On “Sovereign Grace”

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On “Sovereign Grace”

James R. Aist

“So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” (Romans 9:16)

In this article, I will address two questions: 1) Why do some people believe and accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and 2) Which is sovereign over our eternal destiny, the free will of men or the sovereign will of God? As you read, please be patient, as this topic requires several pages to address it adequately.

Some of what I have to say on this topic I have already published in an article entitled “Who Goes to Heaven, Who goes to Hell” (click HERE). The God of the Bible is often referred to as “God Most High” or “Most High God” (e.g., Genesis 14:22 and Hebrews 7:1). Psalm 97:9 declares, “For You, O Lord, are Most High above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods.” Thus we derive the Christian doctrine of the “sovereignty” of God, His absolute rule and reign over all of His creation, including the affairs of men. Nothing happens that He did not either do Himself or allow to be done. There is no higher authority than the God of the Bible, and nothing is impossible for Him (Luke 1:37). But, does this sovereignty of God extend to the process of salvation, and what role, if any, does our free will play in it? Paul pointed out that “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8), and “…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not by our works, but by His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began…” (2 Timothy 1:9). These and other Scriptures make it clear that both saving faith and salvation are gifts given to us by the grace of God.

In our natural, fallen state, there is no one who seeks after God (Romans 3:11). So, here is the crux of the matter: Do we, by our natural, misaligned (fallen) will, choose to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ and choose to obey God instead of Satan, or, does God choose us to be among the saved and then work to realign our will to the point that it becomes our will to both believe the Gospel and to obey God instead of Satan? Following are thirteen of the most direct and to-the-point Scriptures that I believe, when taken in context, provide an answer to this question, followed by my commentary on each:

2 Thessalonians 2:13 “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth…”

Commentary: From the beginning, God chose you and me for salvation. Not only did God chose you and me for salvation, but He did so before the sixth day of creation. At that time, God had not yet created even Adam and Eve, so how could you or I have possibly chosen ourselves to be saved at that time? Paul could not have made it any more clear than this, that it is God who does the choosing, not us.

Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Commentary: This is the concluding statement in the parable of the wedding banquet found in Matthew 22:1-14, where Jesus is talking about what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. In that parable, the King cast out of the wedding hall the “many” who came but did not have on the proper wedding attire. Everyone, “both bad and good”, had been invited and brought to the wedding banquet, but these had not been “chosen.” Only the “few” who had been chosen were properly attired and allowed to stay and participate in the festivities. And what was the fate of the others? “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’, vs. 13. So, who did the choosing, the King or the guests? You decide.

Luke 10:22 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father. And no one knows who the Son is but the Father, and who the Father is but the Son and he to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.”

Commentary: Jesus reveals the Father to only those to whom He desires to reveal Him. Obviously, then, He does not desire to reveal Him to the others. It is Jesus who chooses, not the chosen.

John 1:12 “Yet to all who received Him, He gave the power to become sons of God, to those who believed in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Commentary: Here, John is speaking about those who have been “born again” (from above), the true believers. He says that they were born (again) not of the will of man, but of the will of God. And, who is it that gave them the power to become sons of God? It was God, of course. So, who did the choosing, the born-again person or God? You decide.

John 6:44-45, 65 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘They shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and has learned of the Father comes to Me.” Then He said, “For this reason I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it were given him by My Father.”

Commentary: This is, perhaps, the single most instructive passage on this topic in the Bible. Jesus states clearly that no one can be saved unless God the Father draw (literally, drag) him to Jesus, giving him saving faith. And He says that everyone who is taught by God and learns from the Father, and is, thus, drawn to Jesus, will be saved, everyone. So, whose will is being exercised here, the man’s natural, misaligned (fallen) will or God’s sovereign will? You decide.

John 10:26-27 “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

Commentary: Here, Jesus is referring to those given to Him by the Father (John 10:29; John 18:9) as “My sheep.” And, He states clearly that the reason the others (i.e., “the Jews”) do not believe is not because they heard what He said and chose not to believe it, but because they are not among those (already) given to Him by the Father, who hear His voice and follow Him. So, who is it who believes the Gospel, the one who chooses of his own, misaligned will to believe it, or the one whom God has chosen to be among those given to Jesus as His sheep? You decide.

Acts 2:38-39 “Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Commentary: How many will be saved?  Not all, but only as many as the Lord our God will call. And who will decide which ones will be called? The Lord our God. Note that it does not say, “As many as call themselves will be saved.” God does the calling; we do not call ourselves.

Acts 13:48 “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And all who were ordained to eternal life believed.”

Commentary: Note the order of things here. All of those who were (already) “ordained to eternal life” (i.e., chosen to be saved) believed. They did not qualify themselves for salvation by using their misaligned (fallen), will to choose to believe the Gospel, but God had already chosen them for salvation before they believed it. Note that it does not say, “And all who chose to believe were thereby ordained to eternal life”, as many today believe it happens. So, who did the choosing, the Gentiles or God? You decide.

