Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Christian Skeptic

Skepticism is classically defined as:

1 : an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object

2 a : the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain b : the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism characteristic of skeptics

3 : doubt concerning basic religious principles (as immortality, providence, and revelation)

So basically, Christian Skepticism adopts the first two definitions with the proposition that God's reason is greater than Man's and is the only source of truth, that Christ as revealed in Scripture is the revelation of God's character, will and truth, thus Christ is the foundation of all truth, so all truth claims must be examined and measured by this framework.

Net Effect - We are skeptical and doubt any knowledge that does not originate from and glorify God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) or detracts from Holy Scripture.


I would really like this to become a team site. I'll see if I can drum up some members.

As the Lord wills!

Grace and Peace,

-JD

Here is a cool video I found on YouTube for a starter!



...and a good blog - The Christian Mind

Refuting Christianity or Religion is the cause for the greatest suffering and death in history

The call for Apologetic SEALs - oorah!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Worship goals

III. Statement of Goals

1. Our primary vision is to strive to worship God in Spirit and Truth, in loving unity as well as to be broadly appealing to the bride of Christ (both those that are currently in the body and those God is calling to Himself) .

2. We will take the resources we have and develop them to more and more skillfully worship God - acknowledging the insufficiency of our righteousness and God's work of perfecting our worship (Hebrews 12:2).

3. We will run the race and move forward - not backwards - laying aside our personal preferences on traditional/non-traditional styles in order to focus on feeding the sheep, edifying the saints and going into all the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

4. We will, with fear and trembling, train up the children of God (Proverbs 22:6) to worship according to biblical principles with the understanding that some will reject these principles.

see this for the rationale and Scriptural support

Implementing Elders

from here


Elders

After the initial case of discipline, the church went through sixteen months of decline and struggle. After that, things really began to take off. The respect and admiration for myself from the body began to grow so much that I knew this was not healthy. I simply had almost no accountability. The deacons were only servants to the body and had no authority to oversee. The pastor was viewed as a benevolent dictator. I knew I needed help to lead and oversee the church. I was convinced that a plurality of elders was the most biblically healthy model of church leadership. I devised a plan. I would preach a series of messages on biblical elders and then ask the congregation to nominate men for the office. I would then examine the top nominees and exclude any one who was not biblically qualified. The remaining twelve would be presented to the congregation for a two-week examination period. If anyone had any concerns, they had two weeks to bring them to my attention. After two weeks, the men, with their wives at their side, were unanimously affirmed as elders in the church. Originally we called them “the Pastor’s Council” for fear the title “elder” might unsettle some. Since then, we have matured greatly in our understanding of elder ministry and in our policy for selecting and installing them. Today we require a 50-page questionnaire on theology and church polity. For over sixteen years now the love, encouragement, and accountability among the elders has been priceless to me. They have been the key, humanly speaking, to holding the church together in some very difficult times. Their leadership in doctrine and discipline issues greatly enhances my role of the preaching pastor.

Couple of good reads and a quote...

Al Mohler's response to the Wired Magazine article on "The New Atheism"

The Sacred Sandwich defends Christian satire.

Not finding Advent and Christmas explicitly named in the Bible, many of our Evangelical forebears refused to celebrate it. Some of my heroes, the Calvinistic Baptists of the 18th century, are a good example in this regard. But while we must learn from the past—a deep-seated conviction I live my life by—we don’t live in those days. It is today we must seize for Christ. And it is Scriptural to set apart days—even seasons—to reflect on God’s goodness and mercy, and to seek his face. And the Advent—blessed are all those who long for Christ’s appearing—and Christmas seasons are a marvellous time for such reflection and such seeking.

from here

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Biblical Deaconhood

New Testament Deacons serve the Lord by conducting the caring ministry of the church-doing the benevolence work, visiting the sick, being alert to the spiritual needs of the congregation-for the purposes of freeing the pastoral staff to focus on prayer and the ministry of the Word, promoting unity within the church, and facilitating the spread of the gospel.


http://www.baptiststart.com/print/role_of_deacons.html

Biblical Exegesis - John Piper

Great booklet on properly interpreting biblical texts:

http://www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf/booklets/BTBX.pdf

From the booklet:

It is precisely at this point that I believe the Holy Spirit performs a crucial role in the exegetical process for the reliant believer. He does not whisper in our ears the meaning of a text. He cares about the text which he inspired and does not short circuit the study of it. The primary work of the Holy Spirit in exegesis is to abolish the pride and arrogance that keep us from being open to the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit makes us teachable because he makes us humble. He causes us to rely wholly on the mercy of God in Christ for our happiness so that we are not threatened if one of our views is found to be wrong. The person who knows himself finite and unworthy, and who thus rejoices in the mercy of God, has nothing to lose when his ego is threatened.

...

