What is the power which we are given? It's the human faculty which selects the most desirable of the options of which we are confronted. Will power is the energy which it takes to select the right decision over the most desirable decision. We have that power. Satan can only influence it by temptation. Satan has few tools in his box. He offered Jesus the same things which he had to offer Adam! The only carrot in Satan's garden is pleasure. Regardless of whether it's money, power, glory, sex, or whatever, they are all things which provide us pleasure!
In order to make us friends with God, he wanted us to make the decision. He loves us and in return his only desire is that we love him back. Love of God results from using our will power to deny pleasure in favor of what's right! God has created metrics for what is right and are the things he wills us to do. The metric is less desirable than pleasure. Satan is given that extra "stroke" because his power is below par. The only metric God has is that we must love him. The way to operationalize that one metric is the command to love others as our self; even our enemies!
The operation of God's love is hard to do! It's hard to love imperfect friends, let alone mean-spirited enemies! Because God has always been persecuted he knows how hard his metric is! Because he has empathy for us, his grace abounds. God even endured the same temptations which his creation did when with Satan forty days! He understands us, knows why we fail, but provides divine assistance to make us strong! Job was a righteous man. He had the power to serve Satan, but Satan could not force that. God shared his power with Job and put a hedge around him. Today, I have that hedge. It's the whole armor of God!
God is omniscient. He knows the outcome even of our personal lives! Before I was born, although he gave me my own volition to go my own way, he knew that I would choose him and even when that was to happen. That's God's foreknowledge. No man has the knowledge to do that and clairvoyants are of two substances: 1) frauds or 2) evil spirits! My first experience with God is when I was born. My very birth was by God's grace. It didn't happen merely by chance or as a result of two humans, male and female, engaged in a frenzy. I was planned by God. He was there to give me life with a soul which he stands ready to fill with his Spirit when the time is ripe. He even knows when that will be!
Before my "birth canal crawl" God's will could have been curtailed. When God creates it's his will that it not be put asunder, or he would not have done it from the start! When a child in the womb is terminated, God's will is usurped. Like it or not, anyone who causes an abortion kills what God created and is a murderer in God's eyes. Anyone who encourages or even propagates and abortion is an accomplice to murder. God has the same punishment for both. It's eternal death - unless when he knocks that you accept. That is grace and the same grace which I received!
I am a murderer too! Why so? Did I ever kill another person? No, but I have hated and am still tempted to hate! Let me clarify:
1 John 3:15 "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him."Because "to love" is the greatest command, then hate is the greatest sin! To show God we love him we love others. When we hate others. we hate God. I hated people and as such I hated God. My sin is as gross as a murderer in God's eyes! As such without God's grace the murderer and I have the same eternal destiny!
But you think that you are not a hater? I thought that too! However, "The Ten Commandments" are ways to "Not Hate God" (1-4) and to "Not Hate Others" (5-10)! Those rules written on stone are the ways to NOT HATE and even if we show hate with one we miss God's mark which is to NOT HATE in any way. Another step in being enlightened is when it comes to me that I deserve eternal damnation because I am a hater and a murderer. I came to realize that, but it is a slow process! God helps us along by using the Holy Spirit to tug at our heartstrings!
The Holy Spirit is God's essence. He is totally God and he IS God with us because God just IS! The Holy Spirit IS ALWAYS here and has always BEEN. In present tense, he said "I AM". In past tense he always WAS and in future tense he always will BE! God doesn't wait until Satan strolls beside us to grow that hedge. He plants seeds so it's there when the death harvester comes! He calls us to him!
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."Everyone is drawn to God as even I was! Why? Because God "so loved me"! He loved me so much that he didn't want me to perish! His will is that I have eternal life even though, as is everyone else, I am a murderer. That hate is called "sin" and is a rejection of the lesser pleasure; it is pleasing God rather than self! I was my other god. I sought my own pleasure with little regard to pleasuring God. That was my lifelong battle and it's the same as yours! As such we are "as gods", but fall short because "we are false gods" with limited and weak power: limited by our freedom to choose!
Part of God's drawing was the time in which I live, the place of my home, my friends and family, the church, someone who told me about Jesus and last, but not least, God's direct intervention! All these influences drew me to Christ! Foremost was my Dad, Elston Herrin. Mom did too, because of the degree that she nourished and loved all her children. Mom was the most loving mother of all time. When a mother shows love, the child respects her! When a father governs well, the child respects him and as such, the child grows up in the way of the Lord, and even if the child deviates for a spell, he shall return to what is known as right!
