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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Do You Love Your Spouse?
If you are not married, imagine that you are for a moment. Imagine what it would be like to have a spouse that actually lived to please you. I mean really! He or she would listen to every word you had to say, thoughtfully and carefully, in order to know you better - so that he or she could love you more perfectly.

You meet your spouse after a day of work, and your spouse has anticipated your desires, perhaps bringing home some Oriental cuisine, or perhaps cooking up your favourite meal.

Your time together begins with your spouse asking about your day, your needs, your thoughts - not that she or he is some sort of servile, self-seeking flatterer - but because he or she takes genuine joy in your life. His or her day is enriched because you are the person he or she wants to spend time with. Your spouse has spent the time away from you thinking about you, and anticipating the time you would be together.

Consequently, there is nothing your spouse would refuse you - unless it was something that would ultimately be bad for you. Anything therefore that you ask of your spouse is done without grudge or guile. In fact, he or she has that wonderful ability to take joy in satisfying your requests.

This sort of thing infiltrates every aspect of your marriage, from the bedroom to the laundry, your spouse is your constant companion, support, and friend, and this admiration and care are the reflection of a deep, all consuming love that your spouse has for you. You are the focus of his or her life.

Okay, we can stop imagining now. None of us really has that sort of relationship with our own spouse (at least not consistently). Some of us are even disgusted at the thought of having such a relationship: we feel suffocated, intimidated, or even put off because we feel an expectation that we ought to reciprocate their doting behavior, and frankly, our suspicion is that this person is only so doting because they expect you to be as doting. If they expect this level of attention, we quickly label them as needy - and even psychologically damaged. Even if the person doesn't expect reciprocation, that sort of behavior strikes us as over-the-top, and (at best) unhealthy. We ask with indignity, "Good gravy! Where is your self worth?"

This ought to be a pretty transparent illustration. We, the church, are the bride of Christ. And the love illustrated above is the level of love we ought to be giving our Lord and Savior. I pause here to mention that this isn't a "here's the truth now fly straight" sort of exhortation. The reality is that we cannot dote on Christ like that unless we love him like that - and expecting someone to dote without love is expecting someone to "pretend to love."

As always, the problem is that there is nothing in our flesh that redeems us. We simply don't have it in us to love God, we never did. If we could love God in our own strength, then on judgment day we could look at everyone who didn't love God and boast about our own love - since the might of our own will generated it, and theirs did not.

I point that out because some of you reading might not yet comprehend what it means to be able to boast. You might be thinking that whatever love you have for God came from the well of your own will - you chose to love God - and when you think like that you are saying that you have something to boast about, since you have done what was right in your own power, and others have not. Scripture shuts up that argument however, because we read clearly that men have nothing to boast about before God. Even the love with which we love God is a gift - it was poured into us through the Holy Spirit.

So when we see ourselves lacking love, that is, when we have see that we have no desire to serve our Groom, we must diagnose the problem and not the symptom. What does the scripture say? He who is forgiven little, the same loves little.

The symptom: lack of love.

We might identify the symptom and begin to earnestly pray about it - Dear God, please, oh please cause me to love you more!! But God doesn't (usually) answer that prayer by hitting you on the head with a magic wand and SHAZAM! - you suddenly find your Grinch-like heart expanding three sizes in a day. No. What happens is you pray, God hears your prayer and begins to prepare you to receive the answer - and when you are ready, God opens your understanding.

In this case, you realize that the reason you love God so little is because you are not meditating on what sort of a horrible sinner you truly are. You have let your sin become so light in your own thinking that there is no real remorse over it. God has forgiven you, so you need not dwell upon what a wretch you are (that is, you lack humility) and because of this lack, you receive no grace (God gives grace to the humble you know...). The gift that God gives is His fellowship - the man who knows how unworthy he is, is far more thankful and loving than the man who has forgotten how wretched he is.

"Why don't we love the Lord?" we ask. Because over time we have made our sins small in our own thinking - and in so doing we have proportionately belittled the perceived grace that God bestows on us. Our comprehension of exactly how much love God is exerting moment by moment upon us as sinners is darkened to the point of blindness. We start to imagine that God hates us when we sin, and loves us when we are good - we fall out of grace, and find ourselves again trying to please God through the law.

Oh I know some of you (because I know my own heart) have the head knowledge - we know that God loves us apart from our sin, etc. But our hearts are deceived in spite of our head knowledge. We have only the most loose union between what we know to be true and what we actually put our trust in. It is a grave error to assume that head knowledge of the truth is equivalent to trusting in that truth.

Applied to this scenario, having a head knowledge that I am a sinner (usually in a very generic and general sense) is not the same as being entirely and personally certain that -I- am "the" sinner.

My encouragement this morning, brothers and sisters - come before the Lord in all honesty - pray earnestly that God would show you what a wretch you truly are. If you shy away from that, you are only shooting yourself in the foot. We can cry about our own "lack of love" all we want. Some of us will be content to simply acknowledge that we are unloving, and continue to ask God to do something about that; some won't even go -that- far. But some of you reading will be truly hungry to know the Lord, truly hungry to live obedient lives, and so sick of poor Christian witness and conduct that we will be willing to go the the throne - and ask the Lord to open our eyes - to search us and try us - to reveal to us every wicked way in our miserable hearts - knowing full well that this, and only this, is the path to greater love. We have to see ourselves for what we are before we can appreciate how much we are forgiven. We will only ever love God in proportion to our understanding of how much God forgives us.

So go the the throne, take nothing with you - and see for yourself what God sees. If you are willing to look at your prayerlessness, your rebellion and treason - your self will and your hypocrisy; if you are willing to go down into the pit of your soul with the light of truth before God, and see what God sees - you will throw yourself on God anew. I promise you that.

posted by Daniel @ 9:17 AM  
41 Comments:
  • At 11:38 AM, December 28, 2005, Blogger Rose~ said…

    Daniel,
    A great challenge ... to face our own hypocrisy and all the ugly wretchedness. Thank you.

    I have to "pick on" one thing, though: you say:
    You might be thinking that whatever love you have for God came from the well of your own will - you chose to love God - and when you think like that you are saying that you have something to boast about, since you have done what was right in your own power, and others have not. ... Even the love with which we love God is a gift - it was poured into us through the Holy Spirit.


    Although I am no Calvinist/Reformed (or whatever is the proper name for the doctrines we discussed at my blog) I do believe that this is true: Even the love with which we love God is a gift

    I don't think it is loving God to respond to the gospel message and say "I want that, I need that." That is nothing to boast about and it is not the same as "loving God." It could be said to be more like "self-preservation" in a way ... realizing you are guilty and headed for hell and embracing the forgiveness offered because of Christ. (Maybe this description of salvation isn't close to the one you hold, I think that it is, I hope that it is.) This is not loving God and it is definately not something to boast about. You are so right, loving God is foreign to the corrupt man. Only the indwelling HS that is there as a result of salvation can bring us to love Him.

    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

     
  • At 12:08 PM, December 28, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    Rose - I would agree, responding to the gospel is not an "act of love" and I apologize if I gave that impression in my post (though I confess a certain blindness to where or how I could have inferred the connection).

    Side-stepping this topic for a second, I will firmly remind our readers that if it were within our own ability to respond to the gospel, that is, if this ability itself were not granted and part and parcel of the gift by which we are saved (grace through faith) - then everyone who received Christ would do so entirely of their own choice - and have every reason in the world to boast about it. Surely, they have saved themselves because they made the right choice and others did not.

    The reality is that God imparts in us the ability to comprehend the gospel before we comprehend it. God likewise imparts to us the ability to believe before we believe. Our response to the gospel is not only enabled by God - it is predestined by God. All whom the Father calls, will come, and only those whom the Father calls will come. The invitation is given to all - and rejected unanimously such that those who are elect would have rejected God had God not intervened.

    Scripture makes this point plain - the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, these things are foolishness to him, nor can the natural man understand these things (such as the gospel) because these things are spiritually discerned, and the unregenerate man is not spiritual.

    So like yourself I reject "love" as being the motive that drew me to Christ (surely, self preservation was foremost in my thinking) - the question isn't what was my motivation, the question is how was I able to trust Christ? If my faith is simply an intellectual assent to the truth, I am no better than the demons (as James points out) - that kind of faith doesn't save anyone. My "faith" has to be a genuine trust in Christ, and in Christ alone to save me. This sort of faith is granted, it involves a right understanding of course, but it is not entirely defined by that understanding.

    Saving faith may well be defined as that unique trust in Christ that is born of an unprecidented and absolute abandoning of every other means of salvation - an utter surrender (if you will) to God's plan of salvation. The ability to do this is not carnal but spiritual, and only those whom God has enabled will do so.

    In Noah's day it wasn't until the rising water began to threaten lives that people started pounding on the ark to get in - but it was too late by then. Noah preached the gospel of repentance for 120 years as he built the ark - but no one responded until they saw the threat. Those who receive the gospel in this life do so because God has made the threat real to them here and now.

