There is an on-going discussion on this page and others about the sovereignty of God. I'm going to throw a statement out there just because I believe it is a middle ground that my readers and myself can stand on. Here goes;
God has a hand in everything that happens. Whether that be causing it to happen or simply allowing it to happen, it is still his choice. We all seem to believe that God is omniscient, (all knowing,) so those who do not buy into the idea that God causes all things should at least be able to admit that God allows all things, therefor agreeing that God at least plays a role in all things.
Monday, December 31, 2007
There is an on-going discussion on this page and others about the sovereignty of God. I'm going to throw a statement out there just because I believe it is a middle ground that my readers and myself can stand on. Here goes;
Friday, December 28, 2007
I've often been accused of being a Calvinst. Given that I didn't know exactly what a Calvinist is, I decided to research. I've learned that Calvinism is defined by five main points. Here they are:
Total Depravity: Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin. The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil (Mark 7:21-23) and sick (Jer. 17:9). Man is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:20). He does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12). He cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). He is at enmity with God (Eph. 2:15). And, is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). The Calvinist asks the question, "In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?" The answer is, "He cannot. Therefore God must predestine." Calvinism also maintains that because of our fallen nature we are born again not by our own will but God’s will (John 1:12-13); God grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29); faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29); God appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48); and God predestines (Eph. 1:1-11; Rom. 8:29; 9:9-23).
Unconditional Election: God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His will (Eph. 1:4-8; Rom. 9:11) without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would pick Him. Also, as some are elected into salvation, others are not (Rom. 9:15, 21).
Limited Atonement: Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect. Support for this position is drawn from such scriptures as Matt. 26:28 where Jesus died for ‘many'; John 10:11, 15 which say that Jesus died for the sheep (not the goats, per Matt. 25:32-33); John 17:9 where Jesus in prayer interceded for the ones given Him, not those of the entire world; Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27 which state that the Church was purchased by Christ, not all people; and Isaiah 53:12 which is a prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion where he would bore the sins of many (not all).
Irresistible Grace: When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration whereby they willingly and freely come to God. Some of the verses used in support of this teaching are Romans 9:16 where it says that "it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy"; Philippians 2:12-13 where God is said to be the one working salvation in the individual; John 6:28-29 where faith is declared to be the work of God; Acts 13:48 where God appoints people to believe; and John 1:12-13 where being born again is not by man’s will, but by God’s.
Perseverance of the Saints: You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28 where Jesus said His sheep will never perish; John 6:47 where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1 where it is said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle; and Phil. 1:6 where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesus’ return.
These "five pillars of calvinsm" make sense to me with the exception of Limited atonement. Doesn't that go against the most popular verse in the bible? John 3:16 says that God so loved THE WORLD.
To my calvinist and calvinist leaning friends, can you explain limited atonement to me?
Thursday, December 20, 2007
"Depart from Me, you who are cursed—into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!"
Those in the infernal dungeon of hell, will undergo a variety of torments. Those who are most afflicted upon earth, have seldom any more than one malady at a time. But should they have the plague, the gout, the stone, and fever all at one time—how miserable would they think themselves! Yet all that is but like the biting of a flea—compared to those intolerable, pungent pains which those in hell endure! There they have all the loathed variety of hell to grapple with— the unquenchable fire to burn them; a lake of burning brimstone ever choking them; eternal chains to bind them; utter darkness to affright them, and a worm of conscience which gnaws upon them eternally. Any one of these is worse to bear, than all the torments which mankind ever felt on earth.
But the torments in hell are also universal, afflicting each part of the body and soul—which renders what they suffer, most insufferable. In those illnesses which men are seized with on earth, though some parts are afflicted, other parts are free. But in hell, each member of the soul and body is continually tormented. The eye is tormented with the sight of the devils, who appear in all the horrid and black shapes which sin can give them! The ear is tormented with the loud yellings and continual outcries of the damned. The nostrils are smothered with sulphurous flames; the tongue is covered with burning blisters; and the whole body is rolled in flames of liquid fire! The imagination is tormented with the thoughts of what a heaven has been lost; the memory is tormented with reflecting on those opportunities they had of being saved. The mind is tormented with considering how vainly precious time has been wasted. The understanding is tormented with the thoughts of of present pains, andfuture sorrows—which are to last for ever! The conscience is tormented with a continual gnawing worm.
Another thing which makes the misery of hell so dreadful, is the extremity of the torments. The fire which burns is so violent that all the water in the sea can never quench it!The pains suffered are so extreme, that it is impossible they should be known by any, but those who feel them.
