Monday Minutes With Pastor Chris McCool (October 31, 2022)

Last week I shared the first part of an article by Elder Michael Ivey regarding the encouragement we find in the true gospel of grace. Today, I am posting the remaining part of the article. The doctrines of grace should be an encouragement to us as we face the spiritual battles of daily life!

May the Lord bless you is my prayer.

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor

Encouragement Through the Doctrines of Grace in Our Spiritual Warfare, Part 2

by Elder Michael Ivey

Considered in the whole, this unbreakable chain of principles contained in God’s covenant of redemption form the doctrinal basis for all the blessings the children of God will experience in this life and the life to come. The eternal implications are obvious. Eternal security is expressed in the all-inclusive aspect of the connectivity of each principle as: All God foreknew He predestinated; all He predestinated He called; all He called God justified; and all He justified He glorified. Thus, in number and personal identity all who are foreknown by God are glorified by Him. 

In addition to assurances of eternal security and future bliss, these same principles are the basis for all the blessings of salvation children of God may experience in this life.  An example of this is given us by Paul in regard to Abraham believing God.  In Romans 4 we find Abraham, “against hope, believed in hope.” (Romans 5:18).  The word against is pivotal in understanding Paul’s intention with this statement. It is from the Greek word  παρά para par-ah’ .  Its meanings include: on account of, in sight of, from, besides, at.  From this we understand Abraham leaned upon, or against his hope of eternal life and resurrection from the dead; which served to strengthen his faith that God was indeed able to perform what he promised concerning he and Sara conceiving. Therefore, by virtue of Abraham leaning against his hope of eternal life Paul concludes of the patriarch, “being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.” Romans 5:19-22)

Our introductory passage provides yet another example of what practical impact correct belief in the doctrines of grace can have on believer’s reactions in present troubles. It is apparent Paul mentioned God’s statement to Elijah to affirm the existence of Jew’s who despite having rejected the righteousness of God that is in Christ Jesus, are nevertheless numbered among the elect and were born again. This assertion is supported by the statement itself in that Paul identifies those he has in mind as “a remnant according to the election of grace.” It also indicates those to whom God originally alluded refused to worship Baal, presumably out of good conscience toward God. It is further supported by Paul’s later description of the circumstance of the Jews he has in mind; which is, “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.” (Romans 11:28) 

The comfort believers can receive from knowing God’s election of grace includes many others of whom we do not have personal knowledge is inferred from the occasion of God’s statement to Elijah. The prophet had fled from Jezebel, who threatened his life, and was hiding in a cave.  Clearly, he was afraid and in despair. In fact, the weight of his despair was so great Elijah asked God to take him. (See 1 Kings19:4) Furthermore, Elijah was feeling alone in his battle against the forces of evil (See 1 Kings 19:10) God addressed Elijah’s fear and lonely despair in three ways: 1. God indicated Elijah was not where God would have him and commanded he leave the cave. (See 1 Kings 19:9-11); 2. God told him of work he yet required Elijah to perform (See 1 Kings 19:15-17); and 3. God encouraged the prophet by revealing there were others previously unknown to Elijah who also opposed Baal worship, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” (1Kings 19:18) 

This last point reveals the remarkable encouragement children of God can experience from knowing and recalling fundamental doctrines of grace. Paul cited this passage to teach certain principles of election. He also used God’s statement to illustrate that we cannot with complete certainty judge by outward appearance who is not chosen of God in Christ and born again.  However, God first revealed these things to Elijah not for the purpose of teaching election per se. Rather, his immediate purpose was to encourage a struggling pilgrim and deliver him from crippling despair.  He did so by letting Elijah know; 1. He needed to get in a better place with God; 2. He still had work for Elijah to do; and, 3.The cause was not hopeless and neither was he alone in his battle against evil.

We do well to use the doctrines of grace to their dual purpose as revealed directly by God and also as He teaches through the Apostle Paul. We ought seek to understand them and so by knowledge and assurance become established in the hope of eternal life which they affirm. By knowing their details and principles, in times of distress, we then may recall them as encouraging reminders of the power of God and his great love for us; and so to stand. Thus, we can withstand whatever evil confronts us by facing it in fellowship with the sufferings of Christ and with confident expectation that the power of his resurrection, whether in life or by death, will prevail.