Contend Earnestly: August 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Unconditional Election - Affirmed

This is a repost before I nail a tough subject that will bring much debate and comments from a lot of people, which if kept charitable, will be a great time of discussion. Til then.

This doctrine is one that I have not always subscribed to. It is one that I was never even taught until about 8 years ago. It was one that I would have probably laughed at before then and scoffed at. I always thought that I was in control of my destiny, that I was the one who in control of my actions that I was the one who chose the paths on which to walk. So, naturally when it came to salvation I thought it was I who chose God and at times I thought how lucky He was to have me on His team. This doctrine has been debated all the way back to Augustine and Jerome against a man named Pelagius, it was the doctrine that is said to be the foundation of the reformation against the Catholic church in the 16th Century, it is what defined the Protestant movement and again is what was attacked by a man named James Arminius and what has been defended by men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Owen, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, R.C. Sproul and John MacArthur. This doctrine is one where we must lean completely on Scripture as our entire conscience fights against it. Even our society would tell us it isn’t true, and they do this every time they tell us that “You can do anything you set your mind to” or “you choose your destiny.” So, this doctrine is one where we need to put away your old inclinations and just hear Scripture, listen to what it says plainly for this was Paul’s prayer at the beginning of Colossians:

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Colossians 1:9,10

We are going to study what it means to be chosen of God and look at some key words to describe what this means:
1. Importance of the words: Foreknew, foreknowledge, foreknown, foreordain
2. Importance of the word: Predestine
3. Importance of the words: chosen or elect

Importance of the word foreknew, foreknowledge, foreknown, foreordain

The first word that comes with much debate and is at the real root of this debate is the word foreknown. Some say that this word means that God foreknew whether man would choose Him or not and based on those actions of belief, God elected those to salvation. So God looked through the portal of time and saw those who would choose Him and then He elected them or chose them unto salvation. The other view, the one that I hold to, is that God’s foreknowledge is much more intimate, much more thorough than just someone’s actions but that God foreknew you in a way to where He foreknew you as a person not just merely your actions. Let’s look at the first part of our text to understand this
, Romans 8:28-30.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

So, the question here is what did God foreknow in this passage? Does it say anything about God foreknowing anything about actions? Now, understand we do know that God knows everything, but what does God foreknow in this passage? It points to Him foreknowing the person, not their actions. There are three times that God’s foreknowledge is mentioned in verb form, here in Romans 8:29, also in 1 Peter 1:20 and also in Romans 11:2, so let’s look at these as well to get a well informed prospective.

God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?
Romans 11:2

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;
knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
1 Peter 1:17-21

So, the three times that God’s foreknowledge is mentioned in the verb tense we have that God foreknew what? The person or persons, but now what does the word actually mean. For this, we need to break the word down. The word in the Greek means to “know beforehand, or to predestine” but what about this word “know?” Is it just merely having knowledge about something or someone or is there something more here.

The word “know” or “knew” is a very intimate word to the both the Hebrews and Greeks. The word actually is used to describe that Adam and Eve knew each other and then their son Cain was born in Genesis 4:1. If the word merely meant to know about someone, then we have a true miracle of birth in Genesis 4:1 instead of the obvious reality that to “know” for the Hebrews was a very intimate term between two persons.

We also see this intimate relationship in
John 10:14

“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. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.
For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.
John 10:14-17

So does God just merely “know” of Christ? Or is this an intimate relationship between the two?

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:5

This knowledge or to know is also shown in Matthew 7:22,23; 1 Corinthians 8:3, 2 Timothy 2:19; Exodus 2:25; Galatians 4:9

When you think of the word predestine what do you think of? The word means exactly what we would take it to mean, the Greek word means “to decide beforehand or predetermine. In the biblical sense it comes with the connotation as God decreeing from eternity past.” There is no way around this word that is used many times in the New Testament. Take a look at these verses and the variety of ways the term is used:

Acts 4:28; Romans 8:29,30, 1 Cor 2:7; Eph 1:5,11

We can see especially in Ephesians that God predetermined His elect to obtain His inheritance, Why or for what cause? For the kind intention of His will. We also see this when David speaks to God in Psalm 139:1-16

So we, see that when we are told that we are predestined by God, that is exactly what is meant, the all sovereign Creator predestines His own, His elect to heaven.

