Archive for the ‘Calvinism’ Category

The Package Theory of Election

packageIn no uncertain terms, the Apostle Paul is inspired by the Spirit to write in Ephesians 1 that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and predestined to be adopted as God’s children. What does this mean? It means what it says.

The non-Calvinist doesn’t think so, however (I’d like to use terms like Arminian or Semi-Pelagian, but most non-Calvinists I know reject those. A simple glance at a comparison between Calvinism and Arminianism, however, will reveal that many non-Calvinists are at least 4-point Arminians. But I’ll  stick with the elusive term, “non-Calvinist” for now). He is adamantly opposed to the idea that God would predestine an individual for salvation. The problem, however, is that the New Testament is replete with that kind of language. Something is predestined by God, but it can’t be me. So what is it? The Package.

It’s sort of like buying insurance. There are several different packages one may choose. One has a higher deductible, but a lower premium. Another includes a rental car, free of charge, if needed. Those kinds of stipulations are worked into the package, and are available for the one who chooses said package. But, ultimately, the choice is yours.

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The Sovereignty of God Conference, Day 2 (am)

sovGodconfDue to work, I missed the morning session of Day 2, which included 2 messages. However, I was able to listen to them yesterday on CD. What a blessing! Each message fit right into the theme and continued in this wonderful conference of solid, biblical preaching.

Bill Poss, an elder at the host church, kicked it off with the topic, “God’s Sovereign Choice of the Younger Son.” His sermon was very exegetical, drawing from the text the only conclusion that can be consistently made: God will mercy whom He will and harden whom He will. Consequently, the message focused on Romans 9 and God’s unconditional election based on His purpose.

Eric Redmond followed him and spoke on “God’s Sovereignty and the Call of the Pastor.” He had us open to 2 Timothy, and I smugly thought I knew where he was going, but I was surprised. I figured he would preach on Paul’s charge to Timothy, or the qualifications of a pastor, or something to that extent. He did touch on those things, but the thrust of his message actually dealt with Paul’s terrible conditions in chapter 4:9-22 and how Timothy was called to be by his side. The point was clear: the call of God on one’s life is more important than the place in which he serves. Coming from a leader familiar with the tough, transient, often unrecognized nature of urban ministry, this message was profound. For me, it hit home, for I’ve been involved in urban ministry myself and feel that is where God will be using me for the rest of my life.

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The Sovereignty of God Conference (with amazing cell phone pics), Day 1

sovGodconfToday, the Sovereignty of God conference, put on by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, hosted by Bread of Life Fellowship in Haledon, NJ, came to a conclusion. The speakers included pastors from New Jersey as well as James White and Eric Redmond.

Well, I’m no Tim Challies, and I didn’t live-blog it, but I’m going to give a quick recap because this conference was a tremendous blessing to me.

How refreshing it was to attend a conference that had little to do with ourselves, our circle, convention, or denomination, or that promoted anyone’s agenda. The only agenda was the promotion of God’s sovereignty – a true conference on doctrine about God. And I say that it hit the nail on the head.

This conference was much more than expounding on a particular theological position, namely Calvinism. Despite the fact that there’s so much controversy and so many pot-shots going back and forth, the purpose wasn’t to arm us Calvinists with better arguments and more proof texts. Sure, some of the debate points were mentioned, but the emphasis was on the truth of God’s sovereignty as revealed in His word and the implications thereof. Instead of leaving me with ammunition to propagate the agenda of spreading 16th century soteriological nuances, I was left with a sense of awe about our mighty God. I was also given a humility about how I go about thinking about our sovereign God, communicating our sovereign God to others, and serving our sovereign God each day.

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Taking a Stand: A Rant

standPlease excuse the incoherency and lack of flow in this post, but I’ve got a few things to say.

I’ve been slacking a bit in blogging, but I think that’s ok. In the meantime, I have posted a few things on the King James Only blog, and, as a result, posts about that topic will be exclusive to that website, for the most part. This will allow me to focus on other topics. I’ve also been lurking around other blogs recently, and a few things have come to my attention. So I’ll make some comments. After all, small-fry bloggers like me have opinions that really matter, right?

The concern over the “YF Reformation” (if I can coin the term) is not diminishing at all. The demographic of 18-35 year old Christians who are tied to fundamentalism in some way (the Young Fundamentalists, “YFs”) is undergoing a major facelift in recent years.

And we YFs haven’t been silent about it. Those who are against the shift haven’t been either. The blogosphere has added significant volume to all our insignificant voices, as well as popularized diatribes and analyses by influential leaders of both camps. Currently, there’s much ado over Dan Sweatt and the FBFI. John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll. Peter Masters’ assessment of this movement. Colin Hansen’s Young, Restless, and Reformed is still being discussed. And of course, commentary on all of these issues abound from pastors and lay leaders alike.

