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Posts Tagged ‘predestined foreknowledge’

Human Free Will Versus God’s Decree? 2 Chronicles 10:15 Endorses The Latter

Posted by Job on February 15, 2012

Background: despite being given everything imaginable by God and then some – including God personally visiting him twice – Solomon ceased living by faith and trusting in God, and instead began to put his faith in things of this world, including idolatry. Solomon chose to marry pagan women, for instance, because it was the common political practice of the day for kings to form treaties. If a king wished to form an economic, military or political alliance with another kingdom or tribe, you would marry a female relative – usually the daughter – of the king that he was conducting the business of state with. So, instead of trusting God to provide peace and prosperity for his people, Solomon chose political maneuvering. Solomon added to that faithless behavior by worshiping the devils of his pagan wives. Why? It is simple enough to presume that his desire to please his wives was no different from that of Adam when he chose to eat the forbidden fruit given to him by his wife Eve. One can extend that with the political mess that Solomon had gotten himself into by marrying these women in the first place: as these women were dedicated to the false deities of their own land, Solomon had to worship their gods to keep them happy. Otherwise, word would have certainly gotten back to the fathers – rival kings! – of these women that Solomon was mistreating their daughters, and there goes the peace treaty! The resulting situation: it would have been better for Solomon to have never used marriage for the purpose of political alliances at all than to do so and anger the daughter of a rival king or warlord! Such a king would ask “Why marry my daughter at all if you are going to mistreat her by refusing to worship her god?” Realize that no good answer exists to that question! One must consider the polytheistic pagan mindset of the era – in contrast to Yahwist monotheism – where adding another god to the list that you were worshiping was easier than buying a new pair of shoelaces. So, if Solomon worshiped the god of some of his wives (i.e. his Hebrew wives) and not others, from the flawed perspective of the pagan women that he married, there was no reason for him to do so other than not only preferring some of his wives over the rest, but going out of his way to do so in order to humiliate and spitefully mistreat her! And the children of the ill-favored wife of the king have an uncertain future … just an impossible situation that Solomon got himself into. Which, of course, is the case with all sinful disobedience to God’s command!

In any case, God punished Solomon for his sin by decreeing that rule of 9 of the 11 tribes and their territory (remember, the Levites were a special case) would be stripped from his lineage, and the house of David would be left with rule over only a small portion of the kingdom, which turned out to be the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. (Evidence that this was God’s doing: because of the enmity between the house of David of Judah and the house of Saul of Benjamin over the throne – a bloody conflict that continued until at least after the crowning of Solomon – the tribe of Benjamin SHOULD HAVE joined the rebellion, and used the opportunity to have one  of its members become king of the 9 tribes that broke away from the house of David based on a claim to the throne on Saul being the rightful, legitimate king, and the rebellion against Rehoboam being proof that David was a fraud and usurper. Instead, the tribe of Benjamin alone joined the tribe of Judah to form the southern kingdom despite the house of Saul having contested the house of David over the throne a mere few decades prior, and when casting their lot with the other 9 tribes and then going to war with the 1 remaining tribe seeming to be a rather good way of getting the monarchy – and rule over all 12 tribes – back to the tribe of Benjamin! How wonderful and amazing is God able to reveal His power and His mighty workings!)

The situation: early in the reign of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, a challenge to the reign of the young king – likely provoked by Jeroboam – arises. The twelve tribes have a choice: continue with the leadership anointed by God, or rebel. Nine tribes – Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben and Gad – make a free will decision to reject membership in the earthly, visible, typological manifestation of God’s kingdom (God’s covenant nation Israel as ruled by the house of David, with Jerusalem as its capital and worship taking place in the temple which held the ark of the covenant) in favor of apostasy. Make no mistake: in rejecting the kingdom of David, these tribes chose apostasy. Jeroboam, the leader of the breakaway group, set up a rival religious system in Bethel. (Consider that as the Jerusalem temple and its religion pointed to Jesus Christ, Jeroboam’s system – which involved an altar with two golden calves similar to the calves of Baal made by Aaron at the demand of the rebellious children of Israel at Sinai! – was similarly anti-Christ.) The northern kingdom continued in this false worship – as well as with a line of evil, pagan kings – up until their destruction and scattering by the Assyrians in 722 BC. Yes, the southern kingdom, Judah, was taken by Babylon, but God suffered a remnant to return to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. No such provision for restoration was made concerning the northern 10 tribes, who remained estranged from the true religion until the gospel of Jesus Christ came to the Samaritans from the Messianic Jewish evangelists as recorded in Acts 8 (a missionary enterprise prefigured by Jesus Christ Himself in His dialogue with the Samaritan woman in John 4:4-42).

