“And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name [was] Simeon. And this man [was] righteous and devout, eagerly expecting [the] Consolation of Israel. And [the] Holy Spirit was upon him. And it happened to him, having been divinely instructed by the Holy Spirit, he was not to see death before he would see [the] Christ of [the] Lord. And by the Spirit he came into the temple. And [as] the parents [were] bringing in the child Jesus [for] them to do according to the custom of the Law concerning Him, even [Simeon] received Him into his arms. And [he] blessed God and said, Now, Master, You will let Your slave go in peace according to Your Word; because my eyes saw Your Salvation, which You prepared before [the] face of all the peoples; a Light for revelation [to the] nations, and [the] Glory of Your people Israel. And Joseph was marveling, also His mother, at the things being said concerning Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to His mother Mary, Behold, this One is set for [the] fall and rising up of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against; yea, a sword also will pierce your own soul, so that [the] thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:25-35; underlining mine).
Jesus Christ, the God-Man Mediator, the Sovereign Redeemer and Controller of the Universe “is set for [the] fall and rising up of many…for a sign spoken against…that [the] thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” True believers rejoice and tremble at this because they know that the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of their King makes the difference between being justly crushed beneath His feet and justly and mercifully washed in His blood (all underlining of Scripture mine).
“Sanctify Jehovah of Hosts Himself, and let Him [be] your fear; and let Him be your dread. And He shall be for a sanctuary, and for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of falling to the two houses of Israel; for a trap and for a snare to the ones living in Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. Bind up the Testimony, seal the Law among My disciples. And I will wait on Jehovah, who hides His face from the house of Jacob; and I will look for Him. Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah has given to me [are] for signs and wonders in Israel from Jehovah of Hosts, who dwells in Mount Zion” (Isaiah 8:13-18).
During painful and protracted times where God appears to hide the face of His providence, look for Him.
“Why do You stand far away, O Jehovah? Will You hide in times of distress?” (Psalm 10:1; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:58; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:13; Hebrews 6:10; James 5:10-11)
May the true people of God hold fast our confession of Jesus Christ, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and we may find grace for timely help (Hebrews 4:14-16).
“But thanks [be] to God, the [One] always leading us in triumph in Christ, and [the One] revealing through us the odor of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a sweet smell to God because of Christ in those being saved, and in those being lost; to the one, an odor of death unto death, and to the other, an odor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as the many, peddling the Word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God. We speak in Christ, in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).
“Who [is] this who comes from Edom [with] dyed garments from Bozrah, this One adorned in His clothing, bending in His great power? [It is] I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save! Why [is Your] clothing red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? I have trodden the winepress, I alone, and no man of the peoples [was] with Me. And I will tread them in My anger, and trample them in My fury; and their juice shall be spattered on My garments; and I will pollute all My clothes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come. And I looked, and no one [was] helping. And I wondered that no one [was] upholding. Then My own arm saved for Me, and My fury upheld Me. And I tread down peoples in My anger, and made them drunk in My fury. And I poured their juice to the earth. I will mention the mercies of Jehovah, the praises of Jehovah, according to all that Jehovah has benefited us, and the great good to the house of Israel, [by] which He benefited them according to His mercies, and according to the multitude of His loving-kindness” (Isaiah 63:1-7).
“… then He said, Lo, I come to do Your will, O God. He takes away the first in order that He may set up the second; by which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And indeed every priest stands day by day ministering, and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But He, offering but one sacrifice for sins, sat down in perpetuity [at the] right [hand] of God, from then on expecting until His enemies are placed [as] a footstool of His feet. For by one offering He has perfected in perpetuity the ones being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:9-14).
“Then laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil words, as newborn babes desire the pure soul-nourishing milk, that you may grow by it; if indeed you tasted that the Lord is good; to whom having drawn near, a living Stone, indeed having been rejected by men, but chosen by God, precious; you also as living stones are being built a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Because of this, it is also contained in the Scripture: Behold, I lay in Zion an elect, precious Stone, a Corner-foundation; and the [one] believing in Him shall not be ashamed, never! Then to you who believe [belongs] the preciousness. But to disobeying ones, [He is the] Stone which those building rejected; this One became [the] Head of the Corner, and a Stone-of-stumbling, and a Rock-of-offense to the [ones] stumbling, being disobedient to the Word, to which they were also appointed. But you [are] an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for possession, so that you may openly speak of the virtues of the [One] who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; [you] who then were not a people, but now [are] the people of God; the one not pitied [then] but now pitied” (1 Peter 2:1-10).