    I don't portend to explain how the gospel works - but I do draw from the scriptures: Men will be in full knowledge of the gospel and reject it, not because they don't believe it to be a true gospel, but because they have not been granted the ability to perceive the threat in a real and present way.

    So it is, that God regenerates whom he will - and those whom he does will be saved.

    Let me know if this makes sense to you - I have to step away from the keyboard for a couple of hours here - but I wouldn't mind explaining it more if you are inclined or if things I have said seem "off."

     
  • At 2:36 PM, December 28, 2005, Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said…

    Interesting thoughts.

     
  • At 2:41 PM, December 28, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    Usually we say interesting when we mean "off" ;-)

     
  • At 3:46 PM, December 28, 2005, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    Very thought-provoking, convicting, and humbling. To think that God loves us so much even though we love him so poorly. I am smitten.

     
  • At 5:00 PM, December 28, 2005, Blogger Ephraim said…

    Daniel,

    This reminds me of Randy Stonehill's song, "Why We Don't Love God", on his "Lazarus" cd.

    I agree that there may not be a prescribed set of behaviours that will successfully solicit the love of Elohim. But, when we are overwhelmed by our own sinfulness, well, you can't blame a guy for trying now and then.

    Re-establishing love after it has faded does take an act of the will. And you're right, that act can only be true humility. And from where comes the repentant heart? A place to repent must be granted, it cannot be bought.

    "But God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Messiah died for us".

    Does He love us yet, through all the years and failures, through our times of cold, empty hearts, stubborness, unwillingness, fear?

    When the warmth of hope fades away and the cold darkness settles in, reaching out in faith becomes a monumental task.

    Scripture says that His face is not always toward His children, during their times of rebellion, yet He always hears their faint cries for mercy. A drowning man will seldom pretend he can swim when the waters rise over his head.

    Sometimes the Psalms can become so real, when they describe our own lives.

    Good post.

     
  • At 8:32 AM, December 29, 2005, Blogger Susan said…

    I am the wretch the song refers to. This sentence is on a t-shirt of mine. I bought it because at the time, that's how I 'felt' (and I use that word with trepidation). But throughout 2005, it was a wretched year in my heart, because I could justify my sin in worldly ways, and the ways of the world seemed less disturbing to me. In my Spirit, I could sense the discord, but I kept pushing it down, until it grew so quiet that I wondered why God wasn't speaking much to me anymore. This is a very timely post for me, Daniel, as I struggle to 'do/be' better in the new year, but each day (in that sense) is a new year because we can't wait for 2006 to repent. Thank you for this earnest entry. It's time for me take heed of my wretchedness and plead, truly plead, for His mercy and grace. I am the prodigal son still standing in the pigpen, afraid to step out and more afraid not to...

     
  • At 9:12 AM, December 29, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    I might add, I did not make this post from that "I have arrived" sort of pedastal - I struggle as well.

     
  • At 11:10 AM, December 29, 2005, Blogger Rose~ said…

    Hi Daniel.
    I'm just not sure about this: ... they have not been granted the ability to perceive the threat in a real and present way.

    There is some question that remains for me (and I am sure always will) about whether or not God is willing to show the reality of the threat to any who may incline their ear. Doesn't the Bible say that he has come to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement?

    As far as I know, (but of course more introspection could be in order) I am not in angst over the "soveriegn choice of God" perspective because of pride. It is because of my "worldview." IOW, I can't bear to think that salvation is not available to all these that I see around me. I need to know that I can look anyone in the eye and tell them that Jesus Christ died for them and that He is waiting with open arms to receive them if they will but recognize their sinful condition and call upon Him for forgiveness because of the cross. I believe that it is a scriptural teaching just as much as you believe that the alternate view is a scriptural teaching. I don't think it is pride, but I will search my heart some more. Thanks for the challenge.

    I know there is plenty of other wretchednesses there, in my heart, as well as pride; I re-read your post and I also am in need of more honesty about my self and more love to the Lord.

    Bless your heart, man.

     
  • At 12:32 PM, December 29, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    Rose, you mention that you're not sure about ability being granted - perhaps scripture will help?

    In John 3, Christ tells Nicodemus: "that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit."

    Your take on this actually requires a spiritual birth originating in a carnal (fleshly) decision. That is, you are saying that which is born of the flesh is Spirit! Indeed, scripture refutes the idea: "The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God - they are foolishness to him, nor can he understand them because they are Spiritually discerned!" Jesus said elsewhere, "Without me, you can do nothing", and again in speaking of salvation Jesus says pointedly, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." If Christ believed that salvation was only possible through divine intervention, it behooves us to agree.

    In truth, you are misrepresenting my opinion with regards to sharing the gospel. Like yourself, and every other genuine Calvinist, I too believe that I can look anyone in the eye and tell them that Jesus Christ died for them and that He is waiting with open arms to receive them if they will but recognize their sinful condition and call upon Him for forgiveness because of the cross.

    I recognize however, that God is sovereign in election, and that only those whom God has elected will respond to the gospel. The offer (and this is the crux of the matter) doesn't become invalid just because men love darkness rather than light ... and [therefore will] not come to the light, lest [their] deeds should be exposed! The reality is that the offer is genuine even though all men unanimously reject it. That is what scripture means when it says that none seek after God. It isn't that God is stopping "some" people from believing and "allowing" others to believe - no one can receive the things of the Spirit! Since no unsaved person (the natural man) can receive anything Spiritual (which includes the gospel), God extends grace and regenerates "some" of us so that we will receive the gospel.

    There is a humanistic and entirely worldly wisdom that says this: If I give to one, I have to give to all, otherwise I am being unfair. - This sort of reasoning is actually motivated by greed, and not justice. If a billionaire stops the car in front of my house, and gets out and for no reason whatsoever gives my neighbor a million dollars in cash - my wicked heart suddenly feels like I too should have a million dollars! I don't deserve it, did nothing to earn it - yet because it was freely given to another, my own greed demands that I get some too. Do you see that this is twisted?

    If therefore, everyone is condemned because all reject Christ, and all are sinners - and God in his sovereignty chooses to give some people grace to receive the gospel - you think that would be evil - but you are mistaken.

    So when I offer the gospel to a person, I do so in the full confidence that I am offering them a reality - but I am not ignorant of who is receiving the gospel - a wretched sinner who by his very nature is going to reject the offer. The offer is never-the-less a valid one, even though the person will never act on it unless God shows them grace.

    My view is not an "alternate" view - per se, as though when I offer the gospel I believe it is in some way disingenuous unless they are elect - such an idea denies the truth that all men are sinners and that none seek after God. No, I offer it knowing that none can receive it, not even one. This inability doesn't make the offer false - the offer is genuine whether or not men will respond to it - so I can offer it with full confidence that I am being genuine and that the offer is genuine. I don't worry about whether or not God will grant them the ability to repent and receive the gospel. It is not my place to do so, salvation is of the Lord after all, and not of Daniel's ability to present the gospel well enough. I -do- pray of course when I present the gospel - I ask God to grant them repentance to the saving of their souls. Should they receive Christ - I get no glory whatsoever, because they were not saved by my effort, my well thought out reasoning, or my great presentation - they were saved by God and God alone. If I thought for an instant that they had the ability to receive the gospel outside of God quickening them - well, lets just say every soul I won would be to my own glory - even if I paid lip service to the contrary.

    As long as we continue to suppose that men are able to receive the gospel unaided by God, we ought not even to pray for the salvation of any - since we believe that God plays no role in salvation other than as the passive element by which -we- save others. Every soul that goes to hell does so because -we- have failed to convince them.

    I might come off sounding like a critic, but this is no criticism - I believe that you are quite genuine in your desire to know the truth - and that if you resist the doctrines of grace it is only because you are convinced that they are something other than what they are in truth.

    My desire is that when you evaluate "Calvinism" you avoid evaluating it as it compares to "Arminianism" and rather evaluate it on its own.

    Grace!

     
  • At 1:16 PM, December 29, 2005, Blogger Rose~ said…

    2 things and then I will not fuss with you further on this beautiful post of yours that really isn't about Calvinism at all.

    1. you say: a million dollars ... I don't deserve it, did nothing to earn it - yet because it was freely given to another, my own greed demands that I get some too. Do you see that this is twisted?

    Yes I see that this is twisted but I am not sure "fairness" is the issue. It is the goodness of God at issue. I'm thinking of that RC Sproul quote that Antonio brings up all the time:

    "It was certainly loving of God to predestine the salvation of His people, those the Bible calls the 'elect or chosen ones.' It is the non-elect that are the problem. If some people are not elected unto salvation then it would seem that God is not all that loving toward them. For them it seems that it would have been more loving of God not to have allowed them to be born. That may indeed be the case." (R.C. Sproul, Chosen by God, 36)

    So the comparison to "fairness" sort of breaks down because it is not the lack of a million dollars that we are talking about, it is eternal hell and torment we are talking about. When that person was created, they were created "for hell?" No chance for mercy ever? That makes me shudder, not because it is unfair, but because it sounds cruel.