Evidence that the northern kingdom committed apostasy came from their own lips. 2 Chronicles 10:16 reads “And when all Israel saw that the king would not hearken unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? and we have none inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to your tents, O Israel: and now, David, see to thine own house. So all Israel went to their tents.” Now who does the Bible reveal as the Son of David (and David is the son of Jesse)? Jesus Christ. The people who took part in the Jeroboam rebellion removed themselves from the Davidic inheritance – from the blessings of Jesus Christ of whom David was a prefigure and a type – with their own words. How similar was this act to that of the Jews, who embraced the destruction of Jerusalem, temple, and nation and end of the Jewish age in 70 A.D. when they cried “His Blood be upon us and our children!” in Matthew 27:25 concerning Jesus Christ when Pontius Pilate attempted to release Christ? And note when the rebels stated: we will return to our tends, so David see to your own house. In essence, these were backsliders proclaiming that they were returning to the world and its ways – spiritually returning to Sodom and Egypt – and telling the believers to get on with their on church business of worshiping and serving God.

Now, it might have seemed that the Jews of the time of Jesus Christ made a free will decision to reject Jesus Christ, but Jesus Christ Himself stated that their rejection of Him had to be done in order so that the scriptures could be fulfilled, and God’s decree as represented by the scriptures would come to pass. Well, the same is true of the forerunners of the Samaritans in the time of Rehoboam. It appeared that they made a free will decision to reject the Davidic monarchy – and again the Davidic monarchy was the earthly typological prefiguring of the rule of Jesus Christ – to instead follow the anti-Christological figure of Jeroboam. But the Bible itself tells us: things were not as they appear. When Rehoboam decided to go to war against the rebellious tribes to bring them back under the rule of the house of David, God spoke these words through Shemaiah the prophet in 2 Chronicles 11:2-4, which reads “But the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying, Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren: return every man to his house: for this thing is done of Me. And they obeyed the words of the LORD, and returned from going against Jeroboam.”

So make no mistake: the tribes that became the northern kingdom did not make a free will decision to reject Jesus Christ (through the proxy of rejecting the Davidic monarchy which in that time represented Christ … please make note that in our time there is no earthly institution that represents Jesus Christ, but rather the church is IN CHRIST and is the Body of Christ). Why? Because they had no power, no prerogative, no ability to make such a decision. In other words, they could not make a free will decision because their wills were not free. Instead, their apostasy only happened because God decreed it. This is what the Bible explicitly, specifically said. It was not a case – as the Arminians and similar claim – of predestined foreknowledge through which an omniscient omnipotent God “learns” of future events and reacts to them (the heresy of open theism embraced by the likes of Greg Boyd and Clark Pinnock as the result of taking Wesleyan free will soteriology to its logical conclusion). God did not “see” the rebellion of the northern tribes and adjust His salvation-historical plan accordingly. Instead, God DECREED the rebellion of the northern tribes because it was part of His salvation-historical plan that was set in place before the foundation of the world (Jhn 17:241Cr 2:7Eph 1:42Ti 1:91Pe 1:20).

Regarding this incident, the marginal notes for 2 Chronicles 10:5 the Geneva Bible state “God’s will imposeth such a necessity to the second causes, that nothing can be done but according to the same, and yet man’s will worketh as of itself, so that it cannot be excused in doing that it is God’s ordinance.” Now that marginal note refers to how the rash actions of King Rehoboam that provoked the northern tribes to rebel was caused by God (KJV translates nĕcibbah ‘elohiym more literally as “for the cause was of God” where the Geneva Bible makes the more interpretative “it was the ordinance of God”). Still: the action and the reaction were the result of God’s provident operation behind the scenes. It is impossible for the will of man to resist the will of God! Yet, as the Geneva Bible study notes tell us, as man’s will follows its own sinful nature unless God acts to withhold man from behaving according to his totally depraved original sin condition, God’s decree is no excuse for evil acts done by man. As Paul tells us in Romans 1:20, concerning our evil deeds, we are without excuse.

A natural impulse is to charge God with unfairness for decreeing such things, and then punishing man for his actions that are associated with the decree. But as God reminded Isaiah in verse 55:9, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. In other words, God cannot be tried, judged and convicted as evil according to man’s limited – and fallen – notions of right and wrong. For example, God is not obligated to save all mankind, or even to try. (Though the “or even to try” is misleading: for as God is omnipotent, were He to attempt to save all mankind, He would most certainly to succeed. Otherwise, He would not be omnipotent, and therefore by definition He would not be God in accordance with how God is revealed in the Holy Scriptures.) Instead, it is only by God’s grace that ANY are saved. And it is God’s prerogative to grant grace to whomever He chooses, and to withhold that same grace from whoever He chooses. Romans 9:13-23 reads “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? [Is there] unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then [it is] not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will [have mercy], and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus? 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.”

