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Posts Tagged ‘Limited Atonement’

Putting John 3:16 In Its Place: The Meaning And Purpose Of This Text

Posted by Job on March 19, 2013

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Some use passages like these to assert that those who believe in limited atonement (or particular redemption) instead of universal atonement deny that God loves everyone. The argument goes that if God loves everyone, then it means that Jesus Christ died for everyone and that those texts “prove” it and accuse men of twisting scripture in order to claim otherwise.. Well C.S. Lewis and other believers of religious pluralism and universalism use 1 Timothy 4:10 –“For to this end we labour and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe “ – and many other scriptures to justify it. Is it similarly twisting scripture to say that they are wrong also?

Of course not. Why? Because we know that 1 Timothy 4:10 is not the only thing that the Bible says about salvation. So, it is because that we put 1 Timothy 4:10 in the context of all the other things that the Bible says about how God saves – including John 14:6’s “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” – in order to deny that this text teaches that men above the age of accountability can be saved outside of personal faith in Jesus Christ.

Thus, the same is true of John 3:16. While that text is extremely popular, very well known and much beloved, that is no reason to make it the primary text on the issue of salvation through which all other texts must be judged, held subject to and viewed in light of. That is interpreting scripture according to human opinion and emotion – our tendency to grab hold upon and emphasize the things that please and comfort us while putting less emphasis on the things that disturb and challenge us – instead of letting scripture speak for itself.

It is all well and good to love John 3:16. But we cannot use John 3:16 to pretend that Proverb 16:4 “The LORD hath made all [things] for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil ” isn’t in the Bible, especially since Romans 9:13-23 clearly uses Proverb 16:4 in order to explain the nature and purpose of God’s election as it applies to the Jews and the Gentiles? Now that is what requires the twisting of the Bible scriptures. Accepting those texts and putting them into the proper contexts is why the so-called 5 point Calvinists exist. The only alternative is to deny the meaning and application of those texts, which is what most theologians and other Bible students do … precisely what they accuse the believers of limited atonement of. Perhaps the best example of this is the common explanation of deniers of limited atonement that predestinate in Romans 8:29-30 doesn’t mean, well, predestinate, or the many others who claim that it really means “foreknowledge.” Similar explaining away is done with and who do the same with Ephesians 1:3-12 and also with the many “Calvinistic” texts that appear in the Gospel of John just as does John 3:16.

So, for example, using John 6:65’s “And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” and John 10:26-29’s “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father’s hand.” to interpret John 3:16 is not imposing an artificial human framework on the Bible. Instead, claiming that John 6:37 is based on God’s foreknowledge – and doing so in the complete absence of textual evidence to support it and when so many texts like Romans 9:13-23 contradict it – is when the denying the plain meaning of scripture from its literal, contextual interpretation is being done.

Does this mean that God does not love the world — all people and not just the elect — with an unconditional love? That begs the question of whether unconditional love as our modern humanistic Enlightenment-driven society defines it is a Biblical concept to begin with. If it were, then that would necessarily mean universalism. You may ask whether “world” really mean world or does it mean only the elect and whether world can be both, meaning all people in general, but only or especially the elect in particular?

Many do precisely those types of interpretative gymnastics, but they are not necessary. The “world” of John 3:16 does mean the world. But understand this: God is perfectly capable of loving the world and saving only the elect. Again, making the case that God’s loving everyone obligates Him to save everyone can only lead to universalism. The non-Calvinist viewpoint deals with this problem by saying that God TRIED to save everyone but failed. Now if you limit this “failure” to those who made a free will decision to reject Jesus Christ then that “solves” the failure issue after a fashion. The problem is that “God tried to save everyone but His efforts were thwarted by the free will that He gave us to accept or reject Him” theology simply cannot be a sufficient answer for the fact that the overwhelming supermajority of humanity has never heard the name Jesus Christ, and moreover before His advent had never encountered Judaism or the pre-Judaic Yahwism.

Truthfully, the pluralism of types like C.S. Lewis and the Roman Catholics (purgatory) and contemporary religious moderates do a much better job of explaining this problem, which is so real and vast that it has been a source of great heartache for missionaries like Hudson Taylor, who knew that he could not possibly reach every person in the vastness of China with the gospel of Jesus Christ and fell victim to the slough of despond and the giant despair (see Pilgrim’s Progress) as a result. God rescued him from that fate with the instructions for Taylor to be satisfied with going to the people that that God sent Taylor to. (And incidentally Taylor was not a Calvinist).

And here is the real irony for those who reject the Biblical doctrine of limited atonement. Even if you do not believe in limited atonement, the requirement of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation serves as a practical limitation anyway. Again, the only way to avoid that practical limitation is to be a universalist or pluralist. How “general” is the atonement to the person who lives his entire life as a sincere, upstanding, devoted, honest moral adherent to the Hindu religion because he spent his entire life in India in the 1500s and Hinduism is all he ever knew? The only relevance of general atonement to that person is that even though that person had absolutely no possibility of ever being saved, Jesus Christ still died for him so that “proves” that God loved him. Christ’s death on the cross made this person’s salvation hypothetically, theoretically possible in the spiritual realm even though it was still impossible in the natural one. Which means that the true purpose of general atonement that it provides a comfortable, reassuring view of God to the people who hold it. The doctrine is of no use to the sinner whatsoever. Whether you hear the gospel and do not respond with faith and repentance or never hear the gospel at all, from the sinner’s perspective the extent of the atonement doesn’t matter because the fate of the sinner is still the same. The issue is all about whether serving a God who limits the atonement or serving a God who doesn’t IN THEORY but does IN PRACTICE “feels better.”

Still can’t look at John 3:16 and “see” limited atonement? Well, you may not see religious pluralism in 1 Timothy 4:10 either. But that is what C. S. Lewis saw when he looked at it … justification for the religious pluralism doctrines taught by the Roman Catholic Church – and Lewis fellowshipped with a lot of Catholics, including his friend J.R.R. Tolkien – and embraced by virtually all moderate (meaning neither evangelical or liberal) Christians and an increasing number of evangelicals like Rob Bell. So often we see what we want to see instead of what the Bible says, and that has to change.

Does limited atonement mean that God takes pleasure in the destruction of the wicked? Ezekiel 18:23 would tend to say otherwise with “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: [and] not that he should return from his ways, and live?.” But just as we being in the image of God often have to do things that give us no pleasure but are necessary, God’s justice requires that His wrath must be poured out on the wicked. The key to remember that merely because destroying the wicked does not give God pleasure does not require God to act in order to avoid displeasure. Claiming that it does is judging God by arbitrary standards created by our own emotionalism; our refusal to accept things that appear to us to be unjust. But why do they appear to be unjust to us? Because we feel that God owes us something. The truth of what the Bible says, which is that we are the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3) to do with as He pleases is denied because of our unwilling to countenance the idea that God is the measure of all things and not man; that the universe is God-centered and not man-centered.

It is curious: no Bible-based Christian (as opposed to the idolatrous animal rights activist) takes offense at the notion that man, a mere creature made in God’s image, has the right to breed sheep for the purpose of eating them even while they are juveniles (lamb chops, leg of lamb, rack of lamb etc.) Yet we are offended at the idea that God, who is worth more than the entirety of creation (meaning that the distance between man’s worth and a lamb’s worth is much smaller than the distance between man’s worth and God’s worth) has the right to do with us as He pleases or else be judged as unloving and unrighteous, so we stumble at Yes, the Bible does not say that God takes pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, but texts like “The LORD hath made all [things] for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” and “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” as a result.To do this we must make God out to be worth less than He is or we make ourselves out to be worth more than we are at God’s expense. Either way it is man-centered heresy.

So if you are struggling with the question “how can I say that God loves you without knowing whether you are elect or not”, I emphasize again that this goes back to the fundamental question of whether God can love someone without electing them to salvation. This answer – yes – is most clearly given in Matthew 5:45 … “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Also, an excellent teaching on this topic can be found here: http://www.gty.org/resources/articles/a294/the-love-of-god-and-the-nonelect

This brings about the inevitable question: how will this affect my evangelism? Well you can certainly everyone that God loves them, and use this truth clearly taught in the Bible as the basis for your evangelism. The Bible does not say to use the fact that God did not elect everyone to hinder evangelism, because quite the contrary God said that many are called (in that they hear the gospel … note that it does not say that ALL are called because all do not hear the gospel) but few are chosen (meaning that of those who hear the gospel, few will be saved). And this truth was illustrated by several of Christ’s parables, such as the parable of the sower of Matthew 13:1-23 and the wedding parable of Matthew 22:1-14.