    2. you say: you are saying that which is born of the flesh is Spirit! No, I am not saying this. The Spirit is very active in the preaching of the gospel. You should know better than to toss that one out! :~)

    If I thought for an instant that they had the ability to receive the gospel outside of God quickening them ...
    My understanding isn't that it is outside of God's drawing and enabling (we wouldn't be able to breathe without God enabling), but no, I don't see it that unbelievers are born-again before they believe. The Lord draws and enables, no doubt. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Isn't there a book: "God is the Gospel"? Could that be reversed? He is there in the preaching of the gospel ... even if the person preaching it is not a genuine Christian ... and even if that person is hateful or has bad motives (I will post about the person who told me the gospel sometime!)

    I might come off sounding like a critic Not so! I hope I don't come off that way, either. I'm sorry you feel I am misrepresenting your ideas. I don't mean to. (Maybe I am just misunderstanding, but maybe not).

    Fun talking with you, Daniel! I really appreciate your interaction. You are very helpful.

     
  • At 4:05 PM, December 29, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    Rose - no fuss at all. ;-)

    The Sproul quote actually comes from page 32 (you have page 36 listed).

    For those who object to this quote, the unspoken assumption is that God owes his love to the sinner. That God is somehow obligated to love all equally. Scripture doesn't teach it - but people continue to insist that God is egalitarian. What is being overlooked however is the fact that if God is obligated to give grace because of his love - then it is no longer grace. I hope the significance of that is not lost. If God is truly obligated to love men equally, then how can God rightly give grace, since by that definition all men deserve it?

    If you have a gmail account, you should check out books.google.com and read the relevant portions of "Chosen by God" for yourself. It may help you to see that quote in it's context.

    You said, When that person was created, [were] they were created "for hell?" No chance for mercy ever? That makes me shudder, not because it is unfair, but because it sounds cruel.

    One would do well to recall that before the "foundation of the world" (that is, before Adam was ever created):
    - God prepared a kingdom for those blessed of the Father (Matthew 25:34)
    - God Chose us in Christ(Ephesians 1:4)
    - The names of the elect were written in the Lambs book of life. (Revelation 17:8)

    Even if one plays games with the "in Christ" in Ephesians 1:4 in order to avoid avoid the interpretation that we personally were chosen and elect before Adam ever sinned - yet no one can perform such eisegetical gymnastics when it comes to the exact same teaching found in Revelation 17:8. Our names - my name, your name - were written in the lambs book of life before the foundation of the world. The names of those who will be in hell are not found there, and never were there.

    It is reasonable therefore to say that God knew beforehand that all would sin, and that all would deserve hell - and that even if God didn't save anyone, and let all of us go to hell - it wouldn't require that God be unjust, or unloving. Until we line our morals up with God's morals, that might be a big pill to swallow - but it is the truth nonetheless. Christ loved Judas as much as he loved the other Apostles - yet Judas will be in hell, not because God didn't love him, but because God didn't choose him.

    Ask yourself this - "Do I really believe that hell is an just punishement for sin?" This is really a critical evaluation here. You yourself have described God punishing sin in hell as "cruel" if it so happens that God knew beforehand that He would do such a thing. Here is where we disagree sharply I suppose. Whether or not God had knowledge (and scripture surely proves He did), it is entirely wrong to characterize God as "creating sinners just to send them to hell" Such a characterization ignores the moral culpability of the sinner and paints God as though he were throwing perfectly innocent people into hell. Good gravy! What a twist! Really though that is the objection - oh how cruel God is for throwing those poor old sinners into hell. Well the truth is that God isn't throwing them in hell - they earned hell be being treasonous sinners who chose rebellion over reconciliation. God knew they would reject him, but that doesn't mean that God created them just to send them to hell - God created them so that they could send themselves to hell - make no mistake about that. It might upset our morally confused compasses - but once they line up with God it starts to make sense.

    On your second point, I am not suggesting that unbelievers are born again before they believe - what I am suggesting is that they believe because they are born from above. Christ said "My sheep hear My voice" - not "Some Sheep who are not mine now, will become Mine by hearing My voice..." as though we become Christ's sheep by something we do. We have created in modern Christianity a line between the moment that I was saved and the moment that I was not saved. But scripture doesn't make that distinction - we are saved from the foundation of the world. We only discover it when we respond to the gospel. The fact that we respond to the gospel shows that we were saved from the foundation of the world.

    Let me know if this makes sense.

     
  • At 8:33 PM, December 29, 2005, Blogger Rose~ said…

    Hi Daniel,
    Let you know? OK, if you insist. :~)

    you say:
    I am not suggesting that unbelievers are born again before they believe - what I am suggesting is that they believe because they are born from above.

    I don't see a difference there. Regeneration preceding faith. Born again, then you believe. Your position, right?

    you say: You yourself have described God punishing sin in hell as "cruel" if it so happens that God knew beforehand that He would do such a thing.

    Daniel, I didn't say if He had knowledge of people going to hell, it troubled me. I was saying it seems cruel to me if these people were created for the purpose of hell ... if they have no avenue of escape. I believe God has foreknowledge, absolutely ... because the Bible teaches it! :~)

    you say:
    yet Judas will be in hell, not because God didn't love him, but because God didn't choose him.

    I would say if Judas is in hell, it is because he didn't receive Christ, he didn't embrace Christ, he went his own way and his iniquity is on his own head, not on Jesus.

    You tell me to ask myself: "Do I really believe that hell is an just punishement for sin?"

    Yes I do. I also know that its inhabitants will be without excuse. Doesn't it sound like an excuse for them to be able to say that it was the will of God that they be there? Rather, they will know that there was a way available to them, and they were not interested. They will know that they resisted the truth and the drawing that is all around this world testifying of God. (Romans 1:20)

    You say:
    Even if one plays games with the "in Christ" in Ephesians 1:4

    Is it a game to insist that only as a person believes into Him (John 3:16) he is saved and chosen? I think it is very important, not game-like to recognize that Christ is the elect. The only value we have is as we are in Christ.

    you refer to:
    The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world...(Rev. 17)

    We have at least four time zones here, don't we Daniel? We have the present (when this was being written), the present (when we are reading it), the future (when this stuff that John saw happen will really happen) and the past, the foundation of the world (when it was all "decreed"). Right? I don't understand all these time zones. I don't get it when the Bible talks of things future as if they have already happened. It is because I am not infinite. I am not God!

    Is it possible that God watches a conversion in real time and reaches His hand over back to the foundation of the world and writes the name in the book of life? Does that sound silly? There is just not enough information for me to understand how it works, and even with more information I don't think I would understand because of my time-zone limitations. I wish the church could just leave it at that. (Ha!)

    I will look at everyone I meet as though Christ died for them and they are desired by God ... He wants them to come to Christ. I just can't look at people wondering if they are one of these who were created for everlasting destruction. (That is what these doctrines cause me to do). To use a very astute sounding theological phrase: it creeps me out.

    Happy New Year Daniel! I'll check back to see if you have anything else to say. :~) I like your spirit. God has gifted you with a teaching spirit and a great patient humbleness that I respect and appreciate.

     
  • At 11:52 PM, December 29, 2005, Blogger Shawn L said…

    Rose,

    You said, "I will look at everyone I meet as though Christ died for them and they are desired by God ... He wants them to come to Christ. I just can't look at people wondering if they are one of these who were created for everlasting destruction."


    (That is what these doctrines cause me to do). To use a very astute sounding theological phrase: it creeps me out.


    Yes that would creep me out as well, bummer that you think that way as well. I can see why you think evangelical calvinists are that annoying....God's election in Ephesian is to bring us great praise and worship...

    When I share Christ with people I do it believing that God can save them and in my opinion will be saving all kinds of people from all kinds of nation and ethnic background to bring Him praise. Not many of us called where people of high importance. And that God is calling all men everywhere to repentence.

    You know this belief that God is the author of salvation and that Salvation of the Lord has taken a great many of people I know going into the deepest most angry parts of Islam knowing that God can regenerate these souls which our outwardly so very bent against him. All of us truly are in this condition left to our own devices and it's sometimes more visible in the muslims.....God can give you hope to not give up to those who seem so hardened to the gospel and that we can praise God that he will save Muslim from all nations.

     
  • At 12:51 AM, December 30, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    Rose ~ Thanks for your patience!

    I don't see a difference there. Regeneration preceding faith. Born again, then you believe. Your position, right?

    First, I would hesitate to characterize it in the chronological sense as you have: "born again, then you believe". There is certainly a cause and effect, as Christ describes it in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him..." - that is the coming is instigated by the drawing. I would certainly stand on that - that no one comes unless the father draws them (compare John 6:65). I think that is the plain meaning of the text.

