Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Solution to ALL Doctrinal Error: last post for 2009

I will be away from my computer until after the New Year holiday, so for my last post of 2009 I will provide the solution to all doctrinal error.

1) Stick with what scripture says.

2) Do not add to (or take away from) what scripture says.

3) Admit personal ignorance or lack of understanding where applicable.

4) Do not try to cover up ignorance or lack of understanding by parroting a pre-digested theological viewpoint.

5) Do not adopt or promote man's words and teachings as if they were equal to scripture in authority.

6) Do not under any circumstances put your trust in an isolated, out of context proof-text.

And finally and most importantly, not ignoring any of the above…

7) Seek and ask for the Holy Spirit’s revelation.

[I first wrote these points to specifically address the matter of “election” but recognised that a wider application is also appropriate.]

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holocaust Past & Future

There’s a very interesting story here: The man who smuggled himself into Auschwitz

Thanks to the Arminian Today blog for making me aware of it.

This week I’ve been watching a BBC TV interpretation of “The Diary of Anne Frank”. There’s a 50 minute documentary on the DVD that I still have to watch – not about the Frank family, but about another girl of a very similar age who met the same fate.

I have also ordered a copy of a Martin Gilbert book, a history of the holocaust. Today’s comfortable westerners have no way of comprehending the experiences so many millions of people had at the hands of Hitler.

Many of those people were perhaps little different from ourselves, enjoying comfortable and successful lives until the world around them changed and they were thrown into an unimaginably miserable situation that millions didn’t survive.

We can look back on those events with justifiable horror and wonder how they could have happened. We can feel thankful that such atrocities could never happen again on such a scale. But it would be a misplaced sentiment. Not only will those evils be committed again, they will be surpassed.

Jesus warned of a time to come when: “there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”

Can we afford to live in complacency? Note Jesus said that the time of distress would be unequalled both before and after. It will be the most horrific time in the history of mankind.

Around one third of the Jewish people were murdered through Hitler’s actions. What does that indicate about the future? Jesus' prophecy in Matthew 24 indicates terrible times for both Christians and Jews. It clearly doesn’t seem very bright and it would be easy to sink into a state of pessimism. But this time of unequalled distress is not the end. We need to remain aware that God has the last word, and no matter what evils man may commit, God will bring a glorious end to them with the return of His Son, the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

That return, that will end the "time of distress", is the great hope that will sustain followers of Jesus throughout that time of suffering. A motivating hope that will encourage believers to remain faithful despite the intense hardship they experience throughout the persecution they face.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Other Than an Occasional Problem With Pride, I Believe I've Reached Sinless Perfection

An article by David Servant

If God is in you, He is working, and you are thus obligated to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12). Only those in heaven have salvation "in the bag." The rest of us are running a race for the finish line.
Paul was certainly running that race at one time. He was obviously living far above the sins he listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 that mark one as being unrighteous and disqualified from inheriting God's kingdom. But did he think he had attained sinless perfection? No, it was something he was still pursuing even after he had been a believer for at least twenty-five years.

Full article found here:

Sinless Perfection


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Juggling with Sovereignty: A word picture.

How do you view the sovereignty of God? How does your God exercise that sovereignty?

The Calvinist view requires that God controls every detail, even to the point that mankind’s every action and thought is the result of God’s determination. To ensure His sovereignty, God had to deny man the privilege of free will.

The non-Calvinist view agrees that God’s sovereignty cannot be undermined by man’s choices, but it also recognises that man is ABLE to express freedom of will. In other words, God’s sovereignty is not so fragile that a man made decision would undermine it.

Calvinism effectively denies God the right to endow His creation (man) with the freedom of choice. Thereby Calvinism itself is denying God a sovereign right to act as HE may desire. Calvinism, through its inability to trust God’s abilities, restricts God’s actions to the narrowness of its own theological imagination. It can not imagine a God who can maintain His sovereignty over a creation to which He has given the privilege of free will so they deny Him the right to equip His creation in that way.

Depicting these views of sovereignty metaphorically, I would you like to offer the following comparisons of two very different jugglers demonstrating the two very different views of God’s sovereignty

Taking the scriptural revelation of God I would see his ability to juggle an infinite quantity of balls, tossing them into the air and never losing track of any. He can let them out of his hand but he remains in control even though each ball follows a unique path through the air.

Contrast this to the Calvinist picture of God. To maintain control he “juggles” with one ball which he never lets out of his hand otherwise he would not be able to keep control of the situation and his “sovereignty” over that ball would be compromised.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

SIN: Christian Responsibilities

All sin is serious and if left unchecked will separate us from God. Consider that it took one bite of a piece of fruit to separate Adam from his creator and the paradise that was his home.
Likewise look at Israel and their example in the wilderness and note this is used several times in the NT as a warning to Christians to remind us what will happen to anyone who continues in rebellion against God.

It is my understanding that continued sin will eventually harden our heart against God causing us to “hide” from Him instead of relying on Him. While our heart is open to God and His ways we will find ourselves being convicted of sin in our lives. If we resist that conviction we harden ourselves against the Holy Spirit’s prompting and our conscience will become seared and impenetrable. We will start to accept our sin and experience no feelings of remorse.

Many make the mistake of thinking any effort on our part is an attempt to earn our salvation; but when scripture emphasises a need for repentance it is calling for an action. Repentance is not merely regret or remorse, true repentance results in action and obedience. When Jesus gave His great commission to His followers he told them to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and TEACHING THEM TO OBEY everything I have commanded you.” Too often Christians forget about the OBEY part and look at attempted obedience as being legalistic.

In dealing with sin within my own life, the most powerful things I’ve encountered are:
1) The awareness of how serious sin is, and that if unchecked it could eventually disqualify me from salvation; is that moment of pleasure worth the price of forfeiting an eternity with God?
Maintaining a “God’s-eye” view of sin, recognising its offensiveness to God and determining to cleanse ourselves of it and its effects through genuine, contrite confession will keep us in fellowship with God and we will remain responsive to His discipline.

2) I am what I eat. This not only applies to the food and drink I put into my body, but also to the kinds of things that are fed into my mind. When I feed my mind with spiritual things I find I am less troubled by temptation and therefore less prone to sin. If I feed my mind with things that are likely to lead to temptation, then I am more prone to sin. Paul wrote that we should be transformed by the renewing of our mind. The way we exercise and feed our minds will have an effect on the kind of person we are transformed into.

3) When we DO sin there is no need for despair because if we confess our sin He is faithful and just and will forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

That third point is something we need to apply in faith. That is, we need to believe what GOD has said instead of what our feelings are telling us. If God’s word says we are forgiven and cleansed we need to stand on the truth of THAT and not on the impression given by our feelings of guilt. We also need to understand that forgiven sin is forgotten sin – at least in God’s eyes. Unfortunately we are not able to forget in the way that God is able to forget and the memory of our sin remains with us. Again this is where we need to exercise faith. No matter how we feel. No matter what our circumstances (eg. feelings of guilt) may indicate, we need to trust the integrity of God’s word instead of our own impressions.

1 John

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Sovereignty: True and False

Which of the following is most consistent with a biblical view of God’s sovereignty?

1) God is sovereign; therefore everything that happens within His creation has been predetermined and controlled by God. If anything happened that was contrary to God’s specific will (including anything that man does), then God’s sovereignty would be compromised. To maintain the integrity of His sovereignty, God and God alone chooses which individuals will be saved and will ensure that they are saved no matter what their individual attitudes towards God may have been. Man has no part to play (and no responsibility at all) regarding his own salvation or damnation because that would undermine God’s sovereignty.


2) God is sovereign; therefore He alone has the sovereign right to determine the purpose for which His creation exists and He alone has the right to determine the laws and conditions by which His creation exists and continues to exist. By His sovereign choice He has given a degree of free will to mankind. God does not control man’s choices and actions but He has made mankind responsible for the choices he makes within that freedom given to him by God. God and God alone has determined the consequences for man’s obedience or disobedience. Man is able to make choices that are contrary to God’s will but as a result of that disobedience will suffer the penalty that God has ordained and that God will enforce. God expresses His sovereignty in a way of His own choosing to obtain an outcome of His own choosing. That outcome includes the adoption of men and women who willingly respond to the gift He has given to all – His Son Jesus

I wrote the two alternatives above because of the following (deleted) comment left earlier on this blog, submitted by the multi-pseudonymed Calvinist who may be familiar from other threads.
the evangelical has left a new comment on your post "Frustration and Cranial Bruising":

"These people respect God’s revelation more than man’s theology"--excepting of course the revelation of His absolute sovereignty.
Really, Tim, which is it--monergism or synergism? The truth is humbling. All pagan systems are synergistic. ALL. What does that say about your synergistic system? Oh, but of course you alone hold all knowledge, and wisdom will die with you. Academics; head knowledge--or new birth...

