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Posts Tagged ‘election’

Regeneration Does Precede Faith (I Was Wrong)

Posted by Job on March 22, 2013

In the past, I have vehemently criticized the doctrine that regeneration precedes faith. The reason for this was my ignorance. I took regeneration to be another word for conversion in that it had the exact same meaning.

However, regeneration only refers to passing from death to life. It is what happened in the natural sense when Lazarus and a number of unnamed characters were raised from the dead by those such as Jesus Christ, Elijah and Elisha. Those natural regenerations were types, or prefigurements, of the spiritual regeneration that happens when a sinner becomes a believer. We can include the resurrection of Jesus Christ as this sort of natural regeneration, as Jesus Christ’s physical existence went from being dead to alive. Obviously, being the sinless perfect and pre-existing God and Son of God, Jesus Christ needed no spiritual regeneration of any sort. This is in contrast with Lazarus, who not only experienced natural regeneration after being dead four days, but being one born into original sin and having sinned – as the soul that sinneth shall die as Lazarus did – he needed to receive spiritual regeneration also.

The subject of confusion: being regenerated, being born again, is only part of the salvation process. The actual conversion process happens after regeneration. Further, the effectual calling occurs before regeneration.

1. Effectual call: this is when God (the Holy Spirit) calls the sinner to salvation. It takes place when the sinner hears the gospel. (Note: the providence of God must place the sinner in position to hear the gospel first.)

2. Regeneration: this is when the Holy Spirit raises the sinner from the dead.

3. Conversion: this is when the sinner receives faith from the Holy Spirit, believes the gospel of Jesus Christ and hence fulfills John 3:16, Romans 10:8-9 etc.

The effectual calling cannot and will not happen unless one has first been chosen (elected by God the Father unto salvation from before the foundation of the world). The regeneration will not occur until one has been called. And salvation occurs after regeneration.

Why must regeneration precede faith? I am certain that you have heard that “dead men tell no tales.” Similarly, dead men cannot have faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). How can a dead man have assurance or conviction? A secular dictionary defines faith as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” How can a dead man have trust or confidence of any sort in anything, let alone a complete and total one in the unseen God? A dead man cannot even have wishy washy confidence in the casket that he is lying in. Why? Because he is dead. He doesn’t even know that he is in a casket. He has no feelings, thoughts or emotions.

This is not a contrivance of philosophy or idle speculation, but a truth clearly taught in scripture. Consider 1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.” Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” But that is Paul’s doctrine, right? Well from the words of Jesus Christ in John 3:3: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Now John 3:3 is key. Seeing the kingdom of God or entering the kingdom of God is always used by Jesus Christ to refer to salvation. Always. So, Jesus Christ explicitly states that one must be born again before that person can be saved. Again, when Jesus Christ said “except”, He was making a condition. So, the condition of being saved was being born again. Regeneration precedes conversion or salvation. And take a look at Ephesians 2:8, which says “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God.” Regeneration precedes salvation. Salvation comes by faith. Thus, regeneration precedes faith. It is clearly, explicitly taught in scripture.

The doctrine of regeneration precedes faith is considered to be a Calvinist distinctive. However, many non-Calvinists believe so also without acknowledging or admitting it. Many non-Calvinists believe that God makes a change in the sinner that allows the sinner to make a choice to accept or reject him. Of course, the acceptance is a decision made through faith, and the rejection is a decision made through a lack of faith according to this doctrine. The non-Calvinist does not refer to this as regeneration, of course, because he recognizes that regeneration must necessarily result in salvation. So the non-Calvinist regards this as God’s merely opening the sinner’s eyes and hearts for the purposes of allowing him a free choice.

Problems with this doctrine are many. The Bible makes it clear that unsaved people are spiritually dead. So the person goes from spiritually dead to “sort of dead”, akin to the woman who says that she is “sort of pregnant”? Just as you are either pregnant or not, you are either dead or not … there is no in-between! Second, how can the “sort of dead/alive” person choose to believe and accept God on this basis in the absence of faith? Simple: he cannot. He cannot accept the gospel and believe without faith. And if God gives him faith, he will inevitably believe. There is no such thing as conditional, decision-based faith that is only activated on choice. So, for the sinner to choose God once God makes this choice possible requires the sinner to already have faith present within himself. And if this faith is present, he never was a sinner to begin with, and he was never spiritually dead to begin with. The Bible states that without faith it is impossible to please God. The converse would mean that those who have faith are already acceptable to God, meaning that they were righteous, justified, regenerate and converted already. Instead of being in a condition of original sin, this person would have had to have been inherently righteous already without having heard the gospel and without need of Jesus Christ. Moreover, if such a righteous person were to confess and repent of his sinful condition and state his need for Christ to be his savior, that person would be a liar!

The doctrine of regeneration coming after faith – or truthfully that regeneration and conversion are the same – is due to people being determined to believe that God must offer a man a free choice to accept or reject Him in order to be just and righteous. However, accepting God cannot be made in the absence of faith! The Bible is clear on this. Thus, denying that regeneration precedes faith is nothing more than an absolute determination to believe a lie.

This also solves the problem of those who fall away and confirms the doctrine of perseverance of the saints, or “once saved always saved.” Be not deceived: faith is not mere belief. Faith only comes by the Holy Spirit after the Holy Spirit regenerates you. And after conversion, the Holy Spirit seals you and keeps you in the faith. The Bible is clear on this. The Bible is also clear with the parable of the sower that it is possible to believe the gospel at one point but later renounce that belief. The Bible further states clearly that it is possible to believe the gospel, retain this belief but not bear fruit. The Bible further still states that it is possible to believe the gospel, do good works and bear fruit but not be obedient. These are the teachings of Jesus Christ, and Christ makes it clear that those people (the ones who renounce the gospel after believing at one point, those who believe but do not bear fruit, and those who believe and bear fruit but are disobedient) will be cast into the lake of fire! Why is this so? Because these people believed without receiving faith, and they did not receive faith because they are still unregenerate. You cannot have faith and be spiritually dead, but you can certainly believe and be spiritually dead. Hence, rejecting the truth that regeneration precedes faith is one of the reasons why many Christian denominations (Methodists and many Pentecostals for example) believe that it is possible to lose your salvation. The regeneration precedes faith doctrine provides both absolute proof that those who fall away were never saved to begin with, and provides absolute assurance that those who are truly saved will bear fruit, attain obedience and endure trials and tribulations until the end, even unto death!

So God will accept anyone who comes to Him through His Son, because those who come to God are those that God has called to do so. Is God calling you today? If so, repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. If you wish for more information on how to do so:

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Charles Spurgeon Sermon – Sovereign Grace and Man’s Responsibility From Romans 10:20-21

Posted by Job on February 1, 2012

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Predestination Is In The Bible. Predestined Foreknowledge Is Not!

Posted by Job on December 31, 2010

Many Christians acknowledge the clear Biblical evidence concerning predestination. However, in order to preserve their belief that God must humble Himself, bow before, and submit to man’s free will decisions, they have incorporated this Biblical evidence into a doctrine called “predestined foreknowledge.” It basically allows free will to coexist with the rest of Calvinism (as opposed to pure Wesleyanism, which rejects Calvinism completely) and is largely the position of most evangelical and fundamentalist churches. However, this position still falls short of making the best use of the Bible’s evidence.

The “predestined foreknowledge” doctrine is based on Romans 8:29, which reads “For 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.” Unfortunately the piece below, which otherwise addresses all the other issues adequately, does not properly deal with this verse, instead choosing to deal with other verses that more explicitly teach the predestination doctrine.

Instead, the problem is a translation issue. The word translated “foreknow”, proginōskō, should actually be translated as foreordain. As a matter of fact, proginōskō is translated as foreordain in 1 Peter 1:20. And of course, this text, by the Palestinian Jew Peter as opposed to the more Hellenized diaspora Jew Paul,  says “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you”. So, Romans 8:29 should read “”For whom he did foreordain, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” And that allows Romans 8:29 to be interpreted with 1 Peter  1:13-25. Not surprisingly, if you do that, they confirm each other in one coherent, unified doctrinal statement which relates election, predestination and salvation to sanctification, perfection and glorification in Christ Jesus.