Acts 18:27 “When Apollos intended to pass into Achaia, the brothers wrote to encourage the disciples to welcome him. On arriving, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace.”

Commentary: How had the Achaians believed? It was through grace (a gift from God), not through a choice made by their misaligned (fallen) will. You decide.

Romans 9:16 “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.”

Commentary: Paul is speaking here of the purpose of God according to “election” (i.e., His choosing) of whom He will save, using God’s election of Israel as an illustration of His election. Read on past vs. 16 and you will see that personal salvation is the main topic here. So, he is saying here that one does not choose himself to be saved, but, rather, that God is the one who chooses on whom He will have mercy by saving them. You decide.

Ephesians 1:11-12 “In Him also we have received an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His own will, that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, should live for the praise of His glory.”

Commentary: Here again, Paul is speaking of personal salvation. He says that we were predestined for salvation according to the purpose of His own will, not our natural, misaligned (fallen) will. I must conclude, then, that it is not we who decide of our own misaligned will to be saved, but that we are saved because God asserts His own will to save us. You decide.

Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one should boast.”

Commentary: This verse speaks of grace and faith in relation to salvation. Now, if salvation is a gift of God, then the means of obtaining it, grace and faith, must also be gifts of God. Otherwise, salvation would be of ourselves, and this verse states clearly that it “is not of yourselves.” So, we cannot, in effect, save ourselves by exercising our misaligned will. If we could, then salvation would no longer be a gift to us, but a prize for making the right choice. You decide.

Philippians 2:13 “For God is the One working in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure.”

Commentary: The relevance of this verse to the matter at hand is that it speaks of God working to influence our misaligned (fallen) will in order to realign it with His will. This is the same process that Jesus was referring to when He said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). God first works outside of us to realign our will so that we finally come all the way to Jesus willingly, and then He works within us to keep our realigned will fixed on persevering in our faith to the “end” (Matthew 10:22). You decide.

 

I find it instructive to note that, in all of my searching the Scriptures, I did not find even one instance where the Bible says, unequivocally, that anyone chose or chooses to believe in Jesus. The actual wording used almost always is “believe”, “believes” or “believed”, not “chose” or “chooses” to believe. Even in Revelation 22:17, where the Bible says, “Let him who desires take the water of life freely”, no mention is made of how he got to the point where it is his desire (or, will) to partake of the water of life, whereas, as we have seen elsewhere, that was not his will to begin with. To my knowledge, wherever the Bible speaks clearly and directly to this point, it is always God, not man, who does the choosing. You decide.

My Conclusions: I found the biblical evidence presented above to be sufficiently persuasive to conclude that God chooses whom He will save, and that, in order to save us, He influences our fallen, natural will to bring it into alignment with His sovereign will to save us (John 6:39-40). Moreover, in exerting His influence to realign our will to agree with His will regarding our response to the Gospel, we apparently retain our freedom to make decisions in accordance with our realigned will. God does not save us against our will. To what extent, then, that our free will is really free throughout this process is probably a matter of perception. Personally, I am deeply grateful that God did not leave me languishing without God and without hope in this world, due to the fallen, natural, misaligned will that I inherited from Adam. During this investigation, I became convinced that, without sovereign grace, there would be no grace at all for me!

Is God being unfair? When I first came to believe that it is God, not us, who decides who will be saved, I, like many before me, found it difficult to believe that the God of the Bible would do the choosing, because that seemed unthinkably unfair to the ones not chosen. In fact, a friend of mine once declared, “I’m not sure I could believe in such a God!” So, let’s step back for a moment or two and consider whether or not the God of the Bible is, in fact, the kind of God who would do such a seemingly unfair thing. Let’s recall that the God of the Bible is the God who 1) drowned the entire human race, save eight, with a flood, 2) ordered all of the inhabitants of the Promised Land slain so that God’s chosen people, the Israelites, could take their land away from them, 3) sacrificed the life of His only begotten, innocent Son on a cruel cross so that we, the ones who deserved to die, could have eternal life, 4) struck Ananias and Sapphira dead for lying about a free-will offering, and 5) made no provision whatsoever for salvation for anyone (past, present or future) who lives and dies without any opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Does any of that seem fair to you, from a purely human perspective? You see, the problem here is that we try to understand God from a human perspective rather than a heavenly perspective, and doing that will, more often than not, lead us to false assumptions and conclusions about God, such as “That would be cruel and unfair!” The God of the Bible operates in each and every way that the Bible says He does, and it is not ours to pass judgment on those divine operations. “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable are His ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” (Romans 11:33-34). And, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

Furthermore, anyone who finds it too difficult to believe that the God of the Bible would do the choosing of whom He will save – because that seems unthinkably unfair to the ones not chosen – must, in all truth, deal honestly with Romans 9:6-18, which speaks plainly, directly and decisively to this very issue: “It is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel, nor are they all children because they are descendants of Abraham, but “In Isaac shall your descendants be called.” So those who are the children of the flesh are not the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid! 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 is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and He hardens whom He wills.” From a human perspective, this is indeed a hard saying, but from God’s perspective, it is the “Gospel truth.” So, I had to decide whether or not I would take God at His word or try to find a way to explain this passage away. I chose to take God at His word and believe it.

