Thursday, May 31, 2007
Ha! Sorry, I'll try and get to that issue on Monday. I think I'll incorporate into that post several things that separate Biblical Christianity from the majority of world religions. For instance, the world religions are often very universalistic, that is to say, most people if not everyone goes to Heaven (Sure there are exceptions like Islam). As well as Biblical Christianity is the lone religion that teaches salvation through faith alone and not by works (I can't think of any other religion that doesn't build some sort of a works system in their somehow.) And then the old standby, monotheism. There are few religions that are strictly monotheistic (again, I know Islam is and obviously Judaism.)
Well, it'll be fun, when I get to it.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
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."
More on this subject tomorrow.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
- Weak theology
- Self justification of sin
- Gratification of the flesh
- A rejection of Sola Scriptura and the Sufficiency of Scripture
I myself, a former charismatic, have suffered from this condition. Yes it's true, there was a time when I would often say things like, "God told me..." or "God led me to do this" or "I think God is leading me to..." I would use these catch phrases to justify something I wanted to do. I sometimes genuinely convinced myself that God had really said something to me, but Got frustrated when it did not happen. I've had other experiences where friends would tell me that God told them something. I had a girlfriend in High school break up with me because God told her to. I had a friend that told me God told him that I shouldn't get married to the person who is now my wife of almost 4 years (whom I love and God has blessed our marriage). I couldn't figure out why God would tell my friend that, and not me. Maybe I wasn't listening, or maybe I was right that my friend just wasn't happy with the relationship I had with my fiance' that moved to quick for most people. (I asked Susan to marry me one day less than a month after meeting her.) So I have been guilty of this disease and I have suffered from the symptoms of others as well. But let me ask you this, when can we actually say that God told us something?
I submit to you that the only time we can confidently say "God told me..." is when we can follow it up with something like "...In John chapter 10..." After all, the only way we can know for sure the will of God is through his word. 2 Timothy 3 :17 tells us that Scripture makes the man of God "...competent, equipped for every good work."Therefore when we come to a difficult decision or we are needing some guidance on any given issue, where should we turn? Do we stop and listen to that inner voice? No. We go to the Scripture that is sufficient to make us competent, and equipped for every good work.
When a person says that God told them something, my response is always, "What did God sound like? I mean if you heard from God, tell me what He sounds like, I'm eager to know!" Of course, that's not what they meant. They did not hear the audible voice of God. So then they might say, "Well, I feel God leading me to do this." Then of course I can't help but ask, "Really? How does it feel when God leads you?" About that time they are tired of my questions.
But here is the point, what do people mean when they say "God told me..." or "God is leading me..."? How does God do this to them? They just feel it in their heart? But Jeremiah 17:9 says,
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"
The problem here is that we are sinners. We have been seriously marred by sin. And even if you are a new creation in Christ, the Scripture tells us that we will struggle to defeat the flesh (our sinful old nature) for the rest of our earthly existence. So can we trust our feelings? Absolutely not. Our feeling are subjective. Think, right now as you are reading this, how many ungodly thoughts and feeling have you had this month, this week, today? If you're honest you will say, "I've had a whole lot." I know I have. Why? Because I'm a jacked up sinner in need of God's grace every moment I draw another breath.
So when I have a decision that needs made, or I need guidance, what do I need to do? I need to pray and go to the word of God. It is a dangerous thing that is being taught that people should merely pray, ask God for answers and sit quietly and listen for his voice. That is not how God tells us He operates. Who knows what you might here? You might hear your own desires saying "Yeah, do this" or perhaps a demon might speak to you and you think it's God! How do you know? What does God sound like?
I'm certainly this is where someone will say to me, "But the book of James tells us that 'if anyone of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.'" (James 1:5) Well, yes it does. But it says wisdom and not knowledge. Wisdom, biblically speaking, is the application of knowledge. So Scripture is not saying, if you don't know something, ask God to tell you, rather, if you know the truth but don't know how to apply it, ask God for wisdom in how to do so.
How then do we let God lead us? Obviously it is something we want to do. We must let God take control. Take Ephesians 5:17-21 for instance:
"17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, 20giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."
Being filled with the Spirit is contrasted with being filled with too much wine. Wine controls in a negative way when a person become drunk, but the Spirit controls in a good way when people immerse themselves in Him. We are to give ourselves to the worship of God, the study of the Scripture, the fellowship of other believers, and other things that we are told bring glory to God. This is how we give control to the Spirit and let Him lead us, by doing what He tells us to do, being obedient to the word of God.
When Jesus talks about the coming of the Holy Spirit he tells His disciples that the Spirit will teach them all things and bring to remembrance the things that Jesus taught. This is how God speaks to us today also. As we worship God, pray to Him for guidance and wisdom, and seek Him in the Scriptures, the Spirit will bring to remembrance the things God has told us, in His word.
