Contend Earnestly: February 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

Refutation of Dr. John Goetsch - Irresistible Grace

As we have gone through this refutation we have seen the misrepresentation and also the mishandling of some key texts involved with the Doctrines of Grace, or more popularly known as Calvinism. At this point, we come to the doctrine of Irresistible Grace or better named: Efficacious Grace. This, for me, was the easiest and most fluent point coming from the other three points of Calvinism. As we read Dr. Goetsch though, he again does nothing, in my humble opinion, to add to the discussion but just lists some verses and says, “See! It’s obvious!”

We must understand that as we interpret Scripture we must interpret it as a whole and not just in the funnel of a couple of passages and then overlook some definitive passages on the subjects at hand. If one is to take the verses that Dr. Goetsch lists below and say they are obvious then they also must take the verses that I will engage and exegete and give Scriptural exegesis on how they all fit together without separating from the whole. This is my main argument against Arminianism, that I cannot thoroughly refute here, that it does not take all of Scripture but ignores some to prove a system.

As we should see in this section, if I have done a good enough job in showing Scriptural proof of the first three points, Efficacious Grace is the outcome of the first three points.

Efficacious Grace flows because of the following:

- if man is totally depraved, continually doing evil, without searching for God
- if God chooses, before the foundation of the world, a select group of people by the determination and counsel of only His holy will and nothing else, and;
- if Christ then died for only the elect and not those who were in and going to be in hell, then; It only makes sense that God would irresistibly draw the elect to Himself. Why would God choose someone before the foundation of the world, allow His Son to die on the cross for their sins and then not be able to draw this person to Himself?

Is this not the Creator of heaven and earth, the Creator of man and animal, failing those He sovereignly chose? This is the same God that spoke through Moses to His people in Deut 31:6

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

But, this A=B scenario is not good enough for the babe or mature Christian, so, we must look to Scripture to find our guidance on the subject. But, first comes the refutation of Dr. Goetsch on this particular point.

The first set of Scripture that Dr. Goetsch turns to is Proverbs 1:22-24 which states:

“How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing And fools hate knowledge? Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;"

What is interesting is that we see right from the start who God is talking to here in this passage of Scripture, which by the way is speaking of wisdom in the entire first chapter of Proverbs. So, follow me here. God is speaking about HIS wisdom here and is talking to “naïve ones” in the first of this short passage in verse 22. He is speaking to those who will never turn and who will never listen. He is speaking to those who have been “passed over;” the reprobate. They are naïve and will never learn from God the wisdom that only comes from Him. Look to John 6:45

“It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me’

Notice that EVERYONE who has heard and learned from the Father, does what? Comes. Not sometimes, not almost every time, but this is a definitive statement: all will come to Me. Who comes? Those who have heard and learned from the Father. So who are those that haven’t heard and learned from the Father? The naïve ones spoken of in Proverbs 1:22-24. What is interesting about this passage is that God doesn’t feel sorry for these people in the slightest, for in verse 26 in the same chapter it states this:

I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes

We also learn in Isaiah 66 at the end of the chapter that those in heaven will come to watch the bodies of those who refused God, burn and be eaten by the worm that will never die. This seems cold and heartless but this is the fate of those who turn a deaf ear.

The mistake that Dr. Goetsch then makes is that he states the following based on Proverbs 1:

God was pleading with the nation. He was pleading with the people. He was saying, “ I have done everything that I know to do to bring you to Myself, but you would not.”

Sorry to say, but God doesn’t say this at all anywhere in Scripture, EVER. Where does Dr. Goetsch find this in our text? This is simply a classic look at eisegesis; adding your interpretation to Scripture instead of letting the text speak for itself. We actually find the opposite true in Scripture. We find that God does NOT do everything in His power for the reprobate. Take a look at this open and shut passage:
Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. “Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. “Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”

Matthew 11:20-24

Did you catch that? Jesus Christ just said that the Father’s perfect knowledge knew that if certain miracles were done in Tyre and Sidon that they would have repented! So, if this is true, why didn’t God do those miracles so that they would repent? Simply put, these people were not chosen to be saved. We don’t know the secret will of God, nor do we pretend to, but we do know that if God is omniscient then He knows exactly what we need to “see” or “experience” (which is always the word of God according to Romans 10:17) to be saved, and for those who are His elect He reveals, and for those He does not choose, He withholds.

God sends that chosen one to church that Sunday to hear the preacher cry out, “Repent! For your day is near” and that is exactly what that chosen one does; he repents. But guess what? There is also, in that same congregation, one that hears the very same message, by the very same pastor, with the very same passion, that turns their heart even more cold by denying the message and calling the message foolish (Heb 3:15). This person is the one who is reprobate and does not have the Holy Spirit opening his heart to the ways of the Saviour. Why? God’s ways are higher than our ways.

Dr. Goetsch then goes on to show Isaiah 65:12; Jeremiah 7:13; Matthew 22:3; John 5:40 which all point to God calling for repentance and man refusing. Why wouldn't they refuse? They are all totally depraved and think the things of God to be foolishness (1 Corinthians 2:14). They are blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and do no good and don't fear God (Romans 3). Dr. Goetsch, on the other hand, says that this is clearly God doing all He can but man being able to refuse that calling. We Calvinist don’t deny that God calls everyone to repentance, but there is a general call and a specific or special call. The general call is shown in all those above mentioned verses. It is also shown in Romans 1 where God is said to show all His invisible attributes in creation. But notice why these verses are all given: to show the sinner is fully responsible for their sin and they are the reason they are going to hell. I do believe the Scripture when it says, “Many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14).”

The sinner is the only one that sends himself to hell and it because they hardened their heart and turned from God. They, because of their sin, chose evil all the days of their lives and did not choose God. They will pay for their sin in hell forever because of this bondage in sin that they chose. Many say, “Wait, they didn’t really have a choice if God is the only one who can make them choose good!” We must think another way: If it wasn’t for God, none of us would choose good, so praise God that out of His goodness He chose some to escape hell and didn’t leave us all where we deserve: in sin. This discussion is better left for another time as we focus our attention on efficacious grace. If you want a good illustration of this point go to Jeremiah 25 where God says that HE sends Babylon to bring judgment to Judah and that in the end Babylon will be judged for their sin. This doesn’t sound fair if God is the one doing the determining how can Babylon be punished for something that God foreordained and determined? Left in our sin, we will sin endlessly and care not about the things of God.

As I stated at the beginning of this post it comes down to the belief of the first three points of the doctrines of Grace: total depravity, unconditional election and limited atonement. The main focus of my attention will be placed in John 6 for this ending part of this post.

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me."
John 6:37,44,45

Notice these references. Christ says that “all,” or every single person, that God gives Christ, or the elect, will come to Me (Christ). This is definitive, there are no outs, there are no times when these people will not come, this grace that is shown these gifts from the Father to Christ is irresistible. If we could resist God that would mean that God intended to give Christ a gift (a person) but didn’t have the power to carry out that gift. Does this not fly in face of God’s omnipotence? Isn’t God all powerful? Did not Job state in Job 42:2

“I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. "

Would not a person, the gift, which is to be given from the Father to the Son, would not this person be a “purpose of God” mentioned in Job 42? If so, then how can God’s plan to give this gift be thwarted, even by the person themselves resisting that grace? The answer lies in John 6: They can’t thwart God’s plan! They, or better put, we, cannot resist God’s drawing, it is irresistible. Most say, “well, if Paul refused God on the road to Damascus, God would have just used someone else.” No! Paul is apart of God’s plan, not just the preaching to the Gentiles. People get this so mixed up, as if God doesn’t care about the specifics. If God wants a tribe in Africa to come to Him in the year 2010, He not only has the specific tribe in mind but He has the specific person that will preach to that tribe! They are all apart of God’s purpose. So, if this “so-called preacher” is not a believer as of 2007, that preacher will be saved by the year 2010, and will hear the call to Africa to that tribe so that God’s purpose will stand. All of God’s plan, all of it, not one “jot or tittle” will go be removed.

