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Theodicy Dialogue With Pastor Matt Wrickman

Posted by Job on January 26, 2012

Matthew Wrickman, a pastor and blogger with whom I have corresponded in the past, wished to discuss How The Penn State University Child Molestation Case Demonstrates The Existence Of God and did so in a comment, which he reproduced as a post on his site (which I encourage you to patronize). The objections – er dialogue points – that he raised are good ones as always, and my interaction with them is as follows. Pastor Wrickman’s words are in blocked quote format, and mine follow. Thank you.

“ Interesting response. Most commentators for the last 200 years at least have used evil in the reverse sense as the greatest problem for the existence of God. The line of logic would be that Sandusky is evil. If God was really good, really powerful, and really existed then He would have intervened and stopped the action. He didn’t so either He is not really good, really powerful, or does not really exist. As a line of logic it seems rather convincing. I, of course, would argue (as you hinted at) that God has intervened through the person of Son. That the cross of Christ represents Christ’s solidarity with the victims of Sandusky, as well as, his offer of healing to both victim and victimizer. Mix that with classical free will theory and I feel that the question has been answered; perhaps not superbly but answered nonetheless.”

Alas, you are of the Remonstrants, I am of the Synod of Dort! (Actually I am Particular Baptist after the manner of Charles Spurgeon, William Carey and Paul Bunyan and you are not classical Arminian or Wesleyan as you to not believe that one can lose his salvation, but otherwise you get the picture.)

“You once stated that you enjoyed boiling down arguments to the logical extreme”

Well, my love of reductio ad absurdum was in my angry, immature phase. (In what many might consider to be an irony, it was becoming a “5 point Calvinist” – or again more accurately a Particular Baptist – that helped me get past my anger, which I ultimately discovered was truthfully coming from within and was directed inwardly also.) I now rarely employ this debate tactic, though I hear that it is a very good tool for computer scientists and mathematicians.

“and that is where pointing from evil to God fails. At it’s extreme it allows for no differentiation between evil and God.””

I agree with you to a point, as a multitude of false religions (as I understand them) have deities that are dualistic, amoral or even malevolent. But that extreme is precluded by the holy scriptures. Though I do dabble in classical and evidential apologetics from time to time – to the extent that I am able – for the most part I adhere to the presuppositional apologetics school of Cornelius Van Til and similar, which takes the truth and authority of the Bible to be a non-negotiable starting point and proceeds from there. (I further build on that school by presuming a basic “rule of faith”, or a normative interpretation of the Bible, belief in its inerrancy/inspiration/authority, and application of its doctrines to the church).

So, inasmuch as the Bible differentiates between evil and God, I presume this to be true also. My purpose for authoring the above piece was intended not to much to be an exercise in philosophy, ethics or similar, but for evangelism and encouragement. Thus, it presumes some degree of faith – and please recall that faith is not produced by man but is given by God – and is not intended for the purposes of debating the likes of Sam Harris, Charles Dawkins or the late Christopher Hitchens.

“One might state that if evil has a positive outcome such as pointing to God; then committing evil cannot be entirely wrong (as it creates some good outcome). Therefore committing an evil act cannot be considered wrong and cannot then be evil.”

What you speak of is outcome-based religion. The problem with such religions is that man, lacking perfect knowledge and morality, is incapable of properly evaluating outcomes. Only God can do so. What we perceive to be a “good” outcome according to our perspective might actually be evil according to God, and the converse is also true. Consider an example: a small leak in a dam. A person might make an improper repair to the leak that for a time stops the water from running, but makes the dam weaker, or at minimum ignores the root cause of the leak. Now though the fix is flawed, it might last a long time – during the duration of that person’s life. And for that time, that person will be considered to have done a great good in fixing the leak, and will go to his grave with such estimation.

But suppose that the dam ultimately breaks and catastrophically floods the town! Was this a good deed? No, because in the most extreme case, where the leak would have been at most a minor annoyance but remained, the fix made the dam weaker and caused it to suddenly burst where it would not have had the fix not been applied. In even the most favorable possible case, the fix caused everyone to BELIEVE that the problem was solved, and hindered them from seeking a real solution, or from evacuating the town if no solution was possible or practical.

Such is the result of false religion: it creates self-righteousness and blinds the sinner from his need for God. And false doctrines in Christianity can similar impede the spiritual growth of a Christian. So, the measure of “good acts” are not by their outcomes (“the ends justify the means”) or their intentions (“he meant well/his heart was in the right place”) but rather the fidelity of these acts to the commandments of Jesus Christ as revealed by the Holy Scriptures regardless of their apparent outcomes. God and His Word are the standard, not the outcome or our perception of it, and by the definition of God as determined by His special revelation to us in the Bible, fidelity to God and His Word cannot be evil.

