Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Biblical Case Against Unconditional Election

There have been statements made that those who do not accept the teaching of unconditional election despise it because they would like to get credit for their own salvation. While that may seem like a plausible statement, it is untrue for those who believe the Biblical Gospel.

The Biblical Gospel is that “Christ died to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Those supporting this doctrine have claimed that the word world does not mean world at all times. But Jesus used it four times in two sentences. I think that the rules of grammar (which were created by the Inventor of Languages Himself) state that unless you do some serious modification, words that are repeated in a sentence must have the same meaning throughout the sentence.

Furthermore, Jesus gave us a parable of election in Matthew 22. It sounds nothing like Reformed Theology:

And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

“Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

“Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

“And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”

What distinguished the few that were chosen from the many that were not? The chosen obeyed the King! They willed to do as He commanded. They were counted worthy, not because of their history, not because of their status, but because of their obedience on these two things: Come to the feast and wear a wedding garment. That’s it. The King’s prize list rejected the King’s wishes.
Christians are called to do two things: Repent and believe the Gospel. They are rewarded for keeping these two commands. Obviously, these are not works of the Law, for by them no man can be justified. However, Paul says that God will take vengeance on those who “obey not the Gospel” (2 Thessalonians 1:8); therefore, obedience in this matter does not constitute works, because this commandment is not of the Law but of Grace. Since we cannot keep the Law, God offers a pardon through His Grace and commands us to take it, else we die. Those who obey the Gospel (repent and trust) are rewarded as the chosen of God. It would seem that Reformed Theologians have it all wrong.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon is often quoted by those who hold the Reformed position as being a Calvinist. But listen to what else he said in one of his sermons: “As it is my wish [and] your wish…so it is God’s wish that all men should be saved…He is no less benevolent than we are.”

In His statements to the prophet Ezekiel, twice God said that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but desires that the wicked repent (18:21-23; 33:11). These statements are the basis for both Paul’s and Peter’s statements in the New Testament:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. –1 Timothy 2:1-4

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. –2 Peter 3:9

These are very clear statements of the Love and Character of God Himself, comments made by God Himself and then repeated by His Apostles. To deny these truths is to call God a liar. And that is what Reformed Theologians have done.

No matter the difficulty of reconciling these passages to others, we cannot let ourselves lose sight of what God Himself has said about Himself. We must interpret all Scripture in light of all Scripture. We cannot take single verses that appear to contradict these plain statements and create an opposing paradigm—no matter how many scholars support that paradigm.

Romans 9 is a chapter often cited in support of the doctrine of unconditional election, because of its statements about Esau and Pharaoh. However, nothing in God’s counsel here condemned either of these men to eternal damnation.

Concerning Esau, God only said that Esau would serve Jacob—nothing to do with his soul. That did not mean that Esau was condemned to do only the things which he did that cost him his birthright. The counsel of God would have stood one way or the other. This is just the way it played out. There were many other ways that it could have happened, but this is the way it did.

He had picked this man to be Pharaoh at this time in order to show His power over the Egyptian gods, of whom anyone holding the title of Pharaoh was one. Thus His hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was intended for the salvation of many Egyptian souls, which did happen (the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt with the children of Israel). It did not mean that Pharaoh necessarily had to go to Hell. He still could have repented of his sins and humbled himself after such a disastrous defeat at the hands of a clearly Superior God.

Another argument is made that God’s glory is lessened if we have anything to do with our salvation. What!?!

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him who justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:5)--Paul contrasts work with belief! Our repentance and faith are not works, in God’s economy. They are simply choices. We can continue to drown in perdition or we can allow the Savior to rescue us. There is no work involved in that.

No glory comes to the man who is saved by the lifeguard, only glory to the lifeguard for saving him. But there is blame placed on the man who doesn’t trust in the lifeguard to save him from sure death. That is the Biblical picture of salvation.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sex

Everybody seems to want it, and in their time, and in their way. They can't imagine why a loving God would withhold something so wonderful from them and confine it to an institution as undesirable as marriage!

"God gave me a sex drive, so He expects me to use it, right?" He also gave you food to eat, but calls gluttony a sin (Deuteronomy 21:20).

"Then why did He give us a sex drive if we weren't supposed to use it?" Now, first off, that is an unreasonable question. God does want you to use it, but only in love toward your spouse.

Sexual intercourse is supposed to be your gift to your spouse for committing the rest of his or her life to yours.

The Bible says that when God created man, He said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a suitable helper for him." And then He made woman from man. Then He gave them both a wonderful reminder of their co-dependence on each other: sex drive. Sexual desires remind us of Genesis 2. Or at least, they are supposed to.

As with everything else, sin has clouded our view of sex, so that, today, we tend to view sex as a rite of passage into adulthood. As if fornication, incest, and rape are evidences of maturity!?! Actually, those deeds are just more proof of the fact that we are all evil and deserve to go to Hell.

What is marriage really? Is it an enslavement of man and woman to an intolerable, unlovable mate who doesn't understand or care about their needs and just is so selfish and jealous and mean that no one should ever want to get married in life? The Bible paints a very different picture.

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."

"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."

Two different passages, two different emphases, but the exact same instructions. Peter and Paul tell the wives to submit to the husbands as the God-given heads. But then, in honor of Christ's admonition that the leader must be the servant of all (Matthew 23:11), they both command the husband to remember to exalt their wives. If each does this, then there will be far fewer divorces and much happier marriages.

Will there be misunderstandings, etc? Yes. You have two sinners in the same building. There will be conflict! But it can be minimalized if each remembers God's admonition to them specifically and why God created both of them in the first place. God created man in His image. God created woman for man. If men and women bear this in mind when dealing with each other, oh what joy marriage would become! Instead of two selfish pigs stuck in a relationship, there will be two loving adults united as one before God, living in harmony for all their days. That's God's design. Follow it if you want to be blessed.