When we make decision about buying a home or a car, God might remind us about the parable of the talents and being a good steward with the money He gives us. We pray and think and then make a decision that we believe most honors the Lord with what He has given us. This doesn't make our decision inerrant, but it's a much better approach then just doing what we want and saying "God told me." The same is true for any circumstance. Dating for instance. Should I date this person or not. Well the Bible tells us to be evenly yoked, is she a Christian? Does she hold my conviction about the Bible and things that matter to God? Seek the word of God in Scripture, pray about it and make the decision that you think honors God.
Scripture alone is our authority that equips us for every good work. Trust God's word, not inner voices and urges, you do not know who those voices belong to.
"1Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world."
We have the word of Christ in written form. You need seek nothing else for answers. Ask God for wisdom as you read His truth that is already revealed.
Here is a link on this same issue that I appreciated by Pastor Steve Cornell:
In Him -Jacob
Thursday, May 24, 2007
"8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed."
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon church), claimed that an angel did appear to him. And if Joseph Smith had been a Bible believing Christian, and this were to have actually happened (which is more than questionable), he would have known to reject the message of this angel. Eventually Joseph Smith would found a religion that would exalt men to gods and lower God to man.
Christians need to be very aware about what Mormon's believe and its incompatibility with Scripture. Here is a ----> "link" <---- that should make anyone who knows and loves the gospel of Christ shudder. In this link you will see a video of a person talking about how unfair and unloving it would be for God to send to Hell people who have not heard about Jesus, and people who have done "good things" (Rom 3:10-12) but are not Christians.
Hello! What about the fact that the Bible says we are all sinners and deserve HELL! (Romans 1-3) It's not unfair that people go to Hell! It's unfair that God had to die in the place of sinners because we rebelled against Him! But how wonderful is His grace that He would do it anyway! You must repent of your sin and trust in Christ alone for salvation! If you do not, you go to Hell, and you deserve to. I deserve to, and I praise God that I'm notgetting what I deserve because Christ has saved me! There is only one way to Heaven (John 14:6, Eph. 2:8-9). But this is just a small part of the dangerous message that is being preached by the Mormon church.
It is because of cult groups like this that deceive people and pull them away from the true Jesus and His gospel that I am an apologist. This is why I am creating a new "site" that will be a resource for defending the Biblical Christian faith. But since my site has a long way to go, I suggest that you check out "Alpha and Omega Ministries" and James White's book's, "Is the Mormon My Brother" and "Letters to a Mormon Elder" for more information on the Latter Day Saints.
Know what you believe and why. Don't be silent about the truth! If you don't share Christ with your neighbor, someone else might share a pseudo Christ with them instead.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
It's quite interesting to see how Luther's theology changes from when he wrote the 95 thesis to the time he wrote "The Bondage of the Will." Luther like all Christians who seek after God's heart continued to grow in his knowledge of the word of God. Luther became a Scripture quoting, highly theological weapon that would call people back to the word of God and away from the traditions of men. It's clear when reading the 95 thesis that Luther still held much love for the roman church and the pope in his heart. It would not be long until his eyes were opened to just how deep the corruption in the church had gone. Luther would take a stand on God's word along with others like him that the world still feels today. Scripture Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone, to the Glory of God Alone.
Here is what started the Reformation:
The 95 Thesis
by, Martin Luther
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.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I've made some more additions to the new apologetics site. I would love your feedback and suggestions as well as pointing out any corrections I need to make for spelling and grammar. It is my goal to be fair and accurate in representing other faiths and their positions, so those of you who are Roman Catholic or LDS or anything else, I would love your advice on different theologians and websites I could read to make sure I can give an accurate representation of your view on the site. I don't believe in making "Straw Man" arguments. I want to be fair and honest with other people's positions just as I want them to be fair and honest with mine. "Do unto others..." you know.
Clearly the articles that will eventually be on this site will be a rebuttal against other religious perspectives, but I want the arguments against them to be arguments against what people in those faiths actually believe and not just a caricature of their faith.
I welcome suggestions for further topics that are not yet listed on the site also. As of now I am still just trying to get the shell of the website done, their will be much to come in the way of content later. It will be a slow but hopefully fairly steady process.
Let me hear what you think!
In Him -Jacob
Monday, May 21, 2007
Here is the link: www.reformationapologetics.com
The site is going to be a resource for Christian apologetics and theology, a place where believers can come and learn what they need to know to defend the biblical Christian faith against all who would oppose it or hold up a false portrait of it.
It will also contain polemic resources for defending correct doctrine amongst those within the faith. For instance Believers baptism versus infant baptism, etc.
It will take me quite some time to have the site where I want it to be, but it will hopefully eventually be a great resource for many people.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Monday, May 14, 2007
This last Saturday I went with my family to the "3 i Show." It's a big exhibition where companies, mostly in agriculture, show off their products. My father-in-law is a farmer, so he wanted to check it out. I'm not sure what all of the "3 I's" are but I think one is implement and maybe another is irrigation. Regardless, there were all kinds of farm equipment such as tractors, combines, you name it. But this show has evolved and they have lots of other things like car dealers, as well as entertainment and things like that. It was kind of neat to look at all the incredibly large machinery (like the $300,000 combines). But God blessed me with an opportunity at the "3 i show" that was better than just looking at monstrous contraptions.