It was a life-changing revelation to me when I discovered that Paul, for example, did not merely make a collection of divine pronouncements, but that he argued. This meant, for me, a whole new approach to Bible reading. No longer did I just read or memorize verses. I sought also to understand and memorize arguments. This involved finding the main point of each literary unit and then seeing how each proposition fit together to unfold and support the main point.

...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Santa and Rational reasons to believe in the claims of Christianity

This was the Original Post (OP) in a thread on the Internet Infidels Atheist discussion forum - I thought this was worth capturing.

Rational reasons to believe in Christianity by BadBadBad

I was hoping that in this thread we could capture any rational reasons for believing in the Christian religion. Angela2 prompted this thread. She criticized athiests for "espousing atheism" for emotional reasons. I corrected her that for me anyway it's not promoting atheism, but criticizing religion. I do that for emotional and rational reasons. Yet I have yet to hear a single rational reason for believing in Christianity. So, hopefully we'll be able to sort through the best ones here and sort out emotion from rationality.


Let's have the rational reasons for believing the Christian story as presented in the Bible.


I replied that experience was one reason.

The poster replied that this rationale could be used to support belief in Santa.

I replied that experience was one factor of several - including observation, reason and historicity.

Which led to another poster's reply to me:

Just by repeating "experience, observation, reason and historicity"? It makes for a good mantra, I suppose. I especially liked how you managed to rule out santa. You simply asserted the truth is revealed & santa isn't. You must find it easy to defend assertions by making more assertions.

my response -

hm - perhaps you did not understand how these factors would apply:

As a child I experienced both God and Santa.

God promised through Scripture the gifts of eternal life with Him through faith in Christ and the fruit
of the Holy Spirit in this life.

Santa promised toys if I was a good boy.

As I matured, I began to realize through reason and observation that Santa was a myth developed over time - based on the works of the historical real person, St. Nicholas - and that the toys I was receiving were given by my parents - and my behavior did not really impact the receipt of toys - so my experience with Santa was shown as a childish fantasy.

On the other hand - as I matured, I began to realize that through reason and observation the Universe was not a product of chance and that Scripture was a consistent and reliable guide to faith and practice - that Christ was indeed a historical figure and that the witnesses and accounts of Christ were too near the time of his appearance on earth to be myth - and I more and more began to exhibit the characteristics of the fruits of the Spirit, despite the drive of my nature to the contrary.

All these things helped me understand the nature of my salvation, served as validation of my experience and my rationale supporting my belief in God.

I hope that is a little clearer.

-pax-

-JD



Friday, October 20, 2006

Back to the Atheists - on my terms

"There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures." 2 Peter 3:16

"Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear … There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.’ - Dr William B. Provine, Professor of Biological Sciences, Cornell University

I have recently decided to pop back into the Internet Infidels discussion forum, but have decided to set a couple of ground rules for myself (subject to change):

1. Not to engage in more than 2 or 3 threads at one time


2. To discriminate between responding to genuine attempts to dialogue and attempts to begin a "flame war" - this includes the folk I have put on my "ignore" list as just too irrational or unreasonable to try and dialogue with - such as:

- sharon45
- Crucifiction

3. To try and honor Christ with my attitude and tone - which includes not debating fellow Christians there on matters of faith, practice and doctrine.

4. To answer whatever portions of a discussion I have a mind to - with the understanding that silence does not mean capitulation - there are only so many hours in the day and I serve the Lord in "real time", too.


5. I will not respond to profanity-laced posts - the ignorant use profanity when their vocabulary is insufficient to reasonably reply

Please pray that I hold fast, because I truly believe: "all things work together for good, for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose." Rom 8:28

-pax-

-JD



BTW - One of my posts:












Very interesting thread - Tim, I can see that you have certainly learned not to fall for the the "bait and switch" methodology of some of our friends here. kudos. I hope to follow your lead…

Classical - I am glad you are critically examining your experience - and am encouraged as to the potential outcome - my experience has led me to remain even more completely aligned to my doctrinal position - described as a term of art - or theological shorthand - as Calvinism. We should discuss sometimes.

What confuses me is that folk continually mischaracterize the Calvinist position - particularly on Election...neither Tim, I or anyone else can determine whom the Elect are - one can [b]surmise[/b] based on the qualifications described in Scripture, but I have always held (as consistent Calvinists must), that the judgment of salvation belongs solely to the sovereign God.

Now - Classical - I have spoken (in PM) of how your experience with music resonates with my experience as a musician, too. There is certainly a spiritual element to music - look at the importance God Himself placed on it - "Sing to the Lord a new song", etc...just as there is a spiritual element to thought...God Himself said, "Come let us reason together..."

Thought, feeling, transcendence - mind, heart, soul - reason, emotion, spirit - the triad of human existence - the chord of Purpose - the uniqueness of Man and - ultimately - the image of God.