So, let’s not forget that He is God and we are not! He can work His plan of salvation any way He chooses; after all, “Salvation belongs to the Lord. Your blessing is on Your people. Selah” (Psalm 3:8). Ours is only to read the Word, understand what it says, and believe it, even if we would not choose to do it His way. That’s how I see it, anyway. Besides, if God were to treat us all with fairness, instead of grace, then all would perish, because “…all have sinned…” (Romans 3:23) and “…the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). No one deserves to be saved; it is a gift of God, who declares, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:15). “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3).

Is Free Will Sovereign? Finally, I want to address a presently popular, contrary view of the mechanics of salvation, one to which I formerly subscribed. The argument goes something like this: God knows all things, including “the end from the beginning.” Therefore, God knows in advance who will and who won’t believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be saved. So, where the Bible speaks of God “choosing” who will be saved, it really means that God has agreed in advance to include in the company of His “elect” (i.e., His “chosen”) those who freely chose, of their own volition, to believe the Gospel. In other words, God “chooses” only those who have first chosen Him, making “free will”, rather than God’s will, the deciding factor. This view also posits that, just as a man is saved by virtue of a “free will” choice to accept the Gospel, one may also, using that same “free will”, choose to deny Christ and lose his salvation.  Such a view of the mechanics of salvation, if true, would preserve, uncompromised and undiminished, the gift of “free will” granted to all mankind from the beginning and would exonerate God from any wrongdoing in condemning to hell those who reject the Gospel; they would simply be suffering the consequences of their own wrong choice, for which they alone are responsible. Moreover, this view would put a man in charge of his own eternal destiny, an idea that can have immense appeal to one whose fallen nature is to rebel against God and to be in charge of his own destiny, both temporal and eternal.

I have rejected this view of the mechanics of salvation for several reasons: 1) it postulates a view of fallen man that does not square with the overwhelming weight of the direct and to-the-point biblical witness; 2) it does not explain what it is that influences the will of one man to choose to accept the Gospel, while another is not influenced similarly and rejects it (to invoke “free will” here explains nothing, because both men had the same “free will;” 3) there is little or no direct, objective, biblical evidence supporting it; 4) the Bible makes it very clear that it is God, not man, who does both the choosing and the keeping; and 5) the Bible says very clearly what it means and means what it clearly says about the mechanics of salvation (I do not believe the Holy Spirit would leave the wrong impression about such an important issue). I strongly suspect that this view has gained so much in popularity because, if true, it would preserve, uncompromised and undiminished, the gift of “free will” granted to all mankind from the beginning (thus appealing to the pride and ego of fallen man), and because it would exonerate God from any appearance of wrongdoing (from a human perspective) in condemning to hell those who reject the Gospel (thus making it easier to believe). In my opinion, this view is essentially a well-meaning, human invention that attempts to perform an end run around the clear biblical witness to make the Gospel seem more attractive and easier to believe.

That said, let me draw your attention to a passage of Scripture that speaks directly and definitively to this creative, but erroneous in my opinion, view of the mechanics of salvation. You can find it in Romans 9:1-18.  Paul is speaking here of the purpose of God according to “election” (i.e., His choosing) of whom He will save, using God’s election of Israel as an illustration of His election. Read on past vs. 16 and you will see that personal salvation is the main topic. Now consider specifically Romans 9:16, where Paul states the key point that he is making about who does the choosing, Man or God (Keep in mind here that, in context, “it” refers to “election”, the choosing of who will be saved): “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” Did you catch it? The choosing of who will be saved does not depend on “him who wills” (i.e., the one who is to be saved), but on God, according to His choice of whom He will show mercy. So, this one verse, by itself, destroys the notion that God simply “chooses” to save only those who He already knows will choose Him, when it says that “…it is not of him who wills…” But, Paul didn’t stop there. So that no one can claim that this mechanism of “election” applies only to the Jews, he declared that it applies to, “…even us, whom He has called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles (Romans 9:24).” Paul could not have made it any more clear than this!

(To read more of my articles on biblical topics, click HERE.)