Yes, this most certainly applies to salvation. Man certainly has his responsibility, to make an affirmative choice using his will to repent of his sins and believe in Jesus Christ upon being confronted with the fact of the gospel. But make no mistake: a man only fulfills this responsibility concerning his personal salvation through the exercise of his will in this fashion if it concurs with God’s eternal decree to save him! God only frees the will of those that He plans to save, and the sole purpose of this liberty is to choose Jesus Christ and thereby become born again and in Jesus Christ. Hence, the liberation of the will as provided by God to the elect is not to do whatever one pleases, but instead it is liberation from original sin, the grips of Satan that has deceived the whole world, and the spiritual deadness that results. Evidence of this: not everyone gets to make a choice. The vast majority of people to walk the face of this earth have never heard of God or His gospel, let alone had a chance to make a free will choice to accept or reject God. Instead, many – but not everyone – are called through the hearing of the gospel, but only the few that are chosen by God become saved from their sins and born again as a result.

Hence in truth there is no free will but only God’s decree except inasmuch as God uses man’s will to accomplish His decree. So then, is there any way to tell to whom the mystery of salvation has been divinely granted? The answer: we only know as a result of who truly responds to the gospel by faith. Faith is not an emotional reaction or an intellectual response, but instead is gift given by God the Holy Spirit to those that God intends to save. Though we are not saved by works, evidence of God-given faith is obedience to the commandments of God as recorded in the Holy Scriptures (John 14:15). This is what is meant by the text “make your calling and election sure) of 2 Peter 1:10. If you have not already, make your calling and election sure by:

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Predestination Is In The Bible. Predestined Foreknowledge Is Not!

Posted by Job on December 31, 2010

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

The “predestined foreknowledge” doctrine is based on Romans 8:29, which reads “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Unfortunately the piece below, which otherwise addresses all the other issues adequately, does not properly deal with this verse, instead choosing to deal with other verses that more explicitly teach the predestination doctrine.

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

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

Now that Romans 8:29 has been dealt with

Please read:

How are predestination and election connected with foreknowledge?

Then

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

Jesus-Is-Savior.com Calls Paul Washer, Ray Comfort And John MacArthur False Preacher Heretics!

Posted by Job on August 28, 2009

Beware of Paul Washer

Paul Washer’s Washed-up Gospel

Paul Washer’s FALSE GOSPEL!

Apparently the Jesus-Is-Savior people disdain all the talk about true Biblical repentance. Looks like another Calvinist/Reformed versus fundamentalist Arminianism debate. The latter is true because in their article denouncing Washer, they endorse Harry Ironside. About this Ironside:

Ironside was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to John and Sophia (Stafford) Ironside, who were both active in the Plymouth Brethren. From a very early age, Ironside showed a strong interest in evangelical Christianity and was active in the Salvation Army as a teenager before later joining the “Grant” section of the Plymouth Brethren. in 1924, Ironside began preaching under the direction of the Moody Bible Institute. In 1926, he was invited to a full-time faculty position at the Dallas Theological Seminary, which he turned down, although he was frequently a visiting lecturer there from 1925 to 1943. After a series of sermons presented at the The Moody Church, in Chicago, he was invited to a one-year trial as head pastor there in 1929. Almost every Sunday that he preached there, the 4,000 seat church was filled to capacity. While there, he continued traveling to other US cities during the week for preaching engagements. In 1932, he expanded his travels internationally. Ironside preached at the 1935 funeral of Billy Sunday, at Moody Church. In 1930, Wheaton College presented Ironside with an honorary Doctorate of Letters degree, and in 1942-06-03 Bob Jones University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. Along with others such as Cyrus Scofield, he was influential in popularizing dispensationalism among Protestants in North America.

This is just an American version of the age old Baptist-Wesleyan (Methodist) dispute of post-Reformation England. In America, the Methodists basically won the debate, with Baptists co-opting many of their doctrines, and premillennial dispensationalism apparently playing a large role in that. It has reached the point where prominent fundamentalists openly denounce historic Protestant doctrines as heretical, while Wesleyan doctrines on soteriology and sanctification are now called the “Biblicist” position, as if Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield, John Bunyan, and Augustus Strong were ignorant of scripture or something.

The dispensationals refer to the doctrines of Washer to be “Lordship salvation.” Another site directly compares the teachings of John MacArthur to dispensational pioneer and giant Charles Ryrie. On Lordship salvation: “Its basic premise, that Jesus cannot be one’s Savior without also being his Lord, has been taken by some to mean that salvation is attained by works rather than by God’s grace.” The “some” who take this position are falsely distorting Reformed Baptist soteriology, building a straw man and knowingly making a false accusation. “Those who reject lordship salvation (e.g., Ryrie), believe that someone may have genuine faith in Christ, but the fact that he continues in his sin demonstrates that he has not made Jesus his Lord, only his Savior. According to Ryrie, just because someone sins or acts in disobedience (even habitually) doesn’t mean he doesn’t have saving faith.” So, it is the dispensational Ryrie who rejects “faith without works is dead.”

