Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Inevitable Process of Aging—A Glorious Promise
I had the idea about how amazing our bodies are, in that we grow and develop until we are in our thirties, at which point, our muscular development is at its highest, our minds are matured and sharp, our cardiovascular system is strong, we are nearly immune to disease (ie. The flu will not harm us), and we are genetically at our peak. AS small children we were frail, breakable and susceptible to disease. But, we grow stronger and better. From that time onwards, our bodies stop growing and there is a turn about. We begin to decay, never will our strength and reflex be the same, our organs begin the slow inevitable process of slowdown. Our immunity system weakens day by day, our bones begin to decay and death is an inevitable process in the making. As humans, we are either growing, or dying genetically, physically with little concept of plateau.

Now we know of course that all of the decay is the result of sin and the curse, and in this verse we see a glorious parallel. From the moment of birth, we are under sin: "For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me (Psalm 51:5 NLT). That means from the moment of conception we are "sold under sin" and we are corrupt in mind and body, we are "accustomed to doing evil" and on the inevitable decline to dissipation, depravity and damnation.

I have been reading in First John, and I was really struck by this particular idea from the third chapter:

28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have
confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.29 If you know that He is
righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that
we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us,
because it did not know Him.2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has
not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we
shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.3 And everyone who has this
hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 2:28-3:3 NKJV).

The miracle of Salvation is being "born again"; "whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (italics added I Jn. 5:1). From the moment of our "New Birth" we are no longer on the trajectory and inevitable, we will become "like Him". We are becoming, not dying, our spiritual muscles are strengthening, our consciences are being built into a nervous system that overcomes sin, minds being sharpened in the truth and spiritual life, the abundant life, the joyful life is more and more ours! Now "it has not yet being revealed" exactly what this will look like in the end, just as none of us knows how far we'll age, or whether we'll grow frail in this way, or that, we know it is inevitable that we will die. But in Christ, we have this hope, that although we don't know how exactly we'll look, or to what extent we shall see it in this life, but we will live eternally free from sin!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Bad News of the Sin Nature

I found this quote from Film maker Oliver stone insightful. While criticizing US foreign policy in Spain this week, he made this observation:

"You can't see that the United States is responsible for all the evil in the world because you can see so many dictators and so many bestial acts all over the world now. .... There is something in the human heart, the international human heart, that is evil," ( italics added:

Sometimes the world seems to convey a message to the church, which we need to revive. The Scriptures are very clear:

[A]ll people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. 10 As the Scriptures say, “No one is good— not even one. 11 No one has real understanding; no one is seeking God. 12 All have turned away from God; all have gone wrong. No one does good, not even one.” 13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their speech is filled with lies.” “The poison of a deadly snake drips from their lips.” 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “They are quick to commit murder. 16 wherever they go, destruction and misery follow them. 17 They do not know what true peace is.” 18 “They have no fear of God to restrain them.” (Rom. 3:9-18 NLT).
It is neither Bush, nor the US, nor poverty, that is the "root" cause of evil, terrorism and suffering in the world. The root cause is sin, and while the symptoms may be treated by wise statecraft and charitable works, we must be cognizant of the desperate need to get the gospel to every creature, making disciples, teaching them to follow Christ in all things (Mt. 28:19-20).

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

John Calvin: Arch Enemy of the Gospel?

Jerry Falwell, whom I respect greatly, is one of my spiritual heroes. He recently preached on Philipians chapter three. In it he warned of the dangers of the enemies of the gospel in Paul's day, the Judaizers. Then he said:
What are some modern ‘foes of our faith’ in our day? Let me list but a few:

Liberalism—which says not all the Bible is inspired and inerrant.
Relativism—which says there is no absolute truth.
Evolutionism—which denies the creative acts of God as Biblically recorded.
Radical feminism—which promotes political correctness and redefining of the family.
Universalism—which would say all religions are equally valid.
Extreme Calvinism (

Now we say Amen!

Liberalism has destroyed the church and with all of the mainline churches brazenly liberal, and former evangelical bastions falling toward that trajectory, it is a powerful statement. Relativism as well and the great ecumenical movement are eating away at our faith. Evolutionism is the destructive power that stole the faith of Charles Templeton the great preacher and friend of Billy Graham. Radical Feminisms and the ordination of Lesbian woman, the destruction of the family are plagues tearing across our nations, and we could name church after church, organization after organization. Universalism and Unitarian Churches, the new openness of God, movements, etc, are definitely a danger. Legalism always has been and remains a danger for many. And extreme Calvinism….