“… for [the children] not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of the One calling, it was said to her, The greater shall serve the lesser; even as it has been written, I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau. What then shall we say? [Is there] not unrighteousness with God? Let it not be! For He said to Moses, I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will pity whomever I will pity. So, then, [it is] not of the [one] willing, nor of the [one] running, but of the [One] showing mercy, of God. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, For this very thing I raised you up, so that I might display My power in you, and so that My name might be publicized in all the earth. So, then, to whom He desires, He shows mercy. And to whom He desires, He hardens. You will then say to me, Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will? Yes, rather, O man, who are you answering against God? Shall the thing formed say to the [One] forming [it], Why did You make me like this? Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, out of the one lump to make one vessel to honor, and one to dishonor? But if God, desiring to demonstrate His wrath, and to make His power known, endured in much long-suffering vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction, and that He make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy which He before prepared for glory, whom He also called, not only us, of Jews, but also out of nations” (Romans 9:11-24).
“But shun profane, empty babblings, for they will go on to more ungodliness, and their word will have growth like gangrene, of whom [are] Hymenaeus and Philetus, who missed the mark concerning the truth, saying the resurrection already has come, and overturn the faith of some. However, the foundation of God stands firm, having this seal, [The] Lord knew the [ones] being His; also, Let everyone naming the name of Christ depart from unrighteousness. But in a great house not only are there vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Then if anyone purifies himself from these, he will be a vessel to honor, having been sanctified and made useful to the Master, having been prepared to every good work. But flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, with the [ones] calling on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:16-22).
The reprobate (or non-elect) vessels are those whom God has unconditionally determined to damn before the creation of the world. The elect vessels are those whom God has unconditionally determined to save before the creation of the world. These vessels of honor and dishonor DO NOT ultimately choose for themselves what kind of vessel they will be; rather, by their reaction to the work of Jesus Christ as making the difference between salvation and damnation by demanding and ensuring the salvation of all whom He represented, it is revealed what kind of vessel GOD HAS CHOSEN them to be.
“Then let it be known to you, men, brothers, that through this One remission of sin is announced to you. And everyone believing in this One is justified from all things which you could not be justified by the Law of Moses. Then watch [that] the thing spoken in the Prophets may not come on you: Behold, [you] despisers, and marvel, and perish, because I work a work in your days, a work which you would in no way believe if anyone declares [it] to you. But the Jews having gone out of the synagogue, the nations begged that these words be spoken to them on the next sabbath. And the synagogue being broken up, many of the Jews and of the devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who speaking to them persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And in the coming sabbath, almost all the city was gathered to hear the Word of God. And the Jews seeing the crowds, they were filled with jealousy, and contradicted the things being spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. But speaking boldly, Paul and Barnabas said, It was necessary [for] the Word of God to be spoken first to you; but since you indeed thrust it away and judge yourselves not worthy of eternal life, behold, we turn to the nations. For so the Lord has commanded us, I have set You for a Light of nations, that You be for salvation to [the] end of the earth. And hearing, the nations rejoiced and glorified the Word of the Lord. And as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the Word of the Lord was borne through all the country. But the Jews excited the devout and honorable women, and the chief ones of the city, and raised up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and threw them out from their borders. But these shaking off the dust of their feet on them, they came into Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and [the] Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:38-52).
“Your sins are abominable in the sight of God. Even if you strive to do your best to love God and love your neighbor, you cannot do these things perfectly, and even your best efforts at religion and morality are abominable if you believe that any part of salvation is based on these things. Your sins must be punished. They have either already been punished in the person of the substitute, Jesus Christ, or they will be punished when God sends you to hell. Those for whom Jesus Christ died, whose sins have already been punished, will believe this gospel. Those for whom He did not die, whose sins have not yet been punished, will not believe. All those for whom Jesus Christ died will go to heaven. All those for whom Jesus Christ did not die will go to hell.
God uses this truth of His gospel to accomplish His purposes among men. For some, this commandment to believe the truth about what Jesus Christ has done to save His people makes them angry and offends them, because it says that they are under the penalty of God’s condemning justice unless they are loved and accepted by God on account of the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. For these, God may use His message to confirm them in their rebellion and to seal their eternal condemnation. For others, this commandment to believe brings them spiritual life and causes them to love what Jesus Christ has done. It is the power of God to give them an understanding of the only way to be reconciled to God. For we are a sweet smell to God because of Christ in those being saved, and in those being lost; to the one, an odor of death unto death, and to the other, an odor of life unto life (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). Should you believe, be sure of this: your faith is a gift that God has given you and is a miracle that comes from the power of the wonderful message of His gospel. For by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves; [it is] the gift of God; not of works, that not anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). If you obey God’s command to believe the gospel, you must thank God that this belief is a miracle from Him!”