The bottom line: Romans 8:29, especially when it is interpreted with 1 Peter 1:13-25 and being consistent with the translation of the same word (totally appropriate as they are used in the same context), clearly declares that God predestinates based on His choice, and not on His foreknowledge of our choice. Before you say “no fair, why can’t I just interpret proginōskō to be “foreknew” in 1 Peter 1:20″? Simple, because saying that God foreknew about the blood of Jesus Christ from the foundation of the world makes no sense whatsoever. God the Father didn’t just know that Jesus Christ would die for our sins. God PLANNED for Jesus Christ to die for our sins. How do we know this? The words of Jesus Christ Himself. John 3:16 – a favorite of free will Christians – does not say that for God so loved the world that He knew in advance that His only Son would come. Instead, John 3:16 says that for God so loved the world that He gave, He sent, His only Son. Jesus Christ bore witness in the gospels that it was God the Father’s plan, that it was God the Father who sent Him, and that He was being obedient to what God the Father ordained in advanced, not to what God knew would happen in advance and adjusted or adapted to. That is why even though “foreknew” is the preferred translation of proginosko (which is why the translators chose it for Romans 8:29), they had to use foreordain in 1 Peter 1:20 because there was no other viable option. For instance, the New Living Translation gives 1 Peter 1:20 to be “God chose Him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days”, meaning that they translated proginosko in that passage to mean “God chose Jesus Christ by foreordaining Him.” And that fits John 15:16, where Jesus Christ says to the church (through His apostles): “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

Now that Romans 8:29 has been dealt with

Please read:

How are predestination and election connected with foreknowledge?

Then

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan Today!

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The Absolute Sovereignty Of God In Salvation By Richard Warmack

Posted by Job on December 22, 2010

This sermon is VERY HARD to take!

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“I don’t understand Election” Paul Washer answers

Posted by Job on August 31, 2009

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On The Origin Of Sin And Evil

Posted by Job on August 24, 2009

It is a vexing question for Christians: the origin of evil. If God did not create evil, is not the author of evil, and does not tempt with evil, why does evil exist? Where did it come from? And why did God not prevent or destroy it? Why did man (and Satan) fall, and why did God not act to prevent it?

To begin to answer these questions, we must not start with evil and sin. Instead, we must start with holiness. Jesus Christ Himself stated that there is none holy but God in a statement recorded in each of the synoptic gospels: Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18, and Luke 18:19. Making this statement of Jesus Christ even more unusual is the context, in which He appeared to be deflecting the statement of the rich young ruler who was assigning this attribute to Him. Jesus Christ did so not to deny His own holiness or His deity, but rather because the rich young ruler did not recognize His deity. The rich young ruler did not approach Jesus Christ with the mind and heart that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but instead as if he were approaching just another rabbi. So, Jesus Christ told the rich young ruler not to credit any man with having a divine attribute, that is something belonging only to God. So clearly only God is holy.

What, then is holiness? Holiness for the purposes of this exercise is total separation from and lack of sin or evil. Sin and evil, therefore, is that which God is unconditionally separate from and as a result is hated and rejected by God … that which has no portion with God and God has no portion with it. Further, being sovereign, God has the sole right to determine what is sin and what isn’t, including but certainly not limited to defining by His command, including declaring sin to be the breaking of His command. Thus, it is necessary and sufficient to say that Adam fell simply by doing something that God told him not to do. God being Adam’s creator and sovereign had every right to give Adam commands and to punish Adam for not keeping them. Thus, there had to be nothing inherently wrong or evil about eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (i.e. nothing intrinsically wrong with the tree itself that made it sinful to eat) in order for God to convict Adam of sin and thereby condemn him for eating it. Adam’s doing something that God told him not to do was enough in and of itself. And by the mere act of disobeying God, Adam demonstrated that he did not live up to God’s standard of holiness.

This should not surprise anyone. Indeed, it is inevitable. No one can live up to God’s standard of holiness but God. In order to live up to God’s standard of holiness, one has to be eternal, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. Any entity lacking those qualities will eventually inevitably fall into corruption. This has to happen, this will happen because of the limited nature of created things. For example, consider moral agents. Even in the absence of original sin, a created moral agent will fail to always behave perfectly because of the lack of perfect knowledge – that is omniscience – required to do so. Even if this moral agent were given perfect knowledge – or at the very least the sufficient knowledge required to function in a limited arena – the moral agent would lack the perfect will or desire to use this knowledge in the right way. Not knowing the consequences of one’s actions (and by this I mean the consequences that every single action will have for all time) alone is something that prevents a limited being from being eternally holy, because to be eternally holy by definition means being free of limitation. (I am not stating that the sole cause of the lack of holiness is a lack of knowledge – which teeters on gnosticism – but a lack of knowledge can certainly cause a lack of perfection. Adam possessed all of the knowledge required not to sin, but he still sinned because he was limited in otherwise.)

Again, this is holiness and the absence from evil according to God’s perspective, not according to man’s religious, theological, or philosophical standards. Man cannot even comprehend the holiness of God, and what limited knowledge that we have of these things is due to what God has graciously revealed to us for the purpose of making Himself known to us and drawing us to Him. Thus, the only conclusion is that to create moral agents – man and angels – was to create beings would inevitably sin due to their limited nature and their ability to act on that nature in a way that would fail to live up to God’s standards.

Does this make God the creator or author of evil? God forbid. Creation was perfect and sinless when God accomplished it … God declared it to be “very good” in Genesis 1:31. The Hebrew word translated “good”, which is “towb”, does not only mean physically and structurally sound or pleasant (though this is certainly the case) but also morally or ethically good, such as that which Jesus Christ bore witness of to the rich young ruler. So by God calling creation “good”, it meant that creation possessed an original holiness or righteousness. There was not an evil thing present in creation at this time. So what of Satan? Ezekiel 28:15 tells Satan: “Thou [wast] perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” Similar to “towb”, the Hebrew word “tamilyn”, translated perfect, has moral meanings i.e. sound, wholesome, unimpaired, innocent, having integrity, what is complete or entirely in accord with truth and fact. The word “tamilyn” is also translated as “perfect” when describing the ways of God in such places as Deuteronomy 32:4 and Psalm 18:30. So, iniquity was not created as part of Satan, but rather Satan, by making use of his own moral agency, generated his own iniquity.

And why did Satan use his own moral agency to fall, as well as the other angels who joined him in rebellion? The answer is in 1 Timothy 5:21, which is that Satan and his demons were not elect. Being created in a state of original innocence but unable to attain eternal absolute holiness by virtue of being so limited as a created being, Satan and his demons used their free agency to fall. The angels who did not join Satan in his rebellion were prevented by doing so not by the purity of their own moral agency, for they were subject to the same limitations as Satan. Instead, they did not join Satan only because God prevented them, because God preserved and sustained them with His power. In short, the angels did not fall because they were elect, and they did not elect themselves but rather God elected them.

So is God responsible for the sins of Adam, Satan, and all who followed them by failing to elect them? God forbid. Claiming such a thing would deny the meaning of moral agency. To use a very imperfect illustration: consider parents and their children. Consider the case of parents who do all that they possibly can for their children, including providing loving stable homes, discipline, food and shelter, education, and religious training, yet for all their efforts their children turn out rotten anyway. Are the parents to blame? Of course not. What is more, even in the case of parents who are much less responsible and honorable in the treatment of their children, it is acknowledged by society (and more important it is ackonwledged in the Bible) that the adult children of parents make their own decisions and are responsible for them. So, if parents are not held accountable for the moral decisions of their children, how much less is God responsible for the moral agency of humans and angels? Charging the sin of humans and angels to God is claiming that God was the author of evil for accomplishing creation in the first place, and therefore God was not within His rights to perform creation. Of course, that denies God’s position as sovereign. This is the common human error of allowing God a degree of relative sovereignty. This is the type of sovereignty afforded to human kings or nations, and is necessary because A) human kings and nations have limitations and B) such entities have to coexist with other kings and nations. This is not the case with God, as He has no limitations to His knowledge or power, and He is the Unique God, there are no other gods beside Him, so He does not need to coexist or share His dominion or glory with anyone.