The Importance of the words: Choose and Elect

So, now after seeing the importance of the words foreknow and predestine we come back to the words choose and elect. When God speaks of choosing a people He does it because of His will not ours. We can actually see this all through the Bible. How does God choose people? Does He choose them because they are seeking Him or do they get chosen by the mere fact that God wants to use them? Think of this…

The choosing of Abraham: Genesis 12 says nothing of why He chose Abram He just chose. What is interesting is that after Abram is chosen, the first action after his choosing is a sinful one! God told him to go forth from his relatives and he took Lot and his wife. I think this just shows once again that God chooses weak vessels, gives them faith and uses them for His glory. God does not look to who is strong in faith and hope they will choose Him, that is backwards.

Also, look at others that were chosen:

The choosing of the nation of Israel: Deut 7:6
The choosing of Moses: Exodus 3,4
The choosing of Gideon: Judges 6-8 (Oh Valient Warrior!) where was Gideon at this time? Hiding
The choosing of Jeremiah: Jeremiah 1
The choosing of David: 1 Samuel 16
The choosing of the twelve apostles: Luke 6 (John 15:16; You didn’t choose me; I chose you!)
The choosing of Saul: Acts 9

The Greek word translated “chosen” is eklektos, from the verb kaleo, “to call,” and the preposition ek, “out.” Literally, it means “the called-out ones.” The term is often used in the New Testament as a synonym for Christians (e.g., Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:10; Titus 1:1). The expression “called-out ones” emphasizes that we who are saved are redeemed because of God’s choice, not our own. Jesus told His disciples, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). In other words, if you are a Christian, it is ultimately because you were chosen by God Himself, not because of anything you did to get yourself into the Kingdom of God
John MacArthur

So, the words chosen ones or the elect are actually the exact same words in the
Greek and it is referred to 24 times in the New Testament. There is no way
around these simple to understand words. We have been chosen by the all
sovereign God to our position as His chosen people.

1 Peter 2:9 speaks to this specifically:
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

So when we see this in Colossians 3:12 that we are chosen by God, that is exactly what it means. We did nothing to earn this election, we did nothing to earn this choosing, but He chose us out of the kind intention of His will, not ours.


We have seen that sometimes our earthly view that seems correct is actually just the opposite. We think we chose God but in 1 John 4 it tells us that we love, because He first loved us. Without God foreknowing us, choosing and predestining us, calling us, we would still be lost
and without hope. But, if you believe in Jesus Christ and you believe that He God’s Son who died on the cross and rose again, and He alone is your Lord, than that is shown as proof of your election, because only those who know Christ have been chosen. Just as it says in John 10:26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. Notice, Jesus does not say that because you don’t believe you are not my sheep but those who are not called, who are not chosen by God cannot believe. They cannot be Christ’s sheep.

When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me.… [Then] the thought struck me, How did you come to be a Christian? I sought the Lord. But how did you come to seek the Lord? The truth flashed across my mind in a moment—I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence on my mind to make me seek Him.… I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me.… I desire to make this constant confession, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.”

Charles Spurgeon

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Faith Like a Child

Every night when my 4 year old son goes to sleep I spend some time reading him a Bible story, going over theology and then ending on prayer requests and prayer. Some of the things that I have covered with him are the atonement, the Trinity, repentance and the inspired Word, etc. It is a great time of devotion with my son. The other night as we were sharing our prayer requests my son said, "Dad, pray that I would not go to hell." To a father, this could not have been a better request to pray for. I asked him to tell me how he can avoid hell. To that, he said, "I have to be obedient." I corrected him and said that we need to repent. To that my son said, "Yeah, we need to turn from sin and run to Christ!" I said, "yes, that is exactly right." I then asked him to tell me about the atonement and he did, and we were able to pray that God would continue to work on my son's heart. It was a great evening, like they all are, with my little son, as we spoke about the great and glorious things of our Father.