We do notice in John 6:44,45 that there are some things that happen to make it irresistible and these are the drawing of the Father and the hearing and learning from the Father. These must happen, and this is called specific or special revelation, and only is given to the elect. And every single one of them, all of them, will come to God. If God’s grace is resistible then what Jesus says in John 6 is a complete fabrication and should have put some “outs” for those who could deny the drawing. But there isn’t. I know that sounds strong but there is no way around Christ’s words. Either all will come or not; you can’t have it both ways. So either there is a general revelation and a special revelation or there is just one revelation to all man kind. The Calvinist says there has to be two kinds of revelation because we see that some can resist God’s “call” but this is not the special revelation mentioned in John 6. The non-Calvinist states that there is only one call so man can resist. But how do they come to grips with John 6 that says that “all” will come that has heard and learned of the Father?

There has to be two types of revelation, or John 6 makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Those who deny Efficacious Grace show a God that is sitting in heaven hoping that His plans of salvation come true. Hope that those He chose, will indeed choose. Simply put, could have Jeremiah, Moses, Noah, David or Abraham resisted absolutely God’s call? If so, God’s plan could have been thwarted and when God said that He foreknew Jeremiah this was just a, “well, I thought I foreknew you and I am glad that you chose Me or I would have gone another way!” That is not the God that I serve. The God of the Bible states:

The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD;
He turns it wherever He wishes.
Proverbs 21:1

And they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the LORD had caused them to rejoice, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them to encourage them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
Ezra 6:22

The God of the Bible is in complete control and nothing can thwart the great El Shaddai, the Lord of Hosts, the Almighty Yahweh.

This includes drawing perfectly His chosen elect whom will worship Him forever in the presence of the Prince of Peace.

Read More......

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Before Continuing Series

Before continuing the series on this refutation of Dr. John Goetsch, I wanted all to know that I have tried to email Dr. Goetsch on three different emails to tell him of this series to make sure that he is fairly represented. I have had one comment on another blog questioning my method, which was retracted after I gave my reasoning (and this individual is someone who I have had good conversations with before, so no worries). Anyways, the reason for this refutation is the same reason that Christ refuted the Pharisees and Sadducees in public, why Paul called out certain individuals in his epistles (Hymenaeus and Alexander in 1 Timothy 1:20 to give an example) and also John did the same with Diotrephes in 3 John 9. These were all that were teaching false doctrine to the public, in public. I believe that the complete misrepresentation of Calvinism that was mailed, in Newspaper form, to most Baptist churches in the United States needed to be spoken out against. I am not calling Dr. Goetsch a heretic nor am I saying that he is a non-Christian, as I do not know him personally, but the way that he handled this column was very disappointing, and in my opinion, very hateful. If there are any other questions on why this refutation was written please comment freely. If you would like to email Dr. Goetsch to try and give attention to this refutation you can email him at:

Thanks for your interest and I hope that this refutation is for God's glory and not my own.

Read More......

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Disney World

Tomorrow I am off to Disney World with my wife and two sons. I will be gone for two weeks so I don't know when the next post will come. I will try and post while on vacation but I can't promise anything. I hate to do this in the middle of a series but I wanted to get the ball rolling on this subject before I left; being that I felt it was time sensitive. Please be patient with me and check back in. Until then I will be preaching to Mickey!!!

Read More......

Refutation of Dr. John Goetsch - Unconditional Election

In our last section we spoke of the issue on Total Depravity and the next topic that easily flows into this, once a foundation is laid with Total Depravity, is Unconditional Election. You see, if we see that no one does good, we are completely lifeless and dead to sin, haters of God, not searching for God, enemies of God and deserving His wrath, one must ask, “On what basis does God choose?”

Election and predestination are biblical terms so to try and say they are not, one (I am not speaking of Dr. Goetsch here nor am I saying that in any way he denies these terms) is not reading their Bible for they are used many times. The issue here is on WHAT BASIS does God make His choice of us?

Dr. Goetsch gives a quick definition of Unconditional Election from the Calvinist standpoint and does well with the space that he has, but of course, doesn’t give any Scripture references that point to God’s sovereign choice of us, nor would I expect him to (or anyone on the Arminian side of this either). Here is his definition:

The Calvinist believes that God chooses to save some people, not because of anything they have done, but according to His sovereign will.

That is a good definition. The problem is that he then goes on to speak about why He agrees that salvation is not of works and lists some biblical verses (Titus 3:5; Romans 3:28; Eph 2:8,9) that speak of this. But, this is not the issue here; God’s BASIS of election is.

This is going to be split into two parts in this post. I will first give an introduction of the basis of our choosing and then refute the verses that Dr. Goetcsh lists. This is the hard thing. This entire section of his article is just a listing of verses with no exegesis, using no context, nor any simple explanation. So I will have to refute some verses by simply giving their exegesis, as I cannot refute or explain Dr. Goetsch’s exegesis because he did not give any. I also must be brief so that you, the reader, are not here all day reading.

First, the reason that we find that God chooses us and when He chooses us is very plainly found in Ephesians 1:4,5,11

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

Notice here that we are not only told when we were chosen for salvation but, why we were chosen. Some say (Dr. Goetsch did not point to this) that God looked down the portal of time to see who would repent and decided to choose them based on their choosing of God. Quickly, the Bible never states this, nor even hints to this concept, it is a man made doctrine and if anyone can give Scriptural proof, I would honestly like to see it. We are told here on what basis that we are chosen. Notice that it is because of HIS will. In verse 5, above, it can’t be anymore plain, it says that He predestined us as adoption as sons…according to the kind intention of His will. Again, in verse 11 notice who God had to counsel: No one or nothing besides His own will. We are told that the reason that we are chosen is for His purpose not ours and definitely not on what we have done. He had to counsel no one nor did He have to use the counsel of our actions in the future. It says that His purpose in choosing us was only by His own counsel. Even further Paul points this out in Romans 9:15,16 after saying that God loved Jacob but hated Esau, before they were ever born, Paul says this:

For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

Notice it does not depend on the man on who God will have mercy on, it all depends on God, and Him alone. In our previous text, to drive this home, Paul uses the term, “in Him” or “in Christ” some 9 times in just a span of 10 verses. If you read Ephesians 1:1-14 no one can doubt the tone is supremely on Christ and what God has done for us through Christ. The emphasis is not on our deeds, or why we OUGHT to be chosen, but on God’s love and on God’s will for us. Verse 8 even uses the term “lavish” to show that He has given to us abundantly, over and above anything we deserve or even desire.

Some bring up foreknowledge and say that since God knows beforehand all things, He knew our actions and that is why He chose. If you would like to read a whole post on the subject, please click here. But, notice with the word foreknowledge, when used of God, only speaks of God foreknowing (Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:1,2; Romans 11:2) a people NOT their actions. We do know that God does foreknow their actions but the emphasis is on the actual person. The word that is broken down to give us the word “foreknowledge” is the word(s), “know” or “knew” and this is an intimate usage. It does not merely mean to know OF something or someone but means to know that person intimately. God foreknew Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1. Do we really think that God knew of this guy who would be a great prophet, and preach against His people, so then God foreknew who Jeremiah would be, and then predetermined that Jeremiah would be a prophet? No. First God intimately knew Jeremiah, determined that he would be a prophet, therefore, Jeremiah was all these things because of God’s will not Jeremiah’s.

Also, the word is used of Adam “knowing” Eve, and then they had a son. (Gen 4:1,25) Need I say more of this usage here?

Jesus says in Matthew 7 to those who are not His own, “Depart from Me for I never knew you.” Do you think that Jesus didn’t know anything about this people or OF these people? When they came for judgment, Jesus didn’t ask, “what is your name, I have never heard of you, where did you come from?” No, Jesus is talking about the intimacy of the knowing of someone. Of the relationship with that person.

