Archive for August, 2011

Regeneration, Justification, Sanctification and Glorification

I have a question:

Regeneration brings justification. With justification or regeneration comes a new nature that allows for sanctification. Here is a question.

Is the Holy Spirit directly responsible for this process of sanctification which is a “one decision at a time” process on the individual’s part that helps him have the mind of Christ?

Does man have the ability, where his will is concerned to over-ride the urging of the Holy Spirit dwelling in his heart as a regenerated believer?

Is sanctification a work or is it a gift?

Grateful to be in His Grip!


Come to the Wedding Feast

Jesus came into the world to be a light to the world. He came to preach the good news about the kingdom of God. He came to bear witness to the truth. Jesus came “to seek and to save that which was lost” and to call sinners to repentance. 1Timothy 1:15 states,” this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” Jesus says “the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Who makes up the “many” and how does one become part of this “many?”

In Matthew 22:14 Jesus makes the statement, “for many are called, but few are chosen.” Jesus makes this statement in the context of the marriage supper of the Lamb. In this story Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to the story of a king who prepared a feast to celebrate the marriage of his son. He instructed his servants to send out special invitations to come to this great feast. Many are invited to the feast and one by one, they all found excuses not to come. The King even sent more servants to remind and encourage those who had received invitations to come to the feast. Once again, they declined the invitation; it was not that they could not come; they simply refused to do so. The King then instructed his servants to go out into the highways and byways and to invite “all they found” to come to the feast.

In looking at this passage it is clear that Jesus’ reference to those who received invitations was a reference to the Jews. The King is no doubt a reference to God Himself and the son who was getting married, a reference to Jesus. In this story there is also a picture of man’s depravity painted for us. Instead of accepting the invitations, these men rejected those invitations. To further demonstrate man’s depravity Jesus said they not only refused to come, some killed the messengers who brought the invitations. The King became furious and put those murderers to death and even burned up their cities. The king’s instruction for the servants to go out into the highways and byways is clearly a direct reference to taking the gospel message to the Gentiles. Their instructions were clear: “invite everyone you see to the wedding.” Here is a clear cut picture of the universal invitation to come and sit at the table of the wedding feast of the lamb. This invitation is open to all who will come. There are no doubt that there were more invitations given out than those that we re accepted. There were individuals who like those who had the original invitations refused to come for whatever reason. It is entirely possible that some who did get the original invitations could have been among those on the highways and byways who did ultimately come to the feast. The focus here is not on those who were invited but those who accepted the invitation and came. This might be questionable if this was where the story ended; it is not.

The king entered the banquet hall and looked at all of the people seated at the tables. As he looked around the room, he saw one who was not wearing a wedding garment. The King asked the man a very simple question, “Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?” Jesus says the man was speechless; he had no excuse. The King then ordered his servants to bind the man’s hands and feet and take him from the feast and cast him into outer darkness and into torment. This man had no excuse for not wearing the wedding garment for these garments were not brought by the guests; the garments were provided to the guests as they came to the wedding feast. This man made the mistake of arrogantly thinking what he had to wear was as good as the garment offered to him. It was not.

Jesus conclusion to this story is summed up in the statement, “for many are called, but few are chosen.” In Jesus’s own illustration of salvation the invitation is virtually open to all. The invitation itself is universal in scope. But the focus is not on those who have been invited but rather on those who have come to dine at the table. Those who chose to accept the invitation were accepted at the feast. They were given wedding garments to put on and a seat at the table. One guest chose to come but he refused the wedding garment that was offered to him and he was excluded from the feast.

In looking at this concept of limited atonement and Jesus’ own picture of salvation in this story, those who were chosen to receive personalized invitations in the beginning were the ones who refused to come. Pay particular attention to what Jesus said about this group: “The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.” The King was speaking of those who had received the engraved invitations. It must be understood that their worthiness had nothing to do with their own merit; however, their worthiness had everything to do with their response to the invitation. The interesting thing is, the same thing is true of those who were on the highways and byways of life who also received an invitation. There were no doubt many who were on the highways and byways who received an invitation and just like those in the beginning, they too refused to come. There is really no mention of them because the focus quickly shifts to those who came. Those who did come were no more worthy to come than those who had received the original invitations and did not come. The guests who were allowed to sit at the table were the rebels who accepted the invitation and put on the wedding garment and were given a seat at the wedding feast.