Thus, God had the absolute right to accomplish creation, and being holy the work of His hands (which He does not despise! Job 10:3) creation was sinless and innocent in its original state, with God being solely responsible for its original innocence. The fall of moral agents into sin due to their own actions was their own responsibility, and not in any way blamed on God or chargeable to God in a way that is similar (again in a very limited and imperfect fashion) to how the waywardness of children is not blamed on their righteous parents. (As an example, consider that the prophet Samuel’s children did not walk in his path, a fact that was never blamed on Samuel by scripture. Also, even the fact that the priest Eli’s sons were wicked were not blamed on Eli. Instead, God only charged Eli for failing to attempt to restrain – that is discipline – his evil sons!) So, the issue is God’s knowing that His moral agents – if left to their own devices – would fall. However, there is a great difference between knowing that something will happen and being responsible for it happening. People who claim that God’s knowing that created moral agents would fail is the same as causing moral agents to fail are simply looking for an excuse to accuse God so that they may justify their own sins. Amazingly, certain Christians – responding to an argument that is false and dishonest on its face – attempt to claim that God did not know that His moral agents would fail and simply reacted when they did. Not only does this notion deny God’s omniscience, but it goes further, implying that God would somehow be unaware of the effects of the limitations of man and angels until He saw these limitations in action. This is the (increasingly popular) heresy of open theism.

Some argue that God’s failure to universally prevent His limited creation from corruption as He does with elect angels (and as He will with His elect humans in heaven) makes Him responsible for evil. Again, that is denial of the true meaning of responsibility and moral agency, a position taken by sinful man to justify his own evil. Proof that this position is sinful is that it was the first excuse made by Adam after the fall! When God asked Adam the reason for his sin, Adam replied in Genesis 3:12 “And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” In other words, Adam attempted to claim that God caused or at least tempted him to commit evil by giving him Eve, so therefore God was either responsible or shared in the responsibility by giving him Eve to begin with. God did not so much as dignify Adam’s accusation with a response, and neither should we dignify those who claim that God caused the fall of mankind and angels by not using a policy of universal election. Instead, it is well within the prerogative of a sovereign God to elect and predestine according to his own desires. Those who are not elected do not perish because of God’s being the cause of their evil state, for God made creation in a state of original innocency. Instead, those who are not elected perish because of their own sin. God does not predestine people to wrath. Quite the contrary, and against the error of double predestination advocated by Theodore Beza and similar, it is not God’s will that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). Instead, what happens is that those whom God does not intervene on their behalf fall into sin of their own accord. As Romans 1:18-32 states, God gives such people up to their own evil, and they are without excuse. Were God to be blamed in any way for not practicing universal election, Romans 1:18-32 would be demonstrably false, and moreover God would have been compelled to respect Adam’s accusation against Him in the Garden of Eden with “You know, you are right. You will go unpunished.” God forbid that this should be so! Instead, rather than charging God with unfairness for not practicing universal election, it is totally, thoroughly the work of wholly unmerited grace from God that any part of creation is saved at all. (Please note: this is not some Pelagian denial of original sin which states that man is condemned not through Adam but instead is condemned upon the commission of the first sin. Incidentally, that is what some forms of hyper-Arminianism and hyper-Wesleyanism holds, but such positions deny the epistle to Romans and similar. Instead, this only explains why the sin of Adam was inevitable, and God’s placing Adam in a perfect environment and giving him only a single command for which he had no reason whatsoever to break is proof of this.)

An imperfect but still workable illustration of this is given by Will Metzger in his book on evangelism Tell The Truth. Suppose that a baker were to make a batch of cookies that for whatever reason were flawed: too much or too little sugar, overcooked, flawed ingredients, etc. Are you to blame for making the cookies in the first place? Of course not, it is your kitchen, you can make whatever you want in it. Are you obligated to save or use all of the cookies? Of course not, they’re your cookies. You made them with your own labor in your own kitchen with your own ingredients. The cookies have no case against you and no say concerning  their fate, and – being the only cook – no one else has any say either. You did nothing wrong in making the cookies, you do nothing wrong by discarding them on account of the cookies being flawed. But what if you decide to keep some of the cookies? If they aren’t sweet enough, you put icing on them. If they are burned, you scrape the bottom and the edges off. How many? Its your decision. Which? Again, your decision. Are you wrong or unfair for keeping only some and not sparing all? Says who? Again, you own these cookies and you get to decide that happens to them, and saving any of a batch of bad cookies shows your patience and willingness to overlook faults as a cook. (As well as being someone who REALLY likes cookies.) Again, claiming that the cook is unrighteous for baking in the first place or for saving some of the cookies but not all would be considered absurd. After all, the chef’s prerogative, right? So why do we deny this same prerogative to God? It is true, humans are more valuable than cookies. But it is equally true that God is more valuable than human chefs! Now of course this illustration is imperfect, for our sins are not due to such things as using flawed ingredients or leaving us in the oven too long; were any such thing the case it would be possible to state that God is the author of evil. Instead, this illustration only explains why God cannot be charged with evil because of performing creation and of not practicing universal election.

Thus, it was because of inherent limitations that sin was inevitable for man and angels. And it is only because of the loving grace of our Sovereign Creator God who lacks such limitations (and therefore is in a position and has the ability and prerogative to dispense such grace) that any humans and angels are spared eternal destruction. Praise and glory be to our righteous and loving God for He is worthy to be praised! Honor Him and give Him glory, for His rule is over all and shall last forever!

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Regarding Abortion, Jesus Christ, Joseph And Mary: What If Mary Had Chosen Abortion?

Posted by Job on February 23, 2009

This powerful post on the topic of abortion from brother Laz caused me to ponder on the whole anti – abortion political movement and its influence on evangelical Christianity, particularly the fact that a great deal of tolerance is bestowed by evangelical political leaders upon those who profess to be Christian so long as they are sufficiently pro – life no matter what other flaws these “Christian pro – lifers” have in their doctrinal systems and lifestyles. Truthfully, other than perhaps the work of Billy Graham (and before him John Wesley), nothing has been more effective at uniting evangelical Protestants with Roman Catholics and (lately) Mormons and not to mention the wealthy, powerful decadent “Christian in name only” personalities active in politics and politiically driven media than the pro – life movement, which itself is but a part of the “family values theology” which again is part of the “Christian culture/Christian nation theology.”  

So, I recounted during Election 2008 that presidential candidate John Edwards (who despite his support for abortion and homosexuality and – more important – his personally being an adulterer, making him no different from plenty of abortion and gay rights opponents who are also adulterers and fornicators, claims to be a devout Christian of Southern Baptist leanings) hired viciously anti – Christian atheist Amanda Marcotte to publicize his campaign. Among many of the “witty gems” that Marcotte produced was something to the effect of: what if Mary was on Plan B (the abortion pill) when Jesus Christ was conceived. (Actually, Marcotte’s words were much more mocking of God and vulgar.) Yet, this evil woman’s point was a good one: that the agenda of the “religious right” was not religious at all, but a cultural and political agenda. Now it is true that many of these people have indeed integrated culture and politics into their theological worldview, but the result is something that teeters on being a false religion that rejects the reason why Jesus Christ came (to die on the cross for our sins) and before then why Israel and Judaism were formed (so that Jesus Christ could come to die on the cross for our sins) in the first place. 

After all, Marcotte was somewhat correct in her mocking: abortion pills and other modern forms of contraception were not available to Mary at the time that Jesus Christ was conceived and in the nation and culture that Jesus Christ was born into. Now from the perspective of a political (worldly and carnal by definition) Christian, the response would be to imagine if it had been and gasp with horror at what might have been were our abortion pill culture had been in existence in Mary’s Roman Empire, and had Mary availed herself of it. And you know what? That is not only a perspective that rejects faith, but also history.

For the Roman Empire that Jesus Christ was born into was not a “Christian nation” and it was also not a “moral family values” one. Instead, there were multitudes of religions and bizarre abominable practices. For instance, homosexuality was commonly practiced, and if a man did not want his family, not only could he easily receive a divorce, but if he did not want to bother with divorce proceedings provided that he was a Roman citizen he could simply have the entire family –  his wife and children and everyone living in his house – killed. So, the world, the western culture that Jesus Christ was born into was not a family values culture. Furthermore, it was still not a family values culture when He finished His work and ascended into heaven. It was wicked before Jesus Christ came, was wicked when He departed, and will be wicked when He returns. Jesus Christ stated that this world and its cultures would always reject Him and those who truly know and represent Him. The “family values/Christian culture” theologians get around this by claiming “oh, Jesus Christ wasn’t talking about OUR culture and nation when He said that … He was only talking about the Pharisees, Sadduccees, and the rest of those wicked Jews.”