On “Falling Away”

Jesus Rescues Sheep

On “Falling Away”

James R. Aist

“I never knew you.” – Jesus (Matthew 7:23)

“Falling away” (and its variants) is a term found several times in the New Testament to denote the abandoning of one’s Christian faith and/or practice. It is routinely used as biblical evidence that a Christian may abandon his faith and forfeit his salvation. But, is the mention of falling away really evidence of such a spiritual disaster, or could it be an indication of something far less devastating or even a blessing?

To “rightly divide the word of God” on this matter, I believe that we must first understand that the apparent make-up of the “church” includes both those who are truly born again and those who only appear (to us) to be born again. This was true of the New Testament church as well: Jesus used the Parable of the Sower to teach that some who heard and received the Gospel would later “fall away” when persecution came (Matthew 13:21 and Mark 4:17). With this in mind, we can begin to understand why so many “churchgoers” today seem to be born again and on their way to heaven, only to, later on, deny Christ and forfeit their salvation? I believe that the Bible provides us the answer to this question, if we are willing and able to accept it.

Jesus said, “I know My sheep…” (John 10:27) and also “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonderful works in Your name?’ But then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice evil’” (Matthew 7:22-23). In other words, these churchgoers were not among His “sheep” (i.e., those whom the Father had given to Him), and so, He never knew them (i.e., they were not really born again). John declared a similar condition of the “antichrists” that left their fellowship when he wrote, “They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us. But they went out, revealing that none of them were of us” (1 John 2:19). The writer of Hebrews also expresses this same understanding of the two categories of “churchgoers”: “Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:38-39).” He is speaking here of those among the churchgoers who have saving faith and persevere as opposed to those who do not have saving faith and draw back (i.e., fall away). Only those who are born again have saving faith and endure to the end. Finally, in His parable about the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1-14), Jesus is talking about what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. In that parable, the King cast out of the wedding hall the “many” that came, but did not have on the proper wedding attire. Everyone, “both bad and good”, had been invited and brought to the wedding banquet, but these had not been “chosen.” Only the “few” who had been chosen were properly attired and allowed to stay and participate in the festivities. Once again, we see two categories of people – those who had been chosen (born again) and those who had not – all attending the same “church gathering.” Taken together, these passages all point to the Kingdom of Heaven (i.e., the churchgoers) as being comprised of both truly saved, born-again believers and unsaved, non-believers who are not born again though they may appear to be. We cannot know, with certainty, the one from the other unless they “fall away.” Then we can know for sure that they were not truly one of us and that they were not really born again, because, if they had been, then they would not have left us (1 John 2:19). Thus, those who only appear to be born again will seem to fall away and, thereby, they will appear to have forfeited their salvation. However, people cannot forfeit what they never really had, can they?

There is another scenario in which one may appear to have “fallen away” when, in fact they may not have. (This is an important distinction that merits our serious consideration.) This scenario is what we usually refer to these days as “backsliding.” When a truly born-again Christian stops attending church and begins to live as though he is not a believer, we may say that he has “backslidden”, because of the blatant disobedience to God that has become evident in his life style. And we would be accurate in saying that. But a backslidden person has not necessarily also denied Christ in his heart and thus revoked his salvation. Perhaps he has become, just for a season, a “carnal Christian,” and will soon begin living like a believer once again, having never denied Christ in his heart. Such a person would be like the one sheep who went astray out of 100 in the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:3-6); this one sheep still belonged to the man, even while he was astray for a while. Furthermore, we must not forget that even born-again believers still sin, and God has given us the remedy: confession with repentance (1 John 1:8-10).

Finally, there are several Scriptures that warn against “falling away”, and many people have taken them to imply that a born-again believer may, in fact, reject and abandon his saving faith and lose his salvation. At first glance, there may seem to be no other way to explain why such warnings appear in the New Testament.  But, in my view, those who reach such a conclusion are asking the wrong question. I doubt that anyone denies that the one who perseveres in the faith to “the end” will be saved.  The telling question, however, is “Who keeps him in the faith to the end, the saved person or the God who saved him? When one takes into account what the Bible teaches about how God draws unbelievers to Jesus to save them in the first place (John 6:44), a more biblically consistent and entirely plausible explanation then comes to light. As we know, God uses the preaching and teaching of the Gospel (including both the “bad news” about the wages of sin being an eternity of torment in hell and the “good news” about forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ) to bring unbelievers to saving faith (Romans 10:14-15). That being so, why, then, would He not use similar preaching and teaching as helps to preserve their saving faith “to the end”? I submit that it should, therefore, come as no surprise that there are several Scriptures that warn against “falling away.” In fact, I would be surprised if the New Testament did not include such warnings.

(To read more of my articles on biblical topics, click HERE.)