Grateful to be in His Grip,


Blinded Eyes

Can a person who is spiritually blind understand and respond to the gospel? There are a number of passages in the Bible that speak of man having “ears to hear” and “eyes to see” and they fail to both hear and see. There are other references to eyes that are blinded to the truth of the gospel. One of those passages can be found in John Chapter 12. John writes: “But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.”

The emphasis of this passage is not really focused on the statement that Isaiah made, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand him with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” The emphasis is on the fact that Jesus did so many signs before the religious leaders and they refused to believe in Him, in spite of all they heard and all they saw. It was as “if their eyes were blinded and their hearts hardened. “Nevertheless even among the rulers many did believe in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” The reason so many refused to believe Jesus is really seen in verse, “for they love the praise of men more than the praise of God.” In this passage the blinded eyes and hardened hearts may well be a reference to their love of the praise of men the Pharisees had in their hearts. This is not a proof text on God’s divine intervention on salvation and election.

John quotes Isaiah 6:10 which says, “Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.” Notice the order that Isaiah gives of the mind, ears and eyes; in the first part of the verse, he mentions them in this order: mind, ears and eyes. When he lists them again, it is in the reverse order: eyes, ears and then heart. In Biblical days, the heart is the seat of emotion. It controls what is heard and seen. The heart directs man in everything he does. However, the heart is moved by what a person sees and hears. What God is saying in this passage is that their hearts had already affected how they saw things and how they interpreted what they heard. God gave them over to their rebellion and rejection of His promises by dimming their eyes and dulling their ears so their hearts would remain unchanged.

In verse 42 Jesus says, “Nevertheless” referring to the statement He made about the Jewish leader’s eyes being blinded, Jesus says, many of the rulers believed in Him. This would seem to run in contrary to the blinded eyes of the depraved person of Calvinism for that person could not believe. The reference here to “blinded eyes” quoted from the prophet of Isaiah lends no real support to the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity. Once again as it has already been mentioned, a blinding of the eyes does not seem necessary if the Calvinist is right and man is spiritually dead. To blind the eyes of an individual who is dead does not seem to make much sense.

This whole passage does make sense if revelation and response are important. In fact, that is exactly what Jesus says in verse 40; He says, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” Those who hear the gospel and see the results of the gospel can “understand with their hearts and turn” and be healed. This further amplifies Jesus’ comment that He is come as a light into the world that whosoever believes in Him should not abide in darkness is interesting as well. The thing about light is that it is visible to everyone and not just a few. He said if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The purpose of light is to overcome darkness. Jesus has come as the light to save the world. “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” Salvation is available to all who believe in Jesus, who is the Light of the world that has come to save the world. Some Jesus said, “will reject Me.”

One other passage speaks of blinded eyes and that phrase is found in 2 Corinthians the 4th Chapter. Here Paul writes, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” Here one might conclude that God has blinded the eyes of some and they are those who do not believe. The problem with that application is that is not what the text says. It is not God who blinds the eyes here but rather the god of this age who is Satan. So it is Satan who has blinded the eyes of some, who do not believe. There is obviously a BIG difference in the two interpretations.

Grateful to be in His Grip


Total Depravity… really?

I was reading a blog post and the following statement was made: “the scripture reveals very clearly, that left to himself, man will always choose against Christ, because of his hostile disposition to God. Man is dead spiritually, and needs his heart of stone to be removed and a heart of flesh put in before he has any interest in seeking the God of the Bible (Rom. 3:11; Rom. 8:7, 8; 1 Cor. 2:14).

I took the liberty of looking at the passages cited supporting the position that “man in dead spiritually and needs his heart to be removed and a heart of flesh put in before he has any interest in seeking the God of the Bible.” Here is my take on these passages listed.

