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Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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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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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
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Friday, November 09, 2007
Careful Answers...
I was reading a post over at Rose's blog, and made such a long comment there, that I thought I could make a post out of it and thereby look like I was more active in posting that I have been.

Rose has (to my knowledge) maintained that one of the reasons she rejects what we would call the "doctrines of grace" is because she could not see how anyone could tell a sinner that "Jesus died for them" unless she knew for sure that Jesus did in fact die for them. My comment was intended to show that rather than reject the doctrines of grace, she might want to rethink the idea that Jesus died for everyone.

Anyway - here is what I said, more or less. I apologize for the length, but I will add the same caveat I posted in my comment - that being that I would prefer you refrain from commenting unless you have actually read the article in its entirety - that is, don't comment on it if you have only skimmed it.if you intend on commenting - don't comment on the content if you have only skimmed it. This is a post that is meant to be read.

Judging by the lack of comments lately I am probably not in any danger regardless. ;-)

Noah built the ark to God's specification, a specification that included only enough living room for Noah, his wife, and his three sons, their wives, and only as many stalls and stores for as animals God had chosen beforehand to save.

It almost goes without saying, but the salvation of Noah and his family is an antitype, that is, it pictures our salvation -in- Christ.

We all agree here that we are saved by grace through faith (even if we may disagree about where the distinction between dead faith and saving faith lies). No one here I think would argue that we are not born from above (or born again if you prefer) in the moment that we are saved. John the Baptist spoke of the moment of salvation in this way - he said that one was coming (Christ) who would baptize, "en" the Holy Spirit (c.f. Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16). We should note that while the preposition "en" with the dative is showing a stationary relationship that is typically translated "in" or "into" yet in these passages it is often translated as "with" or "by". I think the reason for that is because we tend not to transliterate rather than translate the word for baptize. The word for baptize of course means to put one thing inside another - such as putting a submerging entirely a cucumber into brine or a putting a body entirely into a crypt or grave such that the thing that was baptized was entirely within the thing it was baptized into. These are not random examples, but literary examples of how the word was used in first century Palestine. So John the baptist technically said that while he was putting people into water, one was coming who would put them -into- the Holy Spirit and fire. It makes for a more flowing English translation if we choose to transliterate baptize, and so we read baptize "by" or baptize "with" the Holy Spirit, but if we translate this way, I think something of the original intent is lost. Understanding this give one some insight as they come to texts like Romans 6 where we see the same language: we were put into Christ, and that it is through this -union- that we are set free from sin, since it is through this union that we were with Christ on Calvary, that is, it is through this union that we pass through judgment -in- Christ.

Here is where we see the antitype of the ark portraying the coming Christ. Just as Noah and his family were placed into the Ark by God, and passed through the judgment that was going on outside the ark, so too everyone who was ever saved was placed into Christ so that even as God's judgment fell all around them (that is, on Christ), yet they being in Christ passed through that judgment and were saved.

Now, getting back to my curiosity: given that I regard this antitype as instructional, and correct, I am asking myself what Noah's preaching during that time must have looked like?

We recall that Noah was a preacher of righteousness, and with a description like we expect that it is no strained presumption to conclude that during the 100 years or so years of building the ark Noah would have been engaged (at some time at least) in actually calling others to turn to God in faith. Yet Noah was building an ark that had been designed by God to have only enough room for Noah, his family, the animals, and their supplies. God hadn't delivered designs for an ark big enough for everyone in the world at the time - yet Noah preached righteousness to those around him.

Now we come to the source of my curiosity. Why didn't God instruct Noah to build the ark big enough for everyone?

1 John 4:19 teaches us that the -reason- we love God is not because we are naturally affectionate people, or because it seemed wise in our eyes to love God, or because we saw that God was lovable and chose to love him - rather the reason that we love God at all is -because- He first loved us. That is what the Spirit says through John. Yet we must be fair - if we insist that God loves everyone so that all are given an equal chance, we must conclude that everyone loves God since we love God because of this love with which he first loved us. Yet we do not see that. Therefore we must conclude that universal love - the love that God loves the world with - is not the same love that causes us to love God, or everyone in the world would love God. We must conclude, I believe, that the love with which God loves everyone is universally ignored by all, that it is -not- the same love that God pours out into believer's hearts through the Holy Spirit, but is rather a general love that is -not- poured into believer's hearts, but is rather a universal love poured out upon all of us, but not producing a reciprocated love in us.