Check out what Ryrie claims. “Second, there is a repentance that is unto eternal salvation. What kind of repentance saves? Not a sorrow for sins or even a sorrow that results in a cleaning up of one’s life. People who reform have repented; that is, they have changed their minds about their past lives, but that kind of repentance, albeit genuine, does not of itself save them. The only kind of repentance that saves is a change of mind about Jesus Christ. People can weep; people can resolve to turn from their past sins; but those things in themselves cannot save. The only kind of repentance that saves anyone, anywhere, anytime is a change of mind about Jesus Christ. The sense of sin and sorrow because of sin may stir up a person’s mind or conscience so that he or she realizes the need for a Savior, but if there is not change of mind about Jesus Christ there will be no salvation” (p. 94, SGS).

“The only kind of repentance that saves is a change of mind about Jesus Christ.” Intellectual regeneration, confessional regeneration, decisional regeneration. Not only that, but a truly radical form of this doctrine that combines both conversion and repentance, which the Bible and historic Protestant doctrine hold refer to two related but separate things, into the single act of decison. Their position – what can be called the modern Wesleyan one that is the basic position of American evangelical Christianity (whether Baptist, Pentecostal, or nondenominational)  is that the free will decision for Jesus Christ is the primary and controlling factor where salvation is concerned. Now in theory – i.e. for systematic doctrinal purposes – the free will decision is not the sole factor. But IN PRACTICE, the decisional regenerationists do not wish to countenance anything that would challenge the  idea that the person who has made a decision for Jesus Christ has to be considered born again.

Now this is the rub. Their objection to those like Washer and MacArthur is not in a SPIRITUAL or DOCTRINAL sense. Objecting in a spiritual sense, where humans can claim to profess with 100% certainty that someone is born again when the Bible says that God knows the heart, is not the sort of Roman Catholic thing that these people are after. And they are also not creating or defending any doctrine to the effect of “if a person accepts Jesus Christ AND REALLY MEANS IT then he is saved.” Instead, their objection is in a practical and ecclesiastical sense. As far as practice is concerned, well listen to enough sermons by Paul Washer, John MacArthur and their fellow travelers long enough and it will be difficult to continue relying on the sinner’s prayer and similar evangelism methods (even if Ray Comfort, who largely shares their beliefs, still does). And in an ecclesiastical sense, their doctrines make it extremely difficult to put someone on a church roll after a decision for Jesus Christ. Washer and MacArthur (if not necessarily Comfort) demand a little more effort, a little extra step out of their evangelism methods and before people are allowed as members of their church in good standing. And even after requiring a little more, Washer and MacArthur regularly and frequently acknowledge that many members of their own churches are not born again.

That is offensive to someone who really, truly believes in decisional regeneration, which quite honestly does teach that a person is regenerated by the Holy Spirit upon their heartfelt decision for Jesus Christ. People who make a decision for Jesus Christ and remain unsaved; their only recourse is to claim that the decision was false, insincere, made without adequate understanding, etc. Further, one cannot spend too much time thinking about just how often these “flawed decisions” (decisions for Jesus Christ that did not result in true conversion) because having to consider a large number of flawed decisions means working out how decisional regeneration works in practice (i.e. methods of producing decisions for Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit will always – or at least almost always – honor) and incorporating that practice into evangelism and ecclesiology.

Now in times past, meaning the earlier Wesleyan and fundamentalist movements who A) taught that one could lose his salvation and B) had a strong moral/ethical/works component, this was not a problem. In those cases, you were dealing with a person who had lost his salvation and needed to confess and apologize for his sins and make a new confession of faith, and further the emphasis on morals and ethics (called “legalism” by some) acted as a control on church culture that reduced the need to have to deal with this unpleasant situation. However, as the modern movements have adopted more Biblical positions concerning the preservation of the saints and on grace, they cannot simply deal with this tough issue by saying “Well he made a valid decision for Jesus Christ, lost his salvation, and needs to be saved anew.” Instead, the position has to either be “he was never saved in the first place because his decision for Jesus Christ was flawed or ineffective” or “he is saved based on his decision for Jesus Christ, but he still has problems with sin.” Now as stated earlier, choose the former and the “decision for Christ” doctrine and the church systems based on it have real problems. So, they have no choice but to choose the latter, even if it means explicitly embracing the idea that a decision for Jesus Christ results in Holy Spirit regeneration in even the absence of Biblical repentance (what the Bible means when it says being “pricked in the heart” in Acts 2:37 and similar) and/or rejecting the Lordship of Jesus Christ (despite the fact that it is plainly impossible to make a decision for Jesus Christ when you do not know the identity or nature of the Jesus Christ that you are making a decision for or what Jesus Christ requires of you; anything less is making a decision to a false Jesus Christ, which is a false god or idol that does not exist and is no god at all).

