Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Everyone must submit to the government for those in such positions have been placed there by God for all authority comes from God. So anyone who rebels against that authority is rebelling against what God has instituted and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will reward you.
For these same reasons you should pay your taxes for government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and fees to those who collect them, encourage and give respect to those who are in authority.
Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you take care of your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s commands for they state, “You must not cheat on your spouse. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not lust after material things.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Take care of your neighbor as you do yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.
This is all the more important, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up! For our rescue is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of rescue will soon be here. So put away your dark actions like dirty clothes, and put on the white armor of upright living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or lusting and other immoral living, or in arguing and jealousy. Instead, surround yourself with the presence of our King Jesus, our teacher, savior and high priest and don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Here is my translation of Romans 12:
And so my family, I beg of you to give everything you have and are to God because of all He has done for you. Let everything you are be a living and holy sacrifice to God--the kind He will find acceptable. This is really the way we Worship Him!
Don't act like those around you but let God change you into something new by changing the very way you think then you will come to know what God wants you to do and His plan is good and satisfying and perfect.
Because of the divine favor God has granted to me, I pass on to each of you this warning--Don't think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your assessment of yourselves, measuring who you are by the faith God has given us. You know that just as our own bodies each have many parts and each one has a specific function, so it is with Christ's body. We are all different but all one within our King and we belong to one another.
Thanks to the unmerited gifts God has given us, we all have different talents for doing different things as well. So, if God has given you the ability to speak on behalf of God then do so with as much trust in Him as He has given you. If your gift is helping others, help them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others than do so. If it is giving then give generously. If God has given you leadership abilities then take that gift seriously and if you have a gift for showing kindness to others then do it happily.
Don't just pretend to love others, really love them! Hate what is wrong and cling to what is right. Love each other with the love a good family would give to one another and be quick to brag on another. Never be lazy but work hard and serve your King zealously. Draw your happiness and peace from the hope we trust in. Be patient when faced with difficulty and pray hard. When God's people are in need then be ready to help them. Always be eager to welcome others into your home.
Pray for those who wrong you. Don't wish them ill. Pray that God will be good to them. Party with those who are happy and cry with those who down. Live in peace with each other. Don't be a snob or condescending.
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see that you are worthy of admiration. Do all that you can to get along with everyone.
My friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the justified anger of God. For those Bible says:
"I will take revenge;
I will pay them back, says God.:
"If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty then give them something to drink.
In doing this you will shame them for what they have done."
In other words, don't let evil beat you but defeat evil by doing good.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
In Chapter 11, Paul emphatically notes that God has not rejected the Jews in total as is evidenced by the remnant that remains faithful to the true King of creation. Yet, Paul then takes things in a totally puzzling direction by stating in verse 26 that "all my fellow countrymen shall be rescued." What is he talking about? Dispensationalists argue that after the rapture, tribulation and all the other stuff that has given Tim LaHaye "up yours money" that all of Israel will follow Jesus as King but for reasons that are too involved for this post (which I type in a bed & breakfast in friggin' New Jersey) I ain't no dispensationalist.
Pre-mill Calvinists like Doug Moo argue that 11:25-32 refers to a large number of Jews who will be saved over time (i.e., generations of remnants eventually numbering the whole number of Israelites at the time) culminating in a mass revival of Jews at the time of the return of Jesus. This is certainly a better reading than the dualistic dispensationalist reading that was a product of the twisted mind of a torked English lawyer named Darby.
However, I think N.T. Wright is correct to argue that 11:26 is a reflection of 10:13 (and one must also keep 9:5 in mind) that Paul has redefined "Israel" as the people of God whether they be Jew or Gentile.
Wright's argument is bolstered by Galatians 6: ("May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! 16 As for those who will follow this rule—peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.") (NRSV).
Finally, Wright is also correct to argue that the normal English translation "So all Israel shall be saved" should be rendered "in this manner all Israel shall be saved" to prevent temporal confusion.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
In chapter 10, Paul truly laments over his fellow countrymen. Paul unpacks his earlier statement that even the children of Abraham, according to the flesh, are without excuse because they have heard and understood the Gospel but have simply refused to accept it, primarily because of the inclusion of the Gentiles. Paul points out that Moses and Isaiah made it clear that Gentiles were always meant to be a part of God's covenant family. N.T. Wright is certainly correct to point out that the covenant with Abraham was God's answer to the the problem of sin but that Abraham's children became part of the problem as well as the carrier of the solution, so Jesus took the necessary action himself. However, Israel continued to selfishly insist on bogarting the presence of God or, as Wright puts it, taking the great light of God and attempting to place mirrors around it instead of windows to guide the rest of the world home. Once again, Paul makes it clear that God has been faithful to His promises but we have been the obstinate ones.
