"Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars."
THE ABOVE scripture is found in the ninth chapter of Proverbs and if you will read the entire chapter you will find that two houses were under consideration. One house was the product of wisdom, and the other house was of the foolish woman. I think wisdom's house is figurative of the Church of Christ, and the other represents the false church. All has been done to make the Church of Christ secure and firm, but the foolish will fall by the wayside. I believe this house to be composed of all the children of God as chosen in Christ before the world began. It is not our desire to consider the house at this time, but to consider the foundation upon which this house is built. Surely the foundation is Christ Jesus and all who were chosen in Him will finally be blessed to view the seven pillars or principles of the doctrine of God, our Savior. The abstract of the faith of God's elect may be summed up thus: 1. . Sovereignty of God. 2. . Total depravity of man. 3. . Unconditional Election. 4. . Limited atonement or special redemption. 5. . Irresistible or efficacious grace. 6. . Preservation of the saints. 7. . Resurrection or complete immortalization of the saints. I believe these phases of the doctrine are experienced in the order named. The first six are experienced here in time and the seventh is to be experienced in the beyond.
The first lesson to be revealed to the child of God is His sovereignty. We are thinking in terms of seven so we think of God as eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, holy, living and triune. Yes, He is eternal. One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. He is of one mind. He has never learned anything new nor has He forgotten anything. Everything that has ever taken place, is taking place, or that ever will come to pass is just as present and vivid in His mind as if it were (at this very moment) taking place. Things that we experience are past, present and future with us because we are creatures of time and finite, but all things are as present with God. We wonder what the future holds for us and forget things that are past, but God being eternal sees it as now transpiring.
The second part of the first pillar of this firm foundation is the omnipotence of God. He is all-powerful. God says through the prophet, "I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from the ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." "The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass."
In the Scriptures it is said of God; "He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" God spake this world into existence. He only had to say, "Let there be light: and there was light." "As I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand." He is God "who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will."
God is omniscient. He is wise to the extent that His knowledge embraces all things because He has decreed them and is abundantly able to bring them to pass. There is not a thought or act of man that God does not know about. "He is before all things, and by him all things consist." Though the world seems to run at random, and events huddled together in blind confusion to our finite minds, God is so wise that He knows the outcome of all causes and effects, and so governs them that He makes perfect harmony out of all those seeming jarrings and discords, He is so wise that all things praise Him.
God is omnipresnet. He is present at all places at the same time. He is at all times at the same place. There is no possibility of hiding from God. In Him we live, move and have our being. He fills the universe.
Another characteristic of God is His eternal love. God is love. "I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee." He loved His people even when they were dead in trespasses and in sin. This love of God is the basis of their salvation. It is the characteristic that is planted in the hearts of God's people by the Holy Spirit.
God is holy. "The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works" (Psalms 145:17). There is no unrighteousness with God. He is of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look upon iniquity, therefore He consecrates the wicked acts of men to His own glory and praise to the good of His chosen people.
The seventh phase of His sovereignty is that He is triune. God, the Father; God the Son; and God, the Holy Ghost. God the Father, chose His people unto salvation before the foundation of the world. God, the Son, accomplished this salvation by performing the requirements of the law, and suffered the penalty of sin and satisfied justice by shedding His precious blood on Calvary's tree for the remission of their many sins. God, the Holy Ghost, operates upon them here in time by taking from them the stony heart and giving them a heart of flesh; reveals to them the truth as it is in Christ Jesus; comforts and consoles them in this life; and will (in the resurrection) baptize them with immortality.
Now let us consider the second pillar of this firm foundation. According to my experience, I was given a glimpse of the sovereignty of God. This was the stimuli that made manifest the fundamental truth of the total depravity of man. Job had a similar experience as recorded in Job 42:5,6, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." Isaiah speaks likewise in Isaiah 6:5. "Then said I, woe is me for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." God, first, revealed Himself to each of these causing them, secondly, to see their depravity.