Certainly, a reformation of sorts is underway. It’s both a privilege and a scary thing to be living in these times. I don’t know how this all will conclude, but God does. He is still in control. And we must remember, reformation is never easy.

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The Holy Spirit of Promise: God’s Down Payment

Ephesians 1:13-14
13
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

In our struggling economy, there’s little doubt that the housing market has been hit the hardest. Families across the nation are being forced to sell their houses at half the purchase price. Often, the financial stability of the family depends on whether or not a house will sell. In such a situation nothing is more comforting than a buyer’s promise of earnest money. This initial down payment stands as a guarantee that the deal will go through. As an added benefit, the money is given and is immediately available for the family to use.

The Christian life is often more volatile than any economic crisis. Fightings without and fears within as Paul would say. But, there is nothing more comforting than the presence of the Holy Spirit of Promise, the earnest of our inheritance, God’s down payment.

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Self-defeating Ministries & Self-defeating Christians

During the missions conference at my church last week, I heard an interesting illustration. It came from a personal experience of the preacher who used it. Having visited a country in central Africa, the preacher had taken a tour of one of the deepest gold mines in the entire world. It reached nearly three miles below sea level. In order to reach the lowest point of the mine, the preacher and the tour guide had to use a series of elevators.

As they were transferring from one elevator to another, the preacher asked the tour guide why they had to use so many elevators. The tour guide explained that the mine shaft was far too long for only one elevator. After a certain distance, the weight of the elevator cables become too heavy for any elevator system. It becomes a self-defeating mechanism.

The preacher had a different application for his story, but before he proceeded to it, he threw in the comment, “I know a few ministries like that – so big, they’re self-defeating.”

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Double Standards in Fundamentalism Today, #5: Me

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Galatians 4:16
 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

True friends tell you what you need to hear. As much as I covet those comments in which people say, “great website!”, I need much more to hear about the things I need to change. Those things have been brought to my attention, and it seems like I’ve been one of the biggest Double Standards all along. I hope now to articulate some of the problems, and offer some possible solutions.

(No, that’s not really me in the picture.)

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Why John Piper Continues to Teach Fundamentalists

He never ceases to amaze. He has influenced untold scores of people across various doctrinal persuasions. He has helped bring an emphasis of personal love for God that is much needed in our time. He is John Piper, evangelicalism’s very own rock star. His impact has been felt not only in evangelicalism, but within the ranks of fundamentalism. And this is not a circumstance that everyone can agree with. In fact, some fundamentalists despise him.

Yet, John Piper continues to exude Christian maturity with a charitable spirit. His recent blog entry highlights 20 reasons why he does not take potshots at fundamentalists. Reading his response about those who have criticized him the most certainly is thought provoking. I could only imagine his biggest critics reading it, staring at the computer with their mouths wide open like the time Jesus said, “let him without sin cast the first stone.”

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Can We Call a Truce?

Call a TruceAs a fundamentalist, I’m all for separation. However, as a Biblicist, I can’t escape the exhortation to endeavor to keep the unity in the church. When it comes to passages on separation, the Bible is clear that truth and error do not mix. But it’s obvious that error is a part of life. I think this is why we are to endeavor for unity. In other words, work at it, strive for it, because your human ways will make you all differ, and you all must learn to put up with one another.

The fact is the guy sitting next to you in the pew probably differs from you in more ways than you know. Yet if a certain author or preacher says one thing different from what we’ve come to believe, we are sometimes too quick to brand him a heretic.

What we need is to find that proper balance between both of God’s mandates: the mandate to separate and the mandate to unite. Of course, there are some things that we just cannot tolerate. But sometimes we all seem so close in belief and practice, yet so divided. I’ve chosen to use as my example for this post everyone’s favorite debate: the Calvinism debate.
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Theologically Overwhelmed while Souls Perish

attempt1.jpgI love theology. Christians on the web typically do. We’ve got blogs. We’ve got books. We love debates. And, at the end of the day, no matter what position is affirmed, we all agree: theology matters. Out of your personal theology grows your Christian life. For example, an atheist’s theology begins with the premise: there is no God. Therefore, there is no higher power to whom he is accountable. Therefore, he defines his own morality. Therefore, he lives his life as he pleases. The same is true for Christians. Although we share unity in our desire to hold the faith, the practicing of our faith will stem from the theological positions we hold, and therefore many Christians live in a variety of ways.

 I don’t know about you, but from time to time I get “theological anxiety” – a completely overwhelmed exhaustion of studying, debating, defining, praying, and establishing a theological position. Frankly, my youth probably plays a factor, because there’s so much out there I’ve yet to try. I think we all feel that way at times. Now, without diminishing the importance of doctrine and upholding to truth, I want to ask: have we noticed that the world is perishing while we debate all of this?

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