Saturday, December 1, 2007
Today we will start with a commonly used passage found in 1 Peter 3:21. Baptismal regeneration advocates love this passage for obvious reasons. Admittedly, if you just casually read the verse without allowing the context to speak to it's meaning, it sounds like it is saying that baptism is necessary for salvation. Church of Christ, Roman Catholics and other groups who champion baptismal regeneration have made this one of their hallmark passages to make their argument along with Acts 2:38, John 3:5, and Mark 16:16. We will go through each of these passages and show how they can be understood, consistently interpreted, in context, with what Scripture teaches about salvation by faith alone.
Let's go right on ahead and jump into our first passage, in it's surrounding context.
1 Peter 3:20-22
"20because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him."
Now clearly verse 21 is the focus of baptismal regeneration proponents, however the context of the passage is crucial to a proper interpretation of the verse, especially that which immediately precedes verse 21 in verse 20. What is brought into the context of this passage is the familiar story of Noah and the ark. We are told that by the "ark" God brought 8 people "safely through water." Immediately after we are told "baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you."
Now a pertinent question to ask here at this point is, "what is it that baptism corresponds to?" Is it the water, or is it the ark?" The context tells us that it was the ark that brought Noah and his family safely through the water, it is the ark that saved Noah and his family, certainly it is not the water that saved them.
So the first important thing to understand in this passage is that baptism corresponds not to the water, but to the ark that Noah and his family entered.
Secondly, and equally important, we want to direct our attention to what the Scripture says next. "Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
This is very important to note because it's a clarification that Peter gave to us about what he means by what he has just said. It is not that baptism saves a person in the sense that it actually cleanses a person from something, rather, it is saves as "an appeal to God for a good conscience." Baptism is a work that expresses faith, it is a way of gaining "a good conscience" before God.
This is exactly the type of thing that James 2 talks about in verses 14-26.
"14What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"—and he was called a friend of God. 24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead."
Christian good works are not something that justifies a sinner, rather they justify a sinner's faith. It is faith and faith alone that saves, but as James eloquently points out if a person says that they have faith but they do not have works, can "that faith" save them? The point being that genuine faith produces good works and obedience to Christ's commands. Good works are an assurance of genuine, saving, faith.
Baptism is a perfect example of this, and this is the same principle that Peter is using in 1 Peter 3:21, it saves not in the sense of justifying or cleansing from sin, but rather as a work that justifies our faith, gives us a good conscience before God, an assurance of salvation by obedience to God's command to be baptized. Genuine faith produces good works, obedience to Christ.
This is very clearly what Noah himself did by believing God's word about the coming flood and building and boarding the ark. Look at what Hebrews 11 tells us about Noah's salvation.
"By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith."
As is clearly stated by this verse in Hebrews 11, it was not the work of building the ark that made Noah righteous before God, but it was his faith that God counted as righteousness, this faith was demonstrated by believing God's warning and constructing the ark. Baptism corresponds not to the flood waters, but to the ark that Noah built because of his faith in God, and Noah was saved by that faith.
"Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ."
I think that in this case, as is probably always the case, when we allow the context of Scripture to inform our interpretation and draw from relevant texts from the whole of Scripture that speak to the one we are studying, much clarity is brought to our study. And in case there be any confusion about who really matters in our salvation, we are told this appeal to God for a good conscience is rooted not in the work of baptism but the resurrected Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I hope this study is helpful to everyone. Stay tuned for more studies of passages that are used to try and teach baptismal regeneration.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Also, I'm going to get back to doing a verse by verse study over at "To Die Is Gain". I'm trying to decide whether I should pick up where I left off or start a different book. It's been so long since I was doing the 1 Corinthians study I feel like I'd be starting cold in the middle of it.
Let me know what you think, and feel free to suggest a book for the study if you think I ought to start a different one than 1 Corinthians.
I'll try and get back to frequent posts soon.
Monday, November 12, 2007
The verses that were used as his main argument were:
Acts 2:38 (shocking I know)
1 Peter 3:20-21 (even more shocking, I know)
Surprisingly he made a rather large argument based upon Acts 8:26-40 this is the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Mr. Boyer's major point was that Philip was concerned with being baptized immediately after hearing the gospel, and that God did not take Philip away from there until after he had baptized the Eunuch. This supposedly is a narrative example of baptismal regeneration.
Well, there are some serious problems with that interpretation, and he used a similar argument for the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:25-34 and basically argues that because we see baptism occur after almost every passage in Acts where people accept the gospel that this points to the need for baptism to finish the process of salvation.
Of course it could simply mean that in the apostolic era there wasn't any confusion about the importance of baptism as an expression of the salvation one had through faith in Christ, and everyone who believed in Christ was eager to follow Him in obedience to baptism.
Anyway, I'm going to do a series of posts dealing with the issues surrounding this debate, debunking passages that are often pointed to by baptismal regeneration proponents such as the Church of Christ.
The debate was recorded, if you'd like an audio CD you can contact me via email, email@example.com. Just give me your address and I'll send it your way. All I'm asking for $5 to cover the cost of the CD's and shipping. If you live outside the US we'll discuss the difference in shipping.
I'll work on making it available for download in Mp3 format as well.
Friday, November 9, 2007
1. Defending the Faith: Obvious I know. But let us never forget that the word apologetics comes from the Greek phrase "pros apologian" which literally means "toward a defense." Apologetics is the area of ministry that stands as a shield for the church. I think this is a major reason why I am so passionate about apologetics. With all of the wolves that are trying to snag the sheep, apologists play the role of a shepherd in a universal sense. I do not mean this in any way to downplay the more central role that pastors play as shepherds to local congregations, I honor that role as supremely important and it is an official office given by Scripture where "apologist" is not.