What a contrast! God is eternal; I am timely. God is all-powerful; I have no ability. God is all-wise; I know nothing as God knows. God is everywhere at all times; I can be nowhere at any time upon volition of my own will, for I find myself a victim of circumstances over which I have no control. God loved us even when we were dead in trespasses and sin; I naturally love no one by myself. God is holy; I am unholy. God is triune in complete agreement; my natural desires war against the Spirit. I find myself totally depraved, not able to extricate myself from this terrible state. This experience agrees with Jer. 13:23. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil." Jesus expressed this incapacity of man to recover himself from this fallen state he is in when He said as recorded in John 6:44, "No man can come unto me, except the Father draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day." As long as the skin of the Ethiopian is black and the leopard is spotted there is no reason to expect goodness to spring from man. It is just as possible for the Ethiopian to change his skin or the leopard its spots. We must look to some other source than ourselves for anything good. We are so naturally constituted that we will trust in our own ability until God sees fit to reveal to us our true condition by His Spirit. Then we are made to "cry unto God, the most high; unto God that performeth all things for me." In this state of mind it is with pleasure and heart-felt thanks to God that we view the third pillar of this firm foundation, unconditional election.
"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4). Paul trust in the power and amazing grace of God as stated in his letter to Timothy, 2 Timothy 1:9, "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." Thus, it is not according to our works. Our finite minds would argue that surely it is according to our works. The Spirit teaches us contrary to natural reasoning so let us see what Paul has to say about it in Rom. 9:11-18. "(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharoah, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy upon whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." Jesus said to His disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." So we are unconditionally elected according to the good pleasure of God's will.
Let us further view this foundation by noting the fourth pillar or principle of truth, limited atonement. God's people were chosen in Christ Jesus. Christ's life and death must have been for them only. Concerning Jesus before His birth the angel said, "And she (Mary) shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins." The work of Christ was for God's people, not for the entire Adamic race. Christ said in John 10:14,15, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep." Christ died for the sheep, not for the goats. Christ said in His prayer to God as recorded in John 17:9, "I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine." Christ did not pray for the entire Adamic race. Paul tells the ministers of Ephesus in Acts 20:28, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." His blood was shed for the church, not for the world. Christ said in Matt. 20:28, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." He gave His life for many, not for all.
The fifth pillar is that of irresistible or efficacious grace. The teachings of the Scriptures is such that we must say that man in his natural state is radically corrupt. He is spiritually dead and must be saved by Christ if at all. He does not desire God; therefore, must have a new disposition before he can love God. He loves sin, therefore can never desire to be redeemed from it until he is wrought upon by the effectual working of God's mighty power. Jesus said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). This inward change wrought by supernatural power is termed in the Scriptures as "Called out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). A passing out of death unto life (John 5:24); a taking away of the heart of stone, and a giving of the heart of flesh (Ezek. 11:19); and the subject of the change is said to be a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17).
We had nothing to do with our physical birth but received it as a sovereign gift of God; we likewise have nothing to do with our spiritual birth but receive it also as a sovereign gift. Each occurred without any exercise of our own power, and even without our consent being asked. We no more resist the latter than we did the former. Consequently, salvation to whomsoever it may be granted is to see "Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). There is no such thing as a "self-made man"; the highest type man agrees with Paul, "By the grace of God I am what I am." God said through the prophet, Isaiah 56:11, "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth, it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it." When God says repent, you repent; when He says come, you come; when He says go, you go.
The doctrine of election and efficacious grace logically implies the certain salvation of those who receive these blessings. Therefore let us consider the sixth pillar, to with: the perseverance of the saints. Those who have been brought to Jesus for refuge have a firm foundation upon which to build their hope of eternal life. The iniquities of their own hearts together with all the Satanic influences will never cause them to fail. The same amazing grace that has brought us thus far will lead us home. Paul said in Rom. 8:29, "Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." It is an evidence that God has predestinated the recipients of these gifts to be like Him in character, destiny and glory and that He will infallibly carry out His purpose. "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). This day of Jesus Christ will be the crowning work of immortality in the resurrection. Psalms 138:8 reads, "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth forever." Paul states that "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." So God's dealings with His children are never ending, but will finally save them in heaven without the loss of one.
In this life God's people may experience a close view of the six fundamental principles or pillars of this firm foundation as God sees fit to reveal to them, but the seventh, or that of the immortalization or resurrection of the saints, is yet to be experienced in reality. Now we see as through a glass darkly but then face to face; now we know in part but then we will know as we are known. Now we look forward with deep anxiety and precious hope toward the reality of the seventh principle, the resurrection, which is to be the crowing work of salvation and is yet to be experienced actually and really by all the children of God. I desire to close this treatise by quoting 1 Cor. 15:51-58, "Behold, I show you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O, grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." Amen.
Elder E.J. Lambert
"Tried in the Furnace" Pgs 97 – 105