Now - I hesitated to post this at all, knowing the propensity of some to disparage what they cannot understand or perhaps even truly experience themselves, or would take peripheral observable temporal phenomenon and attempt to constrain and component-ize the infinite to a manageable purposeless fluke.

…but what the hey! :D

-pax-

-JD




Tuesday, October 10, 2006

John Piper - A modern spiritual hero

"God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him. This is the motor that drives my ministry as a pastor. It affects everything I do."

I have had great difficulty finding modern men to which I would align myself with - doctrinally and spiritually.

I have found this man to be a true sojourner in the Way.

His website:





Site link

Audio Sermons

Ergun Caner vs James White - Debate canceled

But somebody did a cool video of what it might have been like...shout out to Unlocking the Truth!!!

Monday, October 9, 2006

Hateful Calvinism

" ...Phelps-Roper is a case study in this error....Obviously, this is a very extreme case of doctrinal abuse, but I wonder if the rest of us Calvinists ever sound this way, at least to some ears. After all, these are our doctrines she is perverting.

Do we teach that everyone deserves to suffer God's wrath? Yes, we do -- and must. But do we teach that in a context that presents God truly? Not if we extract it from other of God's attributes, such as mercy, love, long-suffering, and goodness.

Despite the shards of "truth" in Phelps-Roper's words, the God she presented looked essentially like the twisted killer who murdered those precious girls -- indeed, worse.

And do we teach that man is a totally depraved sinners, a "child of wrath" who deserves to suffer eternal torment? Yes, but that truth is not true without the context of man's dignity and glory as created in the image of God and without the incarnation of God the Son.

The Christian message is not "you are a worthless scum." Rather, it is "you are precious image-bearer of God, so valued by God and so tragically captured by sin that God sent his own Son to enter your race and provide for your redemption."

From here

Saturday, October 7, 2006

The Gift of God - Potential Sermon

John 4:10

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."

Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matthew 25:46

46"These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Romans 5:21

21so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 8:38

38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,


Romans 8:39

39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Acts 2:38And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


Acts 10:45And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.


Romans 3:23-25 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.


Romans 11:29For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable


Ephesians 2:8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

Friday, October 6, 2006

Ergun Caner is a Coward.

Just want to make sure I get my 2 cents in here. No honorable man would twist and turn a debate into such a tangle guaranteed to cause the opposing team to justifiably pull out of a debate.

See:
http://aomin.org/index.php?itemid=1566

and

http://aomin.org/index.php?itemid=1568

and finally

http://aomin.org/index.php?itemid=1569

for more details of the cowardice.

-JD

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Scripture on the Sovereignty of God

Recently, I was reading some posts and comments over on the Founder's Directors blog and the post on "Calvinism as I see it" and the problems that it causes - some very interesting discussion there - some not so interesting - but someone posted some Scripture that support the doctrine that God is sovereign over all things (I know, an amazing concept!) and I wanted to capture them here:

Genesis 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Exodus 9:16 "But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.

Exodus 14:4 "Thus I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD." And they did so.

1 Samuel 2:6-7 The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. The LORD makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts.

1 Samuel 2:25 "If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a an sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?" But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the LORD desired to put them to death.

1 Samuel 16:14 Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him.

1 Kings 22: 23 "Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the LORD has proclaimed disaster against you."

Psalm 33:10-11 The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Psalm 33:15 He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works.

Psalm 37:23 The steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way.

Psalm 47:8 God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne.

Proverbs 16:4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

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

Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

Proverbs 19:21Many plans are in a man's heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand.

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

Lamentations 3:37-38 Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth?

Daniel 4:35 "All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, `What have You done?'

Isaiah 46:10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'

Isaiah 63:17 Why, O LORD, do You cause us to stray from Your ways and harden our heart from fearing You? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage.

Acts 17:26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,

Acts 2:23-24 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

Acts 4:27-28 For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.

Romans 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH."

Ephesians 1:9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He planned in Him.

Ephesians 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,


These are not NEARLY comprehensive supporting God's sovereignty, but I liked that they ranged over many portions of Scripture.

Don't want to leave out my personal favorite!

Romans 8:28 All things work together for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Election & Evangelism


"Success in evangelism is not dependent on my persuasion, my skill, my programming, my personality.

Success in evangelism is in God's hands.

He alone can open a Lydia's heart. He alone can transform a Saul of Tarsus. He alone can bring repentance to a captive (II Timothy 2:25). We plant and water. It is God alone who gives the increase (I Corinthians 1:30).

It is solely of Him that we are in Christ Jesus (I Corinthians 1:30)-and nothing of ourselves. He makes His people willing in the day of His power (Psalm 110:3), and causes the man whom He has chosen to come to Him (Psalm 65:4).

Whether men reject or receive the gospel, the faithful gospel-sower is a victor (II Corinthians 2:14-17).

Our first and last duty is to be faithful in the sight of God as a diffuser of the fragrance of Christ to all around us. In this we triumph, not in the securing of results (decisions) ourselves.