Soli Deo Gloria

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Book on the Atonement

I am, once again, leaving for a week next week, this time for some vacation with the family. When I return I will be finishing up the Five Points of Calvinism and then probably getting back to my other series, which was my view on the Ordo Salutis. For now, I wanted to let all know that there is a book that Dr. Bruce Ware recommended to me after I emailed him with some questions. If you ever want to ask him a question, he is very open and willing to answer questions you have for him, so I would encourage you to do so if there is certain parts of his ministry or theology you want to inquire.

For me, it was the extent of the atonement of Christ. I have been doing a ton of study on the subject and have a great teacher behind the scenes that I have been able to glean much knowledge from. If you want to read his thoughts on the subject and collection of quotes from famous Calvinists from the past, go to Theology Online. As I spoke to Dr. Ware about this subject, he pointed me to a book by Dr. Michael Thomas called The Extent of the Atonement: A Dilemma for Reformed Theology from Calvin to the Consensus. I hope that after reading this it will be further revelation of what the reformers and historic Calvinists believed before Beza and Owen took Calvinism off track, as the Remonstrants did the Arminians. I will be giving my findings and beliefs on the atonement when I hit the atonement part of the Five Points of Calvinism. I will tell you, that at this point, I am thoroughly convinced that not only does the Bible teach the unlimited/limited view of the atonement, but so did many, and I mean many, of the historic Calvinists and also, Calvin himself.

I hope that when I bring my findings that we can engage on this site as we always do, with Scripture first and foremost, theological persuasion second and experience a distant third.

May your weekend be blessed and may we all return to the book faithfully handed down to the saints.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What does a Christian look like?

I recently came back from a mission trip to Mexico and it truly shocked me. Seeing the poverty that is prevalent was atrocious. As I sat in the worship services that I was able to be a part of on our first day (one in the morning, one in the evening) I was excited to think that these are the very people that I will be worshiping God forever with. The funny thing that I thought of is that the pastor, his son and many others in the service, would be looked down upon for how they looked. Meaning, they didn't dress in a nice shirt and tie, they didn't have a suit, and some even just showed up in shorts and a t-shirt.

I was speaking to my father about this, and he had spoken to an African pastor about 20 years ago and asked him if there was anything that he did not think was right in the way that the evangelists did things that came into his village. The pastor, making sure that he first sang their praises, said there was one thing that frustrated him the most. The missionaries, after adults and children were saved, made them dress like and American businessman. They literally told the villagers that they must wear a shirt and tie and the women had to be in dresses.

I don't know much of Hudson Taylor, but I do know that he is respected in almost every circle of modern Christendom for his service to the Chinese people and the proclamation of the gospel. What I find interesting is that it was the "great" Taylor that changed for the people and didn't not expect them to change for him. I guess the question for us is, what non-biblical issues, dress or traditions do we force upon others so that they look and act just as we do?

One of my favorite things that happened at the first church I went to in Mexico, was that they had time of testimony for any who would stand and speak. So, one by one, people stood up and told the church of their praises of what God had been doing. To show how different their thankfulness is compared to ours, one man stood up and simply praised God that he had lived for another birthday. The man could not have been any older than 40, yet praised God for his mere breath. Amen! This man was in blue jeans and a colorful polo shirt and was able to stand confidently among the congregation. The question should be: could he do the same at your church?

Mark Driscoll mentions this in one of his books as a pastor came in to see how Mars Hill functions. As they were standing in the lobby, a young woman walks by, dressed goth (if I am remembering correctly) and the pastor said, "See that is what is so great about your ministry, you will have the chance to talk to that young woman and maybe someday she will be saved. " Driscoll responded saying, "She is saved. She is actually one of our volunteers in the church." (these quotes are summarized) We need to all make sure that we do not expect people to look, dress or act like us, because we "have always done it like this" or we will all turn into those described in James 2 as showing favoritism to those we think look holy, instead of looking to those who ARE holy.

