The Apostle Paul made a rhetorical inquiry of the Corinthian church, regarding their receipt of good things from God (1 Cor 4:7). His question was an affront to the arrogant boasting evident in that divided local congregation. Where is boasting in the context of the Christian life? It is not good, unless one is boasting in the Person and work of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:31). From Him are all things (Rom 11:36) and nothing is excluded. From God’s eternal decree, all that we are and all that we have manifests through divine providence. John the Baptist affirmed, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven (Jn 3:27).”
Salvation is the gift of God received by all to whom it is granted (Eph 2:8–9; Phil 1:29); and as many as received Him (Christ), to them He (God the Father) gave the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe in His name (Jn 1:12). It is God the Father’s great love in election (Eph 1:5; 1 Jn 3:1) that reveals His adopted children, who cry out in the Spirit of adoption, “Abba, Father (Rom 8:15)!”
Receiving Christ Jesus must be in accordance with the will of God (Jn 1:13). God’s will for one to be a recipient of so great a salvation is revealed by one’s receipt of the Holy Spirit as a gift (Acts 2:38). If one does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ (Rom 8:9), for the world cannot receive this Spirit of truth because it does not see Him or know Him (Jn 14:17). The recipient of Christ’s Spirit does indeed know the things freely given to him by God (1 Cor 2:12).
Having received the Spirit of the Lord, the born again are in receipt of new life (Rom 6:4; 2 Cor 3:6). This is the life of God, given by God to those in Christ Jesus (Jn 6:63; 2 Cor 3:6). It is abundant (Jn 10:10) and eternal life given by Jesus to His beloved (Jn 4:14; 6:27; 10:28; 17:2; 1 Jn 5:16, 20). He who is in receipt of God’s Son has the life (Jn 3:36), evidenced by one’s testimony of faith in the Word of God.
God’s written Word (the Bible) is preached to all (Mt 24:14; Mk 16:15), but only those who receive the Word, hear it, and believe what is implanted in them to the saving of their souls (Jn 17:8; Acts 11:1; Rom 10:17; 1 Thess 2:13; Jas 1:21).
Damnation, in contrast, is non-receipt. Those who do not receive the love of the truth — so as to be saved (2 Thess 2:10) — are not recipients of any of God’s good gifts to His people. Those who are perishing do not receive God’s Spirit (Rom 8:9), hence, they are void of all that the Spirit brings with Him, in taking up His abode in each vessel of mercy (Rom 9:23).
Jesus charged some of the Jews He encountered, with having no love for God in their hearts (Jn 5:42). He accused others of being deaf to the Word of God (Jn 8:47). He judged still others of being blind hypocrites (Jn 9:40–41). He made clear that those apart from Him had no life in themselves (Jn 6:53), evidenced by their having no faith in Him (Jn 10:26). All of these conditions existed for one reason. Those non-recipients, of the mercy and grace of God, did not belong to Him (1 Cor 3:23). They were not Christ’s sheep (Jn 10). The Holy Spirit did not cause them to be born again because Christ did not atone for them because the Father had not elected them before the foundation of the world.
Non-recipients of grace are in receipt of other things from God. Instead of having Christ as Savior, they have Christ as Judge (Gen 18:25; Acts 10:42; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5). They do receive just judgment, in fact, perfect justice. This perfect justice ensures the recipients of condemnation also receive eternal punishment, as a promise from God (Mt 25:41, 46; Jude 7; Rev 20:14–15).
We must remember that the unbeliever does not believe any of the revelation of God. How can he believe what he has not received? The believer is justified before God because He receives the whole counsel of God. The unbeliever rejects it all as one consequence of receiving nothing from God. He does not receive the Spirit, the Word, grace, faith, love, truth, hope, eternal life, justification, sanctification, nor glorification from God. Simply put, salvation belongs to God (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Rev 19:1), and if He does not grant salvation to a person, that person experiences no aspect of salvation. Still, some will parody the Spirit-filled Christian life for a time, but they inevitably fall away (Heb 6:4–6).
The reprobate is none of His. The reprobate from eternity serves a different purpose in God’s story. He or she is written into the Author’s script in order to display other attributes of God that would not be known or highlighted otherwise. Just like the bad guys in a movie, the reprobate serve God as the foil in the story. This creates incredible drama everywhere and throughout history. God is glorified in dealing with those He designed to serve Him in this capacity. Evil doers will soon meet their Judge, and the punishment they incur for eternity will display God’s perfect justice to the glory of God.
The elect and the reprobate receive everything they get from the Lord. There are no exceptions to this rule. Again, from Him are all things. God is working all things. All things are created with the design to bring glory to God, who is revealed in everything, as explained especially in the Holy Scriptures.
My dear reader, have you received good things from God? Your being granted faith to believe the good things are from God, even the bad things He causes to work for good, warrants thanksgiving (1 Thess 5:17–18). While you are praying without ceasing, are you giving thanks in everything for everything?
My dear reader, have you received everything from God except the grace to acknowledge Him? Are you withholding gratitude, reverence, obedience, and trust toward the One who made you and everything else?
Behold this test of faith through the questions above. God made you in one way or the other. To acknowledge God in Christ is faith from Him received by you. To deny Him is damnation from Him received by you. What do you have that you did not receive from Him, regardless of who you are? Answer: Nothing!
Spokane Valley, Washington
April 4, 2022