And so, in the decidedly “anti – family” that was the Roman Empire, do you know what else was available? A primitive form of abortion, along with infanticide and primitive contraception. So what if Mary had decided to avail herself of what was available and commonly practiced in the culture and gotten an abortion? After all, though betrothed, she was still technically single. She was also impoverished, belonged to a marginal class even among Jews, and her being pregnant would ruin practically any chance of getting married, which was her only practical hope of financial security and/or social mobility. Oh yes, there was also the fact that under Jewish law, she could have been killed by stoning. So, Mary had every reason to furtively seek out the Romans to receive an abortion, a decision which of our last several presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama have stated that they would have fully supported. (Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush made no such statements, but Bush was on record as opposing the overturn of Roe v. Wade and Reagan for his part signed America’s most liberal abortion bill into law as governor of California, and, as he himself was a divorcee, signed a no – fault divorce bill into law as well.) But Mary did not.

Joseph for his part had his options as well. He could have handed Mary over to be stoned. Or he could have divorced and abandoned her and the child. And keep in mind: there is no scriptural evidence that Joseph had the full benefit of knowledge that Mary did. The Bible does not relate Joseph being told that Mary’s child was the Son of God and the Messiah. The Bible only records Joseph being told that the child was of the Holy Spirit. (And keep in mind this context: Judaism taught that ALL conceptions were the work of the Holy Spirit.) Also, Joseph was not given this information in an awesome angelic visitation as was Mary. It came to him in a dream that would have been very easy to later deny and reject as part of justifying his decision to rid himself of responsibility for a child that was not his, and of the woman who became impregnated with such a child while she was engaged to him. After all, consider this fellow’s plight. The fact that Mary was pregnant before they were officially married with a child that was not his … how do you keep something like that secret, and prevent being the subject of gossip, scorn, ridicule and rejection, especially from your own family? But like Mary, Joseph did the right thing. 

And why did Mary and Joseph both do the right thing concerning Jesus Christ, ensuring not only His birth, but that His birth that would fulfill prophecies that would demonstrate to the Jews and to the world His identity? Simple: they were righteous people that obeyed God. Their righteousness was not the product of growing up in a “Christ honoring culture in a Christian nation with Christian values encoded in their system of laws.” In other words, it was not due to abortion being unavailable to Mary, not an option for her legally or practically. Mary had every opportunity to do wrong, but chose to do right.

For Joseph, the opposite was actually true. For him, the right thing to do according to the Torah would have been to take Mary to the priests and other religious and legal authorities to be stoned to death. Even though many who have studied Jewish history during the period state that stonings for adultery and other violations of the Sinai code had become exceedingly rare during that time, by taking Mary to the priests, Joseph would have fulfilled his own responsibility under the law. And further, it can be argued that Joseph’s plans to divorce Mary secretly without exposing her to public shame – or threat of death – qualified as his understanding Jesus Christ’s teachings of the weightier matters of the law, which are judgment, mercy, and faith.

But instead, Joseph and Mary did the right thing, which was to trust and obey God. Mary did not need a “Judeo – Christian set of laws” or a  “values based society” in order to keep her from sinning by abortion or anything else. She merely needed to be righteous, to love God by keeping His commandments. And Joseph would have actually been conforming to his Jewish legal and cultural context, righteous according to the externals of the law, by turning Mary over the authorities. The fact that he was pondering how to exceed the external righteousness of his religious and cultural systems in the first place, that he was trying to do more than what was required of him to be counted as righteous and just in the eyes of man, was evidence of his love for God, and the fact that he heeded the dream and made Mary and the child his responsibility was evidence of his faith. 

Mary and Joseph did not obtain their righteousness and faith from being born into a nation that loved and honored Yahweh and had a system of laws that reflected His nature. This would not have been possible, as the nation and culture that was the Roman Empire was as bad as our own of today, if not worse. Instead, they obtained their righteousness and faith from God. Consider the plight of Elijah, who was running from Jezebel and Ahab, the latter two of whom had led Israel into pagan idolatrous apostasy and killed the prophets. God’s statement to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:18: Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

In the midst of the wickedness of the nation and culture, God preserved for Himself a people for His Name. These people were not righteous because of the world, because they were called out of the world, just as Israel was chosen from among the nations. They were called by God, predestined and elected to righteousness by God, and placed in that particular place and time by God for the purposes of serving Him and bringing glory to His Name.

The same is true of this Mary and Joseph. No matter what sort of culture or nation that they were born in, they would have still fulfilled their duties that came with bringing Jesus Christ into the world. Regardless of whether their external environment was good or evil according to its laws, culture and religion, Mary and Joseph were inevitably going to do the right thing because they were righteous. The reason is that their righteousness was not due to governments and cultures – which are the works of men – because if they were, then men should be able to boast about contributing to their own justification. Instead, their righteousness was due to God’s making them so, and predestining that they would be so. And where man’s nations and systems will inevitably fail, God’s divine sovereign decrees cannot and will not fail. This is with respect to man’s salvation and everything else. That is the meaning of the doctrines of grace.

Make no mistake. Abortion is a great abomination, a great evil, that should be outlawed in any society that considers itself civilized. The same is true of homosexual marriage. However, it was not the absence of legal abortion that prevented Mary from aborting Jesus Christ. (And as stated earlier, Joseph actually opposed the religious and cultural views of the day to obey his dream from God to make Mary his wife and to adopt Jesus Christ as his son.) Instead, it was the fact that Mary – and Joseph – was righteous. Mary and Joseph were not righteous because they were born in a Christian nation. They were not righteous because they were born to a church going family. They were not righteous because they were baptized as infants. They were not righteous because they raised their hands or came forward in response to an altar call (not that I in any way oppose invitations; I support them 100%!), said a prayer, or had their names added to a church roll. Instead, they were righteous because God made them so by virtue of His divine predestination and election. They were righteous because God called them out of this world to be part of His ekklesia. And their righteousness was not demonstrated or proven by their nationality, religious or political affiliation, cultural norms, or even their stated beliefs, but by their behavior, which was unyielding obedience to God and His Word in the face of all obstacles and in spite of all opposition. 

So, despite the evil that goes on in the world (or perhaps because of it) our goal is not to transform the world, to change the culture. In “The Visitation”, the Frank Peretti novel, the protagonist informed a young naive pastor that the job of the church was not to “take the town for Christ” because not even Christ Himself “took a town for Christ!” No, not only did Jerusalem reject Jesus Christ, but the place where Jesus Christ had the least honor, the fewest followers and believers, was His own country, and even His own brothers born in His house did not believe in Him! Instead, our job is to evangelize. To spread the gospel. To preach, teach, minister, disciple, and to baptize. Our job is to be the vessels for the sovereign God to use to call others out of this wicked world just as He called us out of it. And anything that distracts or hinders or redirects us from that task is just that: a barrier erected that opposes the will and righteousness of God. It must, by definition then, be considered sinful, evil, a work of Satan, the adversary, and not of God. 

Christians are not called to transform the world into Christ’s image. Christians are called to reject the world so that we might be fully effective in being used by Jesus Christ to go after His lost sheep. The sad fact that this world is sinful, that people are born in sin, and that people are going to sin. However, the joyful fact that opposes this is that if we would just obey God, He will use us to bring people out of sin and into salvation so that He will transform them, transform His people, transform His church, into righteousness. The issue is not to transform a sinful world, but rather to go after the people that God will conform into the image of His Son. If you profess yourself to be a Christian, please, go about the business of that issue today and every day. Maranantha!

Posted in abomination, abortion, abortion rights, Christianity, Jesus Christ, politics, pro choice, pro life, religious right, Y'shua Hamashiach, Y'shua Hamashiach Moshiach, Yeshua Hamashiach | Tagged: , , , , , , | 37 Comments »

What Election Is And Is Not

Posted by Job on December 24, 2008

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

A Particular Commentary On Matthew 22:14 – For Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen

Posted by Job on October 29, 2008

Please click on link below!

Matthew 22:14 For many are called but few are chosen

It contains a link to this good teaching as well:

Romans 11:5 The Election of Grace

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The Religious Right: Not God’s Servant!

Posted by Job on October 28, 2008

I read media reports about this story of the fearmongering that religious right activists are engaging in to get John McCain and Sarah Palin in the White House, but was hindered from immediately addressing it. It is just as well, because PJ Miller did a better job discussing it than I could have. So, let me just add to her post with another angle … actually a political one.