But nonetheless, apologist's practice the art of refuting false doctrine and clarifying Biblical doctrine. The work of an apologist is to silence "false prophets" and point towards the truth of Jesus Christ as found in the Scripture. Apologetics is an academic ministry, a fight on the front line of Christian doctrine, saying "thus says the word of God" and telling false teachers "you stand condemned by Scripture." I love apologetics because it is a noble profession of holding the line.
2. Building up the Body: Another purpose of apologetics that is closely related with the first purpose, the other side of that coin perhaps, is encouraging Christians to know what the Bible teaches and have confidence in solid Christian doctrine. While apologetics is the art of defending the faith, the best way to defend the faith is to equip the church with the truth so that each believer can themselves call a spade a spade. Apologetics keeps out false doctrine away from the church and solidifies Biblical doctrine within the church.
3. Evangelism: A good apologist always has, in addition to the first 2 points, this third one in mind. A desire to see the lost saved. Whether it be the false teachers we refute, the people who follow them, or the people who are neutral but by hearing the truth compared to falsehood are drawn by God's Spirit to know Christ Jesus. Yes apologetics is also a way of proclaiming the gospel. One cannot help while clarifying the gospel message to also proclaim it and pray that God draws His elect to Himself.
As I engage in this debate tomorrow, I hope I accomplish in the name and power of Christ and the authority of Scripture, all three of those purposes. I appreciate your prayers for the debate tomorrow.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
I met today with Garret Boyer, whom I'm debating, and Dr. Richard Kyle (the moderator) and we discussed the final details of the debate. We scaled the time back a bit so it wouldn't run as long. Unfortunately people don't always want to listen to a full 2 1/2 hours of theological debate, so it's now closer to only 2 hours.
Mr. Boyer is a sharp guy, I look forward to hearing how he decides to approach the debate and which passages he hones in on. I of course expect Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:20-21, John 3:5, and a few others to be used, but nonetheless it will be interesting to see how well and in what way he presents them.
He has my respect for being willing to debate this issue in an environment that is by far predominantly against the view of baptismal regeneration. Hillsboro is a predominantly Mennonite area (Mennonite Brethren, General Conference Mennonite, Alderman Mennonite). Tabor college where I'm at currently is a Mennonite Brethren School and this is where the debate is going to be held.
Some Mennonite's do not practice full immersion for baptism and some do, but none (insofar as I know) hold to baptismal regeneration and all of them, I believe, hold to believers baptism as a sign of salvation. So Mr. Boyer is the one holding the unpopular opinion here which I would think would make it even a bit harder (something like when James White is on the radio in Salt Lake City, Utah). So he does have my respect in being willing to stand up for his conviction even though it is wrong and extremely dangerous to ones soul.
Anyway, it should be a fun time (yes, I think debating is fun.) I appreciate your prayers as I finish up my preparation for the debate Saturday and as I attempt to communicate God's truth in a way that brings Him glory and hopefully convicts sinners of their need to trust in Christ Jesus alone for salvation. If you live anywhere in the area of Hillsboro I'd love to see you this Saturday at 2pm in the Tabor College Chapel.
Regardless of what the findings are of this panel the list of "who's who" in the Charismatic televangelists have obviously drawn attention because of their lavish living. From million dollar mansions to private jets, expensive cars, etc., it would seem the only one who truly benefits from the charismatic "Health & Wealth" are the underhanded Scripture abusing preachers that we so often see on TV. I doubt seriously that the list should really stop with these 6.
Here's the link to the news article:
As Christians if we really want the "abundant life" that Scripture promises, let's not pursue spiritual handouts from God, let's pursue holiness.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
A man once asked the apostle Paul "What must I do to be saved?" His reply was simple and straightforward, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." (Acts 16:30-31)
The message of Scripture is clear from cover to cover that it is faith that justifies a sinner before God.
Romans 1:17 tells us that "The righteous shall live by faith."
Romans 3:26 tells us that God is "just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."
An Old Testament example is found in Genesis 15:6 where speaking of Abraham it says "And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness."
Many, many more examples could be given like these that tell us God saves men by their faith in Him. Faith in the Lord Jesus is the only condition for salvation that Scripture gives for salvation. Most Protestants agree with such a statement (though not all), so what separates the Calvinist in his doctrine? The Calvinist believes that while one must place their faith in Christ for salvation, because of sin that entered the world in Genesis 3, people have become so depraved by sin that it is impossible for man to have genuine faith in Christ.
Look at Romans 1:18-32 for an overview of the effect sin has had on mankind.
"18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."
And also in Romans 3:10-18,
"10as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one;11no one understands;no one seeks for God.12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;no one does good,not even one."13 "Their throat is an open grave;they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips."14 "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood;16in their paths are ruin and misery,17and the way of peace they have not known."18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
The dilemma of mankind is that we are so darkened in our hearts and minds because of sin that we are unable to know or find God, nor do we even desire to seek Him. As the Scripture says, "no one seeks for God." If God were simply to have offered Christ as He did and then left it up to man to choose Jesus Christ as their savior, all of us would be going to Hell, because people are enslaved to sin, inherently opposed to God and the things of God as long as they are apart from Christ.
About this Romans 8:7-8 tells us "7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
The context of this verse is clear, all who are apart from Christ are in the flesh, opposed to God. So I ask you, is mankind’s will truly free as we think of free will? No it is not. The will of man is enslaved to sin. People on their own free will as we call it would never choose God because of sin.
Now it is true that man does that which he most wants to do, there is no doubt. When we sin there is no one forcing us to sin, we did it because it was our strongest desire at that time. But the question is, where did that desire come from? It came from our sinful nature that mankind inherited at the fall. So we are not free as we think of free, we simply do that which we most want to do and it appears to be a free action, but our will is bound to sin as unbelievers.
