Saturday, March 31, 2007

1st John 5:1

1st John 5:1-15 states: "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"

Have Calvinists taken a passage on the characteristic of a Christian, and rendered it the causation of becoming a Christian?

There is no question that the Holy Spirit gives the new creature in Christ (2Cor 5:17), gifts, among which includes a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3) In fact, it is through the Holy Spirit that Christians are able to confess Christ as Lord: "No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit." (1st Corinthians 12:3)

In order to understand Calvinism, you must know that one of its most central teachings is that unless a man is made Born Again, he cannot believe in the Gospel. In this way, Calvinism teaches that a man must be made preemptively Born Again in Christ, in order to repent, believe and be saved. Arminianism, in contrast, teaches that a person is not made Born Again in Christ until after he has been sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit, as per Ephesians 1:13. So here you see the divergence. Also realize that a contrast among Calvinism and Arminianism is NOT whether man is depraved, but the solution to man's depravity. Is the solution a preemptive new birth in Christ, as per Calvinism, or is it the supernatural power of the living and active, faith-producing Gospel (Romans 10:17), as per Arminianism? Arminians often ask of Calvinists: Do you believe that the Gospel is powerful enough to persuade any unregenerate sinner to confess his sins and repent? The Arminian feels that the Calvinist answer is "Yes," only if it's accompanied by a preemptive new birth in Christ, which the Arminian ultimately takes as a "No" answer.

So it's here at 1st John 5:1 that the Calvinist attempts to prove that one must be made born of God in order to believe in God and become saved. However, the Arminian protests that such is not the point of the apostle John, who is merely identifying the marks of true Christians, from false pretenders. So is the Arminian protest, a valid one?

Friday, March 30, 2007

What is the origin of sin?

Adrian Rogers answers: “Did you know that there are many people who are not believing, and their problem is not a scientific problem. They’re not wrestling with ideas like evolution or creation. Their problem is a problem of history. They say, ‘If there is a God, and that God is a good God, then look at all of the suffering. Why, if God is good, why do we have sin? Why do we have suffering?’ And they have a little argument, a little syllogism, and here’s the way the syllogism goes: If there be a God, He would be the author of everything. Evil is something, so God is the author of evil. What kind of a God is it that has created evil? And so they say, ‘I can’t believe in a God who made everything and made it like He did, and so therefore He must not be a good God, if He is a God at all.’ But that’s not straight thinking. Let me tell you the way it truly is. God is the author of everything. God made everything perfect, and when God made man, God made His creature perfectly free. Free Will, then, man’s perfect free will, is the origin of evil. God created perfection, and God made man perfectly free, and freedom, therefore, gave rise to this evil. You see, this is what makes us moral creatures. Somebody says, ‘Why didn’t God just make us where we couldn’t sin?’ Well, if God had made us where we couldn’t sin, He could have no more fellowship with me that I could have with that pulpit or that speaker. ... Love is highest good, and God wants us to love Him. This is the first and great commandment: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, with all thy mind.’ Love is the highest good, but forced love is a contradiction in terms. Forced love is not love at all. In order to love, we must be free to love, to choose to love, and in order to choose to love, we have to be able to choose not to love. And so God gave us perfect choice. Adam chose in the Garden of Eden, and the sons of Adam after him, to sin, and that’s where the heart-break, and the pain, and the groan, and the moan come from.” (Turning Hurts into Hallelujahs: Romans 8:8-11)

Here is a link to an article examining the Calvinistic perspective on the origin of sin:

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Why do Calvinists believe the way they do?

It's the glasses. While I assure you that this is not my picture, this photo does serve to make the point that our own Presuppositions are a kind of rose-colored glasses that we put on whenever we read the Bible. Presuppositions are the foundational things that we presume to be true, which frames our understanding of the Bible. For the Catholic, their main presupposition is that the Holy Catholic Church is God's true Church on earth, whose Popes carry apostolic authority and whose teachings and traditions never contradict Scripture. The Catholic puts on this type of rose colored glasses whenever they read the Bible. For the Jehovah's Witness, their rose colored glasses is the presupposition that the Watch Tower Society is God's sole channel of truth to mankind, and that Jesus is invisibly reigning from the Watchtower headquarters in New York.

Having said this, what are the presuppositions of the Calvinist and the Arminian?

The presupposition of the Calvinist is that God has an eternal decree whereby he has decreed all that will ever come to pass.

Calvinist, James White, explains: "The conjunction of God's absolute freedom and His Creatorship results in the doctrine of God's decrees: the soul-comforting truth that God has wisely and perfectly decreed whatsoever comes to pass in this universe." (The Potter's Freedom, p.45, emphasis mine)

This is the primary presupposition of the Calvinist who puts on these glasses, so to speak, whenever they attempt to interpret Scripture. As an example, with these glasses, the Calvinist will turn to Ephesians 1:11 and read "works all things after the counsel of His will," but because of the Calvinistic glasses of Determinism, see causes all things.