Another part of hell's misery is the ceaselessness of the torments. As various, as universal, and as extremely violent as they are—they are continual, also. Nor have they the least rest from them. If there were any relaxation—it might be some allay. But what makes this condition so deplorable—is that there is no easing of the torments! "They will goaway into eternal punishment!" Matthew 25:46
The company they have there, is another element of their misery. Tormenting devils and tormented souls areall the company. Dreadful shrieks and howlings, under the fierceness of pain, and fearful blasphemies, is all the conversation.
The place in which they suffer is another thing whichincreases the sufferings. Hell is the epitome of all misery—
a bottomless pit,
a lake of fire and brimstone,
a furnace of fire which burns to eternity,
the blackness of darkness forever!
The cruelty of our tormentors is another thing whichadds to the torments. The tormentors are devils, in whom there is no pity. Being tormented themselves, they take pleasure in tormenting others.
But that which makes these sufferings most grievous—is that they shall always be so—these most intolerable sufferings shall last to all eternity. 'Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire!" will perpetually sound in the ears of the damned! The miserable situation they are in, shall be forever!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called."
I've been hearing the name Charles H. Surgeon being thrown around quite a bit lately. Here is the closing remarks of a C.H. Spurgeon Sermon that I ran across in which he is preaching about two topics that are discussed here on a regular basis; Predestination and "Once Saved, Always Saved." I highly recommend you read the full sermon here.
Chosen of God ere time began.
Come on, slanderers! rail on as pleases you. Come on thou world in arms! Cataracts of trouble descend if you will, and you, ye floods of affliction, roll if so it be ordained, for God has written my name in the book of life. Firm as this rock I stand, though nature reels and all things pass away. What consolation then to be called: for if I am called, then I am predestinated. Come let us at the sovereignty which has called us, and let us remember the words of the apostle, "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
A second consolation is drawn from the grand truth, that if a man be called he will certainly be saved at last. To prove that, however, I will refer you to the express words of scripture: Romans 11:29--"The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." He never repents of what he gives, nor of what he calls. And indeed this is proved by the very chapter out of which we have taken our text. "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified," everyone of them. Now, believer, thou mayest be very poor, and very sick, and very much unknown and despised, but sit thee down and review thy calling this morning, and the consequences that flow from it. As sure as thou art God's called child today, thy poverty shall soon be at an end, and thou shalt be rich to all the intents of bliss. Wait awhile; that weary head shall soon be girt with a crown. Stay awhile; that horny hand of labor shall soon grasp the palm branch. Wipe away that tear; God shall soon wipe away thy tears for ever. Take away that sigh--why sigh when the everlasting song is almost on thy lip? The portals of heaven stand wide open for thee. A few winged hours must fly; a few more billows must roll o'er thee, and thou wilt be safely landed on the golden shore. Do not say, "I shall be lost; I shall be cast away." Impossible.
Whom once he loves he never leaves,
But loves them to the end.
If he hath called thee, nothing can divide thee from his love. The wolf of famine cannot gnaw the bond; the fire of persecution cannot burn the link, the hammer of hell cannot break the chain; old time cannot devour it with rust, nor eternity dissolve it, with all its ages. Oh! believe that thou art secure; that voice which called thee, shall call thee yet again from earth to heaven, from death's dark gloom to immortality's unuttered splendours; Rest assured, the heart that called thee, beats with infinite love towards thee, a love undying, that many waters cannot quench, and that floods cannot drown. Sit thee down; rest in peace; lift up thine eye of hope, and sing thy song with fond anticipation. Thou shall soon be with the glorified, where thy portion is; thou art only waiting here to be made meet, for the inheritance, and that done, the wings of angels shall waft thee far away, to the mount of peace, and joy, and blessedness, where
Far from a world of grief and sin,
With God eternally shut in,
thou shall rest for ever and ever. Examine yourselves then whether you have been called.--And may the love of Jesus be with you. Amen.
"Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?"
-1 Corinthians 15:29
I asked my Mormon Visitors why they believe that they can Re-baptize themselves and have it count towards the salvation of loved ones who have already died in their sins. This is the verse that they gave me. "Paul advocates baptism for the dead." Obviously Joseph Smith Jr. (or however their current prophet is,) affirms this doctrine. To be honest, I didn't have an answer for them at that time. Now the answer seems glaring. Let's dissect:
First of all, let's read the verse in context. This passage of the bible is making a case for the Resurrection, not baptism for the dead. The subtitle in the NIV states, "The Resurrection of the Dead." Paul is refuting the rumor that was spreading through the Church at Corinth that there will be no resurrection of the dead. So obviously baptism for the dead is not a direct application of this verse, but could it be an implication?