The clincher for the word, “know” comes in John 10:14,15

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”

No one would say that there is just a knowledge between the Father and Son. No, it is much more than that; there is no separation of the two; they are One. This is the knowledge that is spoken of when speaking of God foreknowing us. He foreloved us; just as He foreloved Jacob in Romans 9, not because of our “running” or because of our “will” but because of His mercy.

Many more verses but I must get to Dr. Goetsch’s verses. He points out the following verses with no explanation at all, so I will take the liberty in giving a small explanation here. The first two are:

John 3:16 and Romans 10:13 that both say that “whosoever” shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. I, of course, completely agree with these verses, they are true, they are God’s words. The better term for us in the English language for “whosoever” would be “all those believing” as the term “whosoever” is a foreign term to the Greek and John and Paul would have never used that term, “whosoever.” But that is really not the argument. The argument was placed in Total Depravity and will also be discussed in Irresistible Grace, and that is: How do they believe or how do they call on the name of Christ? Simply put in John 6:44

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…

The term “no one can come” literally means, “no one is able to come, impossible to come.” So if this is true, the only way that anyone can call on the name of Christ is if God draws (or drags) them to Himself. Who does He draw? His chosen, His sheep.

To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
John 10:3
Notice the other part of this on who doesn’t hear His voice:

“But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
John 10:26,27

Notice why they don’t believe: because they are not His sheep. It is not the other way around. It does not say: You are not My sheep because you don’t believe. First, sheep (or chosen); then belief. Not, belief; then chosen.

Dr. Goetsch then points to 2 Peter 3:9 and for that refutation I want to keep this post shorter so please click here for my post on this verse.

Next verse is this:

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 2:1-4

Dr. Goetsch didn’t include all these verses only the last verse. If one takes a look at all four verses one can look at context. First, the verse is telling Timothy to make prayers on behalf of ALL men. Does this mean that Paul is telling Timothy that he must make prayers for every single person in all the earth? No, the emphasis is found in the immediate context when Paul points to kings and all in authority. Paul is telling Timothy to make petitions and prayers for all men no matter their stature or position. Remember, the Romans were brutal back in the day and a lot of people, especially the Jews, hated the Roman authorities. But, Paul is saying that God desires all men to be saved, no matter who they are, whether rich or poor, slave or free man, Jew or Greek, and in this text, whether a king or an authority. Context, Context, Context.

Lastly, is Revelation 22:17

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

Notice, how people come (there is a condition, it is not a general call to every single person): those who hear and are thirsty. Again, Romans 3 tells us that none of us are “thirsty” or searching for God. So, God has to make us thirsty by the quickening of the Spirit. It also says, all who hear. Look to this verse:

“It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.
John 6:45

This is a great verse because it points to not everyone has heard and learned from the Father. This is a special revelation from our Creator. If everyone has the same opportunity then everyone would come, because EVERYONE who hears and learns from God, comes. Not one is left out, not one will resist. So, if God called everyone, we would have to be universalists and believe that all will be in heaven. But, we don’t, so the question must be asked: How does God choose who He will speak and teach to? By His will, not ours.

Only to those who hear and are thirsty does God say, “come.” And they are only hearing and thirsty because of God, not because of anything that they have done.

I know this was a long section and I apologize. I pray that Dr. Goetsch would read this post and see where we differ based on Scripture Alone. We cannot put our own thoughts on Scripture, we must allow it to speak to us by the Spirit. Some of these things are hard to understand, and I don’t pretend to know how all this works. But, I am convinced that we are all elected, not on the basis of any works or action on our part, but based solely on the counsel of the perfect will of our Father.

May God be glorified, and may I be gentle and fearful of my God.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Read More......

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Refutation of Dr. John Goetsch - Total Depravity

If you did not read the introduction to this series please make sure you do so that you can see the reason for this series and also the temperment going into this article written by Dr. Goetsch. The first doctrine, in order of the TULIP is "Total Depravity." I will credit Dr. Goetsch with giving a good quick introduction to the topic but I believe that Dr. Goetsch misses the point of the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity. He agrees and shows in Scripture that we are born sinners through Psalm 51:5 and tells why Calvinists believe that one must be regenerated before being justified. The place that he misses is when he states:
We are children of wrath even as others, according to Ephesians 2:2
He was only one verse off, but that makes the whole difference here when speaking of total depravity.

The verse he misses is Ephesians 2:1 and this is why it is imperative to read in context and not allow for this misrepresentation. Ephesians 2:1 states:
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins

The word for "death" here in the Greek is the term "nekros" and is exactly what it sounds like, it means lifeless. Eph 2:2 then states that not only were we dead in our sins but we were, "walking according to the course of this world." Some try and say that if a person is truly dead then he cannot do good or evil. But, it is Paul's intent to show that the person is dead (also see Colossians Col 2:13) to righteousness but alive for evil. We see this same concept in Jesus and Paul using the term "slaves to sin" many times (John 8:34, Rom 6:6,16,17,20) and we actually get a definition of what this means in Romans 6:16

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?

Notice that if you are a slave to sin that is who you obey, you are one or the other, not both. If you are evil's slave and you must obey your master. We could continue to show this but I want to keep to the article at hand.

Dr. Goetsch then goes on to say that he believes what John 6:63 states:
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
and he also states that he believes John 6:44:

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day

But this is where he makes a grave error. Dr. Goetsch says that there "must be a cooperation on the part of the individual with the Holy Spirit's conviction." The question I have for Dr. Goetsch is, "How is this cooperation accomplished in the life of someone who is a slave to sin, dead in their transgressions, an enemy of God (James 4:4), a hater of God (Romans 1:30) and who doesn't search for God or understand the things of God (Romans 3:11)?" And more so, "Where is this stated in Scripture according to these verses?" The term "draw" in John 6:44 is a strong word meaning "to drag" and is placed only on God's work, not man's.

This is why we need regeneration by the Holy Spirit to believe. Notice that in Genesis 6:5 and Genesis 8:21 both say that the thoughts of man are continually evil from the days of their youth. Romans 3:10 states that no one does good, no not one. Is not responding to the call of God good? So the question is, if man is born into sin, dead and slaves to sin, continually evil, not righteous, their good deeds are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6) then how can the sinner ever "come" to God when they don't even search for God? The answer is only by the drawing and regeneration of the perfect God to the depraved sinner. Further, Romans 8:8 states that no one in the flesh can please God. There has to be something that happens before one is able to believe, it cannot "just click" nor can someone just suddenly "get it." They must be quickened by the Spirit.

After this Dr. Goetsch brings up a huge straw men that has been brought up many times before, "What about the person who doesn't want to be saved?" Sorry to say, but before the Creator quickeneth us, no one searches for God and our thoughts are continually evil. But, when God regenerates us and opens our eyes to His Gospel we want Him more than ever. Must we repent and believe? Yes, of course, but this only comes by the drawing of the perfect God not the cooperation of man and God or what is widely called, synergism.

For an example look to Acts 16:14

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.

Notice when Lydia responded...only when God opened her heart. Did she want to respond before that? The Scriptures give us no such indication. Did she want to respond to God after He opened her heart? Of course, so much so that it then tells us that her whole household was saved.

Another example of this is Acts 13:47,48 that actually ties into Unconditional Election but we'll hit it here as well:

For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed You as a blight for the Gentiles, That You may bring salvation to the end of the earth.’ ”When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Notice who does the responding...only those who were appointed to believe. These people didn't respond because they were more joyful, it indicates that all rejoiced but only those appointed to eternal life believed.

Dr. Goetsch ends this part of his article acting as though we, the Calvinist, do not believe that the Lord calls for all to repent. We understand that God calls all to repent (called the general call) and this is why the SINNER'S rejection sends them to hell, not double predestination. Dr. Goetsch then states:

The Bible gives ample evidence that God speaks to the heart, but man has to cooperate with the Holy Spirit's pleading.