In addition to the above alternative types of “sovereignty” I would ask which is the TRULY sovereign God:

1) One who can not maintain sovereignty unless he personally controls everything and everyone; who has to personally control every thought and action otherwise he can not be sure that his sovereign will can come to fruition. A god who needs to control man’s thought and action to ensure he has followers (even though they are followers against their will).
2) One who is secure enough in His sovereignty that He can allow man a degree of free will to enable man to become willing followers.

The issue of the definition of sovereignty depends upon what kind of God and gospel we believe; and how secure He and His sovereignty really are.

I’ve used the illustration before – what kind of God do you worship?
1) One who creates a Stepford wife for His son? A wife who “loves” because she is programmed to do so and has no real feeling for her husband?

2) One who seeks a willing bride, a bride who can willingly respond with genuine love and affection for the bridegroom?

And note the common accusation at the end of “the evangelical’s” comment. It is an accusation many make in an attempt to discredit a person and his point of view without actually addressing the issue. They accuse a person of thinking they know it all because that person dares to oppose their own beliefs.
No I do not know it all – but I know enough to approach the whole of scripture with integrity so I can understand what God is revealing, and not merely use parts of scripture to support what I have already determined to believe.

Also, the claim about all pagan systems being ‘synergistic” is very ironic, considering that Calvinism shares the fatalistic viewpoint of both paganism and Islam.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"When Doctrine Matters" by Fred London

The admonishment of "rightly dividing" or "handling accurately the word of truth" has not as its focus the end result, but rather, the process which leads to a clear apprehension of God's thought to man. For if the process is sound, it is more than likely that the end result will also be sound. Conversely, if the process is faulty, we can expect a result which will be equally as faulty. Statements such as, "I don't get into doctrine" or "Doctrine doesn't matter," has the sound of spirituality to it, but it is a pseudo-spirituality. In fact, this rather "nice" sounding attitude flies in the face of Scripture. This is not the sort of peace and unity of which the Scripture speaks. "For there must also be factions among you so that those who are approved of God may become manifest."

Frankly, it smacks of ecumenicalism, which produces a false peace and a false unity because it is not held together by the Spirit of truth. We are exhorted to "speak the truth in love," meaning, you can't have one without the other. Nowhere does the Scripture teach the notion of unity at any cost. As one man has said, "It is better to be divided by truth than united in error." Scripture clearly forewarns that one of the major signs of then "last days" will be that so many will no longer adhere to sound doctrine. It cannot be stressed enough simply because God stresses this imperative from cover to cover throughout the Scriptures, that the authenticity of ministry is in direct proportion of the authenticity of the oral or written words with which the vessel represents the Mind of the Lord.

These days, in particular, there is a strong and irreverant tendency for those who would presume to speak for God to be far too glib and take license with "the holy things of God." Consequently, it would serve us well, having a healthy fear and trembling, to avoid at all cost, the presumptuous sin of "speaking that which the Lord has not spoken." Therefore, sound doctrine does matter, not from a legalistic standpoint where "the letter kills," but as it relates to a clear and accurate understanding of God's character, ways, and purposes. It matters as to how Christ is represented, in Heart, in Mind, and how that directly correlates into how His Body functions, and the type of witness she portrays to the world.

It matters because "For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." It matters because, "For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he." It matters because of the great influence it has upon our world view. It matters because how we think about the Church's place and purposes for the "last days" and her relationship and obligation as it pertains to Israel (the Jewish people) will ultimately determine as to whether the "limb" we represent will be "put out of joint" or be a "vessel fit for the Master's use." With our being able "to discern the times" we therefore will know what needs to be done at the most critical time of church and world history.

Furthermore, though reading others' thoughts on a particular subject can be profitable, there comes a time where we reach a point of diminishing returns. Case in point: Jesus asked, "Who do men say that I am? Some say that you are Jeremiah, or Elijah, or John the Baptist raised from the dead. Then Jesus asked, "But, who do you say that I am?" In other words, there comes a point where referring people to other sources loses its effectiveness by no longer serving a useful purpose. Not unlike most, I have read many books and heard many teachings over the years, and it is important to always maintain a teachable spirit in order to continue to benefit from the spiritual deposits in others. But, there comes a point where it is time to be able to give an account for what we believe and why we believe it.

As it says in Ecclesiastes, "Be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body." Today, we can just as easily apply that principle to websites. But, regardless of the means through which we receive the seeming never ending glut of teachings, it is high time for many of us grow up and not be so easily "driven by waves, and by every wind of doctrine." Why? Because doctrine does matter!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Frustration and Cranial Bruising

I have been very discouraged in recent months, after seeing scripture so often being twisted and distorted to support beliefs that are clearly contrary to God’s revelation. Seeing this happening on every side makes me wonder why I should consider myself to be right and so many others wrong.

I do NOT consider myself immune to error – especially knowing that I’ve been VERY wrong in the past. The main difference now is that I’m learning to recognise the clarity and simplicity of scripture when it is taken in context. Those people who have concerned me have ALL taken parts of scripture and used them in ways that don’t fit clear context. An obvious example relates to Ezekiel 36 (see previous post) which has come up recently on different and unrelated blogs. In all cases the majority of Ezekiel’s prophecy is ignored and attention is given to two or three verses at the most – because to consider the WHOLE text as written would require an overhaul of attitudes to Israel.

I have also seen the same proof texting going on regarding other theologies. Most theological understanding seems to depend on chosen portions of scripture at the expense of others (i.e. those parts of scripture that cast questions upon a favoured doctrine are ignored or creatively re-interpreted).

There seems to be very few people who genuinely recognise the importance of scriptural context. It is far easier, more convenient, and less challenging to rely on pre-digested theology that requires little more than knowledge of a handful of proof texts.

How can anyone claim to have a desire for truth when they go to such lengths to ignore what scripture is plainly saying? How can they ignore so much as they look for verses here and there to support what they want to believe?
Not only is there a manipulation of scripture, there is the blatant misrepresentation of the beliefs of others. When justification of their own beliefs starts to get difficult, they distort the beliefs of others and then refute the distortion they have created.

The meaning of the term “banging one’s head against a wall” is totally clear when trying to discuss an issue with people who are so blinded by their own theological conditioning that they refuse to consider what others are actually saying – but instead project their own presuppositions into what has been said.
For example, in a discussion here, addressing Israel and replacement theology there is a refusal to recognise that NO ONE has been saying that Israel can be saved apart from the New Covenant. What HAS been said is that Israel WILL ONE DAY be saved by entering into the New Covenant. It is not a matter of present day reality, but a matter of prophetic certainty.

Returning to the earlier question of why I can consider myself to be right and so many others wrong…
It’s because I have come across enough people from diverse backgrounds who have NOT bowed their knee to theological systems that resort to distorting scripture to maintain a semblance of credibility. These people respect God’s revelation more than man’s theology and have been willing to change their direction, sometimes at great sacrifice, when their beliefs and practices have been exposed as false by the light of God’s word. These people encourage and challenge me. None would claim to have reached perfect understanding – but at least they are following the right path and are open to the Spirit’s direction if ever they start to deviate from that path.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Ezekiel 36: Context or Creative Theology

I believe that Scripture should be understood according to its simplest and most straight forward meaning unless the context determines that the meaning is not literal. Who am I to determine which parts of scripture don’t really mean what they seem to be clearly saying?
We cannot legitimately take a couple of verses out of their intended context and apply them in whatever way WE see fit. Unfortunately it has become a common practice to support a favoured theology by applying PARTS of scripture to an argument while ignoring the intended context of those parts of scripture.

I have recently seen a case of this in action where two verses of Ezekiel 36 were used to support a particular view of “regeneration”. However, those verses were part of a prophecy directed specifically at the people of Israel. The argument being made ignored that and concentrated on the chosen verses, projecting into them an argument about the nature and timing of “regeneration”.

That case showed that the same out of context portion of scripture can be used to support totally opposite beliefs - depending on what a person wants it to say, and depending on which surrounding parts of scripture are omitted

Such a misuse of scripture – using it to promote predetermined ends – will NEVER lead to knowledge of the truth. It will merely keep us entrenched in our chosen theology, blind to the revelation that God has given to His children.