You see, as a Calvinist, I have no problem with God loving the whole world. But I am careful what I mean when I say that. I know many Calvinists limit the love of God to the elect, and I would limit the love that scripture describes as poured out by God and into the hearts of believers through the Holy Spirit - that love I would definitely limit to believers, for it cannot soberly be said that God pours this love into the hearts of non-believers, for surely those who do not love God are anathema (1 Corinthians 16:22). Yet to qualify what I mean when I say I have no problem with God loving every last person in the world, I mean that God loves them one and all - but that this love by no means reciprocates affection, nor does it call anyone to God. It is simply a statement of the character of God - God =is= love, and to imagine God as not loving someone is alien to any right understanding of scripture.

It is because God loved everyone in Noah's days that he gave them 100 or so years to turn to God in faith when Noah was preaching the gospel to them beforehand - that if they would turn from their wickedness and embrace God in faith they would be saved - but not one of them was interested in God. Noah himself, had not God intervened by grace, would have continued rejecting God, and would have perished along with everyone else, but God showed Noah and his family grace, and drew Noah to himself - causing Noah to believe, and then to be sanctified. Not unlike God does today - drawing believers to Christ according to His own counsel and will, and not according to man's counsel or will. No man is saved because they willed themselves to be saved, or ran in the right way but they are saved because God showed them mercy in drawing them to the Son first through a conviction of God's righteousness, and a conviction of their own sin - then by granting them faith to believe God for salvation, just as he did (no doubt) for Noah.

When I share the gospel, I don't tell them that Christ died for them. The bible doesn't say that, why should I? The bible says that Jesus died for sinners - and if they are a sinner, I let them know they qualify, but I don't tell them that Jesus died for them, because that would be like Noah preaching to the antediluvian host that he was building the ark for everyone. Do you see how wrong that is? Noah could well say that He had was building an ark and that God was absolutely going to save every single person upon the earth that turned to God in faith - and Noah would not be lying. Noah could plead with these people in tears and passion and it would not be acting - if any single one of them would turn they would certainly be on that ark - and I don't doubt that Noah did just that. "You see this ark? I am building it because God is going to judge the world, and anyone who isn't in that ark is going to be judged. Turn therefore from your sin and extend faith in God and I promise you God will see that you are put into that ark when His wrath comes!" But it would be quite another thing for Noah to say, "God loves you and has made a place for you on the ark I am building so that you can be saved from his wrath."

The subtlety may be lost, I am not sure, but let me know if this makes sense to you. As a Calvinist I am perfectly free to offer the gospel this way:

"God has decreed that every sin shall be punished by an eternity in hell. If you have ever lied, you can know today for certain what your eternal destiny is - at least according to the bible. You are condemned as a sinner, and you will certainly go to judgment the moment you die, and having commited just one sin, you will certainly be condemned and sentenced to hell where you are going to spend eternity away from God whom you presently want nothing to do with anyway.

Yet even though you are condemned, God hasn't taken your life away and dragged you off to judgment, not because you don't deserve it, you most certainly do, but rather because God is full of grace and loves you, and because he loves you and is full of grace, He is giving you every day from now until the moment you die to change your standing before him from condemned to righteous - that is, because God loves you, you have this day and all that follow it in your life to do something about your present condemnation.

Your sin must be punished. It cannot be canceled out by doing good, nor can it be overlooked. God -must- punish your sin, and He must punish it to the fullest. But thankfully God has provided a way for you to be saved. It isn't by suddenly becoming good, because God says that you can no more become suddenly good than a leopard can change his own spots. You might try and be good, but the bible says that whatever good you produce is not merely insufficient, but because it is motivated by a desire to coerce God into pardoning your sin, it is in fact an unclean thing itself - a rag so filthy that if you tried to wipe yourself clean with it, it would actually only make you -more- dirty. There is no "good" thing that you can do to undo your sin, and God would by no means continue to be a righteous God if he simply overlooked your sin. God must punish it, or He is not a righteous God.

You might ask, if I cannot cancel out my sin, and God cannot overlook it - how then can I be saved?

Well, because God cannot cancel out your sin, you must die. But in order to save you from this death God did a magnificent thing: He sent His own Son to earth, to be born as a human being named Jesus Christ, Who lived His entirely life without sinning specifically for this one purpose: to offer Himself to God for our salvation.