My wife and I were looking at cars that were at the show. They had Toyota, Chevy, and Mazda and maybe a few others. We were just kind of checking it all out for fun and eventually we came to the Mazda tent. A young and eager salesman greeted me and wanted to show me all the cars they had and see what he might help me with. He seemed like a nice guy, making the usual small talk that sales people do when they are trying to sell you a car. Eventually he asked me what I do for a living, and I told him I was a pastor.
Seeing how just dropping the word "pastor" tends to change the subject a bit for many people anyway, I decided to ask him if he was "a follower of the Lord Jesus." His response was "yes." He told me how he had been into drugs and some other problems, but now his life was much better because of Jesus.
I thought to myself "that sounds great" and I was tempted to leave it at that, but I felt the need to press him a little further. I asked him a question that I often use when sharing Christ, even though the question is a little silly because I don't think it will go down quite like this on judgement day, but it makes the point. I asked him, "If God were to ask you why he should let you into Heaven when you die, what would you say?" His response was that he would tell God that he is "a great person." I became very glad I decided to press him further.
I took this young man through just 3 of the 10 commandments. I said that God says you shall not lie and I asked him if he had broken that commandment. He said that he had (I admitted that I had also) and I asked him what that made him. He admitted that it made him a liar. I did the same thing with "Honor your father and mother" and "You shall not steal" and he admitted (as did I) his guilt on all counts. I told him that we could go through more, but there was no need, he got the point.
I asked him again, what would you say to God? He said that he didn't know. You could literally see fear on this mans face. No longer was he able to justify himself in his mind before God. He knew he was guilty and that he was in trouble. I asked him "So if you can't tell God that you are good, what is going to get you into heaven?" He had no idea. (Remember this guy called himself a follower of Jesus.)
I then explained to him that we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23) and that all of us, if left on our own, are doomed to an eternity in Hell. Our works can never be good enough, our righteousness is worthless to God (Isa. 64:6). And then I told him about who Christ is and what He did. I explained that God sent His son Jesus Christ, He lived a sinless life and fulfilled perfectly the law of God that we break all the time, and then He died on the cross for sinners and rose from the dead three days later. I told this man, "If you will repent of your sin, that is turn away from it and put all of your hope and trust in Jesus to save you, He will." We cannot hope in our goodness, but in Christ's.
This guy looked at me and said "I don't believe in chance, you were meant to be here today." I asked him if he was going to place his trust in Christ to save him and he said "yes." I then shared with him the importance of reading the Bible to grow in his relationship with God and encouraged him to find a church that teaches the Bible as God's word. And I have been praying for him everyday since then. I can't read a mans heart, but I really think that we as Christians gained a new brother that day.
I tell you all of this to encourage you. I'm certainly not trying to make you impressed with me, I don't want praise and a pat on the back. It was God who saved this man and gave him faith and repentance (Eph. 2:8-9). But I tell you this to encourage you to do evangelism. The verse I mentioned at the top of this post is a clear indicator that God has appointed people to eternal life. He has done this from the foundations of the world (Eph. 1:4). This should encourage the Christian greatly, because what this means is that when we preach the gospel and share it with friends, family and complete strangers, some will believe. Indeed as many who are "appointed to eternal life" will believe. God has his elect out there in this world, and when we are faithful to proclaim the gospel, when the gospel is proclaimed to the elect God will insert His Spirit into them and give them life and faith and repentance. When the gospel is proclaimed, the elect hear the voice of the good shepherd and they follow Him!
I can be confident that if i faithfully share on a regular basis, some will come. Not because I'm convincing as if I could convince a dead man to live. Rather because God has people whom He has chosen to be saved and they are sprinkled throughout the earth, waiting for the person whom God will use to preach the gospel to them.
"14But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"
Be faithful, share the gospel, those appointed will believe.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
However, I saw enough to make a few comments. First of all, it strikes me yet once again, how angry atheist usually are. I don't say this as a blanket statement, but as a general consensus of what I personally have seen and heard when debating with or listening to others debate "atheists." Basically it is my opinion that in 95% of the cases when you run into someone who claims to be an atheist, it comes down to the fact that they don't really not believe there is a God, they simply, openly, loudly, vocally, HATE God.
The report last night showed a time where the audience was allowed to ask questions and, oh my, were there ever some angry atheists. One lady, practically screaming at Ray Comfort, wanted to know how there could be a God because cancer exists. When Comfort started to talk about the problem of suffering, she got infuriated because he said "suffering" rather then "cancer" so he rephrased it for her. Clearly this woman had lost a loved one to cancer, or at least I would assume. Comfort did a good job of explaining why there is "cancer" and "suffering" in the world due to the fallen creation from Genesis 3. Not as though it was a satisfactory answer for this lady.
The two atheist who were actually debating were, to say the least, extremely rude. Scoffing at the two Christians as they shared their views. Basically just being antagonistic, no surprise. These two are the ones who started the movement calling for atheist to "commit blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" by denying Him and say that they aren't afraid. And then posting the recorded video of themselves on an Internet web-site. Not that these people actually have a clue about what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit really is.