Bible readers have been shocked by the great praise that the book of Isaiah heaps on King Darius of the Medo – Persians, calling him God’s servant. Why? Because this Darius was a pagan who never seems to have converted! This should not surprise especially in light of Romans 13. In that passage, the Bible refers to civil government as a gift from God used to do good and restrain evil. In short, civil government is God’s servant through common grace, not special grace, and therefore wise honest effective rulers serve God despite their lack of covenant relationship with Him. So the Bible has record of people in addition to Darius like Egypt’s pharoah, Nebuchadnezzar and Xerxes who whether they ultimately converted or not were God’s servants because they ruled wisely, often by virtue of appointing people like Joseph, Daniel and Mordecai as their chief advisors and administrators.

But make no mistake, to be God’s servant in a civil magistrate position, you have to be a wise, competent, effective and honest ruler. Otherwise, even if you are a Christian, you are not God’s servant in this role. You may be legitimately born again and going to heaven, but if you take on a leadership role that you were not meant for and lack the skills and gifts for, or if you are less than hardworking or principled in this capacity, though you may be God’s servant in the church, you are not in the state. Martin Luther for his part recognized this when he made the statement that he would rather be ruled by a wise Muslim than a foolish Christian. The context of this statement is even more amazing when you consider what Muslims had done to so many Christians in Luther’s time and in times recently prior, a history that Luther was well aware of.

So in this utterly Biblical and very practical context, the Christian right is not acting as God’s servant. First of all, by trying to frighten people into voting for John McCain, they are spreading fear, discord, confusion, and yes bigotry into the country. That means that even if they succeed, McCain will have a much tougher time actually governing this place. And if they fail, then wow these folks have all but stated that they have license to completely reject Obama’s authority and spend the next four years as political (and religious) subversives.

Second, who are their efforts in support of? John McCain. Is there any evidence at all that McCain will be an effective, honest, fair, just and wise ruler? If so, present it. The truth is that nothing in this fellow’s background indicates it, and everything indicates otherwise. We know that in 1998 John McCain basically rejected the political philosophies and alliances that he had spent his first 16 years in Congress cultivating. We know that in 2008, John McCain then repudiated the what he had spent from 1998 to 2008 advocating. And we also know that the John McCain of October is advocating things completely different from the John McCain of February, and that is different still from the John McCain of July. Translation: John McCain either has no philosophical and ideological convictions or he is willing to discard or lie about them in order to gain power. Also, again, John McCain has been in Congress since 1982. In all that time, he has only passed one major piece of legislation: campaign finance reform. The guy is a back bencher, relegated to the minor Commerce Committee (not to be confused with the actually important banking and finance) and even there did nothing that anyone can recognize but gain a network of cronies that he would later exploit for fundraising purposes. He has not only never been a leader in the Senate, he has never even been a team player. That is why his claim to fame was his being a “maverick”, or in other words undermining his colleagues for the past 10 years.

So basically, Christians are resorting to these tactics to elect a man that they know has nothing to show for his long political career, has no loyalties to anyone other than himself, no convictions other than his own personal advancement, has no leadership skills, and no cooperative or collaborative skills. Again, this is something that McCain has repeatedly demonstrated over the past 26 years. So this is the guy that they are willing to spread fear, hate, and division to get into office? The proper Biblical stance towards this election should be to support NEITHER McCain NOR Obama and pray for EITHER should they be elected. Yet the next religious right leader that you hear say such a thing would be the first. (Ironically the pastor of Sarah Palin’s former church put out a statement saying that he planned to do precisely that.)

It is no surprise if they are. After all, these are the guys that got George W. Bush elected and re – elected, and before him did the same for George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan twice. And never forget that the first candidate of the religious right, though not organized as it is today, was none other than Jimmy Carter. And this is not even considering all of the incompetent corrupt immoral people that these folks have fought to get elected to Congress and in our governorships. Take a look at what has gone on since the rise of the religious right in 1980 and especially since their uprisings in 1994, 2000 and 2004. Has Roe versus Wade been overturned? Not a chance and not even close. Has gay rights including gay marriage been successfully opposed? Please. Have our public schools started challenging evolution and environmentalism? No. Are our government policies more pro – family? Not unless homosexuals cohabitating and adopting children counts. This country is more socially and culturally liberal in almost every single area since the rise of the religious right, and what is more the religious right and the churches that are part of it have conformed itself to that liberalism rather than separating itself from it and opposing it.

And that is just things that are superficially related to religion. Have any of the religious right candidates delivered peace either abroad or on our streets? No. Have they brought us economic prosperity? Forget it! Despite conservative rhetoric otherwise, the terms of Reagan, Bush, and Bush II were marked by increased street crime, failed wars and military operations, and disastrous economic policies that include a grotesque national debt, two major banking collapses (one for each Bush) and an obscene level of fraud, corruption and waste from the $400 dollar hammers and toilet seats that government contractors billed us for under Reagan to the outright brazen theft in Iraq and New Orleans.

It is not just the performance, it is also the philosophy. Neoconservatism is not biblical, plain and simple. It exalts the powerful, justifies the unjust, and demonizes the poor, the oppressed, and the innocent victims. Even apart from the Bible, it is just plain bad government policy. Using a Bible example that does not directly relate to doctrine or practice, I recall the wisdom of King Hezekiah who built cisterns and aqueducts so that Jerusalem would have a water supply during the inevitable Assyrian siege. Can you imagine the neoconservatives – again which includes the religious right – doing such a thing? Nope, they would have just cut taxes and given corporate welfare to the olive oil companies and spear manufacturers. (By the way, speaking of which, please note the religious right worship of our military industrial complex and contrast it with God’s command to biblical Israel not to own chariots. Religious right types that claim that America or “the west” is somehow now God’s covenant people need to explain their insistence that America continue its buildup of conventional, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and use said arsenal to compel the rest of the world to do what we want.)

Neoconservatives would never admit it, but things like our railroads, interstate highway system, our public school system and state universities, Hoover Dam, the REA which brought electricity to rural America and other programs which brought power to the western interior, the Manhattan Project, the national laboratories that gave us modern electronics, fabrics, the Internet etc. were all the direct result of government. Private industry developed some of those things, but their primary function was to market and use what the government did, what the taxpayers paid for. Now can you honestly imagine this current crop of neoconservatives supporting sending power lines into Appalachia or the Mississippi Delta or building Hoover Dam, or building the Panama Canal? Please. Those fellows would claim that if the private sector had no interest in it, then it isn’t worth doing. Of course, that seems to be their same attitude towards our crumbling infrastructure like New Orleans’ levees and the collapsing bridges also.

Do not get me wrong. I do not worship the state, nor do I demonize commerce. I take the Biblical view of recognizing that each has its proper role in society according to common grace. Neoconservatism rejects the Biblical view in favor of worshiping private enterprise as the source and standard by which all good things flow and are measured and by demonizing even the possibility of effective civil leadership. Their only program is to cut taxes and then to make up the revenue shortfall by doing things like selling off control of our interstate highways or our ports (again both built with taxpayer money!) to foreign companies and governments!

Again, do not take me for an Obama supporter or adherent to his flavor of Marxism. (Although opponents of Marxism who still support John McCain despite his not only voting for the bailout but being one of the people who led the fight to pass it through the U.S. Senate should explain themselves, again starting with the religious right.) So no, the religious left is not God’s servant either! It is merely particularly galling that the very people who claim to base their political activism to fidelity to sound doctrine and practice based on a literal interpretation of the Bible could be so fundamentally off. Were these fellows running Old Testament Israel in the time of David and Solomon, they would have never built the temple because it would have meant raising taxes. (For that matter, they would have never built the tabernacle either.) Were these fellows running Egypt in Joseph’s time, they would have never consented to setting aside the grain, because it would have represented government seizing private property, and the whole nation would have died. (Please note: this is very similar to how neoconservatives actually defend deficit spending and never even talk about the national debt … again not that the left cares about the national debt either but why should we expect them to since they make no pretense of heeding Biblical inerrancy?)

The religious right shows its departure from scripture by backing not only leaders that they well know will never be wise civil magistrates (foolish whether they be Christians or Turks, and please recall that universalist Skulls and Bones occultist George H. W. Bush and necromancer Ronald Reagan cannot be referred to as Christians in any sense) but a political ideology that is in itself a rejection of the knowledge of God and a high thing that exalts itself against God! All you have to do is listen to these people rant on their talk shows or from their pulpits. You will come away hating impoverished children and widows and being convinced that the life of an Iraqi is so not worth giving 5 seconds of attention to that nearly a million civilian casualties are worth our going to war to give them a political and economic system that they didn’t ask for and that everyone knows will never work (yes, the puppet regime that we are installing in Iraq is destined to fail and everyone knows it)!

