John Ritenbaugh, making some clarifications about the nature of our calling, reiterates that no one can come to God unless he is called (John 6:44). Human will is incapable of drawing one to God or to obeying His laws. Just like the lungs, human will is not sovereign in the body, but is just another servant, functioning according to the information it receives, programmed to accept one alternative and reject all others. Human will cannot determine action (or behavior) by itself. Human nature chooses on the basis of tissue drives or appetites, as exampled by Eve's selecting the forbidden fruit according to taste buds and Adam's desire for Eve, as drivers of their decision to disobey God's instructions. God must replace deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9) with a new one (Hebrews 8: 10) before one's preferences are steered toward conversion and sanctification.
David C. Grabbe: God is keenly interested in whether His people overcome Satan, including this world, which the Devil has shaped, and our own human nature, which he has corrupted and continues to influence. ...
John Ritenbaugh warns about the dangers of the emerging, new paradigm, purpose driven, outcome-based churches. The fourth descriptor was borrowed from a movement in modern education, emphasizing that the ends justify the means, glorifying political correctness, tolerance for all manner of perversion, and relativistic human philosophy. People who have embraced these concepts are oblivious to their obligations to Almighty God, but instead have been enticed to return to the rudiments of this world, based upon Satanic demon worship, leading us away from a wholesome relationship with Christ and into a pragmatic compromising with sin. We have an obligation to strive for the faith once delivered, continually yielding to the sound scriptural doctrine and to the leadership of Christ. The purpose driven church derives its momentum from human psychology and modern marketing efforts rather than upon God's calling and His truth. The emerging church, not wanting to alienate anybody, has turned its back on sound biblical doctrine, becoming a social, religious, do-good institution, embracing flawed human reason as its only moral barometer.
Richard Ritenbaugh, responding to a challenge of our understanding concerning Satan the Devil, systematically substantiates Satan's existence. Christ was an eyewitness to Satan's fall from heaven, and Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 verify the veracity of this event. Jude and Peter add detail regarding the sins of the angels, and their confinement as demons. Sadly, we as humans share the prison cell inhabited by Satan and his fallen demons. Pride, vanity, presumption, and self-absorption led to Satan's demise—being cast out as a profane thing. Satan's madness (that he is his own god) is the spirit of this world, and he still possesses great spiritual and political power on this earth, even to deceive the very elect. We become protected from Satan's destruction by 1) the blood of the Lamb, implying our deepening relationship with God; 2) the conduct of our lives, constantly adding to our character; and 3) the willingness to sacrifice for righteousness.
John Ritenbaugh focusing upon the topic of camouflage, concealment, or deception, warns that Satan, the grand master of deception, has provided what appear to be plausible alternatives to Christ's sacrifice for salvation. We are saved through a combination of the sinless life of Jesus Christ, His sacrifice, and His intercessory work as our High Priest. Some believable counterfeits, which (in many people's minds) compete for Christ's sacrifice and His intercessory priestly work are: (1) service in behalf of the brethren, (2) making a positive change or "turning over a new leaf," (3) right thinking, (4) denying ourselves (asceticism), and (5) sacrifice (even the supreme sacrifice). Though they are required of us, they do not save us. Salvation is the work of Jesus Christ.
Most of us would like God to respond and instantly gratify our desires. Consequently, because we desire instant gratification, we find operating by faith extremely difficult. We think that God does not seem in all that big of a hurry. We look at time differently than God does because, like Abraham, Moses, and Gideon, we do not trust that He has things under control. As we encounter our own Red Seas, our faith gets exercised and toughened. In His infinite patience, God, as the Master Teacher, uses His time to instruct us so that, despite frequent failure, we will eventually grow in faith and get turned around. Faith is the quality that a person exercises between the time he becomes aware of a need he hopes for and its actual attainment. Like a muscle, the more we exercise faith, the more it grows. God will manipulate our experiences to make both our weakness and His power clear.
John Ritenbaugh emphasizes the infinite superiority of Christ's priesthood and one-time sacrifice as contrasted to the repetitive Aaronic sacrifices, which were incapable of remitting sin, purging consciences, or providing access to God. The shadow image of the Old Covenant could not possibly provide the clarity, dimension, or detail of the reality of the New Covenant, which gives participants access to God and eternal life. Christ's sacrifice, a dividing point in history, was vastly superior because 1) His human experience ensures empathy, 2) God called Him to be High Priest, 3) His offering was more than adequate, 4) His offering reached the Holy of Holies, 5) His priesthood was established on God's oath, 6) His offering was absolutely sinless, 7) He lives eternally, 8) He occupies the heavenly sanctuary, 9) He sacrificed once for all, and 10) His sacrifice can cleanse a guilty conscience, provide access to God, and guarantee our inheritance.
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