Salvation: Correcting Misconceptions About God

assurance“Salvation, if we may so put it, is entirely the idea of God; it emanates from and has its source and origin in God the Father. Now this is a staggering thought! So often you and I feel we have to placate God because of sin, sin in us, sin in our mind and whole outlook and thought, sin in the world. We tend to think of God as being opposed and antagonistic to us, and therefore we are always thinking of him as Someone we have to appease and placate. We regard God as Someone who is unwilling to be kind and gracious to us and to love us. We think of him as Someone in the far distance in his eternal glory and absolute righteousness who is not well disposed towards us. We feel we have to put forward these great efforts in order to get him to look upon us with favour.

71Wwnwoz12LThis is a complete fallacy. Salvation has originated in the mind of God – it is God’s own purpose…

It is not only God’s idea…it has been perfectly planned from the very beginning to the very end. Here we come to something that is the source of the deepest assurance and consolation that any Christian person can ever know in this wold of time. What could be more comforting and reassuring than the fact that there is nothing contingent about this salvation. nothing accidental, nothing that needs modification? It is a perfect plan. God has planned it from eternity before the foundation of the world, it is eternally in the mind of God.”

The above selection comes from pages 57-58 of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ book, The Assurance of Our Salvation . Click here for more info.

Christians Should Be Confident People

confidentChristians should be confident about life.

Such confidence is not derived from ignorance nor from an over appreciation of one’s ability. The faithful Christian is not the person who thinks himself or herself adequate to every task whether that be run-blocking for the New England Patriots or trading commodities in Tokyo. The Scriptures clearly state that God has given people specific talents to specific people for the purpose of blessing humanity. Though equal in value, we are not equal in function.

When God zeros in on his people, the church, he describes them as a body. God designed us to work in unison with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We are not competent for every task. But we should be confident in the Lord regardless of what we are doing and what is going on around us.

In short, our emotions should be determined by our understanding of the Lord and not our circumstances. And those who understand the power of God cannot help but be confident in their God.

In 1 Samuel 14, Saul and his army had become so petrified that they can no longer act like an army. Their fear is not without merit. The Israel’s army had 3,000 men who had recently assassinated a Philistines governor and his security detail. Responding to Hebrew’s bravado, the Philistines sent 30,000 troops crashing into the Hebrew countryside. Saul’s small and terrified force was no match for the Philistine army. Saul who had boasted of his military muscle only few days earlier now sat motionless. While he waited, His nation and army feel into disarray. People were literally running to the hills for safety. Saul had no hope because his circumstances contained only gloomy clouds of despair.

But not all in the Israelite camp were despairing. In 1 Samuel 14:6 we read,

Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.”

Jonathan knew that God was not limited by Jonathan’s circumstances. God did not need his health, money, power, abilities, or connections to carry out his plans. God rules. He controls the stars, the waves, the hearts of men and women, the birds, and even the tiny blades of grass. God reigns! But God is more than sovereign, God is good! Jonathan’s God had promised never to “abandon you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers, which he swore to them by oath (Deut. 4:31).” Though the odds were stacked against Jonathan, he went forward boldly for he knew the power and character of his God.

Friends as we wrestle through life, we should have Jonathan’s confidence times two. Jonathan went forward knowing the promise of God’s power. We go forward having experienced the fullness of God’s power. Jesus has died on the cross for our sins and he has risen from the dead, delivering us from the power of sin. Because of Christ work, Christians have a confidence that atheists, Mormons, and Muslims can never have. We have the confidence of knowing that we are right with God. We know that nothing can change that status. Nothing take away our hope of salvation. As Paul writes in Romans 8:31-38:

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.

Christians should be confident people. Even when we feel the pain of cancer, the pressures of being jobless, and hardships that come with broken relationships, we can be confident in the power of Christ.  Like Jonathan, we can say, “Let’s see what glorious thing God will do today!”

Our circumstances do not define us. Our God does!

We should expect our God to work. God hears Jonathan’s expression of faith and gives the prince an incredible victory over the Philistines. Jonathan, his armor bearer, and the discombobulated army of Israelites defeat an army of 30,000 well trained troops. God does the impossible.

God is not done doing the impossible. He has not kicked off his shoes and sat down to play Candy Crush while we eek out an sad existence in the twenty-first century. Paul reminds us that our God “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.”  Our Lord and savior is still in the business of healing the sick, redeeming the broken, and sanctifying the redeemed. God used Luther to begin the reformation, Wilberforce to overturn slavery, and Jim Eliot to reach the Huaorani people. If you find yourself overwhelmed by circumstances that seem beyond rescue, implore the Lord for help! P. B. Power reminds us, “Man’s expectation is generally a prelude to God’s action.” Expect God things from God! 

This is not to say we expect God to do all our holy will. Yet, we should expect God to do all that is good and all that is best for us. We should always be confident of God’s goodness and love. We should be confident in our God!

Do you have the confidence of Jonathan?