From my perspective, what little I got to see last night on "Nightline", the atheist in the debate as well as in the crowd, showed their true colors. There is no sense of respect for others, there is extreme anger against the very notion of God, (which only supports the Bible's position about fallen man, read Roman 1-3) they have to make outlandish claims and reject plain reason to deny even the possibility of God.
That said, I want to offer my critique on the Christian view point that was extended last night. First let me say that I love and appreciate Ray and Kirk. On the whole (from what I saw) they did a descent job. However, here is where I disagree with the position my two brothers in Christ put forward.
Comfort and Cammeron used the famous "proofs" for the existence of God that Thomas Aquinas made famous. Things like the Ontilogical argument (The necessity of a perfect being) and Telelogical argument (if there is a watch, there is a watchmaker, if there is creation, there is a creator) as well as the moral argument (man instictively knows right from wrong, because there is a divine law giver.)
I believe that such arguments have their place. These are often referred to as "Classical Apologetics." If someone say he is a classical apologist, then he probably means that he utilizes these arguments. Here is the problem with these arguments though, they give some logical reasons to believe that there is a God, they make sense, however they don't necessarily prove the God of the Bible. They give some reason to believe in omnipotent being, but they don't single out YAHWEH as that omnipotent being. So these "proofs", on their own, are not enough. Now I will say that Comfort and Cammeron do point to reasons to believe that the God of the Bible is the true God, and they have some good evidential arguments for that too.
But ultimately, here is the real problem. Can anyone "prove the existence of God?" No. I don't think we can. In fact I think only God can prove that He is God directly to someone. The problem is that man is completely tainted by sin. When these "classical proofs" were first being formed, they were largely being formed by Roman Catholic apologists who believed that man could come to a true understanding and knowledge of God by what is revealed in creation. And therefore it was largely believed that God's existence could be proved by plain reason and pointing towards creation and moral arguments such as the ones still used often today. But according to Romans 1:18-23 man is so messed up because of sin they are unable to see what God has plainly put right in front of their faces!
The Scripture says:
"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. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles."
According to Scripture if it weren't for sin, everyone would recognize the one true God merely by looking out their window at His creation, but sin has darkened their "foolish hearts." What does that mean? It means that we can give 1,000,000,000,000 and 1 reasons to believe that there is a God and then give that many more to believe that this omnipotent God is the God revealed in the Bible, and they will still not believe. Not because these truths are not self evident, not because they don't make sense, but because they don't make sense to a person who has been totally corrupted by sin in their mind body and soul. Aquinas was wrong. Man cannot come to know God by plain reason. God must shine light on darkened hearts.
The honest truth is, we must hold the Bible to be self evident as proof that God exists and is who He reveals Himself to be in the pages of Scripture. John 10 tells us that Christ's sheep will hear his voice. We preach the word and those whom God chooses to save He gives His Spirit and they follow the voice of the Good Shepherd. But without God's action in the life of a sinner, there is nothing you can say or do that will "prove" to them that God exists. The best apologetic against atheism is to give reason to believe in God and that this God is the one the Bible speaks of and then preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and trust the Holy Spirit to convict sinners and make them new in Christ and give them faith.
I've heard Ray Comfort say that people need to "pray and listen to the voice of their conscience" to find out what is true. I would definitely have to refute that as a God idea. Our conscience is corrupted by sin as well, it could very easily tell us something untrue. But I do agree that telling a person their need for Christ and telling them to read the Scriptures and ask God to reveal Himself to them is a good thing, but let's leave our subjective conscience out of it. That's what the LDS do after all, and people follow after their false doctrine. It is the word of God that will convict people of their need for Christ alongside the Holy Spirit.
Can anyone prove God? No, not to sinful humanity. But God can and does make Himself known. Jesus calls to His sheep and His sheep hear His voice.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Now we reach the final doctrine in the doctrines of grace, Perseverance of the Saints. Sometimes this doctrine is referred to as preservation of the saints or eternal security. The basic idea is that once a person is saved, justified in Christ, they will not ever and cannot ever, lose their salvation. A popular phrase that is often used is "once saved, always saved." This is used by many people that don’t even believe in the preceding points such as Unconditional Election and Limited Atonement. Perhaps you are one who believes in "eternal security" but you disagree with the idea of election, or perhaps you do not believe in this idea at all. Maybe you think that salvation can be lost, taken away or rejected.
Hopefully, if you fit into any of those categories, this book has given you a lot to think about. Because if I have "sold you", so to speak, on the idea of Total Depravity, that is mans inability to save himself or even turn to God on his own, and if I have demonstrated that mans only hope is that God unconditionally elects certain individuals to salvation, and that God accomplished salvation for the elect on the cross not just made it possible but actual, and if I have convinced you that God saves all whom He draws to Himself and does not fail, then this last doctrine only makes sense as the last piece of the puzzle. Clearly if man has nothing to do with saving himself, then there is nothing he can do to lose his salvation.