This is what stuck out to me today; Paul asks, "what will those do who are baptized for the dead?" and, "why are people baptized for them?" See there, I don't believe that Paul is even talking about the Church. I'd argue that Paul would have said, "why are We baptized for them?" That fact is that I don't really know what Paul was talking about. However, the Corinthians knew what he was talking about. Otherwise, he wouldn't have used this statement to make a case for the Resurrection.
The most logical answer to me is that there was probably a pagan religion in the area that was baptizing for the dead. Paul was probably making the case that even the pagan religions understood that there would be a Resurrection. In other words, he is only using what we would call a natural argument rather than a supernatural one.
Couple that all together with the fact that this is the only time that baptism for the dead is ever mentioned in the bible, and you have a doctrine that certainly doesn't seem to have biblical support.
Please take some time to visit some of the new Blogs that I've added to my "Timm's Favorite Blogs" section on the side bar.
Blogged Down World
J Razz updates multiple times per day. His stuff is always interesting, and always thought provoking.
This is Ray Cofort's blog. He is the founder of The Way of the Master Television and Radio shows.
Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? (Galations 4:16) Tony always has something interesting to add to virtually any discussion. Good source for Creationism apologetics and information on preaching the true gospel message.
Lazz keeps his blog updated every day or two. It's an excellent combination of Christianity, Science and Sports.
Roland and I don't always agree, but he is smart, articulate, respectful and always a good read.
Time 2 Change Churches
Brian is a former member of the Mormon Church. Now an evangelical Preacher committed to bringing our churches back to biblical teaching and preaching. He updates daily and is worth the time.
Posted by Timm at 10:06 AM
Monday, December 17, 2007
And Joseph went up from Galilee to Bethlehem with Mary, his espoused wife, who was great with child. And she brought forth a son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. And the angel of the Lord spoke to the shepherds and said, "I bring you tidings of great joy. Unto you is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."
"There's a problem with the angel," said a Pharisee who happened to be
strolling by the stable. As he explained to Joseph, angels are widely
regarded as religious symbols, and the stable was on public property
where such symbols were not allowed to land or even hover.
"Besides," said a Sadducee who was with him, "there are no such things
as angels, and telling a child that they're real will only hinder the child's emotional development."
"And I have to tell you," said the Pharisee, "this whole thing looks very much like a Nativity scene. That's a no-no, too."
Joseph had a bright idea. "What if I put a couple of reindeer over there near the ox and ass?" he said, eager to avoid sectarian strife.
"That would definitely help," said the Pharisee, who knew as well as anyone that whenever a savior appeared, judges usually liked to be on the safe side and surround it with deer or woodland creatures of some sort. "Just to clinch it, throw in a candy cane and a couple of elves and snowmen, too," he said. "No court can resist that."
Mary asked, "What does my son's birth have to do with snowmen?"
"Snowpersons," cried a young woman, changing the subject before it veered dangerously toward religion.
Off to the side of the crowd, a Philistine was painting the Nativity scene. Mary complained that she and Joseph looked too tattered and
worn in the picture. "Artistic license," he said. "I've got to show the plight of the haggard homeless in a greedy, uncaring society in winter," he quipped.
"We're not haggard or homeless. The inn was just full," said Mary.
"Whatever," said the painter.
Two women began to argue fiercely. One said she objected to Jesus' birth "because it privileged motherhood." The other scoffed at virgin births, but said that if they encouraged more attention to diversity in family forms and the rights of single mothers, well, then, she was all for them.
"I'm not a single mother," Mary started to say, but she was cut off by
a third woman who insisted that swaddling clothes are a form of child
abuse, since they restrict the natural movement of babies.
With the arrival of ten child advocates, all trained to spot infant abuse and manger rash, Mary and Joseph were pushed to the edge of the crowd, where arguments were breaking out over how many reindeer (or what mix of reindeer and seasonal sprites) had to be installed to compensate for the infant's unfortunate religious character.
An older man bustled up, bowling over two merchants, who had been
busy debating whether an elf is the same as a fairy and whether the elf/fairy should be shaking hands with Jesus in the crib or merely standing to the side, jumping around like a sports mascot.