In the Ezekiel 36 example, the proof-texting practice was defended with the assertion that New Testament writers also approached Old Testament writings in this way. Apart from the fact that WE are not among the writers of the NT scriptures and do not share their revelatory authority; what happens when two different theological viewpoints are using the same set of verses to support their opposite conclusions? Who determines which viewpoint (if any) is correct? Both use the same approach to biblical understanding but their conclusions differ according to which PARTS of the scripture are referenced

It is CONTEXT that determines the correct viewpoint.

Ezekiel 36 is NOT a general discourse on how and when regeneration occurs – it is a prophecy about Israel’s restoration as a physical nation (when they do not deserve it) and their ultimate restoration to fellowship with the God of Israel (AFTER they have been restored to the land, AFTER they have been taken from the nations, AFTER they have been gathered from all the countries).

All of this is NOT for Israel’s benefit but to show the holiness of God’s great name.
“Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the LORD have spoken and I WILL do it.”

That rebuilding and replanting that will be recognised by the surrounding nations has not yet taken place. Will the Lord do it as He said? Or do we “spiritualise” those promises and make them mean what WE want them to mean?
Proof texting is the lifeblood of human theology. Consider scripture according to its intended context and theology will be less prone to error.

Read and consider the WHOLE of the prophecy given in Ezekiel 36 – not just the verse or two that can be manipulated to suit a theological argument.


The example I refer to above can be found here:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gospel of the Kingdom: What about Israel?

"Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven".

“…they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority”

The teaching of “replacement theology” is not new. It was stirring in the very early years of the church and it is possible that the book of Romans was written to address this issue with the climax of Paul’s argument coming in chapters 9-11 and particularly in chapter 11.

“Did God reject His people? NEVER!!!”

Romans was written to a church that had for a time been made up totally of gentile believers after all Jews had been forced out of Rome by the emperor Claudius. When Nero came to power he allowed the Jews to return, and Jewish believers had difficulty being accepted back into a church that considered their exile had been evidence that God had forsaken the Jews.

The idea that the church has replaced Israel as God’s people because of Jewish disobedience is categorically refuted by Paul in Romans. When he wrote NEVER in Romans 11, the word used was the strongest possible negative exclamation available to him in the Greek language (meganoita!).
Paul also clearly attacks the smugness of those who considered themselves as being those people who had allegedly replaced Israel in God’s affections. (“Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either”).

While Romans addresses a very early incarnation of “replacement theology” there can be no doubt that it is a belief system that refuses to go away, and it is widely held today; despite the historically unprecedented “resurrection” of a long dead nation (Israel) and its language (Hebrew) only 50 years ago.

Why should there be such contention over Israel and its continuing role in God’s purposes? Why are so many determined to dismiss Israel’s relevance despite the events of recent history in which a nation, totally dead and gone as a political entity, returned against the odds to become one of the world’s most powerful military forces; and to become a nation constantly at the centre of world attention. Has there ever been a time since 1948 when Israel, a tiny nation, has not been in the news? Would there be such a continuing obsession with a mere political entity, no matter how unlikely the renewed existence of that entity after 2000 years may seem?

In a previous post I addressed the matter of the “millennium” in Old Testament prophecies. Almost every Old Testament prophet foretold of a time when the nations would be ruled by a King from the throne of David in Zion. The issues of Israel’s continuing importance and the rule of this King are very much linked. It is therefore not surprising that “replacement theology” often goes hand in hand with “amillennialism” - a theology that denies the literal earthly reign of Christ after His return.

Israel is very much tied up with end time events and Satan knows that. He thought he could prevent fulfilment of Gods purposes by leading men to crucify Jesus – but his “victory” was short lived. Satan knows that Gods plans for THIS creation are heading towards an earthly kingdom ruled by God’s Son from the throne of David. Satan knows that the establishment of that earthly kingdom begins with him (satan) being imprisoned and stripped of his deceptive power, and will end with him being thrown into the lake of fire. It’s not surprising that he would try to prevent the establishment of that kingdom by removing Israel. And its not surprising that he would cause so much confusion about the events that mark his final destruction.

I tend to think that Satan’s attempt to destroy Jesus was to prevent the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel under the rule of the Messiah. By killing the Messiah, Satan thought he could stop the kingdom. But God’s plan involved an unexpected twist. The Messiah would come twice, first as a sacrifice then secondly as King to rule over the nations from His throne in Zion.

Satan’s misunderstanding played right into God’s hands. Instead of destroying God’s plans, the death of Jesus FULFILLED them. Satan knows he can no longer prevent God’s Kingdom by destroying the King, so his attention becomes focused on the nation from which the King will rule over the earth.
By turning the church against Israel Satan is trying to kill two birds with one stone. It turns the church away from God’s purposes while trying to rid the world of Israel. The final part of that attempt will come when the beast launches a massive “final solution” to rid the world of both church and Israel.

Paul made it clear that Israel has not been replaced by anyone. There are many statements in Romans 11 that should dismiss any doubt about Israel’s continued importance to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: the God of Israel.
But true to form, one of the clearest promises made specifically to Israel about its ongoing part in God’s purposes is most often quoted and applied to the church in a most inappropriate way.

“…for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable”. Instead of applying this to Israel, it is usually applied to disobedient “Christians” who still SEEM to be displaying Spiritual gifts. Implying that disobedient Christians can’t lose what they have been given – while Israel is portrayed as having lost their inheritance because of their disobedience. What a complete twisting of the context and the intended application of that promise regarding God’s relationship with Israel.

So what are we to do with Israel? Should Christians throw unconditional support behind the current political incarnation that goes by that name? Is that what God would have us do? Or does God require that we expect the same standard of righteousness that HE demands from His Israel?

It is clearly the latter - and the only way they can attain that standard of righteousness is through faith in His Son, their Messiah.

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

"The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins."
Rom 11:25-27

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Question for My Beloved Calvinists

Another recommended article written by David Servant.

A Question for My Beloved Calvinists
by David Servant

Those who have been reading with me through the New Testament chronologically---by means of our daily emailed devotional that we call HeavenWord Daily---know that I am not a Calvinist. In fact, practically every time we happen upon one of the many passages of Scripture that contradict the doctrines of Calvinism, I point it out. Consequently, I've pointed out scores of scriptures that illustrate where Calvinism deviates from biblical truth.
For readers who may not know what Calvinism is, let me briefly explain. Calvinists believe that, in eternity past, God sovereignly selected some people to be saved, and thus He also sovereignly selected everyone else to be damned. At a pre-determined point during the lifetimes of those who are allegedly pre-selected for salvation, God draws them irresistibly, and they are born again. Calvinists also believe, and understandably so, that Jesus did not die for the sins of everyone. Rather, He only died for those whom He allegedly predestined for salvation. Finally, because Calvinists believe that salvation does not depend on any person's free will and only upon the sovereign decree and action of God, they also believe that no genuinely-saved person could possibly ever become unsaved. Once genuinely saved, people are guaranteed to be saved in the end, which is probably the most attractive element of Calvinism, and which may explain why some people readily embrace it. Once a person is convinced that he has been sovereignly pre-selected for salvation, he knows he has salvation "in the bag."
I would like to offer some food for thought for Calvinists, ending with a challenge, and at the same time fortify non-Calvinists from being persuaded by some common Calvinist arguments.

Full article is here:

Question for Calvinists

Friday, October 16, 2009

Arminianism vs. Calvinism: my unpolished personal view.

Leaving aside “Catholic” and “Orthodox” believers, there seems to be a tendency to try to divide the rest of the Christian world into two neat camps: Arminian and Calvinist.

Despite being A Christian since the mid 70s I didn’t become aware of Calvinism until about 4 years ago when I read the contributions of a Calvinist writer on a Christian forum. I was appalled by the beliefs he was promoting. However I had no personal contact with Calvinists until two years ago. At that time I started to do some research and I found it hard to believe that any professing Christian could hold to such an aberrant view God.

My introduction to Arminianism came through my being accused of being an Arminian. While I find Arminian doctrine to be much closer to the truth than that of Calvinism, there is still the fact that its adherents are devoted to, and prize, the theology of a man. It is my view that there would be NO Arminianism/Calvinism debate if importance was genuinely placed on Scripture alone – something that both sides ironically claim is the basis of their doctrine. I would more easily believe that was the case if the devotion to Arminius and Calvin (and the associated religious systems) were repented of and the labels dropped.