By making decisional regeneration – or more accurately decisional conversion – the agent that results in the Holy Spirit’s justifying and regenerating a sinner, it makes the human free will decision of Jesus Christ a sacrament, a human ritual or action that imparts God’s grace (or results in God’s deciding to impart grace by honoring the initiative and actions of man). This can be compared to the sacramentalism of the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church claims that by being the body of Christ indwelt by the Holy Spirit (yes, the Roman Catholic Church does teach that the very institution is the body of Jesus Christ and contains within it the power and sovereignty of Jesus Christ) it has vested within it the power and authority to perform rituals that confer grace through its appointed representatives. So, the Roman Catholics believe that rituals performed by their priests save people, because through the ritual the priest is dispensing the saving grace using the Holy Spirit that the indwells the church. In other words, the ritual performed by the Catholic church saves you because the Catholic church is the body of Christ, contains the Holy Spirit, and as a result has the authority and the ability to dispense saving grace through its sacraments just as Jesus Christ had the ability to tell the paralytic man “thy sins are forgiven” and tell the penitent thief on the cross “this day you shall be with me in paradise.” (Consider in the last case, Ryrie’s position is that the thief in question never had to repent of his sins – which he plainly did when he confessed them and stated that he deserved the punishment of death for them – or call Jesus Christ Lord and submit to Him on that basis, but rather that the thief only had to ask Jesus Christ to save Him.)

However, the decisional conversion-regeneration position states that a person acting on his own power and authority can make a decision that the Holy Spirit (indeed the Holy Trinity) is unconditionally bound to honor, and further that the Godhead must accept that person’s decision even if that person rejects repentance and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. So where the Roman Catholic position is that as the Body of Christ being indwelt by the Holy Spirit it has the sovereign prerogative and ability to confer grace and the regenerative workings of the Holy Spirit on a sinner (Catholic sacramentalism), decisional conversion-regeneration holds that a person outside fellowship with Jesus Christ (and indeed is at emnity with Jesus Christ, spiritually dead, no interest in spiritual things, and all the other things that the Bible says about his condition of original sin and totally depraved state – doctrines which again the original Wesleyans and Arminians somewhat denied but modern dispensationals have mostly adopted) can perform a sacrament that dispenses grace upon himself.

While I do not take the position that Wesleyan dispensationals are in a false and heretical apostate movement and hence cannot be considered Christians – which incidentally is the position that I take with Roman Catholics – allow me to say that at least Roman Catholicism have an explanation for how it is possible for their priests to perform sacraments that dispense grace to sinners: that the priests are acting as representatives of the body of Christ that is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and therefore have the necessary access to the Holy Spirit and its grace to give to sinners. (Please note: the Roman Catholic Church actually holds in theory that it institutionally has the right to deny salvation to sinners, but it is exceedingly rarely done in practice, especially in modern times. However, in times past there was this pope who excommunicated the king of Britain until the king caved to the pope’s political demands. The pope kept this king waiting outside begging in the snow for days before the pope decided to allow this king back into heaven. Again, do not mistake this for an endorsement of Roman Catholicism in any way.) However, decisional conversion-regeneration holds that a sinner unreconciled with God and thus not part of the Body of Christ (note that I capitalized “Body” with respect to Protestants and not Catholics, and yes it was by design) and hence is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit is able to impart saving grace upon himself – or to be more accurately compel the Holy Spirit that does not indwell him to impart its saving grace – through the “decision for Christ” sacrament. Now I am not going to say that the Catholic position is more Biblical or that it even makes more sense (especially when you consider that Catholic sacramentalism cannot be taken in isolation, but must be considered in the context of their other mystical, pagan doctrines) but at least the Catholics have an explanation for how a priest can save someone by sprinkling him or giving him a communion wafer. The modern Wesleyan evangelical has no explanation for how the decision of an unpenitent sinner who rejects the Lordship of Jesus Christ places the Holy Spirit under unconditional compulsion to save the sinner. The reason for this was stated earlier: deep consideration of the issue of salvation resulting entirely from human initiative, from human intellectual decision, can only result in serious problems for the entire doctrinal system. So, in order to prevent such examination from taking place, their only recourse is to call Paul Washer a heretic for insisting that Biblical repentance is a requirement for salvation, and that salvation results in a person becoming a new creation whose evidence is a changed moral character that reflects and communicates God’s holiness.