And what is the justification for casting in your lot with this apostate movement? It isn’t abortion. The religious right should have known not to trust the GOP the second that Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor. Reagan had never cared one whit about women’s rights in his long political career, but he puts a woman whose views on abortion are no different from Barack Obama’s because it was SOOO important to have a female Supreme Court judge? Also, it isn’t as if there weren’t TONS of female pro – life judges, legal activists, and legal scholars. Reagan could have nominated a Phyllis Schafly and not skipped a beat! Why didn’t he? Because Reagan was pro – abortion just like George H. W. Bush is pro – abortion and George W. Bush is pro – abortion. The only difference is that where the Bushes have repeatedly publicly stated that they support Roe v. Wade, Reagan lied about it. But check his record going back to California; it speaks otherwise.

So if it isn’t abortion or any of those other social issues (again, please note how our nation and culture have moved so far to the left legally on those social issues despite – or maybe because of? – our courts stacked with Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Bush appointees including the Reagan and Nixon judges that give the radical social left victory after victory in California!) then what is it about? Again, it is obviously not about honest, wise, fair leadership, and it is certainly not about preserving a nation founded on Christian principles. No, it is about power, and so long as they get their people running this nation, they could care less what their people do to it and to its people (or for that matter to other nations and people). This is precisely the opposite of what the Bible calls for, and the best evidence that the religious right is not God’s servant and therefore no different from the religious left at all. Both are two sides of the same anti – Christ coin.

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On Achan, Canaan, Hardened Hearts And Salvation

Posted by Job on October 28, 2008

Decided to start reading the book of Joshua recently to revisit an Old Testament theophany, more specifically the appearance of the pre – incarnate Jesus Christ (Christophany) to Joshua before the battle of Jericho as mentioned in Joshua 5:13 – 6:5. Of course, the fascinating narrative of Joshua is hard to put down once you have begun it, and before long I was well into stories of battlefield conquest. Two things made no sense to me.

1. Achan. First off, this fellow tries to make off with 200 pieces of silver (ten times the amount that Joseph was sold for … further Judas Iscariot was paid 30 pieces of silver and the price of the land in Zechariah 11 was 30 pieces, so we are talking about a substantial sum of money) and enough gold to make 50 pieces (where silver is now trading at $15 per ounce, gold is now $750 per ounce, so his 50 pieces of gold was actually worth 250 pieces of silver)? As if Israel had some sort of underground black market economy or some way of laundering money so everyone wouldn’t have known where he got all that gold and silver from. And what was this fellow going to do with a BABYLONIAN suit? Like he would have been able to prance around ISRAEL wearing a suit from BABYLON as if he was Joseph wearing the coat of many colors made by Jacob? By the way, I am certain that the writers of Joshua did not include the fact that the clothing was Babylonian or that Achan called it “goodly” as mere detail. Instead, I believe the fact that Achan even wanted something from the place that represents not only sin and wickedness but creation’s brazen willful defiance against the authority and rule of God was recorded to demonstrate Achan’s spiritual condition, which was so bad that Achan not only saw and desired things that he was not to have (lust of the eyes), but committed a high handed sin against God by taking something that he had no practical way of benefitting from (unless he was going to prance around in his Babylonian clothes in his tent or spend maybe one or two gold and silver coins a year to keep from being found out). Achan reminds me of James 1:14-15 which reads “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” So again, I am certain that Achan saw and desired something from Babylon, the place where all men came together to build a tower as a symbol of human pride and power that rejects and sets itself against God, because that was where his sinful heart always was.

2. The issue of hearts brings us to the Canaanites. The Bible makes it clear that everyone had heard the path of genocidal destruction that Israel was making, and that they knew that the reason was not Israel’s military might (please recall God’s refusing allow Israel to own chariots, which should be a lesson to politically conservative Christians who all but worship the military industrial complex and would rather see tax revenue go to yet another aircraft carrier or nuclear submarine than to roads, bridges, levees etc.) but rather YHWH fighting on their behalf, making them unbeatable. So … why didn’t they petition the Israelites for peace as the Gibeonites did? Or better yet … WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST LEAVE? Being a war refugee beats being dead. Now maybe if you are a king, noble, or someone else of great power, wealth and esteem the perhaps you would prefer death to living as a landless powerless wanderer. (Then again, the elites could have taken their riches with them and used it to buy a life of relative comfort somewhere else maybe?) But what of the poor, who already had nothing and hence had nothing to lose? Why did they consent to certain death as being grist for Israel’s war machine?

Well the answer is given in Joshua 11:20 – “For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses.” You might recognize that term as being applied to pharaoh in Exodus 7:2-4 “Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.” So it would seem that the problem of the Canaanites was the same as that of Achan the covetor of Babylonian clothes that he could never wear in public: a desperately wicked heart.

So it was God’s will that these people be destroyed. Why? Read Romans 1:18-32. They were wicked people who rejected the righteousness of God to instead practice idolatry and all the evil that goes with it. As a result, God’s judgment was against the people of Canaan. As Romans 1:18-32 states, the Canaanites had been given over to reprobate minds to do things that are not convenient. As a matter of fact, the idolatrous practices of the Canaanites were probably the very thing that caused the corruption of not only individual minds but entire cultures to the point where they were unable or unwilling to act out of regard for their own safety or that of their family. It is not unlike how in our modern world a man, knowing full well the scourge of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, will regularly indulge in homosexual acts and intravenous drug abuse in his one life and then take those life and health destroying viruses and pathogens to his wife and family in another. Indeed, there does exist a huge Achan subculture in the here and now.

Now there is a point of contact between Achan’s family and the Canaanites. It seems unusual, as where the Canaanites were idolators, Achan was not only a child of Israel that came out of the wilderness (meaning that all of the Israelis that had been conditioned by not only Egyptian slavery but their exposure to their system of false gods) but of the very same tribe of Judah that Jesus Christ was born of (yes both Mary and Joseph were of Judah, please note that Mary’s geneaology is given in Luke 3). This is not a coincidence but serves as a warning lesson to the church.

So just as Achan’s genetic, tribal, national, physical etc. membership in Israel did not prevent him from having a Babylonian heart, being raised in a Christian nation, culture, or family or even a member of a church does not make one born again in Christ Jesus and truly a member of Israel. Achan despite his heritage, upbringing, and affiliation was no better off than the Canaanites. The Canaanites, for their part, was no worse off than Achan despite their idolatry and being born outside of God’s covenant people. Achan and the Canaanites had the same issue – a hardened heart – and hence received the same reward.

Another point of contact: those who were to some degree innocent. Consider first Achan’s family … his wife, children, servants, etc. and stoned and burned them to death. Those people did not participate in Achan’s crime. They may not have even known of it! Yet they perished as well with the patriarch of their family. Why? The modern western mindset with its individualism and feminism hates this notion, but the man is the covenant representative of his household before his nation and his God just as a king is the covenant represenative between a nation and God. If the covenant representative does well before God (be it the father or the king), then those under the covenant (be they nations or households) are blessed. If the covenant representative does ill, then those under it are punished. The same with Achan was true of the Canaanites. You had many women and children, including newborn infants, that had no role in the decision to defy God by remaining in the land to face the armies of His covenant people. They were not the kings who chose not to beg for peace or the fathers who chose not to take their families and flee. So how is this fair?

Well let us consider what constitutes a “hardened” heart. From what the Bible teaches us, it is no great mystery. All of humanity save Adam, Eve, and Jesus Christ were born with them as a consequence of the fall. (Adam and Eve for their part received such hearts afterwards). Now it is true that the Canaanites and pharoah had a specific hardening that related to a course of action that they took or refused to take. That is why it is fair to say, in a manner of speaking, that God hardened their hearts as scripture does. But let it be known that all mankind is born with a hardened heart in ultimate terms with reference to our relationship with God. So just as the ultimate inevitable result of the unusually hardened hearts of pharoah and Canaan were death, the result of all other hardened hearts is the lake of fire.