That is why the people who obeyed the commandments of God to commit genocide and fratricide in the Old Testament were not evil, and those who committed what might have been considered good in sparing, say, a Canaanite baby out of what seemed to be mercy upon the innocent who posed no threat when when God commanded to utterly destroy all the Canaanites would have been evil. Where of course we would say that killing a Canaanite baby is evil, and sparing the baby and raising it up according to the Jewish religion would have been good according to our own understanding, we have to accept by faith God’s statements when He says that His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts, and obey God according to that same faith.

If we do otherwise, and obey God when it conforms to our own sense of good and evil and abandon God’s commandments when they contradict them, we are following our own religion and morality and not God’s, and we have made ourselves into gods in the place of God.

“On another level it also implicates God in evil; because it seems to make God a participant in the evil action. Therefore one might question the goodness of God.”

Well, the psalmists and prophets seemed to regularly question the goodness of God, no? Yet they remained faithful. It is not blind faith, but faith in God’s self-revelation to us through His Son. The role of the Holy Spirit is not to answer all of our questions, but to reassure us, comfort us and keep us in the faith despite them. Or to save us from our faithless condition despite them. The Bible declares oft that we cannot understand God and His ways, and that we are not to even try to. We are to merely – as the old hymn says – trust and obey Him.

But let it be said that God does certainly use evil to accomplish His ends. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose, and this includes evil things. And God most certainly does use evil events. When a sinner commits evil, the Holy Spirit convicts him of this evil in order to drive him to repentance unto salvation. When a Christian commits evil, the Holy Spirit convicts him of this evil in order to drive him to repentance unto restoration. The Holy Spirit does not cause this evil, but He certainly uses it.

But as touching God and evil actions: consider when God sent a lying spirit to the false prophets in order to provoke wicked king Ahab into going into battle so that Ahab could be slain as a punishment for his (Ahab’s) wickedness. Consider also when God made pharaoh ruler of Egypt and hardened his heart so that pharaoh would oppress the children of Israel mightily, as God wanted an occasion to judge the Egyptians for their wickedness, to save Israel and make them a nation, and to display evidence of His existence and power to the world. Consider when God used the wicked pagan Assyrian and Babylonian empires to judge Israel and Judah for their infidelity to the Sinai covenant (and this required allowing Assyria and Babylon to conquer other nations and otherwise rise to power). And consider when Jesus Christ chose the non-elect Judas Iscariot as one of His apostles so that Judas Iscariot could betray Him and otherwise fulfill the prophecies.

It is very fair to say that God participated in these evil actions, if you rely on the common human definition of participation. In the Bible, God does asserts His right to do evil, at least according to man’s perspective of evil (when God did so, He was condescending to the limited understanding capacity of man in that He allowed them to regard His actions as evil).

Just because we see something as evil does not make it evil. God is the standard, the Self-existing Self-defined one who is goodness and righteousness within Himself. Evil, then, is by definition that which is contrary to God, and God by definition cannot be contrary to Himself. Any other definition of evil makes man a judge of not only himself, but of God. This is something than an unbeliever – especially an atheist or rationalist – will never accept but that Christians are called to accept, believe and submit ourselves to through faith.

The unwillingness to accept the fact that God Himself is the definition of good and that evil is defined by its being in opposition to God is the source of so many of these logical games, tricks and constructions on the behalf of many apologists. This fact also solves the apparent problem of God telling one person to do one thing at one time and another person to do something else (i.e. when God commanded Ezekiel and Hosea to break the Mosaic law by eating bread defiled with excrement and marrying a cult prostitute): we are simply to believe that God can do so without Himself being contradictory.

“I prefer the Biblical account which simply claims that God is the good God who overcomes evil. He is the one that thwarts evil, and instead works good in the life of the believer where the evil one had sought to sow destruction. Evil, then, remains evil; and God remains good. It is not the evil action that points to God; but rather His action in turning away the evil and establishing his redemption in its wake. The redemption points to God.”

The problem with that is that it relies on an incomplete portion of the Holy Scriptures, excluding bad facts. Consider, well, the book of Job (which has been as much a source of fascination and meditation for me as I certainly hope the Gospel of Matthew has been for you)! Let’s face it: God delivered Job into the hands of Satan for Satan to do whatever he wished with Job and all that he had save taking Job’s life. And please recall: the Bible is clear that the calamities that came upon Job were not due to any sin that Job had committed. Job’s CHILDREN died, not because of any sin of Job or the children, and despite Job’s daily sacrificing for his children in case they sinned. (Of course, their deaths would have occurred due to their original sin, as did Job’s death, but let us focus on their untimely deaths, which was considered to be an evil occurrence in OT times and still is to this day.)

