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Posts Tagged ‘John 3:16’

The Importance Of John 14:15 In Christianity

Posted by Job on January 2, 2012

Perhaps the most popular verse in all of modern Bible-based (i.e. evangelical, fundamental Protestant) Christianity is John 3:16. For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Small wonder … consider that this verse when lifted from the context of scripture implies not general atonement – as many claim – but rather universalism. So, this text – again when taken out of context – is perfect for the self centered, self indulgent libertine modern mindset where one insists upon receiving any and all benefits without any notion of responsibility or sacrifice. In a modern world where the most important word or concept is not “God” (meaning the true One of the Bible) but rather “rights” this should not surprise anyone.

But Romans 12:1-2 tells us to stand against and apart from this worldly thinking. 2 Corinthians 10:5 exhorts us to reject all false ideas, philosophies and theologies that magnify themselves against God’s revelation. The problem is not John 3:16, which is magnificent and beautiful as is all of God’s Word, but instead what hard hearted, stiff necked men have done with it. So, discerning Christians should seek to set themselves right by putting John 3:16 in its proper context.

A quick way to do it is with John 14:15. If ye love me, keep my commandments. Now why isn’t THAT verse more popular? We already know the reason. Taking John 3:16 out of context allows the person to retain the false idea: “It is all about ME! It is all about ME getting THE BENEFITS THAT ARE COMING TO ME! Why? BECAUSE I AM SPECIAL!” (The motto of the popular VeggieTales series: God made you special and He loves you very much.) But John 14:15 creates obligation. It creates responsibility. And the obligation and responsibility is not to LOVE YOURSELF. It is not to BE TRUE TO YOURSELF. It is not TO FOLLOW YOUR HEART. It is not to MAKE YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE. It is not to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. Instead, that responsibility is to someone other than yourself. It removes YOU from being the center of the universe and puts it on someone else! It takes YOU from being the object of glory, wonder, service and worship and makes redirects that focus to the One who actually merits it!

Little wonder that men want to see themselves, see the world, see the Bible that way. Satan himself was no different. Isaiah 14:13-14 stated that this creation of God desired to stand in the place of God and receive the worship that was due to God. In Matthew 4:9, Satan even attempted to get Jesus Christ, the One by and for all things were made and the sustainer of all things, to give him this worship! And Paul also wrote in Romans 1:25 that man in his fallen condition redirects worship from the Creator to the creature, and this includes man himself, who is but a creature.

But with John 14:15, it is not so easy to do that. It is not so easily to take the words of John 14:15 out of context. If ye love me, keep my commandments tells us that while grace is free, it is not cheap, for we were bought with a price. John 14:15 tells us to be not deceived, we have a Creator, Lord, Ruler and Judge to who wholly owns us, and to whom alone we must answer. John 14:15 is what informs us the truth of James 2:20, which is that faith without works is dead. Yes, many of the more liberal persuasion attempt to abuse James 2:20 to mean acts of charity and political and government action on behalf of certain people, but interpreting James 2:20 in light of John 14:15 makes that impossible, because the commandments of Jesus Christ are not limited to the things that we want to do because of our politics or any other reason, but instead consist of the whole counsel of God!

Do not be deceived. Or let it be said that if you are deceived, it is your responsibility, for you are deceiving yourself concerning this matter. John 14:15 states clearly that if you love Jesus Christ, you must keep His commandments. This means that if you do not keep the commandments of Jesus Christ, then you do not love Jesus Christ. Is it possible to come to any other conclusion when John 14:15 is so direct and clear, consisting of 7 mere words?

So, because of John 14:15, the “world” spoken of in John 3:16 that God the Father sent God the Son to save can be divided into two types of people: those who love God and those who do not. The former are in that category because they keep His commandments. The latter are in their category because they do not. Counted among the latter category are the many goats who say that they believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, who call upon the Name of Jesus Christ and do many great works in that Name, who claim that they are born again believers, but are liars. The reason is that these people testify of Jesus Christ with their lips, but their actions reveal that they are far from Jesus Christ. Their verbal testimony, no matter how eloquent and stirring, is vacuous because the testimony of their actions deny Jesus Christ. And as Jesus Christ said of these goats who honor Him with their words of false testimomy but whose hearts dishonor Him because of their disobedience (Matthew 15:8) in Matthew 25:31-46, their fate will be eternity in the lake of fire.

