Sunday, July 27, 2008

John 6:44, Total Depravity and Irresistible Grace

I have heard many Calvinists say that John 6:44 is proof of irresistible grace because “those that are drawn are the ones who are raised”. From this verse is also included the Calvinist’ own view of total depravity (which equals “inability”).

I will agree that one has to be drawn, that much is plain; however, it is not as plain to me the conclusion that the Calvinists come to with this verse.

Let’s quickly review the verse:

John 6:44
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

It is agreed that no one can come unless the Father draws that person unto Christ (via the Holy Spirit). It is also agreed that apart from the sharing of the Gospel no one would ever turn to God. In other words, apart from one hearing the Gospel it is impossible for them to be saved (thus the importance of obeying the call to preach the Gospel to every creature). No one apart from the Gospel just up and decides one day that, “hey, I think I’ll serve God”. However, this and John 6:44 do not exclude the possibility that one has a real choice at the moment of the Holy Spirit’s drawing. And this is the thrust of my argument… that at the moment of the Holy Spirit’s drawing man has a real choice to decide whether or not he will rebel or repent and believe the Gospel.

I do not interpret this verse as saying, “the ones that are drawn are the ones that are raised” or “being drawn equals being raised”. I believe that the proper interpretation of this verse is that, “the one that is raised is the one that comes… and that one can only come if he is drawn”. My question to the Calvinist is; how am I misinterpreting this verse? Is there some grammatical reason in the Greek that I should not come to this conclusion? It is my opinion that if one does not come to this verse with a preconceived idea of what it has to mean (in light of a certain set of presuppositions such as TULIP), I believe that one would come to the same conclusion I have reached. Of course I reserve the right to be wrong, so if anyone can show me OBJECTIVELY from reason and context how I am misinterpreting this verse I will concede the point.

Working with the interpretation that, “the one that is raised is the one that comes… and that one can only come if he is drawn”… we can see that the verse does not exclude the possibility (logically) that one could, at the moment he is drawn, refuse repentance (thus refuting, if I am right, the Calvinist’ view of Irresistible Grace and that Total Depravity equals total inability). Now at this point some have sought to misrepresent this view as a sort of “deal” that God makes with man. For example, one straw man in this line of thinking said that our view is like someone buying a car. God offers a price, a “good deal” if you will, and the man then decides whether or not the price is right. This analogy is flawed and if you’re going to bring me to your side you’ve got to deal with what I believe.

At the moment a person is convicted of sin, a bargaining table is hardly the scene that represents the situation. When a person is being drawn he is being shown that he is a sinner in need of Jesus’ sacrifice. He is dealing with the Holiness of God, the penalty of sin, the weakness of himself, et al. This is a serious issue and at that moment the person is hardly “cutting a deal”. He is being presented with the truth of all truths, believe and repent or refuse and rebel. An atmosphere of the conviction of sin is the picture here, hardly two making a “deal”.


Logos Bible Software for the Mac

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Christianity and Science, Part 1 – “Not at Odds”

Since my oldest son’s recent obsession with Dinosaurs, a love for the Sciences that I once had has been revived. First of all, Dinosaurs are just cool. Secondly, all the sciences surrounding how they are studied like Paleontology, Geology, et al, I find fascinating to study. When most folks are watching the boob tube I am curled up with a Geology textbook (guess I am a dork, no?).

Recently I have been recording everything I could find on the National Geographic, Discovery and Science Channels that has anything to do with these subjects. Now if you do this, the first thing you’ll notice is that everything on these channels is saturated with Evolution; however, I am not too disheartened by this. As with most things one has to take in the good and throw out the bad. There are many things that can be learned from these shows and many things they say actually confirm the Bible (ironically).

One quick example is the Ceolophysis of Arizona. A large grouping of this Dinosaur (among others) were apparently killed by a flash flood. This theory is given because of the way the Dinosaur bones were found grouped together (apparently they were all buried rapidly and together). Now, as a Christian I am thinking… hmmm… now what event that the Bible (as well as other sources) says happened could have suddenly buried large groups of animals at the same time? I’ll give you three guesses.

However, since the average non-Christian scientist automatically discounts even the possibility that a Sovereign God could have created all that we see, they miss out on pieces of the many puzzles that could otherwise be answered.

I find this sad because in my many hours of study I haven’t found one single contradiction between the Bible and TRUE Science. I haven’t had one single reason yet to demonstrate why they would have to be at odds. What do I mean by true science? Folks that disagree may be saying at this point, “no, you only see true science as the parts of science that line up with YOUR view of the Bible”. Let me answer that perceived accusation in two parts.

Firstly, if you’ll begin to read scientific journals, magazines and books, etc, on your own you will begin to notice that A LOT of guessing goes on. In many of the articles and shows out there, a critical look further into the issues often (if not almost always) shows that what is presented many times as fact to the “general public” are a loosely held together hodge-podge of theories, opinions and guesses. I am not going to go into detail of the myriad of examples that could be given… I just want you the reader, Christian or not, to begin to challenge everything, question everything and be a critical thinker. One of the reasons my faith in the Bible and the God thereof is so strong is BECAUSE I looked deeper into its’ claims and truths.