We have to come up with a theodicy that is faithful to the entirety of the Bible. Not only must we do this in order to be faithful to God through His Word, but this is also the only way to construct a theodicy that encompasses the range of the facts of life that we have to confront, such things as wars, plagues, horrific crimes, miscarriages, birth defects etc. God does overcome evil by eliminating all that which is contrary to Himself. Keep in mind: this process will not be completely finished until the eschaton, when this creation is destroyed by fire, the wicked are cast into eternal flame, and a new heaven and a new earth is created.

As to why God did not make the original creation after the same manner of the new heaven and new earth, we just have to accept that God did all things according to a manner that pleased Him. The idea that God was obligated to prevent the existence of evil in order to not Himself be evil is man’s thinking, not our own. And it is thinking that is centered on man and his own interests, as we accuse God for not acting to avoid our own misery and suffering. We want to be able to say that God is not good if the result of His original creation was humans – most of whom never encountered with the gospel of Jesus Christ to either accept or reject – being punished in the lake of fire for an eternity. As mentioned earlier, our duty is to accept these facts because they are how God revealed Himself and His actions in the Bible, and not to generate contrivances to avoid the fulness of God’s self-revelation and its implications. Make no mistake: unbelievers are fully aware of these things! Have you ever perused skepticsannotatedbible.org and similar counter-apologetics efforts? It is far better to directly confront these things in scripture, meditate on them, accept them through faith, and work them into our systematic theologies than to simply pretend that they do not exist, or to come up with human-centered (if not necessarily humanistic) evasions.

One last point if evil has some positive function in our world then the ultimate destruction of it would in essence be destroying it, and with it destroying an important way of knowing God. Yet our God promises to end evil once and for all. That is our hope that on a day in the hopefully not-too-distant future He will return to bring into completion or fullness the reality of His Kingdom that he established in His previous visit. The cross is the seal of payment, and the spirit is his down payment asserting His intentions to return. Evil will be no more and His people will be entirely free to serve Him in eternity. We will then celebrate His victory, not His battle.

There is a difference between saying that evil has an absolute positive function in the world, and merely stating that God uses evil to accomplish His purposes. However, even if God did so as you speak, it would be well within His right to terminate it. Does God still feed His people with manna? Of course, God did a great thing by feeding His people with manna. Does the fact that you no longer eat manna destroy an important way of knowing God? Does the fact that you are not a Jew living in Jerusalem under the Mosaic law destroy an important way of knowing God? God forbid! So, if God can discontinue good things, then how much more so can He discontinue evil that He uses for good purposes? We know God only by God’s revelation.

Whether God’s revelation consists of His use of evil to accomplish His goals or not, the knowledge of God is the same. Why? Because God – the one providing the revelation – is the same. Even if you were to say that it is not “the same”, inasmuch as those in Old Testament times did not have the same knowledge as do we in light of the cross and the current ministrations of the Holy Spirit, their knowledge of God based on the revelation that they had was nonetheless sufficient to suit God’s purposes and that is what counts. God is only bound by Himself to reveal to us what He chooses for us to know of Him. He is not bound by us to reveal to us what we desire to know of him.

Further, God reveals Himself to us through the way that He chooses, not the way that we desire. Part of the error of some in the Pentecostal movement that I was once in is their demand that God reveal Himself to us in these ways in the same way that He revealed Himself to the early church, and also to Old Testament Israel. God’s actions and revelations are according to His will, not our desires. And the nature and character of God’s revelation are suitable to fulfill our needs. Not our wants, but our needs. Keep in mind in Romans 1 when Paul states that even the order and nature of creation should have been enough of God’s self-disclosure to live righteously and thereby be saved, and therefore those who do not – including those who never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ – are without excuse and therefore subject to condemnation on judgment day.

And of course we celebrate His battle. Are not the Psalms filled with the Jews’ praise of God’s battles on their behalf, physical and spiritual? Concerning Jesus Christ, do we not celebrate His trial in the desert, Gethsemane and the cross, and not merely the resurrection? Jesus Christ specifically instituted the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper so that we would remember His passion. This knowledge of God that you speak of includes God’s battles for our behalf, because through these we know that God has both the power to save us and the love to forgive us. God’s destruction of Egypt and Israel’s other enemies is evidence of the former, and His restoration of the remnant after they broke His covenant is evidence of the latter. This is evidence of the very hope of which you speak!

Well, I am done! I thank this opportunity to dialogue with my old friend and brother in the faith. As always, I hope that I did not offend or mistreat you, and if I did, it was not my intent. Thank you, and I look forward to your response.

The Three Step Salvation Plan

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Posted in Bible, Christianity, devotional, evangelism, faith, grace, Jesus Christ, Theodicy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Necessity Of The Holy Trinity

Posted by Job on October 26, 2011

Motivated at least in part by the current controvery over oneness heretic T.D. Jakes, (also here and here) please read two very good pieces on the importance of the Holy Trinity. Hopefully, this will help Christians understand that we are to separate with heretics, not dialogue with them.

