December 14, 2008

A Calvinist Christmas Carol??

An Excerpt from "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens

The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another cry, and clanked its chain so hideously in the dead silence of the night, that the Ward would have been justified in indicting it for a nuisance.

"Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed," cried the phantom, "not to know, that ages of incessant labour, by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!"

"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

It held up its chain at arm's length, as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again.

"At this time of the rolling year," the spectre said "I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode! Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!"

Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the spectre going on at this rate, and began to quake exceedingly.


As I read this I can't help but wonder how the words of Dickens resonate through all of us. This is what makes the tale of Scrooge so compelling and heartfelt is the truth that all men are expected, as Marley puts forth is "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business". Is this not the very expectation God has and expects from all of mankind? Is not benevolence, charity and mercy the moral expectation and responsibility of every person? Furthermore, if man is expected to love and care for his fellow man, is he then not expected to love and submit to that which is not the very definition of love and that is God himself? When we read this story of Scrooge, do we not see how the past moral choices of a man has led to his demise?

Or should we interpret this story as the Calvinist see it, a man whose choices were not of his own freewill, but predetermined and foreordained by God? That mankind by his very nature is unable to choose "Mercy, charity and Benevolence", due to that pesky and constant lurking of "Original Sin" or "Total Depravity"? That by our very constitution we are unable to do "any good"? If this is so, then why is it we don't pity poor Scrooge rather feel as if he should not be the way he is? Why is it we don't sympathize with him as a result of his foreordained plight or his unalterable constitution of depravity?? As his story unfolds, should we not pity poor Scrooge, for surely he could not change his moral condition and choose to do right at any moment, any more than a "leopard should change its spots"?

For me the beauty of this moral tale is that it is a reflection of repentance. Is this story not one of a man reflecting upon his past and present moral actions and coming to grips that he is indeed a vile sinner? That Scrooge comes to the realization that he made selfish (if not sinful?) choices and as a result his heart had become hardened and darkened as a result of his own doing? That it was not until he was shown what his future holds, that death was inevitable

"Spirit!" he cried, tight clutching at its robe, "hear me. I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope?"

For the first time the hand appeared to shake.

"Good Spirit," he pursued, as down upon the ground he fell before it: "Your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life."

The kind hand trembled.

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!"

In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It sought to free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it. The Spirit, stronger yet, repulsed him...........

Yes! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own, to make amends in!

"I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!" Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. "The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this. I say it on my knees, old Jacob, on my knees!"

He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions, that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the Spirit, and his face was wet with tears."

Is this not what happens when we come into direct contact with our Lord and Savior? That as he brings forth before our minds our own past and present sinfulness, and seeing the overwhelming flood of love and mercy our Lord and Savior has shown us brings us to the same condition as Scrooge? That we are brought to such a point of conviction over our sins that repentance is not only expected, but is the right and good choice for us to make? Instead, we see the Calvinist that says "Repentance is a work" and that our turning of sin is not a synergistic effort, but one that is all of God and nothing of man. But yet is this the very picture presented to us in the Bible? Of course not! Instead we see God and his Holy Spirit working jointly with man bringing him knowledge and revelation before his mind, just as the Spirits of Christmas did with Scrooge. Repentance is not only what man ought to do, but it is well within his ability and responsibility - as a result of his own conscience and God's calling of his heart! Just as Jacob Marley stated: ".....common welfare of mankind is my business", and I would add that not only mankind, but better yet it is God's benevolence that also should be of our business. Let us not give excuse to sinners that it is not within their ability to do that which is right (ie. Original Sin), but show them that they are most capable of doing what is morally expected and able. Scrooge did not say he was unable to change his cold and callous heart, nor did we as the observers of this tale expect anything different from him, but yet many would deny this in their own theology - a strange contradiction between "true to life" experiences and yet one's own theology?

November 23, 2008

Noah and the Problem of Original Sin/Total Depravity

I have recently been reading what I think is one of the most challenging books in the past couple of years that openly challenge the orthodox teachings of Calvinism and Original Sin/Total Depravity. Its entitled "Troubling Questions for a Calvinist and the Rest of Us, Taking a Closer Look at the Problem of Sin" by Lagard Smith. Smith does a tremendous job both logically and hermeneutically of dissecting the problems that the 5 points of Calvinism. Although I am only half way through the book, the majority of the book is addressing the two main underlying problems with Calvinism and that is Original Sin/Total Depravity and God's Sovereignty (as defined by Calvinist).

One of the best arguments that Smith brings up is against the problem of Original Sin and Predestination/Election (Absolute Foreknowledge) is in regards to Genesis 6:5. This verse brings to light many issues, especially concerning the demonstrated character of God throughout the bible. I emphasize "demonstrated" as this is typically an area that Calvinist either refuse to address or neglect altogether. When debating most Calvinist regarding how their theology painfully puts God's character into question, most will respond by saying "Who are you to question God" or "God is God and he has the right to do what ever he wants" or that man's sense of what is right or wrong is skewed by the fall of man. But is this true? Especially when the Bible says that God is love or that God is just and does what is right. If God is trying to relate to mankind who he is and what he is all about, doesn't anyone find it strange that God would somehow be offended if we even ask what "right" or "good" means? Doesn't anyone find it strange that if God is in the process of wanting man to turn from wrong to right that he would at least give us a benchmark by which to understand?

For example, Smith points out one of the scriptural dilemmas Calvinist face when trying to logically and rationally explain Genesis 6. These verses present some real difficulties for Calvinist when they try to harmonize, God's Character, Moral Ability and Accountability, Foreknowledge, and Sin. Smith says the following when discussing this issue:

"Wholly apart from God's obvious sovereign power to do as he pleases, are you not at all bothered by the thought if a God who would thrust damnable sin upon otherwise innocent infants as they come into the world? Would that be consistent with the loving, just, and righteous character of God as revealed in Scripture? (For the moment, we're not talking about ultimate salvation or damnation, only the starting point for each newborn soul). Then again, if you ever wanted to put God's character and justice to the test, it would have to be in the Flood. In light of the anguish we felt at the death of scores of thousands in a tsunami, what are we to think of a God who not only permits wholesale death by drowning, but specifically decrees it for the entire then known world of men, women and children?

Some would say that Noah's generation would have deserved it, not only because of their exceeding wickedness, but also (in the case of infants) because of their innate depravity. In that regard, is there a case to be made for man's depravity from the fact that "the Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only on evil all the time"?

Central to that sentence, of course are those two key worlds "had become" - which would hardly suggest either imputed sin or inborn depravity. We see those same words again in Genesis 6:11, followed by the observation that "all people on earth had corrupted their ways".

Doesn't sound exactly like the result of a divinely-imposed penalty of universal condemnation, does it? If it were, how could Noah have escaped the penalty and turned out righteous? It must not be overlooked that God said to Noah: "Go into the ark.....because I have found you righteous in this generation (Gen 7:1) - not "I have specifically foreordained you to be righteous."

What's more, if the foreordaining sovereign God himself had imposed the twin penalties if original sin and total depravity int eh wake of Adam's sin. it would be strange indeed for him to lament mankind's universal wickedness, saying: "I am grieved that I have made them" (Gen 6:8). Why should God grieve about the state of human existence over which he had, not just foreknowledge, but total predestining control from before the dawn of Creation?

Of one thing we can be sure: The notion that God arbitrarily assigns condemnation for sin is not even remotely harmonious with the theme-line running throughout the entire Bible, in which God demands, pleads, begs, and implores man not to sin!"

Indeed this is a perplexing issue for Calvinist as their theology seems to run counter to that of what the Bible clearly demands regarding sin and God's rightful demands that we turn and repent from sin. But again, this is just one of the many problems Calvinism creates or causes.

More to come regarding this latest read!

November 13, 2008

Preach Love Only or Preach Law/Grace?

