Saturday, December 02, 2006

Pt 9: God's Love Part 2

Some men would object, "Does not God love everyone?" A proper response to this is, yes of course. All of mankind is created in the image of God. God, in view of Himself must love all of mankind. Not for mankind's own sake, but because God loves Himself and must therefore love the creatures that bear His image. Again, He loves the Him within mankind, not mankind itself.

The whole idea may sound cold to some, but a question must be asked of those who object to this idea: What about mankind makes us worthy of God's love? We have already answered this: God's love for Himself and the existence of Himself within mankind is the only thing making them worthy. Anyone who objects to this may search endlessly for any quality in sinful man worthy of God's love.

Would it not be logical to say that God would have to dishonour Himself by loving something lower than Him with no rhyme or reason behind His love? God would irrationally love finite creatures despite the unoworthy nature of their sinful existence. Some will say, "You are contradicting the mercy of God! He gives not based on merit!" This is true, with respect to His grace, not His love. Love is seeking the beheld thing's ultimate good. God perfectly loves and honors Himself by seeking His ultimate good which includes saving sinners through the redemptive work of His only Son. Mercy comes into play when we view the worthiness of man receiving a perfect sacrifice in his place. Man deserves hell and Christ paid the price for him; that is mercy. However, we are speaking of God's love for His creatures in this section. To which we have already concluded that there is nothing within man worthy of God's love.

To love something also means you have an intense desire for it or attraction to it. That is how this section should be understood in reference to the word love.


PART TEN: Longing For Christ

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pt 8: God's Love Part 1

Returning again to God enjoying His creation. He cannot love us for us, but rather He loves Himself perfectly, and in turn loves us for the image of Him that He has stamped on us. We only show a dim glimmer of God, so it only naturally follows that His love for us is not as full as His love for Himself. The closer we draw to God the more like Him we become, which only leads to more of Him in us to be loved by Him.

Some would say the joy He receives from us is a flaw in His character, placing some level of dependancy on His joy from our existence. But again we must see, He does not take joy in us, but rather in the existence of Him in us. It's only logical to see why He has a special love for man; we bear His image. God loves His whole creation, but it would be ludicrous to say He loves a spider as much as an infant or a tiger as much as a man. Mankind is made in the image of God, therefore there is more of God in mankind to be loved by God. He looks at animals and sees His glory in the creative, complex, and harmonic aspect of them, but they are not in His image.

It only then follows that His love for His children is even stronger. They have been transformed, given a new heart, and now strive to be like Christ. This gives even more of God to be within a man to be loved by God; He sees His image but also sees twinkles of Christ's character in us. What a special love He must have for His children! How that love must grow and intensify the more we die to self and become more like Christ.


PART EIGHT: God's Love For His Creation Part 2

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pt 7: Obedience Part 2

If the word of God is being preached well, then no method or program will change the hearts of those hearing it. However, "setting the mood" is a common topic for church methodology. Authors will tell you the best way to structure your service, sermon and songs to invoke the maximum amount of response possible. Of course no Biblical case is ever made for such nonsense, just western marketing strategies breaching the walls of God's holy church. The Holy Spirit doesn't hold back it's work until just the right amount of tender emotionally vulnerable mood has been invoked into the unregenerate heart. The Holy Spirit works only through the preaching of the word of God and the proclamation of God's truth to bring sinner's to salvation.

The latter statement of absolute will bring some to say, "You can't limit the Holy Spirit," to which only one response is needed: The Holy Spirit is limited by God to work in a specific way through God's word and proclaimed truth to bring sinners to salvation. People philosophize that because God has no limit in His power that there is no limit to the tools through which He can bring sinners to salvation. This philosophy makes anything acceptable if it brings someone to knowledge of Christ and redemption. But if you search God's word where does it say such a thing is true? God's word places sole reliance on the work of Christ. How else can this work be made effectual without the preaching of God's word?

To those who give topical lessons or inspirational speeches I charge with the title "speaker". Anyone can be a good "speaker" with enough practice and the right skills implemented. But to preach the truth of God's word boldly and accurately is something altogether foreign to many so called "preachers". They have fallen prey to professionalism and wish to be successful in the eyes of men rather than God. "Who wants to hear so much Bible?" they will ask you. Results will be given to back this up proving they have the wrong focus to begin with. They never say, "Look how much we are basing on God's word. We are obedient and true to God's commands and mandates." If this sort of reasoning is used then you know where their focus lies.

So let us conclude by saying this: Use the method or approach you feel led to use, checking it's validity with the Scriptures. And most of all, don't let results control your choices, let your obedience to God do that.


PART EIGHT: God's Love For His Creations Part 1

Monday, August 21, 2006

Pt 6: Obedience Part 1

Men are carnal and prone to what is easy. Typically, as sinful men, we will also be prone to what comes quickly. If we look to the Apostles for an example we find something altogether different. They were so truly changed by Jesus that they sought Him in everything they did. Often you will find the intellectual rebellion telling us about the grand results of their work. This is whole heartily backwards. One's central focus should always be on Christ and His kingdom. These men will tell you lack of growth or numbers is a problem in need of radical change. The major problem with a result driven argument or approach is that many men in the Bible saw no "success" according to our standards. However, the only success we can know as imperfect sinful creatures is obedience to God's word.