On The Trinity: Part One – Hermeneutics

On the Trinity: Part Two – The Trinity, Central to Apologetics and Evangelism

Posted in anti - Christ, Apologetics, apostasy, Bible, blasphemy, blasphemy Holy Ghost, blasphemy Holy Spirit, christian broadcasting, Christian hypocrisy, Christian salvation, christian television, christian worldliness, Christianity, church hypocrisy, church scandal, church worldliness, corrupt televangelism, discernment, evangelical, evangelical christian, evangelism, false doctrine, false preacher, false preachers, false prophet, false religion, false teachers, false teaching, grace, interfaith dialogue, irresistible grace, Jesus Christ, Jesus Only, modalism, oneness pentecostal, oneness pentecostalism, orthodoxy, orthopraxy, Ruach Hakadosh, syncretism, TBN, TD Jakes, televangelism, trinity broadcasting network, unitarian, Y'shua Hamashiach, Y'shua Hamashiach Moshiach, Yeshua Hamashiach | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Declaring A Moratorium On Moralism, Which Takes Christ Out Of Christianity!

Posted by Job on January 18, 2008

A Moratorium on Moralism, Part 1

A Moratorium on Moralism, Part 2

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

Mother Teresa Proves That You Cannot Be Saved By Works!

Posted by Job on August 25, 2007

Update: Mother Teresa was a universalist. http://www.challies.com/archives/articles/the-myth-of-mot.php

Her successor worships Hindu idols. http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/motherteresassuccessor.htm

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20440800/ “Mother Teresa’s hidden faith struggle, laid bare in a new book that shows she felt alone and separated from God … Her ordeal, laid out to a series of confessors and confidants, became public knowledge in 2003 during the investigation into her cause for sainthood, a process fast-tracked by Pope John Paul II… Mother Teresa as a mystic who experienced visions of Jesus speaking to her early in her ministry, only to lose that connection and long for it like an unrequited love for most of her last four decades.” “Other saints did these wonderful things and works for God and on behalf of the church, but most of them had the benefit of a very rich and rewarding prayer life. Mother Teresa in a sense was going on an empty tank all day.”

Some writings seem to suggest she doubted God’s existence. She wrote in 1959: “What do I labour for? If there be no God — there can be no soul — if there is no Soul then Jesus You also are not true.”

“I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony,” she wrote in an undated letter.

In 1956, she wrote: “Such deep longing for God and … repulsed empty no faith no love no zeal. … Heaven means nothing pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything.”

Jim Towey, Mother Teresa’s legal counsel from 1985 until her death and former head of the White House Office of Faith-Based & Community Initiatives, said he always presumed Mother Teresa’s hardships were physical and that her prayer life sustained her. Now, he sees suffering consistent with lives of other saints and that of Jesus, who according to Scripture cried out to God on the cross, “Why have you forsaken me?” (blasphemy!)

People, works cannot save. Works – based religions cannot save. A religion that causes you to idolize and elevate humans (saints and Mary) and images (icons) will inevitably cause you to take your eyes off God and to instead concentrate on your own works and those of others. We are saved not by works, but by the Bread of Life: Jesus Christ! If you have not trusted Jesus Christ with your salvation, follow The Three Step Salvation Plan today!

Posted in catholic, Christianity, evangelical christian, false doctrine, feminism, global warming evangelical christian, grace, salvation, salvation through Jesus Christ | 44 Comments »

Once Saved Always Saved: Is This How The Holy Spirit Works?

Posted by Job on July 19, 2007

Well, for this I have to credit (or blame) the most excellent brother Laz, even if he didn’t do it on purpose! Motivated by a post asserting the opposite by Independent Conservative, I posted by beliefs Christians: Once Saved Always Saved? I Say Not So! to which Laz made this reply during which he referenced the argument of a oneness pentecostal. Perhaps unknown to Laz, the three issues that I am extremely emotional about in no particular order are 1) abortion, 2) anti – Trinitarians, and 3) those who mislead Christians into thinking that they are old covenant Israel (which is done not only explicitly with false Christian teaching but also implicitly through religious right politics). I also somehow totally misunderstood Laz’s post (though I read it several times!) into thinking that he was, while debating the opposite point, citing views that were similar to mine expressed by an anti – Trinitarian in the course of making his argument. Result: I made this comment to the effect of “I will become a five point Calvinist before I ever side with a oneness heretic over a brother in Christ.” Laz quickly corrected my error, but it was too late: I had already said (or written) it, and could not take it back! (Which is precisely why the Bible calls speaking in haste or out of emotion a sin.) So, I was stuck thinking about the issue all day long, and the excellent replies that I received from Steven, Marge, Marcus, Laz, Independent Conservative, etc. weren’t helping.