So John 3:16 does not have to be abandoned by the Christian who believes in limited atonement. It means that when sharing the gospel we can tell sinners that everyone who believes – whosoever believeth – will be saved.The key is to stop right there and not add anything to it. Don’t say “Jesus Christ died for all of you so that means all of you can be saved if all of you believe.” Why not? Because the Bible doesn’t say so. General atonement is nowhere in the Bible. If it were, I would believe it and so would you. So whether in mixed company, hostile company (all unbelievers like Paul at Mars Hill) or all believers like Jesus Christ at His high priestly prayer or the disciples in the upper room awaiting Pentecost, limiting yourself to what the Bible actually says is all that is necessary, sufficient and justifiable.

So evangelist, just say “Christ died so that all who believe will be saved” and you will be true to the Bible. And that is the true meaning of the John 3:16. Before it was written, there was no promise, assurance or guarantee that everyone who believed would be saved. Now we contemporary Christians presuppose that and take it for granted because we have always known it. But keep in mind that the apostle John was originally writing that gospel not to people with 2000 years of Christian tradition behind them like us. Rather, the first audience who received his gospel was made up of pagans with a very different view of salvation than we have, and also to Jews who believed in justification by the works of the law in addition to faith.

So for both the Gentile pagans and even the Jews, it was very possible to believe in God (or the gods for polytheistic pagans) and still not be saved. For the Jew, one could believe and still be condemned if you did not keep the law. As for the pagans, their gods were arbitrary, unpredictable, conferring – and withdrawing – their favor on whims. So the true purpose of John 3:16 is not to talk about the extent of the atonement, but to teach the doctrine of justification by faith alone, sola fide, to the Jews first and then the pagan Gentiles.

This is evident if you stop taking John 3:16 in isolation and instead look at the entire chapter of John 3. This chapter begins with the rabbi going to Jesus Christ to seek instruction on spiritual things because He recognized that as God was obviously with Christ due to Christ’s miracles, Christ would know such things to teach. Christ in response taught the rabbi about the need for, meaning and nature of regeneration, being born again. The context of Christ’s discussion with the rabbi was never who could be saved, but how people are saved.

John 3:3 – by being born again. John 3:5-8 – by a work of the Holy Spirit, not of man. John 3:11-17 – Christ stating that it is by and through Him that this salvation will be achieved because of His divine sonship. And John 3:18-21 – the fate of those who do not believe, with 3:18 being the inverse of 3:16. In that context, the true context and meaning – it is crystal clear that the text never intends to claim that God gave Christ so that all can theoretically be saved! Instead, it states that God gave Christ so that all who believed would be saved, and that all who did not believe would not be saved! This fact that we today take for granted today was in complete opposition to the religious mindset of Jews and pagans of the time and place of John’s gospel. It was a truly radical, revolutionary groundbreaking idea that was foolishness to the Gentiles and an offense to the Jews.

So as this is all the scripture ever meant and was intended for, why claim that it says or was intended to proclaim more? Anything more is adding to scripture, which should not be done, chiefly because it is a sin, but also because there is no reason to. The sinner needs no more information than that, and the only reason to add more information than that is for the benefit of the evangelist sharing the message. It reassures the evangelist and makes his job superficially (by that I mean according to the flesh) easier, but the Bible makes it clear that our jobs in service to the God of the Bible are not going to be easy or flesh-driven to begin with.

John 3:16 is 100% true and very powerful. But the Christian should not and cannot impose meanings on it that do not exist because it makes us feel better. We Christians should cast aside such works of the flesh and acknowledge to ourselves that the Bible says what it means. God gives the evangelist the responsibility to share the gospel with all. God gives the sinner the responsibility to respond to the gospel with repentance. But the only ones who will be saved are those that God supplies with faith. Everyone who receives faith from God will be saved. No one who does not receive faith from God will be. It is this way because with our salvation as with everything else, God alone shall be glorified. That is the point of John 3:16, the point of the entire canon of scripture, and the point of all of creation in the first place. And when viewed next to the glory of the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent perfect God, such notions that God only wants to be worshiped by those who choose to do so out of their free will – as if it is illegitimate for God to compel the sheep of His pasture to worship Him, and to train and condition us into doing so by conforming us into the image of His Son and providing His Spirit to live in us – must be rejected for the plain betrayals of the Bible and the picture of God that is revealed to us through His creation that they are.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36

“I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:6-7

If you are saved, walk in this truth. If you are unsaved, you are without excuse. Repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ today.

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Does Proverb 16:4 Prove Sublapsarianism?

Posted by Job on February 15, 2012

For several years, I have considered myself to be a so-called “5 point Calvinist” (though Particular Baptist is more accurate), yet one who rejects what I understood to be sublapsarianism (often called double predestination, or hyper-Calvinism). My reason for so is not because of any belief that adhering to double predestination makes God cruel or otherwise unrighteous – for my acceptance of limited (or more accurately, particular) atonement precludes this thinking – but rather 2 Peter 3:9, which reads “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” and also Matthew 25:41, which tells that the lake of fire was prepared for the devil and his angels. (More on this later.)

Therefore, I rejected the claims of some, such as the estimable Gotquestions.org, who claims that belief in limited atonement requires a belief in sublapsarianism. Instead, I felt that both limited atonement and infralapsarianism were Biblical, that Theodore Beza and  fellow travelers exceeded the evidence of the Bible in articulating sublapsarianism. That is, until – when going to a fast food restaurant to get a bite to eat (bad decision; it made my belly bitter, so to speak!) – I happened to listen to a bit of the Janet Mefferd radio show. Ms. Mefferd’s show frustrates me, as I find it to be a curious mix of religious right politics (which I detest) and very bold, principled theologians! It happens that this particular day, a particular theologian that she was discoursing with (and neither she nor he saw fit to reveal his name!) was discussing the nature of God’s divine love (in contrast with carnal emotionalism that is now taken by the fallen world to mean love) and in the process mentioned Proverb 16:4 and Romans 9:21-23.

First Romans 9:21-23. “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? [What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory”? But Paul was merely asking a rhetorical question, as he is known to do from time to time such is in 2 Corinthians 11:23, right? Except that Proverb 16:4 reads “The LORD hath made all [things] for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” And that text appears in a passage that begins with “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, [is] from the LORD” in verse 1! My problem: I do not use the Proverbs as a source of theology I guess!

And Spurgeon.org gave 1 Peter 2:8 and Jude 4 for more information on the topic. (Note: Spurgeon.org, a 5 point site, corrects some of the faulty assumptions in Gotquestions.org, a 4 point site. Those texts read, respectively “And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, [even to them] which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed” and “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” There it is, explicitly laid out. Where perhaps I can get a “pass” for not allowing texts from Proverbs to influence my theology to any great degree (then again I guess I cannot, because I allow Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon and Psalms to do so greatly), the meaning and application of the other texts simply flew past me. 1 Peter 2:8, I simply read the appointment of the wicked in that text apart from the appointment – the election! – of the righteous in 1 Peter 2:9-10.  “But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past [were] not a people, but [are] now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” Jude 1:4 … I just flat out missed the meaning of “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation.” But in light of those, how can the case for sublapsarianism be denied?

