No Good Thing Does God Withhold – Part One
Perhaps it was in Sunday School, at home, or somewhere else along the way, but in any event, most Christian children have been taught that God does not withhold any good thing (1) from those who live right.
Even toys from Santa, they were told, are not for the boys and girls on the naughty list.
As they get a little older, they are told, that good people go to Heaven, a people go to Hell. They are told good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to the bad.
But, it’s not too far along the road of life when their further edification, (2) observations, (3) and experiences, (4) seem to hum a different tune.
They see “bad” things happening to good people. They see good things going to bad people. They see good people being mistreated while bad ones go along their merry way unscathed.
They will learn soon enough that some people work very hard, but never seem to get or to enjoy much of what this world has to offer. For many, it takes sacrifice to obtain, or to retain, what few possessions they do have, whereas others seem to everything handed to them, and show no appreciation.
They learn that the sun (some of God’s blessings) shines on the godly and the wicked alike (Matt. 5: 45).
They learn that God is not the only source (5) of earthly prosperity. They learn that, to the extent that God allows, one can get a lot more material possessions, and get them a lot sooner, by doing the things by the ways of the devil’s world.
As if all this were not enough, edified students of the Word of God will learn, that contrary to some of the religious activities and teachings that many of them were exposed to as children, Scripture teaches that no amount of good behavior (6), no number of good deeds (7), and certainly no amount religious activities, that are the merely the precepts of men (8), can generate one second of eternal life (9), or open the gates (10) of Heaven.
Sinners are justified (11) (given right-standing with God) by choosing to place one's individual faith, and faith alone, in the Person and the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Furthermore, they learn that the reward to be received (12) or forfeited (13) by born-again believers in Heaven, is not based on what a believer does FOR God, but on what God does through (14) the born-again believer during the course of his or her post (after) salvation spiritual life.
Of course, there are Biblical answers regarding the prosperity of the wicked, the cost of discipleship, and the need to see things with the concept of eternity in mind. But these truths can be a hard pill for children and adults to swallow when what they thought they had earned fails to materialize.
In His mercy and grace, God gives us many things, but owes us nothing! If God were to give us what we actually deserve, we would have a heavily disciplined-filled life here on Earth, and would be spending all of Eternity in the lake of fire.
We are not here for God to fulfill the plans that we have for ourselves and others. We are here to identify and to fulfill His. The content of our prayer requests reflects our understanding of this principle, or the lack of it.
As followers of Christ, consider that every prayer request we make should begin and end with the example set by the Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 22: 42.
‘Father, if you are willing… (insert prayer requests); yet not MY will, but YOURS be done.”
It would profit us (and or the one’s we pray for) NOTHING, if every prayer request was granted, if in the process what really matters is lost.
We know what we (and others) want, and we think we know what we (and others) need. But if what we want, or think we need, would take us out, or further away from, the plan that God has in mind, His answer to our prayer requests is going to be “No.”
To the extent that God allows, the devil and or his forces of evil will be right there to offer us what God is “withholding” from us (15). Going outside of the plan of God, we may get what we want, but may not want what we get.
Whatever He denies, gives, or takes away, serves a divine purpose (16). The changes, be they be for the seemingly better or for the worse, in an advancing disciple's health, wealth, private and public environment are all parts of the plan that God has in mind.
The response that an advancing disciple will have to such changes is found in Job 2: 10.
“But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women (weak believer) speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2: 10 NASB parenthesis mine).”
Having not received what they thought they had coming, misinformed and disillusioned believers can become embittered. Bitterness in the soul not only promotes a disinterest in God and in the things of God, but his or her bitter attitude can become a useful tool of negative influence in the hands of the devil and in the ears of others.
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As of the Church Age, salvation (going to Heaven) is a no-strings-attached, irrevocable, GIFT from God that He bestows on those who choose to make a one-time decision to believe, when they are presented with the unadulterated Gospel Message.
There is no overt activity of men (17) to go (or to be put) through to be added to faith in the atoning Work of that the Lord Jesus Christ finished (18) on the cross; the sealing (19) or the regenerating (20) Work of God the Holy Spirit that automatically takes place the moment one believes.
Water baptisms were all about identification.
John the Baptist himself made the Mark 1: 8 distinction between the water baptisms that he performed, and the baptism that is the Work of God that takes place at the moment of salvation.
“I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1: 8 NASB)."
John baptized those who identified themselves with John’s message of repentance in preparation for the coming of the Savior. Andrew (Peter’s brother) and Philip were two of John’s disciples (followers), who later became the first two disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus was baptized by John to publicly be identified as the Lamb of God who had come to do the atoning Work on the cross.