I’ve been frequenting “Arminian” blogs for a few months now and have appreciated the interaction I’ve had with several people on those blogs. But one thing I have repeatedly noticed is that so much of the disagreement between Arminians and Calvinists is often demonstrated through multi-syllabic theological terminology and theological ideas instead of through plain and simple application of scriptural revelation. The result of this is disagreement over differing ideas of man-made philosophical concepts rather than God’s revelation of Himself through His word.

Infralapsarian, Supralapsarian, supraduperlapsarian… all meaningless and worthless twaddle just like so much of the vain concepts that take centre stage in man’s theology. Most of them are merely intellectual sounding alternatives to that age old question of how many angels fit on a pin head.

Get back to the gospel people. Turn to God’s Word and not mans’.

Because there is too much reliance on human theology and wanting to identify with a label rather than with a lifestyle, “Faith” to many has become a matter of assent to a series of tenets Why not DEMONSTRATE the truths we believe rather than try to give a short cut by identifying with a theological system?

Surely this IS what Paul was writing about when he criticised some for saying “I am of Apollos or I am of Paul” Was Arminius or Calvin crucified for you?

I am definitely NOT a Calvinist (as if anyone would mistake me for one) and neither am I associated with any of the theological labels that others have tried to pin on me. In all my weakness, with all of my faults and despite stumbling many times – it is my desire to be nothing more or less than a disciple of Jesus.

All of the rest: the theological posturing and labelling, are dangerous distractions.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Why I am Not a Calvinist" by Dr Tim Pierce

The first three parts of a series being written by Dr Tim Pierce (a former Calvinist) on his blog.
I look forward to reading the next installments.

Why I am not calvinist part 1

Why I am not calvinist part 2

Why I am not calvinist part 3

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

God's Sacrifice

An article and a sermon from two different sources but addressing the same theme: the cross and the sacrificial crucifixion of Jesus.

Article from Judahslion blog
Behold the Lamb

Recorded Sermon from Art Katz
And they Crucified Him

What should be our response?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Moving on from a Theological Rut

This blog was never intended to be a place where anyone and everyone could try to promote their questionable doctrines. Many other blogs allow (and some even encourage) the ongoing “Arminian/Calvinism debate” and the same old ground is trodden and the theological rut deepens.

I have made no secret that I detest the doctrines of Calvinism. They portray a god far different from the one true God revealed through scripture by the Holy Spirit. But constantly going over that same old ground, refuting the same old arguments and facing a barrage of the same old proof texts is clearly a waste of time and it distracts from things that are genuinely important. I will no longer give time to answering the same misrepresentations of the gospel presented by the same people over and over again. Therefore I will make more active use of the moderation options and will delete those comments that try to perpetuate the theological rut-digging.
That process has already begun – and if the writers of the comments I have deleted feel snubbed by not having their views addressed, I suggest they go back to the replies I gave to their earlier comments and see what I said about the very same views the first time they were expressed.

Before I move on from the matter of deleting comments; the following statement comes from a comment I rejected for the reasons stated above.

Paul G said: “Because you don’t believe or understand the doctrine of election, it ultimately forces you to trust and believe in your own TRUST and BELIEF and not in the finished work of Calvary.”

Firstly I have quite a good understanding of “election” as depicted in scripture. I also have a good understanding of the Calvinist doctrine of “unconditional election” – a doctrine that clearly contradicts God’s revelation given in scripture. But that is not the main part of the statement that I want to address.

Note the confusion in the latter part of the statement: the part that accuses me of trusting and believing in my “own TRUST and BELIEF and not in the finished work of Calvary”. Does Paul G trust in the finished work of Calvary? Is he not then trusting in his own trust in the finished work of Calvary? What makes his situation and his “trust” different to mine?

The difference is that the Calvinist doctrine of “unconditional election” effectively bypasses Calvary all together. It makes salvation the result of a pre-creation decree that determined which individuals were lucky enough to be saved. Therefore salvation has nothing to do with Calvary and Christ’s sacrifice and everything to do with having one’s name drawn out in god’s salvation lottery.

Paul closes his comment with the statement “Salvation is of the Lord” – and I totally agree. The disagreement is not with the source of salvation (the Lord), it is with the MEANS by which salvation is made available. Does that means reflect the character of God as revealed throughout scripture: does that means reflect His justice, His righteousness, His love and His mercy?

Debating Calvinists has never been my intention. My only interest in this matter has been to expose the evils of Calvinism’s doctrines. Those who choose to remain adherents to those false doctrines do so according to their own free will (ironically a free will many of them would deny having).

One of the most difficult experiences of the past few months has not been due to the response I've had from Calvinists. It has come from the reactions of some who deny being Calvinists who for some reason took offense when I drew attention to what Calvinism really promotes. To me this reveals a false sense of loyalty, an almost ecumenical approach that is willing to “agree to disagree” over important truths in order to maintain an appearance of peace.
Despite those difficult experiences, there have been indications that some have taken note and have realised for themselves how sinister the doctrines of Calvinism really are.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Millennial Questions

Here are a selection of questions “amillennialists” have asked me in their attempt to discredit belief in a literal millennial rule of Christ.


“Will immortal humans (the saved) live among mortal humans?”

Since the saved are changed at Jesus’ return and since the scriptures states clearly that the saints will rule with Him during the millennium it certainly seems that immortal humans will live among those unbelievers who are still alive after Jesus’ return
“While the redeemed live for the whole 1000 years will those not saved die?”

Yes there will be death during the millennium. Isaiah speaks of lives being extended at that time, but that sinner’s lives will be shortened. So there will also be sin in the earth during the millennium.
“I mean can someone explain to me what exactly is going on during this future 1000 year reign of Christ on earth?”

Christ is ruling over the earth in justice. Life is going on in a world that is totally just. There are many descriptions of this period scattered throughout scripture, in particular throughout the OT prophets.
“What is the purpose?”

Speculation alert: maybe it’s merely to show humanity what life can be like when true justice is applied and also that it’s NOT the devil making us do it – that mankind has ultimate responsibility to for his own actions. With the devil out of the way he can’t be blamed for man’s sin.

Also see:
Millennium: Failed Prophecies and Lost Faith

“Why does God continue the conflict between Himself and the devil for another 1000 years?”

He doesn’t. The devil is out of the way for those 1000 years. There is no conflict with the devil. The devil is released at the end of that time for a brief period. Again there is no conflict – when God determines that enough is enough, the devil is thrown into the Lake of fire.
The idea of conflict gives the impression of God struggling with the devil. There is no struggle. Satan is dealt with when and how God determines. Note that Satan’s imprisonment at the beginning of the 1000 years is carried out by an angel. God doesn’t even need to do that Himself. He sends a servant to do it.
“And seeing Jesus return according to prophecy, how can those still alive on earth not bow and put their faith in Him?”

1) Because mankind is rebellious and sinful.
2) Who says that the majority still alive on earth don’t immediately do that but later when complacency takes over they slip back to their old ways.
3) Those generations born during the Millennium have no prior knowledge of what the world was like prior to the rule of Jesus and will be ruled by the same passions that have affected mankind throughout history.
“How can MOST of the world be deceived after the 1000 years when they have had the wonderful loving most kind and gentle King Jesus leading humanity?”

Because mankind is sinful and selfish and doesn’t like being told what to do, even when it is in their best interests.
Judas lived with Jesus for three years. He saw the miracles and heard the teaching, yet he remained a thief and later betrayed Jesus.
“Do the wicked get raised before the millennium or wait till after the 1000 years?”

That is a question that is specifically and clearly answered in scripture. Read the sequence of events from Rev 19 onwards, and for the sake of this exercise assume that the millennium is exactly where scripture places it – in between the return of Jesus and the great white throne judgment.
“When the mortals see the righteous have been raised, won’t that bring conversion?”

Not necessarily. Some saw Lazarus raised from the dead and planned to kill him again! While resurrection has a much more glorious and permanent outcome than a mere raising from the dead, the heart of unrepentant man remains the same.
“If there are unbelieving mortals living on the earth during His reign do they have a chance to be saved and become immortal?”

I’m not aware that scripture makes this clear – but that does not nullify the reality of a literal 1000 year reign.
“Does Jesus return and then rule over this world as it is or does He make it perfect first?”