That gets me back to my reason for doing so: 2 Peter 3:9 and Matthew 25:41. Here is my problem – which I have just now realized – for many years I believed that “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance for the hell was everlasting fire [was] prepared (as in only originally intended) for the devil and his angels” was a Bible text. Why? Because I have heard PLENTY of sermons where those two textual fragments were juxtaposed, so I erroneously believed them to form one text. It is only now that I for the first time know that they are portions of separate texts that are several books apart. And when evaluating these fragments individually, and in context, the problem is resolved. Matthew 25:41 reads “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”, and in it our Lord Jesus Christ is merely describing the final status of the wicked, with “prepared for the devil and his angels” as a descriptive clause. There is no way to assert from the context, either there or from the entirety of scripture, that the lake of fire was originally created only for demons, and that God adjusted His original plan to send men there too after the fall (and after an attempt at universal salvation failed?)! That exceeds even “predestined foreknowledge” Wesleyanism and fully into the camp of open theism, meaning that God was forced to react and adjust to circumstances that He had no knowledge of or control over. ‘Tis heresy that denies God’s omnipotence and omniscience!

2 Peter 3:9 is much simpler. Its context was people doubting the return of Jesus Christ because it had not happened yet: see “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation” of verses 3 and 4 of this same chapter. This text DOES NOT MEAN that God was attempting to save everybody, for being God and by definition omnipotent, God would not have TRIED to save everyone and FAILED. Had God TRIED to save everyone, THEN EVERYONE WOULD BE SAVED. Or had it been God’s WILL to save everyone, THEN EVERYONE WOULD BE SAVED. A fundamental, nonnegotiable fact of Biblical revelation is that God’s will shall come to pass! Otherwise, there is no point in even so much as saying the Lord’s Prayer! Faith would be pointless, because everything would be reduced to chance. Maybe God can come through for us this time, maybe He can’t! That would reduce religion to being a mere lottery, and it would confirm the false doctrines of the evolutionists and big bang theorists, who have created an entire religious, ideological, and pseudo-scientific system on the idea that chance, random uncaused events, is the creator and sustainer of all things!

Instead, Peter was informing the church that the reason why Jesus Christ had not yet returned was so that all of the elect, everyone predestined to salvation, would be saved! (Consider another problem with the alternative interpretation: if the return of Jesus Christ was delayed because God does not want anyone to go to the lake of fire, then why not begin human history with the atonement, instead of allowing many thousands of years to pass first? Also, no matter how long Jesus Christ’s return is coming, people are still going to the lake of fire, a fact that we know from the Bible! So, God would be delaying the return of Jesus Christ because of something that He already knows to be a failed hope! To put it another way, God is withholding the return of Jesus Christ to restore creation as a consequence of His own failure to save it! Again, a heretical, blasphemous thought that no Christian should have on his mind!) Peter is not an innovator in tying the return of Jesus Christ to the completion of God’s plan to convert sinners into saints. In the Olivet discourse, Jesus Christ stated that the end of time will not come until the gospel is preached to all nations (Mark 13:10, Matthew 24:24). Paul stated that the endtimes will not come until the Gentile mission is complete (Romans 11:25-26).

So, now that I know what the Bible actually says instead of what I believed it to say, I have no problems with accepting the doctrine of sublapsarianism. Further, allow me to say that knowing more about God and His plan to save His people should make you more willing to repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ instead of less, for you will know that your salvation and eternal fate is not your own doing or responsibility, but has been planned for you by an omniscient, omnipotent God who cannot fail! If you have not done so already, do so today!

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Universal Atonement: Israel Versus The Church

Posted by Job on April 11, 2011

When He brought them out of Egypt, God freely offered salvation – even if only in a political sense – to the children of Israel, and nearly all rejected Him, attempting to stone Moses and return to Egypt upon hearing the evil report. According to universal atonement, God offers salvation to everyone only to have the overwhelming majority reject Him again! So if universal atonement is true, then to what effect was the cross?

Of course, I am aware that the old covenant did not save, and that the cross of Jesus Christ procured salvation for both Old Testament and New Testament saints. However, should not the work of Jesus Christ on the cross resulted in a better election than existed prior?  Where election was not necessarily unto salvation before the cross – see Israel – if election is not also unto salvation after the cross – see the church – then what effect did the cross have on election? How does the cross make election more efficacious? Reformed theology asserts that the cross made election unconditional. Free will/Arminian/Wesleyan theology holds that election is the same before the cross as afterwards; that regards to efficacy of election, there is no difference before or afterwards. That is a curiosity that those who reject Reformed theology must explain … how it is acceptable and right that the power of the cross with respect to election is so diminished in their view. It is not sufficient merely to state that the cross made a free will decision to choose or reject salvation through Jesus Christ possible!

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Limited Atonement: Why Jesus Christ Is Better Than LeBron James

Posted by Job on March 1, 2011

Who is your favorite pro athlete? Michael Jordan? Larry Bird? John Stockton? Alex Rodriguez? Babe Ruth? LeBron James? Steve Nash? Tim Tebow? Peyton Manning? Kim Clijsters? Tiger Woods? Michelle Wie? Aaron Rodgers?

Well, here is the ironic thing. Professional athletes, no matter how great they are or how many championships they win, are mostly rewarded for a lot of failure.

Consider a baseball player. The benchmark for a successful hitter? .300. If you are a .300 hitter, you can play baseball for 20 years and make about $200 million in the course of your career. But you know what? A .300 hitter fails SEVENTY PERCENT OF THE TIME.

Basketball? More of the same. A very good shooting guard will have a 48% shooting average, which means that he will fail to get the ball in the basket more than half the time. Even a superior power forward, considered a high percentage scorer, is going to miss over 40 times for every 100 shots.

Now your quarterback has better percentages: 65% to 70% of the time that they throw the ball, someone will catch it. That is much more reliable than your hitter in baseball. However, that still means that nearly 4 times out of 10, the ball either lands on the ground or is intercepted by the opposing team.

And golf? Even if a golfer ends a tournament well below par, it still means that most of the time that he hit the ball, it missed the mark. Indeed, “a hole in one” is one of the rarest events in sports!

So, isn’t it ironic that these athletes are loved, praised, rewarded with so much fame and riches for a stunning rate of failure? Even if we are judging athletes by other measures, such as championships, well Jerry West, the fellow whose silhouette is used as the NBA logo, didn’t win a single one.

So, rather than following after the manner of a fallen world that glorifies, venerates, idolizes and worships athletes who mostly fail, is it not greater and more excellent to give that glory and honor to the One who truly deserves it? That One would be none other than Jesus Christ. The reason? Jesus Christ did not fail. Instead, Jesus Christ had a 100% success rate.

Forgive me for being what may be called irreverent for the purposes of extending this comparison. Jesus Christ never missed a free throw. Jesus Christ never threw an interception. Jesus Christ never hit a foul ball. Jesus Christ delivered all aces and His serve was never broken. He only bowled strikes, and all His shots were holes-in-one. This is what must be said regarding Jesus Christ and His atoning death on the cross.

Make no mistake: Jesus Christ died only for those given to Him by God the Father. Jesus Christ died only for His sheep. Jesus Christ died only for His friends. Jesus Christ went to the cross only for the bride. On the cross, it was only the church, the elect, who was bought and redeemed by Jesus Christ’s blood. Otherwise, Jesus Christ would have “the worst batting average” in history, one that makes Bob Uecker appear to be Ted Williams by comparison.

Jesus Christ Himself stated that few people would find the path to salvation, and even that group is among those who are looking for it in the first place. Consider the parable of the sower. Only the last group was saved. The ones who fell by the wayside, the ones who fell in the stony soil, the ones who fell among thorns perished. Also, Jesus Christ said that many are called, but few are chosen. It is only the ones who are chosen from among those that are called that are saved. Further, consider the ones that were not even called?

If atonement is universal, then the cross was more random than throwing spaghetti on a wall and seeing what sticks. Not wet, cooked spaghetti, mind you, but dry uncooked spaghetti. For consider the vast numbers of people that have gone through this life without ever having heard the Name Jesus Christ at all? Even if atonement is “technically” unlimited so that men can get a free will choice, it will still “functionally” and “practically” be greatly limited by the fact that most men never receive a choice. Indeed, faith cometh by hearing, but the fact of history is that most men never heard. Now is that fact by accident or by design?