With respect to Romans 3, Paul closes out chapter 2 by saying that true circumcision is not physical but rather a condition of the heart. As he begins chapter 3, he asks a question… “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?” They were given the “oracles of God” or the Word of God and even perhaps the birth of the Savior as well could be read into Paul’s statement. Paul then asks, “What about those who do not believe; shall their unbelief make the faith of God “without effect?” Sounds to me like there may have been a Calvinist in the first century after all! God forbid! No. Remember, these are the Jews that Paul is speaking of, who are examples of God’s elect in the Old Testament. Some did not believe. Paul goes on.

“But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath?(I speak as a man.) Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world? For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? And why not say, “Let us do evil that good may come”? — as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.” Here is the focus of Paul’s statement here: “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.”

This last phrase is paramount in setting the stage for his quoting Psalm 14 and 53, which are identical chapters. “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

These verses say NOTHING about man’s utter depravity and nothing about his inability to “seek the god of the Bible.” He simply quotes Psalm 14 and 53 to reinforce his point that “Jews and Greeks are all under sin.” Notice what Paul says in verse 19, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” Paul is picking back up on what he was saying before quoting the 2 Psalms.

“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.” Here is the meat of Paul’s discussion. Man’s sinfulness is a fact. So is God’s righteousness that is revealed not by the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ to who? To those who believe! It may be correct in asserting that man cannot or will not seek God but this has nothing to do with men responding to a God who is seeking them. This is what Paul appears to be saying in this chapter. “For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

There is NOTHING in this passage of scripture that even hints of man’s utter depravity as Calvinism contends. In his sin, he is a lawbreaker. That is all this passage says in this area. What about Romans Chapter 8?

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

Since it is the Holy Spirit that makes a difference in the way men think and act, there is no problem with Paul saying that the mind without the Holy Spirit is enmity (or hostile) with God. It is not subject to the law of God. Why is this true? Because no one is subject to the law of God for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” There is no problem with this statement. The only way to please God in the first place is to have or “be having” the mind of Christ.

“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Now if it were God and God alone who regenerates sinful men to give them this life that Paul is speaking of, there would be no need for Paul to make the statement, “. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” That would be a given. It is not a given. Every man is responsible to respond to the revelation that God has given of Himself in reconciling lost men unto Him. That is what Paul is saying in this passage.

What about I Corinthians 2? Paul writes, “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him’.” This is a wonderful statement that Paul makes here.

“But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” Notice the value of revelation. Make no mistake about it; God reveals Himself to men and He expects a response from those He reveals Himself to. Paul continues, “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”

Paul does not expect the “natural man to receive the things of the Spirit of God”, which he is sharing, because they are foolishness to him.” This statement is a concluding statement to I Corinthians 1, where Paul wrote, “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:20-25)

“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Who can know the mind of Christ except the one who has the mind of Christ.” It is true that men cannot know God apart from His revelation of Himself. That is why Paul preached in the first place. (2 Corinthians 5;18-19) Man is not going to understand the things of God without the aid of the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that he is depraved and dead and unable to respond to God’s efforts to reconcile Himself to the world. God is indeed able to reach out to those He seeks to reconcile Himself to. Man’s response is another matter. Make no mistake about it; God most certainly can get his atttention at any time.

Grateful to be in His Grip,


To Tithe or Not to Tithe

I was reading some comments tonight on this question of tithing 10% to the church. Here is my response to this question, “To Tithe or Not-To-Tithe Today.”

In looking at the NT, there is NO instruction given regarding giving for the NT Christian, with the exception of God loving a “cheerful giver.” Most of the criticism that I see with the 10% test, (not necessarily here0 is made by people who do not see a need to give that much. I guess I could agree that I might be more “cheerful” giving 5% than 10% or whatever… just like getting my year end tax statement; if the tax amount comes in less than what I am expecting, I can be “cheerful.” One might conclude the reason that there is NO teaching in the NT on tithing may well be that the principle was commonly expected, there was no need to spend time on it.

I believe the real test is to see how much we can give as opposed to how little we can get by giving… so in some respects this whole discussion may be poorly presented in the first place. I teach to start out where you believe you can… and then increase your giving… and you will find out that God will indeed bless the attitude of your heart and your faith in Him to provide… I also believe your attitude about giving your money says more about your confidence in God than it does anything else… I do like the question, if you cannot trust God with 10% of what HE has given to you in the first place, how do you know you can trust Him with your eternity. It is at the least, a thought provoking question.