Therefore I’ll say it again, man cannot, will not, and does not want to choose Christ. If God were to let man do that what in his so called "free will" he most wanted to do then all would choose to live in their sin and all would die and go to Hell.
Therefore if any are to be saved it depends not on the free choice of man, because man’s choice is not truly free, but rather on the free choice of God to save those whom He chooses.
Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us "8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
Salvation from God is a gift that He freely gives. He grants sinners His grace and the gift of faith so that they may believe. It is a misnomer that man has faith to give, rather God supplies the faith with which to believe. God chooses those whom He desires to show His mercy to and He gives them saving faith.
Look with me at Romans 9:6-24.
6But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." 8This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9For this is what the promise said:
"About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son." 10And not only so, but
also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
14What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 20But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?
Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?"
Before either Jacob or Esau had done anything that could be called "good or bad" God chose Jacob and placed His love and favor upon him but Esau received God’s "hate" as it is said, he did not receive God’s favor rather His condemnation. Paul expects people to react against this and say it is not fair. This is where Paul says that God is the potter and we are the clay and He can make out of the same lump of clay whatever He as the potter wishes, that is His right as the Creator. He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. And if God chooses to harden someone’s heart and use them as an example of His power as He did Pharaoh, He can do that to.
It’s helpful to remember that what all people deserve because of their rebellion against God is death and Hell, therefore the fact that God chooses to intervene in the life of a sinner who by nature hates God, is a pure and wonderful act of grace and mercy on God’s part.
So then in the midst of this conversation about salvation we see the Scripture says in 9:16 "So then it depends not on human will or exertion,
but on God, who has mercy."
Scripture emphasizes time and again that God chooses us and not the other way around. Look at Ephesians 1:3-6
"3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved."
The only hope mankind has for salvation is the grace and mercy of Christ to intervene on our behalf, because otherwise we will do just what we want, live in sin, and we’ll get just what we deserve, we’ll go to Hell. If you are a believer you should praise God that He had mercy on you and gave you faith to trust Him with.
This covers briefly only the first 2 doctrines of the 5 that make up the 5 points of Calvinism (A.K.A. the doctrines of Grace) if you desire to have a fuller explanation of these 2 (Total Depravity and Unconditional Election) and the last three not mentioned here (Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints) you can go to www.reformationapologetics.com, on "Biblical Christianity" and then click on "The Doctrines of Grace."
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
1. When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said "Repent", He called for the entire life of believers to be one of penitence.
2. The word cannot be properly understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, i.e. confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
3. Yet its meaning is not restricted to penitence in one's heart; for such penitence is null unless it produces outward signs in various mortifications of the flesh.
4. As long as hatred of self abides (i.e. true inward penitence) the penalty of sin abides, viz., until we enter the kingdom of heaven.
5. The Pope has neither the will nor the power to remit any penalties beyond those imposed either at his own discretion or by canon law.
6. The Pope himself cannot remit guilt, but only declare and confirm that it has been remitted by God; or, at most, he can remit it in cases reserved to his discretion. Except for these cases,the guilt remains untouched.
7. God never remits guilt to anyone without, at the same time, making humbly submissive to the priest, His representative.
8. The penitential canons apply only to men who are still alive, and, according to the canons themselves, none applies to the dead.
9. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit, acting in the person of the Pope, manifests grace to us, by the fact that the papal regulations always cease to apply at death, or in any hard case.
10. It is a wrongful act, due to ignorance, when priests retain the canonical penalties on the dead in purgatory.
11. When canonical penalties were changed and made to apply to purgatory, surely it would seem that tares were sown while the bishops were asleep.
12. In former days, the canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution was pronounced; and were intended to be tests of true contrition.
13. Death puts and end to all the claims of the Church; even the dying are already dead to the canon laws, and are no longer bound by them.
14. Defective piety or love in a dying person is necessarily accompanied by great fear, which is greatest where the piety or love is least.
15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, whatever else might be said, to constitute the pain of purgatory, since it approaches very closely to the horror of despair.
16. There seems to be the same difference between hell, purgatory, and heaven as between despair, uncertainty, and assurance.
17. Of a truth, the pains of souls in purgatory ought to be abated, and charity ought to be proportionately increased.
18. Moreover, it does not seem proved, on any grounds of reason or Scripture, that these souls are outside the state of merit, or unable to grow in grace.
19. Nor does it seem proved to be always the case that they are certain and assured of salvation, even if we are very certain ourselves.
20. Therefore the Pope, in speaking of the plenary remission of all penalties, does not mean "all" in the strict sense, but only those imposed by himself.
21. Hence those who preach indulgences are in error when they say that a man is absolved and saved from every penalty by the Pope's indulgences;
22. Indeed, he cannot remit to souls in purgatory any penalty which canon law declares should be suffered in the present life.
23. If plenary remission could be granted to anyone at all, it would be only in the cases of the most perfect, i.e. to very few.
24. It must therefore be the case that the major part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of relief from penalty.
25. The same power as the Pope exercises in general over purgatory is exercised in particular by every single bishop in his bishopric and priest in his parish.
26. The Pope does excellently when he grants remission to the souls in purgatory on account of intercessions made on their behalf, and not by the power of the keys (which he cannot exercise for them).
27. There is no divine authority for preaching that the soul flies out of the purgatory immediately the money clinks in the bottom of the chest.
28. It is certainly possible that when the money clinks in the bottom of the chest avarice and greed increase; but when the church offers intercession, all depends in the will of God.
29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed in view of what is said of St. Severinus and St. Pascal? (Note: Paschal I, Pope 817-24. The legend is that he and Severinus were willing to endure the pains of purgatory for the benefit of the faithful).