    The difference is perhaps quite subtle - and I chose to paint my words in such a way as to highlight the distinctive - that is, I wasn't trying to imply a chronology so much as bring out the cause/effect relationship. We believe because we are God's lambs already - not that we become God's lambs by believing.

    I think I would be correct in saying that you associate your eternal security with the conversion - that is, you imagine that you became part of God's flock the moment you were saved. But I say that you were already a member of God's family before then - that is God had already determined to adopt you, you just hadn't been converted yet. Because you were chosen beforehand by God, God therefore drew you to Christ, and you eventually came to Christ. At that point (the point at which you heard the gospel and obeyed it) Christ put His Spirit in you. You were already among those whom God had appointed to eternal life (Acts 13:48 says, "...as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed...") so you believed. It is not unlike what the Lord spoke to Paul in Acts 18, "Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, 'Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.'" These "many" were not converted yet - but God refers to them as belonging to Him already.

    So I am careful to recognize that I belonged to God before I was indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Just as the prodigal son was a son before he came home, just as the sheep in the fold belong to the shepherd before the shepherd calls, just as the coin belonged to the woman before she swept the house and found it, just as the one sheep belonged to the shepherd with 99 sheep in the field left those sheep to gather the one - we are already God's before we receive the Spirit. If you don't see that, I am at a loss to make it any more clear to you than I have.

    My position therefore is not that I am born again then I believe. My position is that I am a child of God's before I am born again, and I am only ever *become* born again -because- I am already a child of God's.

    That is my understanding on the matter put as plainly as I know how.

    ...it seems cruel to me if these people were created for the purpose of hell ...

    I suppose from one perspective it does seem cruel - it isn't of course, but it can *seem* cruel. The "cruelty" paint is only applied if we use the "God created them to suffer" brush however. The reality is that *that* brush doesn't exist, God paints the picture with an "all things exist to Glorify God" brush.

    Scripture is not silent about these things, and we do well to heed what God has said about the matter. In Proverbs 16:4 we read, "The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. " (ouch!), and we read again in 1 Peter 2:8, "8and,'A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE'; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed." - not to mention Romans 9:22, "What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?"

    Whether or not we think it is cruel, scripture is hardly moot on the matter. God has created all things to serve His purpose even the wicked will bring God glory when they suffer the wrath which is prepared for them and to which they are appointed.

    The only way we can charge God with cruelty for creating someone when He knows full well that they are going to wind up in hell - is if we ignore or forget that God is GOD. I don't mean that as a pithy "so there" sort of door slam (though really such an answer is entirely acceptable) - rather I mean to say that God is not like a person. If you or I were to create someone knowing full well that they would go to hell - it would be cruel for us to do so. But God is not limited in this way. He can create a man, give the man free will even though he knows that the man is going to sin and go to hell - and God can create him anyway because having given that man the choice, the man will choose rebellion rather then repentance, and therefore God will not be culpable for that man's eternal penalty. I confess, I am far to corrupt to make suppositions regarding the moral purity of God. I truly am satisfied with the scriptures that teach that God creates men for his own purpose some vessels for honor, and some for dishonor. Who am I, the clay to say to the Potter, "Why have you made me like this?"

    We all want to extoll the goodness of God, but few of us want to mention the severity of God. I am sorry that you find God cruel, but I am not going to apologize for what the bible teaches. ;-D

    "I would say if Judas is in hell, it is because he didn't receive Christ, he didn't embrace Christ, he went his own way and his iniquity is on his own head, not on Jesus."

    Yes you would. ;-) We would both be saying the same thing, as you have perfectly described what it looks like to not be chosen by God. It is interesting that you say, "on his own head, not on Jesus" - the rub (I suspect) being that to suggest that Judas is in hell because he wasn't chosen in some way would put the blame on God the Father who didn't draw Him to Christ. I should have been more careful with my words. I should have said it this way:

    "...but because God didn't choose him, - which means that he never repented, because God never drew him to Christ - his own failure to repent and turn to Christ meant that he would be held accountable before God for his own sin."

    More wordy I suppose, but it removes *some* ambiguity. ;^)

    Doesn't it sound like an excuse for them to be able to say that it was the will of God that they be there?

    Sure it sounds like an excuse! But they won't be able to use it since it won't really apply. It may have been God's will that they are there, but God's will or not - they are there because they are sinners and they have earned their punishment. God's will does not violate a man's free will - and therefore even should God "will" them to be there, God could not be held culpable for it - since they acted in the freedom of their own will.

    When God hardened Pharoah's heart, He didn't do it by making Pharoah a puppet - Pharoah acted according to his own free will - but because God is sovereign, Pharoah in exercising his "free will" did exactly what God had determined beforehand to make him do. I don't pretend to understand how God can make a man do something and then the man does it out of his own free will - but that is the picture scripture paints and I am satisfied that it is correct.

    Is it a game to insist that only as a person believes into Him he is saved and chosen...?

    No I was referring to that pseudo-Barthian theological position that holds election as the choosing of the group (the church) in Christ, as opposed to the election of individuals (except where individuals become members of the group by faith.)

    I certainly agree that our election is in Christ, but by that I don't mean that Christ is the elect that Paul is talking about - I think that is a blurring of two separate biblical concepts (Christ being the "elect one" - and the election of the saints). I could wax on about it, but Daniel Wallace does a better job than I could.

    Is it possible that God watches a conversion in real time and reaches His hand over back to the foundation of the world and writes the name in the book of life? Does that sound silly

    No, it is not possible, and yes, it does sound silly. It is not possible because the bible teaches predestination - that is, that God "preplans destiny" What you suggest is called "foresight" - the biblical word used however is "proorizo" - and it means to "mark off beforehand"

    The image of God looking forward or backward in time is not accurate - God exists outside of time, and as such it is reasonable to conclude that He is fully aware of everything that happens all the time in every place simultaneously - and further more it isn't like He is stretched out over time and space - God's consciousness is fully present in every place at every time. God cannot "learn" anything new because he knows all things. So the image of God waiting around to see what we would do, then reacting to us is unfathomable. God wrote our names in the lambs book of life because he predestined us unto salvation. From God's perspective it is a done deal. From our perspective it is still playing itself out.

    The scenario you paint puts us as sovereign - that is, God is not electing us - we are electing our selves God is just recording it beforehand. Such a notion does injury to the word "election" and it is just a mindgame used to try and hold onto the idea that we save ourselves.

    I surely don't buy it - and *that* on many, many levels.

    I just can't look at people wondering if they are one of these who were created for everlasting destruction

    You are really hung up on that ;-D

    God wouldn't let the angels remove the tares from the wheat because they might accidently take up a wheat - if the angels don't have enough wisdom to know who is elect and who is not - surely you worry yourself for nothing.

    I appreciate the drama of such a statement - but it really is unfounded. Have you forgotten that every last person you are going to meet is a sinner and in need of salvation?

    If you're fixated on whether or not your offer is *genuine* based on whether the person is elect or not - you have really missed the boat. The gospel offer is genuine whether the person is elect or not. If you are witnessing to someone whom God has not chosen to extend grace to, that is, whom God will allow to continue in sin and reap the consequences of his own moral failure - then your offer of the gospel will no doubt be used to heap coals of fire on that sinners head when they are in hell because they rejected Christ - because even though they were not shown grace, they still made every choice that landed them in hell. So instead of wondering whether the person is elect - instead pray and ask God to use your witness for his greater glory - if that means salvation - Fantastic - but if it means heaping coals of fire on a sinner - then beg God for the grace to present the gospel with such clarity that the very rejection of it will demand greater torment in hell - a just punishment which will give glory to God...

    You are witnessing for God's glory right? ;-D

    Happy New Year Yourself Rose!

    I hope these shed some light on your understanding.

     
  • At 1:11 AM, December 30, 2005, Blogger Shawn L said…

    daniel,

    you are a machine at midnight?

     
  • At 7:24 AM, December 30, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    Shawn - I pay for it in the morning ;-D

    Thank the Lord though, my youngest (I have three and one on the way) was up early this morning - crying about something - which got me out of bed. Left to my own devices I might have missed my devotional time. Thankfully the Lord had mercy on me.

    You should talk though! ;-D

     
  • At 12:14 PM, December 30, 2005, Blogger Rose~ said…

    Hi Daniel. I'm baaaaccckkk!!!

    ...that is the coming is instigated by the drawing. I would certainly stand on that - that no one comes unless the father draws them (compare John 6:65)

    I have a lingering question about this: Is it necessarily true that all who are drawn will come? Oh, that is the I in the flower, I have already delved into that. Never mind.

    you imagine that you became part of God's flock the moment you were saved. But I say that you were already a member of God's family before then

    The bible says that the wrath of God abode on me, how is it that I was one of God's flock?

    for I have many people in this city

    Isn't all the creation His? Is He really declaring "the doctrines of Grace" here?