As of the beginning of the Church Age, every person whose water baptism was recorded in Scripture was ALREADY saved by their faith. The thief on the cross on the side of the Lord was not baptized in or with water, but was assured that he would be with the Lord in Paradise.
Infant baptism is void of any conscious choices being made on the part of the one baptized. Having to make such a choice is a fundamental prerequisite (21) for salvation. Being baptized as an infant is a choice that parents make.
Choosing to believe in the Gospel Message is a choice that each soul must make for himself upon reaching the age or stage of moral accountability.
Persons who do not reach the age or stage of moral accountability are not condemned (22).
I believe that infants, or persons, who due to circumstance beyond their control, are never given the opportunity to hear and to respond to the Gospel Message, are judged by their response to whatever information they were given, beginning with the concept of eternity that God places in the heart of every soul that He creates (23).
However, once one IS given the opportunity, his or her chosen response determines the location of where he or she will be spending ALL of eternity. Just as much as all believers are assured of Heaven, unbelievers are assured of Hell (24).
Water baptisms, for the purpose of making a public testimony as to what has already taken place (25) n the spiritual realm, is fine, but must not be taken as an additional requirement to be saved. Actually, any perceived need to do anything more than to have faith is an indication that one does not understand the Gospel Message.
The unadulterated Gospel Message is encapsulated in such verses as John 3: 16, 18, and Romans 8: 1.
A gift is neither earned nor deserved. A gift is something that a giver wants the recipient to receive with NO strings attached.
As of the moment that a person believes (places his or her trust and confidence) in the Person (26) (the incarnated God the Son) and the atoning (27) Work that He finished (28) while shedding His blood on the cross, that person immediately becomes, and forever remains (29) to be, a sealed (30) child of God with a permanently regenerated (31) spirit.
The born-again believer’s name (identity) is then and there written in Book of Life. The consequences of not having one’s name being written in this book is made crystal clear in Rev. 20: 15.
“And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15 NASB).”
. . .
Having been defeated in the battle for the possession of a born-again believer's soul, the devil and his Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil will then focus their attention on their secondary objective. Their secondary objective calls for the destruction of the quality of the born-again believer’s post salvation spiritual life, here on Earth
The quality of one’s post salvation spiritual life goes hand in hand with the level of spiritual maturity of the born-again believer. Spiritual maturity is measured by the amount of accurate Biblical knowledge (32) that the born-again believer has obtained, coupled with his or her willingness to apply (33) it to the events of his or her daily life.
The heat of battle over the quality of one’s post salvation spiritual life will intensify, keeping pace with whatever forward progress the believer makes, as long as he or she continues to advance down the road to spiritual maturity. The absence of such adversity is an indicator that a 1Cor. 13: 5 self-examination is in order to determine why it is that the devil doesn’t consider the quality of your post salvation spiritual life a worthwhile target!
The devil (34) and company (35) will be there from that point forward monitoring and or opposing any forward progress that a born-again believer makes along the road to spiritual maturity.
During World War Two, when bombers took off on a mission, they were often given a primary and a secondary target to strike, in the event the primary objective becomes unachievable.
In the realm of spiritual warfare, deceiving the soul regarding the need and the means to be saved is the primary objective of the devil and the forces of evil. When successful, God is denied the glory and the unbelieving soul is headed for the lake of fire. Furthermore, the unbeliever becomes a powerful weapon in the hands of the devil, spreading his propaganda, influencing others to make the same negative decisions.
When a soul is born again, his or her salvation is secure (36), so the secondary objective, being the destruction of the QUALITY of the saved, born-again, believer’s, post (after) salvation spiritual life, becomes the focus of attention of satanic attacks.
End of Part One
(1) Psalms 84: 11; (2) 2Pet. 3: 18; (3) Psalms 73; (4) 2Tim.3: 12; (5) Luke 4: 6; (6) Rom. 3: 23/James 2:10; (7) Titus 3: 5; (8) Mark 7: 7; (9) Titus 3: 5; (10) John 3: 5; (11) Titus 3: 7; (12) 1Cor. 3: 14; (13) 1Cor. 3: 15; (14) John 15: 5; (15) Gen.3: 5, 6/Luke 4: 6; (16) Job 2: 10; (17) Mark 7: 7; (18) John 19: 30; (19) Eph. 4:30; (20) Titus 3: 5; (21) John 3: 16; (22) 2Sam. 12: 23; (23) Eccl. 3: 11; (24) John 3: 16, 18; (25) Eph. 4:30/Titus 3: 5; (26) John 1: 1, 10; (27) 1John 2: 2; (28) John 19: 30; (29) Rom. 8:1; (30) Eph. 4: 30; (31) Titus 3: 5; (32) 2Pet. 3:18; (33) James 1: 22; (34) 1Pet. 5: 8; (35) Eph. 6:12 (36) Romans 8: 1.