30. No one is sure if the reality of his own contrition, much less of receiving plenary forgiveness.
31. One who _bona fide_ buys indulgence is a rare as a _bona fide_ penitent man, i.e. very rare indeed.
32. All those who believe themselves certain of their own salvation by means if letters of indulgence, will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.
33. We should be most carefully on our guard against those who say that the papal indulgences are an inestimable divine gift, and that a man is reconciled to God by them.
34. For the grace conveyed by these indulgences relates simply to the penalties of the sacramental "satisfactions" decreed merely by man.
35. It is not in accordance with Christian doctrines to preach and teach that those who buy off souls, or purchase confessional licenses, have no need to repent of their own sins.
36. Any Christian whatsoever, who is truly repentant, enjoys plenary remission from penalty and guilt, and this is given him without letters of indulgence.
37. Any true Christian whatsoever, living or dead, participates in all the benefits of Christ and the Church; and this participation is granted to him by God without letters of indulgence.
38. Yet the Pope's remission and dispensation are in no way to be despised, form as already said, they proclaim the divine remission.
39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, to extol to the people the great bounty contained in the indulgences, while, at the same time, praising contrition as a virtue.
40. A truly contrite sinner seeks out, and loves to pay, the penalties of his sins; whereas the very multitude of indulgences dulls men's consciences, and tends to make them hate the penalties.
41. Papal indulgences should only be preached with caution, lest people gain a wrong understanding, and think that they are preferable to other good works: those of love.
42. Christians should be taught that the Pope does not at all intend that the purchase of indulgences should be understood as at all comparable with the works of mercy.
43. Christians should be taught that one who gives to the poor, or lends to the needy, does a better action than if he purchases indulgences.
44. Because, by works of love, love grows and a man becomes a better man; whereas, by indulgences, he does not become a better man, but only escapes certain penalties.
45. Christians should be taught that he who sees a needy person, but passes him by although he gives money for indulgences, gains no benefit from the Pope's pardon, but only incurs the wrath of God.
46. Christians should be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they are bound to retain what is only necessary for the upkeep of their home, and should in no way squander it on indulgences.
47. Christians should be taught that they purchase indulgences voluntarily, and are not under obligation to do so.
48. Christians should be taught that, in granting indulgences, the Pope has more need, and more desire, for devout prayer on his own behalf than for ready money.
49. Christians should be taught that the Pope's indulgences are useful only if one does not rely on them, but most harmful if one loses the fear of God through them.
50. Christians should be taught that, if the Pope knew the exactions of the indulgence-preachers, he would rather the church of St. Peter were reduced to ashes than be built with the skin, flesh, and bones of the sheep.
51. Christians should be taught that the Pope would be willing, as he ought if necessity should arise, to sell the church of St. Peter, and give, too, his own money to many of those whom the pardon-merchants conjure money.
52. It is vain to rely on salvation by letters if indulgence, even if the commissary, or indeed the Pope himself, were to pledge his own soul for their validity.
53. Those are enemies of Christ and the Pope who forbid the word of God to be preached at all in some churches, in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
54. The word of God suffers injury if, in the same sermon, an equal or longer time is devoted to indulgences than to that word.
55. The Pope cannot help taking the view that if indulgences (very small matters) are celebrated by one bell, one pageant, or one ceremony, the gospel (a very great matter) should be preached to the accompaniment of a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
56. The treasures of the church, out of which the Pope dispenses indulgences, are not sufficiently spoken of or known among the people of Christ.
57. That these treasures are note temporal are clear from the fact that many of the merchants do not grant them freely, but only collect them.
58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, because, even apart from the Pope, these merits are always working grace in the inner man, and working the cross, death, and hell in the outer man.
59. St. Laurence said that the poor were the treasures of the church, but he used the term in accordance with the custom of his own time.
60. We do not speak rashly in saying that the treasures of the church are the keys of the church, and are bestowed by the merits of Christ.
61. For it is clear that the power of the Pope suffices, by itself, for the remission of penalties and reserved cases.
62. The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
63. It is right to regard this treasure as most odious, for it makes the first to be the last.
64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is most acceptable, for it makes the last to be the first.
65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets which, in former times, they used to fish for men of wealth.
66. The treasures of the indulgences are the nets to-day which they use to fish for men of wealth.
67. The indulgences, which the merchants extol as the greatest of favors, are seen to be, in fact, a favorite means for money-getting.
68. Nevertheless, they are not to be compared with the grace of God and the compassion shown in the Cross.
69. Bishops and curates, in duty bound, must receive the commissaries of the papal indulgences with all reverence;
70. But they are under a much greater obligation to watch closely and attend carefully lest these men preach their own fancies instead of what the Pope commissioned.
71. Let him be anathema and accursed who denies the apostolic character of the indulgences.
72. On the other hand, let him be blessed who is on his guard against the wantonness and license of the pardon-merchant's words.
73. In the same way, the Pope rightly excommunicates those who make any plans to the detriment of the trade in indulgences.
74. It is much more in keeping eith his views to excommunicate those who use the pretext of indulgences to plot anything to the detriment of holy love and truth.
75. It is foolish to think that papal indulgences have so much power that they can absolve a man even if he has done the impossible and violated the mother of God.
76. We assert the contrary, and say that the Pope's pardons are not able to remove the least venial of sins as far as their guilt is concerned.
77. When it is said that not even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could grant a greater grace, it is blasphemy against St. Peter and the Pope.
78. We assert the contrary, and say that he, and any Pope whatever, possesses greater graces, viz., the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as is declared in I Corinthians 12 [:28].
79. It is blasphemy to say that the insignia of the cross with the papal arms are of equal value to the cross on which Christ died.
80. The bishops, curates, and theologians, who permit assertions of that kind to be made to the people without let or hindrance, will have to answer for it.