First, I don't know about your God, but the God of Scripture is not up in heaven just sitting around "hoping and pleading" that sinners will come to Him. He is omnipotent and completely sovereign not some beggar. Just because God commands an action doesn't mean that it is possible. God also calls us to be holy as He is holy (Lev 19:2) and to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5:48). We are also told to pray unceasingly in 1 Thess 5:17. These are all commands that we cannot obey perfectly because we are still in the flesh, just as a sinner, without regeneration, cannot respond to God's command to repent.

I would like to see this ample evidence that Dr. Goetsch states is in the Bible. There is only one way that man can cooperate with God's commands and that is by the Spirit of God regenerating the person. John 3:3

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.
One must be born again with the Spirit for them to see heaven, this is regeneration.

Only the faith given by God can cause the sinner that is totally depraved to respond in that faith:

For to you ait has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
Phil 1:29

Notice that our faith was granted, which means to graciously give to another, by Christ so that we could believe in Him. Without this faith we will remain dead in our sins.

If Dr. Goetsch truly believed in John 6:63 and John 6:44 he would notice that both of those verses only point to God's grace and nothing about us cooperating.

I will end with this verse pointing again to our Father who is the one who does all the action towards us:

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Phil 1:6

It is He who began it and it is He who will perfect it, not the sinner.

Read More......

Refutation of Dr. John Goetsch against Calvinism - Intro

I am a member of a church in Maple Valley, WA that is apart of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches and we used to be named, First Baptist Church of Maple Valley, but we changed our name about 3 years ago to Taylor Creek Church. Because of our old name including the term "Baptist," we get a lot of strange mail and strange newspapers from around the nation. I don't disagree with the term Baptist, but with the rise of the American Baptist and Fundamental Baptists, there are a lot of Baptist churches around the nation that have gone over the deep end with their theological beliefs and influence.

Recently, my Pastor gave me one of these publications that was mailed to us and right on the front was, "What's Wrong with Calvinism?" I didn't know what to expect and didn't even know the church that sent it, which is neither here nor there cause there are a lot of churches that I am not exposed to because of my proximity up here in the corner of the United States. My pastor told me that I should refute the article on my blog and I thought, "good idea."

The article was put out by a publication called "The Baptist Voice" which is a publication put out by Lancaster Baptist Church in California. I don't know much of the church but from what I can glean it is an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church and so some of its distinctives are that they are King James Only and they are also of the belief that men should not have long hair nor do they believe that Christians should go to a movie theatre.

The article was written by Dr. John Goetsch, the vice president of Lancaster Baptist's college named, West Coast Baptist College. The opening of the article opens with sharing that Calvinism is basically like a disease that is infiltrating our churches. He starts by saying that he spoke to a man that is mentally handicapped at his church about John 3:16 and the beauty of that verse. Dr. Goetsch says that John 3:16:

clearly articulates God's thoughts towards a sinful world, but many times religious people can complicate the Gospel. Calvinism is one of those schools of thought that has become a confusing factor for those seeking the truth of God's salvation.

What amazes me throughout this "introduction" to the topic at hand is that Dr. Goetsch does not exegete any scripture and he "sets up" the reader to think very low of Calvinism by stating such things as:

Calvinism started with Augustine of the Catholic church.

Calvinism has INFILTRATED many seminaries, colleges, and churches.

It has affected good churches and colleges

Calvinism is an enemy of revival and evangelism

Calvinism has often been explained by using the acrostic TULIP to set forth the distinctives of Calvinism. Even though I have trouble finding "tulips" in the Bible.

As you can see, Dr. Goetsch's point in the introduction is to set forth a negative tone with the reader so that by the time he gets to the explanation of the theology the reader is already convinced that Calvinism is a cancer needing a cure. If Dr. Goetsch wanted to give an honest assessment of Calvinism he should give the facts of Calvinism and refute it with exegesis of Scripture, but as you will see this is far from Dr. Goetsch's approach or intent.

I pray that readers of this refutation will be open to being taught what Calvinism teaches instead of seeing it as a disease. My time here will not be focused on refuting Dr. Goetsch's other convictions but will be focused on the Scripture's that Dr. Goetsch uses in trying to refute Calvinism so that the reader will better understand the tenants of Calvinism.

The upcoming series will focus on this article that Dr. Goetsch wrote and will try my best not to stray from it. Please send me any emails or comment at any time if you feel that I am not representing this refutation correctly. Also, so everyone will know I have also sent Dr. Goetsch an email to allow him to come and interact with us here on this blog.
I pray that this series will be informative and done in a humble way to show forth biblical doctrine instead of a "man making a point." May we all conform to the word of God instead of expecting the word of God to conform to us.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Link to First Point - Total Depravity

Read More......

Monday, February 12, 2007

Regulative vs Normative Principle of Worship

I am not fully educated on the history of the worship music when it comes to the Puritans and the Reformers but I recently read out of the latest Banner of Truth the article by Riemer A. Faber titled, The Reformers on Psalms and Hymns in Public Worship. I just want to throw my two cents in on this issue that is very divisive and also can bring a preacher to his knees if not handled properly. I do very much agree with Luther when he said:

When God's word is not preached, one better neither sing nor read, or even come together.

I agree that the exposition of the Scriptures is of the most high calling and purpose of our weekly Lord's Day meeting, and this exposition is to only exalt our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The same goes for our worship in song. Luther also stated:

The gift of song was only given to man to let him know that he should praise God with both word and music, namely by proclaiming the Word of God through music.

I completely disagree with those who adhere to the Regulative Principal of Worship being the same reason that Martin Luther believed in Hymns and used them. He also stated:

We may now boast that Christ is our praise and song and say with St Paul in 1 Corinthains 2, that we know nothing to sing or say, save Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Luther started to write hymns, it would seem, to proclaim Christ and the worship of Him. This article also points to the fact that Luther interpreted and supported the Christocentric emphasis on the psalm-singing.

Faber notes that Luther felt that as the Psalms of the Old Testament are prophetic, the New Testament passages convey the fulfillment of prophecies. Therefore, Luther even allowed the Nicene Creed to be sung congregationally as well.

I don't pretend to know the history of the worship service but I will say that if one believes that hymns may be used I don't understand how anyone can come down on services that use praise music to proclaim Christ. I will tell you that I love the hymns and would rather sing them over any other music, but that is just my personal preference.

I feel as long as the words proclaim the Christ and exalt Him alone, it is acceptable as long as the music is not in a form to drive out unity (such as singing Amazing Grace with a Led Zeppelin feel). But this last part has to be determined by the elders on what is deemed acceptable.

I do know that Jonathan Edwards didn't allow for Isaac Watts' hymns in his services for a long while and only when he allowed them, their friendship probably had a little to do with their usage. But, Watts' hymns were highly controversial at the time.

As I take a look at the modern worship service, can I honestly say that I accept the norm? No, and this is why I wish I was convicted of the Regulative Principle but I am not. So, I have to be discerning on the Normative Principle and understand that this comes with much baggage. But, I also know that even those at the time of the Great Awakening dealt with these same issues.

Read More......

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

I have been pondering this question a lot lately as I have discussed the issue of Mormonism, Jehovah Witness, Charismatics, Arminianism vs Calvinism, paedo vs credo baptism, eschatology, emergent, seeker sensitive and also I have been laying out the distinctives of my local church as I design and teach our newcomers class. So, the question is: What must one believe and NOT believe to be saved?

First, I want to say that I am NOT in the camp that believes that the Arminian will not be saved, but I do stand behind Spurgeon when he states:

"The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach today, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox's gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again"

But really? What must one believe to be saved? Here is my stance on the subject.