What a great encouragement! We know that God will save His people."


Robert B. Selph
(Taken from the book: Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election)


http://www.gracesermons.com/robbeeee/selph.html

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Valley of Vision SONGS!!!

http://sovereigngraceministries.org/music/projects/valleyofvision/

Someone might ask, "Why produce a CD inspired by the prayers of a bunch of dead guys?" That's an easy one. Puritans like John Bunyan, Thomas Watson, Richard Baxter, and Isaac Watts knew their hearts, their Bibles, and their God much better than we do. Many of them wrote down their prayers not to be published, but to assess their own spiritual growth and to encourage themselves in times of spiritual dryness. These prayers reveal a personal, humble, passionate relationship with an awesome God, a living Savior, and an active Spirit. Reading their meditations inspires us to pursue the same level of reality as we worship God.


WOO!WOO!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

String theory is blather - Slate Magazine

Modern physics is troubled by the anthropocentric character of the universe. For instance, had gravity been only a teensy bit stronger or weaker, planets and stars could not have formed. So, does the fortuitous value of gravity for planets and stars show that a higher power is manipulating physical law?
....

In recent decades it has become essential at the top of academia to posit utter meaninglessness to all aspects of physics.
....

But string theory seems to contain significant helpings of blather designed to intimidate nonscientists from questioning the budgets of physics departments and tax-funded particle accelerator labs.
....

Yet the very sorts of elite-institution academics who snigger at creationists for revealing their ignorance of scientific terminology by calling evolution "just a theory" nonetheless uniformly say "string theory."
...

String theory is blather...Slate Magazine



Very interesting article...helps build my skepticism of scientific ideals.

-JD

Friday, September 8, 2006

The Essentials...

IN ESSENTIALS UNITY,

IN NON-ESSENTIALS LIBERTY,

IN ALL THINGS CHARITY.

On the Origin of the Sentence: "In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis
(or, dubiis) libertas, in utrisque (or, omnibus) caritas."

This famous motto of Christian Irenics, which I have slightly modified in the text, is often falsely attributed to St. Augustin (whose creed would not allow it, though his heart might have approved of it), but is of much later origin. It appears for the first time in Germany, A.D. 1627 and 1628, among peaceful divines of the Lutheran and German Reformed churches, and found a hearty welcome among moderate divines In England.

The authorship has recently been traced to RUPERTUS MELDENIUS an otherwise unknown divine, and author of a remarkable tract in which the sentence first occurs.
...

Necessary dogmas are,

(1) articles of faith necessary to salvation;

(2) articles derived from clear testimonies of the Bible;

(3) articles decided by the whole church in a synod or symbol;

(4) articles held by all orthodox divines as necessary.

Not necessary, are dogmas

(1) not contained in the Bible;

(2) not belonging to the common inheritance of faith;

(3) not unanimously taught by theologians;

(4) left doubtful by grave divines;

(5) not tending to piety, charity, and edification.


http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/jod/augustine/quote.html

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/hcc7.ii.vii.viii.html

Paul (Romans 15: 1-13) - "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves."

Charles Hodge comments here that "Since the points of difference are not essential, as the law of love, the example of Christ, and the honor of religion require concession, we who are fully persuaded of the unimportance of these things about which our weaker brothers are so scrupulous ought to act in accordance with their opinions and not behave just to please ourselves."


http://www.tulip.org/ccr/rom15a.htm

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Doctrines of Grace - excellent summary with biblical proofs


I lifted this article in toto from the blog of Joel Barnes - Many thanks to him for this excellent summary!

Calvinism Fact Sheet

Below are explanations of TULIP (an acronym representing Calvinism’s main tenets) followed by supporting biblical texts. Remember that not all supporting texts will explicitly teach a given tenet. In such instances, the tenet of Calvinism in question will be, to borrow from an old confession, “by good and necessary consequence deduced from” the supporting texts.

Total Depravity (or Total Inability) (1)

When Calvinists speak of man as being totally depraved, they mean that man’s nature is corrupt, perverse, and sinful throughout. The adjective “total” does not mean that each sinner is as totally or completely corrupt in his actions and thoughts as it is possible for him to be. Instead, the word “total” is used to indicate that the whole of man’s being has been affected by sin. The corruption extends to every part of man, his body and soul; sin has affected all (the totality) of man’s faculties - his mind, his will, etc.

As a result of this inborn corruption, the natural man is totally unable to do anything spiritually good; thus, Calvinists speak of man’s “total inability.” The inability intended by this terminology is spiritual inability; it means that the sinner is so spiritually bankrupt that he can do nothing pertaining to his salvation. The natural man is enslaved to sin; he is a child of Satan, rebellious toward God, blind to truth, corrupt, and unable to save himself or to prepare himself for salvation.