Perseverance of the Saints can be defined in this way:
"Once God has saved an elect sinner He continues to guard their salvation by His power. There is nothing a justified sinner can do to lose their salvation, nor can they walk away from it. A person who is truly born again will continue in faith in Christ, undergoing sanctification, until the day they die and go to be with the Lord and are made perfect in Christ."
As always, let’s go to the Scripture to see where this is indeed in taught by God in His word.
"13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee
of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,
to the praise of his glory."
What a glorious verse of Scripture, one of my favorites. This verse is a wonderfully rich verse when it comes to this doctrine as well as that of salvation by faith alone. The Scripture here teaches that upon the moment when one places their trust in Christ they are "sealed with the promised Holy Spirit." The presence of the Holy Spirit is what causes regeneration in the life of a sinner. Giving a spiritually dead person the life and faith they need for salvation. When the Spirit indwells a person, faith takes place instantaneously. It’s not a matter of which comes first, they are synonymous.
It is at that very moment of faith that the Holy Spirit indwells the new believer and seals them into their salvation. The word "sealed" that is used here carries the idea of kings seal upon a scroll. Often times in New Testament times when a royal person would write a letter, they would use wax to seal the letter so that it would not be opened and they would press their signet ring into the seal so that everyone who saw it would know that this was sealed by the king. No one was allowed to break the seal except the one whom the message was intended for in the first place.
This is the same idea that is used here. When God saves someone from their sin, He seals them with His Holy Spirit. No one can break that seal, it will remain kept for the believer until they "acquire possession" of their salvation when Christ returns. The Scripture says that this seal is a "guarantee." If God gives a guarantee upon something, His word is good enough for me. He promises that the believers salvation is safeguarded by His Spirit in us until the day it is realized and we are glorified and made perfect in Christ with the Father in Heaven.
Where else does Scripture speak of this doctrine? How about 1Peter 1:3-5?
"3Blessed 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."
It surely doesn’t get much plainer than that. First of all, who caused us to be born again? God the Father did, through Jesus Christ His Son. Who is keeping and guarding our inheritance (eternal life in Christ)? God the Father is, through faith, which God supplies. Do you see the trend? How could we who have nothing to do with saving ourselves possibly lose our salvation? It’s not even ours to lose, as if we earned it. God supplies the faith that justifies, God guards our salvation and seals it by His Holy Spirit living in us.
Look also at Romans 8:29-30.
"29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."
This verse is sometimes referred to as "the golden chain of redemption." It’s an unbreakable chain, and indeed it is a chain reaction. If the one happens then by necessity the next happens, all the way down the line. Just use simple logic with me as we look at verse 30. What does God do with those whom He predestines? He calls them, doesn’t He? What Does God do with those whom He calls? He justifies them. And those whom he justifies, what happens to them? They are glorified.
Is there anything unclear about this passage? If anyone is ever justified, that is made right and sinless in the sight of God, they are eventually glorified. There is no room in this passage for someone to be justified (saved) for a time and then lose their salvation and go to Hell and not be glorified. It’s just not possible. All who are predestined, elected by God, are justified and upon Christ’s return they will be glorified. It is Scripturally incompatible to say that "so and so used to be a Christian." If they are not a Christian now, they never were. This is so plain. And please do note, that the reason people are glorified in the end is because God, in His Sovereign free-will, made a choice to predestine individuals to be justified in Christ. And Christ accomplished that "actually" and not just "possibly."
How about some more Scripture? John 6:44 says,
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day."
I’ve already used this verse several times, but I feel the need to do so once more. I talked earlier about how this verse clearly shows that God has to enable man to come to Jesus, we cannot do it on our own because of our depravity. I also used this verse to show that God’s grace is irresistible, and that everyone whom the Father draws comes to Christ. And now I bring it up again to point out that all those whom the Father draws come to Christ, and we know this because Christ raises them up on the last day, which also specifically implies that all who ever come to Christ will endure to the end and be raised to new life. Just a few verse earlier in John chapter 6 verse 39 Jesus also says,
"And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day."
Again, the same idea as above. Whatever is given to Jesus by the father, He does not lose. Jesus always does the will of the Father. God does not fail in His mission to save sinners, whomever God chooses to save, He saves them to the uttermost. We could look at more verses that support this doctrine, however I think that we have looked at plenty of verses for anyone who is going to accept the Scripture for what it clearly teaches. Many will read these verses that are so plain and straightforward and reject them purely because of their opinions and presuppositions. It wont matter to them that this is clearly what Scripture says about these five doctrines, they will reject it because it doesn’t sound fair to them and they don’t like it. But I say to you, don’t be one of them. It’s fine to have hesitations and want to study further about this, but don’t just refuse to even think about something that Scripture so clearly talks about.
Objections to Perseverance of the Saints
One of the most common objections to this doctrine and really to the whole of the teachings of the doctrines of grace, is that it "let’s people off the hook for their sin." Or in other words, because the doctrines of grace are so clear that we are saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone (which is supplied by God), in Christ alone, that these teachings would allow for people to shirk any responsibility for holiness and live life however they want. After all, if we cannot lose our salvation, we might as well live it up and do whatever we want! Right!? WRONG!