"Before I preach love, mercy and grace, I must preach sin, Law and judgment." John Wesley

After recent reactions of the Homosexuals in California regarding the outcome of Proposition 8, I have to wonder if churches here in the United States are getting it all wrong. In the recent years I see more and more tolerance for sin within the body of Christ. I have even heard of churches I thought once to be fundamental evangelicals are now considering to allow gays and lesbians to come and worship among the devout and faithful. After watching the following video I can't help but think that what the church really needs to do is to return to its roots and start preaching the Law/Grace gospel. By preaching only that "God Loves You" does nothing to bring men under repentance and condemnation and getting them to realize they are in need of God's grace and atoning sacrifice.




Indeed God loves these rebels and it is his desire they turn from their rebellion and repent from their sins and love God. But it is only through the use of the Law that these people will come to realize just how wicked they truly are.


1Ti 1:8-11 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; (9) Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, (10) For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; (11) According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

November 4, 2008

The U.S. Presidential Election: Is God really in control?

This morning I received a spam email from the Christian Business Daily (not sure how I got on their mailing list in the first place) but nonetheless this piece of spam was telling me that regardless of how today’s election turns out it’s all a part of God’s providential plan for the United States. Really? I felt like saying “Gee whiz I’ll just sit at home then and not waste an hour and half of my time standing in line to vote”. I find we as Christians can be such people of double speak. On one hand my email In-box over the past year and half has been bombarded by Conservative Christian Groups, begging me to not vote for Obama and then this morning I get an email that essentially tells me it all really doesn’t matter because regardless of the outcome – it’s all part of God’s providential plan.

Personally, I have a real hard time thinking God is going to be overly pleased to see Barack Obama elected into one of the most powerful positions on the face of the planet. Given Obama’s unbiblical stance on taking from the haves and giving it to the lazy and apathetic or better yet his position on murdering both the unborn and the born whom are considered unwanted or meaningless.

If this world is nothing more than some divine plan that God has preordained from the beginning of time then I have a hard time reconciling how an all holy God would be that thrilled when Hitler was elected into power in 1933 and subsequently murdered 6 million Jews? Was God sitting from his throne thinking how well his plan had come together when Lenin or Stalin took power in Russia, whereby millions would be enslaved or murdered all for the sake of their idol motherland? It is quite evident that God’s will is not being accomplished on our tiny planet. Since the fall, man has been subverting God’s will and therefore this is the very reason need a Savior. Anyone who can fog a mirror should be able to tell this world is not how God expected his crowning creation to behave and act. The state of our world is not natural, but highly unnatural. I always like to ask people “Is God’s will being done here on earth”? Of course there are those who adhere to fatalism or determinism who will gladly be the first to raise their hands like Horseshack and cry “Ooo, Ooo, Ooo”. However, their response is neither biblical or rational for that matter. For me the clearest example of how God truly feels about his creation is in Gen 6:5-7:

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (6) And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. (7) And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

Personally, I take these words literally and not some abstract anthropomorphic expression of God’s heart. If indeed our wickedness is some providential plan, then I am not sure why and how a Holy and Perfect God would first want to convey to his creation His personal heartbreak, when it never really existed in the first place. I am sorry, when it says God was heartbroken over what he saw occurring on the face of the earth, I have a real hard time reconciling how this is somehow is his providential plan? Again, if God is Holy and Perfect in EVERY WAY, then God can not be the author of his own unhappiness and yet blame man for the very unhappiness he is experiencing. It would be unjust and unloving.

As for these elections, I truly believe God has given us freewill to choose either good or evil. It is God’s great expectation that we choose to do what is right before the eyes of the Lord. Therefore, this is why it is so important that we do what God rightfully expects of us. Regardless of what happens God is still in control and can still bring about his sovereign plan, but it his desire that we obey from the heart and do what is good and just.

October 27, 2008

If Original Sin is True Then*:

1. God originated SIN

2. God will punish those who have been punished for Adam's sin, because they have been punished for Adam's sin.

3. Jesus could have married a virgin and produced a holy race by natural generation.

4. Man is more benevolent and just than GOD
(i.e. man's idea of justice is injustice, and that of injustice is just)

5. All human governments are inherently evil, for inability is never punished, and natural attributes are not considered evil.

6. The physical change that happened at the fall removed the sinner from the obligation to obey the moral law, for the moral law addresses only those able to obey it.

7. A physical change is necessary in regeneration.

8. If a physical change occurs, then a loss of identity occurs, however, Paul was always Paul.

9. God saving man from sin would be a matter of justice and not grace

10. God would be obligated, by justice, to relieve the unfortunate, rather than be gracious to the rebel.

11. Jesus did not become Man, with a sinful nature:
Therefore, he was not tempted in all points like as we are, nor touched with the feelings of our infirmities.

12. The will is not free.

13. How could Adam and Eve Sin?

14. How could angels sin?

15. Children go to hell.

16. All aborted babies go to hell.

17. Abortion would actually be a good thing as it actually decreases the amount of moral depravity occurring in the world. Few sinners born = a better world!

18. Sin is a calamity, not a crime

19. Repentance is impossible, because the conscience will never condemn the sinner of his inability.

20. Immediate repentance and submission cannot be urged immediately upon the sinner. Because He CAN"T.

21. Man is unable to repent.

22. Physical regeneration is necessary
This leads to universalism: FOR-
If Power changes one's nature in regeneration
If God is all powerful
If God is benevolent,
HE must therefore, in justice, regenerate all sinners

23. It regards the atonement of Christ as unnecessary. he did not have to die for the misfortune of men.

* I changed the Title for our Friend Anonymous Calvinist as I think he was a little confused as to the content of this peice.

October 18, 2008

Promoting Lawlessness?

The following video clip is from three renowned Calvinists John Piper, Tim Keller, and D.A. Carson. This video is from their Gospel Coalition website.

I want to share this as another example of what's wrong with Calvinism. Keller and company are essentially discussing what they have coined as "Christ-centered" theology. Now on the outset this sounds really good. But the deception here is what they are truly promoting is "Lawlessness"!

Pay particular attention to what Tim Keller says at about 2:00 min. into the video. This statement is just unbelievable. Keller is explaining that he can continue to sin, that "no matter what he does" this will of course have no impact on his eternal security. He coins this as "costly grace". What exactly is "costly grace"? According to Keller, this is the grace that God supposedly has given the elect or Christ paid for on behalf of the elect, whereby God no longer see's or takes into account all of their future sins because they have been already paid for - so therefore how can God already punish them for those sins that Jesus had supposedly already been punished for on the cross. The deception here is there is NO WHERE in the bible that says all our future sins have been paid for - No where! Look it up! This is purely a product of Calvinism. It is only the past sins we have committed that have been covered on the cross - not your future sins! God still requires that if a Christians stumbles and sins they must repent over those sins and if they don't then they will find themselves once again in rebellion towards God.

Notice at about 2:30 into the video you will hear Tim Keller explain that Calvinism is neither "cheap grace" or "moralism" or "relativism" or "legalism", but someone in the "middle" - in other words Calvisnism it is at neither end of the doctrinal spectrum but somewhere in the middle. This all sounds really good, but what these gents are really promoting is "lawlessness" disguised as "grace". The underlining deception is that they are promoting a belief that the moral laws of God are either too difficult to keep or that man lacks the capacity or the ability in keeping God's Moral Law. This of course is a result of their adherence to Original Sin/Total Depravity.

John Piper goes onto to say what this "Gospel Coalition" is really about promoting a form of "Gospel-centered" living. Sounds good. But the deception is they have labeled their terms to sound good, but one has to dig a little beyond the surface into how they truly define these terms.

So what does this "Gospel-centered" living really entail. Well at about 4:19 of the video Piper makes an astonishing and unbelievable statement - He says:

"Jesus said your to gouge out your eye or your going to hell and and that's one kind of motivation and not a bad one, and it raises the stakes to eternity. But were saying success in that part this life better have been fought significantly with a centering on you being justified".

Jesus is clear in this teaching that if something is a source of sin, it is better that you stop or cut off your own hand or gouge out you own eye than go to hell for all eternity (Matt 5:29) . Jesus is saying that it is up to man stop his or her sinful behavior - even if it means entering into eternity lame or blind. Notice Jesus didn't say anything about a persons inability not to sin, but clearly and plainly tells us turning from sin is well within our means.