He starts ruling it as it is – I suppose that is why swords have to be beaten into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks (which scripture describes as happening when the Lord rules in Zion – as He does in the Millennium!)
“It seems the nations still exist during the 1000 years so do we go about and clean up the pollution and mess or do we wait until Jesus creates a new heaven and new earth after the 1000 years?”

People still have to live here for that 1000 years so it is likely that the earth’s mess is progressively cleaned up.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

When His Glory is Revealed.

I have often been accused of having a man-centred gospel; a gospel through which I thought I could save myself – all because I insist that faith and repentance were required conditions of man’s salvation. Many of those accusations have appeared in the comments on this blog and were made by those who insisted that God alone chose those individuals who would be saved.
Those same people follow a tradition that tells us billions of people will be thrown in hell with no chance of salvation entirely because God has not chosen them for salvation.
Somehow this “predestination” for damnation is all for God’s glory.
I know God’s ways are not our ways – but a God who needs to burn billions of people for eternity in order to bring glory to himself is less worthy of glory than a school yard bully who beats up kids half his size and half his age.

I wrote the article “God’s Glorious Gospel” when I was trying to find words to describe the incredible nature of the salvation God has provided. I realised how incapable I was of understanding the glorious nature and means of salvation sufficiently to put it into words.
However, one day the whole extent of what God has done (and is doing) will be completely revealed to those He has saved.
How much glory will He receive when the fullness of salvation is made known?

Two Creations

The current creation started with the heavens and the earth and climaxed with the creation of man.
God's new creation started with man and culminates with a new heaven and a new earth.

The first creation started with an environment suitable for man.
The new creation starts by making men suitable for an environment where he will live with God.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

God’s Glorious Gospel

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21: 1-7)

The matter of the new heavens and new earth can be quite overwhelming.
It is God’s ultimate intention.
It is the very last revelation God has given to us.
He has not revealed anything beyond the establishment of that new creation.
We can get very caught up with THIS world and OUR lives that we forget that God is moving towards something beyond the here and now. Even the (wrong) perception of “heaven” being our eternal destiny tends to keep our minds fixed on this world, giving the impression that everything will continue on as always: the only difference being a change of residence from earth to heaven as we each reach the end of our earthly life.

The fact is that this world is coming to an end. This world was NEVER intended to be permanent. It was GOOD when God created it but it was never intended to be His BEST.
From the beginning this world had a limited use. It could never go on forever. This can be seen in God’s command to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…”
Has anyone ever considered what the outcome would be if man had never sinned (and therefore death had not been introduced) and had continued to be fruitful, increasing in number… how long would it have taken for the world to become impossibly crowded?
That makes it clear that the maintenance of this world was never God’s intention.

Scripture shows us that God’s ultimate goal has always been a new heavens and new earth which will be the home of righteousness. That is the climax of God’s revealed plan for His creation.

The current creation ALWAYS had a potential for sin. The new creation will have NO potential for sin. The potential for sin was necessary to ensure that God could obtain a willingly obedient people to adopt into His family. Willingness requires the provision of a genuine choice. Such a choice also presents the possibility of wilful disobedience. That of course was the outcome when Adam and Eve willingly disobeyed God’s sole prohibition in eating the forbidden fruit an act that led to condemnation for all men.

Of course God was not taken by surprise. He had foreknown Adam’s sin and a plan for man’s redemption had been ordained even before the world had been created. This plan is glorious beyond our comprehension. It enabled the salvation of mankind without being dependant upon anything within mankind. Sinful man could do NOTHING to bring himself again into right relationship with a Holy, just and righteous God. But God didn’t leave man in that helpless and hopeless situation. While man had no power to save Himself, God was more than able and willing.

It is impossible to adequately describe God’s means of saving mankind. Words like glorious, amazing, brilliant and extraordinary are all inadequate. It has incredible breadth and countless facets, all of which turn the focus back on the redeeming creator instead of the redeemed creature.
He has provided a way through which all of mankind has the opportunity to be freed from the sin that has separated us from Him. That way is an expression of God’s mercy, His love and His justice. It is not arbitrary and favours no individual above another. Mankind is given both freedom and responsibility, making us accountable for our sin but giving us the opportunity to be freed from it. God’s justice demands that sin be punished, and in His mercy He Himself took the punishment for our sin.

All of this is part of God’s grand plan. It all fits together. From the initial creation followed by Adam’s sin right through to the destruction of this world and the creation of a replacement. Every part of the process has a reason. Everything is leading up to God making His home with a family chosen from among mankind; from all ages and from all nations, tribes and tongues.

And who is chosen to become part of this “grand plan”? Those who have trusted in His Son and His righteousness instead of trusting in themselves and their own self-righteousness; those who through the working of the Holy Spirit have recognised how unworthy they are and have sought and submitted to His mercy; those who rely on Him to forgive their sins and to cleanse them from unrighteousness; those who will receive the gracious gift He has freely given.

No matter how much I have tried I continually fail to glimpse the glory of God’s gospel. At times it seems like I’ve almost grasped part of it – but when I try to put it into words no language seems sufficient to translate that partial glimpse into something tangible. I think all of our attempts to put the indescribable into words will continually fail until we meet Him face to face..

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
"Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
"Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.(Rom 11:33-36)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?

The following is excerpted from David Pawson’s message “The Lessons of the Holocaust for Jews & Christians.”

The God I know loves righteousness more than people.
What I mean by that statement is that when God has to choose between preserving righteousness and protecting people, He chooses righteousness. The event in history which alone would prove that is Noah’s flood, when He drowned the entire population of the world except for one family who were righteous in His sight.
And the end of history is going to be like Noah’s flood according to Jesus.

There is law as well as love in God. There are sanctions with God. He rewards obedience and He punishes disobedience. He is a God who blesses AND curses. There is no difference in this regard between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New.

We of course are under a new covenant with God, not under the mosaic covenant of Sinai, but under the new covenant that Jesus shed His blood to make with us. This covenant also has sanctions.
The differences are firstly that is individual rather than collective. It’s not made with the church is it made with individual believers. It is made with “whosoever believes”. It is an individual covenant and each person will pay for their own sins and nobody else’s.
Secondly, the punishment in the new covenant is not the same. It is not in this world it is in the next world and it is not temporary it is permanent.
The sanctions are worse under the new covenant. Judgement is more serious, especially since Jesus is going to be the judge and He understands us perfectly; can see right through us.
I am speaking about hell.

Standing in the cremation chamber at Auschwitz, I thought “this is the nearest to hell I’ve ever been”, but it wasn’t. There is nothing we experience yet that is as bad as that: to be permanently cut off from God and therefore from all goodness, and to spend eternity with selfish, utterly heartless people and with the devil and his angels.
It is horrific.

We need to take God seriously. “Worship Him with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” That is a quote from Deuteronomy, but it is also in the New Testament. For God has not changed. He’s the same God. He’s a God who loves righteousness. No one has ever asked me “how can a RIGHTEOUS God send anyone to hell?” because all they have heard about is this “love, love, love” thing.

You mark my word; go through the New Testament carefully. They did not preach the love of God to unbelievers in the New Testament. They preached His RIGHTEOUSNESS and the need for repentance. Paul said “I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God to salvation of everyone who believes, for in it is revealed the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God”.
That is hope for everyone in the world and for the world itself, that God is righteous. He is good. He is moral. He will do what is right and what is fair. He is righteous, the only person in the whole universe who really is: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
May His name be praised!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Millennium: Failed Prophecies and Lost Faith

For most of my Christian life “The Millennium” was a mysterious 1000 year period beginning after the Great Tribulation. The religious tradition to which I belonged paid lip-service to the reality of a future “millennium”, but never offered any teaching about it.
Therefore the only thing I knew was what I read in Revelation and that didn’t say very much. Even the word “millennium” seemed to take on a mystical character that took it outside the realm of concrete reality.

My first informed introduction to the topic came a few years ago through teaching by David Pawson. At first I thought that most of what he was saying was based on speculation like the majority of popular teaching on end times. But if that was the case it would be out of character for him. He always makes a strong issue out of sticking with the clearest and simplest meaning of the biblical text. Was he abandoning this approach while tackling this topic?

Pawson rarely gives convenient chapter and verse bible references for his hearers to “look up”. He encourages the practice of searching the scriptures rather than checking references; and over time I started to find confirmation of his teaching as I read through the Old Testament prophets. I was surprised how much of their writings applied to the promise of an earthly rule by Israel’s Messiah.