If the doctrine is unlimited atonement, then how else can it be anything else but by accident? Or should we ask “Why did not the atonement happen earlier, such as immediately after the fall? Why not give everyone – or at least as many people as possible throughout the ages – some sort of theoretical choice as Adam received?” Instead, the answer must be that it was not by accident. It was by design, and the effect of the design was that the atonement saved each and every person for whom the act was intended. Of the sheep that were given to God the Son by God the Father, not one was lost. The atonement, thus, was not some net with holes that allowed the overwhelming majority of souls that it attempted to catch slip through into perdition. It was not some desperate, flailing attempt to save as many people as possible from a rampaging plague, a burning skyscraper, or a sinking ship. Why not? Because that would mean that in a boxing match between Jesus Christ and Satan, by provoking the fall of mankind through Adam, Satan can be declared the winner, if only in a decision by the judges based on accumulating more points. Far be it that such a thing could be said. Further be it would such a thing be the case. Instead, Satan is a defeated foe, because Satan failed to gain a single soul that Jesus Christ set aside for Himself, not even the apostle Peter who denied Jesus Christ thrice.

So there you go. Unlike your favorite professional (or college or high school or Pee Wee league) athlete, Jesus Christ has a 100% success rate. Glory to Jesus Christ!

(And as for why I chose LeBron James for the title? Well, James did choose to allow himself to nicknamed after a Bible, and he also allowed himself to appear in at least one Nike commercial in which Christians were mocked. So, that makes it appropriate. In my eyes anyway.)

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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.

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan Today!

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Does Calvinism Hinder Evangelism? Yes And No …

Posted by Job on July 18, 2010

Saw this Calvinism & Evangelism: A Baptist Conversation and regretted not being able to participate in the discussion like I wished, so I will address some points here. First off, it is not Calvinism that hinders evangelism. It is doctrinal error. For example, plenty of liberal or “moderate” free will/Arminian churches (i.e. Methodist, Baptist) have adopted a “many paths to heaven” pluralistic theology, and others have given themselves over to the social gospel. In the former camp, such people reject evangelism and especially missions, believing the former to be a bigoted example of asserting one religious tradition’s superiority to another, and the latter to be religious and cultural imperialism. Among the latter, they believe that evangelism diverts energies, resources and passions from helping the poor, fighting injustice and working towards a more equal society. Now free will Christians PRACTICALLY NEVER address the beam in their own eye by associating their soteriology with the anti-evangelism stances of, say, the liberal/social gospel Methodists like Hillary Clinton that take John Wesley’s zeal for evangelizing the lost and redirect it towards improving society. Instead, they focus on the mote in the eyes of Calvinists whose hearts are hardened towards the gospel because they believe the false implications, applications and conclusions that they draw from the Biblical doctrines of predestination, election and limited atonement. Now it is just as easy to draw distinctions between Calvinists who follow after error and legitimate, Bible-based Calvinism as it is to do the same between a strong, solid free will salvation preacher and the “Methodists” that are performing homosexual marriages. It is just that the anti-Calvinist crowd chooses to make those distinctions when it comes to those who share their soteriology while (in a most unprincipled fashion) refusing to distinguish between John Ryland, Sr. and William Carey.

Now most anti-Calvinists address the success of Calvinist evangelists like Carey with the dishonest claim that “they successfully spread the gospel in spite of Calvinism” and then go on to produce statements and writings from such people that purport to show them conflicted, grieved and double-minded over their love for the lost and their love for predestination/limited atonement doctrines, and attribute any evangelistic success on their part to the former love’s being greater than the latter. First, even if they were conflicted in this manner, it is to their CREDIT that they struggled to try to reconcile seemingly conflicting scriptural doctrines, as opposed to the practice of the Wesleyan of either pretending that the scriptures pertaining to, say, predestination either don’t exist or don’t mean what the words in them say that they do. Second, BIBLICAL Calvinists know that the same BIBLE which contains T.U.L.I.P. also contains the Great Commission. Thus, the duty is to believe both, keep both and let God work out the details. When one accepts the full implications of the doctrine that it is God Himself who converts people and not man, and that man’s role is to be the instrument that God wishes to use bring conversion about, then in practice (orthopraxy) it works out any contradictions in speculative theology. Men preach, God saves, and it is simple as that. So, any problems are due to the unwillingness to simply obey God and preach and not any existential philosophical conundrum conflicts over “if a preacher preaches and no one is converted because there are no objects of God’s predestination and limited atonement in the audience, then has he really preached?”

Further, the motivation for our preaching should not – or at least not solely – be so that God can save. Instead, the motivation for preaching should be that God told us to. If we don’t preach, witness, evangelize or do missions, we knowingly commit high-handed sin against God, which is bad enough in and of itself without the consideration that people aren’t getting saved. After all, which is worse … that God is being disobeyed and sinned against or that people aren’t getting saved? If you pick the latter, then your doctrine and practice is man-centered and hence flawed. But Calvinists pick the former. A God centered approach means that God is being obeyed and hence worshiped and glorified regardless of the results. So while the free will Christian grieves over people not being saved, the Calvinist grieves over God not being glorified. In the latter approach, God is glorified and the people follow. But with the former, the interests of people are being served, and God is expected or presumed to follow. Which is better?

Well by now you might be wondering “he said Yes AND No, but so far we have only heard the NO. What about the YES”? Well allow me to say that Calvinism DOES make evangelism HARDER. And as well it should. If the primary purpose of evangelism is to glorify and worship God rather than to save men and to suit the purposes of the evangelist, then that will place a premium on doing evangelism correctly, and by that I mean in a reverent, God-honoring fashion by God-honoring people. We are supposed to serve God – and this includes evangelism – in the way that we are to work out our own salvation, which is with fear and trembling. (Note that the free will Christian sees no contradiction between salvation through faith and salvation with some combination of faith and works in Philemon 2:12. The reason is that when that verse is properly interpreted, no such contradiction exists. The same is true of the contradictions that allegedly exist between the doctrine of limited atonement and John 3:16 … they don’t).  Hebrews 12:28 (and yes I do rely on BlueLetterBible.org, a free will site) commands us to “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear”, and this applies to service to God through evangelism just like everything else.

The perspective whereby we must seek to honor, serve and glorify God first makes it harder to do self-serving, self-seeking, flesh-pleasing “evangelism” because we are driven by results (conversions, baptisms, church growth, church plants, numbers numbers numbers). It removes us from the capitalist, big business fast food approach to evangelism where we logically conclude that since we are securing human decisions for Jesus Christ, then if people don’t choose Jesus Christ, then the problem is either with the evangelist trying to make the sale or the packaging that the evangelist has adorned the gospel of Jesus Christ with. Instead, it accepts the idea that since a sovereign God is drawing people unto Himself USING evangelists, then playing the numbers game presumes to know God’s plan for a particular church, or the believers in a particular time and place. All the Great Commission promises is that the gospel will be preached in every nation, and that people from every tribe and tongue will be converted. The great commission does not promise that a particular church will always grow, or that a particular nation will have a certain percentage of its population as born-again believers. So, the “seeker-sensitive/emergent” efforts to “repackage the gospel”, to “rebrand the church” or even to “take back our country politically and legally and return it to its Christian heritage” is based on a set of assumptions that cannot be supported in scripture. For instance, even as we are mourning the declining numbers in conservative evangelical and fundamentalist churches in America and the west (and in the instance of the Southern Baptist Convention, scapegoating Calvinists for it!), church growth is booming in third world countries, which in some cases have gone from being evangelized by missionaries barely 100 years ago to sending out their own missionaries, including in some instances back to the west! (Yes, I am aware that most of this is due to free will missionaries. However, it is equally true that a lot of that is due to PENTECOSTAL missionaries. So I will begin to complain about the gospel being spread by free will Christians when the Baptists and Methodists start complaining about the gospel being spread by Pentecostals. My position is that God uses born-again people to preach the gospel, not people who adhere to a particular denomination or system of soteriology.) So if the sovereign God has decided that the time for the west’s dominance of Christianity has passed, and it is now time for Asia, Africa and Latin America to rise to the forefront, who are we to say otherwise? Especially as the church was born not in the west but in the near east to begin with? So it can and should be said that Calvinism DOES hinder BAD EVANGELISM DOCTRINES AND PRACTICES THAT DISHONOR GOD AND DENY HIS SOVEREIGNTY IN FAVOR OF APPEALING TO THE BASE INSTINCTS OF MAN’S FLESH THAT SHOULDN’T EXIST IN THE FIRST PLACE, and that’s a good thing.