But yet pay close attention how Piper denies the very words of Christ by essentially saying all that really doesn't matter, he sidelines Christ teaching by subtly replacing it with one of his own. According to Piper all you really need to do is not stop sinning, but simply force your mind on the fact that you have been "justified". As a result, your sinful actions no longer matter to God, nor should it matter to you. But how do they come to this conclusion? The theology of Justification. Justification in the Calvinist sense really boils down to a theology that all your past present and future sins have already been paid for and as a result - no matter what you do your still saved or "eternally secured".

Another interesting claim Keller makes here is that he claims that most teens and young people have been "turned" off by churches that preach so called "legalism". I would venture to say that Keller once again has this all wrong. Most churches I see today aren't preaching legalism (Keller also openly admits this on the video), but I would venture to say that most churches preach an easy-believism or "greasy-grace" type theology. Young people are not being repulsed by a non-existent doctrine of legalism, but what they truly lack is conviction and repentance! Teens and young adults see no need for church because of the hypocrisy they see. It's all those people like Tim Keller, who say they can continue to sin and still be called a child of God! What young people can't stomach is the hypocrisy they see out of most churches today - not legalism! Most churches lacks substance, lacks the power to change peoples hearts. So why would they ever want to waste their time in such a theological system?

(A side note: Isn't funny that Keller speaks of these young people as if it is what they "hear" that helps influence or determine whether they will choose Christianity??? Again, this one of the inconsistencies we see with Calvinism. On one hand we see Keller speaking about doctrine and religion as if these terms are meaningful in drawing people to Christ, but yet on the other they will deny the very same statement they just made and lay the claim of mongerism)

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts about this video as I find it very interesting insights into the contradictions within Calvinism and the Gospel.


video

Defining Sin

Since it appears defining sin with my friend "Anonymous" is a point of contention. I thought I would present what I feel is a sound biblical definition of what exactly is SIN. This was written by evangelist Winkie Pratney.

SIN is essentially SELFISHNESS:
Basis of Responsibility:
Wrong choices vs sinful “substance” or inherited determinative wrong:
Ez. 18:1-25: Not blamed by God for anothers wrong
Matt. 16:24-25 “If any come .. let him DENY HIMSELF"

If we are not responsible for our wrong, we cannot acknowledge true guilt.
• No-one ever felt guilty for someone elses wrong unless first taught it.
• Sin is neither solid, liquid or gas, metaphysical or spiritual. It is moral.
• Every word for sin in bothTestaments underlines personal action.
• Sin is rooted in the gift of creative choice turned against God and His law.

SIN IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Our understanding of God's will is tied to how seriously we see sin. Hebrew words describing sin overwhelmingly show that people are willful in doing wrong and thus genuinely guilty before God. Every type of word used shows sin as both voluntary and vicious: A sinner according to Scripture will:

1. Miss or err from the mark, wander from the path of right planned for man: Ex.20:20; Eze.18:4,20; Dan. 9:5, 15. Note: “to miss the mark” doesn’t mean the mark is too high; but that we aim too low! This is not just ignorance or stupidity but stubbornness.
2. Act perversely, or twist and distort moral character, usually rendered "Iniquity:" Ex. 34:7, 9; Ps. 32:2, 5; Is. 53:6; Ezek. 18:20; Dan. 9:5.
3. Transgress or break away from just authority, be contrary: Le. 16:15-16, 21; Is. 1:2; Eze. 18:30-31.
Involves violating safeguards and boundaries of protection. Gods’ sanctions are wholly sensible.
4. Refuse to obey or hearken, a negative prefix to a verb basically meaning to (not) listen or attend to: De. 28:45; Ne.9:16-17; Dan. 9:10.
5. Refuse to serve God, a negative to a verb meaning to labor, to work, work for another, thus to not worship and serve our rightful Ruler: Deut. 30:17; Josh. 24:14-15; Neh. 9:35.
6. Act treacherously or deceitfully, usually as "trespass." Le. 5:15; 6:2; Josh. 7:1; Neh. 1:8.
7. Be rebellious (to make or tend to make God bitter): I Sam. 12:13-15; Is. 1:20; Neh. 9:17.
8. Be stubbornly disobedient, also rendered to rebel: Num. 14:9; Neh. 9:26; Eze. 2:3; Dan. 9:5.
9. Be wicked or impious (with an idea of strong excitement): I Kgs. 8:47; Is. 57:20; Dan. 9:5, 15.
10. Live worthlessly or without worthy purpose (idea of emptiness or vanity), often rendered "iniquity:" Micah 2:1; ("unrighteous man") Is. 55:7; ("wicked thoughts") Jer. 4:14. (Life minus God = NOTHING.)
11. Spoil or dash to pieces the moral worth God intended): Be outrageously disappointingly in evil Gen. 6:5; Ps. 7:9; 51:4; Is. 1:16; Jer. 4:14

SIN IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

New Testament Greek carries on the same idea of sin shown in the Old Testament as wicked and inexcusable, again using many words with different shades of meaning. "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise they became fools" (Ro.1:21-22). Sin is to:
1. Miss or err from the mark, to wander from the path of uprightness and honor planned for man, not a mistake but deliberate misdirection of our faculties: Lk.15:21; 18:13; Jn.16:8-9; Ro. 2:12; 3:23; I Jn. 3:4-5.
2. Trespass, fall beside or deviate from the right path of life, stumble: Mt. 6:14-15; Ro. 4:25; Ep.1:7; 2:1.
3. Transgress or step by the side of the prescribed path, overstep or depart from the way of truth: Mt. 15:2-3; Acts 1:25; Ga. 3:19; He. 2:2. (Jay-walk)
4. Be lawless, or refuse to conform to Divine law revealed to increase man's understanding of the right way: Mt. 7:23; II Co. 6:14; Tit. 2:14; I John 3:4.
5. Disobey or be disobedient, disbelieve or refuse belief (willfully or perversely),from a verb to be persuaded, with a negative prefix: so to refuse to be persuaded or comply; be obstinate Jn. 3:36; Ro. 2:8; 10:21; Eph. 2:2; 5:6; Tit. 1:16; 3:3; He. 3:18; 4:6; I Pet. 2:7 -8; 4:17.
6. Do wrong, be unjust or unrighteous: refuse to do right: Ro.1:18; 2:8; ICo.6:9; Col.3:25; IJn.1:9; Rev 22:11.
7. Be ungodly act impiously, without reverential awe toward God: Ro. 1:18; I Tim. 1:9; Tit. 2:12; I Pet. 4:18; Jude 15, 18.
8. Be evil, wicked, or depraved in mind and heart: Mt.12:34-35; 15:19; Ep.6:12; Col.1:21; He.3:12

Sin is not a state, a substance or a spirit. Sin is a violation of revealed moral light, a stupid, selfish and often stubborn refusal to conform to what we know and perceive as God's truth. It brings guilt, shame and blame. While occasionally objectified and personalized, Scripture shows the active nature of sin so many ways no-one can claim it as a mistake or a misunderstanding. The Bible shows a sinner as a rebel against a loving God, not just some subject of pity who cannot help who they are. There is always the idea of voluntary activity in sin, not some static, genetic or demonic causation that makes us helplessly bad. Sin has deeply hurt God as well as ourselves and others. We will never stand before God and be able to blame our genetic descent, our Dad or the Devil for what we did to Him. Everyone is personally held accountable for their own wrong. No definition of sin that tends to remove responsibility from a sinning individual honors God.