    So I am careful to recognize that I belonged to God before I was indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Just as the prodigal son was a son before he came home,

    The prodigal son, if you use that analogy, was a son upon birth. The analogy is that once we are born into the family of God, He waits with open arms if we wander away, is it not? Are you saying that this teaches that we are sons before we are born?

    just as the sheep in the fold belong to the shepherd before the shepherd calls...

    The sheep became the shepherd's when it was purchased from a breeder or when it was born to one of his current sheep. Are there wild sheep, Daniel? ;~)

    ...just as the coin belonged to the woman before she swept the house and found it

    Where did the coin come from? Was she born with it in her hand? No, she obtained it from somewhere and then it was lost.

    I talked to my pastor this morning about the doctrines of Grace (he is a Calvinist) and he pointed out to me that analogies and metaphors are tools for our understanding, but that they are limited. This is so true is it not, Daniel? Wild sheep?!

    One more thing:
    Romans 9:22 and the other scriptures you mentioned, they could be said and are said by many to be speaking of earhly purposes that are not pleasant, that are negative, but not of eternal damnation and hell.

    The only way we can charge God with cruelty for creating someone when He knows full well that they are going to wind up in hell

    I never said I had a problem with the idea of God knowing people would be damned. I said I don't think God purposed it that way. :~)

    He can create a man, give the man free will even though he knows that the man is going to sin and go to hell - and God can create him anyway because having given that man the choice, the man will choose rebellion rather then repentance, and therefore God will not be culpable for that man's eternal penalty.

    I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND AND EMBRACE THAt STATEMENT.

    you say:
    I am sorry that you find God cruel,

    I never said that I find God cruel! You are now trying to misrepresent my statements (but you put the smile afterwards, so you must be teasing.) I mean to say that the "doctrines of Grace" understanding of God's ways seems cruel to me. But, as you said, if they are right, God is God, and someday it will all be clear how it was not cruel and not sickening, because the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever.

    Perhaps my most favorite part of your last comment in this thread is this one:

    God's will does not violate a man's free will ... God could not be held culpable for it - since they acted in the freedom of their own will.

    Oh, what a trophy for me to read that coming from one such as yourself. I am printing it out and framing it!

    I don't pretend to understand how God can make a man do something and then the man does it out of his own free will - but that is the picture scripture paints and I am satisfied that it is correct.

    Me neither! You are right, but this story was not about Pharoah being prepared for everlasting destruction. It is about God moving in the affairs of men.

    No I was referring to that pseudo-Barthian theological position that holds election as the choosing of the group (the church) in Christ, as opposed to the election of individuals (except where individuals become members of the group by faith.)

    There are some things about Barth that I have heard and really don't think are right, but if this is his understanding of election, then I am in agreement with him, for this is the understanding that put my troubled heart at ease when I first heard of the "doctrines of Grace."

    No, it is not possible, and yes, it does sound silly.

    Daniel, I knew it was silly. I was saying it to illustrate my total lack of abiity in understanding someone's workings who is infinite.

    The image of God looking forward or backward in time is not accurate - God exists outside of time, and as such it is reasonable to conclude that He is fully aware of everything that happens all the time in every place simultaneously ... God's consciousness is fully present in every place at every time. God cannot "learn" anything new because he knows all things.

    Isn't He awesome? I can only imagine what that is like. I kind of think of it like I am a speck on a timeline and He is obove the timeline and sees it all at once, but that is probably silly too. All my ideas of infinty are silly.

    So the image of God waiting around to see what we would do, then reacting to us is unfathomable.

    I don't think He is waiting around. There you go again!

    ... we are electing our selves God is just recording it beforehand ... it is just a mindgame used to try and hold onto the idea that we save ourselves.

    There you go again! Save ourselves? I don't believe that either and you know it! That is silly. I left the church that taught that you save yourself.

    You are really hung up on that ;-D

    Yes I am!!! When a guy first told me about "the doctrines of Grace" it messed with my head. (to use another theologically astute sounding phrase) It was like I was seeing all these people around me who were hopeless. It caused me to not want to witness and it tormented me as to the character of God. Was He playing some kind of cruel joke on mankind? What was the point of any of it? You may think that is a very irreverent statement, but I am honest. I can't help it. I really had to work through this thing to come out of a terrible funk. Terrible funk. Maybe that just means I am really unspiritual in your opinion. So be it.

    Thanks Daniel for your time! I like the discussion now that I am no longer tormented and have come to a measure of peace that "whosoever will" truly may come. ;~)

     
  • At 4:11 PM, December 30, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    Rose~ Bless your patient heart!

    Is it necessarily true that all who are drawn will come?

    Yes.

    The bible says that the wrath of God abode on me, how is it that I was one of God's flock?

    Here is where we use scripture to interpret scripture. Paul articulates clearly in Colossians 3:6 upon whom exactly the wrath of God rests - "Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience," Were that unclear, Paul repeats himself to the Ephesians, in Ephesians 5:6 "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience." So when we read Romans 1:18, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness," we don't imagine for a moment that Paul is contradicting what he said elsewhere, but rather is saying something that agrees with what he says elsewhere. In this case, the wrath of God abides on the sons of disobedience - a fact that is characterized in Romans 1:18 as a wrath that is directed against ungodliness and unrighteousness thant "men who supress the truth in unrighteousness" do. With this John agrees because he plainly states that "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." - thus the wrath of God rests on the sons of disobedience, that is, those who are not in God's family and consequently will not believe. If you were chosen from the foundation of the world, that wrath that God would have poured out on you had already been poured out on Christ long before you were ever born. It is good to think that through.

    Isn't all the creation His? Is He really declaring "the doctrines of Grace" here?

    God was not telling Paul that everyone in the city was his. He was telling Paul that He had reserved for himself people in that city. Not unlike when Elijah was whining about being the only one left and God told him that He had reserved 7000 people for himself who had not bowed the knee to Baal. It isn't that 7000 people happened to not bend their knee - it is that God reserved them - and kept them from bending their knee. We cannot pretend that God was reminding Paul that everyone was his - how would that encourage Paul to go on?? No. God was saying, your efforts here are going to bear fruit - I have people here that will be saved through you ministry.

    Are you saying that this teaches that we are sons before we are born?

    Yes. Before we were born into this world I believe we were already sons of God (but -not- that we were already born from above). Our new birth was the moment we came into our inheritance.

    That being said, I am talking in 'chronological' language but God is not bound by this sort of chronology.

    The bottom line is I don't believe that we "become" children of God through salvation - but rather that the children of God are manifested/revealed through salvation.

    The sheep became the shepherd's when it was purchased from a breeder or when it was born to one of his current sheep.

    That doesn't change the fact that when the shepherd called they were already his.

    Are there wild sheep, Daniel? ;~)

    In the analogy? No. :-P

    Where did the coin come from? Was she born with it in her hand? No, she obtained it from somewhere and then it was lost.

    Like the shepherd and the flock, these questions are out of scope. What is important is that the ownership of the coin was well established before it was lost. Just as the "ownership" of our souls was well established before Adam fell.

    Romans 9:22 and the other scriptures you mentioned, they could be said and are said by many to be speaking of earthly purposes that are not pleasant, that are negative, but not of eternal damnation and hell.

    The only reason one would read these in a less than literal fashion (and thereby draw such toothless conclusions) would be to avoid the literal meaning. If we can't interpret a straightforward verse like Proverbs 16:4, and instead bend it so that it says less than, or something other than a plain reading would indicate - let's be honest - we may as well throw the bible out the window and make it all up ourselves.

    The texts speak for themselves - let em speak.

    I don't think God purposed it that way

    Because...?

    Note: I ask, but I think it is worth your while to mine out of your psyche exactly where your definition of God is coming from - an exercise that is useful for all of us, I am not singling you out here.

    You are now trying to misrepresent my statements ...

    I think what I am doing is restating what you have said in a way that is less cluttered. Not that your thoughts are cluttered, but that it seems efficient to me to deal with root issues rather than their symptoms - and so I summarize wherever possible - in order to dig deeper. Sometimes the summaries are off - when I am not sure, or worry that I am coming off as a (to take a word from Frank Turk's dictionary) "jerk" - I add a little emoticon to show that I mean no harm.

    for this is the understanding that put my troubled heart at ease when I first heard of the "doctrines of Grace."

    I am not sure if Barth dreamed up the idea himself or inherited it - but he certainly lent it what obscure popularity it enjoys today. Some few authors have been influenced by Barth, and I am not sure which of these might have spun out the particular version I suspect you to hold to but it was likely from among Dan Esterline, “The Doctrine of Predestination,”; Roger T. Forster and V. Paul Marston, "God’s Strategy in Human History"; or possibly Robert Shank, "Elect in the Son"

    I think the idea of corporate election is as wrong as it is novel (and it being pretty much a very recent invention - I am saying it is very wrong). I am somewhat sad that you have found peace in it - not that you found peace, but that the peace you have found is based on something that (to me at least) is so obviously flawed. Thankfully there is also peace in the real truth and so you need not give up your peace to embrace a more sound teaching.