Spiritual Encounters with God: Visions and Voices

Spiritual Encounters with God: Visions and Voices

James R. Aist

‘In the last days it shall be,’ says God, ‘that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” – Acts 2:17

Introduction

Everyone who has been “born again” has the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, living in them (click HERE). I am convinced, therefore, that all true Christians have had, and continue to have, spiritual encounters with God, even if they are not accustomed to recognizing them as such. Here are some examples. When, at your “conversion”, God replaces your spiritually dead human spirit with a new spirit from God – one that is spiritually alive – you have just had a miraculous spiritual encounter with God! When you are reading the Bible and a verse of Scripture seems to leap off the page and drop a new insight or revelation into your spirit, you have just had a spiritual encounter with God. And, when you sense a “leading” to pray for a specific need, you do so, and you see the answer to your prayer materialize “against all odds”, you have had a spiritual encounter with God.

In John 5:24, Jesus says, “Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has eternal life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death into life.” This series is an important part of my life testimony. It consists of a number of uncommon encounters with God, comprising different spiritual experiences I have had over a time span of 63 years, so far. I will describe and interpret each encounter as best I can, but feel free to take issue with any of them as you like. However, as you are reading, please keep in mind that God interacts with each of His born-again children however He chooses, and one’s lack of a corresponding spiritual encounter with God does not rule out the validity of another’s. Acts 2:17 says,” ‘In the last days it shall be,’ says God, ‘that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” We are still in the “last days”, my friends.

Visions

For some reason, my spiritual encounters with God have usually taken the form of visions. Before I get into the specific visions, let me clarify how I experience them. The closest thing I can compare them to is what we commonly refer to as a “daydream.” With a daydream, one does not fall asleep as with a common night “dream.” Rather, while awake, one’s conscious awareness shifts away from the present situation to another situation that occupies one’s mind temporarily. In this context, then, the visions to which I refer here were experienced as if they were “daydreams from God.”

A Conversion Vision. I passed from spiritual death into eternal life in Christ in 1953, when I was eight years old. My new birth was accompanied by my first spiritual encounter with God, during a revival meeting (click HERE for the full account). On the second night, when the evangelist began to preach, I found myself listening intently to what he was saying; it was as if he was talking to me, personally. He didn’t deliver a “hell fire and brimstone” message at all that night. Instead, he focused on how God loves me so much that he sent His only Son, Jesus, to sacrifice his life for my sins by dying on the cross for me. As he was explaining just how amazing such a love is, I had a vision. I first saw something like a dense fog or cloud that parted in the middle, then a soft and diffuse light appeared, and then I heard a voice say to me something like, “What he is saying is true. You can depend on it. Believe it and do not depart from it, no matter what.” Then the vision faded away, and I was so excited that I could hardly wait for the invitation to come forward and confirm what had just happened: God had saved me through a glorious vision and message from heaven that validated to me, beyond any doubt, the evangelist’s message of God’s love for me that night!

The Handwriting on the Wall. I was forty years of age when this vision came to me. It was springtime,1985. One Sunday morning I began to pray earnestly, asking God what He wanted me to do with the rest of my life. Just four days later, in the middle of the night, I was awakened suddenly and sat straight up in bed, aware of the presence in the room of a “spirit being.” By this time I had enough Bible knowledge (e.g., 1 John 4:1) to say to it, “Who are you?” There was no verbal answer, but something bright appeared on the wall to the left. So, I looked in that direction and saw, in large, bright, bold lettering, a Scripture reference: “DANIEL 9: 22…” Then the handwriting slowly faded away. Having made note of the writing on the wall, I lay back down and went back to sleep. Now, up until then, I had virtually no idea what was in the book of Daniel, except for the story of “Daniel in the Lions’ Den.” So, the next morning, with the aid of a study guide, I studied the book of Daniel through twice, and I found out that Chapter 9 is often referred to as the “backbone of Bible prophecy”, because it predicted to the day when Jesus would make His triumphal entry into Jerusalem! As a result of that vision, I became a student of the Bible then and there, no longer just a casual and occasional reader of it.

The Love of God. It was a Saturday morning in the late 1980s, and I lay in bed for a few minutes before getting up for the day. Because of a praise song that was playing in my mind, my thoughts turned to the amazing love that God has for us. Then I saw a vision representing, in crystal-clear graphic form, the love of God. It was like a rainbow, but perfectly straight. I was impressed by how pure and absolutely unchanging and constant was this beautiful, “Technicolor” beam of light. After what seemed like 5-10 seconds, the vision vanished. Then I realized that God had just shown me what His love is like, in a vision!

Christ in Us. In May, 2007, I was listening to a really good teaching on how God sees Christ in us, and the question occurred to me, “What does that actually look like?” Then, in a vision, I saw a group of about 6-8 people standing in a dimly lit space. I didn’t see their physical, exterior bodies, but each had a kind of spiritual body in human form, translucent and grayish, with defined eyes, kind of ghost-like, but not scary. Then I noticed that a couple of them had taken on a soft glow, which radiated gently from their entire body and set them apart, visually, from the others. When the vision was over, I realized that this vision was the answer to my question: God sees a glow in the believers, because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in them, and that glow is, in effect, a manifestation of Christ in them.