INSTANCES OF BLAME-SHIFTING

We are inveterate blame-shifters: This is not new; here are some of many Scripture instances:

Adam; .. The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. Genesis 3:12
Abram: Say, I pray, you are my sister: that it may be well with me for your sake; and my soul shall live because of you. Gen 12:13.
Aaron: And I said unto them, Whosoever has any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf. Exodus 32:24
Jacob: And your father has deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me. Genesis 31:7
Saul: Therefore said I, The Philistines will come, so I forced myself … I Samuel 13:12 (Samuel: “So what means this bleating of sheep I hear in my ears?”) “I spared the best for an offering to the Lord “ (the religious excuse)
Anannias & Sapphira: “After it was sold, was it not in your own power? why have you conceived this thing in your heart? you have not lied to men, but to God”. (When revival comes people sometimes die in church) Acts 5:4
Antinomians to Paul: And not (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just. Romans 3:8
False Prophets: If a man walking in the spirit of falsehood lies. saying, I will prophesy to you of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people. Mic 2:11
Old Prophet: He said ..I am a prophet also as you; and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with you into your house, that he may eat bread and drink water. [But] he lied to him. I K 13:18
Humanity: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. Romans 1:25 Pharisees: You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. John 8:44 Babylon: The light of a candle shall shine no more at all in you and the voice of the bridegroom and the bride shall be heard no more at all in you: for your merchants were the great men of the earth; for by your sorceries were all nations deceived. Rev 18:23

GENUINE HONESTY IS EXPECTED OF ALL REAL BELIEVERS

For He said, Surely they are My people, children that will not lie: so He was their Savior. Isaiah 63:8

You shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another. Leviticus 19:11 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: has he said, and shall he not do it? or has He spoken, and shall he not make it good? Numbers 23:19

A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.
Proverbs 14:5

Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; Colossians 3:9

I have not written to you because you know not the truth, but because you do know it, and no lie is of the truth. I John 2:21

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: I John 1:6

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. II Timothy 3:13

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: II Thessalonians 2: 11

And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defiles, neither whatsoever works abomination, or makes a lie: Revelation 21:27

THE FIRST VITAL STEP IN RETURNING TO GOD IS CONFESSION: TOTAL HONESTY

Why does God ask us to confess our sins? It is surely not because He didn’t see us doing what was wrong! Confession of sin is not primarily for Him, but for us. As long as we live a life outside of friendship with God, we will not only stay selfish, but grow more stupid. And last of all, we will become unreal. Moral darkness is a state of attempting to conceal our real wrong or representing it to ourselves as well as others as right. God’s laws are descriptions of reality and He never tells a lie. God is utterly real, the foundation of all truth. The consequence of running away from God’s law and voice will not only be guilt and shame; it will be growing unreality.

WE CANNOT BLAME OTHERS FOR WHAT WE DID WRONG: God does not judge us for another’s sins:

Then hear in heaven, and do, and judge your servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness. I Kings 8:32

Ezekiel 18 - Yet you say, Why? does not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son has done that which is lawful and right, has kept all my statutes, and done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sins, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions he has committed, shall not be mentioned to him: in his righteousness he has done, he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? says the Lord GOD: [and] not that he should return from his ways, and live? Ezek. 18:19-23

But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All his righteousness that he has done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them shall he die. 25 Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not My way equal? are not your ways unequal? 26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and dies in them; for his iniquity that he has done shall he die. Again, when the wicked [man] turns away from his wickedness that he has committed, and does that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. 28 Because he considers, and turns away from all his transgressions that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 18:27-29 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby you have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, says the Lord GOD: wherefore turn [yourselves], and live. Ezekiel 18:30-32

October 17, 2008

Moral Perfection: Possible? or Impossible?

This morning I came across a verse that I think will dovetail very well with my discussion with "Anonymous" yesterday. Its Colossians 1:9-12. This verse provides a very concise explanation of what is moral perfection. Paul provides a wonderful summary of how one is transformed from sin (selfishness) to benevolence and love.

9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Let me now break down this passage a little further. First, take v9. It states that Paul is asking God to provide the Colossians with "knowledge" . But what type of knowledge? The bible is explicit in that knowledge of God and his will for mankind is what Paul calls "Real Knowledge" or also known as the "truth", the "gospel". Paul goes onto to say in v10 that as a result of this "knowledge" this will allow someone to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. What "manner" would be pleasing unto the Lord? A life of sin? A life of constant stumbling? Paul goes on in V10 to say

"fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God"

Note that Paul emphasizes EVERY GOOD WORK and FULLY PLEASING the Lord. Folks, this is not partial obedience, this is not partial surrender - but this is total surrender of OUR will and desires and taking up the will of God in our own lives. Paul goes onto to say that we will also increase in this knowledge and by doing so we will be strengthened in attaining a steadfastness (a stability in our moral perfection) that will yield patience and joy!

V12 is also a key verse whereby it states that now as a result of this transforming knowledge we are now qualified to share in the inheritance (status) of fellow saints who have also lived a life free from sin.

Let me also add another verse in Colossians that Paul furthers this point with:

21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled

Notice that its not our flesh that is the problem - but our minds! Our minds is where the desires to fulfill our flesh reside or originate. For example, if someone is going to shoot up heroine, they don't just wake up one day and find themselves taking a needle and shooting into their vein. No! Instead that person made decisions with their mind to fulfill or satisfy themselves (flesh) with drugs. That person made a conscious decision to go against their own conscience to do drugs. It wasn't their "flesh" that caused them to sin, but rather it was their heart that decided to violate the knowledge of their own conscience and fulfill or satiate their desires of their body.

Another similar verse to the one in Colossians is Philippians 1:9-10:

9And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Again, it is through the love and the knowledge of God's Truth that will equip us so that we may be blameless (Same as sinless) until the return of Christ. Note that it didn't say we would be blameless after we receive our new resurrection bodies - but that we should be blameless today!

One other verse I think shows how it is through the transforming of our hearts and minds that allows one to over come sin. 1 Corinthians 15:34 states

34Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God I speak this to your shame.

Note that it doesn't say "try to stop sinning" or "you can't stop sinning" it says very plain and clear to "STOP SINNING". Paul eludes as to why those who continue to sin do so - its because they have no knowledge of the Truth or of the Will of God!

Finally let me say this. As Christians we all know that it is God's desire that we turn away from sin. Now let me ask you this. If ceasing to sin is an impossibility why then do we even try? The reason is we all know in our heart of hearts that it is well within our ability to stop sinning. The mind will not do things it knows is humanly impossible. If I were to ask you if you could jump to the moon would you even try to do it?? Of course not! However, why is it that every true Christian I know of attempts to live everyday free from sin? Its because we all know that stopping sin within our own lives is within our ability and it is good and right that we do so.

October 15, 2008

A Response to Anonymous on "Perfection"

I decided to post a response to an “Anonymous” Blogger who left the following remarks regarding moral perfection. I will answer the majority of his/her response in a later post, but I would first like to address a few misconceptions they seem to have about sin and obedience. I think it’s important we define the terms here so we’re both working with the same definitions.

First, Anonymous stated:

“Deuteronomy 6:24-25 is a statement of this principle from the perspective that a person who keeps the law is righteous. Up until Jesus time, the bible tells us He is the only one who fulfilled the law. “

Indeed, Jesus is the only one who was able to keep or fulfill the law from cradle to grave. But this has nothing to do with man's moral ability. Jesus did not come so that you will now have the ability to keep God's Law. Man has always had within his ability to obey God. To say otherwise is just plain false and is unbiblical. First, Jesus was able to fully keep the law, not because he had the supernatural ability to do so, but out of His love for the Father, the Holy Spirit and mankind. It was through the committal of his will that he was able to overcome self, and love God supremely. Jesus was a living breathing example of how we all should live - and that is to walk as He walked, to love as He loved. So what is the missing component that we need in order to love as Jesus loved? It is not that we lack the ability, but that we lack the desire to do so, we lack the desire to change. We know from the bible that man changes once he or she receives knowledge of the Truth (“For it is the Truth that will set you free and "whatever you ask, ask for knowledge and it will be given unto you”). It is through the renewing of our minds by the truth of Jesus Christ that will transform our will from loving ourselves to loving God and others supremely. We lack not any capacity to obey, but we lack heart or motivation of the will. It is through the cross and the blood of Jesus that allows us to walk in humility and allows us to become morally perfect (I will address this further in a later post).

