Jefferson Bethke, the writer and creator of Why I hate religion but love Jesus has come out with another video - Sex, Marriage & Fairytales - which addresses some of the most pervasive problems in the church and it comes just in time for the release of Mark Driscoll’s new #1 New York Times Best Seller, Real Marriage.
By John MacArthur at GTY.org
“I pray that … you may know what is the hope of [God’s] calling” (Eph. 1:18).
In Ephesians 1:3-14 Paul proclaims the blessings of our salvation. In verse 18 he prays that we will comprehend those great truths, which he summarizes in the phrase “the hope of His calling.” “Calling” here refers to God’s effectual calling—the calling that redeems the soul. Scripture speaks of two kinds of calling: the gospel or general call and the effectual or specific call. The gospel call is given by men and is a universal call to repent and trust Christ for salvation (e.g., Matt. 28:19; Acts 17:30-31). It goes out to all sinners but not all who hear it respond in faith.
The effectual call is given by God only to the elect. By it He speaks to the soul, grants saving faith, and ushers elect sinners into salvation (John 6:37-44, 65;Acts 2:39). All who receive it respond in faith.
The hope that your effectual calling instills is grounded in God’s promises and Christ’s accomplishments (1 Pet. 1:3), and is characterized by confidently expecting yet patiently waiting for those promises to be fulfilled. It is your hope of final glorification and of sharing God’s glory when Christ returns (Col. 3:4). It is a source of strength and stability amid the trials of life (1 Pet. 3:14-15). Consequently it should fill you with joy (Rom. 5:2) and motivate you to godly living (1 John 3:3).
As you face this new day, do so with the confidence that you are one of God’s elect. He called you to Himself and will hold you there no matter what circumstances you face. Nothing can separate you from His love (Rom. 8:38- 39)!
Suggestions for Prayer:
- Thank God for the security of your salvation.
- Ask Him to impress on your heart the blessings and responsibilities of your calling.
- Live today in anticipation of Christ’s imminent return.
For Further Study:
Joshua’s call to lead Israel was not a call to salvation,but it illustrates some important principles for spiritual leadership. You might not see yourself as a spiritual leader, but you are important to those who look to you as an example of Christian character. Read Joshua 1:1-9 then answer these questions: 1. What were the circumstances of Joshua’s call (vv. 1-2)? 2. What promises did God make to him (vv. 3-6)? 3. What did God require of him (vv. 7-9)?
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,www.crossway.com.
I recently started the first book of my 2012 reading list (which is yet to be fully compiled). I’m not much of a reader when it comes to books other than the Bible but this year I’ve resolved to read 15 books. I’ll be Skyping with a good buddy of mine soon to determine what those will be but one out of those 15 happens to be one of the best I’ve ever read and I’m only half way through it. It’s called The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges.
I won’t write much now on the book because I want to take it in its full context. I will say this, however, the book is absolutely convicting and has been one of the most helpful in understanding God’s holiness and why we must pursue it. I recommend this (or at least the first 7 chapters) to every young Christian who is wanting a deeper, more intimate understanding of who God is and how to pursue Him and His holiness.
Have you ever wondered why some Christians lose their joy on the journey in pursuit of God? Or why God just doesn’t interest them any more? Or why they seem to be more distant from church fellowship, Bible study or evangelism? They seem to lack enthusiasm about God and would rather talk about something else.
Maybe you are that Christian.
In many cases bondage to a particular sin or sins - to our sinful desires that we’ve not mortified or are not actively mortifying - is the reason why our joy on the journey in pursuit of God has withered thus quenching the desire from within us that longs for God ultimately laying waste to our spiritual lives leaving us in apathy and slothfulness.
Other times media is the culprit. You may experience seasons in your life where you put aside study and prayer in exchange for entertainment. You get into a habit of choosing daily to feed your flesh rather than your spirit ultimately adding ammunition to the side of ourselves, the old man as opposed to the new man, that is at war with our spirit.
Both of these will cause us to lose focus on what is most important, that is, to honor and glorify the all-knowing, all-gracious, all-satisfying God who sent His Son to die that you and I might have life and live it to further His kingdom and ultimately bring Him glory.
David after having been awakened to his sin against God said, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.” (Psalm 51:12-13)
We can conclude a few things with these two verses. The first thing to note is that David had lost his joy as a result of sin. He proclaimed “Restore to me the joy of your salvation” that is to say “give it back for I have lost it.” The word “restore” used in this passage is the Hebrew word shuwb which literally means to “return to.” David was in essence praying “return, give back, restore to me the joy of your salvation for You whom I have sinned against are the only one who can do so!”
It is then only after the joy of God’s salvation is restored that David says he will teach transgressors God’s ways ultimately reaping a harvest of new believers. When your joy is lost as a result of giving into sinful, flesh-satisfying desires, all enthusiasm for seeking out and witnessing to humanity becomes a shallow afterthought. We become so consumed with ourselves, our sin or the things around us, that we begin build walls of shame which hinder us from pursuing God and His kingdom.
If you have no joy on the journey in pursuit of God, examine yourself. Don’t go another day without seeking out the reason for this lost joy and ask God to restore to you joy, peace and soundness of mind and greater fervor for His desires, for His kingdom and ultimately for His glory.