The House Rebuilt. It was the Summer of 2007, and I was listening to the pastor teach about how, when we are saved, God makes all things new. He began with an illustration of a construction site that he had observed over the course of several months, in which an old house was being rebuilt both inside, room by room, and out. His point was that that’s what God wants to do with our lives. Then a vision came to me. I saw a construction site, but, instead of leaving the skeletal framework of the house standing and rebuilding from there, the workers had demolished and removed everything, and had begun to rebuild on a brand new foundation. When the vision ended, I understood that this is a better illustration of how God wants to rebuild our lives: totally, from the ground up, beginning with a new foundation! “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17.

The Baby in Jesus’ Hands. This is a prophetic vision. In 2015, my daughter began chemotherapy for breast cancer, to be followed with surgery. I shared my belief with her that God was going to carry her through this ordeal and bring her out on the other side fully healed and restored, and she agreed with me. One morning, not long after the chemotherapy began, I was thinking about her situation, and I had a vision. I saw two outstretched hands holding a baby wrapped in a white cloth. At first, I was puzzled by this vision. Why did it come to me at such a time? Then, suddenly, I understood what it meant: We have nothing to worry about, because Jesus has my daughter safely in His hands, and He has since she was a newborn. The vision confirmed what we were believing; that she is going to beat the cancer! By the way, my daughter is now cancer-free, to the glory of God.

The Hand of Jesus. I received this vision May 3, 2017. I was reflecting on the great difficulty many Christians have in trusting God fully. Then I saw the hand of Jesus extended down from heaven: I don’t ask you to let go of your worldly attachments and then reach up and try to take My hand. No, first reach up and take My hand and hold on tight, and I will never let go. Put all of your trust in Me. Then you can let go of the things of this world that you have been clinging to instead of Me. I am your security and your destiny. There is no other.

Voices

God spoke directly to many of the Old Testament saints, including Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel and David. He also spoke directly to Peter, Paul and John. I have heard reliable testimony of God speaking directly to many of our contemporaries. And, on four occasions that I can recall, I have heard the voice of God speak directly to me.

Let me explain exactly what I mean when I say “I heard the voice of God speak.” We all form our own thoughts inside our minds, and we register them in our minds and recognize them as just common, ordinary thoughts of internal origin. Thoughts that we hear spoken by someone else, however, are registered and recognized as “audible” words received through our ears and conveyed to our minds from outside of our own minds. Then there are the written thoughts of others that we read into our minds. When I say I heard God speak to me, I am referring to words that are spoken directly into my mind without being first received by my eyes or my ears. These words register in my mind as clearly as do words that are audible, but I don’t “hear” them in the common sense of the term, and I don’t mentally manufacture them as I do my own thoughts. They are just suddenly there, as if they came out of nowhere, and they are very clear and rather loud as they register in my mind. I strongly suspect that they originate with the Holy Spirit residing in me. Here are the four that I can recall:

1) “What he is saying is true. You can depend on it. Believe it and do not depart from it, no matter what.” As recorded above, under “Visions”, this is the spoken message I received during a vision that came to me when God saved me. It is self-explanatory.

2) “Without God, you are nothing.” God spoke this to me during a worship service. There was nothing going on in the service that would have triggered me to manufacture this thought on my own; it seemed to be unrelated to the immediate context. I took this to be a terse and sobering reminder of who God is in relation to who I am, and a warning against operating with a spirit of pride;

3) “Stop criticizing!” I received this message from God while I was driving my car and trying to drive also the cars of other motorists in my vicinity, if you know what I mean. I took it to be a direct command for me quit operating with a spirit of criticism; and

4) “You don’t have to live like that.” God told me this while I was at home one day, feeling bad about caving in to a temptation yet again. The devil had been telling me that, based on the recent past, I had no reason to expect to have victory over this sin going forward. But God had a word of encouragement for me: Do not believe the devil, but go ahead and overcome this “besetting sin” in your life. That’s the amplified, paraphrased, James version anyway.

If you ponder the nature of the messages in these four encounters for a moment, you will see that they are all the kind of message that the God of the Bible, through the Holy Spirit, would want to get across to one of His sons. To me, that is at least consistent with the conclusion that they were, in fact, words from God, and I received them as such.

I have recorded these encounters with God so that you will know that God is still interacting personally with His living elect and to encourage you to be alert and quick to recognize some of the ways that God initiates personal encounters with you, for your edification.

(To read more of my bible-based articles, click HERE)

A Homosexuality DICTIONARY for Born-again Christians

English: Gender symbols, sexual orientation: h...

