Anglican Morning Devotion, 15 July 2021 Anno Domini
A Ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 5Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. 6Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. 7But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. 8Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 1:4-8; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Though they write many profit-producing works on the prophetic destinies of nations, the modern theologians struggle with the nature of God to know and control the personal destinies of individuals. It simply does not fit the ‘free will’ narrative of the modern dispensationalists. Though our Lord has said that the heart of man is only evil continually, the free-willer’s believe there to be a spark of goodness in the heart of men that enables them to awaken from the death of sin and turn to righteousness. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
(Genesis 6:5) But, clearly, the Bible teaches that man is spiritually dead in trespasses and sin – the dead cannot do anything at all to turn from their dormancy. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5) The branches of the true vine do not dictate the nature of the Vine, but must express the nature of the Vine. The Christian, if of a true heart, must reflect the image and qualities of the Lord Jesus Christ on whom they trust.
Who do you give credit for your salvation? Who called you forth, like Lazarus, from the tomb of your sin and damnation? “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:1-2) Can the dead resurrect themselves, or was it the Voice of the Lord resounding down the corridors of Eternity that makes that call? “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us (made us alive) together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-6) This clearly states that salvation is an act of the grace of God and not of any personal effort of the sinner.
To quote the great preacher of old, Matthew Henry: “And here is the order of the causes of our salvation, a golden chain, one which cannot be broken. 1. Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. All that God designed for glory and happiness as the end, he decreed to grace and holiness as the way. The whole human race deserved destruction; but for reasons not perfectly known to us, God determined to recover some by regeneration and the power of his grace. He predestinated, or before decreed, that they should be conformed to the image of his Son. In this life they are in part renewed, and walk in his steps. 2. Whom he did predestinate, them he also called. It is an effectual call, from self and earth to God, and Christ, and heaven, as our end; from sin and vanity to grace and holiness, as our way. This is the gospel call.” (see also Romans 8:28)
God knew Jeremiah while yet unborn. He gave miraculous conception to Sarah and Hannah. But this is not a strange thing because He knew each of us before we were ever conceived, and every conception of a child is the miraculous work of the Lord. He knew us before the worlds were made, and called to His bosom those whom He chose from among all living souls of the world. “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: 5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:4-6) Such verses as this create an awkward silence among those for whom they are ‘inconvenient’ to propose salvation is of the will of man and not of God. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John 15:16)
To quote a final verse shared to me recently by my friend, the Rev. Stephen Cooper of Alaska: “As many as received him [Jesus Christ], to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, NOT OF BLOOD (capitals added), nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13) It was the will of God, not a presumed free-will in bondage to sin, that called us to God.