[CF Devotionals] 2010-02-20 - Active, Not Passive

Mark 13:22, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray.”

Over the years, I have encountered a mindset that is dangerous. It stems from the doctrines of Election and Predestination; and both Biblical, but often either denied or distorted. I will not bother to touch on those who deny these precious truths, except to say that they are contained in God’s Word, and to deny them is to deny what He tells us about Himself and the salvation He freely offers in Christ. I suggest not doing that. However, there is a group that distorts these teachings of God’s Word, and they are equally guilty of error. There is a mindset that speaks much of Election and Predestination (commonly called the Doctrines of Grace), but concludes that we must be passive in the salvation of ourselves and others. “If God is going to work, He will,” they say, and so they sit passively waiting for God to ‘do something.’

“Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life,” John 6:27. There is nothing passive about the words of Jesus here. In fact, I suspect we can say simply by their example, that the apostles would also have repudiated this idea of passive faith. The truth is that while the doctrines of Predestination, Election, and Effectual Calling are true, the Lord deals with us as responsible beings. We are told to “strive to enter by the narrow door,” Luke 13:24, and “take hold of eternal life,” 1 Timothy 6:12. It does not appear from Scripture that we are to be passive. So how do we summarize? God gives us faith, but we must believe. God gives us repentance unto Christ, but we must repent. These are gifts of God according to His marvelous mercy, but they are also the acts of rational men and women. Faith is not by proxy. The Holy Spirit does not believe for us, but He does open our blind spiritual eyes to the things of Christ that we will believe.

I will try to summarize this with an example. You bump into your friend and find him to be skin and bones – literally flesh hanging off of him. You ask him what is wrong, assuming he has some condition assailing him. He replies that he chooses not to eat anymore. He rarely even bothers to take a bite. You now know the reason for his condition, when a believer says he has no joy and is filled with doubts and fears. They say their prayer times are drier than the desert. Naturally, you ask about what he/she is taking in for spiritual nourishment. They reply that they have given that up. They no longer go to prayer meetings. They rarely, if ever, attend the gathering of the saints on Lord’s Day, they read anything (even labels) rather than the Bible, and no longer meditate on the Word of God or His attributes – you need not seek further into the problem. The person is not appropriating what God has supplied for spiritual nourishment - and they are famished.

God does not do these things for us in our Christian walk, any more than He does in the act of saving us. We are called to faith. We are elected in love. We are also responsible to grow in God’s grace, once we have come into it. It comes not by osmosis. We walk near to God, purposefully, and we do so because our faith – from start to finish – is not passive, but active.

Soli Deo Gloria,

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