When boiled down to its core, the system of Ryrie, Ironside, and Jesus-Is-Savior.com holds that becoming a new creature simply means switching allegiances, changing minds. Then again, as this doctrine rejects Biblical repentance and submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, becoming a new creation simply means deciding to allow Jesus Christ to save you. And since it is the sinner who decides to allow Jesus Christ to save him, then it is the sinner who performs the new birth, the new creation through the exercise of his free will, or the changing of his free will. Now of course, the people holding the doctrines similar to Ryrie and the folks at Jesus-Is-Savior.com are not in the business of admitting this fact to people. As a matter of fact, they haven’t even admitted this fact to themselves. (I am serious … they really, truly have not taken this doctrine to its logical conclusion, of thinking about what salvation based on the free will decision of a sinner who rejects repentance and the Lordship of Jesus Christ really means as opposed to what they desperately want it to mean.) So rather than come to grips with the horrible conclusion that their doctrines teach that the sinner accomplishes his own rebirth through the exercise of his intellect, they must accuse those whose preaching challenges their doctrines like Washer and MacArthur of teaching “works plus faith justification” and “legalism.”

The good news: in practice the free will evangelicals do preach that Biblical repentance and the Lordship of Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation. Lots of Reformed/Calvinistic types claim that they do not, but I have listened to far too many evangelical free will Baptist, Pentecostal, and nondenominational sermons. Also, the link which evaluates the statements of Ryrie acknowledges that Ryrie actually ultimately endorses the very positions of MacArthur that he wrote “So Great Salvation” to attack in the first place (and questioned the integrity of Ryrie for failing to admit it). The problem only occurs when people such as Washer and MacArthur repeatedly and directly challenge the “decision for Jesus Christ” doctrine. It is only when that happens that such people as Ryrie and the folks at Jesus-Is-Savior.com are forced to manifest a sort of double-mindedness (I will not use the humanistic psychological term “schizophrenia”) about what they actually believe concerning soteriology.

It is interesting that the “Lordship salvation” opponents use Ananias and Sapphira as well as the Corinthian man living in fornication as examples to demonstrate that the doctrines of Washer, Comfort, and MacArthur – where they demand Biblical repentance and submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ – are false. First, scripture never states that Ananias, Sapphira, and the Corinthian fornicator did not repent and submit to Christ’s Lordship at the time that they were saved. It merely states that these people fell into sin after salvation. It is an argument from silence, true, but it is still completely consistent with what the apostle John writes about Christians who fall into sin in at least 3 of his epistles (1 John, 2 John, Revelation). Also, the people who reject “Lordship salvation” do not ACCURATELY deal with the issues raised by Simon Magus, Simon the magician! Why? Because Simon Magus made a decision for Jesus Christ without repenting of his sinful desire for power and wealth, and without submitting to the Lordship and sovereignty of God! Simon Magus was using sorcery to control people and make money before he made his decision for Jesus Christ, and not only did he want to continue doing those things after he made his decision for Jesus Christ, but he wanted to force the sovereign Holy Spirit to do his bidding! Correlating Ananias and Sapphira and the Corinthian in the sexual relationship with his father’s wife with the Johannine epistles – interpreting scripture with scripture – confirms what they call “Lordship salvation” rather than denying it. And further, the case of Simon Magus makes it explicitly clear that there is no other salvation but “Lordship salvation!” Otherwise, wow, it would be possible to go to heaven without your knee bowing and your tongue confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11), and not only your Lord but Lord of all!

So, we must pray in the Name of Jesus Christ that the people who have adhered to and are disseminating false doctrines on this matter would open their hearts to the truth and begin teaching the truth instead of a lie. Jesus-Is-Savior.com, this means you, and you are by no means alone.

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 69 Comments »

Will The Holy Spirit Be Taken From The Earth During The Great Tribulation?

Posted by Job on May 2, 2009

Many premillennial dispensational pastors teach that during the time of the great tribulation, the Holy Spirit leaves earth along with the church. Now consider this. As God is a spirit (John 4:24), the Holy Spirit is the presence of God. For God’s presence to be removed from the earth during the great tribulation or at any other times causes real problems, because God sustains and directs creation, which cannot operate without God’s presence and involvement. (The idea that God accomplished creation and left it to itself without His needing to operate, sustain, or otherwise be involved in it is theological liberalism at best and deism at worst.)

But apart from the larger question of precisely how creation will be sustained and operated for seven long years with God’s presence absent from it, there is the issue of salvation. Can anyone name a premillennial dispensationalist who denies that people will be saved during the tribulation? That would be very difficult, because Revelation does make reference to Christians that will be martyred after the time that according to this doctrine the church will have been raptured, and this is so for both the pre-tribulation and mid-tribulation rapture believers. First off, for this to even happen will mean that Jesus Christ’s promise concerning the Holy Spirit of John 14:16-18, that He will not leave us comfortless (meaning that the presence of God will never leave the church) would be broken. So … if John 14:16-18 can be violated, even for a time, then what secures John 3:16 and the other promises of God to the church? 