First, I believe that one must believe that Jesus Christ is God, came to live amongst us (Phil 2:5-8; Hebrews 2:17,18), born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2),lived a perfect life (Heb 4:15,16; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 2:22), died and rose again (Romans 10:9). I believe that one must repent from their sins (Acts 2:38) and turn to Christ as their sole reason for righteousness. I believe that this faith will be a saving faith that is given by God (Phil 1:29;2 Thess 1:13) and will produce good works (Col 1:6; John 15; James 2:26) but salvation does not come because of good works. So who does this exclude? This definitely excludes the Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, Buddhist, New Ager, Muslim and the Universalist, (or any other that does not believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven). It also excludes any who believe that anything besides faith alone saves us. If we add anything to the gospel they are to be accursed (Galatians 1:6-10) and those who seek to be justified by the Law has fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4) So this now excludes the Roman Catholic faith as well as well as the Seventh Day Adventist and the Church of Christ.

I am also a hardlined Lordship salvation believer as well based on the many references to what happens when someone is saved, which is they produce fruit. This is the scariest aspect of salvation if you ask me, as this will be the biggest group that think they are saved, but Christ will say, "Away from Me, for I never knew you." I am not saying if you believe in the longtime carnal Christian that you will go to hell, but those who say,"I said a prayer, now I can do what I want." Those are the ones who do not know our Lord.

Their are many people that I call brothers in Christ but I don't agree with their theology in full. These would include the Presbyterian (baptism,eschatology), Reformed (covenants, eschatology), Arminians (doctrines of grace) and also the Charismatic (gifts of the Spirit). The only time that I would not include these as my brothers is if they say that this or that must happen to be saved. Which mostly points to the Charismatic who believes you must speak in tongues to be saved. If you believe this I would also have a hard time calling you, "brother."

I do believe as Whitefield believed:

George Whitefield said, "We are all born Arminians." It is grace that turns
us into Calvinists.

I would also go with any of the above, Presbyterian, Reformed, Arminian and Charismatic to evangelize the lost and I would even worship with them every once and a while as I will be worshiping with them for eternity. I cannot wait til we see our Saviour face to face so that we do not have to worry about Theology and Doctrine as we will all be completely unified and praising our God.

May we all keep our eyes on the Justifier and our eyes away from the world.

Read More......

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Young, Restless, Reformed

I got this article from Christianity Today and is a topic that I have aspirations of maybe someday writing a book about. It is a great article going into the resurgence of Reformed, or more specifically, Calvinism among young people.


Young, Restless, Reformed
Calvinism is making a comeback—and shaking up the church.
Collin Hansen posted 9/22/2006 01:54PM

Nothing in her evangelical upbringing prepared Laura Watkins for John Piper.

"I was used to a very conversational preaching style," said Watkins, 21. "And having someone wave his arms and talk really loudly made me a little scared."

Watkins shouldn't be embarrassed. Piper does scare some people. It's probably his unrelenting intensity, demanding discipline, and singular passion—for the glory of God. Those themes resound in Desiring God, Piper's signature book. The pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis has sold more than 275,000 copies of Desiring God since 1986. Piper has personally taken his message of "Christian hedonism" to audiences around the world, such as the Passion conferences for college-age students. Passion attracted 40,000 students outside Memphis in 2000 and 18,000 to Nashville earlier this year.

Not all of these youth know Piper's theological particulars. But plenty do, and Piper, more than anyone else, has contributed to a resurgence of Reformed theology among young people. You can't miss the trend at some of the leading evangelical seminaries, like Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, which reports a significant Reformed uptick among students over the past 20 years. Or the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, now the largest Southern Baptist seminary and a Reformed hotbed. Piper, 60, has tinged the movement with the God-exalting intensity of Jonathan Edwards, the 18th-century Puritan pastor-theologian. Not since the decades after his death have evangelicals heaped such attention on Edwards.

Reformed theology often goes by the name Calvinism, after the renowned 16th-century Reformation theologian John Calvin. Yet even Edwards rejected the label, saying he neither depended on Calvin nor always agreed with him. Still, it is Calvin's followers who produced the famous acrostic TULIP to describe the "doctrines of grace" that are the hallmarks of traditional Reformed theology: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints. (See "It's All About God.")

Already, this latest surge of Reformed theology has divided Southern Baptist churches and raised questions about the future of missions. Its exuberant young advocates reject generic evangelicalism and tout the benefits of in-depth biblical doctrine. They have once again brought the perennial debate about God's sovereignty and humans' free will to the forefront.

The evidence for the resurgence is partly institutional and partly anecdotal. But it's something that a variety of church leaders observe. While the Emergent "conversation" gets a lot of press for its appeal to the young, the new Reformed movement may be a larger and more pervasive phenomenon. It certainly has a much stronger institutional base. I traveled to some of the movement's leading churches and institutions and talked to theologians, pastors, and parishioners, trying to understand Calvinism's new appeal and how it is changing American churches.

God Starts the Party

A pastors' conference is the wrong place to schedule a private meeting with Joshua Harris. He didn't even speak at the conference I attended, but we still struggled to find a quiet spot to talk at his hotel. Slight and short, Harris doesn't stick out in crowds. But that doesn't stop pastors from recognizing him and introducing themselves. The unassuming 31-year-old took time to chat with each of them, even as our interview stretched late into the night.

Harris was a leader among his generation even before he published I Kissed Dating Goodbye in 1997. But the bestseller introduced him to a wider evangelical audience, earning many fans and at least as many detractors. Now he pastors Covenant Life Church, a congregation of 3,800 in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Harris grew up as a youth leader in a seeker-sensitive church and later joined a charismatic congregation. Neither place emphasized doctrine. "Even just thinking doctrinally would have been foreign to me," he explained. He knew enough to realize he didn't like Calvinism, though. "I remember some of the first encounters I had with Calvinists," Harris told another group of pastors during Mark Driscoll's Reform and Resurge conference in Seattle in May. "I'm sorry to say that they represented the doctrines of grace with a total lack of grace. They were spiteful, cliquish, and arrogant. I didn't even stick around to understand what they were teaching. I took one look at them and knew I didn't want any part of it."

Harris's response is anything but uncommon in evangelical history. Reformed theology has periodically boomed and busted. Calvinists have always inspired foils, such as Jacob Arminius. The Dutch theologian argued that God frees up human will so people can accept or reject God's offer of salvation. That debate prompted his critics to respond with TULIP. Reformed theology waned during the Second Great Awakening. Most recently, Calvinism has played second fiddle to the charismatic and seeker-sensitive/church-growth movements, all of which downplay many theological distinctives.

For Harris, things started changing when he read Piper describe God's glory and breathtaking sovereignty. Later, C. J. Mahaney, a charismatic Calvinist and founding pastor of Covenant Life, took Harris under his wing and groomed him to take over the church. Mahaney, 51, turned Harris on to his hero, Charles Spurgeon, the great 19th-century Calvinistic Baptist preacher in London. Mahaney assigned him a number of texts, such as Iain H. Murray's Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism. "I would have been reading Christian comic books if left to myself," Harris told me, flashing the characteristic self-deprecating humor he shares with Mahaney.

The theological depth attracted Harris. "Once you're exposed to [doctrine]," he said, "you see the richness in it for your own soul, and you're ruined for anything else."

He notices the same attraction among his cohorts. "I just think there's such a hunger for the transcendent and for a God who is not just sitting around waiting for us to show up so that the party can get started."

Passion conferences also inspired Harris to trust in a God who takes the initiative. Harris first attended Passion in 1999 and sought the help of conference founder Louie Giglio to plan a similar event, from which blossomed Harris's New Attitude conferences. "Someone like Louie is saying, 'You know what, it's not about us, it's about God's glory, it's about his renown.' Now I don't think most kids realize this, but that's the first step down a pathway of Reformed theology. Because if you say that it's not about you, well then you're on that road of saying it's not about your actions, your choosings, your determination."

Passion's God-exalting focus keeps Piper coming back to speak year after year. He attributes the attraction of Reformed theology to the spirit of Passion—namely, pairing demanding obedience with God's grandeur. "They're not going to embrace your theology unless it makes their hearts sing," Piper said.