Spiritual Deadness

Genesis 2:16-17; Psalm 51:5; Psalm 58:3; John 3:5-7; Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:1-3; Colossians 2:13.

Darkened Minds and Corrupt Hearts

Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21; Ecclesiastes 9:3; Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; John 3:19; Romans 8:7-8; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 4:17-19; Ephesians 5:8; Titus 1:15.

Bondage to Sin and Satan

John 8:34; John 8:44; Romans 6:20; Ephesians 2:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:25-26; Titus 3:3; 1 John 3:10; 1 John 5:19.

Universal Bondage

1 Kings 8:46; 2 Chronicles 6:36; Job 15:14-16; Psalm 130:3; Psalm 143:2; Proverbs 20:9; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Isaiah 53:6; Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:9-12; James 3:2; James 3:8; 1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10.

Inability to Change

Job 14:4; Jeremiah 23:13; Matthew 7:16-18; Matthew 12:33; John 6:44; John 6:65; Romans 11:35-36; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 3:5.

Unconditional Election

It would have been perfectly just for God to have left all men in their sin and misery and to have shown mercy to none. God was under no obligation whatsoever to provide salvation for anyone. It is in this context that the Bible sets forth the doctrine of election.

The doctrine of election declares that God, before the foundation of the world, chose certain individuals from among the fallen members of Adam’s race to be the objects of his undeserved favor. These, and these only, he purposed to save. God could have chosen to save all men (for he had the power and authority to do so) or he could have chosen to save none (for he was under no obligation to show mercy to any) - but he did neither. Instead, he chose to save some and to exclude others. His eternal choice of particular sinners for salvation was not based upon any foreseen act or response on the part of those selected, but was based solely on his own good pleasure and sovereign will. Thus, election was not determined by, or conditioned upon, anything that men would do, but resulted entirely from God’s self-determined purpose.

Those who were not chosen for salvation were passed by and left to their own evil devices and choices. It is not within the creature’s jurisdiction to call into question the justice of the creator for not choosing everyone for salvation. It is enough to know that the judge of the earth has done right. It should, however, be kept in mind that if God had not graciously chosen a people for himself and sovereignly determined to provide salvation for them and apply it to them, none would be saved. The fact that he did this for some, to the exclusion of others, is in no way unfair to the latter group, unless of course one maintains that God was under obligation to provide salvation for sinners - a position which the Bible utterly rejects.

The act of election itself saved no one; what it did was to mark out certain individuals for salvation. Consequently, the doctrine of election must not be divorced from the doctrines of human guilt, redemption, and regeneration, or else it will be distorted and misrepresented. In other words, if the Father’s act of election is to be kept in its proper biblical balance and correctly understood, it must be related to the redeeming work of the Son, who gave himself to save the elect, and to the renewing work of the Spirit, who brings the elect to faith in Christ.

A Chosen People

Deuteronomy 10:14-15; Psalm 33:12; Psalm 65:4; Psalm 106:5; Haggai 2:23; Matthew 11:27; Matthew 22:14; Matthew 22:22; Matthew 22:24; Matthew 24:31; Luke 18:7; Romans 8:28-30; Romans 8:33; Romans 11:28; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 1 Peter 2:8-9; Revelation 17:14.

Election Not Based on Foreseen Responses

Mark 13:20; John 15:16; Acts 13:48; Acts 18:27; Romans 9:11-13; Romans 9:16; Romans 10:20; 1 Corinthians 1:27-29; Philippians 1:29; Philippians 2:12-13; Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:9; James 2:5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8.

Election Precedes Salvation

Acts 13:48; Romans 11:7; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 2:10.

Election Based on Sovereign Mercy

Exodus 33:19; Deuteronomy 7:6-7; Matthew 20:15; Romans 9:10-24; Romans 11:4-6; Romans 11:33-36; Ephesians 1:5.

Limited Atonement (or Particular Redemption)

Historical or mainline Calvinism has consistently maintained that Christ’s redeeming work was definite in design and accomplishment - that it was intended to render complete satisfaction for certain specified sinners, and that it actually secured salvation for these individuals and for no one else. The salvation which Christ earned for his people includes everything involved in bringing them into a right relationship with God, including the gifts of faith and repentance. Christ did not die simply to make it possible for God to pardon sinners. Neither does God leave it up to sinners to decide whether or not Christ’s work will be effective. On the contrary, all for whom Christ sacrificed himself will be saved infallibly. Redemption, therefore, was designed to bring to pass God’s purpose of election.

All Calvinists agree that Christ’s obedience and suffering were of infinite value, and that if God had so willed, the satisfaction rendered by Christ would have saved every member of the human race. It would have required no more obedience nor any greater suffering for Christ to have secured salvation for every man, woman, and child who ever lived than it did for him to secure salvation for the elect only. But he came into the world to represent and save only those given to him by the Father. Thus, Christ’s saving work was limited in that it was designed to save some and not others, but it was not limited in value, for it was of infinite worth and would have secured salvation for everyone if this had been God’s intention.