81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult for learned men to guard the respect due to the Pope against false accusations, or at least from the keen criticisms of the laity;
82. They ask, e.g.: Why does not the Pope liberate everyone from purgatory for the sake of love (a most holy thing) and because of the supreme necessity of their souls? This would be morally the best of all reasons. Meanwhile he redeems innumerable souls for money, a most perishable thing, with which to build St. Peter's church, a very minor purpose.
83. Again: Why should funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continue to be said? And why does not the Pope repay, or permit to be repaid, the benefactions instituted for these purposes, since it is wrong to pray for those souls who are now redeemed?
84. Again: Surely this is a new sort of compassion, on the part of God and the Pope, when an impious man, an enemy of God, is allowed to pay money to redeem a devout soul, a friend of God; while yet that devout and beloved soul is not allowed to be redeemed without payment, for love's sake, and just because of its need of redemption.
85. Again: Why are the penitential canon laws, which in fact, if not in practice, have long been obsolete and dead in themselves,-why are they, to-day, still used in imposing fines in money, through the granting of indulgences, as if all the penitential canons were fully operative?
86. Again: since the Pope's income to-day is larger than that of the wealthiest of wealthy men, why does he not build this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of indigent believers?
87. Again: What does the Pope remit or dispense to people who, by their perfect penitence, have a right to plenary remission or dispensation?
88. Again: Surely a greater good could be done to the church if the Pope were to bestow these remissions and dispensations, not once, as now, but a hundred times a day, for the benefit of any believer whatever.
89. What the Pope seeks by indulgences is not money, but rather the salvation of souls; why then does he not suspend the letters and indulgences formerly conceded, and still as efficacious as ever?
90. These questions are serious matters of conscience to the laity. To suppress them by force alone, and not to refute them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the Pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christian people unhappy.
91. If therefore, indulgences were preached in accordance with the spirit and mind of the Pope, all these difficulties would be easily overcome, and indeed, cease to exist.
92. Away, then, with those prophets who say to Christ's people, "Peace, peace," where in there is no peace.
93. Hail, hail to all those prophets who say to Christ's people, "The cross, the cross," where there is no cross.
94. Christians should be exhorted to be zealous to follow Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hells;
95. And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace.
October 31, 1517
Source: Dillenberger, John. Martin Luther: A Selection From His Writings. Garden City: Doubleday, 1961.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
The date of the debate is officially set for November 10, 2007 at 2:00 pm. The question that is under debate will be: "Is baptism a necessary condition for salvation?"
Garret Boyer is a part of the Church of Christ and will be defending the position that baptism is a necessary condition for salvation.
Jacob Allee (me) is a reformed Southern Baptist and will be refuting baptism as a necessary condition for salvation and affirming that faith alone is necessary for salvation.
This is the format we will be following:
20 min. opening statement -Garret Boyer
20 min. opening statement -Jacob Allee
10 min. rebuttal -Garret Boyer
10 min. rebuttal -Jacob Allee
2nd 10 min. rebuttal -Garret Boyer
2nd 10 min. rebuttal -Jacob Allee
15 min. cross-examination -Garret Boyer (asks Q's)
15 min. cross-examination -Jacob Allee (asks Q's)
20 min. closing statements -Garret Boyer
20 min. closing statements -Jacob Allee
For those who might be able to attend, I would plan on being there until about 5 pm. I would love for everyone who can be there to be there. Mr. Boyer is an intelligent individual who is sure to put a good argument on the table, the debate is sure to be a good one. I hope to see you there!
I'm trying to make arrangements for both audio and visual recordings of the debate so I can make them available as a resource from Reformation In Progress for those who are unable to attend.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
"It's like God is in a boat and there are people drowning all around Him and He chooses to save a few of them and let the rest of them drowned."
I didn't keep my mouth shut at that point.... I know imagine that. What a horrid straw man of what the reformed faith actually believes about God's free choice to save. Think with me for a moment about what this example above leaves out of the equation.
Mankind has profaned, rejected and blasphemed God. They are not innocent people drowning, they are people intentionally breathing in the water because it is what they want to do. God didn't throw them in the water, they gave God the proverbial "finger" as they jumped off the boat, cursing Him all the way down to the water. Each of them deserves to drowned and the last thing they deserve is for God in the boat to pull their worthless souls out of the water.
I take horrid offense to an example of election that makes God a divine bully. It is purely the graciousness of God that anyone receives salvation since no one deserves anything but death and Hell.
Another caricature I hear all to often is that election means that even if you live your whole life believing in and loving Jesus, serving Him and sharing Him with others, if you're not elect your going to hell. As if you could truly do those things if you weren't regenerate. This is clearly false because the Scripture teaches that our works are proof of our justification, this is what James 2 talks about.
It would be nice for just once if someone wanted to take issue with what Calvinism believes that they would actually take issue with what Calvinism believes. It seems to me that building straw men arguments against Calvinism is about all that the Arminian position can effectively offer, because the real deal is so entrenched in Scripture it's inarguable.
These caricatures have been very effective, I'll admit, in keeping people from accepting the doctrines of grace because they have been taught that what Calvinist's believe is unscriptural, and the pictures that they paint like the ones above, are unscriptural.
So come on people, you want to argue Calvinism, argue Calvinism.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
I'm excited for this opportunity to defend the gospel of Christ in a public, acedemic setting. This issue is an old debate amongst various denominations of protestants and Roman Catholics. I'm glad to stand for the gospel of Jesus Christ and declare that salvation is by God's grace through faith alone.
There are still a lot of details to be worked out like when and where, finding a moderator, agreeing on the format of the debate and so on. I appreciate your prayers as I begin to study the issue in depth and prepare for this defense of the gospel.