    Oh, what a trophy for me to read that coming from one such as yourself. I am printing it out and framing it!

    Indeed, most Calvinists would, as it describes the Calvinist position quite well - we have perfect freedom of will. Only the Calvinists comprehends that God can sovereignly dictate what we will freely choose to do without compromising our freedom to do it.

    We certainly do serve a transcendant God.

    There you go again! Save ourselves? I don't believe that either and you know it!

    Oh Really? ;-P

    I thought you believed that salvation was something that the sinner initiates - that is, they come to God, God responds, and they receive Christ.

    They are saved, not because God saved them - but because they came of their own volition to the saving machine, threw in the prayer-dime and voila - they are saved. Yes, Christ was the means by which they saved themselves, but ultimately, it was their own will that generated the salvation - Jesus' only role in the whole affair was to facilitate their own salvation.

    In *that* sense you believe yourself to be the author of your own salvation, and Christ to be the Finisher.

    If on the otherhand, you believe that it is God who initiates the new birth in you - then yes, I would say you believe that God saves you since it was He who was not only the Finisher but also the Author of your faith. But so long as you hold to the notion that you are believe that you came to Christ and Christ didn't draw you - well, Christ isn't really the one who saved you - you saved yourself and used Christ as the tool by which you affected it. Instead of "Jesus Saves" your bumper sticker would read "Your Prayer Saves You if You Pray to Jesus!"

    I don't want to over-play that, but that is my position. I draw a hard cold line between Christ saving me, and me using Christ as part of my own salvation formula. I can still be saved whether I understand how it works or not - but an incorrect understanding brings me glory, and something to boast about, while diminishing the role of Christ and standing in stark contrast to the myriad of scriptures that describe salvation as a gift given - as opposed to solicited for.


    When a guy first told me about "the doctrines of Grace" it messed with my head

    That is a tragic thing, because a right understanding wouldn't produce that effect - but rather produces a grand assurance and lasting peace. Knowing that God is sovereign makes it possible to go into the darkest pit and shine the light - because you know God has children in there (or he would never bother sending you in!)

    Study how Cornelius was saved (Acts chapter 10). It is a remarkable story. He is praying, fasting and giving alms etc. God hears his prayers and sends an angel to tell him to send for Peter, and that Peter would come and give him the gospel.

    Peter meanwhile recieves a vision - one that inspires him to regard Gentiles in a new way - opening the door for this "divine appointment" - Peter leaves with six others - God didn't command them to go, but nevertheless they went. It so happens that according to Roman law, if seven witnesses can attest to a thing it is deemed irrefutable - So Peter goes in to these Gentiles, preaches and SHAZAM! a second Pentecost. Was this a chance encounter (Go send for Peter...) Nope.

    What I want you to pull from this is the idea that salvation is not some willy-nilly random affair. God had a time, place, date, and even the person who would deliver the gospel in mind for salvation of Cornelius' household - and we do well to apply that truth to our own understanding of salvation.

    Salvation is not a random "possibility" - rather we know full well that God has a time, place, date, and even a person whom will reap planned for every single person who will ever be saved.

    This gives me great comfort and boldness - their eternal destiny doesn't rest on how shiny I can make the gospel.

    If there was no such thing as election - we would all go to hell, and when we got there we wouldn't be crying that "God didn't elect us" - we would be full of remorse because God loved us and gave us every opportunity to come to him but we rejected him because we loved our treason and rebellion more than we loved him. We would have full knowledge that we deserve our fate.

    If God decides to pull one person from hell - it doesn't mean the rest are in there because God didn't pull them out of hell too - they are in there because of their sin. When that penetrates our understanding, we realize that election is not evil, but good.

    I don't think you are unspiritual - not at all. Was Wesley unspiritual? Man alive! The man was a dynamo! I think he was "off" doctrinally - but he was definitely "on" spiritually. Likewise with yourself, you don't strike me as unspiritual, just doctrinally confused (but in a nice way :-P)

    Let me know if this latest round makes sense.

     
  • At 9:05 PM, December 30, 2005, Blogger Rose~ said…

    Hi Daniel,
    Is it my patience or persistence? I'm not sure.

    God is not bound by this sort of chronology.
    SO TRUE.

    The only reason one would read these in a less than literal fashion (and thereby draw such toothless conclusions) would be to avoid the literal meaning.
    Toothless?

    You quote me: I don't think God purposed it that way ... then ask:
    Because...?


    Well, because the Bible says that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

    Only the Calvinists comprehends that God can sovereignly dictate what we will freely choose to do without compromising our freedom to do it.

    Do you really comprehend it? ;~)

    I thought you believed that salvation was something that the sinner initiates - that is, they come to God, God responds, and they receive Christ.

    Not so, NOT SO! Dreadful no.

    But so long as you hold to the notion that you came to Christ and Christ didn't draw you - well, Christ isn't really the one who saved you - you saved yourself and used Christ as the tool by which you affected it.

    Kind of like the guy falling out of the window and grabs a hold of the curtain, right? (We've discussed this before, no?) I don't believe that I used Christ. I believe that He was seeking me and found me and drew me. I think this is true for all believers. SO TRUE.

    Instead of "Jesus Saves" your bumper sticker would read "Your Prayer Saves You if You Pray to Jesus!"

    That's silly. A prayer doesn't save. I don't even remember saying the "sinner's prayer." I am not one who is a pusher of that sort of evangelism, no.

    I am not sure which of these might have spun out the particular version I suspect you to hold to

    I read a book by Samuel Fisk called "Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom" (seeing both sides) That was the book that helped me come to an understanding that included scripture and not just emotion or preference/thoughts.

    Study how Cornelius was saved (Acts chapter 10).

    I'm going to do this. Of all the Calvinism discussions I've ever had, these last few paragraphs here (willy-nilly phrase and all) in this comment of yours are the most compelling I've ever heard. Now don't go deleting your blog because I will be back to ponder this part. Hmmm...

    One more question:
    Are you 40 yet? (That would then make you my elder and I would need to be more respectful.) :~) or ;~P

    Thanks again. Seriously.

     
  • At 2:30 PM, December 31, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    Hi Rose! My wife made me change my avatar - she thought it looked too brooding and creepy (go figure? :-D).

    We can call it persistence then! - either way it is good to talk about these things.

    Well, because the Bible says that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

    Yet that verse has a context, and to ignore it, or to apply it somewhere outside that context is to add something to the interpretation of it. Only two verses earlier Peter remarks that the heavens and earth that now exist - along with ungodly men - are reserved for perdition (eternal damnation) following the day of judgment.

    I think the verse is echoing the thought expressed in Ezekiel 18:32 "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live"

    If God only ever acted according to the things that gave him pleasure would he have created Adam knowing full well that Adam would sin? If we say "No God would not" then we calling God a liar because we read in Isaiah 46:10 that God "declares the end from the beginning... Note the word Isaiah uses - declares! God doesn't merely see the end as if He were a passive observer - but He declares the end because He is active in bringing it about.

    So when we consider Adam, God wasn't surprized by Adam's sin was he? Now if God knew that Adam would sin (as we must assume since God declares the end from the beginning), and we know that God doesn't will that any should perish - then why did he create Adam knowing beforehand that Adam would be condemned to perish?

    The answer, of course, is because he knew that Christ would be sent as the redeemer before He created Adam - just as scripture teaches. God was not willing therefore that Adam should perish, but that Adam should repent. It isn't saying that God was going to keep Adam from perishing - it is saying that God is providing a way to keep Adam from perishing - though God will certainly allow Adam to perish if Adam refuses to repent (and Adam will deserve whatever punishment comes if he so refuses).

    Because this is so, we cannot (rightly) use this verse to imply that God is "hoping" that all men will repent - God knows already that all men will not repent - in fact, God already knows that no one will repent ever on their own - which is why scripture tells us that repentence is something God grants (as opposed to something that men generate themselves).

    Would you agree that God would be perfectly just had He never sent Christ to earth at all? If everyone went to hell would God be unjust? Would he be cruel for sending men there? Would he be cruel for having created us knowing that He was going to send us to hell?

    If we say "yes" - then we are saying that God is morally responsible for the acts of his creation - yet we read God himself saying that the father shall not be held accountable for the sins of the son. We should therefore reason that God is not accountable for Adam's fall - even though God knew it would happen - even if God sovereignly "declared" that it should happen this way - God would still not be culpable.

    I am convinced that God could send everyone to hell, and he wouldn't be cruel in doing it - even though He not only knew beforehand that all would go to hell - but even if he ordained it to be that way (providing he gives men free will and they rebel thus).