A Homosexuality DICTIONARY for Born-again Christians

James R. Aist

Introduction

The homosexual movement is advancing by way of a massive and ongoing propaganda campaign, fueled by the liberal media, to win over the hearts and minds of the heterosexual majority to their cause, the “gay agenda” (click HERE). One of the strategies employed by gay activists is to control the definitions of key words and terms so that their “gay agenda” can be convincingly marketed to the general public, including born-again Christians (click HERE). A few examples of this strategy should help to illustrate more clearly what I’m talking about: 1) the term “homosexual” is defined by gay activists as a person’s identity, thus making it seem, by definition, that disapproval of homosexuality is a personal attack on who they are, rather than merely disapproval of what they do sexually; 2) a homosexual person who has been substantially transformed to heterosexual but has even the slightest, residual recurrence of same-sex attractions is still identified as “homosexual” by gay activists, rendering it impossible, by definition, for them to ever be seen as the truly “ex-homosexual” or “straight” people they have become (click HERE); and 3) a male pedophile who abuses children of the same gender is categorized by gay activists as a heterosexual pedophile if he has ever had sex with an adult female, regardless of whether or not he also has had sex with adult men, making it appear, by definition, that there are no homosexual pedophiles, and thus, that there is no link between homosexuality and pedophilia (click HERE).

In order to counteract this self-serving “name game” employed by gay activists, and to help born-again Christians navigate intelligently the rhetoric of the homosexuality debate, I have developed a new a set of definitions that more accurately reflects the realities of homosexuality from a more “biblically correct” — as opposed to a “politically correct” — point of view.

Many of the new definitions I propose here may seem, at first glance, to be virtually equivalent to the old ones, but, in practice they are really quite different. Please be sure to read the ADDENDUM for a further explanation of these distinctions.

The Definitions

PERSONAL IDENTITY

Person: a human being. God does not categorize people as “heterosexuals” or “homosexuals”. He sees us as human beings created in His image and dearly loved. This is our true identity. What people do sexually is not really who they are. Although we are all sinners, we are so strongly loved by Him that He offered His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die for us, in order to reconcile us to Himself. No one is outside the scope of His love.

SEXUALITY

Heterosexuality: Refers to the condition of wanting to have sex with human beings of the opposite gender.

Homosexuality: Refers to the condition of wanting to have sex with human beings of the same gender.

Bisexuality: Refers to the condition of wanting to have sex with members of both the opposite gender and the same gender.

SEXUAL PERSONS

Heterosexual person: A human being who wants to have sex with members of the opposite gender.

Ex-heterosexual person: A human being who used to want to have, and is not having, sex with members of the opposite gender. Whether or not they still have some opposite-sex attractions is not determinative; this is about choice of sexual behavior (see ADDENDUM).

Homosexual person: A human being who wants to have sex with members of the same gender.

Ex-homosexual person: A human being who used to want to have, and is not having, sex with members of the same gender. Whether or not they still have some same-sex attractions is not determinative; this is about choice of sexual behavior (see ADDENDUM).

Bisexual person: A human being who wants to have sex with members of both the opposite gender and the same gender.

Ex-bisexual person: A human being who used to want to have, and is not having, sex with members of both the opposite gender and the same gender. Whether or not they still have some bisexual attractions is not determinative; this is about choice of sexual behavior (see ADDENDUM).

ORIENTATIONS

Sexual orientation: Refers to the gender (opposite, same or both) with which a human being wants to have sex.

Heterosexual orientation: Wanting to have sex with members of the opposite gender.

Homosexual orientation: Wanting to have sex with members of the same gender.

Bisexual Orientation: Wanting to have sex with members of both the opposite and the same gender.

ATTRACTIONS

Sexual attractions: Refers to the sexual feelings or desires or urges of a human being toward members of  the opposite gender and/or the same gender.

Opposite-sex attractions: Refers to the sexual feelings or desires or urges of a human being toward members of the opposite gender. If such attractions are toward a person other than your spouse, then they are temptations to sin sexually, in any context.

Same-sex attractions: Refers to the sexual feelings or desires or urges of a human being toward members of the same gender. These attractions are always temptations to sin sexually, in any context.

Bisexual Attractions: Refers to the sexual feelings or desires or urges of a human being toward members of both the opposite and the same genders. These dual attractions are temptations to sin, in any context.

PEDOPHILIA

Pedophile: An adult human being who wants to have sex with children. Such a person has two sexual orientations; one toward the gender of the victims (gender based) and another toward children (age based) (click HERE).

Heterosexual pedophile: An adult human being who wants to have sex with children of the opposite gender.

Homosexual pedophile: An adult human being who wants to have sex with children of the same gender.

Bisexual pedophile: An adult human being who wants to have sex with children of both genders.