My dad has told me a pretty funny definition.

Do you know what the definition of a fanatic is?

Someone who loves Jesus more than you!

It has almost come to this in contemporary Christendom to say:

Question: Do you know what a Christian looks like?

Answer: Anyone who looks like me.

May God bless you this week and when you see someone who is different than you, ask yourself why you label them before you even know them. Maybe, just maybe, they are holier than even you are! For that is exactly what I found in Mexico, holy people living for God no matter the cost, dress or tradition.

Soli Deo Gloria? Do we mean it? I hope so.

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Will It Blend?

For the sake of "staleness!":

Now, don't get any ideas that I have the ability to be a regular poster like Seth is. Plus, what you are about to witness will prove why I should not post very often! But here is a little something to bring mirth to your day:

Will it blend?

My favorite so far is between the glass marbles and the glow sticks (the iPods are just too painful!)

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Hurricane Katrina and the liberal media

We will bookend the week with another article from John Piper. I was greatly encouraged by this bold statement that was published shortly after Katrina. It not only calls to account the blasphemous accusations of man against God, but also provides us with a biblical response to such tragedies.

God is supreme. God is sovereign. May we all learn the cover our mouths, but do so quicker than Job did (40:4).

Click here to read the article. It is imbedded in a .PDF, so I apologize in advance for the awkward format. But the content is too good to pass up.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dead Sea Scrolls

Thank you Seth, for bailing me out yesterday. As my best excuse, I actually thought I had already blogged for the day. But at about 10:30, it occurred to me that it was WEDNESDAY and not Tuesday. Jumping on to the blog, I saw Seth's post. Man, he's hard core!


I had the once-in-a-life-time opportunity last October to take our College/Career group to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Pacific Science Center. In God's timing, we were in the midst of our study through the book of Psalms which was one of the displays at the Science Center. And this event was actually where Seth and I came up with the idea for our logo, as I had scrolls on the brain at the time!

It was the first time the scrolls had been outside of Israel, and the visit proved to be more than worth our time. A great reminder of how faithful the Lord has been to preserve His word. We realize that the Scrolls do not make the Scriptures inspired, but show them to be inspired.

One of my Professors I had while attending The Master's Seminary is a man by the name of Dr. William Barrick. He recently preached a sermon about the historical background of this amazing find. You can listen to it by clicking here. And, you can get other papers and sermons on his site.

If the exhibit comes even remotely close to your location, you need to go. And listening to Dr. Barrick is something I wish I had access to before our viewing. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Hello from Mexico

Hey, just wanted to stop by and give you guys a quick link to the Mission page and tell you what a blessing it has been to be down here. If you would like full updates, take a look at TCC Youth Mission's Trip. I will tell you, times like these make me a true believer in God's sovereignty, because if I weren't I don't know what my thoughts would be on all these hungry and starving people that will die in utter poverty, some without ever hearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. May all this be for His glory and honor.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007


To piggy back off of yesterday's post, below are some of the sites I visit most frequently. Some of them do have the option to Podcast. Any preachers or sites that you know of that would be good to work into the rotation? Let us know!

Taylor Creek Church - we'll start with what is closest to home. Both Seth and I (and our families) have experienced more spiritual growth here than anywhere else in our Christian walks. You can find sermons from our Pastor, Jason Katen, as well as Seth and I at this site. Podcast available!

Christ Fellowship Baptist Church; Steve Lawson. This man will spur you on to preach with passion. Podcasts here as well.

Art Azurdia; Art was the preacher for our family camp at Lakeside Bible camp last summer. A great preacher as well.

Countryside Bible Church - this is the church that I had mentioned in my post yesterday; Tom Pennington. Rocky Wyatt, his Associate Pastor, has filled our pulpit as well, and is a man who loves the word of God. They do Podcast as well.

