Because of his electing love, God effectually called us to himself through the gospel (Jude 1, “those who were called”). In doing so, he imparted his very life to us (regeneration), enabling us to exercise our repentance and “most holy faith” (Jude 20; cf. Acts 11:18; Heb 6:1). Whereas we had been stained by the flesh and could only expect the Lord to execute his judgment on us one day (Jude 14–15, 23), we were shown mercy, saved, and snatched from the fire (Jude 22).
Jude’s purpose in his letter for his readers is clear: “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
It’s funny that, even though Jude clarified that he wanted to write about our common salvation but wrote about something else (contending for the faith against false teachers), he did end up saying a bit about salvation along the way. There is actually much of the ordo salutis to be found in this short letter.
First, we see ourselves described as “beloved in God the Father” (Jude 1). This love in the Father goes back to eternity past, a love that moved him in his sovereign grace to choose us unto salvation and all of its blessings (Eph 1:4–5). Here we see our election.
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By Peter Krol — 6 months ago
The thing is: Heart application requires a grasp of both human nature and the Lord’s process for rebooting that nature in Christ. That takes hard work. If you want your Bible application to be quick and dirty, the sphere of the heart will nearly always become a neglected stepchild.
Of the three spheres of application, I believe the most difficult one for most people is the heart sphere. For that reason, my series of posts on leading small groups has one specifically on how to encourage heart-oriented application. Most people tend to find head and hands application more natural.
Why do you think that is?
Unless they have an extraordinary aversion to theological debate, most people have no resistance to head application. What we must believe about God, the world, ourselves, sin, and redemption—these things are glorious truths, and clarity on such things from the Scripture is precious.
And as I wrote last week, we tend to have such an affinity for “doing” (hands application) that the concept of application itself is often reduced to little more than what we do in light of the Bible’s teachings. The challenge is to help folks understand that application involves more than doing.
By Tom Buck — 8 months ago
We can be confident of God’s love for all of eternity because He perfectly demonstrated His love when He gave His own Son for our salvation. Whatever suffering you may face in your life right now, Christ’s sacrificial death for you reminds you that God is not withholding from you. Romans 8:32 says, “He who indeed did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” Get your heart and mind fixed on what you know!
Recently I spoke with a Christian who was walking through a time of suffering in his life that he found overwhelming. Physical trials, family trials, and a recent loss were all converging upon him at once.
This brother loved the Lord and had actively served Him for years. As he shared his pain, it seemed clear to me that he had been seeking the Lord with a pure heart and desired to see the Lord be glorified. And as I listened to his tearful words, It was evident that he had earnestly sought the Lord in prayer. He had not failed to ask the Lord, and there was no evidence that he was asking of the Lord simply to fulfill his own desires (James 4:2, 3).
Still yet, his painful circumstances clouded his mind with confusion and questions. The questions he asked were the kind I have heard many times in ministry and ones I have asked during my own trials.
The Common Questions We Ask
When we go through times of suffering, there are common questions that often flood our minds.
“Why did God allow this to happen the way it did?”
“Why has God not answered my prayers?”
“Why does it feel like God is not at work for me?”
In the middle of our suffering, our tendency is to allow our minds to be consumed with questions that can’t be answered in that moment and may never be answered. We may be asking with sincere motives, but with most of the questions that flood our minds, the honest answer is, “I don’t know.” Little to no comfort is found in that answer. What we need is a change of perspective. When it comes to suffering, don’t focus on what you don’t know, focus on what you do know.
What We Do Know
Rather than being controlled by our thoughts and emotions, we need to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Scripture is filled with wonderful promises that should captivate our hearts and minds as we walk through times of suffering. With all the things that you don’t know, there are absolute certainties God has revealed in Scripture that you do know.
You are God’s child, and He loves you. (1 John 3:1)
God won’t abandon you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
The LORD is your helper, and you have no need to fear. (Psalm 118:6)
If you lack wisdom, ask of God and He will give it to you. (James 1:5)
God will comfort you in all your affliction. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
While there may be many questions we may never have answered, these are some of the promises that we know. But one of the most encouraging passages to help us face suffering is Romans 8:18-27.
A Biblical Response to Suffering
Paul’s words in Romans 8:18-39 are deeply profound and vital to responding to suffering in our lives. Many commentaries and books have expounded upon this passage, and no single article could come close to exhausting its richness.
By Murray Campbell — 2 years ago
The Apostle Paul often found himself on the wrong side of the dominant culture, whether it was Jerusalem or Ephesus or Philadelphia. Christianity has often played this unwanted role in the last 2,000 years of history. It’s just that our cultural moment is unusual. In parts of the world like Australia and the UK we have reaped the rich gains of the Christian message, but we are now slowly turning our backs in pursuit of a life without God.
Victoria is not the only jurisdiction in the world to introduce laws prohibiting conversion practices. While Victoria’s The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act remains the most extreme, both in the breadth of what is banned and in the criminal sanctions that are threatened, other Australian State and several countries have or are in the process of banning elements of Christian practice and belief.
The United Kingdom is introducing legislation to ban so-called conversion practices. More than 2500 pastors have signed a letter to the Government, explaining their position,
“It should not be a criminal offence for us to instruct our children that God made them male and female, in his image, and has reserved sex for the marriage of one man and one woman. Yet this seems to be the likely outcome of the proposed legislation,” they write.
“We therefore very much hope (and pray) that these proposals will be dropped in their current form. We have no desire to become criminals and place a high value on submitting to and supporting our government.
“Yet we think it important you are aware that if it were to come about that the loving, compassionate exercise of orthodox Christian ministry, including the teaching of the Christian understanding of sex and marriage, is effectively made a criminal offence, we would with deep sadness continue to do our duty to God in this matter.”
These are not words of bigotry. These are not malevolent attitudes toward fellow human beings who don’t identify with their biological sex or as heterosexual. These are reasonable convictions accompanied by love of neighbour. Indeed, the views articulated in the letter remain normal and orthodox in Christian churches around the world today (including Melbourne). The classical view of sex and marriage was even broadly held in civil society until just a few short years ago. But of course, the socio-political landscape has changed dramatically and it will continue to do so.
No doubt there are many faithful pastors who haven’t signed the letter. While others are weighing up the right course of action. I cannot of course speak for many who have signed. Among the signatories though are friends of mine. Indeed, some signatories are same-sex attracted. These are men and women who love God and are convinced by God’s good Gospel about his Son.
They are not malicious troublemakers or intolerant social miscreants. These are thoughtful people who are convinced by the teaching of Scripture, the very same Scriptures from which our society gleans the belief that all men and women are equal and that all life has value.