More Than a 'Crazy Guy'

During the weekend when I visited Piper's church, the college group was learning TULIP. The student teacher spent about 30 minutes explaining unconditional election. "You may never feel the weight, you will never feel the wonder of grace, until you finally relinquish your claim to have any part of your salvation," he said. "It's got to be unconditional."

Following that talk, I met with a group that included Laura Watkins, a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota. Like Harris, Watkins grew up in an evangelical church that downplayed doctrine. Calvinism certainly wasn't much of a draw for Watkins as she searched for a church in college. "The only exposure I had was high-school textbooks that teach about John Calvin as this crazy guy who burned people," she said.

Yet she stayed for the spiritual maturity and depth she noticed in the church. Now she's as articulate an advocate of Calvinism as I met. She unwittingly paraphrased Spurgeon as she explained her move toward Reformed theology. "When you first become a believer, almost everyone is an Arminian, because you feel like you made a decision," Watkins said.

Watkins didn't stop with election. An enlarged view of God's authority changed the way she viewed evangelism, worship, and relationships. Watkins articulated how complementary roles for men and women go hand in hand with this type of Calvinism. "I believe God is sovereign and has ordered things in a particular way," she explained. Just as "he's chosen those who are going to know him before the foundations of the earth," she said, "I don't want to be rebelling against the way God ordered men and women to relate to one another."

Piper no longer scares Watkins. He's more like a father in the faith, though she says they have never spoken. Privately, Piper contrasts sharply with his authoritative pulpit persona. I dare say he's even a little meek, if relentlessly serious. We mused on Reformed theology in his home in February following one of the last sermons he delivered before undergoing surgery for prostate cancer. He reflected on the rebellion he has unrepentantly fomented.

"One of the most common things I deal with in younger pastors is conflict with their senior pastors," Piper said. "They're a youth pastor, and they've gone to Trinity or read something [R. C.] Sproul or I wrote, and they say, 'We're really out of step. What should we do?'"

He tells them to be totally candid and ask permission to teach according to their newfound convictions, even if they are in Wesleyan-Arminian churches. Of course, he tells the young pastors to pray that their bosses would come to share their vision.

Baptist and Reformed

Starting in 1993, the largest Protestant denomination's flagship seminary quickly lost at least 96 percent of its faculty. SBC inerrantists had tapped 33-year-old Al Mohler to head the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which until then had remained open to moderate and liberal professors. Mohler addressed the faculty and re-enforced the school's confession of faith, derived from the landmark Reformed document, the Westminster Confession.

"I said, in sum, if this is what you believe, then we want you to stay. If not, then you have come here under false pretenses, and you must go," Mohler, now 45, said. "As they would say, the battle was joined."

Indeed, television cameras and news helicopters made it difficult for Mohler to work for a while. He still isn't welcome in some Louisville churches. That's not surprising, since no more than 4 faculty members—from more than 100—stayed with Southern after Mohler arrived.

Now it's hard to believe that less than 15 years ago, Southern merited a reputation as a liberal seminary. Mohler has attracted a strong faculty and spurred enrollment to more than 4,300 students—which makes it the largest Southern Baptist seminary. But SBC conservatives may have gotten more than they bargained for in Mohler. The tireless public intellectual freely criticizes perceived SBC shortcomings, especially what he considers misguided doctrine. Oh, and Mohler is an unabashed Calvinist. His seminary now attracts and turns out a steady flow of young Reformed pastors.

"This generation of young Christians is more committed, more theologically intense, more theologically curious, more self-aware and self-conscious as believers because they were not raised in an environment of cultural Christianity," Mohler said. "Or if they were, as soon as they arrived on a university campus, they found themselves in a hostile environment." Mohler explained that Calvinism offers young people a countercultural alternative with deep roots.

Mohler's analysis brought to mind one Southern seminarian I met in Louisville. Bradley Cochran grew up attending a mainline church with his family in rural Kentucky. He hated Sunday mornings, and by age 15 he had racked up a police rap sheet and developed a drug problem. But Cochran's troubles softened his heart to the gospel, and he fled his hometown to enroll at Liberty University. While there, he eagerly shared the Good News and earned an award for his evangelistic enthusiasm. A classmate loaned him some Sproul books, where he learned about predestination. He grew to accept this doctrine, but he said other students criticized his Calvinism before he even understood what the term meant. They couldn't understand how he squared God's sovereign choice with evangelism. Those challenges only intensified his study of Reformed theology. He became emboldened to persuade others.

"I felt like Calvinism was more than abstract points of theology," said Cochran, 25. "I felt you would get a much bigger view of God if you accepted these things, an understanding of justice and grace that would so deepen your affections for God, that would make you so much more grateful for his grace."

Cochran bolstered his arguments by boasting that he had never even read Calvin. Indeed, the renowned reformer appears not to be a major figure among the latest generation to claim the theology he made famous. Centuries ago, George Whitefield, the Calvinistic Methodist evangelist of the First Great Awakening, similarly argued: "Alas, I never read anything that Calvin wrote; my doctrines I had from Christ and his apostles; I was taught them of God."

The relationship of theology to evangelism has become a flash point among Southern Baptists. SBC Life, the journal of the SBC's executive committee, published two articles on Calvinism in April. In one, Malcolm Yarnell, associate professor of systematic theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, argued that Southern Baptists generally reject any notion that God "arbitrarily chooses individuals to be damned before they are born."

"[T]he greatest tragedy is when adherence to TULIP leads to division in churches and prevents them from cooperation in, and urgency for, a passion toward fulfilling the Great Commission," Yarnell wrote. He concluded, "Southern Baptists are first, last, and always followers of Jesus Christ, not John Calvin."

The most provocative comments in the SBC may belong to Steve Lemke, provost of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In April 2005, he presented a paper on "The Future of Southern Baptists as Evangelicals." Lemke warned, "I believe that [Calvinism] is potentially the most explosive and divisive issue facing us in the near future. It has already been an issue that has split literally dozens of churches, and it holds the potential to split the entire convention."

Lemke noted that Calvinism has periodically waxed and waned among Southern Baptists. "However, the number of Calvinist faculty dramatically increased [starting in the 1980s and] over the next 20 years." Lemke and many others explained to me that Calvinists like Mohler earned leadership roles during the SBC's inerrancy battles due to their reliably conservative theology. Their academic and biblical rigor suited them for seminary positions. Now, Lemke said, their influence has made the "newest generation of Southern Baptist ministers … the most Calvinist we have had in several generations."

Lemke doubts that Calvinism has yet reached its high-water mark in the SBC. But he is no fan of this trend. Baptism and membership figures, he said, show that the Calvinist churches of the SBC's Founders Ministries lack commitment to evangelism. According to Lemke, the problem only makes sense, given their emphasis on God's sovereign election.

"For many people, if they're convinced that God has already elected those who will be elect … I don't see how humanly speaking that can't temper your passion, because you know you're not that crucial to the process," Lemke explained.

Evangelicals who adhere to Reformed theology have long chafed at such charges. They remind their critics that Whitefield, one of history's most effective evangelists, believed God elects his church. In addition, Edwards defended the First Great Awakening's revivals with Religious Affections. More recently, J. I. Packer's Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (1961) showed persuasively that there is no contradiction between those two ideas.

"I think the criticism of Reformed theology is being silenced by the mission and justice and evangelism and worship and counseling—the whole range of pastoral life," Piper said. "We're not the kind who are off in a Grand Rapids ghetto crossing our t's and dotting our i's and telling the world to get their act together. We're in the New Orleans slums with groups like Desire Street Ministries, raising up black elders through Reformed theology from 9-year-old boys who had no chance."