Let me first address a couple of points here. In regards to your comment about Deut 6:24-25 The bible is filled with “Saints” that clearly loved and obeyed God. A saint is not one who continually sins, or is still abiding in their selfishness, but lives according to the Moral Laws of God as a result of his/her's love for God. A saint is one who the bible defines as a person who is walking according to their present amount of moral knowledge and obeys the moral laws of God out of love. I especially like Luke 1:6 whereby it states:

Luk 1:5-6 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abijah: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. (6) And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Hmmmmm……interesting that Luke mentions that Elizabeth and Zacharias WALKED IN ALL THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD & ORDINANCES OF THE LORD BLAMELESS………I would be interested in hearing how you explain this verse in the context to your statement that no one has kept the Laws or Commandments of God. This verse clearly states that the two of them were very much able to keep the moral commandments of God and did so.

There many more examples of men and women who obeyed God and were found to be righteous in the eyes of God. I suggest you look these over more thoroughly:

Noah Gen_6:9; Gen_6:22; Gen_7:5; Heb_11:7. Abraham Gen_12:1-4; Gen_17:23; Gen_21:4; Gen_22:12; Neh_9:8; Act_7:3-8; Heb_11:8-17; Jam_2:21 Bethuel and Laban Gen_24:50 Jacob Gen_35:1; Gen_35:7 Moses Num_27:12-22; Heb_3:2-3 Moses and Aaron Exo_7:6; Exo_40:16; Exo_40:21; Exo_40:23; Exo_40:32 Israelites Exo_12:28; Exo_32:25-29; Exo_39:42-43; Num_9:20-21; Deu_33:9; Jdg_2:7; Psa_99:7 Under the preaching of Haggai Hag_1:12 Caleb Deu_1:36 Joshua Jos_10:40; Jos_11:15 Reubenites Jos_22:2-3 Gideon Jdg_6:25-28 David 1Sa_18:14; 1Sa_25:28; 1Ki_11:6; 1Ki_11:34; 1Ki_15:5; 2Ch_29:2; Act_13:22 Elisha 1Ki_19:19-21 Hezekiah 2Ki_18:6; 2Ch_31:20-21; Isa_38:3 Josiah 2Ki_22:2; 2Ki_23:24-25 Asa 2Ch_14:2 –Jehoshaphat 2Ch_17:3-6; 2Ch_20:32; 2Ch_22:9 Jehoiada 2Ch_24:16 Uzziah 2Ch_26:4-5 Jotham 2Ch_27:2 Levites 2Ch_29:34 Cyrus 2Ch_36:22-23; Ezr_1:1-4 Ezra Ezr_7:10 Hanani Neh_7:2 Job Job_1:8 Daniel Dan_6:10 Three Hebrews Dan 3 Jonah Jon_3:3 Ninevites Jon_3:5-10 Zacharias Luk_1:6 Simeon Luk_2:25 Joseph Mat_1:24; Mat_2:14 John the Baptist Mat_3:15 Nathanael Joh_1:47 The disciples Joh_17:6 Cornelius Act_10:2 Paul Act_23:1; Act_26:4-5; 2Ti_1:3.

Many others were called righteous, godly, holy, or sanctified, which is synonymous with “morally perfection”. However, these do differ from Christ in that He never sinned. They did sin, but when they did so they repented and persevered in obedient faith, they were once again compliant with their moral obligation and, hence, “morally perfect”. Contrary to popular beleif
everyone does not sin! “He that is born of God does not commit sin” (I Jn.3:9)! All true Christians have repented from their sins (quit sinning) and love God supremely and thus are morally perfect (I would be curious as to how you define biblical repentance?).

Another thing, sin is not a “cancer” or something that is passed along genetically or mysteriously to our offspring. Sin is not a “thing”, but is a moral choice. God does not hold mankind accountable for the sins of our mothers or fathers (or Adam for that matter), but for our own individual actions (Ezekiel 18). As for your use of the Jewish Encyclopedia you were not as forth coming as you could have been. Here is the part you left out:


“……..Jewish theologians are divided in regard to the cause of this so-called "original sin"; some teach that it was due to Adam's yielding to temptation in eating of the forbidden fruit and has been inherited by his descendants; the majority, however, do not hold Adam responsible for the sins of mankind.”

Most Jews I know do not believe in Original Sin (in the Calvinistic sense). Its primary roots are not Jewish, but can be traced back to the Gnostics who believed evil/sin was in the “flesh” of all human beings, rather than a moral choice. It wasn’t until the teachings of Augustine, who was heavily influenced by his previous religion the Manicheans, who incorporated the belief that sin was in the physical flesh (tissue or sperm) of human beings. Judaism has for the most part always adhered to the doctrine that man has a freewill choice and requires moral accountability.

You also stated:

“The difference between the Old Testament and New Testament is that now, sin is defined against the backdrop of Jesus as the standard for righteousness. His life is the example of perfection. If you can claim that you are living as Jesus, then you can claim that you are perfect and that you have stopped sinning.”

The fallacy here is there is no difference between the OT and NT when it comes to God’s definition of sin. Sin is the willful disobendience to God. The misconception you have is that God has somehow mysteriously changed when it comes to defining sin. Nothing about God has changed from the OT to the NT – his requirements remain the same and that is for all of mankind to keep His moral law. This is the same as today as it was 4,000 years ago! It seems you view man as someone who is either unable to keep God’s Moral Law or that God's laws are unattainable and can not be kept. God’s Laws are good and whenever they have been given to mankind, man has rightfully responded that they are indeed good and just laws (Exodus 24:3!). When God commands us to “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37) and “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 22:39). The moral law of God, in essence, is the law of love, love being the total and complete fulfillment of the whole of the law (Rom. 13:8, 10; Gal. 5:14; Jas. 2:8). Are you telling me that you are unable to love God fully??? Is this not the fullness of salvation? That we love God and if we love God we will keep and obey that which he loves also?? How can one Love god and therefore continue in sin?? This is an impossibility. It is like saying a man can love his wife, but yet continue to have a mistress on the side. A person who says they love God and continues to sin is a hypocrite and hypocrites will find themselves in Hell.

God's Moral Law is good and we all know that in order for a Law to be good it must be within man's grasp to adhere to it. If not then God's Law is unjust. God does not command that we love Him with faculties that we do not possess, but rather that we love Him with all that we currently possess (keyword is “currently”). The commandments are directions to man as to how he is to use his ability. The commandments of God are not impossible, demanding that we love Him with a heart, soul, mind and strength that we do not have. Rather, it is possible to keep the law of God, which demands that we love Him with all of what we do have, with all that we are capable of, to the very highest of our ability, no more and no less. It is possible to keep the law because we are capable, and we are capable because it is possible to keep the law; our God-given commandments and our God-given ability directly correspond with each other.

As for Sin and Moral Accountability ponder this. All sin is voluntary and avoidable; therefore sin must be a choice and not something we are born with. If sin is something we are “born with” then it is not voluntary, but is involuntary and therefore is not justifiably punishable. This would be like saying babies who are born with blonde hair are condemnable to hell, because they are born this way. Only that which is unavoidable is excusable, but what is inexcusable must be avoidable. If sin is punishable then it must be voluntary (a choice), and what is voluntary must be avoidable. Therefore, sin is inexcusable and punishable because sin is voluntary and avoidable, and it is voluntary and avoidable because God has given man free will. The false doctrine you have is that sin is something we are born with. If God is sending people to hell for sins they can not over come or stop committing because they do not have the ability, then God would be unjust and a tyrant! Sinners will be sent to Hell because they clearly have the ability to stop sinning, but yet they chose to remain in their in selfishness.


I would also like to address here several accusations you seem to make against me in your response:

#7: Love your enemies AND pray for them, and it can’t be that lightening strikes them. Do you love Calvinists? (Matt 5:44)

I most certainly love Calvinist (and everyone else for that matter)! As a matter of fact I would hope that every Calvinist would awaken from their false doctrine and find truth. Indeed I have been very firm at times and have even openly rebuked Calvinist over their false doctrine. But it is also commanded by God that as beleivers we openly rebuke false teachers, to do otherwise would be unloving and harmful to themselves and possible bystanders.

#8: Contentiousness is sin (Romans 2:8). Check out your answer to the person before me?