I'll inform you of the details as they come together.
Monday, October 1, 2007
I found this link at www.barrydean.wordpress.com. Barry has some good stuff on his blog.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Matthew 5-7 (English Standard Version)
1Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' 22But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
27 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
31 "It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33"Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' 34But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil.
38 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' 39But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
1"Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2 "Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
5"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7"And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
16"And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
25 "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
1 "Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
6"Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
12"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
13"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'
24 "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."
The Authority of Jesus 28And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
For those who don't know, the Founders Ministries is a Southern Baptist ministry that adheres to the doctrines of grace and represents the Southern Baptist churches who are faithful to the doctrine that the founding Southern Baptist "fathers", so to speak, who were reformed in their perspective of the gospel and baptist in their adherence to believers baptism, laid out in the beginning of the SBC.
A cool ministry that I appreciate very much. Anyway, now that I'm off subject, here is the link I was telling you about in regard to Mark Driscoll. Driscoll reminds me a bit of Martin Luther. A bit of a bad boy, with a sometimes foul mouth, quick to repent, and solid in doctrine. If you've never heard him, you should listen to his preaching sometime. I don't always agree with him, but I respect what he is doing there in Seattle and the influence that he has in that culture.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
The rough draft is 23,989 words, which will equal about a 100 page book I believe. I may very well continue to ponder the title and change it once again, but this title at least captures the purpose of me writing the book. My desire is to challenge protestant Christians to return to the theology (reformed theology) that made them protestants to begin with.
No matter what denomination people are a part of, their roots take them back the reformation and the theology of the reformers. It is this theology that is the most consistent and biblical view of the gospel as summed up by the doctrines of grace.
I'm going to see if I can get a couple of different people to read it and help me revise and edit it, and then I'll hopefully have it ready to submit to publishers very soon thereafter. If nothing else I've learned of some pretty affordable self publishing options that I might go with if I can't get my book picked up by by publishing house (a difficult thing to do for an unpublished author the first time).
I'll keep you informed as things develop!
In Him -Jacob
Friday, September 21, 2007
Kathy Griffen while accepting her Emmy for her show "Life on the D List."
As compassionate as we are to be towards sinners and share the gospel of Christ with all who don't deserve grace, just as we ourselves do not deserve grace, there is still something that I think we should look forward to about God's justice.
One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
I would sincerely hate to be Kathy Griffen or one of the other millions of people like her who mock Jesus and give their worship to the idol of self appreciation or any other idol for that matter.
I think it's fair for Christians to feel two polar extremes when it comes to sinners.
1. We should feel love and compassion for them because we too are sinners just as worthy of destruction whom God has shown love and grace to.
2. We should also look forward to God's triumphant victory over sin and evil (that which He has already won on the cross, but we look to the total fulfillment of in the last days) when Christ returns and everything is put in subjection to Him and everyone will know that He is God.
As much as I long for Kathy Griffin's salvation, I too long for God's hand silencing the arrogant, boastful fools who have replaced the immortal God, the Creator of all things, and worshiped the creature, namely themselves, in His place.
Grace and Mercy are wonderful things... but so is God's justice. Is this not what Romans 9 speaks of? Is not God equally glorified by showing his mercy on His people as He is glorified by making an example out of Pharaoh?
It may seem a dichotomy to some, but I think Christians should love God's justice towards sinners as much as His grace towards sinners. I believe it is biblical to do so.
So may God save and show mercy on Kathy Griffen or may He justly condemn her for her hardened heart, regardless, to God be the Glory forever and ever AMEN!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Saw this video at Reformed Geek, had to put it here. Amen Dr, MacArthur... Amen.
By the way, if you haven't ever checked out Reformed Geek, you should. It's one of my favorite blogs that I read on a regular basis.
Good questions to ask at the beginning of this discussion might be, "Where does the belief in human free will come from?" And "Is it in accordance with Biblical teaching?"
To answer these questions up front I would say:
1.) This belief stems from apparent truth rather than actual truth.
2.) Depending on what you mean by "free will" it may or may not be Biblical.
Let me start with question one and give a little more depth to my simplistic answer. People tend to believe in free will because it appears to be true. For instance, if you are hungry, you decide whether or not you are going to go to Applebees or Pizza Hut. It's your decision... right! It certainly seems so. If you are faced with a decision between doing what is moral and what is sinful, it's up to you, right?
In some sense, this is absolutely true. I think we are Scripturally safe in saying that we as human beings are not forced to do anything against our will. We do that which we most want to do. However, does this necessarily mean that our will is truly free?
As Christians we must submit to the teaching of Scripture. So what does the Bible have to say about the issue of mans will?
While we do not have a specific discourse, persay, on the issue of human will in the Bible, that is not to say that the Bible doesn't reveal the state of the human will.
Consider with me if you will Pharaoh, king of Egypt in the exodus account. I've been reading this account recently once again and something I find interesting is the "hardening" of Pharaoh's heart. Sometimes it very clearly says that "God hardened Pharaoh's heart" and other times it says that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. How should we understand this?
I suggest that we should understand this to mean that Pharaoh, a sinful man who did not fear God, did that which he most wanted to do. He hardened his heart. We could, as many theologians foolishly try and do, simply leave it at that. But what then does it mean when it says that God hardened Pharaohs heart? It's nonsense to say that God hardened Pharaoh's heart because Pharaoh chose to have a hardened heart. This is especially nonsense in light of the following passage:
"But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You are still exalting yourself against my people and will not let them go."
God says that He raised Pharaoh up for the purpose of showing His power, so that His name would be proclaimed in all the earth, and yet God says that Pharaoh is exalting himself against God's people. So we see that God made Pharaoh for the purpose of making an example of him and yet He doesn't have to force Pharaoh to do evil, He does it of his own desire. But clearly it is the will of God that Pharaoh's heart be hardened, and it is God who initiates this hardening, not the other way around.