Now lately I have been giving into the temptation of listening to talk radio even though it is not good for a person with a temperament such as mine, and as it happens they are talking about the Michael Vick case ad nauseum. I stopped being a fan of Michael Vick when he gave a woman herpes, I was so frustrated with the pro – abortion PETA crowd who love dogs more than people on the radio (including this ESPN radio host who claims that “we should have EVOLVED to the point where we no longer enjoy dogfighting”) that I wasn’t exactly the peacemaker at work that God called me to be the rest of my workday! So later when I again turned on talk radio while driving home and heard more Michael Vick news, a little whisper tells me “Now you know that you caused all sorts of trouble that your coworkers didn’t need today because you let something that you shouldn’t have been listening to anyway get you angry. The Bob George Show is on right now on 1010 AM, turn to that.” (Bob George is great Christian teacher, his website is http://realanswers.net).

I do so, and this sweet old lady who has been ATTENDING CHURCH ALL OF HER LONG LIFE called in because she was vexed by the whole salvation thing. The churches that she had been attending, apparently, had neglected to tell her the meaning of what Jesus Christ did for her on the cross, and as a result she had spent her entire life trying to work her way out of the lake of fire. Apparently, she had made several such calls in a short period of time on this topic, because the hosts of this nationwide live show knew her and put her right on. So the host explained (and I could tell that it wasn’t the first time) how once you accept Christ, God forgives all of your past, present, and future sins. I do not remember all of her questions or his responses, but he broke it down for her. I do think I remember this exchange when the woman, filled with emotion, “But what if I sin and can’t stop sinning? How I handle that, and what does God do or feel about that?” If I recall, something to the effect was “Well you can either go out and find yourself a calf or lamb to go sacrifice, or you can start trusting God for your salvation.”

The notion of a sweet little old lady that had been attending church all of her life wracked with fear and guilt over sin was extremely disturbing to me. And yes, I was also mindful of my own sin just a few short hours earlier of causing strife and confusion on my job. And on top of all that, I was still thinking of my hasty reply to Laz earlier, what it meant in general intellectual terms, what it meant to my own recent sin, and what it meant to this terrified old lady in emotional turmoil on the phone. So while I had always given agreement by virtue of “intellectual assent” to “God forgives all of your past, present, and future sins upon salvation”, I had never stopped to think what that ACTUALLY MEANS. That is, until now.

Well, the good news is that the sweet little old lady FINALLY understood and believed and began to trust Jesus Christ and not dead works of religion or her church, pastor, or doctrine for her salvation that day. Now I fully expect this woman to be attacked by Satan, so I must remember to pray for her though I know not her name or anything else about her. But I now had something to think about regarding my “you can’t lose your salvation but you can throw it away” personal doctrine. If all of your past, present, and FUTURE sins are forgiven when God saves you, then the present or future sin that would cause you to allegedly “throw your salvation away” is already forgiven! And if your sin is already forgiven even before you commit it? How can it possibly throw your salvation away? The answer is simple: it cannot. It is forever dealt with, done, cast away, removed, forgotten, as far from you as the east is from the west. You cannot undo what God has done. What God does is not dependent on man. God’s operation is not a function of man. And it cannot be that God has forgiven your past and present sins but not your future ones, because that does not fit my own personal concept of God: an eternal spirit that exists outside of time. Since God exists outside of time, He does not have to wait for you to commit some future sin to forgive it. He does not need one procedure for your past sin, this thing for your present sin, and a separate process for your future sin: existing timelessly in eternity has its advantages! Thus, I repeat, you cannot “throw away your salvation” with an action or even a series of actions that God has already forgiven you for!

So then, it is true. I can no longer deny it. Once saved always saved. This is going to permanently alter how I view Christianity and in a very significant fashion, including totally changing my approach to reading scripture.

Posted in Apologetics, Calvinism, Christianity, false doctrine, feminism, grace, innocent blood, mohammed, predestination, pretribulation, salvation | 26 Comments »

But I’ve Done Too Many Bad Things To Serve God!

Posted by Job on July 19, 2007

http://lastrow.wordpress.com/2007/07/18/ive-done-too-many-bad-things-to-serve-god/

Posted in Christianity, devotional, grace, Russia | 1 Comment »

Final Answer: The Sinner’s Prayer Is Not Only Unnecessary For Salvation, It May Not Be Expedient!

Posted by Job on July 5, 2007

I first asked the question here: Is The Salvation Prayer Necessary For Salvation?, which was in response to this challenge. Now I maintain that the reason why the issue of salvation is so vexing to the church is because there is no “instruction manual” in the New Testament, which I maintain is good because if there were, it would just be something else that Christians could use to turn into into a work or a ritual; claiming that the process in the Bible saved you rather than God. But a “type” of salvation by unearned grace is given in the Old Testament, in Isaiah 6:1-7. “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.”