Recently I came across a former believer (and now professing atheist) who claimed that Jesus had failed to fulfil many OT Messianic prophesies. It seemed that this understanding might have played a part in him losing his faith. An honest assessment of his view would see the legitimacy of his conclusion, but ONLY on the condition that Jesus’ time on this earth was over and that there was no further opportunity for the prophecies to be fulfilled.

Most Christians look forward to a “second-coming” of Jesus, but how many have given any thought to WHY He will return to earth? Why is it necessary? What will it achieve that could not be achieved by him remaining in heaven? Is He returning merely to bring everything to an immediate end prior to judgement? If that is the case, then what about those unfulfilled Messianic prophecies? Has God given up on them? Was He lying when He gave those words to the prophets? Or are those events still pending?

Many try to spiritualise John’s prophecy about a 1000 year period in which Jesus rules with His saints. But is it merely coincidence that John describes the very same situation that almost all of the prophets predicted? If the prophets’ predictions were valid (which believers MUST accept if we deem that they were prophetic messages from God) then could those prophets have been predicting the very same thing that John foresaw? If so, the events they describe in their prophecies will give us a picture of life during the millennium period, filling in the detail missing from John’s account in Revelation. And the former believer’s claim of failed Messianic prophecies would be clearly premature. There is still plenty of time for the Lord to fulfil His prophesied Messianic promises.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Salvation: Fire Insurance or Extreme Makeover?

How much do we really understand about “salvation”? To most people it seems to mean salvation from an eternity in hell. Therefore our eyes become set on our ultimate future instead of our lives here and now.

But does scripture EVER portray salvation as an escape from hell? It may be surprising to find that most references to eternal damnation are directed towards believers.
Hell was not used as an incentive to turn sinners into saints. If anything it was an incentive for believers to remain faithful and to maintain their fear of God.

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him”. (Luke 12: 4-5)

The New Testament message of salvation is far different to the common idea of someone stepping from a state of “unsaved” to “saved”. Yet many people understand that a single step is all it takes. Whether that step comes by God “unconditionally electing” a people, or through those people making a personal response to a preached gospel message, the common idea sees an instant safety from eternal damnation has been obtained. But is that the case?

Romans 8:29 is often used to support the Calvinist idea of an elect few being “predestined” for salvation. Yet the actual reference is not addressing “salvation” (at least NOT the common understanding of salvation). Instead predestination is associated with being “conformed to the likeness of his Son”.
To me there seems to be much more profound and challenging being revealed here than an alleged “elect” group being given an undeserved “get out of hell” free card.

Peter also wrote about being “partakers of the divine nature” – something made possible by God through “great and precious promises” and “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness”. Again this tells us something about God’s intention for His people – to be “conformed to the likeness of His Son”

Salvation is not about our future destiny it is about NOW. It is about being brought into relationship with God NOW. It is about being transformed NOW. It is about trusting in God NOW. It is submitting ourselves to God and His provision NOW so that day by day we increasingly become partakers of the divine nature. Day by day we are increasingly conformed to His likeness until that day when “the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” and He “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” and “ we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is”.

Jesus told us that He is the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except through Him. He did not say He is the way the truth and the life and no one avoids hell except through Him.

A secure eternal destiny, being with God in His new creation, is a continuation of our salvation. It is the result of a life lived IN salvation – a life lived IN CHRIST and obtaining a family likeness. It is the result of an ongoing relationship with God. Salvation is intended to bring us into that relationship. Escape from hell is a mere fringe benefit.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Commit mass murder then still go to heaven…

“There is nothing more dangerous than someone with two verses of Scripture that he has strung together to create a doctrine. We need to take the whole Bible into consideration.”
David Servant.

As a Father
by David Servant

Last month, George Sodini walked into a women's aerobics class at an LA Fitness Club just a few miles from where I live. He turned out the lights and began shooting into the darkness, firing fifty rounds. Within seconds, he killed three women and wounded nine others. Then he shot and killed himself.
According to his blog, he had been planning the killings and his suicide at LA Fitness for months in advance. In December, he wrote in that blog of the evangelical church he had attended for thirteen years, saying of the pastor, "This guy teaches (and convinced me) you can commit mass murder then still go to heaven."
Just one day before his murder spree and suicide, he wrote:
Maybe soon, I will see God and Jesus. At least that is what I was told. Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell.

complete article here:

As a Father


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Word of "Faith"

I’ve made no secret about my one time involvement with Word of Faith (WOF) teaching. It’s a confession that one visitor to this blog has tried to use against me. On more than one occasion (here and elsewhere) he has tried to use it to discredit who I am and what I now believe.

Accompanying that attempt has been an assumption about the extent of my involvement and the effect it continues to have on my life. From the tone and the content of insinuations made I can see he assumes my attraction to WOF was inspired by greed.

While my involvement with WOF has never been hidden, I don’t recall writing about my reasons for getting involved with that teaching. I now want to address those reasons.

For several years I had been involved with a Pentecostal denomination that continually presented a Christian reality that I was not experiencing. No matter how often they insisted that healing and miracles were valid today – they were demonstrating nothing of that professed reality. There was a huge gap between professed belief and actual experience. It was a gap that didn’t seem to exist in scripture. What was the problem?

My introduction to WOF came at a midweek home fellowship meeting. Members of the group had been listening to tapes from one of Kenneth Copeland’s conferences and they were sharing some of the things that had excited them. I offered significant resistance to the things they were saying but eventually their enthusiasm got through to me.

Was I won over by the promise of a prosperous life? Or was it the claim that Christians could and should live in total health?

It was neither. The thing that broke down the wall of my resistance was a realisation of what faith meant. At that stage I didn’t know about the WOF teachings of faith being a force that anyone could utilise. I knew nothing about the emphasis on positive confession (confess and possess or the less reverent blab it and grab it). All I knew was that I gained an understanding of faith for the first time. It became much more than an “airy-fairy” mystical word that seemed to have no practical use.
At best my previous understanding of faith involved a lot of uncertainty and had more in common with “wishing” than with a firm trust in my redeemer.
For the first time faith became something more certain and firm, something concrete.

Having faith in God meant to trust Him no matter what.
It meant taking Him at His word and having confidence in what He had said. Primarily, in practical terms, that meant accepting His word as being the truth even when our circumstances or experience offered contradictory evidence. If God had promised something in scripture, and if all conditions of that promise were met, then we should have the total confidence of receiving what was promised, because God is not a liar.

The biblical faith I discovered was not a vague uncertain trust in God. It involved an absolute confidence in Him and His character. His word became the standard by which God and His purposes could be known. Through scripture His desires and plans for mankind were revealed. By knowing His will and in particular through knowing what He had provided for His children, we could have the foundation upon which our faith could firmly stand.

That is the area of WOF that attracted me. It was not the promise of health and wealth – it was the promise of living as a genuinely effective Christian witness, actually LIVING and demonstrating the Christian life described in the New Testament instead of tolerating the hypocrisy of professing one thing and living another. It gave a tangible reality to faith and it was no longer merely a theological concept.

THAT is what drew me to WOF. Its teachers were the first to give me a real understanding of what faith is and at the time they were the only ones who seemed to be teaching that truth.

However, their message came with a lot of excess baggage that was not so helpful. While their doctrines were always (supposedly) based on ‘the word” – like all false doctrines they were based on PARTS of the word. I became very adept at quoting scripture to promote the teaching I was receiving. But my quotes were learned mainly via Copeland recordings and not through turning to scripture for myself. I was therefore never aware of the correct context of those quotes. I was only familiar with the interpretations placed upon those verses by the Copelands and associated ministries.

While the understanding of faith that I’d initially gained was still valuable (that is trusting God’s word to be the truth): all validity was dependant on it REALLY being GOD’S word and not a false assumption that I mistook for God’s word. Believing in an assumption or a wrong interpretation of scripture is NOT an expression of faith in God. That is where my departure from WOF began. There were too many inconsistencies between what I was being taught and what I was reading in scripture for myself. Too much of scripture was being ignored or misapplied.
At first I pushed aside my concerns. After all no one is perfect and I couldn’t expect the teachers to get everything right – and they were the ones who had given me an insight into the nature of faith when my church and its leaders seemed to be as much in the dark as I had been.

