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Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 12/21/08
We have been noting the Doctrine of the Theology of God's Perfect Plan. Under Point 2 we have been noting the fact that the Essence of God is necessary to understand the Theology of God's Perfect Plan:
1. God is Sovereign.
2. God also is perfect Righteousness.
3. God is also Just. God's holiness includes His justice as well as His righteousness.
    God's righteousness and justice are tantamount to the integrity of God, guaranteeing His entire essence is completely involved in all He does. God’s love stands upon His integrity, composed of perfect righteousness and absolute justice. This marvelous principle of Bible doctrine demonstrates that the God of love and grace is not sentimental, partial or indecisive toward anyone. Grace is divine strength which expresses the love of God, but grace is also the uncompromising policy of the justice of God. For the grace of God [His unmerited favor and blessing] has appeared, bringing salvation and or deliverance to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly [spiritual] in the present age (TIT 2:11-12).
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (JOH 3:16)
    This familiar verse is God's entire plan of grace. The verse begins in eternity past when the destiny of the Second Person of the Trinity was established to be born a true man (His uniquely born Son), that He might go to the Cross to be judged for the sins of mankind. Then it specifies the mechanics of our entering God's plan: Faith in Christ. It concludes with one of the advantages gained from believing in Him: Eternal life. A great deal of basic doctrine is covered in JOH 3:16, because in it our Lord was presenting the plan of salvation to Nicodemus, a religious unbeliever. Jesus was explaining the Gospel to him in simple terms, but even with an explanation from the greatest Teacher of all time, this intellectual Pharisee was still slow to catch on. If he was struggling with these basic doctrines, how could he understand the inner functions of God's nature? Jesus could not speak to Nicodemus as He might have spoken to a mature believer. Then, just as now, few people understand the essence of God, but nearly anyone could comprehend love in some sort of human relationship. However, there is a vast difference between divine love and human love.
    When we talk about God loving the world, we are not talking about the cosmic system; we are talking about loving the human race. Do you know what would be entailed if God loved the world? The world is Satan's kingdom (JOH 12:31; 14:30; 16:11;2CO 4:4; EPH 2:2). Satan rules his domain according to a plan and policy called "good and evil" (GEN 3:5), or simply "evil" (GAL 1:4). Evil is the sum total of Satan's genius; it is the thinking of Satan as opposed to the mind of Christ, Bible doctrine. Satan sponsors many different false systems of thought by which he seeks to gain control of the human soul (MAT 15:19), and hence of the entire human race.
    When we understand Satan's reason for revolting against his own Creator we have a frame of reference for understanding evil. Satan revolted because of arrogance, and his objective has always been to be independent from God, trying to be like God, and trying to usurp the throne of heaven (ISA 14:14). He wants to prove that he is as good as God. In order to do so, Satan is determined to solve the problems of life independent of God's design and Bible doctrine. Thus, he promotes human good which are any good deeds accomplished apart from the filling of the Spirit and Bible doctrine, or any solutions contrary to the laws of divine establishment. Evil thinking leads to evil function and such satanic doctrines as altruism, philanthropy, legalism, socialism, and communism lead people to sincerely pursue noble ends at the expense of human freedom, privacy, property, prosperity, and spiritual growth. Satan operates under the proposition that the end justifies the means; therefore, he resorts to violence whenever necessary to accomplish his "good" ends (JOH 8:44).
    Satan intends to prove God a liar, to supplant God's perfect design, to win the angelic conflict, to expose God as unfair for sentencing him to eternal judgment in the Lake of Fire (MAT 25:41). The devil's world is totally hostile to the essence of God, to the plan of God, to the freedom, and salvation of man and to the spiritual advance of believers, and to everything related to God. There is absolutely no basis for compatibility between God and Satan's world (JOB 34:10; JAM 1:13). God judges evil and the primary characteristic of evil, arrogance. “Thus I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless” (ISA 13:11). Not only is the world enemy territory, but since the Fall of man, when Satan usurped the earthly throne from Adam, every person born into the human race (except Jesus Christ) are all born under divine condemnation, physically alive but spiritually dead. Adam rejected God's provisions in the Garden, and decided instead to eat from the tree of the knowledge of Satan's plan of good and evil. This act plunged the entire human race into spiritual death under Satan's new regime.
    The glory of God is His perfect essence with emphasis on His righteousness. Through His glory and His righteousness, He solved the problem man had, and that reveals His love. Can perfect God love imperfect, condemned, depraved, unregenerate man? The answer is yes, but only with impersonal love. We are born spiritually dead because of Adam's Fall (ROM 5:12), but from the moment of physical birth every human being is the beneficiary of the integrity of God. Our lack of merit does not prevent God from designing and executing a plan to save us without violating His own standard. Under the principle of grace before judgment, God delays final judgment to permit us the opportunity to believe in Christ and receive eternal life. Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. And do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly [by maliciously judging each other] of the riches of His kindness [God's impersonal love, His "kindness" to man based solely on His own integrity] and forbearance[His delay in judgment] and patience [His consistency regardless of our rejection], not knowing that the kindness of God[His impersonal love] leads you to repentance? (ROM 2:1-4).
    God delayed mankind's final judgment so that He could extend to us His kindness, His impersonal love. An impassable barrier stood between man and God. God cannot tolerate sin (ROM 3:23; JER 17:9; ISA 64:6b); He cannot cancel the penalty of sin (ROM 6:23a); nor can He ignore the problem of our physical birth and spiritual death (EPH 2:1). So, in phase one of this life for members of the human race, God offers salvation to all mankind from His impersonal love, but only the few accept Christ as Savior and come under God's personal love. In phase two all believers on earth are sustained and protected by God's logistical grace from His impersonal love, but only the few utilize logistical grace, advance to maturity, and become recipients of supergrace blessings motivated by His personal love.