But again, back to salvation. The Bible explicitly teaches that the Holy Spirit is what accomplishes salvation. The Holy Spirit not only draws the sinner and convicts the sinner of unrighteousness, but the Holy Spirit actually accomplishes rebirth. This must be the case, for salvation is quite literally a miracle, and all miracles are the work of the Holy Spirit. No miracles cannot occur without the presence, moving and working of God. But if the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth, how can salvation occur? Who will draw sinners? Who will convict sinners of unrighteousness? Most important: who will perform the miraculous work of regeneration, of new birth? 

Recall what Jesus Christ told Nicodemus in John 3:5-8, which is that salvation, new birth, is impossible unless someone is born again, and born again can only occur by water and spirit, which is the Holy Spirit. But to repeat, if the Holy Spirit has been taken from the earth, how can the rebirth, the salvation that can only occur by the Holy Spirit occur?

There is only one explanation. It is the doctrine that salvation is not the work of the Holy Spirit, but rather of human decision, of free will. Now claiming that it is totally or completely free will is Pelagianism, or shall we say hyperArminianism. The mainstream orthodox free will doctrine is that the work of the Holy Spirit empowers a free will decision to accept or reject Jesus Christ. An extension of this is foreknowledge, which states that God from His timeless perspective knows in advance who will accept and reject Him, so He elects those who will – or in truth have already – elected Him, and places them in human history in situations where they will hear the gospel. (In other words, God loves us because we first loved Him.)

Now the free will doctrine which states that the job of the Holy Spirit is to empower human decision is necessary to reconcile decision soteriology with what the Bible actually says. However, we see that this really is merely a cover, an exterior. At the heart of this doctrine is that salvation is completely the work of human decision, and that the Holy Spirit is not necessary at all. That is why it is so easy for the very same free will Christians to declare that salvation is made possible by the Holy Spirit’s overcoming the effects of the fall long enough to empower man to make a free will choice to immediately turn around and assert that during the tribulation, the Holy Spirit is gone and yet people will still be saved!

This makes the work of the Holy Spirit to draw, convict, and actually accomplish new birth a mere technicality to free will salvation, an accessory if you will, that while very useful can be discarded if need be, such as during a crisis. And during the great crisis for humanity and creation that is the great tribulation, the presence of the Holy Spirit for those being saved is no more necessary than is the presence of a second lung or kidney. It is nice to have, but ultimately you can get along without it. After all, you still have the other lung or kidney, right? Well, it appears that with free will doctrine, one lung or kidney is God (the Holy Spirit) and the other lung or kidney is human initiative, human decision, human righteousness and self – worth, human works. It is interesting that in a crisis, God is the one which is declared to be superfluous, not truly necessary for life, and therefore sacrificed, while our human freedom, what is truly valued and important above all else, are the horns of the altar to which we hold fast to (see 1 Kings 2:27-34). Perhaps, then, life as a slave or in an authoritarian culture (please recall that Christianity was birthed in the authoritarian, fascist Roman Empire which had no respect for individual rights or freedoms except for that of a privileged few, and most early converts to the religion were noncitizens and slaves!) is better suited to creating a mindset conducive to Christianity than previously thought. After all, the Declaration of Independence was written by a deist, not a Christ.

According to all Biblical evidence including the words of Jesus Christ Himself, the idea that salvation can occur without the Holy Spirit is severe error, a rejection of a truth plainly taught in scripture, and also attributing the work of the Holy Spirit (salvation) to another, giving another credit for what God does. (However, it is not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the unforgivable sin, which Jesus Christ states is attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan. Giving the glory for the work of the Holy Spirit to man is a sin, but quite different than attributing salvation to being the work of Beelzebub.) So is the idea that the church will be left without its Comforter, the Holy Spirit. So, what does that mean for this doctrine? 

I suppose that the rapture doctrine itself can be salvaged for those who choose to adhere to it. However, one simply cannot claim that there will be no Christians afterwards, as the Bible clearly contradicts it … saints will be martyred during the tribulation according to Revelation and the Olivet discourses.  One also cannot claim that the “tribulation church” or the “tribulation saints” will be there without the Holy Spirit, as Jesus Christ said that such a thing would never happen. And one cannot claim that the “tribulation saints” will consist of a single person born again while the Holy Spirit is removed. 

So, the only way to salvage the rapture doctrine is to abandon the claim that the Holy Spirit will be taken from the Earth during the great tribulation, or at any other time that the church will be on the earth or that people will be added to the church. While this is certainly possible, the question must be asked  A) where this “the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth during the tribulation” doctrine came from and B) why it was embraced. Why did not these people, these great pastors, theologians, and eminent Bible scholars, simply ask: without the Holy Spirit how can anyone be saved and “how can any Christian endure daily life, let alone tribulation and martyrdom, without the ministry of the Comforter?”