And why should it be any other way? If you do not love God, then why should you receive any good thing from Him? Why should God reward those who hate Him with good things? (Because if you do not love Him, do you not hate Him?) The self-absorbed, narcissist modern mindset will tell you that God must reward those based merely on their verbally pledging allegiance to God as if He is some perishable flag. They think that by claiming to be a Christian, they are doing God a favor. But actually altering their lifestyle, changing their mindset, becoming a new creation, being crucified with Christ, dying to self:  that is as far from them as is the east from the west. Since it is all about them, they are convinced that God should reward His ENEMIES with eternal life merely because they CLAIM to be His friends and no more! And that is why they abuse John 3:16, Romans 10:8-9 and a host of other Bible texts. Those of us who protest and object are called legalists, bigots, narrow-minded, anti-intellectual or some other name and dismissed.

But John 14:15 is still in the Bible. John 14:15 still has meaning. And on judgment day, this fact will be proven when only the John 14:15 Christians will enter New Jerusalem.

Do you wish to avoid the horrible eternal punishment that will be given to sinners and instead join Jesus Christ in New Jerusalem? If so, then please read and follow:

The Three Step Salvation Plan

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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

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Posted in Bible, Christianity, evangelism, false doctrine, false teaching, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments »

Limited Atonement And Matthew 1:21

Posted by Job on December 25, 2010

The most controversial doctrine of Calvinism, more controversial than predestination, is that of limited atonement. I hold this position because most Christians opposed to predestination are simply unaware of limited atonement, and further most Calvinists – including many prominent evangelical leaders like John Stott, Mark Driscoll and Bill Bright – are actually “four pointers”  because of their rejection of limited atonement.

However, the doctrine of limited atonement is very Biblical. One of its supporting texts is Matthew 1:21. This is somewhat striking because it appears in the address of the angel of the Lord (often presumed to be Gabriel) to Joseph upon his pondering what to about what he rather understandably presumed to be a pregnancy caused by his fiancee’s infidelity. In this address, the angel tells Joseph that Mary’s child would be named Jesus (Yeshua), translated “God saves” or “Jehovah is salvation” because “He shall save his people from their sins.”

Yes, the address of the angel in Luke 2 did pronounce this to be good news, tidings of great joy to all people, pronouncing God’s peace on earth and good will towards men.  Now I do adhere to the text used by the King James Version in Luke 2:14 (“good will towards men”), and not the texts used by other versions that are more Calvinistic (i.e. the NIV’s “peace to men on whom his favor rests”), but that does not introduce a contradiction, for those who reject limited atonement also do not use the statement of the angels to the shepherds in a way that would imply universalism (universal salvation). Instead, that passage should be viewed in the same manner of Philippians 2:8-11 … every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, but certainly not everyone will be saved as a result of this confession. So, just as the universal confession of Jesus Christ’s Lordship in Philippians 2:8-11 is not related to salvation, the universal proclamation of good news and good will to the shepherds is not also.

Instead, the statement of the angel to Joseph, Jesus Christ’s earthly adopted father and descendant of  King David, DID deal with salvation, in contrast to the angelic statements to the shepherds and to Mary. While Mary and the shepherds were both told that Jesus would be Messiah and Savior (and keep in mind, at the time most Jews were expecting their Messiah to be a political-military leader and ruler, and to them salvation meant liberation from Roman rule) Joseph alone received an angelic message stating that through Jesus Christ, God would save people from their sins.