    So, Grace is divine strength which expresses the love of God, but grace is also the uncompromising policy of the justice of God. That policy relies on the entire character and nature of God. So, the policy of grace is based upon the following:
- Righteousness - (Principle of grace).
For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness. (ROM 5:17).
- Justice - (function of grace)
Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; (ROM 3:24)
- Love (Motivation)
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (JOH 3:16)
- Eternal life (Abundance of grace)
That, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (ROM 5:21)
-Omnipotence (ability)
And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." (2CO 12:9a)
- Omniscience (plan)
Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2PE 1:1-4)
- Omnipresence (Fellowship)
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. (2CO 13:14)
- Sovereignty (Authority)
Through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name's sake, (ROM 1:5)
- Immutability (Steadfastness)
Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. (HEB 4:16)
- Veracity (Truth of Grace)
For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. (JOH 1:17)
    So, in phase one of this life for members of the human race, God offers salvation to all mankind from His impersonal love, but only the few accept Christ as Savior and come under God's personal love. In phase two all believers on earth are sustained and protected by God's logistical grace from His impersonal love, but only the few utilize logistical grace, advance to maturity, and become recipients of supergrace blessings motivated by His personal love. In phase three all believers in heaven possess the resurrection body, but only the few receive special rewards, decorations, and honors as the most eminent eternal aristocrats. So we begin with divine love in salvation.
    The category in view in phase one of God's plan is the entire human race. The doctrine of unlimited atonement declares that Christ died for all mankind (ROM 5:6; 2CO 5:15; 1TI 2:6; 4:10; TIT 2:11; HEB 2:9). God manifests impersonal love toward everyone. He imputed human life to evil men, and presented them with repeated occasions to be saved (ROM 11:32; 2PE 3:9). The Cross is unconditional. However, in contrast, God reserves His personal love for only those few who believe in Christ and thus fulfill the conditions of the Gospel. In each generation a different proportion of all living people will trust in Christ, but those few, whatever their number, are the objects of divine personal love with reference to Phase One. The work of salvation required a gruesome price, the spiritual death of Christ on the Cross. No unbeliever has ever earned or deserved salvation, but if God has accomplished the most for those He loves impersonally, He can do only do much more than the most for those special few He loves personally.
For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (ROM 5:17)
    God imputed all man's sins to Christ on the Cross in behalf of the entire human race, but God goes much farther for those who believe in Christ: to them He imputes divine righteousness. The most remarkable of all Bible doctrines is that God credits His own righteousness to every believer. We possess forever the very principle and standard of God's integrity, the quality that God has respected, honored, and loved throughout all His eternal existence. so when we talk about the love of God, I want you think about what God loves.
For the Lord is righteous; He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face. (PSA 11:7)
He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord. (PSA 33:5)
For the Lord loves justice, And does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever; But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
The Lord opens {the eyes of} the blind; The Lord raises up those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous; (PSA 146:8)
    We could receive no more valuable or significant blessing, from the love of God than the righteousness of God. Think of it, the same phenomenal love that has always existed between the Members of the Trinity is directed toward us. God loves His own righteousness; He has given us His righteousness; therefore, He loves us (2CO 5:21; ROM 5:19; GEN 15:6; ROM 8:38). As spiritual royalty each Church-age believer possesses a double portion of divine righteousness. The righteousness of God the Father is imputed to us at salvation, as it is to every believer of all other dispensations (GEN 15:6). We are included in the dynamics of "God is love," not because of who and what we are, but because of who and what God is. Because of His integrity our position in Adam, which makes us objects of divine condemnation, cannot suddenly become pleasing to God (1CO 15:22). God's absolute righteousness can never accept our relative righteousness (ISA 64:6a; ROM 9:30-33), nor can any attribute of God's character be compromised (ISA 46:9; ROM 8:8; 1TI 6:16).
    The barrier between man and God was removed by the work of Christ on the Cross. Now only the Cross now stands between man and God. Only one issue remains: our volition. God cannot coerce our free will without compromising His integrity; He cannot arbitrarily save us. We must freely believe in Christ to be saved and avoid the Last Judgment (ROM 8:1). If God preempted our volition in salvation, He would destroy His own plan. He would cancel the very purpose of salvation: that each individual might choose to have a personal relationship with Him. Therefore, in impersonal love God does everything except make the decision for us. Positive volition is the only missing link, the only factor needed to complete our reconciliation with God. A single decision of non-meritorious faith in Christ closes the gap, and establishes us as God's beloved children forever.
    The mechanics of salvation demonstrate the tremendous scope of God's impersonal love, the absolute "riches of His generosity." Without violating His integrity or relying on the unworthy objects of His impersonal love, God deployed all His infinite genius and power for our advantage, "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance," to a change of mind concerning Christ. God has provided everything for the eternal salvation of every unbeliever, and the maximum prosperity of every believer in both time and eternity. If an unbeliever rejects God's saving grace, he remains the object of only divine impersonal love until he dies, when the delay in judgment runs out:
For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. (HEB 10:26-27)
When the unbeliever accepts Christ, he becomes the object of divine personal love just as Adam was the object of God's personal love in the Garden. However, God's plan for the royal family gives us a higher position after salvation than Adam enjoyed before the Fall. God's game plan is to make us like His Son:
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, (HEB 2:10-11)
This is the doctrine of sanctification.
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