Desiring God; John Piper - free downloads. OnePlace is also a great resource for many other ministries and their audio sermons.

Grace Immanuel Bible Church; Jerry Wragg. Jerry used to be the personal assistant to John Macarthur. He was also the shepherd of our Sunday School class when we attended Grace.

Grace Life; a ministry of Grace Community Church. This is the preaching ministry of both Phil Johnson and Don Green. Excellent. Podcast on site.

I have others, but those are the ones that make the weekly rotation (as best I can!). Let us know what you like to listen to.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Mondays, Sermons, iPods and Cancer

It's still Monday, right? (barely) So here goes a good 'ol case of plagiarism...

Dr. John Piper has made a great impact on my growth as a Pastor, and a student of the word of God. Last April I had the great privilege of attending the Children Desiring God conference. Dr. Piper was the Keynote speaker, and from a human standpoint, it was a thrill to see him preach in person. For those of you who also strive to be better preachers, you know that I am not saying that in terms of an "audience member" watching a "performer". But as a young preacher, I got to see, in the flesh, a true man of God with a powerful passion to proclaim the word of God.

Related to that, two Christmas' ago, our Senior Pastor, the College/Career group (whom I shepherd) and my incredible wife, chipped in and bought me a 30 Gig iPod (black of course. Yes, Seth followed ME in that. 'Cept he got the 80 gig - newman!) At any rate, I realized the real use of this incredible device; sermon hunting. Any and all sites that allowed mp3 downloads is where I spent my free time. I had a friend who shared with me that the church where he grew up at now offered their sermons online. Their Pastor, Tom Pennington, had been on staff at Grace Community Church when we attended in 1999. I went home that night, and saw that they had the last two and a half years of sermons on their site. The following work day my friend asked if I downloaded any sermons. My reply? "Yes, all of them". So, I have issues (not the least of which were the 300 or so AW Tozer sermons I had downloaded about a month before that incident). Perhaps my post tomorrow will be the links of where I currently get my sermons.

(Where is all this going? Wait for it!....) Then, one of the College Guys tipped me off to the wonderful world of podcasting. What a deal! One of the first podcasts that I subscribed to was Desiring God, and I got to hear Dr. Piper on a daily basis. During one of the intros it was announced that Dr. Piper had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was a shock to hear, as it always is. But later, he released an article that shows a true biblical response to life's severest trials. Click here to read "Don't Waste Your Cancer".

I sent this to a friend of mine who has advanced colon cancer. While I was a bit concerned that it would be received as condescending, he said it was a great encouragement. And looking back, that should not surprise me being that it was based on the word of God. May you or someone else you know be encouraged by these words as well.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Mission Trip

As of tomorrow at 6:00am PST I will be on a plane down to Mission, Texas for a mission's trip. I will be leading a team of 7 youth and 2 other adults, in a time of service projects, Vacation Bible School and street evangelism. We will be staying in Mission, Texas and then heading over the border into Mexico each day where we will be doing the evangelism and VBS. Please be praying for us. I will be gone until Saturday, August 11th but Justin has promised to keep the blog going for next week. When I return I will start again on the series of the Five Points of Calvinism and then possibly a blog war with my other blog and friends at Theology Online on the affirmation of the literal 1000 year kingdom. Should be fun.

Below are some pictures of the pastors we'll be helping down in Mexico. Thanks for the prayers ahead of time.

First, is Duane and Marilyn Gibson. They are head of the mission that we will be visiting and they will be leading us into Mexico each day. These people have been servants for many years for the cause of the spread of the Gospel. Here is the link to their website: International Evangel Heralds.

We will be doing a week long Vacation Bible School at Christ the Rock Baptist Church with Pastor Jose Perez and his wife Lucy Perez. Below is their picture and below that is a picture of their church.

We will also be doing some special projects at Berachah Baptist Church for Pastor Julio Olvera and his wife Eliza Olvera. Below is their picture and below that is their church.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Debate is Over

In case you didn't see Nate's comment I will repost it here with some follow up thoughts and guidance for what will still come after this.