"I'd hold off on the reindeer," the man said, explaining that the use of asses and oxen as picturesque backdrops for Nativity scenes carries the subliminal message of human dominance. He passed out two leaflets, one denouncing manger births as invasions of animal space, the other arguing that stables are "penned environments" where animals are incarcerated against their will. He had no opinion about elves or candy canes.
Signs declaring "Free the Bethlehem 2" began to appear, referring to the obviously exploited ass and ox. Someone said the halo on Jesus' head was elitist.
Mary was exasperated. "And what about you, old mother?" she said sharply to an elderly woman. "Are you here to attack the shepherds as prison guards for excluded species, maybe to complain that singing in Latin identifies us with our Roman oppressors, or just to say that I should have skipped patriarchal religiosity and joined some new-age goddess religion?"
"None of the above," said the woman, "I just wanted to tell you that the Magi are here." Sure enough, the three wise men rode up.
The crowd gasped, "They're all male!" And "Not very multicultural!"
"Balthasar here is black," said one of the Magi.
"Yes, but how many of you are gay or disabled?" someone shouted. A
committee was quickly formed to find an impoverished lesbian wise-person among the halt and lame of Bethlehem.
A calm voice said, "Be of good cheer, Mary, you have done well and your son will change the world."
At last, a sane person, Mary thought. She turned to see a radiant and confident female face.
The woman spoke again: "There is one thing, though. Religious holidays
are important, but can't we learn to celebrate them in ways that unite,
not divide? For instance, instead of all this business about 'Gloria in
excelsis Deo,' why not just 'Season's Greetings'?"
Mary said, "You mean my son has entered human history to deliver the message, 'Hello, it's winter'?"
"That's harsh, Mary," said the woman. "Remember, your son could make
it big in midwinter festivals, if he doesn't push the religion thing too far. Centuries from now, in nations yet unborn, people will give each other pricey gifts and have big office parties on his birthday. That's not chopped liver."
"Let me get back to you," Mary said.
In the meantime the Magi had been asked by others how much their gifts had cost, and when told the price several protested and said the
money could have been better spent on the poor and homeless. "Besides,"
said one, "what can a baby do with gold, frankincense, and myrrh?"
"You don't understand," said one of the Magi, "we brought these gifts
to honor and worship this child who has been born King of the Jews."
Whereupon the child advocates protested that adults should not pre-determine a child's future. "It should be left up to the child to decide for himself what he wants to be."
One of the shepherds called out from the back of the crowd: "The prophet Micah wrote that out of Bethlehem would come a Ruler to shepherd God's people"
"That's just a myth," said the head of the Prophet's Seminar who had just arrived with his committee. "We scholars have determined that the prophet's actually said very little of what they are credited with saying, and everything they reportedly said about a Messiah was added years later by other writers."
"How did you determine that?" asked Joseph.
The most intelligent member of the Prophet's Seminar was chosen as spokesperson and replied, "We cast lots."
After much talking, the various advocates agreed to meet again at a later date in a place more suitable for them and continue their discussions about the child's welfare. Gradually they drifted out of the stable and left the shepherds and the Magi alone with Joseph and Mary and the child.
Mary took Joseph's hand and said, "Husband, tell me again what the angel Gabriel said to you about our son.
Squeezing her hand, Joseph answered, "He said that we should call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
Mary looked down at her son and sighed deeply, and then said to no one
in particular, "I wonder if they will let him?"
Posted by Timm at 10:51 AM
Monday, December 10, 2007
If you're a long time reader, you might remember a few discussions between Layneh and myself regarding the dreaded topic of "Predestination."
Here is my problem; I refuse to let up on the Doctrine of God's sovereignty. So much so, that I tend to give complete and total control of everything to God. Yet the Bible clearly teaches that we are responsible for our own actions and that we will be held accountable.
I feel so strongly about preaching the Sovereignty of God, that I occasionally go overboard with the topic. I place control completely in God's hands, and sometimes forget that I'm responsible for my own actions. This is where the Benefit of the disagreement comes in. Whenever Layne and I talk about this topic, it provides a much needed reminder for me. Layne brings up multiple verses regarding to Free Will and accountability. This causes me to real myself in and do a "reality check."
I guess this is my point. I think that any clean and loving discussion about theology is a healthy one. First, if it gets me and Layne to both dig into our Bible's than it was beneficial.
Second, it causes us to question our theology, which in turn causes us to prove our theology. This often makes me step back and assess my position, and I often find that I've gone too far. This helps.