Secondly, Science is constantly “evolving” (forgive the play on words). Just one example is our understanding of what is called “plate tectonics” and “continental drift”. Since Scientists have began thinking about this 3 major theories have been posited, 2 have been abandoned and 1 is currently held. I am not going into the details of these, you’ll have to look that up on your own if you don’t know what I am talking about; however, you don’t need to know the details in order to understand my point. Let’s critically think about this… if the two earlier “theories” or “ideas” about this issue have been replaced, how do we know the current one won’t be replaced in the next 5, 10 or 20 years? I do realize that there are certain facts established by science that will not be augmented; however, a lot more than you realize is not set on a solid foundation and the information is constantly changing. I have sadly read of many who have rejected the Bible based on scientific knowledge that we know now is obsolete. The Bible is not a scientific manual; however, when it touches on the subject, it speaks infallibly. The Bible and true Science are not at odds. If one takes out the guess work that many scientists have dishonestly posited as fact… there is no disagreement with the Bible.

I do realize that this opening article makes very general statements. I am not seeking to convince you of my view point here. What I do hope is that you will begin to critically think about everything. Don’t just accept anything and use the brain God gave you. Christians, we have a RESPONSIBILITY to be as educated as possible on everything that we can. Knowing the Bible is first and foremost on our agenda but adding to that a good knowledge of other subjects can open more doors for ministry… and isn’t that what it’s all about?

My goal with these articles will be to demonstrate that the Bible and Science are not as at odds as many have supposed.


Logos Bible Software for the Mac

Monday, July 23, 2007

"I'm Offended!!!"

Have you ever simply been discussing a subject with someone only to have that person get “offended”? Or someone nearby over hears a religious or political conversation that you’re having and gets “offended”? Or even worse, do you find yourself censoring your own speech in public trying not to “offend” anyone (aka, “make them mad”)? This is political correctness run amuck and doing what it was meant to do… take away freedom of speech.

Here’s a chapter from the playbook: Someone says something I don’t like… so I get angry and label them with a title such as “bigot”, “racist” or “homophobe” so that they will be cowed into not speaking again. Context is irrelevant, freedom of speech is irrelevant… if I don’t like it, it’s got to go… at all costs. Labeling, lying, polarizing and misrepresentation are all legitimate means to achieve the goal.

The truth is, one has to CHOSE to be offended. No one can make you be offended. It is a conscience decision of the will to be upset at something another says and then in turn react with anger and contempt in order to manipulate the situation.

Unfortunately, Christians are also allowing themselves to be silenced in the church and society at the “risk” of offending someone. This idea comes from a misreading of certain scriptures such as Mark 9:42 where Jesus said, “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” The mistake many of us make is applying the modern, politically correct interpretation of the word “offend” in this verse and take away a completely WRONG understanding of this and other verses.

For instance, you know someone you thought was a brother who gets involved in a cult or attends a church that is grossly out of order concerning a key doctrine of the faith. Should you be worried that presenting the truth to this person and reasoning with them will offend them? Do you believe that this is what Mark 9:42 is talking about? No and No! I want to take this burden off you and demonstrate that the word “offend” in the verse doesn’t mean what many nowadays have thought it to mean. I want to show that if you lovingly (emphasis on lovingly of course) share the truth with someone and they get angry and claim to be offended that you have NOT disobeyed Jesus’ words in Mark 9:42.

Let’s start and finish the issue by looking at the Greek word behind the English word, “offend”. The Greek word here is Strong’s number 4624, transliterated “skandalizo”. Concerning this word the Strong’s Concordance states, “from 4625; to entrap, i.e. trip up… …or entice to sin, apostacy”.

(The other word mentioned, 4625 is transliterated “skandalon”. According to Strong’s this is a “trap-stick (bent sapling), i.e. snare”. Concerning this word William Mounce in his book, “Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words” on page 479 he states concerning its’ meaning, “skandalon is something that leads a person to sin or to fall away from faith”.)

Looking at the Strong’s definition together we can begin to see what Jesus is really talking about. Let’s read the verse with the definitions of this word placed in for better understanding, Mark 9:42 states, “And whosoever shall offend (entrap, trip up or entices to sin) one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” With that in mind, let me ask you a question… if you, with a sincere and loving heart and a Biblical foundation try and reason with a brother who is in doctrinal (or some type of other) error, are you trying to entice them to sin? NO! You are actually trying to get them OUT OF SIN! You’re not at all trying to “trip them up” or “entrap” them. Again, the goal is to remove he or she from the trap they are currently in. If the person gets mad, there is nothing you can do. In fact, Jesus dealt specifically with this.

Matthew 15:12 states, “Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?” The word offend here is the same 4624, “skandalizo” and in this context, according to Zodhiates Word Study Dictionary, this word means “generally, to offend, vex, particularly to scandalize”. The point should be made here that the same word in various contexts can have slightly different nuances of meaning. Here, in this context, our word appears to have a similar meaning to how many understand the word today (specifically “to scandalize”, “to offend the moral sense of”). Jesus said something and the Pharisees got mad (i.e. offended). Sound familiar? Now let’s look at Jesus’ reaction to their reaction.

