of Proverbs based on major topics that are very prevalent in the book to help aid in my study of this book (and hopefully your study as well). This topical verse summary is no substitute for reading this book verse by verse as it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. In addition to that expositional reading, we hope this topical grouping of the book will help us see the Proverbs’ treatment of major topics all grouped together instead of finding these verses sprinkled all throughout the book.

Click here to download a PDF copy of Proverbs Topical Verse Summary

Is The Sinner’s Prayer Biblical?

It is commonly accepted and taught in Christianity today that one must choose to believe in Jesus Christ to be saved to heaven. As the confirmation of this belief to secure eternal life, they are called upon to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” and invite Jesus into their heart and accept Christ as their Personal Savior. Therefore, let us consider this question together. Is praying the “Sinner’s Prayer” for salvation a biblical command? The scriptural answer is both “yes” and no”. Yes, born-again sinners are called upon to pray unto God and confess Jesus as our Savior. No, this prayer does not result in gaining eternal life. The praying of this prayer does not initiate the new birth or change one from dead in sins to life in Christ. No, the praying of the Sinner’s Prayer is rather the “evidence” of eternal salvation (John 5:24), not the “cause” of eternal salvation. This prayer does not cause the new birth in the sinner’s heart, but this prayer does give peace and assurance to the soul of the already born-again child of God who is burdened and convicted over their sin. There is a salvation and deliverance for the child of God in praying the Sinner’s Prayer, but that salvation occurs in their heart and in their life here, not in gaining eternal life. Belief, confession, and prayer are always the “evidence” and “effect” of the new birth and eternal life, never the “cause” of gaining eternal life in heaven. We will consider the proper treatment of the Sinner’s Prayer according to the word of God.

Captain of the Distressed, Indebted, and Discontented

“And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.” (1 Sam. 22:2)

Where do we go when we are in distress, discontented, and feeling the pressure of debt in this world? We need to flee to the Captain of our salvation, Jesus Christ. In David’s day, there were men who were distressed, discontented, and in debt that sought out the man after God’s own heart, and he became a captain over this little band of 400 men. This world should vex our righteous soul. While we need to learn to be content in whatever state we are in (Phil. 4:11), our soul will never be fully content in this world. This world is full of distress, and we feel the pressure of both financial debt and the debt of our sin. When we feel that pressure, where do we go? Let us flee from the comforts of the city and dwell (even if it’s among the caves) with our Captain who will give us hope in the midst of our distress and discontentment.

God of Heaven & Earth

God of Heaven

“5) And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. 11) The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.” (Psalm 89:5,11)

God’s glory and handiwork are declared and preached in the heavens and in the earth. There is no speech nor language where the voice of God’s creation does not preach to man of his Creator God (Ps. 19:1-6). The heavens and earth are so huge and vast we cannot comprehend them with our mortal minds. Our God fills heaven and earth (Jer. 23:24), but we are nothing and yea less than nothing. How could God take notice or be mindful of such insignificant parts of this universe? God was not just mindful of us but even sent his only begotten Son to die for our sins. “3) When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4) What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Ps. 8:3-4) We have to see how amazing God is and how worthless we are for only then we can stand properly amazed that God could love and die for us!

Rest For The Troubled

“And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.” (2 Thess. 1:7)

There were some devout disciples of the Thessalonian church who were enduring “trouble” from the enemies of the gospel. It is very easy in midst of such tribulation and trouble to be anxious, fearful, and to lose any inner peace. The Holy Spirit gives these troubled Christians a hope of “rest”. When will this “rest” come? Our final rest from the trouble of this world will occur at the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to destroy this world and to bring his children into “eternal rest” with God in heaven. We can “rest” together (“rest with us”) here in our lives expectantly looking for Christ’s second coming to usher in our eternal rest with God.

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