Also, we must wonder why this charge, that “Calvinism hinders evangelism” is so effective in the first place; why it wounds and hurts. To start, we must address why it is used to begin with. One should acknowledge that the Calvinism/free will debate is basically unwinnable by either side. Both sides have a good amount of scriptural evidence at their disposal, but no matter where one stands on the Calvin/Wesley divide it is impossible to in good conscience be dogmatic because scripture texts reasonably interpreted to support the other side do in fact exist and cannot be ignored. That being said, there is clearly, undeniably MORE EVIDENCE on the Calvinist side than on the free will side. Being faced with that reality, the “Calvinism hinders evangelism” charge is used to tip the scales. The person thinks “well, there is a lot in the Bible that supports Calvinism, but I don’t want to stand against winning the lost!” and makes what appears to be the safe, moral God honoring position out of a love for God’s lost sheep.

While that is admirable on the surface, allow me to point out two things. First, the charge is not that Calvinism STOPS evangelism, only that Calvinism HINDERS it. In addition to my modifier above, that Calvinism hinders GOD-DISHONORING evangelism, realize even apart from that context that there is a huge difference between HINDERING something and STOPPING IT ALTOGETHER. If it could be said that Calvinism STOPS evangelism, then again that would put Calvinism against God and His Commandments by causing its adherents to reject the Great Commission. As stated earlier, that only applies to so-called Christians in BOTH Calvinist AND free will traditions, who disobey God in that area. But hindering evangelism only means making it go slower, and perhaps less than certain people want it to or think that it should. And I have already mentioned that the presumption of perpetual church growth is a bad one. So then, why is it such a strong, effective charge?

The reason is that a lot of people have a distorted view of evangelism and its importance in Christian life. Some of this is due to emotionalism, but some of it is also due to the evangelistic fervor injected into Christianity first by Wesleyanism and then by premillennial dispensational fundamentalism. And they are actually somewhat related. Wesley, coming from the Church of England as he was, adhered to an amillennial background. Hence, it is not by accident that the liberal social gospel doctrines originated with Wesleyan Methodism. Wesley believed that by winning as many converts as quickly as possible, the church could first renew and transform society and then pave the way for and speed the return of Jesus Christ. The difference between Wesleyanism and the social gospel is that liberal theologians simply allegorize (deny) the literal return of Jesus Christ, claiming that the return of Jesus Christ and New Jerusalem are only metaphors for an ideal society where things such as poverty, hunger, disease and war have practically been eliminated thanks to the good works of Christians. (Again, Hillary Clinton adheres to this system, which is itself a forerunner to the even more secular and radical liberation theology.) Premillennial dispensational Christians for their part are driven to prioritize evangelism because of the beliefs that A) getting the gospel to every nation will speed the rapture and return of Jesus Christ and B) a desire to reduce the number of people who never hear the gospel and hence enter into eternity without ever being afforded the privilege of being able to make a free will decision for Jesus Christ.

Allow me to state that having an unbalanced view of any area of Christian life is harmful and can lead to error. For instance, emphasizing sanctification too much leads to legalism. Emphasizing ethics and good works too much leads to the social gospel. Emphasizing prophecy and eschatology too much harms our ability to live in the here and now. Emphasizing grace and eternal security too much leads to antinomianism. And even fundamentalists have questioned if their emphasis on evangelism has come at the expense of discipleship. Thus, if Calvinism’s hindering of evangelism means not making evangelism the head of Christian practice and the primary goal and reason for existence for every church, then again Calvinism is a good thing. If you have the idea that Christians must primarily be concerned about saving other people from the lake of fire because going to the lake of fire is such a terrible and horrible thing for people, then that is man-centered theology and practice rearing its ugly head again. But if you have the idea that Christians must be concerned about evangelism because it is one of the many things that Christians must do to serve, obey and glorify God, then evangelism can take a balanced, proper role in the life of every Christian assembly and individual believer.

Allow me to provide a metaphor, example, allegory, illustration or whatever: people who work in engineering or technology. Most such people want to do so because of their passion and aptitude for inventing and creating. So, they go about acquiring the education and training required to enter such fields and then obtain employment expecting to spend their days building better mousetraps. However, upon obtaining employment, they find that most of their time is dedicated to reading reports, writing documentation, giving presentations, meeting with clients, fixing things that break, and making slight improvements to things that already work. Opportunities to work on or create something that is wholly new are few and far between, and even when they come, it is usually not something spectacular like inventing the light bulb, airplane or telephone like Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers or Alexander Graham Bell (who themselves, incidentally needed to build upon other discoveries to make those) but rather something that appears to be mundane that anyone could have done. What adds to the frustration of the erstwhile Eli Whitneys and George Washington Carvers is that there are plenty of people who are actually terrible at engineering, science and technology but great at “the other stuff” who have no problem not only retaining employment, but getting high salaries and promotions. Meanwhile, people with great skills and ideas who lack the ability or desire to excel at analyzing reports or giving presentations find their careers stymied, even ended. However, over time, these people realize that meeting with clients (who have a real business need) and giving them mundane products (which meets their need and is all that they can afford) is what keeps the business going. If you keep the business going long enough and do a good job on the routine tasks, then eventually you will get the opportunity to work on something new and exciting! But if you despise the routine tasks, you get fired and as a result never get to work on what is near and dear to your heart. Instead, that opportunity goes to the lesser talented person who did the mundane stuff the best that he could because he appreciated his job and his opportunity. And if EVERYONE despises the routine tasks, then the company goes broke, everyone loses their job and NO ONE gets a chance to work in something exciting or special. Also, it is by working hard, reading reports, meeting clients, giving presentations etc. that you LEARN how to make something NEW that people actually WANT, NEED and CAN USE. There have been lots of fascinating inventions created by people who had great technical skills but no knowledge of people or markets, and such inventions usually wind up being things that no one needs, wants, knows how to use or care to learn. The reason is that the inventors were more motivated in satisfying their own desire to invent than they were to invent something that people want and need.

This example can apply to Christian life. Effective, God-honoring evangelism can only be consistently done – whether individually or corporately – by people who live and honor the whole counsel of God, by people who know all the things that Jesus Christ did and taught as it is recorded in the Bible. Basically, effective, God-honoring evangelism is best done by people who do everything else that God tells them to do also, because it is those people who know what God wants in an evangelist. What is it that God wants in an evangelist? Simply, someone who is aware of his own worthlessness, his own uselessness, his own limitations and therefore relies totally on God. It is the evangelists who prioritize evangelism above all else and declare themselves to be “great soul-winners” that ultimately wind up building human monuments and institutions to their own greatness. Well, those people have their rewards on earth, and what they build and create won’t last the test of time, because they are like the self-absorbed inventors who create things that have no practical use described earlier. Or, such people will be frustrated with not getting the opportunity to do what they want to do, what matters to them, and what in their opinion fits their great skills and talents and leave. But the people who recognize that they aren’t really that smart or brilliant, and the people who LIKE doing the difficult unglamorous things because they are glad simply to have a place in God’s kingdom and dwell in God’s presence are the ones that God will raise up to do His Will, whether it is evangelism or other tasks to His glory.

And as far as the “mundane things”? Well most evangelism simply is – or seems to be – mundane. Now we all may admire the great revivals and missions started by Wesley, Carey, Edwards etc. However, those events – great moves of God – are not routine but rare and spectacular that few people will ever even take part in, let alone lead. So, instead of the spectacular – and while we are waiting on the spectacular – then things like leading our children to Christ, leading our friends and neighbors to Christ, leading our relatives to Christ should not be despised. And yet, many of the very free will Christians who accuse Calvinists of hindering evangelism aren’t even doing that. Ironic, isn’t it?

Not really. The reason is that there are two principles involved that often get overlooked. The first is that God is sovereign. God controls not only who gets saved, but when. Consider Philip the Evangelist and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts. The narrative makes clear that the Holy Spirit had both Philip and the eunuch in the right place at the right time, and also had the hearts and minds of both prepared: Philip to give the gospel and the eunuch to receive it. Philip was among those driven from Jerusalem by persecution, and the eunuch was in the area to fulfill religious obligations, attempting to understand the meaning of a passage from Isaiah. Without God, it wouldn’t have happened. Without God, it couldn’t have happened.