Matthew 15:13-14 states, “But he (Jesus) answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch”. In modern day speech Jesus was basically saying that if they got mad at the truth, then tough cookies! I don’t believe that Jesus is telling us here to leave people alone and never share the truth with them BUT once that truth is shared and rejected, THEN let them be. Let me emphasize here, Jesus is talking about a very specific instance here. There is a specific context here that we are to derive our behavior from. (I do realize there may be situations where repeated attempts to deal with someone may be relevant, you’re just going to have to seek the LORD on that.)

In conclusion I believe that these two scriptures teach us two important lessons. Firstly, if we need to deal with a brother about an aberrant behavior or a false doctrine (I mean an essential doctrines here), we need not be afraid of making them angry. If we lovingly share them truth we are not “enticing them to sin” or “offending” them in the way Jesus speaks in Mark 9:42. If he or she is “offended” in the way that the Pharisee’s were in Matthew 15 then we are to leave them alone (about the issue). This example could be applied to several situations, such as sharing the gospel with a Jehovah’s Witness or reasoning with a brother about a church he or she is attending that has an aberrant view of the virgin birth. Either way, we cannot be worried about making them angry. We must share the truth in love. And if this is done correctly, then Matthew 15 applies. I hope this short article has been a help to you in deciding what to do in a situation that you may be facing.
Logos Bible Software for the Mac

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Healing on Demand (A Rant by Jason)

Isaiah 53:5
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

That is an amazing verse of scripture and it speaks volumes about the love that God has for us. That our Lord was willing to suffer so much and sacrifice himself for us, is a love beyond what our sinful minds are capable of comprehending.

However, sad to say, a great debate rages around this verse, and it is important that we understand what the word of God is saying to us here, so we don’t get wrapped up in false doctrine. Lets break the verse down and see what God is telling us.

…"he was wounded for our transgressions", Pesha; peh-shah (transgression), this word means willful deviation from and rebellion against God.

…"he was bruised for our iniquities", Avon. aw-vone(iniquities), this word literally means perversion or moral evil.

OK, so lets pause for a moment, up to here everyone should pretty much agree that Jesus died to save our souls, thereby washing us clean from our sins, only the most rank heretic would disagree with that. The problem comes after this, you see up until this point it was obvious that what the Lord did was of a spiritual nature. The disagreement arises when the verse seems to turn to the physical body of man, "with his stripes we are healed".

Its easy enough to understand what Isaiah was saying when he spoke of the chastisement of our peace so I’m not going to spend any time speaking to that. The controversy is on "with his stripes we are healed." Many in what calls itself the faith movement would stand up and scream that this promises every Christian healing the instant they ask for it, and if they don’t get it then its their own fault, their faith wasn’t “strong enough”, etc.... My question is this, considering the whole scripture or:

1 Corinthians 2:13(b) ...comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Does the whole of scripture teach that healing is there for us "on demand" or does it say something else entirely?

First off lets meet one popular misconception head on:

Luke 8:48
And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.

Now here is the question, was it the woman’s faith that ultimately made her whole or was it because of who she had faith in? That is the one thing that bothers me about the faith healers, they claim that all you need is faith yet they spend very little time making it clear as to the source of the faith they purport. Some of the more rank heretics even go as far as to claim that it doesn’t matter its all about following a supposed list of spiritual laws, utter heresy since there is no such thing ever even remotely mentioned in scripture. So apparently it matters that a person direct their faith in the right direction or to the right person. Ok, so then the question becomes who, lets talk about that for a minute. Can you go to just anyone as say, "hey I want to be healed" and expect healing? Of course not only someone who was severely delusional would believe such nonsense.

Ok so someone might say there is no one else to place your faith in besides Jesus, or of course the faith healers mean for you to place your faith in Jesus. Ok, then the question becomes, why do they promote themselves? Why do you turn on the TV or the radio and hear, "reach out to me as a powerful point of contact"… I thought our faith was supposed to be in Jesus, not in the person who claims to be a healer?

You see the Greek word used for Faith in the verse above is “pistis”, which literally means trust. Because the woman trusted Jesus she was made whole again. It was not the trust that healed her, it was God that touched her and made her whole. Faith is not a force that can be called upon, it is only by the power of God that we are healed. The reason our Lord made the statement that her faith had made her whole, was because of her ferverent trust in Christ, God reached down and healed her. No special formula to follow, no mystical force, just plain and simple the sister believed in Christ and God healed her.

You can have faith in some man, or some pagan god or some great spirit of the forest but it would all be a waste of time.

I’ve been on this soapbox for sometime now and it seems that the Lord hasn’t taken it out of my mind to get down off of it, so I’m not going to. There are many promises that the bible gives us, one of them is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. However none of them are "healing on demand". So of course we come back to "with his stripes we are healed”. Is this speaking about physical healing or spiritual healing? Let’s go all the way back to Genesis for a moment and look at the current condition of mankind.