As a result, in contrast with the universal message delivered to the shepherds and the somewhat narrower but still wide message delivered to Mary, only Joseph, a legitimate heir to David, received the true message of how Jesus Christ would fulfill the purpose of the Davidic kingdom, and by extension of Israel itself with “He shall save his people from their sins.” This makes the elevation of and emphasis on (to the point of worship!) Mary and neglect of Joseph rather unjustified, doesn’t it? It also makes those who try to contort the message and role of Jesus Christ into being some false gospel of social or political liberation very foolish. So, small wonder that Joseph and his significance has been marginalized by history, for at this time Joseph alone received the truth in its fullness, and few people indeed have legitimate interest in the truth that Jesus Christ brought and is.

And make no mistake: the angel did not tell people that Jesus Christ would save everyone from their sins, or would save everyone who would come and accept or receive Him from their sins. Instead, the angel informed Joseph that Jesus Christ would save HIS PEOPLE from their sins. And we know from elsewhere in the Bible that the identity of HIS PEOPLE has been established from the foundation of the world. God knows His sheep, and God’s sheep respond to the call of God’s voice! And how did Jesus Christ save HIS PEOPLE from their sins in the manner that was foretold to Joseph by the angel? By dying on the cross. Based on the statement of the angel to Joseph, which limited Jesus Christ’s saving role to a certain set of people, to HIS PEOPLE, Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was for HIS PEOPLE, the elect. It WAS NOT universal after the manner of the angelic declaration to the shepherds, because that declaration was not soteriological in nature, but rather had to do with joy and praise, and again Philippians 2:8-11 reveals that there will be a universal confession of Jesus Christ’s Lordship by creation that will fulfill the message to the shepherds. And the message to the angel to Mary to do with Jesus Christ’s rule, which also indeed will be universal. But only the message to Joseph had to do with salvation, and that was the only message limited to a certain, specific set of people. And make no mistake, it was for these people that atonement is limited.

Now one of the common ways to get around what Matthew 1:21 states is the common argument that “Matthew is the gospel that was written for a Jewish audience; its intent was to evangelize Jews, so Matthew 1:21 has the purpose of revealing Jesus Christ as the Jewish Messiah.” The problem is that there isn’t a bit of internal evidence to justify this position. Quite the contrary, Matthew 12:21 states that Gentiles will trust in the Name of Jesus Christ. Also, the Great Commission, the mandate to evangelize and disciple members of all nations in the Name of Jesus Christ (and not just Jews) is contained within Matthew 28:29-30, and it is clearer and more explicit in the supposed “Jewish gospel” than in the others (including the Gospel of Luke, which was written by a Gentile). That interpretation also sets Matthew 1:21 at odds with the many other texts in the New Testament (in Romans, Galatians and other places) which stated that the atonement was efficacious not for national Israel, but rather spiritual Israel. Therefore, atonement was not universal, but limited to the elect, the church.

This is important because one of the main arguments used against Calvinism is that it is a man-made system, a product of systematic theology, of intermingling the Bible with the deterministic Greek philosophy of Augustine and Calvin, and superimposing pre-existing ideas and doctrines on the Biblical text and interpreting it through that framework. Well, the truth is that possessing this view requires ignoring not only  Matthew 1:21 but also  the significance that the message in Matthew 1:21 was given by angelic revelation to the heir of David! (King David was Mary’s ancestor also, but where Mary descended from David’s son Nathan, Joseph descended from Solomon and as a result was eligible for the throne by heredity.)

Now the so-called “Biblicist” view ignores Matthew 1:21 in favor of claims that John 3:16 declares a universal atonement. Even were this true, it would only mean that limited atonement and universal atonement are equally valid, Bible-based doctrines. The truth is, however, that Matthew 1:21 is in no way in variance with John 3:16. The universal atonement interpretation of “for God so loved the world” requires taking “the world” to be “all the people living on planet earth.” Granted, that is a possible meaning of “kosmos”, but it is a rarely used one. Instead, “kosmos” most often means “order” or “arrangement”, and in this context means “universe as it is currently arranged.” In other words, that phrase should read “For God so loved this creation …” and the verse in context provides the interpretation “God loved this current creation of His enough to send His Son to preserve some of it.”