How was my previous response “Contentiousness”?? I think you need to understand the context here and what Paul means by “Contentiousness”. The context here does not mean we as Christians are not to argue or to not vigorously defend our faith. How were my comments to the previous post “contentious”?? Look at my comments and I even placed a smiley face after my comment so that it would not be taken out of context. Or maybe your just trying to find fault with me here??

#9: Judging others is sin (Matt 7:1)

Really!!??? What exactly are you doing in your response back to me - judging??? Are you not judging me and my doctrine??? Besides, where does it exactly say that to judge others is a sin?? It is indeed a sin to judge others unrighteously (hypocritically), but no where in the bible does it say it is a sin to judge?. When Jesus said “Judge not lest ye be judged” this is a warning that when we judge others we too will be judged to the same standard, so that in the event we do judge we are to be certain we don’t have sin in our own lives. Jesus calls us to judge – but to judge rightly (Luke 12:56-57, Rom 2:1) Christ does not condemn judging in a judicial sense, nor does he condemn our “opinion” of the conduct of others, for it is impossible “not” to form an opinion of conduct that we know to be evil or deceptive (ie. false doctrine).

# 11: You have to tame your tongue, according to James no man can do it (James 3:8)

James is not saying taming the tongue is an impossibility. Here he is using hyperbole to get his point across. If you read further to James 4 he clearly give us the answer as to how man can tame his tongue:

Jas 4:7-10 Therefore, submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you. (8) Come close to God, and he will come close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (9) Be miserable, mourn, and cry. Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into gloom. (10) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

12: The very act of claiming to be sinless is a sin in itself, as this Scripture so ably demonstrates. A person claiming not to have sin deceives himself or herself, and in effect calls Christ a liar. I John 1:10

Again, you have taken this verse out of context. John is addressing individuals (primarily the Jews) who made the claim that they didn;t need to be saved because they were without sin. They had not fully submitted to Christ, they were lying about their rebellious condition. This verse is not addressing Christians, but non-beleivers. If you read further on in 1 John 3 he states:


1Jn 3:8-10 The person who practices sin belongs to the evil one, because the devil has been sinning since the beginning. The reason that the Son of God was revealed was to destroy the works of the devil. (9) No one who has been born from God practices sin, because God's seed abides in him. Indeed, he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born from God. (10) This is how God's children and the devil's children are distinguished. No person who fails to practice righteousness and to love his brother is from God.


Again, I hope to address the remaining topic of "Perfection" in an upcoming post shortly. In the meantime I would like to say to Anonymous that I find it somewhat disturbing that a so called Christ Follower is defending Sinning more so than "holiness" or "righteousness", but then again its hard to defend holiness when you see man as being morally incapable or that God requires the impossible from mankind (the keeping of His laws) and that God will send mankind to hell for doing that which he is unable to do.

September 23, 2008

Its OK Ray (Boltz) to be Gay, John Calvin says it just your DNA!

Many of you may have heard by now the news that “former” Christian artist Ray Boltz publically announced he is a homosexual. But what many may have not heard was the reasoning that Ray gave as to why he feels he is justified in living this sinful lifestyle. In a Pro-Homosexual newspaper called the “The Washington Blade”, Boltz said the following:


“If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be … I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.”

The sad thing is Ray is simply coming to the logical conclusion that his theology has probably brought him to. The doctrine of Original Sin is taught in a majority of Christian denominations these days. Even those denominations that don’t even considered themselves Reformed or Calvinistic hold to this theological myth that sin is something your born with rather than a moral choice.

Why then are so many Christians so upset or sadden that Ray Boltz is a homosexual? Why is it when it comes to this particular sin we don’t hear all the lame excuses we usually hear from Calvinist and others such as:


"Who are we to judge, were all sinners”
"We sin in word, thought and deed everyday"
"Nobodies perfect"
"We are only human"
"You can't stop sinning"
"We have a sinful nature"
"God's law is impossible to keep"


I can’t help but think how hypocritical those folks must sound right now as they tell Ray he must “Repent”. In my opinion, this is one of the problem with most churches theology these days – is it’s logically inconsistent and hypocritical. When it comes to so called “mortal sins” – those sins that fall into the “biggie size” of sins – homosexuality, pedophilia, adultery, murder, etc. it seems then and only then the church seems to take issue with. I typically think this is not done so for moral or spiritual reasons, but that these sins are so heinous most churches are afraid of the bad PR these sins might bring to that particular church. This reminds me of a leader at a church we used to attend who once told me that we (Christians) all “sin in word thought and deed everyday”, and that “all sin is sin”. But yet when it was discovered someone in the church “choir” had committed a horrible “mortal” sin, this leader was the first to have that person quietly removed from their position. I thought it was such hypocrisy. Here was this same leader who loved to go around touting that “we all sin everyday”, but yet when a rather hideous sin was committed by a fellow member of the church this was also the first person to ask them to step down – in “secret” nonetheless. For me I felt like asking this leader– “Remember when you said we as “Christian’s” sin everyday? So why then are you making such a big deal of this particular person’s sin? If Christians are “sinning everyday” why then would you discipline or shun this person from your church - aren’t they simply behaving as you’ve stated all along??


Personally, I think we are starting to see the impact of years and years of this doctrine being preached and why many of our churches are filled with nothing more than reformed pagans. Most of the attitude towards sin in our churches is apathetic and weak – and much of this attitude stems from this very theology that says “Men can’t help but sin”, "that sin is not a choice" and that even as Christians we are still expected to sin everyday. I don’t know about you, but I never have once read in the Bible of a “Sinning Saint” or someone who is “Sinfully Righteous” or of “Benevolent Demon”. Any 2nd grader could tell you this is not so! But yet isn’t this the doctrine of most churches these days? We tell people that they are a victim of sin rather than a criminal and a rebel towards God?

In some respects Ray Boltz is trying to live consistent with his theology. Clearly he believes that God has created him to be a homosexual. So how does this really differ from the doctrine that is preached in our churches day in and day out? If Ray was born sinful, then how is this any different than saying Ray was born Gay? If you hold to the doctrine of Original Sin and Total Depravity you must surely answer yes! However, if Homosexuality is a sin and it was something he was born with, it would be unjust for God to send Ray to Hell for all eternity for simply being the very person God created him to be! I must say one thing about Ray Boltz, and that is it seems to me he can not come to rationalize how a loving God who created him to be born sinful (ie Gay), could also be the same God who would send Him to eternal hell and torment, for simply being that which God created him to be. The problem is Ray has believed into a lie that the sins he has committed and continue to commit are something outside of his control and therefore are not his responsibility but rather God’s responsibility. This is why it is crucial we tell others within our community and our churches not to be deceived into believing such a false and destructive doctrine such as Original Sin and Total Depravity. As you can see the damage that can come from this theology is devastating.

Instead, I believe if Ray Boltz does not repent and is not reconciled back unto God, he will someday stand before a righteous and loving God and be found guilty and be sent to Hell for all eternity– not for being born gay or for being born sinful – but rather for willfully choosing to disobey God and fulfill the pleasures of his flesh. The tragedy of Ray’s sin, as well as anyone else’s sin for that matter, is we have chosen to go astray. Sin is not some ill-fated behavior that God has ordained, nor is it some sin filled birth defect, but rather the real travesty of sin, is we have all chosen to go our own way and forsake the love and wisdom of the Lord. I pray that Ray Boltz will soon repent and be reconciled to God. But if he does not, then it is he who is guilty and his guilt and sins will remain.

Pro 14:14 The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways; And a good man shall be satisfied from himself.

September 21, 2008

Just Ask A Calvinist!

The other day I was listening to the new Blog Radio Show: Refining Fire by Jesse Morrell and Kerrigan Skelly. During last week's show Kerrigan brought up what I thought was a great line of questioning for a Calvinist. Here is what he had to say:

First, ask a Calvinist "Do you believe in freewill?" Most will say "Yes, they believe in Freewill".

Then ask them "Does God hate sin?", they should most rightly answer "Oh Yes, God most definitely hates sin".