The Arminians also place a limitation on the atoning work of Christ, but one of a much different nature. They hold that Christ’s saving work was designed to make possible the salvation of all men on the condition that they believe, but that Christ’s death in itself did not actually secure or guarantee salvation for anyone.

Since not all men will be saved as the result of Christ’s redeeming work, a limitation must be admitted. Either the atonement was limited in that it was designed to secure salvation for certain sinners, but not for others, or it was limited in that it was not intended to secure salvation for any, but was designed only to make it possible for God to pardon sinners on the condition that they believe. In other words, one must limit its design either in extent (it was not intended for all) or in effectiveness (it did not secure salvation for any). As Boettner so aptly observes, for the Calvinist, the atonement “is like a narrow bridge which goes all the way across the stream; for the Arminian it is like a great wide bridge that goes only half-way across.”

Jesus Actually Saves

Matthew 1:21; Luke 19:10; Acts 5:31; Romans 3:24-25; Romans 5:8-9; Romans 5:10; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 1:3-4; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 1:3-4; Ephesians 2:15-16; Ephesians 5:25-26; Philippians 1:29; Colossians 1:13-14; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 Timothy 1:15; Titus 2:14; Titus 3:5-6; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 13:12; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 1:7.

Jesus Fulfills the Eternal Covenant

John 6:35-40; John 10:11; John 10:14-18; John 10:24-29; John 17:1-11; John 17:20; John 17:24-26; Romans 5:12; Romans 5:17-19; Ephesians 1:3-12.

How Jesus Died for “All” and Yet for a Particular People (
2)

These texts speak of Christ’s saving work in general terms:
John 1:9; John 1:29; John 3:16-17; John 4:42; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19; 1 Timothy 2:4-6; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:1-2; 1 John 4:14.

One reason for the use of these expressions was to correct the false notion that salvation was for the Jews alone. Such phrases as “the world,” “all men,” “all nations,” and “every creature” were used by the New Testament writers to emphatically correct this mistake. These expressions are intended to show that Christ died for all men without distinction (i.e., he died for Jews and Gentiles alike), but they are not intended to indicate that Christ died for all men without exception (i.e., he did not die for the purpose of saving each and every lost sinner).

These texts speak of Christ’s saving work in definite terms and show that it was intended to infallibly save a particular people, namely, those given to him by the Father:
Matthew 1:21; Matthew 20:28; Matthew 26:28; John 10:11; John 11:50-53; Acts 20:28; Romans 8:32-34; Ephesians 5:25-27; Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 9:28; Revelation 5:9.

Irresistible Grace (or the Efficacious Call of the Spirit)

Although the general outward call of the gospel can be, and often is, rejected, the special inward call of the Spirit never fails to result in the conversion of those to whom it is made. This special call is not made to all sinners, but is issued to the elect only. The Spirit is in no way dependent upon their help or cooperation for success in his work of bringing them to Christ. It is for this reason that Calvinists speak of the Spirit’s call and of God’s grace in saving sinners as being “efficacious,” “invincible,” or “irresistible.” The grace which the Holy Spirit extends to the elect cannot be thwarted or refused; it never fails to bring them to true faith in Christ.

The Spirit Saves

Romans 8:14; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; 1 Peter 1:1-2.

The Spirit Gives New Birth

Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 1:12-13; John 3:3-8; John 5:21; 2 Corinthians 5:17-18; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 2:13; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 John 5:4.

The Spirit Reveals the Secrets of God

Matthew 11:25-27; Matthew 13:10-11; Matthew 13:16; Matthew 16:15-17; Luke 8:10; Luke 10:21; John 6:37; John 6:44-45; John 6:64-65; John 10:3-6; John 10:16; John 10:26-29; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 1:17-18.

The Spirit Gives Faith and Repentance

Acts 5:31; Acts 11:18; Acts 13:48; Acts 16:14; Acts 18:27; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 2:25-26.

The Spirit Effectually Calls

Romans 1:6-7; Romans 8:30; Romans 9:23-24; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 1:23-31; Galatians 1:15-16; Ephesians 4:4; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 9:15; Jude 1:1; 1 Peter 1:15; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 Peter 5:10; 2 Peter 1:3; Revelation 17:14.

Salvation Given by a Sovereign God

Isaiah 55:11; John 3:27; John 17:2; Romans 9:16; 1 Corinthians 3:6-7; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Philippians 2:12-13; James 1:18; 1 John 5:20.

The Perseverance of the Saints (or the Security of Believers)

The elect are not only redeemed by Christ and renewed by the Spirit, but also kept in faith by the almighty power of God. All those who are spiritually united to Christ through regeneration are eternally secure in him. Nothing can separate them from the eternal and unchangeable love of God. They have been predestined to eternal glory and are therefore assured of heaven.