All Isaiah did was realize and admit before God that A) God is Holy, B) he was sinful, C) that his sinful condition was unacceptable before God, and D) being unacceptable before God because of your sin is a bad thing indeed. (Please realize that Isaiah was ALREADY SERVING GOD IN THE OFFICE OF A PROPHET when he had this vision.) In short, Isaiah, acknowledged his sin and repented of it before God. Immediately upon doing so, his sin was removed through no act of his own!

But wait: his sin was removed by an angel, and only God can forgive sin! Not so! The angel was only the messenger, the vehicle, the vessel! Keep in mind: they WERE under the old covenant; Christ had not been born, died, and raised from the dead, and there was no gospel for a man to preach. The seraphim did not forgive Isaiah’s sin, he took the live coal from the altar, put it on Isaiah’s lips, and the sin was forgiven. Why was the coal live? It had been burned in the fire. What is a common metaphor for fire in the Bible? God the Holy Spirit; Ruach Hakadosh. Consider the Holy Spirit’s role in salvation by reading this link http://www.eternallifeministries.org/awp_sal.htm, and while you are at it this brief opinion on salvation in the Old Testament in general here: http://www.biblebb.com/files/macqa/70-12-1.htm. And keep in mind: the fire of the Holy Spirit is not a regular, natural fire but a spiritual one. So, when the Bible says that the coal was “live”, it does not merely mean that it was HOT, it means that the presence of the Holy Spirit was still with the coal. How do we know this? Because the angel used tongs! The angel never touched the coal, but had to use tongs to handle it. Why do you think that the angel would need tongs, brothers and sisters? This is an ANGEL we are talking about here, a spirit being! An angel is not going to be burned by handling the bratwursts from your barbecue grill! No, the angel could not – would not – touch the coal because the presence of God the Holy Spirit was upon that coal! And when the coal touched Isaiah’s lips, the Holy Spirit that descended down from heaven by virtue of the coal carried by the angel (with tongs) played the same role in Isaiah’s salvation as it plays in this dispensation when a man hears the gospel of a preacher and believes and trusts in the message through faith in God alone.

The best part of all this is that Isaiah played no role whatsoever in this. He did not choose the time or place or manner of salvation. He did not pray for his sin to be removed or for God to accept or help Him. And no, baptismal regenerationists, he was not baptized. He played no role in his salvation whatsoever. It was 100% initiated, executed, and completed by God. The only thing that Isaiah did was acknowledge that he was a sinner, and that he was unworthy to be accepted by God because of it! Immediately after doing that, GOD SAVED HIM. After all, what is the Name by which we are saved? Jesus (more accurately Yeshua, Y’shua, Yehoshua, or perhaps Joshua) which means “GOD SAVES.”

So why, then, the gospel, and what of it? That would probably be a worthy topic for study, discussion, and debate, but I am satisfied with the explanation that it is the method that God told us to use and to leave it at that. But we see from the Isaiah experience that the critical role of the gospel is to not to get the sinner to ask God to save him. Why? Because Isaiah did no such thing! No, the critical role of the gospel is to get the unbeliever to acknowledge that he is a sinner and therefore unacceptable to God because of it, which is what Isaiah did! Only after the sinner realizes that he is a sinner and cannot be reconciled with God because of his sin can he believe that the purpose of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the Jesus Christ Person of the Holy Trinity was to reconcile the sinner to God, and to trust that the actions of God alone are what saves him!

Again, I have no problem with a sinner’s prayer, but only if it is said as a helpful exercise in “formally” fulfilling Romans 10:9 (That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved), specifically the “confess with thy mouth” part, only after the unbeliever has accepted that he is a sinner and even then only IF the sinner knows that the prayer does not save him and furthermore plays no role in his salvation! And this gets to be a real problem in my opinion. First, there is the well – known issue that a great many evangelists, especially those that rely on systematic methods (following a tract or a technique that they were taught during church evangelism training) soft – play the issue of sin because they do not want to alienate the unbeliever, and also because they may not be able to answer the unbeliever’s questions concerning sin. They may mention it, but to get around that “problem”, these evangelists purport to deal with the sin issue during the prayer, which usually starts off with “Lord, I admit that I am a sinner, please for give me for my sins.” The logic “Hey, if he says it during a prayer that he is saying out of a sincere desire in his heart to be saved, then that counts as a confession of sin and God will accept it.” No, it doesn’t work that way. The person’s KNOWLEDGE and SINCERITY is for God to save him, NOT of his sin and his separation from God because of it. This problem is added to when evangelists say that a person’s separation from God is due to their not accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Well, did Isaiah accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior? No.