Genesis 3:19
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

When Adam sinned this curse passed upon all men and it still reigns over men today. The death rate among human beings is one hundred percent, everyone that is born dies. So lets pause and consider, if healing is promised on demand, why are people still dieing? Lets move on though, we will come back and answer this a little later.

The Bible says that no sin can enter into the presence of God, so in other words we must be perfectly sinless when we step before the throne in heaven. Can we achieve this on our own? Absolutely not, not a chance, it could never happen. Only by the cleansing power of the Blood of Jesus Christ can we be presented spotless before God. So in other words our sinful nature can only be cleansed and healed by Jesus Christ.

If we continue reading in Isaiah chapter fifty-three, we see that God laid our iniquities on the back of Jesus, that it pleased God to bruise our Lord. Nothing that mortal man could do to Jesus had any effect on our salvation. The sin debt was not against man but against God. So how could the whip of a roman soldier do anything to affect our standing with God? It couldn't, what saved us was the fact that Jesus paid the debt to God for us, that He suffered the punishment of Yahweh when He hung on the cross.

You see nothing about Isaiah 53:5 is of a physical nature, it’s all about what Jesus did for us or more correctly in place of us. He did what we could not do, He reconciled us to God, He made it possible for us to stand before God in Heaven and saved us from eternity in Hellfire and Brimstone. Jesus did heal us, our souls are no longer destined for hell, the spiritual value of what the Lord did for us, far out weighs any healing of our sinful bodies that we can think of.

Sure the Bible says we can ask God to heal our mortal bodies, and sometimes, when God in His sovereign will chose to do so we are healed by the power of God. There is however no promise that we will be healed just because we asked for it.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

2 Timothy 4:20
Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.

1 Timothy 5:23
Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.

First we see Paul, arguably the greatest of the Apostles, a man whose dedication to the cause of Christ was beyond question, asking three times for an infirmities to be removed, and what was God's answer? NO! Yes the Lord hears all of our prayers and yes He answers every single one, but sometimes the answer is no. God knows better than we do what we need. Plus we are supposed to seek to follow the will of our Heavenly Father, believe it or not sometimes its not Gods will for us to be healed. Sometimes He might be trying to teach us a lesson, sometimes it may indeed be punishment for wrong doing, sometimes it may be to draw us closer to him, or it could be to give strength to someone else who is going through something similar. We wont always understand what God has planned for us at the beginning of a particular trial, the point is to have faith(trust) in God that He will see us through no matter what trial it is we are going through. And if we or a loved one is allowed to die then we should not mourn, for to be with Christ in Heaven is far better than to be here on this wretched cursed world.

In closing let me point out a few more verses, Jesus never promised us healing on demand, neither did any of the apostles, or the old testament prophets for that matter.

John 16:33
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

1John 5:15
And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

First off the words of our Lord, by whose stripes we are healed, in the world ye shall have tribulation" in other words until we die and go to heaven, or until the Lord himself returns we can count on persecution and infirmities. Jesus told us to be at peace in Him, for He overcame the world on our behalf.

Secondly note what the apostle John says, "we know we have the petitions we desired of him." We pray and ask God to heal us or a friend or family member but then we trust that God will do what needs to be done, whether that be imediate healing, eventual healing or something else. God knows better than we do, the point is for us to direct our faith to Jesus and trust that God has our best interest in mind and He will do what needs to be done to accomplish His will, which is to be our hearts desire as well.
Logos Bible Software for the Mac

The Rod of Correction (A Rant from Jason)

News of legislation in the works in California that would prohibit parents from spanking their children has recently reached my ears. While on the surface, to some, it may seem to have some merit, the facts are that it is absolutely preposterous and anti-biblical. The Bible says:

Proverbs 22:15
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

No one in their right mind would say it is a good idea to raise a fool, the problem is that is exactly what this proposed bill is doing. Indeed they defend themselves by saying, "well its only for children three years old and younger". Here is the problem, the later on you wait in a childs’ life to discipline them, the harder it will be to teach them right from wrong. Allow me to explain:

Proverbs 13:24
He that spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Now lets break this verse down a little, quickly, the rod spoken of here, the Hebrew word shebet, is a tool for instruction, not a weapon to brutally beat a child, as the liberals around the world would lead us to believe. The word chasteneth, “muwcar” in the Hebrew, means to instruct or discipline. The word Betimes, “shachar” in the Hebrew, means to do something early or diligently. So the point is not to inflict vast amounts of pain upon a child, the point is to instruct. I hear the cries now, "but there are better ways to discipline a child than to spank it". Really? You can talk to a small child until you are blue in the face and if they want to do something they are going to do it, the young mind is not advanced enough to understand the nuances of words and what they really mean. What a child’s young mind can comprehend is actions, "if I do this I got spanked, I didn’t like being spanked, I better not do that again." Trying to reason with a young child probably sounds to them like Charlie Browns school teacher does to us, jibber jabber.

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Train up, as in do so while the child is young, do it "betimes" or diligently while the child is young, that way the child need only make simple mistakes. If a child is not instructed at an early age, the mistakes they make will get proportionally worse for every year older they get. Want to know why teen pregnancy is such an issue? No instruction at an early age. Want to know why teen drug use is so high? No “training up” in the way they should go. I could go on and list many more, the point is that a child must be instructed while they are still young enough to receive instruction.