Isaiah 43:1-3; Isaiah 54:10; Jeremiah 32:40; Matthew 18:12-14; John 3:16; John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:35-40; John 6:47; John 10:27-30; John 17:11-12; John 17:15; Romans 5:8-10; Romans 8:1; Romans 8:35-39; 1 Corinthians 1:7-9; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 4:30; Colossians 3:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 10:14; Hebrews 12:28; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 John 2:19; 1 John 2:25; 1 John 5:4; 1 John 5:11-13; 1 John 5:20; Jude 1:1; Jude 1:24-25.

Footnotes

(1) From this point onward, unless stated otherwise, the explanations of TULIP and corresponding biblical text arrangements have been adapted from David N. Steele, Curtis C. Thomas, and S. Lance Quinn, The Five Points of Calvinism (Second Edition), P and R Publishing, 2004, pp. 17-71.

(2) Further explanation adapted from James R. White, The Potter’s Freedom, Calvary Press Publishing, 2000, pp. 135-151:

A set of three verses is often used as evidence that God wants to save all men without exception, but is unable to do so outside of their freely willing it. The three verses - the Arminian “big three” - are:
Matthew 23:37; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9.

Matthew 23:37

This passage comes in the midst of the proclamation of judgment upon the leaders of the Jews. Matthew 23 contains the strongest denunciations of the scribes and Pharisees in all of the gospels.

Who, then, is “Jerusalem”? It is assumed by Arminian writers that “Jerusalem” represents individual Jews who are, therefore, capable of resisting the work and will of Christ. But upon what warrant do we leap from “Jerusalem” to “individual Jews”? The context would not lead us to conclude that this is to be taken in a universal sense. Jesus is condemning the Jewish leaders, and it is to them that he refers here. This is clearly seen in that:
  1. It is to the leaders that God sent prophets.
  2. It was the Jewish leaders who killed the prophets and those sent to them.
  3. Jesus speaks of “your children,” differentiating those to whom he is speaking from those that the Lord desired to gather together.
  4. The context refers to the Jewish leaders, scribes, and Pharisees.

A vitally important point to make here is that the ones the Lord desired to gather are not the ones who “were not willing”! Jesus speaks to the leaders about their children that they, the leaders, would not allow him to gather. Jesus was not seeking to gather the leaders, but their children. This one consideration alone renders the passage useless for the Arminian seeking to establish freewillism. The “children” of the leaders would be Jews who were hindered by the Jewish leaders from hearing Christ. The “you would not” then is referring to the same men indicated by the context: The Jewish leaders who “were unwilling” to allow those under their authority to hear the proclamation of the Christ. This verse, then, is speaking to the same issues raised earlier in Matthew 23:13.

1 Timothy 2:4

The key to this passage, again, is the context: 1 Timothy 2:1-6.

The first appearance of the phrase “all men” comes at the end of 1 Timothy 2:1, and its meaning is unambiguous. Paul is not instructing Timothy to initiate never-ending prayer meetings where the Ephesian phone book would be opened and every single person listed therein would become the object of prayer. The very next phrase of the sentence explains Paul’s meaning: “…for kings and all who are in authority.” Why would Paul have to given such instructions?

We must remember that the early Christians were a persecuted people, and normally the persecution came from those in positions of power and authority. It is easy to understand why there would have to be apostolic commandments given to pray for the very ones who were using their power and authority to persecute these Christians.

Who are kings and all who are in authority? They are kinds of men, classes of men. Paul often spoke of “all men” in this fashion. For example, in Titus 2:11, when Paul speaks of the grace of God which brings salvation appearing to “all men,” he clearly means all kinds of men, for the context, both before and after, speaks of kinds of men. In the previous verses Paul addresses such groups as older men (Titus 2:2), older women (Titus 2:3), younger women (Titus 2:4), young men (Titus 2:6), bondslaves (Titus 2:9-10), and rulers and authorities (Titus 3:1). No one would suggest that in fact Paul is speaking of every single older man, older woman, etc.; he speaks of kinds of people within a particular group, that being the fellowship of the church. Likewise, “rulers” and “authorities” are obviously generic classifications that everyone would understand needs to be applied to specific locations in specific times.

The same kind of usage (all kinds of mean being in view) is found elsewhere in Paul, such as Titus 3:2. This should be connected to the fact that in the very commissioning of Paul, this phrase is used in a way that cannot be made universal in scope (Acts 22:15). Of course, Paul would not think that these words meant that he would witness of Christ to every single individual human being on the planet. Instead, he would have surely understood this to mean all kinds and races of men. Likewise, the allegation against Paul was that he preached “to all men everywhere” against the Jews and the Law and the Temple (Acts 21:28). Paul speaks of kinds of people in other places as well (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11). So it is perfectly consistent with the immediate and broader context of Paul’s writings to recognize this use of “all men” in a generic fashion.