Um, can anyone name an extreme Calvinist in the evangelical church? Can we document a threat that is on par with Liberalism, Evolutionism, Universalism as a threat to the faith? I have, as a student at a SBC seminary and a member of an SBC church, heard these warnings over and over.

I join in the warning and I OPPOSE HYPER-CALVINISM. So I want to know where they are, I want to go to them and reason with them from the Scriptures on the necessity of the gospel call. I want to assure them that belief in the tenants of Calvinism are no where mentioned in Scripture as the prerequisites for salvation. So I began to research and to discover where this cancer lay. I found this link that intrigued me:

…every and any form of Calvinism is somehow dubbed as hypercalvinism in the SBC. The term is seldomly defined and ambiguously defended. Wise voices such as Adrian Rogers, Danny Akin, and Paige Patterson have warned about the dangers of unchecked hyper-Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention. Now, where has it been documented and clearly noted where the “unchecked hyper-Calvinism is in the Southern Baptist Convention? With all the “white papers” being written by professors at seminaries and all the sermons being preached against hyper-calvinism in the SBC, one would think that they could provide the names of leaders or proponents of hypercalvinism in the SBC. But has one name been given? No. Not one (

Having researched the issue, I believe that this is true. That these warnings are truly aimed at any and all forms of Calvinism, through lack of knowledge and historical misunderstanding. While it is not vital to me, whether one claims to be Calvinist, or Arminian, It is vital that our gospel message be Biblical.

I don't think that it is right to summarily dismiss a massive part of the evangelical church as a threat to the gospel, because of a name. To that end I have included an extent quote from a Calvinist website that lends clarity to the conversation:



Most Calvinists reject as deplorable the following hyper-Calvinistic and destructive beliefs:

  • that God is the author of sin and of evil

  • that men have no will of their own, and secondary causes are of no effect

  • that the number of the elect at any time may be known by men

  • that it is wrong to evangelize

  • that assurance of election must be sought prior to repentance and faith

  • that men who have once sincerely professed belief are saved regardless of what they later do

  • that God has chosen some races of men and has rejected others

  • that the children of unbelievers dying in infancy are certainly damned

  • that God does not command everyone to repent

  • that the sacraments are not means of grace, but obstacles to salvation by faith alone.

  • that the true church is only invisible, and salvation is not connected with the visible church

  • that the Scriptures are intended to be interpreted by individuals only and not by the church.

  • that no government is to be obeyed which does not acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord, or that Biblical Law is its source of authority

  • that the grace of God does not work for the betterment of all men

  • that saving faith is equivalent to belief in the doctrine of predestination

  • that only Calvinists are Christians (Neo-gnostic Calvinism)



One of these "Calvinists", was also one of the greatest soul winners the world has ever known, Charles Hadden Spurgeon. He replies to these same accusations in this way:

This doctrine, stern as it may seem to be, does not oppose the consolation which may be rightly derived from any other truth of revelation. Those who hold the free-will theory, say that our doctrine, that salvation is of the Lord alone, and that he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, takes away from man the comfort derivable from God's goodness. God is good, infinitely good in his nature. God is love; he willeth not the death of any, but had rather that all should come to repentance. "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, but had rather that he should turn unto me and live." Our friends very properly insist upon it that God is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works; that the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy; let me assure them that we shall never quarrel on these points, for we also rejoice in the same facts…. Do I not, again and again, assert the universal benevolence of God—the infinite and overflowing goodness of the heart of the Most High? ….There is not the slightest shadow of a conflict between God's sovereignty and God's goodness. He may be a sovereign, and yet it may be absolutely certain that he will always act in the way of goodness and love. It is true that he will do as he wills; and yet it is quite certain that he always wills to do that which, in the widest view of it, is good and gracious. If the sons of sorrow fetch any comfort from the goodness of God, the doctrine of election will never stand in their way ( Election, No Discouragement to Seeking Souls:

Whether you choose to identify with one camp or the other, let us focus on what is most important, being biblical. Preach the gospel. But please apply reason to this debate and lets be careful not to call our great Baptist missionaries (William Carey 5 point Calvinist), our modern evangelistic role models (Bill Bright 5 point Calvinist), and our Baptist heroes of the faith (C.H. Spurgeon 5 point Calvinist) enemies of the gospel.

Neither John Wesley, nor George Whitfield, were enemies of the gospel, though one was Arminian, and the later Calvinist. This is an important issue, that should be talked about, debated and settled in each of our minds, but lets do it based on the Bible, instead of on baseless accusations of ignorance.