And the persecution that caused Philip to meet the Ethiopian eunuch? It was caused by Paul, the same who was saved by God as he was heading to Damascus. God chose the time and place, not Paul.

Another thing: the Bible makes it clear that before God entrusts us with great things and many things, we must prove faithful in fewer, smaller things. So, how are we going to succeed in big evangelistic efforts like the Southern Baptist Convention’s Great Commission Resurgence if we are not doing door to door evangelism? And how can we do door to door evangelism of strangers if we aren’t telling our friends and neighbors about Jesus Christ? And how can we tell our friends and neighbors about Jesus Christ if we are not living balanced, obedient Christian lives that results from good discipleship and leads to spiritual maturity? If these were not the case, then it would turn the parable of the talents on its head. Again, consider Paul. He did not begin his missionary travels until YEARS after his conversion, and even then he was initially an UNDERSTUDY of Barnabas, who had been in the faith longer.

So, it is not Calvinism, dear Christian, that hinders evangelism. If anything hinders evangelism within a Christian, it is spiritual immaturity that results from either a lack of right belief (orthodoxy), or a failure to translate right belief into right practice (orthopraxy) and to do so consistently in all areas of Christian living, not just those which appeal to us and earn us the praise of men. Now if our free will/Arminian brothers and sisters in the faith wish to make the case that Calvinism causes spiritual immaturity, then go ahead, I am all ears. Otherwise, their false charge against Calvinism is based on false assumptions (i.e. that churches should always grow, instead of the historically proven fact that churches and movements spread, wax and wane) and presuppositions (that evangelism should be man-focused like consumer marketing instead of God-centered like true worship) and should be rejected as spurious.

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Colossians 1:15 How Jesus Christ Is Firstborn Of Creation

Posted by Job on October 7, 2009

Arians, Ebionites, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, theological liberals, and othe pseudo-Christian cults have long used Colossians 1:15 to deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, claiming that the notion was contrived long after the apostolic period through the syncretization of Christianity with Greco-Roman polytheism. What gives these hard-hearted people (who are in much need of prayer that God would open their hearts so that they would receive in it the true gospel) the opportunity is the text “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” Such people use that text to deny Jesus Christ’s pre-existence and divinity, claiming that it proves that Jesus Christ was the first thing that God created i.e. the chief angel. They deal with such passages as the Johannine prologue by stating that it only means that Jesus Christ existed before the creation of the world, the natural universe, or that God created Jesus Christ and then Jesus Christ created everything else. Another angle is the assertion that takes more seriously the gospel of John (and other places that identify Jesus Christ as the Word of God) is that Jesus Christ’s creation occurred the first time that God spoke or thought, or at the very least the first time that God spoke or thought with respect to creative activity. Truthfully, the doctrine of “the eternal generation of the Son”, while considered orthodox, comes very dangerously close to semi-Arianism when taken to its logical conclusion, so those who espouse this doctrine erect logically artificial and arbitrary barriers in order to keep from being counted as heretics. The only difference is that semi-Arianism (Jesus Christ was created the first time God spoke) views Jesus Christ with respect to ontological, philosophical or logical time (while realizing that actual time is a part of creation and thus does not exist in eternity) where “the eternal generation of the Son” denies, ignores or refuses to deal with ontology. You may ask “why should a Christian deal with abstract concepts like ontology anyway?” Well, that is a question that must be answered by the people who adhere to and preach “the eternal generation of the Son” doctrine, which really has no reason for existing beyond philosophy, as it has virtually no practical implications on orthodoxy or orthopraxy (right thinking and right living). If you are going to adhere to and preach a doctrine – especially one that is in and of itself not a core doctrine of the faith but still has real implications for other core doctrines of the faith (as “the eternal generation of God the Son” does for Trinity) – you had better be prepared to deal with what the doctrine implies and leads to. In any event, both semi-Arianism (Jesus Christ originated when God first thought or spoke) and “the eternal generation of the Son” (Jesus Christ exists as God speaks and does so without being a function of time in any way) pose problems for the nature of existence itself, which is that something can only exist if it exists as a unity. This is borne out in Genesis 2:7 and Ecclesiastes 3:21, which make clear that a man cannot and does not exist unless there is a unity of body and spirit. By the same token, God does not exist without a unity of the Father, the Word and the Spirit. If the Word or the Spirit or the Father require creation or generation, that negates the Unity without which God does not exists, and thus violates Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” Also, as scripture also declares God to be unchanging, God does not create or generate new parts to Himself, so what would be created or generated would necessarily be either a creature (Arianism/Jehovah’s Witnesses) or another god (what “eternal generation of the Son” would possibly lead to if its ontological implications were acknowledged and dealt with rather than simply shoved into “eternity” and ignored).

So, regarding “eternal generation of the Son”, the position should be that the Son is not generated but like the Father and the Spirit simply is and has always been, and this is what the meaning of the Name of God I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3:14) refers to. Further, it is something that is not only true with respect to time (keep in mind the Arian/Jehovah’s Witness argument, which deals with the problems posed by Jesus Christ’s being a creature by simply saying that it is true by being before Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1-18) or timelessness (“eternal generation of the Son”) but ontologically as well. (Truthfully, since the ancient near eastern mindset that produced the Bible did not include ontology, which is a western construct, then God referring to Himself as I AM THAT I AM  of Exodus 3:14 is true spiritually. Where the western mindset has reduced spiritual truth to being merely allegorical, moral, ethical or abstract, the Biblical mindset recognizes spiritual truth as being as explicit, valid and relevant as is 2+2=4 or the law of gravity, or moreover that 2+2 is only always equal to 4 or the law of gravity is only always consistent because of the spiritual truth that is behind it, defines it, and sustains it, and that spiritual truth is none other than Jesus Christ. And yes, the fact that it was most definitely Jesus Christ who appeared to Moses as the flame that did not burn the bush and used the Name I AM THAT I AM with reference to Himself is not only relevant, but would necessarily preclude Arianism/Jehovah’s Witnesses or “eternal generation of the Son”, for had those been so Jesus Christ would have had to say “I am the first that was created” or “I am he who is generated.”)

So if the witness of scripture is to be internally consistent, how can Colossians 1:15 be true? How can Jesus Christ be the firstborn of every creature? The common way is to use the actual definition of firstborn, which is “first in rank” and use it in reference to Jesus Christ’s authority, dominion and rule as creation’s King. It refers to Jesus Christ as Ruler of the universe par excellence. According to this definition, the original firstborn of creation then was Adam. Thus, this is certainly not because Adam was the first thing created (because Adam was created on the 6th day, and thus temporally was actually the LAST thing created!) but because God gave Adam dominion over the earth. Adam forfeited this dominion and firstborn status, and this dominion transferred to Satan. However, Satan was only a usurper. He held the dominion but never the firstborn status, and even his dominion was illegitimately and temporarily possessed just as the pagan Athaliah was illegitimately ruler of Judah for a time (for 6 years, with 6 being the number of a man, how’s that for numerology!) before being replaced by a legitimate rightful monarch that was a son of David. Consider the typology. Athaliah: type. Satan: antitype. Joash: type. Jesus Christ: anti-type. Jesus Christ was the second Adam who not only took on the dominion legitimately but also the firstborn status that Satan could never have even by theft.

Now God gave Adam dominion, the status of firstborn, so that Adam could serve God and in this way God would be glorified through Adam’s service. Adam, of course, was disobedient and utterly failed to fulfill the purpose of his creation – mankind’s creation – which was to serve and glorify God. However, Jesus Christ did so. By way of the incarnation, Jesus Christ became fully man. Born under the law to God’s elect people Israel, Jesus Christ fulfilled the law with His perfect life, living in perfect obedience to God the Father, and fulfilling the purpose of mankind’s creation and also mankind’s destiny, which was and is to glorify God through perfect service forever. So, Adam was the firstborn of creation that failed and died. Jesus Christ is the firstborn of creation that succeeded, was resurrected from the dead and is alive forevermore, and therefore is the Head of all redeemed mankind who will fulfill the purposes mankind’s creation – to serve and glorify God – through Jesus Christ by being Jesus Christ’s own Body. This perfect eternal service is impossible for us to achieve on our own – as Adam proved – but is attainable only by being in Jesus Christ, and our being joined to the firstborn of creation. Where Adam failed to be the progenitor or head of a nation, a people, a race of perfect eternal servants (or even to be this perfect eternal servant himself) Jesus Christ succeeded and is the Head of the church, the bride, the body of Christ.