PRACTICING SEXUALITY

Biblical marriage: a lifelong, exclusive commitment between one man and one woman. There is no other valid kind of marriage (click HERE).

Practicing heterosexual: A human being who is having sex with a member/members of the opposite gender. Outside of the bounds of biblical marriage, this is always sexual sin, in any context (click HERE).

Practicing homosexual: A human being who is having sex with a member/members of the same gender. This is always sexual sin, in any context (click HERE).

Practicing bisexual: A human being who is having sex with members of both genders. This is always sexual sin, in any context.

Practicing pedophile: An adult human being who is having sex with children. This is always sexual sin, in any context (click HERE).

NAMING AND CLAIMING

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Jesus (Matthew 5:10-12)

Anti-gay: a misleading charge used by gay activists to attach a negative label to anything a born-again Christian says that opposes the “gay agenda.” We are anti-sin (of all kinds) and pro-people (of all kinds). It is a blessing to be called “anti-gay” by a gay activist.

Bigot: a born-again Christian who steadfastly refuses to deny anything that the Bible says about homosexuality. It is a blessing to be called a “bigot” by a gay activist.

Born that way: a hoax perpetrated by gay activists to gain sympathy and support for the “gay agenda.” Homosexual people develop homosexually post partum, due, primarily, to “environmental” influences; no one is “born that way” (click HERE).

Cherry picker: a born-again Christian who realizes and understands that only the moral laws of the Old Testament (along with the moral laws of the New Testament) are binding today (click HERE). It is a blessing to be called a “cherry picker” by a gay activist.

Created that way: slander against the God of the Bible. God does not tempt anyone to sin by creating them homosexual (click HERE).

Fundie: a born-again Christian who refuses to deny anything that the Bible says about homosexuality. It is a blessing to be called a “fundie” by a gay activist.

Gay bashing: a false charge used by gay activists to attach a negative label to anything a born-again Christian says that opposes the “gay agenda.” We bash sin, lies and pretense, but not people. It is a blessing to be accused of “gay bashing” by a gay activist.

Gay “marriage”: a fantasy created by gay activists in a vain attempt to confer dignity and pride to homosexual couples. According to the God of the Bible, there is no such thing as “gay marriage” (click HERE).

Hate: a false charge used by gay activists to attach a negative label to anything a born-again Christian says that opposes the “gay agenda.” We hate sin, not people. It is a blessing to be accused of “hate” by a gay activist.

Homophobe: a charge used by gay activists to attach a negative label to a born-again Christian who says anything that opposes the “gay agenda.” We’re not afraid of homosexuality; we just don’t like sin. It is a blessing to be called a “homophobe” by a gay activist.

Homosexuality is immutable: a hoax perpetrated by gay activists to gain sympathy and support for the “gay agenda.” Numerous studies have shown that both religiously and secularly mediated change in sexual orientation occurs in highly motivated, dissatisfied homosexuals at success rates of around 25%-30%, which is comparable to the success rates generally achieved by therapists and counselors for treatment of psychological disorders and behavioral problems, such as alcoholism (click HERE).

Hypocrite: a charge used by gay activists in a vain attempt to convince born-again Christians that they are not qualified to weigh in on homosexual matters. It is a blessing to be called a “hypocrite” by a gay activist.

Liar: a charge used by gay activists to attach a negative label to any born-again Christian who speaks out against the “gay agenda.” It is a blessing to be called a “liar” by a gay activist.

Love: Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. To a gay activist, love means you hold up a mirror in front of someone and help them like whatever they see. It is a blessing to be called “unloving” by a gay activist.

After Word

Above all, let us be quick to treat homosexual people with respect and dignity and to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. And may we not let our hearts become darkened with hatred towards homosexual people, just because we hate their homosexual lifestyle. As the Apostle Paul said, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12).

ADDENDUM

Some may protest that “wants to have sex with”, as used here, is equivalent to “has same-sex attractions”, but the two are not interchangeable. While it is probably true that most consensual sex occurs between two people who find each other “sexually attractive”, a person may find someone to be sexually attractive without really wanting to have sex with them. Here are some examples to illustrate this point: 1) a teenage boy discovers that he is sexually attracted to men, but he doesn’t want to have sex with men because he wants to, instead, get married to a woman and father children; 2) a straight, married man who wants to have sex with his wife may see another woman, notice that she is “sexually attractive” and let it go at that, without wanting to actually have sex with her too; and 3) an ex-gay man who no longer wants to have sex with men may see a man, notice that he is sexually attractive and let it go at that, without wanting to actually have sex with him. Thus, people, whether they experience opposite-sex attractions or same-sex attractions, do not necessarily want to have sex with everyone they meet whom they find to be “sexually attractive.” And that is why “wants to have sex with” is not equivalent to “has same-sex attractions.”

(For more articles about HOMOSEXUALITY, click HERE)