Though this present creation of God fell into sin, God did not want to totally destroy it, eradicate all of it from existence. Instead, God loved His creation to preserve some of it for eternity. Jesus Christ’s death was only for the portion of creation, the kosmos, that God wished to save.

The irony: even “universal atonement” is limited because those who assert “universal atonement” limit the “kosmos” in John 3:16 to mean the people in the universe only. It is not as if they have a choice, for the book of Revelation tells us that there will be a new heaven and a new earth. “Universal atonement” limits John 3:16 from all the universe to all people, and “limited atonement” merely limits John 3:16 further from all people to some people.

Ultimately, universal atonement based on John 3:16 requires a forced reading of translations of that text. First, it requires you to translate “kosmos” to be “world” as opposed to “created order” (which is the first and the second definition given by Strong) or “universe” (which is the third definition), which is a translation preference for a far lesser usage of the word (and when much better words for “all men” or “all mankind”, such as anthrōpinos, were available for use). Second, it requires for “world” to mean “humankind” as opposed to “planet Earth” or even “all living things on planet Earth.” Now consider that God did indeed destroy all living things on planet Earth during the flood of Noah. (This ark, which was a type of Jesus Christ, only provided salvation for the few that God saved.) So, rather than limited atonement being a man-made doctrine that one arrives at by superimposing human ideas on the text, this instead should be said of universal atonement, which one needs to both contrive a very creative reading of John 3:16 and ignore Matthew 1:21 to arrive at.

I should mention that I grew up in a Wesleyan religious tradition, one that rejected TULIP (including perseverance of the saints). I adopted so-called Calvinism (for these were not Calvin’s doctrines, as Calvin himself was a second-generation reformer) because they they best represent the Biblical evidence. Just as a score of Bible texts confirm total depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints, Matthew 1:21 most definitely supports limited atonement.

How do we know for whom Jesus Christ’s death on the cross provides atonement for? When those who hear the message of His death and resurrection repent of their sins and respond in faith. If you have not already, I sincerely urge you to do so now.

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Evidence For Predestination And Election: The Meaning Of The Word Church

Posted by Job on September 20, 2008

The word translated “church” in the New Testament is ekklesia. Ekklesia means “called-out ones.” The church, then, is God’s particular people chosen from humanity. In this respect, Israel, who was called out from among the peoples and nations to be God’s unique people and form His unique nation, was the typological forerunner of the church. Now, did Israel choose God or did God choose Israel? Acts 13:17 specifically states that God chose Israel, and scripture further tells us that it was not because Israel was the strongest, mightiest, or most virtuous but rather by God’s own decision and grace. So if the old covenant was a covenant of God’s decision, how could the new covenant be one of man’s decision?

Also, go back to the term “ekklesia.” Now, it is easy to state the Remonstrant position by saying that God elects and predestines those whom He will make the offer of salvation to, but it is up to the human decision to respond. (This position would in fact resolve a great many of the issues with free will or Arminian Christianity.) However, were that the case, then the church, the body of Christ, would consist of people who both accepted AND rejected the offer of salvation, for “ekklesia” only refers to those that God called. It does not denote “those that accepted the call.” Free will Christianity would love to pretend that such is the meaning of ekklesia, but it is not. Also, please note that the New Testament writers – and especially the Holy Spirit that guided them – could have chosen a different word or group of words had the church been composed of those who both were called and chose to respond. Instead, the word “ekklesia” was used 112 times, indicating that those who were called had no choice but to respond.

So either the Body of Christ must include those who love Jesus Christ and those who hate Him because both were called and only some accepted and some rejected, or the body of Christ includes only those drawn into the church by the Holy Spirit’s irresistible grace. Were this not the case, the word that the Holy Spirit inspired the apostles to use would not have been “ekklesia”, those who were called out, but something similar to “ekklesia apokrinomai” meaning “those who were called and responded.”

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