Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How the Father Draws us to Christ

John 6: 44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Some Christians interpret the Bible when it says that Christ is our only mediator with the Father (Heb. 1: 2, 1 Tim. 2: 5) that there is no more need for prophets, apostles, water baptism, temples, church organization, or priesthood authority. These same Christians see these gifts as somehow getting in the way of a personal relationship with Christ. According to this interpretion, Christ destroys the law and the prophets. However, the Bible also teaches that no one cometh unto Christ except the Father draws him. The Father does not deal directly with man since The Fall because we can no longer endure His presence. So, the Father uses instruments in His hands like prophets, Apostles, scripture, prayer, baptism and other ordinances to bring us the Christ until we have fully come unto Christ and seen his face and know that He is. Thereafter, Christ becomes our only mediator with the Father. But, the Father uses many instruments like baptism, prophets, apostles, scripture, priesthood, the temple and other sanctifying gifts of the Spirit to draw us to Christ.

Noone comes unto Christ except the Father draws Him (John 6: 44)
Christ is our only mediator with the FAther (Heb. 1: 1-2, 1 Tim. 2: 5)
The Holy Ghost testifies of Christ and leads us into all truth. (John 16: 13, John 15: 26)
The Scriptures teach of Christ (John 5: 39)
Prophets teach to come to Christ (John 6: 45)

Prophets --> Scripture --> Holy Ghost --> Jesus Christ --> Heavenly Father

Jesus Christ showed us the way to Salvation by entering into the ordinance of water baptism. Christ then told Nicodemus that unless a man be born again both of water and of spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. However, some Christians interpret Christ's words to Nicodemus to mean that there is no need for the ordinance of water baptism. They interpret John 3:3-5 to mean that man has already been born of water at birth, and needs to be reborn of the Spirit only. However, we know from the Bible that Jesus Christ was baptized and reborn by water immersion and that the same practice was done by the early Saints. However, some cannot rectify the need for this work with Paul's teaching that we are saved by grace and not by works. Had John 3:3-4 said "except a man be reborn of water and of the Spirit" then I suppose there would not be room for debate here. And several versions of the Bible are translated this way.

John 3:3-5 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Eph. 2: 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Looking at John 3:3-5 again, Christ tells Nicodemus "except a man be born [from above]" he cannot see the kingdom of God. Christ in verse 6 then clearly explains that to be born from above [γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, gennethe anothen] involves being born of water and the Spirit. Later in scripture, we clearly see the Early Apostles continue the ordinance of John of the Baptist's water immersion in the Early Church. Specifically, Cornelius is water baptized after the Holy Ghost comes upon him (Acts 10: 47), and Phillip baptizes the Eunuch (Acts 8: 38-39).

John explains in 1 John 5:5-8 that rebirth or being born from above like mortal birth involves both water, blood, and spirit. like mortal birth, if one of the three elements is missing; the result is a stillbirth. In the case of being born again (from above), the water is the ordinance of baptism by water immersion, the blood is the blood of Christ's atonement, and the spirit is the presence of the Holy Ghost. Again, without any of these elements, rebirth is incomplete and stillborn.

1 John 5:5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

But if both the work and ordinance of water baptism is necessary for salvation, how do we rectify this with Paul saying that we are saved by grace alone and not by works (least we boast?). Never mind that Paul was speaking specifically about the "Law of Moses." Is the Bible being contradictory, or can we resolve the need for certain works with the power of grace?

When a person accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior, the Bible says that that person becomes justified. But justification is just the first step in the process of sanctification and perfection. So, what is Justification?

Heb. 12: 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

Justification is described as being acquitted from the law. Acquittal is what happens when a judge postpones or withholds judgement. In reality, acquittal does not prove innocence but says that evidence has not yet proven our guilt. Or that in this case, our guilty verdict will be postponed to a later date. In reality we really are guilty. But by justification the Holy Ghost can operate with us as if we are innocent. That is, the acquitted person who accepts Christ is able to receive the Holy Ghost by the merits and mercy and grace of Christ. The hope is that postponing judgement to the end, we will have been given time sufficient to prove our guilt or innocence. Whereas if we all were judged up front, we would all be guilty. God gives us time to repent and apply the saving grace of Christ's atonement.

But the atonement of Christ isn't just grace but also power. Christ's atonement is not just about sweeping our sins under the rug but also about changing us, purifying us like silver, making us new creatures, and turning us away from sin such that we have no more disposition to do evil but to do good continually. So as the Holy Ghost enters into the Justified, He begins the necessary process of sanctification leading to perfection. As the believer feels the spirit, power, light and love of God; sin looses all enticement. This is how our love may become perfect, even in the flesh and in this world (Titus 2: 12, 1 Jn. 4: 17).

How does the power and grace of Christ relate to works? Specifically, it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that man is empowered to enter into baptism and the everlasting covenant in the temple. Believers do not receive these ordinances by their own power but by the empowering grace of the Holy Ghost. This is why Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was water baptized. If he hadn't temporarily received the Holy Ghost he would have no power to be baptized by water and later by fire to make the Holy Ghost a constant and continual presence.

So we see the Bible clearly teaches that the atonement is both grace and transformative power. Receiving the sanctifying ordinances of God is only possible by the grace and power of Christ. Therefore, ordinances like baptism are proof of that the empowing grace of Christ is working. Then after being justified by Christs blood, the Holy Spirit and the spirit of the covenants and ordinances work to purify, perfect, and sanctify us beginning in this world. Covenants and ordinances do not deny grace but show that the atonement is both grace and power that will empower us to action. This is why grace without works is dead. But even though works are required, it is still all God's grace. The works become a manifestation of the power of God's grace within the believer.

Sanctification is also a manifestation of the grace and power of God. Sanctification is a process. The believer is not perfected all at first but grows grace to grace, line upon line and precept upon precept. We become perfected as we allow the grace, power, love and light of Christ to grow brighter in us every day. God does not force Himself upon us. But He does reach down to rescue us, and as He said, stands at the door and knocks. But we then must open up the door and allow Him to enter.

We are saved from the beginning but through the process of sanctification, we receive a better resurrection and reward in the next life. Exaltation and Eternal Life being the greatest gift of God. Accordingly, we all must ask ourselves. Do I give my whole soul to God or do I keep part from him. If we still sin then we still are withholding part of our will from God whose spirit would purge and purify regardless of the flesh.

Alma 5: 26-27 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? . . . Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins? And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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