Now the doctrines of God are supposed to be the head of all doctrines of Christianity and the focus of our faith. We are supposed to look at every doctrine and ask “How is God working in this? How does this glorify God? How does this accomplish God’s purposes? Where is God in this story”? That this “the Holy Spirit will be removed from the tribulation church” doctrine has been able to gain such unqualified support in huge swaths of evangelical Christianity shows that this is not the case. In it, God and His workings are not necessary to bring about conversion, to seal believers, to preserve them in the faith. Man is able to accomplish these things, to save himself, minister to himself, and persevere in the faith himself, without God’s help. Oh what a great, glorious, marvelous, fantastic, mighty to contemplate and behold, inherently virtuous thing this man must be! But if this was the case, then why did Adam, who knew not original sin, fall?

Instead, this shows that for so many premillennial dispensational Christians, the head of their doctrines are not the doctrines of God, but rather the doctrine of the rapture and the doctrine of human decision. Now the Gospel of John depicts the sin sacrifice of God’s own Word on the cross as the climaxing event of human history, the ultimate act of revelation and self – disclosure to creation. Premillennial dispensationalism, on the other hand, places the rapture of the church as the climax of human history, and the cross as merely being an event that leads to it. Why? Because the cross was about God, Jesus Christ. The rapture, meanwhile, us about the church. The cross is about people. Saved people, yes, but still people. The rapture is about US.

Which means, of course, that Christianity basically becomes about the desire to be raptured. Being raptured becomes our hope, our motivation, the main priority. And that explains so many of the strange actions in these last days. For example: our relationship with the Jews and Israel. The ingathering of Jews to Israel and the rebuilding of the temple is the main priority because of its importance to the rapture. So, Christians are required to deny the fact that Jesus Christ replaced Israel and fulfilled Israel’s mission in salvation and world events within Himself. Even further, Christians are required to pretend that modern Judaism is just another godless religion, no different from Islam, and pretend that there is any precious difference between a government and society  based around modern Judaism – a theocracy – and a similar Hindu or Muslim nation like India or Turkey. It has even reached the point where leading pastors can openly advocate dual covenant theology, that there a superior path to salvation for Christians and an inferior, harder, but still attainable and valid path of salvation for Jews, without causing a ripple of controversy. And it has reached the point where investing an incredible amount of resources to lending political and financial support to a theocracy who denies Christ and works to continue and further the denial of Christ by as many people as possible has taken priority over actually doing what Jesus Christ told us to do, which was the Great Commission. Again, where not one scripture can be honestly interpreted in a way that would command Christians to support the modern political state of Israel, the primary thing that Jesus Christ told us to do, evangelize, gets neglected. Why? Because evangelizing the world – the one thing that Jesus Christ actually said would bring about His return – is not as important as ingathering and protecting Jews in Israel, because obeying the commands of Jesus Christ has to take a backseat to getting raptured as soon as possible. So, given the choice between giving money to Israeli causes knowing full well that the Israeli charities forbid evangelizing Jews and also helping to rebuild the temple takes priority over obeying the commands of Jesus Christ by, say, making a concerted effort to evangelize the Palestinians. Why? Because though obeying God by evangelizing the Palestinians is nice and all, I would rather support the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (which adamantly opposes converting Jews to Christianity) and help breed heifers for the new temple (never mind that Hebrews stated that burnt offerings went away with Jesus Christ). Why? Because while obeying God is a good thing and all, supporting anti-missionary organizations and building a temple that rejects the work of Jesus Christ helps me by speeding up the rapture and getting me out of here faster, and pursuing my own interests takes priority over the commandments of God!

So, it is apparent: doctrines of man, and particularly of man’s inherent righteousness and ability to do good works apart from God, including pursue his own interests, and of the rapture,  which provides a doctrinal construct to pursue these things, are at the head of this particular strand of premillennial dispensationalism, and not the doctrines of God. So the question is: does this go as far as being another gospel? Is it another gospel?

This is a question that we must ask Reformed pastors who believe in the rapture as do Albert Pendarvis and John MacArthur. Such people state that salvation and perseverance of the saints are impossible without the Holy Spirit, that free will, human initiative, is impossible in these matters. If that is the case now, how can it be the case after the rapture? Reformed evangelical pastors emphasize grace. But how can the grace of God by which salvation and perseverance is only possible through the ministry of the Holy Spirit no longer be necessary after the rapture? Reformed evangelicals also assert sola scriptura. Well, can any sola scriptura Reformed evangelical who believes that the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth and the tribulation church following the rapture show where it states or even implies in scripture where it is so? I dare say that the scriptures that Reformed evangelicals use to support cessationism, a doctrine about which I am very doubtful, make a much stronger case. 

Now my position is that the position that the church will be raptured, whether pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation (before the final bowl judgments) by itself is not. However, the position that the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth during the great tribulation is another gospel, because it teaches that man can save himself and can persevere in the faith by himself without needing God to perform – or so much as even aid – either. That is a strong delusion, and from such a false gospel, I urgently beg, entreat, plead, and in the Name of Jesus Christ pray that you will turn away.

Posted in Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

 
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