Memo: April’s Second Breast Cancer Update, June 2019

Memo2-breast-cancerThe storm has arrived. The small, misty drops from the top of the early storm-breakers have reached our souls. The monstrous, well-formed waves of April’s cancer that threaten to capsize our life have not yet come into view. But there is no doubting the arrival of this storm in our lives.

Over the last few weeks, April’s occasional back pain has become more intense and has lasted for longer periods of times. She has felt sorrow as she weaned her baby girl and has stopping picking up our 3 year-old and 5 year-old. Over the past few days, she has also felt the first side effects of her cancer medication, fevers and bone pain. We spend our days researching drugs, calling doctors, and hunting down medical records. April’s stage four breast cancer has arrived.

After listening to several doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners, April and I can now discuss the essential elements of this cancerous storm with some certainty. We know her tumor has existed at least since last November. At that time and on two ensuing occasions, April discussed a lump in her breast with her OGBYN. He ignored her concerns, saying he would schedule a mammogram or ultrasound for her in June if the lump still existed. April’s breast cancer has grown slowly,  feeding off of estrogen and progesterone. But with that being said, we know the cancer has had time to extensively flow throughout April’s body. The cancer has metastasized, expanding from the confines of her breast to reach her lymph nodes, her blood, and her bones. The cancer could also possibly reside in her liver, but the tests are not conclusive.

The ER+ and PR+ and HER2- breast cancer is considered a more treatable and manageable form of breast cancer. Employing hormone therapy and eventually chemotherapy, doctors think the cancer’s raging waters can be held at bay and potentially pushed back into the sea of suffering from whence they came. However, the storm will eventually adapt, regain strength, and come back to our shores.

Medicine cannot cure hormone based cancer.
According to the doctors, the cancer will most likely crash into our hearts with life-taking power in 6 or 7 years. But the doctor’s expectations are little more than the law of last year’s averages. In many ways, our storm still lacks a defined shape. Until April begins her treatment and the doctors measure how her cancerous storm responds to the various therapies, we can only vaguely speak of the storm’s path, duration, and ability to cause harm. April and I hope and pray that April will be able to successfully battle the waves of this storm for the next 15 to 20+ years.

Just as communities turn to sandbags, bulldozers, and the National Guard for help as massive storms approach, we have reached out to the top breast cancer clinics in Virginia and as well as the top three breast cancer clinics in the United States. We will do all in our power to bolster April’s natural defenses. We will begin exploring treatment options and clinical trials at Mayo Clinic, Sloan-Kettering, and UVA during the next two weeks. Hopefully we will be able to share more about the location and nature of April’s treatment come early July.

When storms of this life changing magnitude slam into our lives, we invariably find our minds drifting to the “why” questions. Why did God allow April’s OGBYN to ignore her concerns about a lump in her breast? Why did God send her, me, our children, and our extended families into this storm? Why did not allow her cancer in the first place?

I honestly don’t know why. But this I do know: God is good, and God is with us! Isaiah 43:1-2 says:

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

Isaiah spoke these words to Hezekiah. His kingdom was under attack and at the point of death. But God promised to be with his people as they suffer. April and I experienced the special presence of God when we lost our first-born-son Peter Alexander in 2013. Christ stood with us then. And we are sure that God is standing with us now because we are certain that Jesus left the tomb and reigns in heaven.

As we dive into the waves of the latest storm, we trust that God will strengthen our muscles of faith, belief, and trust. Each time we fear the waves will overwhelm us, God arrives and saves us. He has dried our many tears with the warmth of his love. And as we have begun to speculate the about a wifeless and motherless future, God’s Word has reminded us that we have nothing to fear. We are his redeemed people. No wave or fire will break us for our God stands with us amidst the storm. There is no fear to large for God. As the hymn says, “All I ever needed thy hand hath provided.”

In Mathew 8:23-27, the disciples were tossed violently by the sea. They turned to Jesus in a panic and said, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” Notice how Jesus responded:

And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”

We are tempted to fear. But then we look and see our savior resting peacefully for he rules the waves and April’s cancer.

He is our hope. As we suffer with Christ, we find our Lord and savior to be so sweet and so good. He’s with us, he hears us, and he will deliver us! We can confidently say that the words Psalm 34:8 become true with each passing day.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

Contact Info:

We have been blessed by the love of our families, our ABC family, and our friends. If you wish to contact us, we ask you to do the following:

Email us at: biblefighter@gmail.com 

You can reach us via snail-mail at : P.O. Box 637/ Amissville, VA 20106

You are also welcome two reach out to the elders of Amissville Baptist Church, Mark Hockensmith and Bill Brown, at: 540-937-6159.

Click here for our GOFundMe Page

Though April and I welcome inquirers and emails, calls, and texts of support, they can be overwhelming at times. We appreciate your patience with our responses.

We plan to also keep posting updates here at witkowskiblog.com

Thank you for your love, prayers, and never-ending support.

God is good!

Sustained By Grace Through Faith,

Peter & April