Posted by Timm at 7:21 AM
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
I heard a preacher, (who shall remain nameless,) Use this passage to preach the Word of Faith. I'll paraphrase for you;
The word of Faith movement teaches us that if we believe that God will do something for us with all of our heart, we simply must say it, and God will have to do it. This passage would tell us that if we confess and believe, God has to save us. If we apply that idea to everything else in life, then I could ask God for a new Porsche. As long as I truly believe that God will give me that Porsche, he has to. The basic principle is that we are able to force God's hand with our "words of faith."
Let's see what the passage is really telling us.
A few verses earlier, we find Paul talking to us about the Law of Mosses. "Do not say in your heart, Who will ascend into heaven?" (that is, to bring Christ down) "or Who will descend into the deep?" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). Romans 10:6-7 I see Paul talking more here about how the Law cannot save us, rather than how we can save ourselves.
Furthermore, we must interpret the unclear with the clear. While this verse may seem to state that we can essentially force God's hand, by believing what we are saying, there are countless other verses which render that claim false. Verses such as John 1:12, John 3:16, Acts 13:39, Romans 1:16, Ephesians 1:13-14, Ephesians 2:8-9 and 1 Peter 1:8-9 tell us that Faith is through Belief and Trust in Jesus Christ. Nothing about confessing with your mouth.
So what is Paul getting at with "Confess with your mouth?" I direct your attention to Luke 6:45 where Jesus tells us, "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."
I believe the confession with the mouth that Paul speaks of here is as simple as the belief in our hearts overflowing from our mouths. If we believe that Jesus has saved us from the pits of Hell, how could we not talk about it. The sheer excitement of being called "sons of God" should be evident in every word we speak.
Finally, we must consider the broader implications of our interpretation of the passage in question. (This is where I really get irritated with the Word of Faith movement.) If we allow our selves to believe that we can force God's hand by simply speaking what we whole-heartily believe, then we are allowing ourselves power over God. We are making ourselves into little gods. The Bible teaches that God controls everything. (Romans 8:28, Matthew 10:29) It also teaches that "The heart is deceitful above all things." (Jeremiah 17:9) Knowing this, how can we go on believing that God would give us something that is harmful to us, simply because we believe he will. Why would God continually give us what our deceitful hearts want?
No, Salvation is through repentance and faith. God provides for us with intercession from the spirit on our behalf, So that He may provide for us according to his will and not our own. God is Good, we are not. God knows our needs, we do not.
Monday, December 3, 2007
From The Way of the Master
12. Do you believe in "Once saved always saved?"
Unfortuantely, when commenting on the subject of eternal security, many books and sermons from respectable men and women of God, seem to be evidently silent on the subject of true and false conversion. This is in spite the fact that it is incredibly relevant to the topic of eternal security. The New Testament deals with this in great depth. It tells of Judas' profession of faith (he was in truth a thief, and was referred to by Jesus as a "devil"), and relates the parables of Jesus about the true and false "believers" sitting alongside one another. It speaks of Demas, who forsook Paul because he "loved this present world." As such, he revealed himself to be an enemy of God--"Whoever is a friend of the world is an enemy of God.”
In one book, the author referred to a pastor/friend who was found to be "romantically" involved with another woman. The pastor had made his mind up to divorce his wife and marry the woman. I presume he means that he had been committing adultery. Instead of challenging the man as to the validity of his faith, and therefore warning him that "adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God," he spoke of the man's "loss of rewards."
We do believe in eternal security for a true convert. He puts his hand to the plow and doesn't look back, because he is "fit" for the kingdom (Luke 9:62).
Those who are fit for the Kingdom are not hypocrites as was Judas. The true convert is eternally secure in his faith, because his faith in Jesus is genuine rather than false.
However, if a man steals, lies, kills, rapes, hates, lusts, covets, commits adultery, etc., and calls himself a Christian, he would be very wise to examine himself and see if he is "in the faith." The Bible makes it very clear that hypocrites will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.
If a man has no understanding of true and false conversion (in his ignorance), he may make a calculated decision to forsake a few future eternal rewards and trade them for the immediate and temporary pleasures of sin. His confidence is in an interpretation of scripture that may have eternally tragic repercussions.
We think that teaching on true and false conversion would clear the air when it comes to the contentions between two opinions that so often divide the Church. It would bring closer together those who say you can lose your salvation at the drop of a sinful hat, and others who think that Christians can get away with murder and still be assured that they are saved, because they once professed faith in the Savior.
For more information, freely listen online to "True and False Conversion" from the 16 message audio set (available on CDs).