    Now in that same scenario - if God plucked one person out of hell and decided to save them and no one else - it would be because God is merciful to the one, and not that God is cruel to the rest. The "rest" are getting what they deserve. Likewise, if God chose more than one - let's call this group the "elect" - and instead of letting them go to hell, he intervenes on their behalf before they get there - causes them to repent, and turn to him - then saves them from hell - is God cruel to the others? No. Even though he knew they would be there, or even declared it so from the foundations of the earth? No.

    God is not a man that he is held responsible for the actions of men, even if He ordains those same actions. There is nothing immoral or cruel about punishing sin justly. Even if God purposed before hand to ordain the very sin that that He would punish.

    Do you really comprehend it?

    I'll bend - comprehend is a stronger word that is necessary - how about "accept as true" ?

    I don't believe that I used Christ. I believe that He was seeking me and found me and drew me. I think this is true for all believers. SO TRUE.

    I thought you didn't believe in total depravity? At the heart of total depravity is the thought that no one can come to God except if God draws them - because they are totally depraved.

    I thought you were calling yourself a one point Calvinsist (P), am I now to believe you are a two pointer (T___P)?

    That was the book that helped me come to an understanding that included scripture and not just emotion or preference/thoughts.

    Certainly ad hominem appeals and "reason/common sense" arguments are to be examined and respected only insofar as they adhere to the scripture they are being used to illuminate. If they are not illuminating scripture, but are just bringing light unto the wisdom of men - they ought to be discarded - or at least ignored.

    The other danger of course is proof texting out of context. There are many people who have been Christians for many years, even apologists and authors who do not sit down and read the bible cover to cover. They might have read it once, or even twice - but amongst those who actually have taken in the whole counsel of God, most can count the number of times they have read it all on just one hand.

    One of the first things I care about when I am listening to any exposition whether it agrees with the rest of the book - and unless I know the rest of the book like the back of my hand, I am horribly crippled in my ability to discern such things.

    I would suggest reading Sproul's "Chosen by God" - I doubt that Antonio actually has a copy, but it would do you well to examine it for yourself. I am understandably suspicious of any "new" interpretation - especially fresh-out-of-the-theology-mill interpretations that are contrary to any plain reading of scripture.

    I am not 40 yet. I am only 39. I don't turn forty until next November.

    The conversion of Cornelius is a great study - and compelling. I am confident that if you come to it humbly, you will mine much out of it.

    Really, I am not working to "convert" you to Calvinism - rather I am explaining what I believe to be misunderstandings in your perception of what Calvinism really is.

    I think the God defined by Calvinism is the God of the bible - far more loving, tender, merciful, and sovereign than the God defined by Arminianism. It is profitable therefore for God's glory, to explain it as best I can.

    Grace and peace!

     
  • At 3:18 PM, December 31, 2005, Blogger Rose~ said…

    I am your elder then. (I will be 40 in August!) Grace and peace to you! I have some thinking to do. Thanks. Maybe I will come back with more questions at a later time. :~)

     
  • At 4:32 PM, December 31, 2005, Blogger Ephraim said…

    Daniel and Rose,

    It would seem then that I am elder to you both. Therefore, according to Torah, you should listen to me.:-)

    I am following this discussion with interest. So far it looks like you are both explaining different sides of the same coin. Since salvation of the soul is the subject, each of the aspects that you've brought out are involved. While I might disagree with some of the sequence of events as each of you have described them, most of the main elements are present.

    I might also suggest that both of you do a little study on what a "kinsman redeemer" is and what scripture says about it in relation to Messiah.

    I once was told that we are not sinners because we sin, rather, we sin because we are sinners. It is a true distinction, one that can instruct. You both have tossed out some good distinctions of your own, but as it has been pointed out by both sides, scripture appears to support both sides at the same time. Does it?

    It is my contention that a proper description of the Elohim of scripture is not contained within the bounds of either Calvinism or Arminianism. As you continue to discuss methods, please do not lose sight of purpose within the context of an eternal plan that is conducted from an unseen realm and is being executed in a limited time frame in a physical world. Obvious? Sure, but I bring it up only to say that there will be holes in any methodology we try to ascribe to the working of YHWH by His Spirit.

    He will fill in the holes for us if we are open to who He is without presuppositions. We all have them.

    YHWH is calling Efrayim back out of the nations where they were sent to fulfill their punishment after being judged for their disobedience. I say this because it will directly affect the "Church" and Christians. And the methodologies supported by long held theologies which many believe are firmly rooted in scripture. You both know that two people can read the same words in the bible and come to two very different conclusions as to what is being said. It is because the truths contained in those words can only be revealed by His Spirit (Comforter leading us into all truth).

    YHWH does not take sides. Again obvious, but we sometimes expect Him to because we believe we have taken His.

    These few thoughts do relate to your discussion about redemption, election, grace and salvation. As to how, well, let's see what develops.

    May YWHW bless your thinking and your study.

    Shalom

     
  • At 4:37 PM, December 31, 2005, Blogger Ephraim said…

    Typing too fast and not paying attention.

    That should be - YHWH, not YWHW. Or, YHVH, not YVHV. Someday we will be able to speak His name again without the mystery, without the misunderstandings.

     
  • At 4:51 PM, January 01, 2006, Blogger Shawn L said…

    Daniel/Rose,

    I like to read from you. Good stuff we should keep it in a vault somewhere.

    You guys are great at communicating via writing. I feel bad sometimes as the amount of time I have for discussion to the degree that Daniel and Rose does this is so much easier for me in person or I'm just dumber. It's neat to see this.

     
  • At 11:14 PM, January 01, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Ephraim - thanks for the contribution to the discussion - it is -always- welcome.

    Shawn - Talking is often faster - that much is true ;-D, plus face to face interaction has the addes bonus of seeing if one's life gives testimony to one's doctrine. Who cares if my theology is perfectly defined if I am not living it?

    Grace and peace!

     
  • At 8:07 AM, January 02, 2006, Blogger Shawn L said…

    Amen,

    What through the bible in a year do you use Daniel. I use the original discipleship journal through the bible in a year.


    http://www.navpress.com/Magazines/DJ/BibleReadingPlans.asp

     
  • At 1:50 PM, January 02, 2006, Blogger T.B. Vick said…

    Daniel states:
    "In this case, you realize that the reason you love God so little is because you are not meditating on what sort of a horrible sinner you truly are. You have let your sin become so light in your own thinking that there is no real remorse over it."

    Very true! Good words and sound advice. However, let me ask you this as well. Do you also think that perhaps another reason we love God so little is becasue we do not fully understand who God is?

    The above ties in with my quote of the week by John Calvin over at my blog site.

    Thanks for these words, it is posts like this that make me glad I read blogs and provide a blog site as well.

     
  • At 7:06 PM, January 02, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Shawn - I don't use a reading program, I just read the bible every day for a couple of hours. Typically that brings me through cover to cover between two and three times a year (this reading is on top of any other study of course).

    That is not to say that some I am consistently reading the bible through thrice a year cover to cover of course - one year I only made it through once - most of the time it is about twice a year.


    TB - Do you also think that perhaps another reason we love God so little is because we do not fully understand who God is?

    Scripture teaches that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

    I believe that many of us "lack wisdom" in understanding who God is because we fail to respect God as GOD - so yeah, there is certainly room for that. ;-D

     
  • At 9:05 PM, January 04, 2006, Blogger Shawn L said…

    Daniel,

    That is very good to do the bible reading through the bible each year. I'm not familiar with anyone reading it more than once through in a year. That sounds very profitable for you.

    I feel a bit behind I read through the bible in a year and only have done it about 3 times. I've probably read through the new testament about 10-15 times. I really was a New Testament/Psalms/Proverbs reader as a Christian teen and until I was 25. I became a reformed baptist 5 years ago and began to see the importance of reading through the scriptures then...

    Praise God for His Word...
    Shawn

    ps. Do you have kids? If so how do you have time to read that much?

     
  • At 9:06 PM, January 04, 2006, Blogger Shawn L said…

    Or should I say how do you not have time to read that much.

    Anyway such an inspiration

     
  • At 10:14 AM, January 05, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Shawn - One day I came to the end of myself. I took a long honest look at where my faith was at, and I knew that I didn't trust God at all. I began to pray that night in a way I never prayed before - I was brutally honest with God - even insolent. I was angry at God because I didn't have the faith that I should have, and I wanted it more than anything.

    For some reason Romans 10:17 popped into my head, "so then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" - it was as though God had thrown the verse in my face - I didn't shake my fist at the ceiling, but I may as well have been. I did what now seems a foolish thing then - I charged God that I was going to start reading his word and believing, and that if I didn't get "faith" it wouldn't be my fault, because God's word said I would if I "heard the message" - I basically washed my hands of my own effort, and dropped it - nay, threw it into God's lap saying to God - you are a liar if you do not answer this prayer.