Now Jesus Christ only succeeded in fulfilling Adam’s original purpose and therefore becoming the true firstborn of creation because unlike Adam, He is fully God. However, Jesus Christ was only fit to fulfill Adam’s purpose, to become the second Adam, by being fully human just as was Adam. Christians can be rightfully accused of refusing to deal with the true nature and implications of Jesus Christ’s humanity because of our desire not to sin and become heretics. Of course, Jesus Christ is the eternal and self-existing God, part of the Triune Godhead. However, this same Jesus Christ was incarnated into A CREATED HUMAN BODY! Jesus Christ’s human body was born of a created woman’s created seed just as was you and I. The ovum in Mary was not eternal, but was created along with Mary, and as such Jesus Christ had a created human body just as do you or I. This body was not simply some animatronic shell, cover or mask for the true divine Person pulling the levers under the covers, which incidentally is a form of the docetism heresy. That implies that Jesus Christ was a fake human who only seemed real. But we know from Romans, Hebrews, Genesis 3:15, and elsewhere that Jesus Christ was a fully thoroughly 100% real human who experienced physical and mental growth, hunger, pain, thirst, agony, isolation, frustration, rejection, temptation and even natural death just like the rest of the human race. That is why He is able to be our priest, His identification with us. However, many of us take the scriptures that refer to Jesus Christ’s identification with us to be more of an association, an affiliation, something less than real. This thinking falls short of the truth of Biblical revelation, and is based on the modern western meaning of “identify with”, which implies merely allegiance or advocacy. For instance, it is possible for a wealthy person to “identify with” the poor through feelings of compassion, works of charity, even political and social advocacy. But unless that person literally gives all his money away and renounces any connections or privileges that he has (i.e. a title or family heritage that he may use to recover at least some of his wealth and status) he will never actually be poor. Jesus Christ did not identify with humanity in that sense, a false and ultimately superficial sense.

Instead, Jesus Christ identified with humanity in the true sense by becoming one of us! Now humans cannot in any way become God in any sense. But in the greatest miracle that ever was or will be, Jesus Christ DID become a human in every sense! And make no mistake, do not be deceived: humans are part of creation. So even though Jesus Christ is God who pre-exists creation, accomplished creation, and in every way transcends creation, when Jesus Christ was incarnated into human flesh, HE BECAME A PART OF CREATION! Now do not be offended or deceived. First off, being God and also not being born of Adam’s seed but rather being the Word of God born of a virgin by the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ had no part in the sin and corruption that creation fell into, and it no part in Him. After all, please recall that creation was originally sinless, a fact proven by God calling it “good”, and God has never at any time called anything sinful or evil “good” except that which God justified by graciously imputing His own righteousness to it (as is the case of sinners). Second, this is not to be confused with such liberal heretical abominations as “process theology” or “death of God theology” which at times holds that God completely surrendered His divine nature. Instead, Jesus Christ became part of creation through His incarnation (becoming fully human) while never at any time ceasing to transcend creation because of His divinity (self-existing and eternal). You can call it the “hypostatic union” if you absolutely must (I do not and have even been accused of adhering to the Nestorianism heresy because of it), but that does not alter the facts.  The result is that through His becoming part of creation, Jesus Christ is given the role of both priest/intercessor/savior for creation (the part of which is elect and will be redeemed) and the judge of creation (the part which is not and will not and whose fate is destruction).

This should cause us to read Colossians 1:15 in a new way. We either read “image of the invisible God, firstborn of creation” devotionally, or we view those as two facts that while true are separate. Instead, Colossians 1:15 is a unity. It describes the incarnation! Man is made in the image of God. Jesus Christ became a man. Jesus Christ became not just any man, but the second Adam. As the first Adam was – until the fall – the firstborn of creation, Jesus Christ by virtue of His incarnation, life, ministry, atoning and substitutionary death on the cross and resurrection not only became the second Adam, but did so in a way that far transcends and exceeded the first Adam! So, not only did Jesus Christ fulfill the original intent of humanity (and by extension of creation, for man is part of creation and creation was accomplished to please and glorify God) but Jesus Christ fulfilled the original intent of mankind and creation in a way BETTER and MORE PLEASING to God the Father than we ever could have ourselves, even if we were to somehow live perfect lives! Again, even if somehow we were to live perfect sinless lives, we would never fulfill the purpose of humanity better or give more honor and glory to God the Father than did Jesus Christ! And not only did Jesus Christ fulfill the purpose of humanity to the glory of God the Father as God the Father’s Suffering Servant, but He did it FOR US as OUR SERVANTS! It is often said that Jesus Christ died for us on the cross, but He also LIVED FOR US BEFORE GOING TO THE CROSS! As a result, Christians receive the benefits of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection!

Now how many of you out there are parents? Or take care of elderly or handicapped people? In your role as a parent or caretaker, you do for those under your trust and care what they cannot do for themselves: you earn a living, you provide housing, food and clothes, you pay taxes, and in many cases you literally do the work of dressing, bathing, feeding and monitoring them or you pay for the services of someone else who does. A great part of your life is doing for others what others cannot do for themselves and allowing others to benefit from it. Well, that is the same thing that Jesus Christ did for you, except in a grander and more majestic way on an infinitely greater scale! Your purpose in being created was to glorify God, and not only did Jesus Christ do something for you that you could not do yourself, but He did it better than you could ever do even if you could!

And consider that for a second. This child that you are taking care of as a parent will one day grow up and take care of himself. Your son or daughter might do a better job! As a matter of fact, if you are a good loving parent, you hope that they will for themselves and for their own children! By the same token, what if this person who has suffered a stroke or is paralyzed gets healed by God. They go from being taken care of by you to taking care of themselves, and again a decent moral person would hope that they would receive better care from their own hand than they did from yours. And this is an example of how and why what Jesus Christ did for you is so amazing, so special. Because no matter how much you grow up, no matter how much your body (or mind) gets healed, better or stronger, you will NEVER be able to live a perfect life. You can exist for an eternity and still NEVER be able to do what Jesus Christ did for you by living a perfect life on your behalf, and you CERTAINLY would never be able to use your own perfect existence to justify someone else by imputing your righteousness to them.

But Jesus Christ did all that and more by becoming the image of the invisible God, a man in the image of God who yet is simultaneously is God. And He did not rest or be content with simply being a man in the image of God who also is God, but He also succeeded in living a life that glorified God the Father at all times and in every way. And it is because of this that God glorified His Name above every Name, that God bestowed the status of “firstborn of creation” upon Him! Jesus Christ is God who became part of creation and now sits at creation’s head as its Ruler, King, and Firstborn, and did all of this without violating that which is revealed in scripture which is part of God’s nature, which is that God is unchangeable! That is right, Jesus Christ accomplished creation, became part of creation, and became priest for redeemed creation and judge for that which is not redeemed without His Divine nature being altered or changed in any way. (Incidentally, this is something that liberal theologies – i.e.  process theology and open theism – deny.) Now again, I am not a “hypostatic union” guy, but I do acknowledge that the hypostatic union doctrine does articulate and explain this.

So the core of Colossians 1:15 is that Jesus Christ has full membership in both Deity and creation by way of the incarnation. Jesus Christ did this in obedience to God the Father, but He also did it for you! However, in order to partake of the benefits of Jesus Christ becoming a man so that He could die on the cross for your sins in your place, you must believe that these things are true, and as a result turn away from your sins and submit to Jesus Christ as Your Lord and Savior. If there are any people who do not believe in Jesus Christ as described here, I encourage you to do so right now. If there are any Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, oneness pentecostals, Muslims, Jews, Roman Catholics or anyone else who denies the Deity or true nature of Jesus Christ or His life and work as clearly revealed through scripture, I encourage you to turn away from those and submit yourself to the truth. I do not say “accept the truth” because that implies that you are in some way an entity who has a role in creating, deciding, or being an arbiter of truth. Rest assured, only God is the creator, decider, determiner, arbiter and revealer of truth, so these things are going to be true whether you accept them or not. So, your duty then is to respond by believing them through faith and following through with obedience. That is the way, the only way that you can submit to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and be saved.