Such a teaching is not compatible with Scripture and therefore is not compatible to these Scriptural teaching of the doctrines of grace. Indeed it is often those who hold to these teachings whom you will see taking the issue of holiness very seriously. Why? Because Scripture clearly teaches that when God saves a sinner, that sinner will become a new creation, with a new nature. And that new creation will act differently then it did while it was still dead in sin. Galatians 5 talks about this difference.
"13For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 15But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. 16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy,
drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another."
The clear teaching of Scripture is that "those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." In other words, our old nature is dead once we become new in Christ. We can still struggle with sin, but ultimately a born again believers desire will be to please God and they will strive to walk by the Spirit. A true believer will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit more and more as they are sanctified by God’s Spirit. A person who calls themselves a Christian but lives no differently then they did before their supposed conversion to Christ, should be under serious suspicion. Scripture teaches that changed people will act like they have been changed. In Romans 6:1-4 Paul continues this idea that Christians are expected to avoid sin and walk in the Spirit, seeking to please God by their actions.
"1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."
Again, clearly the expectation of Scripture is that those who are Christians will not be flippant about sin. Sin is the very thing that our Savior Jesus Christ came to die for, it is a serious thing that anyone should knowingly sin and not care about it. In fact a true believer who commits sin and is unrepentant, that is they don’t turn away from that sin and seek forgiveness, will be seriously convicted by the Holy Spirit who lives in Him. In John 16:8-11 Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit and what He will be active in doing in the world when He comes (as He did in Acts 2).
"8And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged."
In the life of a believer the Spirit convicts us concerning righteousness. Therefore a believer in unrepentant sin will be under the conviction of God until that sin is dealt with in repentance. Matthew 6 talks about the narrow road and gate that a believer must walk to find eternal life. The believer doesn’t get to act like the wide road fools on the way to Hell. Believers walk a difficult course. Believers undergo sanctification and are continually being transformed into the likeness of Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 says,
"17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."
This teaching is completely compatible with the teachings of the doctrines of grace. A true Christian with true saving faith will have the Spirit of God transforming and convicting them into righteousness. A true Christian will pursue holiness. The doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints does not let people off the hook and encourage sin. This is a biblical doctrine, all who come to Christ have been drawn by the Father and they cannot and will not be lost. But those who come to Christ truly, will truly be changed and concerned with holiness.
In Him -Jacob
Monday, May 7, 2007
Basically the gist is that if anyone says something against homosexuals or is negative in anyway, it can be considered a hate crime. For instance, if I were to preach Romans 1:26-27 with any integrity to what the text means, I could be possibly arrested. Why? Because I would tell you that "God calls homosexuality a sin." It's abnormal and contrary to the nature God created and gave to men and women. This is a form of sexual immorality, just as heterosexual sex outside of marriage is a form of sexual immorality, both equally true statements, both equally sinful, one statement would be punishable by law and one would not (if this bill were to be signed into law that is.)
In this bill, republican tried to amend it to include protection for senior citizens, people under the age of 18 and numerous other groups besides just homosexuals, but all of those amendments were voted down. Why? Because of the liberal agenda, and frankly the devils agenda, and natural mans agenda, to suppress the truth. No body is going to jail for calling Christians bigots, but if you call a homosexual a derogatory word, oh boy look out. Even more even if you are as nice as can be about the people who practice homosexuality, but still distinctively point out that their behavior is sinful, you could still be in trouble.
There is a notable shift here in America the past few years, and will become more notable as time goes by. That shift is the loss of first amendment rights for those who worship Christ and believe that He is "the way, the truth, and the life" and the only way to Heaven. The word tolerance applies to everyone else and their beliefs, but not to Christians exclusivity in their message and faith.I've heard of several instances of people being arrested here in the U.S. this past couple of years, simply for sharing there faith on the sidewalks of busy area's. There are lawsuits against pastors who stand for the gospel and the word of God. It's not getting better, it's getting worse. I'm sure I'm not the first to say it, but let me join the chorus of faithful believers "You can arrest me if you want, but I will not stop preaching the word of Christ and His gospel!"
I think we are a ways off still from total persecution as many of our brothers and sisters face around the world today, and I'm no prophet, but I think we will probably start to feel that heat very soon. It could be a good thing though. After all, how many Joel Osteen type preachers would still be around if Christianity were outlawed?
Thursday, May 3, 2007
I preached a message last Sunday that dealt largely with the issue of how teachers in the church should be viewed. My text was 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, you can view my notes on my other blog if you'd like: www.4hisword.blogspot.com. The text gave two example of how teachers should be regarded. One was that they should be viewed as servants of Christ and two was that they should be regarded as stewards of the mysteries of God.