On the other hand, the Calvinist accuses the Arminian of possessing the presupposition that Free Will must be preserved at all costs, which is absurd. The true presupposition of the Arminian, that is, the rose colored glasses of the Arminian, is the wild belief that God's word is not the charade of contradictions that Calvinism makes it out to be.

In terms of contradictions, take note of what Calvinist, John McArthur, explains: "That's one of the reasons I know the Bible is written by God, because men would fix it. If I wrote a book that had those contradictions, Phil [Johnson] would edit them all out. One of the bench marks of divine inspiration is the fact that you're dealing with transcendence." (, emphasis mine)

The presupposition of the Arminian makes no allowance for any alleged contradiction in the Bible, and cannot accept a Calvinistic "Secret Will" theory which flatly contradicts Scripture, such as at Matthew 23:37. The primary complaint of the Arminian is that Calvinism makes the Bible into a charade. For more on this point, refer to the book, Debating Calvinism, p.309, in which Dave Hunt argues that Calvinism turns the Bible into a "charade." That's where the Arminian is coming from.

Depravity, Judgment and Prevenient Grace

Classical Arminianism affirms that unregenerate man is morally depraved, and cannot meet the perfect standard of a holy God, and man therefore faces the judicial penalty of God's wrath against sin.

Jesus states: "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:18)

"Judged already." Therefore, if any man is going to be saved, God must intervene. Man is not left to himself. Jesus states: "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10)

Question: How is man, who is morally depraved, able to voluntarily repent, believe and be saved, when Jesus comes seeking after him? According to Calvinism, the answer is that man (that is, only those of the alleged, eternal flock of the Father), voluntarily accept Christ because they are preemptively made Born Again, through being preemptively placed in Christ, before he hears and believes in the Gospel and is sealed in Christ, as per Ephesians 1:13. In contrast, the Arminian answer is that man is NOT in Christ until he is first sealed in Christ, and that a man is not sealed in Christ until AFTER he first hears and believes in the Gospel. On that basis, the Arminian dismisses the Calvinist explanation of preemptive placement in Christ.

The Arminian next asks whether God is powerful enough to save an unregenerate man through man's own morally depraved will? The answer is Yes, and Adrian Rogers explains how God does this:

Adrian Rogers explains: “Spiritual blindness makes beggars of us all. ... The blind need more than light in order to see. ... I used to think, as a young preacher, that what you had to do to get people saved is just to tell them how to be saved. Just turn on the light. But it doesn’t matter how much light there is, or the person is blind because he cannot see it. It takes more than light, it takes sight. And a person who is blind cannot see the light, no matter how strong the light is or how pure the light is. It takes more than preaching to get people saved. That’s the reason I frequently say to you, I can preach truth, but only the Holy Spirit can impart truth. That is the reason why we must be a praying church. That’s the reason you must be a spirit filled soul winner. That is the reason that we must have the anointing, because we are dependent upon God to open blinded eyes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It takes more than light, it takes takes sight. We need to understand that nobody can be argued into the kingdom of heaven. Nobody can be educated into the kingdom of heaven. I’m not against letting the light shine. You must let the let shine. You must preach. But remember, there is another dimension.” (Jesus is God’s Answer to Man’s Darkness: John 20:30, emphasis mine)

In order for a man to receive the light of the Gospel, he must receive sight from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of its sin (John 16:8), pricks the heart of the lost (Acts 26:14), pierces the heart of the lost (Acts 2:37) and opens the heart of the lost so that they can respond to the Gospel. (Acts 16:14) This is not what God does to the regenerate heart, but the unregenerate heart. It’s not the new birth either, which new birth is solely reserved for the redeemed in Christ. Rather, the Holy Spirit's Illumination of the unregenerate, who are condemned and already judged, is the spiritual sight given to the lost in order that the lost may see, and receive Jesus into their heart. Supernatural Sight is the working of the Holy Spirit, through the supernatural Light of the faith-producing Gospel (Romans 10:17), that enables a man to repent, believe and be saved. Adrian Rogers explains that this is why Christians need to pray for the lost, that God may touch their hearts in order to receive sight, that they might respond to the light. Though it is not irresistible, God, for His part, is willing that you become in Christ, and share in all that which God the Father has sovereignly bestowed in His Son, who stands knocking on the door of your heart. (Revelation 3:20)

Ezekiel 36:26

Jesus states: "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you." (John 15:3)

1st Corinthians 3:16 states: "Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"

2nd Corinthians 5:17 states: "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."

Having read these things, how do you feel that they compare with the promise of Ezekiel 36:26?

Ezekiel 36:22-32: "Therefore say to the house of Israel, `Thus says the Lord GOD, "It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. "I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD," declares the Lord GOD, "when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. "For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. "You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. "Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you. "I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations. "Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. "I am not doing this for your sake," declares the Lord GOD, "let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!"

The new creature that is reborn in Christ through the new birth, is given a new heart and a new spirit that they may be renewed in the image of Christ. This is the promise of the New Covenant.