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.