Our sin required our death, so Jesus offered himself to God, but not Himself only - on the cross Christ took into Himself all who would turn away from their sin and turn away from every other way of trying to appease God, and instead trust that God would save as many as would turn to God and put their faith, not in doing good works, but in God to save them - as many as are willing to believe that God will save them from their sin - these were united spiritually with Christ on the cross so that when Christ died, they died. God's justice was satisfied because sin was fully punished on Calvary. But because Christ was innocent, God could not justly allow him to stay dead - so God raised Christ, and because we were inseparably united to Christ, God raised us too, in Christ.

In this way God could justly condemn us and raise us from the dead - but the cost was profound - it cost Christ His life, but it stands as a stark testimony to how far God is willing to go to save you, if you are willing to be saved.

So you have before you the gospel - believe that you are a condemned sinner in need of salvation, and believe that you can by no means save yourself or avoid your damnation - believe that there is no other name under heaven by which you can be saved - for if you are not in the ark when the rain comes down - you will most certainly die. Choose therefore whether or not you will spurn God's love - will you trust Christ to save you from sin and be saved, or will you continue to embrace your sin and die.

You don't get saved by saying the 'right' prayer, or by doing the right stuff - you get saved by Jesus Christ if you turn to Him in faith. So I encourage you, turn to Christ in faith.

That would be a quick gospel presentation. Note that I don't at any time say that Christ died for you - I say Christ died for sinners, and if you see yourself as condemned and in need of salvation, and turn to Christ - He ==will== save you.

I believe that with all my heart. Only those who were in Christ on Calvary will be saved - no others. But I have no idea who these people are. So I dare not lie and say that Christ tooke everyone to the cross with himself, that is, I dare not suggest that Christ died for everyone - rather I would say that what scripture says: that Jesus died for every sinner who places his trust in God to save him from his sin and from God's wrath. It might sound the same, but it doesn't suppose (or require) that Jesus died for everyone - the offer is made to all, and rejected by all so that unless God shows a person mercy, they will by no means believe. But we have no idea whom God will show this mercy to, so when we make the offer we make it earnestly and honestly - God -WILL- save you -IF- you trust in Him. We could even tell the sinner that there is no way that they will be able to change their own spots - they cannot make themselves believe it - they must turn to God and beg him to grant them that belief, and even in this we would do no harm to the gospel. But if we tell people that Jesus died for people who will never get to heaven, I believe we mangle the gospel, and make Jesus into a failure.
posted by Daniel @ 3:32 PM  
  • At 4:38 PM, November 09, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    HA! - I commented. Now it was all worthwhile... ;-)

  • At 5:46 PM, November 09, 2007, Blogger jazzycat said…

    Exactly! The way I put it is that Christ died for the sins of all that place their trust in him for eternal life.

    Unless one believes in universalism the atonement must be limited by either its scope or its power. Calvinists believe it is limited by its scope while Arminianians limit the power of the atonement. If Christ died for everyone and everyone is not saved then that limits the power. If it was of infinite value, but only intended for those that God would provide sovereign grace, then the scope is limited.

    Saving grace is not a mere offer that man has the ability to accept, it is a divine act that enables a sinner to willingly come to saving faith. It makes no sense to believe that Christ died for the sins of people who he knows will not come to him in faith. If he did die for sinners that reject him then why would they go to hell? Why would sinners whose sin has been paid for have to be punished again?

    God does not ask us to suspend our logic and reason and I have never understood the why even some Calvinists (who really are not) believe in universal atonement.

  • At 11:34 AM, November 10, 2007, Blogger mark pierson said…

    That being placed into the Holy Spirit; and being in Christ on the cross... Good thoughts

    Christ's sacrifice was for all who would believe, the Father and the Spirit are the One's Who apply the sacrifice to Whom the Father had chosen beforehand.

  • At 10:12 AM, November 11, 2007, Blogger David said…

    That's very good. I'll be reading this one over.

    It occurs to me that Paul's statement, "I am crucified with Christ," would support your argument. If we are saved because we were crucified with Christ, then if Christ died for all, all were crucified with Christ, and all are saved. But all are not saved.

  • At 3:37 PM, November 11, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    I am just thankful that it is coherent. ;-)

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