    <Shudder>

    That night - well, truth be told it was 5:00 a.m. the next morning, I woke up from perhaps the most livid and powerful dream I have ever had. I wish I could remember every detail of that dream because it was absolutely unlike any other dream I have ever had - it had a reality to it that I am still unable to qualify.

    In the dream a man was baptizing - in a lake. At first I thought the man was Moses for some reason, but as soon as I saw him I knew it was Jesus Christ.

    In my dream Christ spoke to me, and brother, I wish words could convey the sense of love that I felt as He spoke, He wasn't apologetic or anything like that, and I don't really remember exactly what he said, but I remember "what it meant." He explained that the life I had embarked upon since being saved was not the life that he had planned for me - this was not said as an accusation - but more that he had wanted such profound good for me, and that I had hardened my heart against the good that he had always purposed to give me. His manner and compassion disarmed me instantly, and I awoke from this dream with a start. I cannot describe it right - but I had a sudden insatiable hunger for God's word. I leapt out of bed, and literally (I mean literally in the literal sense, and not as an hyperbole) ran to find my bible.

    I opened it to the book of Genesis, and began to read. I purposed to read it cover to cover, not once or twice, but for the rest of my life.

    I used to wake up at 4:00 a.m. to pray for an hour, then I would read the bible for two hours, and then I would hop the bus for work and read another hour there. There was the ride home, and I would read it then as well. Sometimes I would read on my lunch or on my breaks.

    Within a couple of weeks - and I am not certain any more of the exact time line here - but an error with my house taxes caused my mortgage payment to double. I was a computer programmer, and in the years leading up to 2000 the market was quite good. I had taken advantage of that market to ping-pong my way into a very lucrative job, and in the strength of that job I purchased a very, very big house. This new increase meant there was no way I was going to be able to make the payments - at least not comfortably. Suddenly however, I was fired from my job. I had been transferred into a position where I would be programming geomatic information systems - I had been programming business systems - so the change was like going from accounting to quantum physics - they both use math, but nothing is applicable. I could gripe about what a raw deal it was - but really, I am glad it happened because having my house payments suddenly double, and losing that great big idol of a job was the best thing that could have ever happened. I begged the Lord for more faith, and his answer was to kick out all support from under me, and cause me to rely on him.

    So when I think of reading the bible and whatnot, I can't pretend that I just one day decided that I was going to read lots. It didn't happen that way. I prayed earnestly one day, and God answered my prayer in a way I would have never, ever imagined. Instead of hitting me on the head with the proverbial and painless "more faith" wand - instead he took away a lot of the garbage in my life that was hindering my reliance on him.

    Faith, after all, is better described as a reliance on God as opposed to just a trust in Him (which can be somewhat ambiguous).

    The end result of all of that? I had a great hunger for God, and one of the ways it played out in my life was that a serious devotional time ranked very high in my priorities. I gave up television, and began to rise early to study the word of God - and not only that - but I began to study Greek as well, and theology. I consumed theology text books (the big phone book ones) cover to cover, and began to teach myself biblical Greek.

    If you had known me, you would truly marvel - because this was never, ever, the sort of thing that would have come into my character.

    So when I talk about reading scripture, I can't just write it off as some sort of choice that I make - frankly, if I were to read only a couple of chapters a day, I would feel that I was not being fed.

    The simple answer to your question however is that there are plenty of hours in the day wasted on other things. I use some of those hours to study God's word.

    My advice to anyone who wants to read the bible but doesn't have a desire - earnestly talk to God about it. But be ready, because most of us are not reading the bible or praying enough because we have become comfortable in our worldliness. For God to truly answer such a prayer, often means he has to shake the dust of the world off of his child - and sometimes the ride can be quite unexpected. ;-)

    And yes, I have three kids, and one more on the way! My devotional time in no way hinders the time I spend with my family - if anything, the benefits of spending time with God always enhance the quality of that time that I do spend with my family. Better to spend ten minutes in the Spirit with your family, than ten hours in the flesh!

     
  • At 6:03 PM, January 05, 2006, Blogger Ephraim said…

    Daniel,

    That is a beautiful testimony. While there are some over on Phil's blog that would not accept what you have described as being true, I for one know that He does speak to His children today.

    When I read in Torah about Moshe going into the Holy Place and having his questions answered directly by YHWH I can't help but wonder what that must have been like. Amazing and fearful I'm sure! But now we each have access to the Father through Yeshua the Son, and we do not need to rely on another man to make the connection.

    Sometimes, when we doubt the validity of another person's experience, we would do well to consider the results of that experience and judge a righteous judgement, not letting our lack of understanding or faith get in the way.

    Thank you for sharing. It is encouraging and challenging.

    Shalom

     
  • At 8:17 AM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Ephraim - I don't know what to make of my dream, except that the outcome was life changing.

     
  • At 10:08 AM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Rose~ said…

    Daniel,
    That was really incredible. I had a dream once when I had just believed the gospel and hadn't gotten past Genesis. I told my dream to my christian friend and he was able to interpret it immediately because it was full of Biblical typology. Having not read the Bible yet, I had no idea about any of that and so it made it very incredible that I would dream such a thing.

    Thanks for being so personable about sharing this story. I think you are a real blessing to your family!

     
  • At 7:18 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Shawn L said…

    Daniel,

    Wow thanks. I'll consider this as well. I agree we need to continue to ask God to give us a passion for His word.. Your words are a blessing..

    By the way I think God did something very similar to me about 5 years ago.

    I totally agree the time I spend in the Word totally helps me be a better father, etc.

    I'll keep thinking about what you said.

     
  • At 7:19 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Shawn L said…

    Faith does truly come from the Word of God. Praise God for his Word

     
  • At 8:09 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Shawn L said…

    Daniel,

    Do you mind if I put a full post about your comment about reading the bible on my blog. I would like others to see it

     
  • At 9:03 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Shawn, feel free to post it.

    My v-word was: teeim. Apparently there is an "I" in teeim, and two "e"'s as well.

     
  • At 10:34 PM, April 18, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel, great OP and discussion discussion and so refreshing to, I thought I'd leave you with a song I wrote about My Big black Heart, Ya thats right My Big Black Heart...

    My Big Black Heart
    Words and music Bruce W. Moar

    I’m going tell you a story
    About my experiences with the church
    I’m going tell you a story
    And how I played my part
    And my Big Black Heart, yah that’s right!
    my Big Black Heart, uh huh!
    Big Black Heart, hmm hmmm!
    My Big Black Heart…

    I was minding my own business
    Yah, just mindin’ my own affairs
    When external re-lidg-osity’s
    Done caught me unawares
    You see, I started thinking
    That I was, holier than thou
    By the way I lived my life
    And accepted all my vows
    Now I’ve developed a legalistic mind
    And a condemning heart
    For this is what external re-lidg-osity, told me
    And my Big Black Heart, yah that’s right!
    my Big Black Heart, uh huh!
    Big Black Heart, hmm hmmm!
    My Big Black Heart…

    Now the Holy Spirit said; Woo Hoo
    Anybody listening out there?
    I repeat the Holy Spirit said; Woo Hoo
    Is anybody listening out there?
    I came down at Pentecost
    And empowered your belief
    That you would do great things, in Jesus’ name
    Speading the gospel and giving relief
    But external re-lidg-osity told me
    That I could do it by myself
    I don’t need to heed the words of the Spirit
    As it comes from someone else
    To my Big Black Heart, yah that’s right!
    My Big Black Heart, uh huh!
    Big Black Heart, hmm hmmm!
    My Big Black Heart…

    Now the Rhema and the Logos tell me, uh huh
    The word of God is living and powerful
    Sharper than any two edged sword
    Piercing as far as the division of soul And spirit and of joints and marrow
    And is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the
    Big Black Heart, yah that’s right!
    The Big Black Heart, uh huh!
    The Big Black Heart, hmm hmmm!
    The Big Black Heart…

    Now Jesus said;
    Most assuredly I say to you
    He who hears my word and believes
    Has everlasting life
    He will not come into judgement
    But has passed from death into life
    Now the Holy Spirit says;
    Who are you to judge another
    From your external re-lidge-osity’s
    And Your Big Black Heart, yah that’s right
    Your Big Black Heart, uh huh
    Your Big Black Heart, oh Lordy
    Your Big black Heart

    Now the refrain;
    Jesus washed away your sins
    And took away your Big Black Heart

    Took away your Big Black Heart
    Took away your Big Black Heart
    (begin fade)

    Took away your Big Black Heart
    Took away your Big Black Heart
    Took away your Big Black Heart
    Took away your Big Black Heart

    If you would like me to perform this or others song/songs at your church or meeting you can reach me by email bemore@mts.net

     
  • At 10:48 AM, April 19, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Bruce - thanks for the comment and the lyrics. It is always nice to hear from someone local.

     
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