For several years I was the prodigal son, but I came back to Dad! For awhile I was a prodigal son, but I came back to my Father in heaven. God gives us chances and knows how we will choose! I chose him, but the battle was tough!
I remember vividly when the "race" started, because Paul does liken the road to salvation as a race! Note that in the passage above that when we are called by God the race is on! However, the prize is when he raises us up on the "last day". Salvation is when we get that prize! Really there are two prizes because there are two "last days". The first is when we die. The prize is that we are rewarded with immediate relief for our soul. It's taken to paradise that very instant! The second prize is more formal. It's when we go through the court of judgment and are deemed worthy and are glorified with new bodies. Our worthiness has one metric! The same one we're commanded: To love God with all our heart, mind, body and soul and others as our self! Love is important and that importance will be obvious when we stand before God!
My race was set off with a flare! I remember the night well. My entire family was in our old '37 Chevy as we traveled down Jacktown Road, coming home safely from our "down home" trip to Somerset, Kentucky. We were all quiet. All of us! I was about five years old at the time and was looking over Mom's shoulder down the dark road as if in anticipation! Slowly I saw an angel gliding from the skies and hovering above our hood ornament for a short spell. The angel was about twelve-inches in height, had no gender-type characteristics, and had translucent wings of gold. The entire form of the angel was of light, not translucent except for the wings, by opaque and glowing.
The angel may have been a seraphim because that is one of their forms! Seraphims are six-winged angels, but this angel had two wings. Angels are not constrained by our thoughts, but by God's will. It was he who sent the angel!
I saw the angel. I was spell-bound and never said a word. Never did I mention this until I was a mature adult and knew the meaning! All of my family members probably saw the angel because all of them were speechless! It's as if the calm of God imbued the space of the car as our moving object became holy ground. Everyone got quiet. Everyone remained quiet! I can't see what the others saw. It may have been they were merely silenced by the presence of God, but I saw an angel and still can vividly in my old mind! The race was on!
I was called that instant. I believe that God made a promise because of his foreknowledge. I believe that God old me the outcome of those in this moving tabernacle. My interpretation, even at five years old has always been this, "You and your household shall be saved!" I believe that because of Dad's and Mom's righteousnous, God planted his hedge that night so that it would grow into the safety of salvation!
Note that at five I didn't understand all that! I did know that I saw an angel and Dad had taught me the meaning of salvation. I also, even at that age, understood that I was being told that my family would be "safe" in God's hands because the master can cause his household to be saved. That too is the grace of God!
The worst of the worst (WOW) was my oldest brother Rich. He was THE prodigal son, but before he died (about three months previous) he told me of his faith and "born-again" experience. He said he failed to live the life, but that he did return to it! You see, that's what God promises! Rich is in heaven. He wishes that he had shown God more love, I'm sure, but because of grace Rich still lives! This has to be because God tells us so!
Then we have Joe who finished the race. Joe lived a righteous life. He is a "type of Job" because he had many obstacles that could cause his faith to be stolen. Losing his wife to divorce failed to dissuade him, being robbed by another wife failed to dissuade him and cancer failed. I saw Joe give away all his possessions before he died!
He had one wish that he revealed to me: his two daughters would not listen to him. On his death bed, at Rich's instigation when he said "Larry, will you read the Bible because Joe couldn't make it to church this morning?" Rather than reading, with Joe holding may hand with tears in his eyes because both his daughters were there, I presented the plan of salvation! His daughters finally heard about the hope of salvation and as I preached, Joe pumped me up by squeezing my hand repeatedly as he held it there on his death bed. Joe smiled with relief even in his extreme pain. Joe hirt bad with his cancer, but never once complained! He knew the pain would be decimated in a short time because of Jesus!
Joe died the following day. His daughters had heard the gospel. His last regret was past. One daughter ran out in obstinance, the other cried right there. She called me shortly thereafter and told me that she too had come back because Joe brought her up in the way of the Lord! We're still praying for one, but Joe knew at his death that the seed of that hedge had been planted in both his gardens, his two daughters.
Joe finished the race. The flare was shot at the start with that angel and for Joe the prize is in hand. Two of my brothers joined my parents in receiving the prize and now there are four! All four of us are in the race to win and win it we shall!
Tomorrow, I will continue with part 3 of this 2 (sic) part testimony to God working in my life! I too am a prodigal son, butI wont' focus on my disobedience, for there were many, but on my hope. Continue with me tomorrow if you will!