Now, aren't you glad that we have learned so much that we in the pews no longer selfishly keep the light of God to ourselves as to only feed our own selfish desires but instead selflessly share it with all? Oh, wait...
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
At a certain point the Arminian-Calvinist debate can lapse into what William Abraham at SMU calls "Biblical ping-pong" where we just cite verses back and forth at one another.
I confess that my own journey toward Reformed theology has been a long and difficult one. I became a Christian in 1997 and read through the Bible for the first time that year using old Chuck Smith tapes to help me study. Smith is an Arminian from Calvary Chapel. I then attended an Arminian Bible college (Kentucky Christian), an Arminian seminary (ACU) and worked as a pastor in two different churches (churches of Christ and Methodist) that are both free will in orientation. What happened?
I began to read Calvin, Edwards, Wayne Grudem, etc. and listening to John Piper, Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll more out of curiosity then anything else. I quickly learned that not every Calvinist is a cocky fatalist as I had stereotyped them to be. Most Calvinists actually possess a lot more humility than their Arminian counterparts because they openly embrace paradox (e.g., we are only saved by being among the elect but our held accountable for our actions) and the lack of a god-like perspective (e.g., we urge others to "strive" for salvation because we stand behind a veil of ignorance where only God knows who the elect truly are). Moreover, as much as I am still a knee-jerk Arminian, I never bought the Free Will readings of Romans 9, Ephesians 1-2, etc. Romans 9 is certainly more than a "lament," Paul does not delineate mission and salvation as cleanly as many Arminians wish to dissect them and a meta, corporate reading of election simply is not the most natural one. So, I am a very reluctant Calvinist.
I do find it ironic, however, that 2000 years after the fact, we are still raising the same objections that Paul anticipates in Romans 9!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
What about the five points of Arminianism (i.e., D.A.I.S.Y.)?
Diminished depravity-- Luke records Jesus urging his hearers to "strive to enter through the narrow door; for many I tell you will try to enter and will not be able." (Luke 13:24). An Arminian would argue that this begs the question why Jesus would urge them to "strive" if saving faith is wholly a gift from God. See also John (often seen as the hard determinist among the Gospel writers) 7:18-18; 10:9; 12:32 (one of many verses where Jesus seems to be speaking about calling "all" people not just the elect); Acts 16:31; 17:26-28; Romans 10:9, 14-15; Eph. 1:13; etc.
Abrogated election (i.e., election to salvation involves both the sinner choosing God and God choosing the sinner). See Acts 15:7-9.
Impersonal atonement which means Jesus died for ALL people (John 3:16), paying the price of redemption for them all BUT still requiring a move by the sinner to grasp offered forgiveness (see also John 1:29; Rom. 5:6-8, 17-18; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; etc.).
Sedentary grace i.e., the Holy Spirit can be resisted by the sinner. See Luke 7:30; John 3:34; Acts 7:51; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 10:29, etc.
Yieldable justification--those who believe and trust can still lose their salvation by turning their back on Jesus. See Matt 5:13; 24:13; John 8:31; 15:1-7; Romans 11:22; Gal. 5:4; etc.
So, who has the better over all argument? Check back tomorrow.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Praise to God for a Living Hope. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."
Friday, April 11, 2008
Okay, what about Calvinists?
Total Inability or Total Depravity
Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to "savingly" believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free, it is in bondage to his evil nature, therefore, he will not - indeed he cannot - choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, it takes much more than the Spirit's assistance to bring a sinner to Christ - it takes regeneration by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God's gift of salvation - it is God's gift to the sinner, not the sinner's gift to God.
God's choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world rested solely in His own sovereign will. His choice of particular sinners was not based on any foreseen response of obedience on their part, such as faith, repentance, etc. On the contrary, God gives faith and repentance to each individual whom He selected. These acts are the result, not the cause of God's choice. Election therefore was not determined by or conditioned upon any virtuous quality or act foreseen in man. Those whom God sovereignty elected He brings through the power of the Spirit to a willing acceptance of Christ. Thus God's choice of the sinner, not the sinner's choice of Christ, is the ultimate cause of salvation.
Particular Redemption or Limited Atonement
Christ's redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ's redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation, including faith which unites them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, therefore guaranteeing their salvation.