Proverbs 23:13
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beat him with the rod, he shall not die.

The reason this is important:

Proverbs 5:23
He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.

You see its real simple, none of us like taking instruction, its in our sinful human nature to be left to ourselves, the greatest thing we can do for our children, is train them to receive instruction.

Proverbs 15:32
He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.

No we don’t beat our children as hard as we can, a full grown man should never hit a child with all his strength, and we should never take pleasure it having to spank our children. The ultimate goal I believe is to make our children understand that when we punish them that we are disappointed with their actions, thereby training them to avoid disappointing their parents the next time. Indeed there comes a time in every child’s life when the rod of correction ceases to carry much weight, the point by then is that the child is supposed to be mature enough, or well instructed enough so that the rod is no longer needed, visa vie they will not go astray.

One other important thing to remember is that when we use the "rod" on our children we are teaching them the need to be in subjection to our authority as parents and this has biblical application in that they learn the necessity of subjection. As we must all be in subjection to our Lord Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father.

Proverbs 23:14
Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliever his soul from hell.

A child that understands the importance of instruction and subjection, is a child that will not only recognize there need for salvation, but will have the wisdom to see that it comes from Christ alone. In closing always remember this:

Proverbs 29:15
The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
Logos Bible Software for the Mac

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Is Eternal Security a “License to Sin”?

From time to time, as a person believes the doctrine of “Eternal Security”, I am accused of “telling people that they can live anyway they want to” or “giving people a license to sin”. I want to demonstrate briefly here why this is WRONG and how that argument itself is a straw man.

Firstly, it should be obvious to the person who would make such an argument that he and I are reading the same Bible… so then it stands to reason that we would agree on some things. So let’s look at some things we agree on and how these things prove the opposing view to be a straw man based purely on emotional argumentation. Let ‘s read some verses (many more could be utilized):

1 Peter 1:15-16
But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
MY COMMENT: Yes, I preach and believe in living holy… is that encouraging people to sin? If so, please tell me how one rationally comes to that conclusion…

2 Corinthians 5:15
And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
MY COMMENT: Yes, I also preach and believe that we shouldn’t live unto ourselves… which of course would involve a shunning of sin.

Galatians 2:19-20
For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
MY COMMENT: “Live unto God”? “Crucified with Christ”? “Christ liveth in me”? If one preaches, teaches and lives his life in the flesh by the “faith of the Son of God”… how in the world is that encouraging people to sin? How does a sane person come to that conclusion?

Galatians 5:22-25
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
MY COMMENT: Need I say anything here? Here’s a deep theological revelation… I believe this and I believe Eternal Security!

Titus 2:12-14
12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
MY COMMENT: “Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts”, “live soberly, righteously, and godly”, “zealous of good works”… these verses couldn’t possibly be in the Bible of a person who believes in Eternal Security, strike it from the record I say!

1 Peter 4:1-3
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
MY COMMENT: Dear accuser of the Eternal Security brethren, your argument just received the “death blow”. The straw man you continually bludgeon has… …disappeared.

So where does this accusation come from? It comes from someone’s “experience” because it can be easily disproved scripturally (just for starters, eternal life is a FREE GIFT and is not “eternal” if it could be lost, duh?). Many people have said, “I know this guy who believes in Eternal Security (ES) and he lives any way he wants to”. May I respond to that? I know people who don’t believe in ES who seem to have no care for living holy. So can I accuse EVERY person who doesn’t believe in ES of living “any way he wants” based on “my experience”? Hasn’t the charismatic movement shown us what relying on experience does? Let’s get past this silliness and look at what the Bible teaches instead of creating straw men to bludgeon that are based purely on experiential or emotional arguments.

Even with all this proof, some will of course persist in their bludgeoning of the straw man. Why? Well, if they admit that a ES believer is not “preaching a license to sin” then their argument completely disappears. That is unacceptable to some, so they persist in the weak and emotional arguments in the face of plain scripture and logic. If one so denies such a simple point, I have to wonder about their whole view of scripture.

It may shock some to know that as someone who holds to the doctrine of ES that I DO NOT subscribe to “easy believism”. Let’s clear this up...

Acts 2:38
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Faith as well as repentance is required for one to have truly trusted Christ as Savior. One cannot have faith without repentance or repentance without faith. They go hand in hand. The whole reason we need to be saved is because of the state sin has left us in… turning from that sin is part of saving faith! Even the devil believes there is a God, obviously that isn’t enough. Trusting IN Christ’s FINISHED work (finished as in there is nothing left for us to do, like try and live a good enough life to “stay saved”) is what saves. This saving faith involves a turning from, i.e. repentance of, the selfish fleshly life that is the result of original sin.

Will one live perfectly after that? No, not one will be able. If God left it up to us to live a “good enough life” to “stay saved”… then NONE would be saved.

Finally, any non-ES position is works religion trusting in ones own ability to keep a set of rules after being saved. For more on this, please see my 3 part series, “Does God Owe Me Something?”
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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"Always Right"

Ever been around someone who always thinks they are right about every LITTLE thing? I find that being around a person that can’t seem to even entertain the possibility that they were wrong an annoying circumstance. I want to discuss this attitude in the context of doctrinal disagreements.

