Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bible Truth #11 - Philippians 1:29

Philippians 1:29
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Let’s start at the beginning of the verse. “For unto you it is given...” To who? “You.” To determine to whom Paul was writing, let’s go back to verse 1. In verse 1 he makes it clear - he’s writing to all the saints (Christians) in Philippi! He was not writing to the lost but the saved, the clear implication was that whatever follows in the next phrase of verse 29 was given to Christians and not the lost.

When quoting this verse, many Christians focus solely on the part of the verse where Paul writes that we will suffer. While that is true, Paul is actually emphasizing that suffering for Him is as much given to us as is our belief. Did you get that? Our belief was granted, it was GIVEN, to us. Our belief was GIVEN to us and without God sovereignly acting in accordance with His good pleasure, NO ONE WOULD BELIEVE. Most Christians today overlook that part of the verse. Early Christians understood that belief was given to them but they did not understand why they were suffering for the belief they had been given. So Paul gave them this “news flash” - Hey, not only was belief given to you, but suffering also.

This belief was not granted to all mankind and then men have a “choice” whether to accept it or not. When God gives belief, that man believes, period. Just like when God gives a man wisdom, that man is wise. To whom does God grant this belief? He grants belief only to those whom He chose, the Elect. And even then it wasn't on our behalf or to benefit us. It was given to us for Christ's sake, not ours, but on behalf of Christ. God loves those He has chosen and given to Christ. Since we were given to Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), God gave us a number of things when He saved us and among them is BELIEF. It was given to us for Christ’s sake - we were God’s gift to Christ and to make that gift worthy, God gave us something we could never acquire for ourselves, NOR DESIRE IT - belief, along with faith (Romans 12:3) and repentance (2 Timothy 2:25). That reconciles perfectly and understandably with John 6:29 when Jesus said that the work of God is that we believe on Him.

Once belief is given to us, the circle is nearly complete.
- We were chosen in Christ [by God] before the foundation of the world and we were given to Him by the Father (Ephesians 1:4).
- Christ paid the debt for us (those who were chosen) through His shed blood and then death on the cross. He did NOT pay the debt for those NOT chosen, those destined for Hell. (Romans 9:21-22)
- God raises Jesus from the dead and also raises the Elect who were in Him
- At a specific point in time in the life of one of His chosen, God quickens his dead spirit through faith, the faith that God gives him (Ephesians 2:8, Romans 12:3) as a gift. God then gives him belief (John 6:29, Philippians 1:29), repentance (2 Timothy 2:25), and understanding (Luke 24:45, 1 Corinthians 2:14, 2 Timothy 2:7).
- As the result of that quickening, and those gifts, we WILL come to Christ (John 6:37) because it was given to us by the Father (John 6:65).

I’ve had people tell me, “Yes, God gives belief to us but we then have a choice whether to exercise that belief or not.” First, that concept or theory is NOT in the Bible. He doesn’t give us the ability to believe and then our choice of accepting or rejecting it, He gives us BELIEF. There is a big difference between the ability to believe and belief. Second, under that assumption, God gives EVERYONE belief. Sorry, that concept is not in the Bible either.

Bottom line - our belief in God was given to us and if God didn't give it to us when He saved us, no one would believe because the lost man thinks Truth from the Holy Spirit is foolishness. (1 Corinthians 2:14, Bible Truth #1)

We become children of God NOT by the will of the flesh. (John 1:13)

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