Lot of arguments and different angles… when we are looking for ways to give less, I am convinced we are looking down the wrong road.

It is correct to say that the NT does NOT demand or even teach giving 10% to the church. It is also fair to say, that the church does deserve support from its members and from those that come to find support from the ministry of the church. While I know of a few who are “over-blessed” financially from their ministries, the majority of pastors laboring on church fields are grossly underpaid and under appreciated and not prayed for and not supported as they ought to be supported. I am convinced that if we did a better job in all these areas, this discussion “to tithe or not to tithe” probably would not even be a discussion.

Grateful to be in His Grip,


Perseverance of the Saints

A Critical Analysis of Perseverance of the Saints

“Perseverance of the Saints is a doctrine which states that the saints (those whom God has saved) will remain in God’s hand until they are glorified and brought to abide with Him in heaven. Romans 8:28-39 makes it clear that when a person truly has been regenerated by God, he will remain in God’s stead. The work of sanctification which God has brought about in His elect will continue until it reaches its fulfillment in eternal life (Phil. 1:6). Christ assures the elect that He will not lose them and that they will be glorified at the “last day” (John 6:39). The Calvinist stands upon the Word of God and trusts in Christ’s promise that He will perfectly fulfill the will of the Father in saving all the elect.”

This final aspect of the Calvinist’s salvific experience is based on the four previous tenets. God’s grace is extended to those who are unconditionally elected by God to salvation through the process of effectual calling and regeneration. Faith and repentance follow bringing the elect into fellowship with the Father. Once this process of regeneration has been completed, justification and adoption follow and then the process of sanctification begins, which seeks to give the new believer the mind of Christ. This process will continue until glorification is accomplished in eternity. Frame equates the Perseverance of the Saints with the Eternal Security of the Believer. Although he notes that the two do carry different nuances.

One of the Baptist distinctives can be seen in the phrase, the Eternal Security of the Believer. There is a marked difference in the two terms and they are not at all synonymous. For the Southern Baptist, the concept of the Eternal Security of the Believer assures the individual who has placed his faith in the promises of God and his trust in the claims of Christ that He (Christ) will hold onto him (the believer) forever. This is what Paul says in Romans 8:38: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus says of those He gives eternal life to, “they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” When an individual comes to Christ and is adopted into God’s forever family, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in his heart and becomes God’s guarantee of that individual’s hope in eternity.

The problem with the Calvinist position is that this assurance is not as well defined. Where Eternal Security rests on the promises of God, the Perseverance of the Saints really rests on the “persevering or performance” of the elect. The key to understanding this position is found in the persevering and not in the promise. For the Calvinist, the promise is seen in the persevering and if an individual does not persevere then he was not saved in the first place. Since a Calvinist cannot discern the will of God without the efficacious work of the Holy Spirit in his or her heart, there is always a question, “Is my life the work of the Holy Spirit or my own works of righteousness? Has God really saved me?” Since no one really knows what it means to be “regenerated” it can be argued that the only way to ultimately know for sure that one is even truly saved, is to actually persevere to the end and be welcomed into Glory by the Lord Himself. It can be argued that this doctrine does not provide any real security to the believer. There is always this “possibility” that an individual may not persevere to the end, indicating that he was never truly saved in the first place. Understand, the elect will; but no one really knows who is and who is not the elect until this life is over and the judgment is rendered. This is in effect what the Perseverance of the Saints really says.

It can be argued that the same thing is true for those holding onto the Eternal Security of the Believer. Ultimately, the true test of faith for both will be determined when the believer closes his eyes in this life and opens them in the life to come. However from a doctrinal standpoint, the fundamental difference in these two perspectives clearly rests on where ones faith is actually placed. For the Eternal Security position, faith rests in the promises of God whereas with the perseverance it rests in the persevering itself and holding on to the end.