Deep into Doctrine

Calvinistic Baptists often told me they have less of a problem with churches that don't teach election than with churches that downplay doctrine in general. An SBC Life piece published in April by Daniel Akin, a former Southern professor and current president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, presented this perspective. "Let us be known for being rigorously biblical, searching the Scriptures to determine what God really says on [God's sovereignty] and other key doctrinal issues," Akin wrote. "For the most part, we are not doing this, and our theological shallowness is an indictment of our current state and an embarrassment to our history!"

The young people I talked to want churches to risk disagreement so they can benefit from the deeper challenges of doctrine. Joshua Harris said years after he graduated from high school, he bumped into his old youth pastor in the grocery store. The pastor seemed apologetic as they reminisced about the youth group's party atmosphere, focused more on music and skits than Bible teaching, Harris said. But the youth pastor told Harris his students now read through Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology.

"I think there's an expectation that teens can't handle that, or they'll be repulsed by that," Harris told me. "[My youth pastor] is saying the exact opposite. That's a dramatic change in philosophy in youth ministry."

Pastor Kent Hughes senses the same draw for students who cross the street from Wheaton College to attend College Church. "If there's an appeal to students, it's that we're not playing around," Hughes said. "We're not entertaining them. This is life and death. My sense is that's what they're interested in, even from an old man."

Perhaps an attraction to serious doctrine brought about 3,000 ministry leaders to Louisville in April for a Together for the Gospel conference. The conference's sponsors included Mohler and Mahaney, and Piper also spoke. Most of the audience were in their 20s and 30s. Each of the seven speakers holds to the five points of TULIP. Yet none of them spoke of Calvinism unless I asked about it. They did express worry about perceived evangelical accommodation to postmodernism and criticized churches for applying business models to ministry. They mostly joked about their many differences on such historically difficult issues as baptism, church government, eschatology, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They drew unity as Calvinist evangelicals from their concerns: with seeker churches, church-growth marketing, and manipulative revival techniques.

Roger Olson, professor of theology at Truett Seminary, Baylor University, said more than just Calvinists worry about these problems. "A lot of us evangelical Arminians agree with them in their criticisms of popular folk religion," Olson said. "I agree with their basic theological underpinnings—that doctrine is important, that grace is the decisive factor in salvation, not a decision we make."

If Olson is right, co-belligerency on these concerns could forestall further conflict, at least on the Calvinist-Arminian debate.

A Passion for Puritans

Mark Dever hasn't sold books to the degree Piper has. And he doesn't head a flagship institution like his longtime friend Mohler. He doesn't even pastor a megachurch. But oh, how strategic his church is. Hop off Washington, D.C.'s Metro on the Capitol South stop. Head north past the Library of Congress and the Capitol. Turn right and bear east before you reach the Supreme Court. A couple blocks later you'll see Capitol Hill Baptist Church, which Dever has led for 12 years, beginning when he was 33.

Yet location isn't what makes Dever's church so strategic. Maybe it's all the political maneuvering in the air, but Dever networks effectively. He conceived Together for the Gospel and otherwise works to connect conservative evangelicals who worry about the same things. Dever's church also trains six interns at a time, imprinting his beliefs about how a local church should run through a related ministry, 9 Marks.

I visited Capitol Hill Baptist in January. The church kicked off with Sunday school, which really should have been called Sunday seminary. Class options included a survey of the New Testament, spiritual disciplines, and a systematic theology lesson on theories of the Atonement.

Such rigor can be expected from a church led by Dever, who earned a Ph.D. from Cambridge studying the Puritans. He embodies the pastoral theologians who are leading young people toward Reformed theology. He has cultivated a church community in the Puritan mold—unquestionably demanding and disciplined. And the church attracts a very young crowd. Its 525 members average 29 years old. Dever mockingly rejected my suggestion that they aim to attract an under-30 crowd. "Yes, that's why we sing those hymns and have a [55-minute] sermon." Dever smiled. "We're seriously calibrated for the 18th century."

Dever and others have turned a young generation onto some old teachers. He organizes his study around a canon of renowned church leaders that includes Augustine, Luther, Calvin, John Owen, John Bunyan, B. B. Warfield, Martin Lloyd-Jones, and Carl Henry. It's mostly Puritans who have fueled this latest resurgence of Calvinism. Leaders like R. C. Sproul and J. I. Packer have for decades told evangelicals they have something to learn from this post-Reformation movement. During the late 1950s, Banner of Truth starting reprinting classic Reformed works, including many from Puritans.

Among the Puritans, Edwards is most popular. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School professor and Edwards scholar Douglas Sweeney said his seminary includes many more Calvinists than 20 years ago. Not unrelated, he said among evangelicals "there is more interest in Edwards today than there has been since the first half of the 19th century."

Garth Rosell, church history professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, has noticed his students' increased interest in Puritan studies, especially Edwards. He suspects young evangelicals gravitate toward the Puritans looking for deeper historic roots and models for high-commitment Christianity.

That's at least what Jordan Thomas, a 28-year-old church planter, told me about the Puritans. "I don't read them to find out what these guys say about Calvinism," Thomas told me in Piper's church. "It's their big-hearted love for Christ. They say things about their devotion to him that I'm just like, I wonder if I know the same Jesus these guys love."

Scripture Trumps Systems

Evangelicals have long disagreed on election and free will. The debate may never be settled, given the apparent tension between biblical statements and the limits of our interpretive skills. In addition, some will always see more benefit in doctrinal depth than others.

Those fearing a new pitched battle can rest easy. That's not because the debate will go away—for the foreseeable future, the spread of Calvinism will force many evangelicals to pick sides. And it's not because mission will trump doctrine—young people seem to reject this dichotomy.

It's because the young Calvinists value theological systems far less than God and his Word. Whatever the cultural factors, many Calvinist converts respond to hallmark passages like Romans 9 and Ephesians 1. "I really don't like to raise any banner of Calvinism or Reformed theology," said Eric Lonergan, a 23-year-old University of Minnesota graduate. "Those are just terms. I just like to look at the Word and let it speak for itself."

That's the essence of what Joshua Harris calls "humble orthodoxy." He reluctantly debates doctrine, but he passionately studies Scripture and seeks to apply all its truth.

"If you really understand Reformed theology, we should all just sit around shaking our heads going, 'It's unbelievable. Why would God choose any of us?'" Harris said. "You are so amazed by grace, you're not picking a fight with anyone, you're just crying tears of amazement that should lead to a heart for lost people, that God does indeed save, when he doesn't have to save anybody."

Collin Hansen is an associate editor of CT.

Copyright © 2006 Christianity Today

Read More......

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Refuting Jehovah's Witnesses

This is definitely not exhaustive but wanted to share some of the verses that some Jehovah Witnesses recently tried to "convert" me with and then how I refuted their answers with the living and abiding Word of God.

The first verse that they took me to was Revelation 3:14

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this..

They stated that if Jesus had a beginning then He must have been created. The easy answer is truly this: God is called the Alpha and the Omega the Beginning and the End; so if God has a beginning then He was also created but even more piercing is that if God is also the Omega or End, then there will be a day that God doesn't exist, He will have an end. To which they of course said that couldn't happen, I then told them that they were using double hermeneutics which is against correct biblical interpretation. Which I, of course, do not believe that God has a beginning or an end but wanted them to see where their logic must take them. So, I continued to take them to proving Jesus is truly God.

I asked them what the term "Alpha and Omega" means. They stated, "The Beginning and the End" I then asked them, "how many Alpha and Omegas are there?" They replied, "one, the Lord Jehovah" Which is found in Isaiah 41:4; 44:6 and Revelation 1:8. So, getting what I wanted from them to show them Christ, I took them to Revelation 22. Read the whole chapter for yourself but I want to take a look at 4 verses in this chapter: 12,13, 16, 20

"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star." He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly " Amen Come, Lord Jesus.