The main goal for a lot of evangelists to get people to say a prayer that will not save them, even if they are sincere about a desire to be saved and sincerely recite the prayer! So how, then, are these people saved? I honestly believe that they are saved later. They go to church and (hopefully) hear preachers talk about sin and repentance (again, this cannot be presumed, even in evangelical and fundamentalist churches). Or they will (hopefully) read about the issue and (hopefully) understand when they (hopefully) read their Bibles (something else that cannot be presumed). What of praying for God to forgive your sins?1) Isaiah did not do this. 2) Nowhere in the Bible are we told to do this. 3) Will God hear the prayer of a sinner? Basically, the rub is that if you ask God to forgive your sins without meaning it or even having a true understanding of what you are asking, then it is a vain exercise. But according to the Isaiah example (and the other Bible salvation examples that I can recall), God cleanses you of your sin immediately upon your becoming aware of your sin, knowing that you are separated from God because of it, and desiring your situation to change. Thus, if you have heard and believed a true gospel presentation, then God has already forgiven you before even start to pray! (And it is a good thing too, since the prayer cannot save you!) And it may actually hinder you. What if you say the prayer (even if you mean it) without every truly dealing with the issue of your own sin? Then if you believe that your salvation came when you said your prayer, then will you even see how all of those sermons and Bible verses that speak of sin apply to you? If you regard yourself to be saved already by virtue of the prayer (or of baptism), then perhaps not.

So, the issue that must be dealt with is the scripturally untrue notion that the sinner’s prayer plays any role in saving a sinner, especially when so many Christians are convinced that they were saved when or as a result of saying the prayer, and that the way to be used by God to bring others into the kingdom of heaven is to get others to say a prayer as they did. It is tempting to say that true gospel preaching would make this matter moot, but sadly it is not true. If you believe that God saves the person as a result of his saying the prayer, then out of your love for the unbeliever and burden for his lost soul, you are going to focus your entire energy on getting him to say the prayer. Everything else will be an exercise, a ritual, a formality. Which, of course, means that it will be EXPENDABLE; meaning that you can sacrifice some of it in order not to offend so that you might gain the person through prayer. Let us be honest: suppose you were to walk up to a person on the street and ask him “Do you want to be saved?” and the person replies “Sure, my best friend just died in a car accident, so I want to be with God when I die; I have heard people say and have seen it on bumper stickers and billboards that you need to accept Jesus to go to heaven, but I do not know how.” The overwhelming majority of fundamentalist and evangelical Christians would leap for joy inside and say “Great, just say this prayer!” I would say that a sizable minority would give a quick gospel presentation about how Jesus Christ died for their sins – and may even briefly mention that the person is a sinner in the process – but that would be it! The person was sincere about wanting to be saved, the person said the prayer and asked God to forgive his sins, so there … he is saved! Before reading Isaiah 6 today, I would have agreed. But after reading it, I am forced to conclude that we cannot presume that the person is saved merely as a result of saying the prayer, and we can definitely know that the person’s saying the prayer without knowledge of sin and his separation from God because of it and without repentance of sin because of that fact will not result in his salvation.

Illustrative example: ! On Trinity Broadcasting Network about a year ago, Paula White was speaking of Without Walls’ “extreme evangelism” methods. One such example was their giving a secular concert (admission was either free or with ticket prices far lower than normal) with R&B and rap artists to attract a large number of young unbelievers. That the concert was sponsored by a church was strictly withheld from the public, so the concert attendees had no idea that they were attending a church evangelism event and spent the entire evening there with nothing regarding Jesus Christ on their minds (or if they were, it had nothing to do with the event that they were attending). After the last act performed (and again, it was a secular concert playing secular music, not that I am condemning secular music or those who make or listen to it, just to point out that Christ or the gospel was unmentioned throughout the entire event) an announcer came on stage and asked if anyone in the building “wanted to accept Jesus Christ in their lives” (Paula White’s words on TBN, not mine). Of course, when you have a bunch of impressionable young people that have spent several hours being entertained by their favorite musicians in a concert setting (and R&B and rap acts frequently ask their audiences to respond … “Get up and say yeah!” sort of thing), they are going to be willing to answer in the affirmative to virtually anything almost without thinking. So, when a bunch of kids did so, the announcer had them stand up and say the sinner’s prayer! Which meant that if they were sincere in saying the prayer (and when you are a kid with your friends at a music concert, you can be sincere about a lot of things, especially for oh, about 30 seconds that it takes to say such a prayer), then they were saved. Right?

One final thing: Isaiah 6:8 says “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who shall go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. send, and who will go for ” Once again, you have God referring to Himself as I (singular) and us (plural). I = Unity, us = Trinity. Trinity in Unity, or Tri – Unity.And in this context, this whole “royal we” (where dignitaries refer to themselves in plural) not apply. Else, the verse would have read “Whom shall WE send, and who will go for US?” No way the normal language would have been used for “I” and the royal language for “we.” Yet another example of why there is no excuse whatsoever for calling yourself a Christian while denying Trinity, or making the “the true nature of God is an unknown mystery that has not been revealed” or “the word Trinity is never given in the Bible” canards that are commonly used as excuses for following some Jesus Only oneness preacher or movement. And isn’t it amazing that God JUST HAPPENS to declare His Tri – Unity during this salvation scene? Do not be deceived, it was no coincidence. God referred to Himself as “I” and “We” during that vision precisely because the Tri – Une nature of God is integral to salvation, and that there is no salvation apart from it. All oneness dissenters: please explain how a “manifestation” of God or a “father – son – uncle relationship of God” went with that live coal to burn the sin out of Isaiah!