The real difference in the two positions can be seen in the living out of the lives of those who make professions of faith and confess Jesus as Savior and Lord and are baptized and join churches and then turn away from that decision at a later date. Jesus warns his followers that there will be those who will call Him Lord but will not do what He has commanded them to do. He says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ “ The test of love all throughout the Bible is seen in the “keeping of God’s commandments.” This is true in the Old Testament as well as the New.

Here is where the Calvinists and non-Calvinists will run into serious differences. The emphasis for both can obviously be seen the importance of the ongoing process of sanctification as God seeks to give the new believer the mind of Christ. Non-Calvinists are accused of being too worldly and not emphasizing the importance of regenerate membership and “walking the walk” as opposed to just “talking the talk.” They will point to the “Billy Graham style of evangelism” that focuses on the use of manipulating methods to produce false professions of faith to bolster numbers and build successful ministries at the expense of “true salvific experiences.” It is this notion of “cheap grace” and a concept of “fire insurance for eternity” that gives eternal security a bad name among those who do not accept it. Although there may be ministers who are irresponsible in giving invitations and promoting solid Christian growth, there is no reason to discredit the method because some misuse it.

Calvinists are traditionally very critical of the use of public invitations and as a general rule, do not use them. There are two reasons that the Calvinists do not use public invitations. First of all, they are not seen as necessary. Since God’s will in election is sure and according to His divine plan and purpose, there is no need for an invitation. So, the general criticism is that those who do use them do so irresponsibly and this ineffective method encourages people to make false professions of faith, which adds unregenerate members to the rolls of churches and that is the general reason that most churches have members names on the roles that neither CIA, the FBI nor the IRS can find; much less the SBC.

Calvinists will also use this unregenerate aspect to exercise church discipline much more frequently than non-Calvinists do today. Judas is the most recognized example of this situation. He was chosen by Jesus just as the other disciples were. He was “one of the gang”; he appeared to be a believer; he was most certainly a follower of Jesus. When Jesus said that someone was going to betray Him, all of the disciples wondered if it was them; there was no apparent thought in any of their minds that it would be Judas. He went everywhere the others went with Jesus. He preached Jesus to the people. He worked alongside the other disciples. However, he did not persevere to the end; he betrayed Jesus and it was said that it would have been better for him had he never been born. The Pharisees and the religious rulers of Jesus’ day certainly praised God with their mouths and their tithes but not their hearts. The Israelites in general had a history of bouncing from obedience to disobedience and back again. There are a lot of people on church roles who are just like these are; hot one day and then cold the next. For the Calvinist, this separates the elect from the non-elect. Perseverance is not guaranteed to everyone; it is only guaranteed to the elect, to those who really trust Christ. As church members get involved in what the church considers “serious sin” for which they refuse to repent and rectify, some churches will ex-communicate or cast the offending member out of the church. Membership in the church was granted because of the outward confession and evidence of conversion but when that changes, membership and fellowship are withdrawn until repentance is again evident.

Ironically, Calvinists have been criticized of being no different than Arminians in this aspect of eternal security. While Arminians know they are saved, they have no assurance that they will keep their salvation. Calvinists know they cannot lose their salvation; they just have no real assurance that they are actually saved. It can be argued that both positions are really based on works and follow a James 2 mandate and that test is actually more important than Irresistible Grace and the efficacious calling in Unconditional Election. The true test of God’s sovereignty is not demonstrated in the call but in the perseverance. It might even be argued that perseverance is more important than regeneration in the salvific process, since it is the perseverance and not regeneration that actually determines one’s salvation.

Grateful to be in His Grip


Interpretation or Speculation

In the last couple of weeks I have come across an interesting contrast in the use of two terms, interpretation and speculation. It seems to me the problem with the general use of these two terms is always qualified by the “eye of the beholder.” We all “interpret” the Bible in our own opinion and seek to the best of our ability to articulate what we believe that Word says to us. Every time I have seen the term “speculation” it has always been used to describe someone else with whom the writer disagrees with. Hum.

So in short, we “interpret the Scriptures” and others “speculate about the Scriptures.” Isn’t that amazing. I am afraid the line between speculation and interpretation may be even finer than the line between genius and insanity.

Grateful to be in His Grip,