The Efficacious Call of the Spirit or Irresistible Grace
In addition to the outward general call to salvation which is made to everyone who hears the gospel, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special inward call that inevitably brings them to salvation. The internal call (which is made only to the elect) cannot be rejected; it always results in conversion. By means of this special call the Spirit irresistibly draws sinners to Christ. He is not limited in His work of applying salvation by man's will, nor is He dependent upon man's cooperation for success. The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ. God's grace, therefore, is invincible; it never fails to result in the salvation of those to whom it is extended.
Perseverance of the Saints
All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God and thus persevere to the end.
In sum, Calvinists believe that salvation is accomplished by the almighty power of the Triune God. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ's death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation.
Who has the better Biblical argument? More tomorrow.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Free-Will or Human Ability
Although human nature was seriously affected by the fall, man has not been left in a state of total spiritual helplessness. God graciously enables every sinner to repent and believe, but He does not interfere with man's freedom. Each sinner possesses a free will, and his eternal destiny depends on how he uses it. Man's freedom consists of his ability to choose good over evil in spiritual matters; his will is not enslaved to his sinful nature. The sinner has the power to either cooperate with God's Spirit and be regenerated or resist God's grace and perish. The lost sinner needs the Spirit's assistance, but he does not have to be regenerated by the Spirit before he can believe, for faith is man's act and precedes the new birth. Faith is the sinner's gift to God; it is man's contribution to salvation.
God's choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world was based upon His foreseeing that they would respond to His call. He selected only those whom He knew would of themselves freely believe the gospel. Election therefore was determined by or conditioned upon what man would do. The faith which God foresaw and upon which He based His choice was not given to the sinner by God (it was not created by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit) but resulted solely from man's will. It was left entirely up to man as to who would believe and therefore as to who would be elected unto salvation. God chose those whom He knew would, of their own free will, choose Christ. Thus the sinner's choice of Christ, not God's choice of the sinner, is the ultimate cause of salvation.
Christ's redeeming work made it possible for everyone to be saved but did not actually secure the salvation of anyone. Although Christ died for all men and for every man, only those who believe on Him are saved. His death enabled God to pardon sinners on the condition that they believe, but it did not actually put away anyone's sins. Christ's redemption becomes effective only if man chooses to accept it.
The Spirit calls inwardly all those who are called outwardly by the gospel invitation; He does all that He can to bring every sinner to salvation. But inasmuch as man is free, he can successfully resist the Spirit's call. The Spirit cannot regenerate the sinner until he believes; faith (which is man's contribution) proceeds and makes possible the new birth. Thus, man's free will limits the Spirit in the application of Christ's saving work. The Holy Spirit can only draw to Christ those who allow Him to have His way with them. Until the sinner responds, the Spirit cannot give life. God's grace, therefore, is not invincible; it can be, and often is, resisted and thwarted by man.
Those who believe and are truly saved can lose their salvation by failing to keep up their faith, etc. All Arminians have not been agreed on this point; some have held that believers are eternally secure in Christ - that once a sinner is regenerated, he can never be lost.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
In Chapter 8, Paul alludes to his earlier statement that we are all under condemnation thanks to Adam's sin (ch. 5) but reminds us that thanks to our union with Christ we are saved. We are united with Christ not only in his death and resurrection but also with his perfect obedience so that the law has been fulfilled on our behalf (v.4). We have now been set free in this new existence to follow the lead of the Spirit.
Paul assures the Romans (and us) that this union with our King even includes a full share of Jesus' inheritance! We are even able to call upon the powerful, creator of the universe as a son would upon a father, again, thanks to our union with our King (vv.12-16) BUT Paul reminds us that our union with our King does not come without a price--grace is free but it ain't cheap!
Contrary to the rattlings of Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, etc. we are also called to suffer with our King. Paul quickly reminds us that this suffering is nothing compared to the future glory that awaits us (vv. 18), but it is still a harsh reality that we must live within a fallen world that cries under the affliction of sin like a woman giving birth (and remember that when Paul wrote Romans, women were not given pain killers!).
Paul realizes all too well that it is easy to lose hope while suffering but he assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of our King (v.39) because, as we will outline in detail, those of us who have God's Spirit within us were in fact chosen by God to be His son's loyal subjects even before the creation of the world (vv. 29-30). More on all of that later!
Sunday, April 6, 2008
"[The board] examined all of the evidence and the testimonies and so on and were convinced without a shadow of a doubt that he had violated his contract. It was not over doctrinal, theological issues at all," President William Brown told Christianity Today. Brown declined to discuss the details why Hoffeditz was terminated but said that they have to deal with the university's standards. "[Standards] involved how you treat each other, how you talk about each other, what's acceptable, and what's not. [Those standards] among others were violated."