Nate's comment:

Hey guys...alright here is the deal. I have already emailed Seth earlier today to inform him of my decision to drop out of this debate. I know it may come as a disappointment to some (very much so to me) but please hear me out. I stated a few days ago that this was originally intended to be only a few emails back and forth between Seth and I discussing Calvinism and my beliefs, not for the intent of changing our views necessarily (though that wasnt out of the question) but more as clarification because Seth seemed like he thought Dr. Goetsch painted Calvinists all wrong and it appeared to me that Seth and many others on here painted fundamentalists (in no way Arminian) wrong. Thats really what has evolved into this large scale debate...which is ok. The problem is, I have nowhere near the time to put into this what I need to, and seemingly every night I am spending hours reading posts and responding, as well as studying and its kinda wearing me out. I have certainly had much more to answer than Seth. This is not only difficult to do because of a hectic schedule outside of this debate, but it has also led to very little time to spend with my family just about every night. I can't do that anymore, it just doesnt seem right.

I am truly sorry for those who are disappointed and wanted to see this debate continue. Trust me, I love debating and arguing, and I didn't even get to my good points yet!! =) But alas, my set up with Seth was to probably go a week or two...and it has already been almost two weeks and we are still discussing total depravity. Hopefully you guys understand.

Let me also add that it has become increasingly clear that no one is going to change their position. You all seem pretty entrenched in Calvinism and I couldn't believe more in my beliefs. The biggest problem I have ever had with any Calvinist is when I've been told that evangelism is not really necessary. It was nice to hear from everyone on here that evangelism is important to them. To me, that is without a doubt the biggest issue. Also, I'm sorry for any comments that were deemed offensive...they were not meant to be so. With that, I bid you all farewell. I thanked Seth for his participation and I will thank you all too for your participation and for caring about God's word and the things of God as much as I do. I consider you all brothers in Christ, no matter what our disagreement on these issues. And I do sincerely feel bad for backing out, as I dont consider myself a quitter. But I just figured better early on than in the middle when this already commanding an overwhelming amount of my time, more than I really can give.

Thanks guys, hopefully you all understand. Seth, thanks for opening your blog to those who dont believe like you do.

God Bless


The one thing that I do want to point to, that I emailed Nate about, is the fact of us being Calvinists who evangelize.

Here was my email to Nate:

I would also ask you to know that if you believe that Calvinism has no reason to invoke evangelism (which is really, in the end fatalism), you need to use the same logic with your own beliefs. Which would mean me telling you that if you believe one can "resist" God's effectual call, then I could as easily draw the conclusion that if you don't resist and you do believe you have something to boast about. Which would be a work, and then you have a works based salvation. I could also say that if you believe in free will that you also need to take that to the end and say that God cannot know the future and you become an open theist. But, I don't believe either of those to be true.

There is a line that people cross (hyper Calvinism/fatalism and Open Theism) but all Calvinists and all free will people don’t cross that line and neither should act as though the other will ultimately end up there. If you believe it about the opposing side, you must use that same logic with your own belief system. This is actually what made me stop saying that all free willers have to end up as Open Theist, because I am no fatalist, but figured I had to end up there being that is the danger of Calvinism. Does that make sense?

I have actually challenged my Calvinist friends, including some "high ranking" ones (whatever that means) that we can not say that Arminians, or free will believers, are open theists, because once we do that we must come to the conclusion that Calvinism will come to be fatalism.

So, just because a belief in theology can lead somewhere, does not mean that is where it HAS to lead. This has taken some time for me to mature in this area...

Usually these Calvinists will say that Arminians are not saved and that Calvinism is the only true Gospel (whatever that means) but know that historical Calvinism was not this way. Just look at Whitefield and Wesley.

End of email

The one thing to note that I find very interesting is that Nate did not want to continue because he could see that none of us were going to change:

"Let me also add that it has become increasingly clear that no one is going to change their position. You all seem pretty entrenched in Calvinism and I couldn't believe more in my beliefs."