This Alpha and Omega in verses 12,13 is "coming quickly" and notice verse 16 says that it is Jesus who is speaking and then Jesus uses the same term, "I am coming quickly" in verse 20 and John reconfirms who this by stating, "Amen Come, Lord Jesus." So, we have just seen that if there is one Alpha and Omega then Christ must be Jehovah, because He is called the Alpha and Omega in Revelation 22 just as Jehovah is shown in the above mentioned references.

The last verse they took me to is John 17:3

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

They ask, "If Jesus is truly God why would He say that Jehovah is the only true God?" This is easier to answer than some may think because God the Father calls Jesus God in Hebrews 1:8

But of the Son He says,

Notice who is doing the talking: God the Father about the Son. The Father says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and forever"

God the Father just called Jesus, God.

This is what is so great about the Word of God; it, when read and studied comletely, explains itself. Know that there is many other testaments of who our triune God is, and that it exactly what I worship: the triune God.

I don't know what will happen with those two that came to my door that day, but I told them that I wasn't into winning an argument but in the salvation of their souls. We spoke for about 45 minutes and spoke about many things, I just pray that the Holy Spirit will convict them of their sin and warped thinking of who He truly is.

Read More......

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Jesus Is God

We are not being exhaustive here but I want to point to the places that Christ testified of Himself being God and much is also seen, not only in His proclamation, but in the reaction of those whom hated Him most.

The first two that I would like to turn to are: John 8:58,59 and John 10:30

Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple
John 8:58,59

When Moses is sent to his people and asks God, “who shall I say sent me?” God tells Moses in Exodus 3:13-15, “tell them I Am who I Am, thus you shall say to Israel, I Am has sent me. "

Jesus by saying that before Abraham was, I am, is saying that He is God and that is why they pick up stones to stone Him, because saying that you are God was punishable by stoning. We see the same thing happen in John 10:30 when Christ says, “ I and the Father are One” What do the Jews do? They, again, pick up stones to stone Him. Let me ask you this. Why did the Jews want to crucify Christ? We find the answer in John 19:7

The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”
Why was this punishable by death? Because it was blasphemy. This is why your Saviour was put to death; because He proclaimed and taught that He was God and the Saviour of the World.

By saying that He was the Saviour He directly says that He is God as we find in Isaiah 43:11, when the Lord Almighty states:

I, even I, am the Lord, and there is no Saviour besides Me.

The next text that I would like to take a look at is Isaiah 41:22; 43:8-10 vs John 13:19

Let them bring forth and declare to us what is going to take place; As for the
former events, declare what they were, That we may consider them and know their
outcome; Or announce to us what is coming;
Isaiah 41:22

All the nations have gathered together So that the peoples may be assembled Who among them can declare this And proclaim to us the former things? Let them present their witnesses that they may be justified,Or let them hear and say, "It is
true." "You are My witnesses," declares the LORD, "And My servant whom I
have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He
Isaiah 43:9,10

From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He
John 13:19
One of the best parts of Scripture that details who God is and how to know the true God is Isaiah 40-45. So here God is telling us how they can know who He is and that is He knows perfectly the past and perfectly the future because He ordained all things. Christ, says the same in John 13:19; again showing His deity and calling Himself God.

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the
living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing."

And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever."

And the four living creatures kept saying, "Amen " And the elders fell down and worshiped.
Revelation 5:11-14

This is one of my favorite passages with John declaring Jesus as God. Notice the subject in verse 12 is Jesus, the Lamb of God. Then in verse 13 says that every created thing, meaning Jesus couldn’t have been created as it says that every created being and by saying this apart from the Lamb of God, this means that the Lamb was uncreated and separate from the created beings. But the clincher is in the last verse.

Who alone can be worshiped? God. Look to what the four living creatures and the elders did…they worshiped. They worshiped the Lamb who was slain.

Jesus claimed in many places that He was and is truly God. These are just a few of the places that this is ascertained. Next time I will look at some of the verses that Jehovah Witnesses bring up to try and disprove our God.

Read More......

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Calvinist Faces Death

I first learned about this story from Irish Calvinist and got this from TIME Magazine. Enjoy!

After roughly 200 years of decline, Calvinism, the faith of the Puritans, has made a modest comeback among younger Evangelical Christians. One of the movement's potent mentors is Albert Mohler, the influential, telegenic head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who made waves last June when he critiqued the religious claims of presidential contender Barack Obama in an essay called Secularism With A Smile.

Mohler, a Calvinist, went into the hospital in December for a fairly routine stomach operation and suddenly developed pulmonary embolisms, a frequently fatal form of clotting, in both lungs. After emergency surgery and four days in the Intensive Care unit, he made a complete recovery. David Van Biema asked him whether his crisis could illuminate his brand of faith.

I'm happy to be talking to you!

And I'm happy to be talking to you! And thankful.

A few years ago you claimed that "everyone is a Calvinist in praying before surgery." Can you explain that?

Yeah. Absolutely. In this sort of crisis we all want God to be sovereign, all powerful — to be able to intervene decisively, to rule over every atom and molecule of the universe. My point was that lots of believers are more dependent on a Calvinist-style sovereign God than they realize when they make their theological claims.

Like who, for example?

The God of liberal theology — He's a linguistic symbol, or a vague kind of spirituality. I've heard liberal theologians who have said that in situations like mine God is basically active in helping you find our own inner resources. It was very apparent to me in the ICU that I had no inner resources. My trust was in the unlimited sovereignty of the God of the Bible. I shudder to think of going through that experience believing that there is no one in control.

Can you explain the nature of your prayer at that point?

I prayed to survive — but I think like most Christians, I prayed, "if it be Your will."

This may be rude, but what response would you expect from Calvinist friends in the event that you had died?

I'm human enough to hope they would grieve my loss, but praise God's mercy in allowing me to live as long as I had and to know that God's plan for me — and them — includes what we wouldn't have chosen, but that we know to be perfect and best.

At the most extreme moments, did you experience any unusual recognitions that reflected your theology?

Yes. In the ICU I couldn't make my brain work in the way I was accustomed to. I couldn't get the words and thoughts to work. But [somehow] I remembered Chapter eight, Verse 26, from the Book of Romans, that says that when we can't pray for ourselves the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with "groaning too deep for words."

Are you saying that that idea was meaningful, or that this was an example — that God placed that verse in your mind when you would not have been able to?

Maybe both. I had memorized it, but God provided it.

A keystone of Calvinism is predestination, and what most non-Calvinists may find odd is how you could be so sure that you were predestined for heaven if you didn't pull through. Or were you?

Yes. I do not see predestination as either a blind force. We have the assurance that "God chose us before we chose Him."

But what gives you that assurance? Isn't it possible for people to think that they believed, and be mistaken and not be saved?

It's not some kind of game. I believe it is possible for a person to wrongly believe they are saved, but it's because they don't really believe in Christ or otherwise confused the Gospel.

How do you know you're not one of them?

We are supposed to look for the signs in our lives, of regeneration and authentic faith, but we should not live in continual fear that we are somehow not assured of our salvation, because that too is a form of doubting God.

One misconception people may have about Calvinism is that it holds that Christians act as though they had free will — when God has orchestrated everything. Can you address that?

Calvinists believe that the human will is instrumental in the experience of salvation. We would take issue with the idea of absolute free will, where people are talking about the priority of the human will in salvation. The big question is whether it is possible for the divine and human wills to operate in absolute harmony. I believe it is.

How would a Calvinist have viewed your successful recovery versus a non-Calvinist?

Some non-Calvinists might say, I'm glad he survived, but I'm so sorry this accident happened to him. A Calvinist would say "God had something for him to learn through this that will be important for his formation for eternity."

And you've learned...

A lot of things. I've blogged about it. One of the things I was really struck by was an empathy, recognizing that even as I was in the ICU, I may have been the healthiest person there.

Anything else?

I want people to know this is not the experience of Al the Calvinist, but Al the Christian. I wasn't reciting Calvinist principles to myself in the hospital bed, but I was very much trusting in the sovereign God any Christian can know and trust.

Read More......
Related Posts with Thumbnails