Returning to 1 Timothy 2, Paul then states that such prayers for all kinds of men 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.” If we are consistent with the preceding context we will see “all men” here in the same manner as “all men” of the preceding verses: All kinds of men, whether rulers or kings (yes, God even saves people who used to persecute Christians, a fact Paul knew all too well). But there is much more reason to understand Paul’s statement in this way.

Almost invariably, proponents of Arminianism isolate this passage from the two verses that follow. This must happen of necessity for the questions that can be asked of the non-Reformed position based upon 1 Timothy 2:5-6 are weighty indeed. 1 Timothy 2:5 begins with the word “for,” indicating the connection between the statement made in 1 Timothy 2:3-4 and the explanation in 1 Timothy 2:5-6. Why should Christians pray that all men, including kings and rulers, be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth? Because there is only one way of salvation, and without a knowledge of that truth, no man can be saved. Paul says, “…there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all.” This immediately takes us into the meat of the discussion of the atonement, but for now just a few points should be made.

First, if one takes “all men” in 1 Timothy 2:4 to mean “all men individually,” does it not follow that Christ of necessity must be mediator for all men as well? If one says, “Yes, Christ mediates for every single human being,” does it not follow that Christ fails as mediator every times a person negates his work by their all-powerful act of free will? One could hope that no biblical scholar would ever promote such an idea, for anyone familiar with the relationship between atonement, mediation, and intercession in the book of Hebrews knows well that to make such an assertion puts the entire argument of Hebrews 7-10 on its head. For the moment, we simply point out that it is far more consistent with biblical theology to recognize that Christ mediates in behalf of the elect and perfectly saves them than it is to assert that Christ mediates for all (but fails to save all).

The second point is closely related to the first: The ransom that Christ gives in his self-sacrifice is either a saving ransom or a non-saving ransom. If it is actual and really made in behalf of all men, then inevitably all men would be saved. But we again see that it is far more consistent to recognize that the same meaning for “all men” and “all” flows through the entire passage, and when we look at the inarguably clear statements of Scripture regarding the actual intention and result of Christ’s cross-work, we will see that there is no other consistent means of interpreting these words in 1 Timothy.

2 Peter 3:9

This is surely the most popular passage cited (almost never with any reference to the context) to “prove” that God could not possibly desire to save a specific people but instead desires to save every single individual person, thereby denying election and predestination. The text seems inarguably clear. But it is always good to see a text in its own context: 2 Peter 3:3-13.
Immediately one sees that unlike such passages as
Ephesians 1, Romans 8-9, or John 6, this passage is not speaking about salvation as its topic. The reference to “coming to repentance” in 2 Peter 3:9 is made in passing. The topic is the coming of Christ. In the last days mockers will question the validity of his promise. Peter is explaining the reason why the coming of Christ has been delayed as long as it has. The day of the Lord, he says, will come like a thief, and it will come at God’s own time.

But the next thing that stands out upon the reading of the passage is the clear identification of the audience to whom Peter is speaking. When speaking of the mockers he refers to them in the third person as “them.” But everywhere else he speaks directly to his audience as the “beloved” and “you.” He speaks of how his audience should behave “in holy conduct and godliness,” and says that they look for the day of the Lord. He includes himself in this group in 2 Peter 3:13, where “we are looking for a new heaven and a new earth.” This is vitally important, for the assumption made by the Arminian is that when 2 Peter 3:9 says the Lord is “patient toward you” that this “you” refers to everyone. Likewise, then, when it says “not wishing for any to perish” but “all to come to repentance,” it is assumed that the “any” and “all” refers to anyone at all of the human race. Yet, the context indicates that the audience is quite specific. In any other passage of Scripture the interpreter would realize that we must decide who the “you” refers to and use this to limit the “any” and “all” of 2 Peter 3:9. For some reason, that simple and fundamental necessity is overlooked when this passage is cited.

2 Peter 1:1-3 tells us the specific identity of the audience to whom Peter is writing. Peter writes to a specific group, not to all of mankind. “To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours.” This surely limits the context to the saved, for they have received this faith “by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ”. There is nothing in 2 Peter 3 that indicates a change in audience, and much to tell us the audience remains exactly the same.

Since this is so, it becomes quite clear that the Arminian is badly misusing this passage by ignoring what Peter is really saying. The patience of the Lord is displayed toward his elect people (the “you” of 2 Peter 3:9). Therefore, the “not wishing any to perish” must be limited to the same group already in view: The elect. In the same way, the “all to come to repentance” must be the very same group. In essence Peter is saying the coming of the Lord has been delayed so that all the elect of God can be gathered in. Any modern Christian lives and knows Christ solely because God’s purpose has been to gather in his election down through the ages to this present day. There is no reason to expand the context of the passage into a universal proclamation of a desire on God’s part that every single person come to repentance. Instead, it is clearly his plan and his will that all the elect come to repentance, and they most assuredly will do so.

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