The ask them "Does God Command you to stop sinning", and they should rightly answer "Oh Yes God commands us to stop sinning".

Then ask them "Does God allow you to be tempted beyond that which you can handle (1 Cor 10:13)?", they should agree that God does not allow a person to be tempted beyond that which they can handle.

Then ask them "Can YOU do ALL things through Christ Jesus (Phil 4:13)?", and they should rightly answer "Oh yes we can do all things through Christ Jesus".

And then ask them "Do they believe they can Stop Sinning?" Most will respond that no one can live holy as they have a "Sin Nature" and that sin resides within our flesh and until the flesh has been eliminated or we are given a "new Nature" upon or after death, it is only then we can truly live beyond sin. Most will say that we sin daily and commit "countless" number of sins within a day - as Christians no less! (I recall a Calvinist tell me one day at our small group that he had sinned even before he got up out of bed that day"!)

But yet the bible says nothing about man being cursed with a "Sin Nature" or that sin is in the "flesh". Sin is a moral choice and is a condition of a persons heart and will. If sin is something we are "born with" then this would be like saying a man should be punished or sentenced to eternal hell for the color of their skin or the color of their eyes! This would be unjust for God to sentence people to eternal Hell for that which they could not choose. Sin is a condition of the heart - it is our hearts and our will that needs to be renewed through REPENTANCE and FAITH. A changing of the heart and mind from loving ourselves to loving God! Sin is a choice!

Besides, doesn't it seem odd that a Calvinist would agree that God hates sin, commands us to not to sin, that we are never tempted beyond that which we can handle, and that we can do ALL things through Christ Jesus but yet we can't still can't seem to stop sinning for one day? This friends is a contradiction of the highest degree! It is no wonder our churches are filled with men and women who believe it is acceptable and even expected that Christians should sin. What hypocrisy and what deceit these Calvinist preach!

September 19, 2008

Tainted Funds: How the Church can use Evil so that Good May Come of it!

Recently, Pastor Bert Crabbe of the True North Community Church in Port Jefferson Station, New York, had a church member win $3 million in the lottery and he decided to give it all to the church. The man wished to remain anonymous, but he won his big prize by scratching off the “Ba Da Bling” lottery ticket. This story has made it around the Christian blogosphere and you can see what some are saying here and here.

From this dilemma Christians have been discussing "Should a Church or Christian Organization take such funds from a organization that destroys lives or causes people to sin?". First, let me say that most of the comments I've read seems to support the idea that the Church should take something from bad and use it for good. Although this seems to be a valid idea on the surface, one must keep in mind that God is not so much concerned about promoting outward benevolence, but rather what effect will this have on the motivation of peoples hearts. In addition, I think many have taken a Robin Hood like approach on this subject and that is take from the bad (gamblers) and give to the "good". I think we need to turn to the Scriptures in order to get some guidance on this matter................

Romans 14:13-15 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.


I Corinthians 8:9-13 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.

I would like to point out one very interesting point. Paul says in Corinthians that people watch us and if they see us doing something that they wouldn’t necessarily do, they will become “emboldened” and do what we are doing. We see that God is concerned about how we might be perceived by others (i.e. Non-believers) and that our actions might have influence on the attitudes or behaviors of others. This reminds me of a parent or an adult who drinks or smokes and then tells their children - "don't do what I do". Its the old adage - "Do as I say and not as I do". Sadly, this comes off as being hypocritical and it weakens our influence and reputation as Christ followers.

I realize some might say that taking the money as the end result of gambling is not the same as someone gambling themselves, but we must consider that gambling may be fine for some, but what happens to the person, who sees us (the church) taking and accepting this money and then becomes emboldened, tries it and becomes addicted? Could our acceptance of this money not possibly cause someone to think "Hey those Christians don't have such hard time with gambling after all". Have we not sinned against God and that person?

From these verses I think that we can extract a very good practice for all Christians. Even if an activity is acceptable before God, this isn’t the end of the question. If others weaker than ourselves are caught up into something as a result of our actions and they are in the end destroyed, we have sinned against them and God. Therefore, while the act wasn’t maybe a sin in itself, how we exercised our freedom in Christ was, and we sinned. This is a very serious thing indeed and one that we as Christians must be very aware. Now if God is concerned that our dietary habits might possibly cause someone to morally stumble - then don't we think gambling or the acceptance of the funds from gambling might also be of even a greater concern?

Let me also give another example, would it be alright for the church to take money from the windfall profits made by an abortion clinic or Planned Parenthood? Would the church be OK with accepting money donated from the pornography industry? What if a convicted pedophile wanted to give a $100,000 dollars to a Christian orphanage? I think even many in secular society would have problems with these types of ethical situations. But yet why is it our churches and Christians blogging in the blogosphere seem to take little if any issue with all of this? It would seem to me that by accepting these funds the church could be construed by society as being accepting of these immoral issues.

Granted I've read folks saying "what if a stripper or a thief gave funds to the church, who are we to say we shouldn't take these funds?". But let me ask you this - what if that stripper or drug dealer or thief is giving to the church so he can quiet his or her conscience from their lifestyle of sin?! As a church accepting funds from such persons and turning a blind eye or by not rejecting such behavior, are we not actually contributing to that person's moral downfall? By accepting these tainted funds are we not allowing that person to slip further and further in rebellion and allowing them to quiet their conscience?? What if we caused only one person to sin as a result of accepting these funds would we be OK with that? Is the sins of one really worth any amount of money?

Secondly, God states clearly in his word that we are not to do evil so that good will come of it (Rom 3:8). But I can't help but think that's the attitude of many who have stated that they would accept this money, money that has destroyed countless lives, money that has ruined families and marriages as a result of gambling and now we as Christians want to take that which has resulted in evil and do good with it? Are we not using evil so in hopes to do good??

Finally, as Christians would it not be better to take the route Paul has put forth for us all:

Eph 5:1-5 Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; (2) and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell. (3) But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named (hint) among you, as becometh saints; (4) nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks. (5) For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.


As Christians we should not even have a HINT of sin among us. But yet why does it seem so many don't seem to take issue with this? Why is it we seem to think that we can take such "blood" money and use it for good? Where is our faith that God will provide - and provide through a better means than gambling profits? Is not our God greater than that? I think churches who are all too willing to jump up and say "well take that kind of donation" is a church that is seeking the approval of men, rather than of God and are not truly thinking beyond themselves.

Side note: I noticed many so called Christians on these blogs have tried to justify gambling by saying its the same as a 401K or the stock market - I have news for you its not!

When you invest in businesses that produce products, you are supplying much needed capital so that they can expand and maintain operations. This in turn will produce an increase in your investment if the company is managed correctly. The goal here is that you have a realistic expectation that the company will succeed. Either you or your funds manager will take the time to research the company to make sure that their business plans are sound and that the risk you take is minimized. Is this the case with gambling? Surely everyone knows that the odds are in the favor of the house. They will not lose money. Yes someone will win some, but at the end of the day, the house will always turn a profit, and a very big one at that. Basically, anyone who views Las Vegas as an investment opportunity is completely diluted at best, and an utter fool at worst.

But some may say that the only reason to invest in the stock market is for money so isn’t the underlying motivation the same? The answer as I see it is no. Investing is a long term approach that will provide fruit over time. You are helping some company succeed in their business which is producing products that people need and want. The overall impact to society by investing in stocks is good. Due diligence and patience is required. Gambling is a rush, a quick fix, and a “trill”. Gambling is not prudent or a wise choice of investment strategies. The casinos are not producing anything useful for society. They don’t even have a product. Their product is the illusion of quick riches.

The Bible speaks of investing in positive terms.

Luke 19:22-23 His master replied, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?

Matthew 25:26-27 His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

Does anyone think that the Master would have been congratulatory of one of his servants if he come back empty handed having lost everything shooting dice? Or how about he doubled the Master’s money by rolling sevens? Do you think that the master would have considered this a reckless gamble? I think so, but then again, the reader may have a different view.