Instead of being attracted to WOF by their teaching on prosperity, it was the increasing emphasis on earthly wealth that gave me most cause for concern. While I was struggling financially I could see these men and women living highly extravagant lifestyles, financed by the donations they solicited. It seemed that the way for me to get out of financial difficulties was by sending them money (?) – and their lifestyles showed how it all worked (and could allegedly work for me) with God clearly blessing them and their ministry with wealth. None of this (their extravagance) seemed compatible with anything that Jesus said about wealth. Those parts of scripture were among those conveniently ignored.

A major area of their teaching on faith that I could not reconcile with anything in scripture was the idea that faith is a force that works when it principles are put into practice. Even unbelievers were tapping into this force of faith and were reaping its benefits without realising what they were doing. This teaching made faith into something impersonal with a power of its own. It was not a matter of having faith in someone (God), it was important to have faith in your faith. This is where “positive confession” came into play. Continued positive confession was the means of reinforcing and expressing faith to obtain a desired outcome. Negative confession was equally effective, but the outcome was nothing to be desired.
I was never comfortable with this aspect of WOF teaching and when I read “The Seduction of Christianity’ by Hunt and McMahon the reason for my discomfort was made clear. The authors showed there was a relationship between these beliefs and practices with occultism and eastern mysticism. It was around that time that I broke away from WOF teaching.

WOF teaching is riddled with false doctrine and false practices (and I think that has increased in the 20+ years since I abandoned it). But like the majority of heresies there is enough truth to disguise the lies. In the case of WOF I gained a much stronger understanding of what faith is (and is not). Faith revolves around relationship; knowing God, His ways and His desires well enough to trust Him totally. Faith requires an understanding of His will and is focused on His will. It is not focused on our desire or our assumptions and it definitely is not a “force” to be operated.

Looking back now I can say that my understanding of faith began with my involvement with WOF teachers – but it developed and matured DESPITE their teaching and not because of it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Controversies: Scripture or Men’s Traditions?

There are countless controversies raging among those identified by the generic names of “Christian” or “Church”. Adherents to the various divisions of theology being promoted would all claim to be basing their views on scripture. But how can that be true unless scripture itself is divided and is intentionally contradictory.

It is my view that scripture is NOT the problem. Competing traditions arise when man departs from scripture and adds his own interpretations of what scripture needs to mean in order to confirm his preconceived doctrines.

It is a process that starts at the beginning of our Christian experience. As newcomers to the faith we are particularly vulnerable to the teachings of the church we attend and the particular doctrinal stance they take. It is so easy for us to trust the word of those we consider to be more mature in the faith and we rely on them more than personal study of the scriptures. By the time we do address the scriptures for ourselves, our reading has become coloured by the doctrines we expect to see proclaimed in the bible.

One of the clearest tests to see how our understanding of scripture has been adversely affected by traditional teachings is to assess whether we find ourselves trying to explain why scripture DOESN’T mean what it seems to be clearly saying: when it requires the performance of some energetic intellectual gymnastics to make the written word of scripture conform to our beliefs.

I am seeing more and more instances of spiritual-contortionists in action. Instead of starting with the clearest and simplest meaning of scripture, they start with a belief and search out “secondary” scriptures to “prove” that the clearest meaning of their initial reading can not be the right one.

Examples are found in the Calvinist response to:

1 Tim2:3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men

Nothing could be clearer than the categorical statements that God wants ALL men to be saved and that Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for ALL men. There is no way for the Calvinist to reconcile these statements with their doctrines of “Unconditional Election” and “Limited Atonement”, so they choose their doctrine above the clear and simple word of scripture.

That is merely one example, but almost any area of controversy could be examined in the same way, such as:

1) Spiritual gifts: valid or did they end with the Apostles?
2) The millennium: literal or symbolic
3) Rapture: pre-trib, mid-trib. Post trib or no trib?
4) Hell: eternal suffering, annihilationism or universal salvation?
5) Predestination: of an elect minority or of a collective body who are in Christ
6) Election: to salvation or to service
7) Baptism: essential or optional/ of babies or believers/ sprinkling or immersion

Where do OUR personal beliefs on these issues lie? With what scripture actually reveals? Or with what our tradition has taught us?

What are the simplest and clearest messages given in scripture relating to these issues? Does my belief conform with that clearest and simplest meaning? Or did I obtain my belief from men's teaching? Am I more interested in defending the teaching I received or am I more interested in what scripture says?

Friday, September 11, 2009


A recommended article from the Classical Arminian blog


Recently, I have heard comments from Calvinists from pulpits making statements that, in my opinion, are entirely inconsistent with their theory of Unconditional Election. For instance (and I will not mention any names), I heard some ministers promote the notion that "if more Christians do not go out to the mission field, then those people will die without Jesus Christ." That much is true, and it is certainly more than a mere sincere motivating factor for Christians to consider. In New Testament Scripture, it is a given that followers of Jesus Christ will share their faith with others (cf. Acts 1:8).

Recently, however, I have also heard Calvinist preachers make this comment: "If more Christians do not go out to the mission field, then those people will die without Jesus Christ. And they will stand at the Judgment Throne of God and ask us, 'Why did you not come and witness to us? We will now spend eternity in hell because you refused to bring us the gospel.'" Nothing could be farther from the truth, according to Calvinism, my friends! Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Complete article here:

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hell: Reason and Necessity.

The thought of God condemning people to hell seems to be a problem for many people. The problem is perhaps increased if we listen to some who say that God does not desire to throw any of mankind into hell but will do so anyway. So what is the situation regarding hell and what were God’s alternatives? Why does there need to be a “hell” and why does anyone need to be condemned to it?

Maybe we can look at some differing scenarios:

1) God allows a moral free-for-all in which no one is held accountable for anything. Therefore no need for hell. (But this earth would be as bad as hell anyway with no moral restraints).

2) God denies mankind any freedom of choice at all. He programmes everyone to be (and to remain) morally perfect. In other words he ends up with a puppet race controlled entirely by Himself. (But there can't be much joy in a family made up of dolls that say "I love you daddy" every time you press the right button). In such a scenario there would be no need for any of mankind to be thrown in hell.

3) Repeat the "denial of choice" scenario of alternative 2, but this time God actually WANTS to throw the majority of mankind into hell. He selects a chosen few (“the elect”) whom He has predestined to save, but He predestines the rest to burn for eternity as a demonstration of His justice. This will bring Him great glory.
Of course those who are thrown in hell are treated in this way because they are depraved sinners and not because God brought them into existence with a depraved and sinful nature: even though they had no choice about that nature and no opportunity to be free from it – that nature being a result of God’s sovereign choice. [Oh the wonders of Calvinism!]

4) God creates mankind with the ability to choose, so that He can obtain a people who will willingly follow Him. This option cuts both ways. The freedom to choose obedience also creates the freedom to rebel.

Such a scenario seems fine in theory, but what if we can’t live up to the standard God expects? According to the bible God has provided for that reality by putting everyone on a level playing field where no one is more advantaged/disadvantaged than anyone else. Romans 11 states that ALL were bound over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on ALL. In this scenario NO ONE is able to fulfil God’s expectations according to our own efforts, but He has provided a way for us to be acceptable through relying on His mercy. This is the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ through which He has made it possible for the worst of men to turn towards God and be changed from a sinner to a saint.

Not only does God give us the choice of turning towards Him, He also adds a big incentive to do so. To the obedient He promises an eventual new creation which will NOT have the potential for evil; from which all rebellion will be barred. It will be populated by only those who have already chosen His (the creator's) way in this current creation.

However, what becomes of those who reject God and His promise?
Jesus describes their destiny in the terms of a garbage dump; using Gehenna, Jerusalem's dump as an illustration.
Like anything that does not fulfil its intended purpose, those who continue in rebellion against God' purpose for them will be thrown out as garbage.

This is NOT done arbitrarily. We ALL have the choice to recognise and respond to our creator in the way that He desires. But most prefer to go their own way and kick against any idea of there being a greater authority to whom they are accountable. Such is the arrogance of mankind. And hell is the ultimate result of ignoring personal accountability in a moral universe created by a Holy, Just and Righteous God

Friday, September 04, 2009

Scripture and Knowing God.

This is an answer to a comment made about the previous post. Due to the length I though it better to post it here instead of in the comments box.


Knowing God begins before the new birth

From Romans:
…what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

When man comes into relationship with God through faith in Jesus that knowledge deepens to become something more personal. But to come into that relationship we need to have faith. And how do we have faith in someone we do not know?