Christians teachers are given the responsibility of making the truths of the Scripture known to all. It is their stewardship given to them by their master who is Christ. A steward is a person given responsibility to care for the valuable property of another. In the case of teachers, God bestows a stewardship of His word to them. It is their responsibility to tend to and care for this property and manage it to the gain of their master.
When I think about the fact that I am a teacher of God's word, quite frankly it frightens me a bit. Because I genuinely care about getting it right. I often find myself aprehensive when sitting down to work on my next sermon, sometimes putting it off for longer than I should. I think it is because it really scares me to think about messing it up. I know no one is perfect and we are going to make mistakes, but I really want to honor God, my master, when I preach and teach His word. It's not a responsibility to be taken lightly.
One reason that teachers, stewards of the mysteries (truths) of God, are judged more strictly is because of the emphasis that Scripture gives other Christians about obeying those teachers. Hebrews 13:17 says "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you."
That is part of this stewardship that we teachers receive, keeping watch over the souls of those to whom we teach! I am responsible for what I tell them is truth and what I tell them is false. Christians are to "obey" and "submit" to their leaders. If I say "this is what God's word says, and this is what you should do." Then they are supposed to do it. So I had better not tell them something that is out of line with Scripture because I am responsible for their souls, their spiritual well-being! How scary is that.
This is why in 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul warns the young pastor "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." Because we who teach will be judged with greater strictness than the average Christian. That is why it is so important to study hard, and dig deep and be confident that the truth is in your hand and coming out of your mouth, when you teach the word of God. I will stand before God with greater judgement than many of you who read this post, because you have not aspired to be an overseer (1 Timothy 3:1) a pastor/teacher. But those of you who teach as do I, be careful, study hard, find the truth and make it known.
As much as I would hate to be the false teacher, and heretic on the day of judgement who will be cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, so too I would hate to be the born again teacher who neglected his responsibility to watch over the souls of those to whom he taught and did not work to show himself approved before God.
Teaching is a serious business. If you have a pastor who labours to bring you God's truth and is faithful to the Scripture, listen to Him, submit and obey. God has given him a stewardship over the word and over your soul.
I have often wondered how a church service for seekers would use the Bible verse that says, “No man seeks after God” (Rom. 3:11). Those considering or involved with “seeker” services should reflect on a distinction made centuries ago by St. Thomas Aquinas. “Aquinas said that we confuse two similar yet different human actions. We see people searching desperately for peace of mind, relief from guilt, meaning, and purpose to their lives, and loving acceptance. We know that ultimately these things can only be found in God. Therefore, we conclude that since people are seeking these things they must be seeking after God. People do not seek God. They seek after the benefits that only God can give them. The sin of fallen man is this: Man seeks the benefits of God while at the same time fleeing from God himself. We are, by nature, fugitives.”
I don't agree with Aquinas on everything, but he sure nailed that on the head.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
We have already seen the clear biblical teaching that people are hopelessly lost in sin and unable to save themselves (Total Depravity), and that they need God to choose them or they have no hope, and God’s choice to save certain sinners is not based upon the sinners own actions (Unconditional Election), and we have seen that Christ specifically laid down His life not for all people, but specifically for the elect, those whom He has chosen to save (Limited Atonement). Now we come to the fourth doctrine in the doctrines of grace, most usually called "Irresistible Grace."
Irresistible Grace can be defined in this way:
"All who the Father draws to Himself will come to Him. When the gospel is presented, an invitation is issued from the Lord for all people to come, but due to the sinful state of man, man is rendered incapable of response. However as for those who are elect, God sends His Spirit to them and changes their heart, breaks the power of sin and reveals to that elect person their need for Christ as Lord and Savior. When the Spirit opens their heart, they respond in faith and by God’s grace the sinner receives salvation. The work of the Spirit irresistibly draws the elect sinner to Christ, making them willing to trust in Him."
To put this simply and bluntly, if God chooses to save someone, He is going to save them, and there is no way the sinner can resist His work in their life. The idea of this once again takes us back to our study of the sovereignty of God as well as our will and whether or not it is truly free.
First of all, remember in our study of God’s sovereignty that we concluded that God is completely in control of all things and therefore he does all things according to the council of His will (Eph. 1:11). In other words, everything that takes place does so because God wills it to be that way. Therefore if it is God’s will that a sinner should come to know Him, that is indeed exactly what will take place, or if God should will to leave a sinner to his condemnation, so that will be "...For who can resist His will?" (Romans 9:19). Everything that happens does so according to the will of God.
As we have already discussed in chapter 3, man’s will is not truly free. Man’s will is enslaved. The will of man is either enslaved to sin and does it’s bidding or enslaved to God and does His. Every man is born into sin and enslaved to sin. We all grow up and sin continually and love to do the sinful things we do. We will never choose God on our own because we are enslaved to sin, and we don’t desire or seek after God (Rom. 3:10-12). Therefore as we discussed in chapter 4 God has to actively save sinners because they will never turn to Him on their own. Hopefully if you’ve read carefully the preceding chapters you will agree that this is the case. The question now is "how does God bring this about?"