Now, if you have read my past blogs you know that I believe there is one and only, absolute, unconditional and uncompromised TRUTH. I DO NOT believe that “all paths lead to God”. I DO NOT believe that “you have your truth and I have mine”. There is ONE truth and I believe one right, or “most correct” answer to any given situation or question.

Now, if you know me, you have also heard me say that Christians are allowed to disagree on certain things. So what does that mean? How could I believe that there is only one answer or only one correct interpretation of any given doctrine and at the same time believe that Christians could possibly disagree on anything?

To answer this question, let’s use the example of the “Rapture” (I will not be sharing my view on this here, this is simply an example). There are many differing opinions on the timing of the Rapture. Now, before I go any further, I firmly believe that there is only right answer to this question (i.e. only one correct way to interpret the Bibles’ teaching on this). At the same time I believe that this is an issue that we can disagree on and still be brothers in the Lord. How can this be?

Firstly, I believe there are only two types of issues that we should disagree on to the point of parting fellowship or separating ourselves from others that call themselves believers. (A) Issues that pertain to Salvation are non-negotiable. Also, (B) issues that are so clear it would defy common sense to believe otherwise also qualify. One example that covers both of these types is the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. The Bible prophesies and plainly states that Jesus was born of a virgin. In addition, unless he was born of a virgin he couldn’t thus be the Son of God and die for the sins of the world. So this particular issue is very plain and salvation depends on it.

So why allow for certain disagreements (like differing views on the Rapture)? Remember, we are ALL growing in the Lord (at least we should be) and not all of us are on the same “level”. Our understanding of certain doctrines should be continually growing and deepening. There may be even occasions that deeper study into certain doctrines will cause us to change our view on those doctrines.

My problem is with those who don’t acknowledge or realize that everyone in the body of Christ hasn’t reached their “pinnacle of infinite knowledge”. They seem to have no patience for others “less learned” than themselves and are ready to anathematize everyone who can’t see every minute detail the way they do.

This kind of person ceases to actually grow and has made the possibility of deepening their understanding of scripture a impossibility (This kind of person is the one who might fight over the color of the carpets in the sanctuary). They come to a conclusion on a particular doctrine upon which salvation is not dependent and tell all that disagree with them that they are bound for hell.

Finally, I hope that you won’t think I have gone liberal. My point is simply that all Christians don’t know everything. We should have a fervent love among ourselves and the patience to teach and learn from one another instead of putting each other down. It would seem to me that if we really were concerned about others welfare (more so than trying to look smart, etc.) that we would show our brothers love instead of looking down our nose at them.
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Monday, June 26, 2006

The Christians at Ephesus, Heretic Hunters Extraordinaire

Nowadays there is much contempt for those Christians who would examine the teachings of others who would name the name of Christ. “Touch not the Lord’s anointed”, is the cry and justification for allowing so called Christian Pastors and Teachers to say anything they wish without one shred of accountability. Another popular accusation to those who examine others teachings is that he or she is “fault finding”. Is examining the teachings of those who call themselves Christian Leaders Biblical?

Firstly, before I answer the question… notice the word “examine”. I too am against “fault finding”. When I speak of examining the teachings of those who are “representatives” of Christianity, I mean simply confirming whether or not their teachings line up with scripture or not. I am against listening to folks with the intention of finding something wrong. As we will see, the Bereans examined Paul’s teachings (Acts 17:10-12) and this is completely different than “fault finding”.

So, is examining the teachings of those who call themselves Christian Leaders Biblical?

Revelation 2
[2] I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

Jesus here is speaking to the Christians at Ephesus. He is COMMENDING them for trying, proving or examining the teachings of those who claim to be apostles and actually are not. This is also said of the Bereans in Acts 17.

Acts 17
[10] And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
[11] These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
[12] Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

The Bereans searched the scriptures to see if what Paul and Silas were teaching was true! This is not fault finding, this is allowing the Word of God to be our final authority. Yet many so-called teachers today are unwilling to be scrutinized in such a way. When one questions the teachings of many so-called Christian Leaders today, simply in the same way that the Bereans and Ephesians did, this person is met with accusations of “fault finding” or “touching the Lord’s anointed”.

Why would anyone who is claiming to speak in the name of Jesus not want to or be willing to have their teachings tested for agreement with the Word of God? What could this person be afraid of? When any man has set himself up above being examined, he has started a cult. A situation where the “leader” is followed and what the “leader” says is gospel, regardless of whether or not it agrees with the scriptures.

I encourage people to examine anything written here and see whether or not it lines up with the scriptures. You may not agree and may want to tell me. That is fine, just be ready to defend any opposing positions with scripture and scripture alone.

Finally, it certainly is Biblical and perfectly normal to be zealous for doctrinal purity. I encourage everyone to examine the teachers who are “above them in the Lord”. The only warning I have is not to allow simple examinations to turn into what is legitimately called “fault finding”. When we are learning from others we are not to be purposely looking for error. Also, many times the Holy Spirit will give us a warning in our hearts as to when something is unbiblical; however, this is always to be confirmed with scripture. Stick with scripture my friends and you won’t go wrong.