This is going to sound rude, but it is really just an observation. Is this not the thinking of ALL free willers? "If I don't see it working, then I will either give up, or change my style to try and get them to change." This is the danger. That it is what I do, how I present, my style that changes or convinces people. Not God. Calvinism on the other hand, knows that we must merely honor God and His message, and it is His work, not our own that brings about change. I honestly believe that we take a higher and stronger stance on Isaiah 55:11 and lean on that more than we lean on the outward appearance of belief. We understand that all we are, are seed planters, not the cause of growth. We are patient farmers.

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:11

What I am going to do is continue to post on the 5 points of Calvinism and hopefully will come to some good conversations throughout these days.

Soli Deo Gloria

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Definitions Please

I asked Nate to give me some exegesis and like anyone on the opposite side of the fence, we never feel as though they did a good enough job. Not saying this is just myself, but I am sure that I have not live up to my side of the bill either, in Nate's mind, with some of my exegesis. What I would like to do is have us ALL define some words. So, if you can, even if you agree with some of the definitions presented, all define these words so that we can see where each of us are coming from. Try and make it pretty short and sweet. Nate: if you would like to add some words in here, feel free to have us define them as well. Here goes:






Divine Purpose

How I define.
Determine: When I say that I am "determined" or that I "determined" to do something, this means that I will carry out that "plan" whatver that plan is. If I say that I determined to get back at a co-worker then I will do whatever I can do so. If I am a determined individual, then I am one who will do whatever I need to, to accomplish something. Take this to God. He is called omnipotent. So when He determines something for His purpose, it will come to pass. If He falls short in His determination how can I call Him omnipotent?

Ordain: To me this one is pretty simple. If I ordain something, or better yet, a President or King ordains something, they put something into place for whatever purpose they intend to follow through with. Again, if God ordains something, it cannot fail. Cause, well, He is God. "The President ordained the troops to attack Iraq."

Foreknowledge: This one is a little more tricky. At first glance, to us humans, this simply means to know beforehand. Easy. But wait. Then you see how the word "know" is used in the Bible. Such as, "Adam knew Eve..." then they had a son. Hmmmm...know is something more in the Hebrew culture. Christ also uses the term know in the same instance when He says "I know my sheep and my sheep know me." Then He says to those going to hell, "Depart from Me for I never knew you." Does this mean that Christ had no knowledge of them? Does the sheep reference simply mean that I know who Christ is and He happens to know who I am? Of course not. So, if we reference foreknowledge, with the strength of "know" being intimate, we can say that God "fore-loved" or had some type of intimacy with certain things and people (depending on the verse)

Predestine: Pretty straight forward here. To determine beforehand. One's path is already chosen. This word has never been used, to my knowledge, in secular or Christian writings to ever mean anything besides to determine beforehand.

Elect: Comes alongside the word "choose." So when we elect a president, we choose that President. Of course, we choose based on who that person is, or because of that person's works or actions. Since God is not a respector of persons, He chooses or elects much differently than we do. Of course, we can choose or elect something also, without a real reason. (not applying this to God) I can choose one cup over another to drink out of without really caring. So, not all our choices are based on previous knowledge or conceived knowledge. Not going to deal with the biblical reasons for this word quite yet. But, the decision of the choosing and electing, unless coerced, lies only in the hands of the one doing the electing, not the thing or person being elected.

Divine Purpose: If I tie in all the other words, predestine, ordain, elect, foreknowledge and take them to pertain to God, then I would say that the divine purpose, which is higher than our ways and sometimes a secret, is accomplished through all those other means. Making each of those individual words vital to understand and vital to be carried out. If any of these steps along the way go "wrong" or not according to plan, the divine purpose will not be accomplished. Kind of like the thought of the "butterfly effect". The divine purposes of God cannot be thwarted as find out in Job 42. There are many purposes but there is one above all others: God's glory to be exalted. That is the highest and everything else is literally dung compared to this one.

Alright. Let's hear from everyone else. What do you guys think?

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