For more information follow  The Three Step Salvation Plan.Vodpod videos no longer available.

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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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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.

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Decisional Regeneration Versus Doctrinal Regeneration

Posted by Job on October 8, 2008

Gospel Truth or Blatant Blasphemy?

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The Statistical Impossibility of Arminianism

Posted by Job on August 19, 2008

The statistical impossibility of Arminianism

By Kyle Andrews

To understand the errant doctrine of Arminianism we can look towards one of the simplest forms of mathematics known as probability. For example let’s take a coin for instance. A coin has two sides, one head and the other tails. If I were to flip the coin 100 times the probability of it landing heads or tails is 50/50. In all probability If I were to perform this exercise the likely hood of having 50% of the time landing on heads and 50% of the time landing on tails is likely the more times I flip the coin. That being said a 50/50 probability is likely. However, let us look at something different called “possibility”. It IS “possible” that I can flip the coin 100 times and it could land tails up 100 times or heads up 100 times. Although improbable it IS “possible”. So we can’t discount the possibility of 100 heads or 100 tails. Keep this in mind for we will come to this later.
The arminian claims that it is ultimately up to the individual to accept the atoning sacrifice on the cross. This in essence is the free will doctrine which is espoused by these neo pelagians who think that man has the final decision regarding his salvation. If this is true then it is obvious that man only has two options.
A: Accept Jesus as Lord and savior
OR
B: Do not accept Jesus as Lord and savior.
It is pretty simple. That being said, after the atonement on the cross there were a set of two improbable possibilities we need to look at according to Arminians.
A: it was “possible” that NO person would accept Jesus as Lord and Savior
OR
B: It was “possible” that everyone would accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Although statistically improbable in either direction it was “possible”. And this leads to the crux of the situation. Mathematically Arminian’s deny the ABSOLUTE Sovereignty of God. In their view according to free will God was 99.99999999 % likely to save at least somebody. However, there was a statistical possibility of .00000000001% that God’s atonement on the cross would be in vain and would save nobody. Because of this at the moment of death after Christ said, “it is finished” He could not with 100%, A 100 % certainty claim what he did on the cross would save anybody no matter how infinitesimal the possibility. Because of this there was the slimmest possibility that he died in vain and the whole Bible from Genesis on would be a lie.
Now some of you may say I’m being too technical. If this is the case then it is you with the problem. God is either 100% Sovereign, or he is not. When it comes to God 99.9999999% does not make him perfect.
In closing Calvinism is the only way that guaranteed with 100% probability and 100% possibility that people would be saved. Because as we know with God ALL things are possible.

The Statistical Impossibility of Arminianism – Follow up

I wrote this after some deep pondering between Calvinism VS Arminianism. After some time a few things came to mind considering the free will doctrine which to the best of my knowledge had yet to be considered. It dawned on me that because Free will is of man and initiated by man’s ultimate decision it had occurred to me that it was possible that NO ONE might choose salvation. Once this happened a light bulb, if you will, went off in my mind. I said to myself, “with Arminianism God could have never been 100% sure that the death, burial, and resurrection would save anybody after that moment at calvary”. In essence God would have had to wait with his hands off and merely wait and see if his Grand Plan for the salvation of mankind would work. Next I demonstrated this by using mathematical possibility to help explain my idea. By using this methodology I could show without a shadow of doubt to the Arminian that in their view it was possible that God’s intent after the fall in the garden “could” have been done in vain. I made sure to clarify that because of the billions of people born since that it was highly improbable due to shear numbers but was possible hence the use of a coin. And like a coin with two sides their are only two choices. Once I had established these facts it then dawned on me that no matter the likely hood of salvation we could not with 100% accuracy that anyone could be saved. Once this was established it is by the Arminians own philosophy proven mathematically that God could NOT be 100% sure His salvation plan would result in anyone being saved. Hence the 99.9999999% Sovereignty of God which is not 100%. Alas it could be conjectured that God by the view of the Arminians was NOT in TOTAL control and NOT TOTALLY sovereign.

To expound upon this let us look at the definition of Sovereign.

1. Not controlled by outside forces autonomous, independent, self-governing.

2. Greatest in status or authority or power, supreme.

By definition the God of Arminianism fails to meet the definition of Sovereign. Free will dictates that mankind controlled his destiny after the cross.

Let us look at another definition given to God – Omnipotent

1. Having unlimited power

By the free will doctrine God fails to meet the standard applied to him. He could not have unlimited power but rather was limited in his power because A: He was not the final authority on who was saved and B: Albeit remote, he could not with 100%, A 100% certainty claim that His crucifixion would save anybody.

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Deuteronomy 32:8 – How Did “Angels of God” In Septuagint Become “Children of Israel” In Our Bibles?

Posted by Job on July 18, 2008

From the Septuagint: ” When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God

From our Bibles: “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.”

By the way, Bible scholars based largely – though not entirely – on the study of Paul’s writings would interpret “divided to the nations their inheritance” to mean “the number of people from each nation that receive salvation.” This is based on Paul’s statement that his duty as an apostle (think missionary in this context) who saw his duty as an evangelist as serving in the role similar to that of an Old Testament priest giving praise offerings to God. Paul saw the praise and worship offerings by the tabernacle and temple priests as prefiguring Christian evangelists bringing people from the various tribes and nations to salvation.  

That is a big difference isn’t it? Let me tell you … Hebrews 2:5 is generally regarded as being influenced by the LXX (Septuagint) version of Deuteronomy 32:8. I just find it odd, because according to the LXX version, the number of people that will be born again and go to heaven was always predetermined, finite, AND EQUAL TO THE NUMBER OF ANGELS THAT GOD CREATED. Of course, 1/3 of the angels rebelled and were cast out. But in any case, if the version of Deuteronomy that the writer of Hebrews had was more correct than ours, then there really is no basis for opposing the notion of particular grace, commonly called limited atonement.

I am curious as to what the textual critics have to say about this one. I wonder if this goes back to the Massoretes, or if it goes back even further to Jerome’s Vulgate. (Then again, why would the Jewish community generally agree with the Vulgate?) The Dead Sea Scrolls contain at least SOME of Deuteronomy. This fellow says that the Dead Sea scrolls agree with the Septuagint. So does this more scholarly source.  … does anyone know how said scrolls can be investigated?

Update: Another bit of evidence that makes the LXX translation of Deuteronomy 32:8 almost certainly correct is Peter’s escaping jail in Acts 12. James had been killed prior to this, and when Peter was arrested they felt that he would meet the same fate. But when Rhoda saw Peter at the door and reported it, not believing it was Peter they stated “it must be his angel.” Christian thought at the time – and please keep in mind that these were all Jewish believers in Jesus Christ operating from a completely Jewish worldview, and I can say that because Jesus Christ was a Jew so that made “Christian” thought Jewish thought – was that everyone had a guardian angel assigned to their watch. (Other legendary things had been attached to this tradition over the years, such as the guardian angel’s taking on the appearance of the angel’s human charge.) Do angels “recycle” their assignments, getting new charges when their prior one dies? I will not go there. I will state, however, that I doubt that that common grace that God extends to the wicked – the sun and the rain falling on the good as well as the evil – goes so far as to give Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger or her buddy Adolph Hitler or his initial buddy Joseph Stalin angels to watch over, comfort, minister to, and aid in their depraved wickedness. It is a valid inference from Biblical doctrine that said angels would only be assigned to people that God considers His own.

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Bible Verses On Predestination, Election, Perseverance Of The Saints, Limited Atonement, And Total Depravity

Posted by Job on July 9, 2008

Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance Of The Saints
Answering Common Objections

Posted in Bible, Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

 
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