The similarity between the unusual hardening and the normal hardening is again in the case of Achan. God did not harden the heart of this child of Judah for the purposes of judging Achan and his family. No, Achan instead acted out of the consequences of his own sinful heart and fallen nature. Also, consider Saul. God did not harden the heart of Saul to judge the man that He had raised over Israel, let alone Saul’s sons including righteous Jonathan. First, the sins that caused Saul to lose his kingdom were done before God allowed the evil spirit to trouble Saul. Second, the sins that caused the death of Saul and his remaining sons – his consulting the necromancer witch of Endor and his persecuting the Gibeonites who had entered into a treaty with Israel – were completely unrelated to the vexation of the evil spirit but instead were caused by Saul’s own desire for power and popularity.

Please recall that when God chose Saul’s replacement, David, He said of David that this David was a man after God’s own heart. It is very accurate to argue from silence that Saul was not, and Saul’s own works verify this matter. In short, Saul was Achan, and he received Achan’s reward, which was the same as the reward of the people whose hearts God DID NOT particularly harden. In other words, sinners have a hardened heart already, and it is God’s prerogative to harden their hearts more still in order to use such reprobates to accomplish His will. So why did God choose a man that was not after His own heart not only to rule Israel, but according to the words of Samuel would have established His kingdom through Saul’s line? Well, Israel asked God for a king, not a preacher. As a matter of fact, they rejected the religious leadership of Samuel and judges. So perhaps God was attempting to see if a secular ruler would be His servant in civil matters, a wise conscientious basically obedient covenant ruler. Please recall that even pagan kings like Egypt’s pharoah and Medo – Persia’s King Darius fit this description. There is evidence that even Nebuchadnezzar and Artaxerxes did so when they elevated Daniel and Mordecai to be their second in command as did Egypt with Joseph.

So God did not pick Saul to be king because of Saul’s righteousness. It may be that God picked Saul because He felt that the rebellious children of Israel would respect him because of his stature and physical prowess. Perhaps the way Saul looked, his coming the way they expected a king to and his winning victories on the battlefield, would have spurred Israel to obedience. (After all, Israel later rejected King Jesus Christ because He came poor and humble riding on a donkey and rejected conquest with the sword.) But that required Saul himself to be obedient, and Saul failed in this task even with God’s hand behind him and Samuel to be his human advisor. So God demonstrated that even with all of those advantages given to Saul, someone with a hardened heart would not do in terms of playing a major role in the redemption of His elect.

God’s righteousness required someone that lacked a hardened heart to accomplish His purposes, including to start the royal line that Jesus Christ would be born into. It appears that when God uses hardened hearts, it is without the hard hearted person having any idea of what he is doing. As a matter of fact, the hard hearted person often seems to consider himself to be trying to accomplish the very opposite of what God intends! Examples run from the pharoah who was unknowingly participating in the judgment of his own nation to the Jewish religious leaders who thought that they were being rid of Jesus Christ and His movement by delivering Him to the Romans. Of them Jesus Christ said “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do!” But in order to be a willing knowing servant and participant in God’s purposes and plans, a heart hardened with original sin will not do. Not an Achan heart. Not a Saul heart. Certainly not a pharoah or Canaanite heart. Instead, one’s heart of stone must be removed and be replaced with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19Ezekiel 36:26Ezekiel 44:72 Corinthians 3:3). Common grace will not do. Saving grace is absolutely required.

But how does a heart of stone become a heart of flesh? The answer: only if God changes it. God Himself must do it. Man cannot do it. Because of his sinful state, man is utterly unable to help his condition. Only God can change hardened hearts into flesh. Consider the case of Judas Iscariot. This Judas Iscariot was an apostle who personally knew and served with Jesus Christ. He was called by Jesus Christ and did many great works in His Name. Yet what was said about Judas Iscariot by Jesus Christ? It would have been better for him had he never been born! So God who foreknew us elected some of us and predestined some of us to salvation. In the case of this Judas Iscariot, the die was cast. Being an Israelite did not help him. Being not only a follower but an apostle of Jesus Christ did not save him. Even repenting of his sin of betraying Jesus Christ, declaring His innocence before the sinful Pharisees did not save him. This Judas Iscariot was simply not among the elect, so it was never in his fate for his heart to be transformed from one of stone to one of flesh, from an Achan heart to a Peter heart. Indeed, the Bible records that Satan himself entered Judas Iscariot when it was time for him to perform the most vile abomination. So yes, like pharoah and the Canaanites, Judas Iscariot was especially hardened. Judas Iscariot was chosen by God, yes. But as he was not among the truly elect, his calling was to do the greatest act of evil, to betray the Son of God, which God used to work the greatest good. God’s providence in using the placement of a specific sinner? Yes. Special saving grace? By all means no.

And further there was this Pontius Pilate. Pilate was able to fairly judge Jesus Christ and bear witness before His accusers and the world that Jesus Christ was innocent. In this matter, common grace by installing a leader willing and able to declare the innocence of Jesus Christ was sufficient to do God’s Will in the matter. A hardened heart sufficed. But to actually prevent Jesus Christ from going to the cross, an act of true righteousness in the dark spiritual climate that he was immersed in, to heed the warnings of his own wife? No, that would have taken a man with a heart of flesh given by special saving grace empowered by the Holy Spirit. But it was not God’s will that Jesus Christ be spared the cross, so a fellow with a sufficient measure of common grace was placed in civil magistrate authority over Jesus Christ to perform some righteousness but ultimately do evil, as Jesus Christ Himself stated “you would have no power over me were it not given to you from above.” Did Pilate regard “given to you from above” as meaning his being appointed by Caesar or raised up by God? 

Again, go back to Judas Iscariot. Jesus Christ said that this person’s fate would have been better had he never been born. So how then could such a person have had a free will decision to accept Jesus Christ as His Savior and Lord, as Simon Peter did even upon denying Jesus Christ three times? The hardened heart cannot save itself. No, the hardened heart needs God to intervene to save it. And once God intervenes to save the hardened heart, God cannot be mocked. He cannot be opposed. He cannot be turned down. After all, if the hardened heart that becomes softened rejects the gospel of Jesus Christ, was it ever softened? No! Only hardened hearts are able to reject the righteousness of God. Only softened hearts are able to accept the righteousness of God. A heart that God has not softened cannot accept His righteousness, a heart that God has softened cannot reject it. It is not so much that God compels the person whose heart has been softened to accept Him. Why? Because why would God have to? What possible reason that a person with a softened heart have for rejecting God? Claiming otherwise is the very same as claiming that a person with a hardened heart does not REALLY have one. If both a person with a hardened heart and a softened heart can choose to reject God, then what difference is there between a hardened one and a softened one? Claiming that a person with a softened heart can reject God rejects the doctrine of original sin. 

A heart that God has softened cannot behave after the same manner that a heart that God has not softened. Hearts hardened by sin and hearts softened by grace cannot react the same way towards God. Otherwise, the grace of God, which is the power of God, the will of God, the purpose of God etc. would have no effect. If man could overpower God by rejecting His grace with a mere decision, then it makes God no God at all; a God incapable of calling creation into being out of nothing (ex nihilo) with the spoken word, and certainly incapable of ruling and governing creation. And naturally, such a God would be unable to destroy, preserve, reward, punish, etc. His creation as He sees fit. 

This brings us back to the difficult issue mentioned earlier of infants. What about the little children, newborn babes, that God had Israel to put to the sword. Jebusite, Hivite, Hittite, Amorite, Edomite, Ammonite etc. babies that were ripped from their mother’s arm and made their last anguished cry after having their tiny hearts split in half by a sword or spear. You might say that only an evil God would command His elect people to do such a thing. Well that is looking at things at how they exist in the natural and not in the spiritual. You, looking at temporal physical things, see a human baby. God, for the purposes of eternity, only sees a spirit of man. God knows whether the spirit of man associated with the human baby has been elected and predestined to salvation or not. So whether the human life of this spirit of man ends at 100 hours or 100 years, its eternal fate has been predetermined by God, who knows whether this child has the heart of Judas Iscariot or the heart of Peter. The heart of Saul or the heart of David. The heart of Achan or the heart of Joshua. The heart of Cain or the heart of Abel. 

Again, we know this from scripture: Abijah the child of Jeroboam in 1 Kings 14. Verse 13: “And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.” (Despite the wickedness of Jeroboam, he did obviously love and care about his son. Again, common grace, not saving grace.) Abijah was given by God at a tender age a heart of flesh, and though he died at a tender age he was given the good reward of those chosen by God. Now if Abijah had a heart of stone, what profit would there have been in living 930 years as did Adam? As he possessed a heart of flesh, what did he lose by dying at a tender age when he will reign for an eternity with Jesus Christ? 