Of course the Calvinist would put regeneration ahead of the ability to have faith. But scripture makes it clear that faith in Jesus comes first. It is the one who believes who is saved. The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of the one who believes. It is the one who believes (and continues to believe) in Jesus who will not perish but will have everlasting life…

I agree. Knowledge of scripture will not necessarily lead to knowledge of God. There is a requirement to ACT on what scripture says. It is DOING and not only HEARING that is required.

A growing understanding of scripture IS required if we are to grow in true knowledge of God. Without that understanding of scripture we can never be sure that it IS God that we are following. There are many deceptive voices in the world and also in the church, as Jesus warned. And of course, that warning comes to us through scripture, so an ignorance of scripture will also result in an ignorance of the dangers that scripture warns us about.

The article that I recommended (see previous post) addresses the disturbing tendency that many professing Christians display when they are ambivalent and at times antagonistic towards the scriptures. The results of this can be seen in the experience based “faith” being pursued by millions in the western world – a symptom of which was last year’s “Lakeland Revival”.
People are choosing hype and spectacle with the flimsiest of Christian veneers, and are promoting that as genuine Christianity. Those people get caught up because they choose to be ignorant of God’s word and thereby remain ignorant of the God who inspired that word.
They are easily led astray by false doctrine, and end up following a false god – because they have not learned to recognise and know the TRUE God

When we are first introduced to someone our knowledge of them is limited and relatively superficial. Like in ALL relationships, our knowing of God increases according to the time spent together and the quality of communication that takes place. If we shut ourselves off when someone tries to share their plans, hopes, desires and intentions – then our relationship will never develop. Instead it is likely to lapse and eventually come to an end.
In scripture God has given us a revelation of everything we need to know about Him and His plans for mankind. Ignore scripture and we will remain ignorant of God and His desires and will be susceptible to receiving false ideas in place of the truth we pushed aside.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

“The Totality of Knowing God Begins Here” by Dan Edelen

Another article about the all too common neglect of scripture in today’s church.

The Totality of Knowing God Begins Here

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The man who convinced me to SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES

David Pawson is one of the very few bible teachers I would personally recommend. I first became aware of his ministry in the early 1980s when he visited Australia to speak at conferences run by Vision Ministries.

I came across recordings of his conference sermons and enjoyed most of his teaching.

At the time I was getting involved with Word of Faith teaching through Kenneth Copeland’s TV broadcasts and I heard Pawson speak out against the excesses of “faith” and “prosperity” teaching. At the time I thought he was out of line, but I still liked a lot of what he had to say.

My involvement with WOF finally took its toll, as will involvement with any false teaching. It took many years (over 15) to start the recovery process, and even after so many years WOF teaching was clearly still having an effect on my understanding of God.

I am grateful to the Lord for bringing David Pawson’s teaching back into my life at that time. I am also grateful that I found it hard to accept. I resisted what he was preaching. It didn’t fit with the gospel that I’d accepted previously. I couldn’t recall Pawson preaching that way in the past…

But despite my resistance, I was coming across more and more people saying the same kind of things and I started to wonder whether I had ever understood the gospel in the past.
I went back to Pawson and what he was saying started to make more sense. Most importantly he made a big issue about people NOT accepting what he was preaching. He consistently told his hearers to go to the scriptures to test everything he said. How different is this to the “touch not the Lord’s anointed” threats wielded by those who don’t want their teaching held up to the truth of scripture?

Through David Pawson’s encouragement and example I have learned of the need to search scriptures for myself and to always accept its clearest and simplest meaning unless the context indicates otherwise.

Here are links to two David Pawson sermons.

Romans 11

Jesus The Baptiser

Or if they fail, try following this link

and scroll down almost to the bottom of the page until you find:

Romans 11
David Pawson May 31 pm (88 min 49 sec)

Jesus The Baptiser
David Pawson May 31 am (77 min 49 sec)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Martyrdom of a friend.

My previous two entries have been historical accounts of people who lost their lives for their faith in the area of England where I spent my childhood.

I now want to make note of another martyrdom that was even closer to home than those above, it happened almost exactly 20 years ago, in August 1989.

I met Jackie Hamill in the mid 1980s. She was a student at the bible college run by Vision Ministries Australia, which at the time was based in Parramatta to the west of Sydney.
The college held regular Saturday night meetings that were open to the public and every couple of weeks I’d make the hour and a half drive to attend. Jackie always made sure that my friends and I felt welcome with her cheerful greeting. Of all of the students, she is the only one I remembered, so it was quite a shock when years later I saw her on the evening news.
She was huddled with a group of people taken hostage by rioting prisoners at a Philippines Jail. In the news footage, the group were being shuffled around the front of a building at gunpoint. Jackie and the others had been taking the gospel to the inmates of the prison when the riot began.

According to reports, she and other female hostages were raped repeatedly, yet witnesses said that throughout the horrific ordeal she continued to sing praise to God and to share the gospel with the others present.
After three days there was a shootout between the prisoners and the authorities. In the exchange Jackie was mortally wounded but continued to sing until her life finally slipped away.

A more vivid account and other details can be found at the following links (but note the dating inaccuracy found in one report:,759751,4671400

Monday, August 24, 2009

Edward Wightman: Last “Heretic” Burned

Continuing from the previous entry about Joan Waste, I came across another “martyr” from the region where I spent my childhood. This time I put the word “martyr” in quotes because of uncertainty about the man and his beliefs. Accounts of his life vary significantly.
My particular interest came about after reading that he was born in Burton-on –Trent (my own birthplace), but elsewhere it is stated that he was born in Burbage, Leicestershire and later moved to Burton.

His particular claim to fame is being the last “heretic” to be executed by burning in England.

Edward Wightman was executed in 1612, not by the Catholic Church of Queen Mary, but by the Church of England under the instruction of King James I. The nature of his heresy differs according to which account you read (more contradictory evidence!). He was charged with eleven distinct heresies, including his belief that "the baptising of infants is an abominable custom” and that “Christianity is not wholly professed and preached in the Church of England”.

He was also accused of denying the Trinity. At least one source questions this denial – suggesting that instead he merely objected to the wording of the common creeds regarding their statements about the Trinity

Some of the other charges against him were so extreme that it was said: “if Edward really held all the opinions of which he was accused, he would have been either an idiot or a madman, and, if so, he ought to have had the prayers of his persecutors rather than to have them put him to a cruel death.” Maybe this statement could be seen as questioning the legitimacy of some of the accusations made against him.

Wightman was sentenced to death by burning. On the first attempt to carry out the sentence, as the flames began to burn his flesh, he began to shout out something that was interpreted as a renunciation of his beliefs. He was pulled from the flames under the assumption that he was agreeing to submit to the faith of the Church of England.

After his rescue from the stake he continued preaching his “heresies” and after a few weeks was returned to the stake and burned on 11 April 1612 at Lichfield, Staffordshire.
Descendents of Wightman has written accounts of their ancestor at:

other details can be found at

Martyred For Resisting Man’s Theology: Joan Waste

I’ve been doing some reading about the history of the area where I spent my childhood. I was born in Burton-on Trent in England and for my first 13 years lived in South Derbyshire.
I was interested to come across the story of Joan Waste, a blind woman who was martyred for her faith during the reign of Queen Mary.

Even though she was blind she wanted a bible of her own, intending to find someone who would read it to her. Despite the expense she worked and saved until she was able to afford a New Testament. She then had the problem of finding someone willing to read to her on a daily basis. Eventually she found an old man in Derby jail, imprisoned for not paying his debts. He appreciated her visits and read to her on a daily basis until his health started to fail.

She then turned to the Clerk of All Saints Church (now Derby Cathedral) and persuaded him to read to her. When he was not available others would charge her a penny to read a few chapters. A penny was about a full days pay

Joan started memorising passages of scripture and began to speak out against false religion which abounded at the time.

Edward VI died in early 1553 and his Roman Catholic sister Mary became Queen. Almost straight away attendance at the Roman Catholic Mass was once again made compulsory and Protestantism was denounced. Joan refused to attend mass and at twenty two years of age was summoned to appear before the Bishop on a charge of Heresy.

Joan declared that she believed only the things taught by Scripture and told them was also ready to give her life for her faith rather than embrace Catholicism.

The order was given to burn Joan to death. She was taken away to a place called the Windmill Pit on the Burton Road in Derby where, holding her brother's hand, she prepared herself for execution.

She was hanged over the fire with a rope and she fell into the fire when the rope burned through.
There is a memorial to her in Birchover church Derbyshire. The place where she was executed is now the site of a Roman Catholic Church.