Romans 16:17!!!
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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Why the Trinity? A Biblical Defense

One of the most attacked (if not THE most) doctrines of the Bible is the Trinity; however, as I hope to prove… God could not other wise reconcile sinners unto Himself.

The biggest argument against the Trinity is that it is hard to understand. This is not a legitimate argument quite simply because God’s character and His attributes are simply not dependent on our understanding of them. In my experience, Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses use this type of argument the most. To them it is “logically impossible” that God could be a Trinity. Again, man is in no place “make judgments” about the character of God. We are not capable of approaching God on our own, if we are to know anything about God HE must inform us.

In Salvation, God was reconciling the world unto Himself THROUGH Jesus Christ. The ONLY way salvation could be provided would be if God is the end and the means. Why? God is eternal and He is outside of time. His law therefore is eternal and has eternal consequences if broken. We are sinners who have broken God’s eternal standard, His eternally relevant law. Those who seek to be “logical” (not to say that is necessarily bad), try this logic… how could a FINITE creature, who has broken his eternal Creators eternal law, then be justified (considered blameless) before his Creator? We could not possibly justify ourselves. Since we have broken the eternal law, there is an eternal consequence that no amount of our “finitely valuable” good works could make up for.

With this in mind, the only possible way God could reconcile sinners to Himself would be through Himself. Only God could provide a way for us to be justified and thus saved from the consequences of our sin. Thus, through Jesus Christ was made an eternally valuable sacrifice that eternally paid the debt of our sin that we could never pay (in or own efforts).

So what is the “logical” flipside? If God, as many suppose, was a unity (versus a Trinity) He could not provide a JUST means of salvation. In the Bible salvation is a free gift that only needs to be accepted. God fully provided the end and the means thus God receives ALL the glory. We cannot share in His glory and by saying that by our works we were saved or “kept ourselves saved”, we would be attempting to share in glory that belongs to God alone.

Back to the flipside…

If God was a “unity”, how could he possibly reconcile sinners, who have broken His eternal laws, to Himself? Since (in this case) He is a Unity there would be no way for Him to justly pay the ETERNAL debt on sin. There are only two possibilities at this point.

The first possibility is a system of works. A system where the person who does more good than bad can then qualify to be saved and justified from his sin. Here are the problems with this view. God didn’t save this person. The person, by their own efforts, got themselves into heaven. The conclusion? If your works are involved in getting you to heaven, then God would OWE it to you. Does the eternal Creator of all things owe us anything? NO! Also, if our works could justify us in the sight of God, then God doesn’t get all the glory, He would have to share it with His creatures.

The second possibility is God just simply forgiving whom He wills without any regard to their works or any other “qualifications”. The idea here is for God to simply “sweep under the rug” any offences to His law that His creatures are guilty of. In this case, would God truly be just? Is He going to let someone like Hitler or Stalin go free on the simple grounds that He just “felt like it” or just “decided to”? This would not be a just basis for forgiving sin. Who would trust in that god?

Finally, it’s time to wake up to reality. We are rebels in God’s universe. We are hopelessly lost without His salvation. We can’t earn it and we can’t just hope we’ll make it… we must accept the free gift of salvation provided only through Jesus Christ.
Logos Bible Software for the Mac

Friday, March 24, 2006


Another striking contrast between the servants of the worlds religions and the servants of God through Christ is the motivation for which they serve God.

One of the central themes of Christianity (which is also unique to it) is “denying self” (Matthew 16:24). One might say in response to this that many of the worlds religions involve “self denial”; however, what makes Christianity unique is the MOTIVATION (for the self denial).

Ephesians 2:8-9 states, “[8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
[9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

2 Timothy 1:9 states, “[9] Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”

From these two verses it is easy to see that salvation in Christianity cannot be earned with any amount of “good deeds” or “keeping of rules”. One is justified by faith alone in Christ Jesus (John 3:16, 5:24, et al). Now once works are eliminated from the equation for a man to be able to get to heaven and have eternal life, the motivation has completely changed. If I can do nothing to earn my way to heaven, my service to the Lord comes from gratitude and true thankfulness for the work Jesus has done on my behalf.

In contrast, every other religion on the planet has for it’s equation, “faith + works = heaven/eternal life” (even Christians who think that Salvation can be lost have to subscribe to this equation). If one is working to EARN their ticket into heaven their motivation behind their “good works” cannot be entirely pure. An attitude of “self preservation” is involved. This person is not performing their good deeds out of gratitude or thankfulness but are instead are doing these deeds in order to “save their own behind”. While the person “working their way” to heaven may indeed have a sense of thankfulness, this cannot possibly be their motivation entirely. Thus the denial of self in this case is, “denying self to get something for self”. If one “denies self” only to get something for self… then has the denial of self actually occurred? No!