Posted in baptismal regeneration, charismatic, christian broadcasting, christian television, Christianity, false doctrine, feminism, GOP, grace, Jesus Only, occult, oneness pentecostal, oneness pentecostalism, salvation, salvation prayer, sex crime, somalia, spiritual warfare, TBN, the three steps to salvation, trinity broadcasting network, unitarian, Y'shua Hamashiach Moshiach | 11 Comments »

London Minister Forgives Man Who Murdered Daughter (Racism/Black History Month)

Posted by Job on February 16, 2007

Read this heartbreaking story here. It is a powerful tale of the capacity of people who are totally committed to Yeshua HaMashiach to forgive. However, if you look deeper into the story, it reminds me of something that I said on Angry Black Woman’s entry on Barack Obama’s black empowerment church. Of course, the subject was racism, and despite the desire of a great many people to deny it, racism is a real issue. I believe that it is a demon that is often found with demons of hate, pride, and fear, and that rather than denying it because of some chauvinistic political and personal belief (which also involves demons) Christians need to overcome it with the love of Jesus Christ and the Blood of Jesus Christ and the power of the testimony through charity, prayer, spiritual warfare, and good works. The reason that I gave was not so much because of the current plight of the victims of racism – however severe that plight might be – but for the fact that all people who hold racism in their hearts and thereby fail to love their neighbor as themselves as a result – the second of the great commandments given by Yeshua HaMashiach when he was being tested by the Sadducees who denied resurrection, then they will be judged by a righteous God for it. Will it be a case of the goats being placed on one side and sheep on another? Will it be the case of “many being called but few chosen”? Will it be a case of “people who have healed, cast out devils, and done great works in the name of Yeshua HaMashiach being told to ‘depart from me worker of iniquity, I never knew thee” because their garments are defiled with the stain of racism?

You might ask what this story has to do with racism since the perperators and victims are all of the same race (indeed, all African immigrants)? Well, here you have a man whose daughter was murdered by the same group of criminals who also murdered a woman at her own baby’s christening while she was holding her baby in her arms being concerned not with his own sense of rage, anger, hate, resentment, loss, loneliness, and grief, but with the eternal soul of the victim! He speaks of the horrible conditions of poverty and family dysfunction that this fellow lived through. He knows that if this fellow dies without repenting and being saved through Yeshua HaMashiach’s Blood, he will spend eternity in the lake of fire, an unspeakably grotesque fate that was never intended for any man but rather for Satan and his demons. So if a man can look at his own great loss not in the context of his loss but rather in the context of a far greater loss of the unsaved person, how much more can we, the vast majority of whom have suffered far less as the result of racism (in this present day anyway) have the same concern for thsoe who discriminate against us?

I did a series of “why I hate black history month” a couple of days ago, and a fellow named AuLThaT rightfully upbraided and rebuked my un – Christian attitude and comments. So, I say we should spend what is left of this Black History Month by going into fervent prayer and spiritual warfare against this sin and demon of racism, and for spiritual deliverance of those people who are bound by these sins and demons, AND are too prideful to admit it. We must also pray for the people who, as a result of having experienced racism and are angry, bitter, resentful, spiteful, and hateful as a result. That is one of the worst things about sin; it causes sin in others! When a man molests his daughter, for instance, sexual demons enter into her that almost always result in serious problems that afflict her all her life until she goes through spiritual deliverance, part of which has to be her admitting what her father did to her and forgiving him for it. So, these people angry over racism must admit that they have been personally wounded by the people, forgive them for it, and also seek spiritual deliverance and cleansing by the application of the Blood of Jesus Christ.

I am not making a plea for these secular things like “tolerance”, “diversity”, ”multiculturalism”, “race relations”, “racial reconciliation”, or “racial empowerment.” As said on Angry Black Woman’s blog, I am not AGAINST those things, but rather they must take a back seat to a person’s spiritual purity, because the most important thing in all our lives is passing God’s Judgment. Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all else will be added to it! So, for both the racists and the victims of racism, let us pray for their salvation and their deliverance, for the commiters of this sin their ability to renounce their pride and confess, and for their victims the ability to renounce their anger and forgive. In the name of Yeshua HaMashiach, amen.

Posted in black history month, Christian persecution America, Christianity, grace, murder, racism | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

 
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