August 27, 2008

New Discovery in Open Thiesm and Church History

I thought I would pass along this article from Greg Boyd's Blog regarding some recent discoveries in the area of Open Theism! This is exciting news, as most critics of Open Theism claim it is historically baseless. I highly recommend you read this article. You can find it here.

August 25, 2008

A Test - How Would You Score?

How would you answer the following test?

T F 1. A good description of a Christian is a "Sinner" saved by Grace?

T F 2. You can sin and not know it?

T F 3. It is normal for Christians to sin everyday?

T F 4. A bad thought is sin?

T F 5. It is easier for a Christian to sin than to do right?

T F 6. The closer we get to Christ, the less we will be tempted?

T F 7. We get closer to Christ through actions of righteousness?

T F 8. Sainthood is attained by only a few Christians?

T F 9. To be tempted is a sign of sinfulness?

10. How many sins have you committed today (You may have to approximate)

11. How many acts of righteousness have you committed today?

12. How righteous is Jesus Christ on a scale of one to hundred?

13. How righteous are you on a scale of one to hundred?


See my later post for the "Answers".

August 10, 2008

Tales from the Dark Knight

The other night my friend Jay and I went and saw the movie The Dark Knight. I must say it was stunning. I don't know if I can add to what has already been said about Heath Ledger's performance, but he plays the quintessential evil villain in this film. The Joker is evil not on the basis of a desire for wealth, power or fame, but purely on the basis of watching the world burn. He is truly a tormented soul!

In my opinion the movie has a really interesting moral undercurrent, and speaks tremendously about the moral code of all human beings and primarily does a good job of showing the conditions of natural law.

(Warning spoiler ahead)

Probably the most interesting scene in my opinion is the scene where in Gotham Harbor are two Ferry boats filled with people. The one Ferry is packed with inmates from the local prison, while the other is filled with innocent citizens. The Joker has devised a ingenious plan whereby both Ferries have been rigged with remote controlled explosives. He notifies each Ferry that they each have a detonator to the other Ferries bomb. However, he gives them an ultimatum. He gives them each 15 min to detonate the other Ferry. Whoever blows up the other Ferry first he will let that Ferry live. If neither Ferry makes a decision to kill the other group of people, then the Joker will blow up both Ferries.

Of course the citizens begin to rationalize that they have a legitimate reason to blow up the prisoners Ferry, because society will be better off if they were to rid all the criminals on that Ferry, that it would be justifiable to "kill the wicked" in exchange for the innocent. However, there are also innocent police officers, prison warden and prison guards to consider who are also on the Prisoner Ferry. This debate goes back and forth for several minutes in the film - showing both sides debating if they should blow up the other Ferry first for their own survival. In the end, neither group could bring themselves to blow up the other Ferry.

What came to mind was immediately natural law. Instinctively, each person - both criminal and innocent citizen realized to kill 300+ people would be a monstrous act and neither could allow that thought to pass by their conscience without tremendous guilt and shame. This also reminded me of when Jesus said to the group ready to stone the adulteress - "You without sin cast the first stone". It also reinforced to me that mankind is not "Totally Depraved", but man does operate according to his conscience and natural law instilled in us by our Creator. If man were truly "Totally Depraved", then by the very totality of that depravity man would have had no problem pushing that detonator - nor any associated guilt in doing, as guilt is a direct outward working of natural law. It would have been like child's play - simple, no guilt, no remorse. But instead - mankind has tremendous potential for good. In the movie the Joker is the one who thought man was totally depraved - was inherently evil. The Joker is trying to show Gotham that they need not to live by a moral code, but they should live according to their "true nature" - evil and chaos. It is the hero or the savior of the movie, Batman shows Gotham that he believes in the good people of his city and that they have great potential for good. He believes that given the right motivation they can rise above evil and live in peace. He is willing to go to any lengths to do this for the people of Gotham.

Again, I see many parallels between the redemptive story of Christ and his desire for his children to choose love over self. That Christ sees the great potential all of his children to love the Father and our neighbor. Christ came to awaken us from the depths of our own selfishness by dying on a cross. That he would go to great lengths to show us he desires mercy over sacrifice, that he desires genuine fellowship with his creation. It is a story that is universal and should speak to us all.

Are You Being Hated?

John 15: 18 "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."

1 John 3:13-15
"Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. 14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him."

Luke 16: 22"Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man."

Matthew 24:9 "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.

As I survey the current landscape of the modern day church, I must admit I don't see these verses being presently fulfilled by the church today. Do we see churches to the point where men are wanting to kill us? I don't mean some subtle loathing by atheist or anarchist, but is the WORLD truly hating us? Do we see the world hating the church for its stance on sin? Do we see the world hating us because we have a love & devotion for Truth and Righteousness? Do we see the world hating us because we publicly denounce sin? Do they hate us because we are telling men and women to repent and love their God and Creator?

Instead we see churches who have seemingly embraced the world rather than rejected it. I see churches whereby their pews are packed to the brim , but yet I see our world spinning into further into darkness & rebellion - hence a connection?? I see churches that have more of a concern about being culturally relevant, than being heart broken over sin and wickedness in the world and how it breaks God's heart. I see churches that are rarely persecuted for their faith, but praised more for their entertaining services or how the pastor looked on Sunday. Where is the persecution??? Where is the hatred of believers in the name of Jesus??

I often wonder if the early church were hated because of how "loving" they treated others or if it was their their public rebuke of sin? I mean, were Christians really killed because of being overly nice to their neighbors, or were they killed and tortured for some other reason? Here is what Clement of Alexandria once wrote concerning the reason behind many Christian persecution:

"They persecute us, not from the supposition that we are wrong-doers, but imagining that by the very fact of our being Christian we sin against life (the world). This is because of the way we conduct ourselves, and because we exhort others to adopt a similar lifestyle" - Clement of Alexandria c. 195. Vol 2 Page 423 of Ante Nicene Fathers.

Christians were not killed simply because they loved their neighbors or for being overly kind to others, although naturally this is commanded by Jesus of all his followers. Instead we see that rulers and men murderer Christians because of their obedience to God and for exhorting and rebuking others to turn from sin and adopt a life of love and obedience. People killed Christians simply on the grounds that Christians caused people to have a condemned conscience and to have guilt over their sins. It was as if a light was being shined into the eyes of a person who had been sitting in a darkened room for so long, and that the light being shined forth by Christians was causing such discomfort of the persons soul, to the point of wanting to kill them to stop the light from shining into the darkness.

Where do we see any of this in our country? Where are our persecutors? I see a church that is being loved by the world because it no longer strikes conviction or repentance into the hearts of men, but rather have become places where men can come and find temporary relief or solace for their conscience. Where are the churches that are shining the light of Truth into the eyes of a darkened world? It seems to me churches are more concerned about abiding in their "Eternal Security" rather than striving daily to finish the race for Christ - and finishing it well!

Jesus said that we would be hated because of him - but where is that hatred?? Has the world stop hating the righteous, has the world stop hating Truth? No! Instead the world loves a lukewarm apathetic church. A church over grown with weeds and tares.

What will it take for us to be hated, to be persecuted? Here is what Leonard Ravenhill put forth:
......."The World has lost the power to blush over its vice; the Church has lost her power to weep over it. Do you ask, "Well now, where do we go from here?' The answer is, "Where sinful individuals or sinful nations can only go - back to a merciful God." Hear me! Every church without a prayer meeting condemns us; every Bible unopened condemns us; every promise of God unused condemns us;every lost neighbor condemns us; every lost heathen condemns us; every dry eye among us condemns us; every wasted minute of our time condemns us; every unclaimed opportunity condemns us. Next year is not ours. Tomorrow may be too late. Unless we repent now, unless we return and fire the prayer alters now, unless we fast and weep now, woe unto us at the judgment".
What the church needs to do is basic and very simple. Do what all great patriarchs and apostles did, they repented and weeped over their sins and turned their hearts toward God and a vowed never to break his heart again. Let us stop making our churches into 21st Century white washed tombs, whereby they are very appealing to the eyes of men and yet have little or no depth of God word. Let us take up the business of finding ourselves to be worthy in the eyes of our Lord and God and not the eyes of the world.