Jason Garwood

the good news is good.

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Misunderstood Verses: 1 John 2:2

It wouldn’t be a series on misunderstood verses without looking at . The Apostle John writes, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (ESV).

This verse is typically ripped out of its context to mean that the atonement of Christ is universal. To say that Christ died only for His people is so, well, limited. It sounds way more noble to say that Christ died for everybody, right? Again, in an attempt to come to the rescue of Scripture’s (alleged) shortcomings, some interpreters like to proof-text this verse. To say that Christ’s redemption was for the elect only (i.e., those who believe), sounds incredibly restricted. Did Christ die for just some people? Or did He die for everyone? What is the scope and extent of the atonement of Christ?

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He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (ESV)

Misunderstood Verses: John 6:44

After a short break from this series (vacation happened, thankfully), I thought it would be good to jump back in with yet another misunderstood verse: . It reads this way in the English Standard Version:

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

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44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (ESV)

Homosexuality and Gospel “Fairness”?

By now you have probably heard the news that came out of Detroit last week. One particular news report was titled “Presbyterians in U.S. to allow gay marriage ceremonies.” (Many thanks to my friend and co-laborer/pastor who passed this along to me!) To be clear, you shouldn’t interpret that headline to mean that all presbyterian people in the United States are on board with homosexuals getting ‘married’ (it’s not marriage). That would be far from the truth. The truth is, that the denomination called “Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)” voted to allow their pastors to ‘marry’ homosexuals (they are the largest presbyterian denomination in the states, and this is only step one…there is much else that has to happen at this point). There are many presbyterian denominations, so this is only one of many. Also, other denominations have already done this, like, for example, the Episcopal Church.

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Entertainment Coma

Last week our family went with a couple other friends and their families to the Detroit Zoo. It’s a fun place, and when you have a curious 6-year-old like we do, it makes it even more fun. (He was perplexed that I liked the Penguins so much. He couldn’t wrap his mind around it. “I think it’s funny that daddy likes the penguins!” he retorted. Hilarious.) Anyhow, when we returned from our trip, we were asked the famous question. Do you know which question I’m talking about? We’re all guilty of asking it at some point in our lives. We ask it after movies, we ask it after we eat a meal, and we ask it (unfortunately) after ‘church’. Which question? Here it is:

How was _______?”

Maybe you were expecting something else. Either way, I’m sure you can relate. “How was the zoo?” “How was dinner?” “How was church?” “How was ____?”

Now, to those who will read this and know that you asked me the question, I want to be sure to say that I took no offense. At all. It actually made me think about drafting this post! So, thank you for helping churn some thoughts in my mind.

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Misunderstood Verses: Romans 8:29-30

We are continuing our series on misunderstood verses by taking a look at a couple of very important ones from the greatest letter ever written: Paul’s letter to the Romans. (Be sure to check out previous posts in this series: John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9, and 1 Timothy 2:4). Here is

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (ESV)

As always, context is important. The Apostle Paul is writing this letter to the church that resides in Rome. The church itself, historically speaking, consisted of Jewish and Gentile Christians–which was no small task to promote unity! Considered the greatest theological treatise on the earth, Paul lays out redemption and God’s unique plan to bring Jews and Gentiles together under the Lordship of Christ. In he talks about our struggle with the flesh post-conversion and by the time he gets to , he’s ready to discuss the work of the Spirit, and a bit of the future that awaits us. For Paul, God will bring the fullness of redemption to bear on Creation, as the earth, much like our bodies, groan inwardly waiting for it to happen (8:18-25). From here Paul says that the Spirit helps us in our weakness because we oftentimes do not know what to pray (vs. 26); also, the Spirit searches our hearts and intercedes for the saints (vs. 27), and in God’s sovereignty, He works out all things together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

Don’t miss that last part, because Paul is clearly telling us the “Who?” of this passage. In context, he’s speaking of the elect, God’s people, Christ’s sheep, those indwelt by the Spirit, the believing ones. The very first word in is “For,” (Gr. hoti) and it, of course, is a connection to what has been said beforehand. These sets of verses refer to the ordo salutis (the order of salvation). Just how does salvation happen for us? What’s the order? Paul tells us.

Those whom he foreknew he also predestined. Some like to say that God foreknows everybody because He “looks down the hall of time” to see who would choose him. This is most assuredly a case of eisegesis because: 1) the context forbids it (It’s about those who are saved, not potentially saved in some obscure future), and 2) the text doesn’t say this. To insist that God looks down the hall of time to see who would choose him: 1) Does not alleviate the tension between free will and God’s Sovereignty (because those whom He “saw” in the future still have to choose what He saw!), and 2) Implies that God doesn’t have infinite knowledge, and that He has to go searching for information by looking to the future (a HUGE problem indeed), when Scripture says he has declared the end from the beginning (). The problem people have who take this approach is that they make God an impartial observer. And that, He is not!

The text is clear: The people he set his special, saving love on (this is what foreknowledge means), he predestined. Foreknowledge is not primarily used in Scripture to talk about God’s advanced knowledge about how a person acts, but instead how God loves. To be known by God () is to be loved by God in a special, covenantal way. That love leads to our post-regenerate response of obedience to God’s irresistible grace. We love because He first loved us (). Predestination simply means in Greek, predestination. This is not arbitrary election, or “unfair” election (as some like to accuse God of)–this is unconditional election. God does not have to save anyone. It’s a miracle of His grace that He DOES save! God sets his love on His people, not based upon some foreseen merit, but because He chose to do so. All of this so that we could be conformed to the image of his Son

Those whom he predestined he also called. God foreknew His chosen sheep (), set his love on them, and chose them. In other words, God arranged that in due time, His elect would hear the outward call of the gospel and through God’s means of preaching, respond to God’s love after the Spirit regenerates their dead hearts. This is the “inward call” of the gospel. Without the Father drawing, no one can come to him (). Lazarus didn’t come out of the tomb on his own, he was called!

Those whom he called also he justified. Is everyone justified? No. Which means that not everyone is called (inwardly, that is, because of sin), not everyone is predestined (this would be the heresy of universalism), and not everyone is foreknown (in the special “loving” way, as the word is defined). But rest assure, those that God consigns to salvation, he justifies! Christ’s substitutionary death is sufficient for all, but only efficient for the elect. We should note that justification is by faith alone, and that faith is a gift (). When God calls a man, He quickens faith in him through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, and because of it, the  man is declared, “Not guilty!” The Bible never indicates that we are saved because of our faith. It says that we are saved through faith.

Those whom he justified he also glorified. Paul uses the term “glorified” in the past tense (edoxasen). Why would he do this, when glorification, as indicated earlier in , is something in the future? Because salvation is of the Lord. This salvation is a guarantee–a sure thing. God never, ever, ever, ever goes back on his promises. He gets what he pays for, and he does it for His glory. Alone.

The doctrine of sovereign election is a comfort for believers. Too often people criticize it because they view it as arbitrary, or worse yet, fatalistic. But this is not the God of Scripture. He is the certain God who provides a certain salvation. He is the God who sets His love on His people and does so without wavering an inch. This removes all human boasting! Instead of superiority, it creates humility. Instead of pride, it creates meekness. The Golden Chain of is a rock-solid promise that Jesus saves. Glory to God, alone!

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (ESV)

7:1 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (ESV)

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (ESV)

10 declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ (ESV)

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? (ESV)

19 We love because he first loved us. (ESV)

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (ESV)

44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

Ephesians 2:9

not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (ESV)

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (ESV)

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