So the only issue is that whether you have a hardened heart, or whether God has chosen to give you a heart of flesh. If God calls the hard hearted person, his only duty, his inevitable duty, is to respond. I encourage the reader to respond right now if he has not already. Please follow The Three Step Salvation Plan.

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Putting God In A Box By Placing Him Under Man’s Obligation

Posted by Job on October 20, 2008

Is free will salvation, or Arminianism (truthfully Coornhertism for Jacobus Arminius rejected the soteriology of the reformers in favor of the viewpoint of a Roman Catholic, and the doctrine is associated with Arminius rather than its true originator and exponent for it is not convenient for Protestant free will Christians to broadcast and advertise that the one who came up with this doctrine also defended praying to the host of heaven and bowing to dumb idols) a works theology? 

On its face, it is not. However, we must consider what was ironically a debate that took place not between adherents to the Reformation and those who like Coornhert remained in semi – Pelagian Roman Catholicism, but rather within the Reformation (to use a broad term) itself, such as between Lutherans and Anabaptists. The former reached “salvation by faith alone” and, being satisfied, pretty much stopped. Please recall, for instance, Martin Luther’s claim that the book of James “was made of pure straw” (but accepted its canonicity nonetheless) because of its statement “faith without works is dead.” Anabaptists and others who came out of Roman Babylon went on to appropriately apply James’ doctrines to justification and the need to produce an external witness (please recall that James was only repeating what he heard from His teacher Jesus Christ on this matter, please remember for example Jesus Christ’s statements on the sheep versus goats, and the difference between those who called Him “Lord Lord” that would be accepted versus those that would be rejected?). 

What this argument centered on, truthfully, was the sovereignty of God. Is God completely sovereign, free to act entirely according to His own will, desire, and volition in every aspect concerning His creation that He produced out of nothing merely by speaking? Or is God in some way beholden to and in a sense in arrears, in bondage, imprisoned to His creation in any matter? Both groups held the belief that works doctrines were to be rejected because they denied God’s sovereignty. The idea that if man does something then God is obligated to respond is troubling enough. What is more troubling still is the idea that if man does something then God is obligated to do something that He does not want to do, making it possible for man to not only defy God but actually overpower and overcome God by doing works. This is precisely what the Roman Catholic Pelagian system taught, and what the Reformers appropriately rejected. The dispute between the Lutherans and Anabaptists (and also the Reformed i.e. Calvinists and Zwinglians I might add) were simply over the details. 

Now those who justify works based doctrines claim that they are due to God’s willingly ceding His sovereignty to man in certain areas to accomplish whatever purposes He willed. An example of this: God’s giving up dominion of the earth to Adam, and the Word of Faith purports to seek to reclaim it. Leaving aside the fact that the Bible clearly states that Adam’s dominion will be restored to Jesus Christ upon His return and not the church that awaits Him (claiming that dominion belongs to the church in this time is Origen amillennialism adopted by Roman Catholics), God gave Adam dominion over creation alone, not Himself. Prosperity doctrine advocates claim that the old covenant obligates God to bless those who keep the portions of it pertaining to blessings, some going as far as saying that even the unsaved will receive health, wealth, family, etc. benefits from tithing. Not only did Paula White explicitly say so to Larry King, but new age witch and occult spiritist Oprah Winfrey, who reportedly tithes, is often listed as an example. While this is based on a rather corrupted understanding of the true purpose and nature of a covenant that only applied to national Israel and moreover doesn’t even exist anymore, even if true it has no bearing on salvation. After all, the old covenant was never given for salvation, for even in old covenant times salvation was by grace (but Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord) and furthermore the book of Hebrews makes it clear that even Old Testament saints were redeemed by Christ’s blood, and without the cross there would have been no salvation for those such as Enoch, Elijah, Samuel, Deborah, Huldah, Moses, etc.

But going back to the “works promises” that allegedly existed in the old covenant, please recall that all of those were irrevocably tied to the land of Israel itself, the land flowing with milk and honey. No land meant no blessings, works or not, and the land was freely given to the children of Abraham as part of the promise given to Abraham by grace. So no Israelite ever received a new thing by doing works of the law, but rather was benefitting from what was given to him by grace already. The old covenant was a conditional covenant, true, but the condition was entirely based on forfeiting what one had already been given by refusing to do the works rather than doing works and receiving what had not been given. An analogy can be tied to a wealthy man (or woman) who has a son (or daughter) and composes a will leaving the heir a portion of the estate. If the heir basically behaves, he or she will receive the inheritance that he or she never worked for or merited in any sense. If the heir grievously offends the benefactor with disloyal or immoral behavior, the wealthy person has the sole prerogative to “write him or her out of his will.” Even if the benefactor writes some conditional clause such as “in order to receive the inheritance he must get married” (the plot of not a few bad movies) if the fellow acquires a wife for the purposes of receiving the wealth he would not have earned the money in any sense but instead would have received something that he never worked for and his benefactor had the sole right to give or deny, including the right to alter the will shortly before expiring based on a dislike of who his heir chose as a spouse! So please explain this to any prosperity Word of Faith teacher or adherent you come across. 
 

So then, there is not a shred of Biblical evidence that speaks of God having an obligation to His creation in any area, including salvation. While God certainly gives dominion of some portions of creation over others, there is no evidence that God surrenders His own sovereignty or prerogative to creation in any sense. After all, how could an eternal spiritual God be limited by what is natural and temporal? Even though Jesus Christ was lowered and thus limited while existing in the natural plane upon His incarnation, He was still fully God in the spiritual realm, a fact which evil spirits were forced to recognize when they asked Him if He had come to destroy them!

So instead, the entirety of Biblical revelation consists of creation having an obligation to God. Creation cannot compel God one way or another, and in spiritual matters involving eternity it is all the more important that this truth be recognized and operated within. So then, as free will salvation doctrine places God in a box by compelling Him to honor human decision, it must be rejected.

But wait, you say, it is not forcing God’s Hand when a person accepts eternal salvation because it is God’s Will that all men be saved, you reply. Even were I to concede that part for argument’s sake, what about the other way around? Does not exercising this free will to reject Jesus Christ compel God to send a person to the lake of fire that He does not wish to? Under this doctrine, no matter how God may desire it, no matter how God may strive and work for it, no matter how God may beg, plead, or even try, His best efforts, His very will and volition, can all be undone by a mere creature’s standing athwart grace and saying NO. Anathema that such a thing should be allowed to happen, because even in this one very limited sphere, man is God and God is man. Let it be stated that for any man to have the right to damn himself removes the right of God to damn anyone at all, making Him no God at all, and that is true even when one does not factor in God’s sending His Son to the cross. Please know that a man’s ability to make a decision to reject God the Father sending Jesus Christ to become human, die on a cross, and be resurrected from the dead is no trivial cosmic matter! Believing that it is a matter of such triviality makes God a mere triviality. Again, anathema!

So then, the doctrine that does not place God in a box of being under obligation to creation is one that recognizes that God alone decides who will be saved by His personal decision and command – the same decision and command that brought man into existence along with the rest of creation in the first place – and places man under obligation to obey God. That is something that none other than the tale of Jonah and the whale should teach us. It is more than a fantastic Bible story perfect for aweing children and proving the truth of the Bible to skeptics using apologetics (as in the fact that men have been swallowed whole by sperm whales and later rescued). Instead, this event illustrates God’s sovereignty. God told Jonah to preach to the Ninevites, and Jonah had no choice in the matter but submit to the will of the sovereign God and respond. 

There is an interesting cross reference here. Remember the Pharisees. They came to Jesus Christ demanding that He show them a sign upon which they would believe that He is the Messiah and then they would follow Him. Again, creation trying to place the Creator in a box by making His actions dependent on human desires. (Later, this same bunch tried to compromise and bargain with God by lifting the miracle requirement and saying “Just tell us whether you are the Christ!) Jesus Christ never placed Himself under their obligation. Instead, He stated that the only sign that they would receive … was that of Noah.

God is not obligated to even give man a decision – why should He regarding His solely entirely owned property that He created and whose destiny He controls! – let alone honor said decision. The Bible declares this to be true, and we are obliged to acknowledge it and to consider its implications.

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Charles Spurgeon Sermon On Politicians

Posted by Job on October 18, 2008

Courtesy of sfpulpit.

Charles Spurgeon on Politicians (click here)

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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