Finally, in true Biblical Christianity denying self is essential and motivated in no way out of self-gratification. Since Jesus has already secured salvation for all who will believe (and by the way repentance is fruit of true faith), these are now free to serve God with a good conscience. When the Christian is laying down his life for his friends, wife, children, church brethren, etc he is doing so because he chooses to do so freely… not because he is trying to “earn” his way to heaven. This makes his motivation PURE and UNDEFILED… and a true, uncontaminated denial of self.

…A good friend of mine wanted to add these comments…

…”many (who believe in Eternal Security like we do) … have the idea that works enhance their righteous standing in God's sight, forgetting the imputed righteousness of Christ, thus making a breeding ground for an economy of legalism and therein exercising a motivation of self-enhancement. This motivation for self denial is not self denial at all, but once again self promotion and pride.”
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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Minding Your Bees Wax

Have you ever known someone who just couldn’t mind their OWN business? A “busy body” who felt as “General Manager of the Universe” knew just how to handle everyone else’s affairs. I have heard folks tell these people to “mind their own bee’s wax” (aka 'mind your business').

Now, let me say up front I am not talking about Church discipline issues or friends who out of GENUINE CONCERN deal with their brothers in Christ on issues of intentional disobedience (where the person knows better, etc.). What we are talking about here is the person who noses in other peoples "bee’s wax" for the purpose of gossiping, tearing people down behind their backs or “confirming their own superiority” (in other words, “I showed up for this and you didn’t so obviously I am a better Christian” attitude).

For Example: Let’s say there is a Men’s Prayer Breakfast or a work day at the church or something like that… now…

If I knew it was going on and couldn’t come, and YOU knew that I knew about the event… what is the purpose of “confronting me” about it? (you know the question, “so where were YOU?”) Only unless you are seeking this information so you can sit back and make some sort of “judgment” in your own mind about how I should be spending MY time? I SAY MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS. It is sad how often we want to sit back and condemn folks in our minds about what WE think they “ought to” be doing. But how can we be consumed with running everyone else’s lives and ours at the same time? We can’t, plain and simple. If you and I are spending all our time peeking into someone else’s windows then we won’t have time to clean our own house. AMEN!

On the flipside… as long as I am doing what I have to do to PLEASE GOD and as long as I am doing what I believe the Lord would have me to do why should I concern myself with the opinions of those who would only seek to know my business for their own selfish purposes?

Forgive my passion about this subject. If people were more concerned about their OWN service to the Lord I believe there would be fewer problems in many churches.

Finally, please don’t read this the wrong way. I don’t mind friends and others who are GENUINELY CONCERNED and inquire about me; HOWEVER, I have only a feeling of disgust for the selfish and insincere inquiry into my business that is judged and condemned in the dark courts of the hypocritical mind.
Logos Bible Software for the Mac

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Ugly Green-Eyed Monster

In this article I want to write about something that I have seen destroy ministries, friendships, etc. I want this to be an admonition, a “friendly warning” or perhaps some “friendly advice” based on the scriptures about some things I have seen and experienced.

In this article I want to deal with one thing I HATE… and that thing is jealousy. What is it mean to be jealous?

Jealous: “intolerant of rivalry…” or “hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage” (definitions from, Merriam Webster Online).

We have all seen it, experienced it and most likely are guilty of it (I certainly have been). Being jealous of another in more laymen’s terms is basically not liking the fact that another person has some thing or some position that we don’t have. Some one else got the promotion at work you think that you deserved and now you’re jealous. I think we have all been jealous of someone else at some point in our lives BUT this is not an excuse to “feed the monster”. When this “work of the flesh” begins to rear it’s ugly head we are to fight it with all our might; however, the sad truth is most of us would rather stew in it a while. So what’s the danger?

The danger in UNCHECKED, UN-DEALT WITH jealousy or “jealousy run amuck” is the fruit that it produces. When we are jealous of another person, for whatever reason, that jealousy (if not dealt with) will turn to hatred in time. Now, this person that was your friend and has done nothing to you is now your object of hate. So what’s the danger?

The next step of unchecked jealousy that has turned to hate is the things you’ll find yourself doing. You’ll begin to gossip about this person and make cutting, perhaps subliminal comments to others about this person that skews their perception of him or her. Maybe you’ll begin to snap at them and not realize it. You’ll begin to treat them differently. Again, being short or maybe conveniently not telling them things that they need to know. And in some cases, like Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:2-9), that hatred turns into murder.

Someone told me long time ago taught me to deal with myself. In other words, we all have sinful flesh to fight BUT there is a huge difference between the person that deals with himself and is open about his shortcomings and the person that in their pride and arrogance will not deal with himself (and will DEFINITELY not ever pretend that they could have a fault).

If you have been jealous of someone else OR are currently being jealous of someone… DEAL WITH IT. Go to God, our only help and ask for His Holy Spirit to help you overcome this green-eyed monster. We all are guilty, but we can respect those who have the courage to face this monster with His help.

I wonder how many Ministries, lives, marriages, friendships, etc. have been DESTROYED because of someone being jealous and who was NOT willing to deal with it, get over it and repent of it. Jealousy in the darkness of our own hearts is never as hidden as we think. If we truly love our brothers and love God, we should attack this monster whenever it comes around.
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