The Regeneration of the Holy Spirit
Clearly man will never choose God in the state that he naturally exists, enslaved to sin. Therefore God must change the very nature of man in order to bring about faith in the heart of the sinner. Ephesians 2:8-9 says:
"8 For 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."
It is by God’s grace that we are given faith which is the vehicle of salvation. All of which is completely "the gift of God" and in no way anything we can do within ourselves. Salvation is a sovereign act of God where He actually makes us a new creation that is capable of faith. In man’s natural state, he is spiritually dead because of sin. This was primarily the kind of death God warned Adam would take place if he ate of the tree in the midst of the garden. But when Adam and Eve rebelled against God and ate of the fruit which they were commanded not to eat, they died that day, not physically but spiritually. And because of that each person born since then has been born spiritually dead.
In Ezekiel 37:1-10 we are given a wonderful illustration of God taking what is dead and giving it life.
"1The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." 4Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD." 7So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live." 10So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army."
While this passage is clearly speaking of the nation of Israel who had largely turned aside from following God, there is nonetheless great significance in this passage as to how God gives life to dead things. We humans are born spiritually as dead as that valley of dried bones. Incapable of doing anything. Only God could make those dry bones come to life. It would be utterly ridiculous to think that those dry bones could make themselves come to life.
A man I admire very much named Dr. James White gives a similar illustration when talking about this issue. He speaks of cadavers (dead bodies) in the morgue and how lifeless they are. You can poke at them, remove their insides, do whatever you want to them and they will not resist. Why? Because they are dead, they cannot resist. This is exactly how man is in the spiritual sense. You can poke and prod people with the gospel, but they will not respond. They wont because they can’t. They are spiritually dead.
Clearly that which is dead is incapable of doing anything, therefore in order for a person to be able to respond to the gospel they must be made alive. Who can make dry bones live? Only God. Look also at Ezekiel 36:26-27,
"26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules."
You see that Scripture teaches that God radically changes man, giving him a new heart, spirit and giving him even His own Spirit. Just as powerfully as God once breathed life into man when He first created him, so God puts life into the spiritually dead. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 says,
"17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation"
So then we see that those who are in Christ are only in Christ because God has made them "a new creation." As they were naturally they could not be in Christ because they were spiritually dead, but God literally made them a new person, with a new heart and a new spirit and His own Spirit. It is the Spirit of God that makes man new or "regenerated" as theologians often call it, that enables man to respond in the faith that God gives him. The Spirit frees us from our slavery to sin and makes us able to trust in the gospel of Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:14-18 says,
"14But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."
The hearts of man are veiled from the truth of God until the Spirit enters into that persons heart and frees them from the darkness of sin. The Spirit unveils the heart of sinful man to see his need for Jesus Christ to save him. It is the regenerating work of the Spirit that allows man to come to Christ in faith. But can anyone whom the Spirit regenerates refuse to come to Christ? No.
All Who Are Drawn (Regenerated) Will Come
Many have tried to say that the Spirit works in everyone’s life and that the Father draws all people to Himself. They claim that man can merely reject God’s drawing of them to Himself. But is this biblical? I will show that it is not. Look at John 6:44,
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day."
This verse was already used to demonstrate that man is incapable of coming to God unless he is first drawn by Him. We discussed that aspect chapter 3 on Unconditional Election. But furthermore the verse clearly states that those whom the Father draws, Jesus will raise up on the last day. This makes the correlation that anyone whom God draws, will inevitably be raised up to eternal life. So this verse single handedly defeats the notion that God draws all people, unless that is you believe that all people are going to heaven and you are a universalist. If that is the case I would point out the fact that Jesus talks more about Hell in the gospels than He does Heaven, and there is no Scriptural basis for your view.
John 6:44 leaves nothing open to any sort of conditions to be fulfilled by man. It does not say that "I will raise him up on the last day (if)...." It says that He "will raise him (whom the Father draws) up on the last day." This means, if the Father draws someone they will respond in faith to Christ. John 6:37 says also,
"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out."
Scripture is very straightforward and clear that God sovereignly decides whom He will save and then does so to the fullest, it is not conditional upon our human will or action. When God’s Spirit comes into the life of a sinner and makes them new, their nature is transformed to the extent that they cannot resist their God given desire to place their trust in Christ. Whereas they were dead in sin and enslaved to do it’s bidding in their old nature, now they have been made new and given a new nature that desires God. The regeneration of God’s Spirit simultaneously causes faith in Christ. The new creature will not, cannot, does not resist coming to Christ when the Father draws him because the veil is lifted and his need for Christ is made clear.
It’s like a deaf and blind man who stands on a train track with a speeding train coming his way. He was born deaf and blind that was his nature and because of it he had no idea of the danger he was in. But what if that blind man was given the sight to see the speeding train and the hearing to hear the whistle blowing it warning, would he stay on the train track? No, how absurd. His nature has been changed and he cannot resist making the move that will result in his salvation from death.
This is the clear teaching of Scripture, man cannot resist the will of God. God makes the elect new creations at the time He draws them and with their new nature they cannot help but respond to the savior.