Romans 9:18 adds to this discussion "So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills." It is God's choice to harden hearts and to show mercy.
So though Pharaoh did that which he most desired to do, could he have done anything else? No, he couldn't have because he was doing what the LORD willed him to do, although God did not have to force Pharaoh. Interesting, is it not? And lest we think this is an isolated case, here is another prime example: Judas Iscariot.
Have you ever thought to yourself, "What if Judas hadn't betrayed Jesus?" What a thought. If he had not done so Christ would not have died on our behalf becoming sin for us on the cross and propitiating our sins. We'd be in some trouble to say the least. But could Judas have not betrayed Jesus? No, he had to.
As Jesus said in John 17:12 in His high priestly prayer for his disciples "While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled."
Judas had to do what he did for the Scriptures to be fulfilled. Consider Acts 2:23 in Peters sermon at Pentecost when he says "this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men." Clearly the plan of God was for Jesus to be crucified, but it was done by the hands of lawless men doing lawless deeds. They were not compulsed by God, they did as they desired to do, yet according to God's "definite plan", according to the will of God.
Some will surely say, "Perhaps God does this with certain people, but not all." Can this be true? Look at Ephesians 1:11.
"In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will."
It seems that the Scripture teaches that God "works all things according to the counsel of His will." This is pretty inclusive I would say. When you put this together with verses like Daniel 4:35,
"all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?"
And Proverbs 16:33
"The lot is cast into the lap,but its every decision is from the LORD."
There are many more verses we could look at that carry similar idea's about God's total sovereignty over all creation and yes even the will of man. It is clear that mans will is subject to God's will, and yet in practice we see only what we desire to do, giving the appearance of "free will."
There is more to consider on this subject as well concerning issues such as being enslaved to sin. When Romans 3:10-12 says "10as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; 11no one understands; no one seeks for God.12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." Can we really say that our will is free when we are so in bondage to sin that we cannot even "seek for God" or do "good" in the sight of God?
Then the other side of the coin is that even when we become Christians, we become slaves to Christ. The Spirit of God comes into our life and influences (to say the least) what we do. And as Paul speaks of, even then we struggle between our old nature that we have died to in Christ and our new nature that we have received by the Spirit of God through faith in Christ.
"15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me."
So it seems that our will is not so free after all. In fact it seems that our will is subject ultimately to God's will, and below that it is subject to the effects of sin for both non Christians and Christians fighting their old nature.
Clearly if God allowed true "free will" and allowed us always to do that which we would do on our own, no one would ever choose Christ and be saved because all have sinned (Rom 3:23) and due to that sin "no one seeks for God" (Rom 3:10-12).
It would seem that the belief in human free will is indeed a great Christian myth based on a faulty understanding of the things we perceive and the decisions we make appearing to be freely made. There is much more that could be said on this subject, but it is clear that the human will is not free, at least not in the sense that most people mean when they use such terminology.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
No doubt about it. James White is the best apologist around. I love how he forces people to show that they don't know what they are talking about. George Bryson clearly shows here, he does not know what he is talking about.
Answer the question that is asked George!
This is the cross examination portion of a debate over the issues of Calvinism. Specifically Dr. White holds Bryson to the question ragarding John 6:37 and 44. There is no way to answer that question accurately unless you give the Calivinist answer.
I saw this clip over at www.irishcalvinist.com and I had to put it here. I love Dr. Piper.... hand motions and all.
Friday, September 7, 2007
"The grass withers, the flower fades,but the word of our God will stand forever."
A while back my wife and I were driving through the countryside of Kansas, something there is plenty of around here. As we were driving down the country road we both saw the same thing and had the same thought.
There on the side of the road was an abandoned house. Run down to say the least. There was a whole in the roof, most of the paint had pealed off and the house was surely structurally unsound.
The thought that seemed to smack Susan and I both was that this house may have at one time been someones dream house. You could imagine what the house looked like when it was built. You could imagine perhaps a young couple with dreams and aspirations about their life together perhaps having children one day.
I know my wife and I have often thought how nice it would be to own a nice home, a new car perhaps. But what seeing this house did for us was put life into perspective. What lasts forever? Nothing in this world lasts forever. God, His word, Salvation by His grace, these things last forever. Houses do not, cars do not.
I'm reminded of James 4:13-17
"13Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"— 14yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." 16As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin."
We make our plans, we have our dreams and we set out to achieve them. This in itself is not bad, but we can be arrogant in our attitude about it. So many times I know that I make plans and don't consult God. I do things all the time that I think are for God, but I don't ask Him if it's ok.
I suppose my main point is simply this: Be careful how you build. I'm speaking to myself as much as I am you. Dreams and aspirations are great, and often God given. But let us always have the attitude of "if the Lord wills" and everything for His glory.
There are very few things that we do in this life that hold eternal impact. The things that we tend to focus on as important (the material things) they all fade, vanish, and crumble.
Let us remember as Christians that our kingdom is not of this world. We are not home here. This earth and all of creation will one day be destroyed by fire (2 Peter 3:7). So let us be ambitious and have dreams and aspirations, but let us always say "if the Lord wills."
Most importantly, let our dreams and aspirations be focused on those things that are eternal. Growing close to God through His word and prayer, sharing Christ with the lost. Let us focus not on the perishable but the imperishable. What a good and simple reminder an old abandoned house is. There are things that matter during this life and there are things that don't.
Let's focus on what matter's.
1 Peter 1:3-5
3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
Friday, August 31, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
This brings us to the question of ultimate authority. What is the Christians ultimate authority? Is my ultimate authority God and His word, or is my ultimate authority my personal experience? I would think that any real Christian would be ashamed to say "my personal experience is my ultimate authority."
However, even though you'd be hard pressed to find someone willing to admit this, many people act as thought their experience was their final authority. They judge and interpret the Scripture based off of what they've experienced rather than let Scripture judge whether or not their experience is valid.
Such presuppositions lead to false conclusions about what Scripture is or isn't teaching. This is not simply a charismatic issue actually. Many Christians are guilty of doing this regardless of their ecclesiastical background. I'll use the example of Alcohol.
Many Christians consider drinking alcohol a sin, period. Therefore whenever Jesus is said to drink wine, they conclude that it is merely grape juice. This may sound ridiculous to some people, but I know people do it. Their personal convictions regarding alcohol are so strong that they allow their own experience or view point to be the final authority. The truth is that Scripture condemns drunkenness, but not drinking alcohol altogether.
We could list many examples of how Christians can be guilty of letting their own experiences and convictions be their final authority, the point is clear however, we cannot allow this to be so.
Charismatic Christianity has placed such a heavy emphasis on the "experiential" side of things, that the objective word of God is often shuffled to the back. The Bible is very clear about what the gift of tongues is and isn't. But even if you want to contend for a private prayer language, you must do so on the basis of Scripture, if you cannot then you do not have a leg on which to stand.
I've no doubt whatsoever that people have "experienced" powerful, emotional things in their prayer life and worship services. Nonetheless, all experiences should still be subjected to God's word. Should an angel appear to you and tell you to follow another gospel, it may be a real experience, but it stands condemned by God's word according to Galatians 1.
That is an extreme example of course, but should not things like being "slain in the Spirit" and "speaking in a private prayer language" undergo the same Biblical test, regardless of the fact that one may have experienced something. There are many experiences in life that are real but not of God.
So which do you choose to rely on when deciding if something is true and valid to practice as a Christian? Your subjective experience, or God's objective truth?
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
"For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?
Yesterday I ran into a situation that broke my heart. As I am going back to school, I have picked up a job working part time at Radio Shack here in Hillsboro. I see lot's of people throughout the day and rarely (to be honest) do I give much serious thought to the condition of their souls. But I met someone yesterday that I believe God used to shake me up in that regard.
A young woman came into the store to take care of some business and as she was paying for the item she purchased she handed me a large sum of $1 bills. She commented that she "gets a lot of those where she works." Thinking little of the comment I casually said "Oh, are you a waitress?" Her response caught me off guard. She said that "you could call it something like that."
Long story short, she was a stripper at a bar in a nearby town. She immediately asked me if I was going to judge her for what she did. About that time I seemed to have a lot of things running through my mind. How do you respond to that?
I told her that I myself am a Christian, and I do disagree with such things, however I didn't judge her as a person. She seemed shocked. I think that above all she expected a "Christian" to pronounce judgement on her. I told her that I too am a sinner, as we all are. I intended to go into sharing the gospel with her, however, about that time a flood of customers came through the door and it didn't seem like I could do that right then, perhaps I should have regardless.
She thanked me for not judging her. She told me that she knew what she was doing was wrong, but it paid for school and her kids. By this time though I could tell she was convicted. She said "I do believe in God and all that, I know He'll forgive me."
I thanked her for coming in, but I was screaming on the inside "don't leave, I need to tell you about Jesus Christ", but I had customers asking me questions. She left the store and I helped the other customers.
After the store cleared out, I was very upset. I prayed to God that He would bring her the gospel and grant her faith and repentance in Christ. I was just so struck by the fact that all she expected from me as a Christian was to pour out judgement on her, condemn her as a sinner and write her off. But the truth is, I was heartbroken for her. She was so lost in her sin. Worse still, she held out hope that God would simply forgive her because she believed He was real.
The church is often times guilty of two extremes. One extreme was that which she expected from me, to react in a condemning fashion and call her a wretched sinner. So many churches are caught up in being self righteous that they have no love or compassion for people such as this girl. They would rather condemn her, judge her as if they were God, and send her away.
The second extreme that the church tends to be guilty of is looking past her sins and simply accepting her because she "believes in God" yet shows no sign of repentance. These kinds of churches equally condemn people to Hell by their lack of concern for genuine righteousness through genuine faith in Christ.
The truth is, the church needs to be busy not judging "outsiders" or unbelievers, and yet not busy overlooking their need for genuine repentance either. The church must be able to look a lost person in the eye and tell them, "I don't judge you. I'm no better than you. I myself am a wretched sinner. However I want to warn you, because I care about you, that you are in danger of judgement. Not from me or any human being, but from a perfect and holy God."
We must find the ability to love sinners, no matter how despicable their sin. We must be willing to share the truth about the need for repentance and faith in Christ regardless of whether it might offend them. The church has no business judging unbelievers, but it is the business of the church to warn unbelievers of God's wrath towards sin and the forgiveness that rests in Christ alone.
I am still anguished that I didn't get to share the truth with this woman about the danger she was in, but I can only entrust her to God now. I do thank God however for this incident. It was reminder for me that I need to be more conscious of the state of people's souls. I am around people who need Christ every day, and everyday I let those people leave my presence without sharing Christ. I realize that there are time where it is not conducive to share the gospel, I'd be a liar if I said to you that I would never let this happen again and that I would share the gospel with every person I meet from now on that I think might need the Lord. I know I will continue to fail time and again. But I thank God for a wake up call. I need to be more broken for the lost, compassionate toward sinful people.
We as the church must always remember that saying "but for the grace of God, there go I." I'm no less sinful than that woman, I've just been granted God's grace. I pray that she will one day know Jesus too. I pray that God will continue to make me more concerned for the lost that are around me. Though I may not always share the gospel when I ought, I pray that I will fail to do so less and less.