How can we ever claim someone is successful based only on visible results? I'm sure anyone ignorant of their actions might think Joseph's brothers appeared to be quite successful after selling their brother into slavery. "Look," they would say, "They serve their father and comfort him in distress!" But their hearts were sinful, and their motives corrupt.

Firstly, anyone we could be talking about is a sinner who's righteousness is as filthy rags before God. Secondly, their ministry must be solely rooted in God's word before any such word like "successful" can be brought near it. Finally, our thoughts should never be so concerned with the success of someone or a ministry, but rather the obedience and Christ-likeness of the person or ministry.

If your ministry sees big results, praise the Lord for that, not the methods or approaches you used. You should never say, "I used these new methods from this book and many people are here. The results are wonderful and now it is time to obey the Scriptures." This again, is a reversed focus. You've spent all your time learning and trying this method to be successful in man's eyes that you've placed obedience to God's word at the bottom of your list of importance. You should strive so hard to obey God's word that any "success" you may have goes unnoticed. The less we pay attention to results and the more attention we give to obedience, the more true success we will experience.

So, good Christian, do not let these men sway you. Hold closely to God's word despite results and numbers that may be discouraging. Let them try their new tricks and methods with every new season, because the only timeless approach is obedience. Some might now say, "So what method or approach is right?" We will deal with that next.


PART SEVEN: Obedience Part 2

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Pt 5: Human Understanding

How can one confidently say, “I understand the ways of God perfectly” in view of human sinfulness? We can only very meekly say, “I imperfectly understand very little about God.” This sober approach is the only approach that a finite being must take toward an infinitely perfect being. Any deeper reasoning given for why God creates, damns, and sends men to hell must only be given in light of the Holy Scriptures. Too often men will shrug their shoulders and say, “We can’t say why God does what He does.” I contest that this is a dangerous and unnecessary extreme.

If we search the Scriptures we commonly and consistently find reasons given for the actions of God. We must admit, however, that not all of God’s actions, characteristics, and behavior can be confidently and exhaustively explained. Our finite and imperfect existence keeps us bound to a limited and small understanding. Still, such a wonderful and infinite being God is! Just our glimmer of sight into His existence is enough to ponder and discuss for all eternity.

So we should never shrug off questions of “why” and “how” about God. We should earnestly seek an answer from God and His Word. A slippery slope awaits those who do not wish to study or find answers. These men only wish to “feel” God, rather than “know” God. The intellectual rebellion has a new leader, book, or idea every minute. This rebellion also fizzles out quickly; almost as quickly as it starts. How can warriors be grown on milk and no meat? On feeling and no knowledge? On emotion and no understanding?


PART SIX: Obedience

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Pt 4: God's glory in creation

The first and most obvious reason to be given for the millions of people that will never turn to God in repentance being created is that God displays His glory in many fashions. Bacteria, in all it's glorious complexity, harms and even kills creatures within God's creation. Regardless of the pain or turmoil that it may cause, it was created by God and speaks of His infinite qualities from it's complex characteristics. The Lord's glory is limitless and is therefore limitless in it's ability to be seen in everything that exists.

So the tribal leader who dies unconverted or the banker who passes on without the Lord are both created beings that are stamped with the image of almighty God. Just in their biological makeup alone lies an endless well of complexities and harmonious interactions that speak of God's glory and craftsmanship. "Why then," some would ask, "not just create those who will be saved?" This is based on the notion that God's craftsmanship and glory could be shown in the created bodies of those who will be saved removing any reason to create those who will be damned. To this we must reflect back on what we said about our Lord's perfect plan. In His own view of Himself He sees perfectly the amount of glory due to Him. He also sees the perfect means in which to receive His perfect amount of due glory. We must then conclude that God knows and has planned the exact amount of those who will and will not be saved.

He knows and has planned how many doctors will invent marvelous cures for diseases while never being converted. He also knows and has planned how many murderers and rapists will repent of their sins and cling to Christ never to be the same again. Every spec of creation, every child that laughs for the first time, every plant and tree, echoes back the exact amount of glory God planned to receive. If this were not so, and He just let things be, it is inevitable that He would be shortchanged His due glory. He sees Himself perfectly and must not dishonor Himself by allowing finite beings that He created to determine the amount of glory He will receive. So the exact amount of unconverted humans that will exist and perish before Christ returns is the exact and perfect amount foreordained by our Creator. To say otherwise forces many basic Christian doctrines to crumble beneath the weight of non-Scripture-based opinions of God.

One must be humbled by his lack of perfect thought to see clearly his misunderstandings and false beliefs. We will never see how inaccurate we are until the veil of pride and self-dependence is removed from our eyes.


PART FIVE: Human Understanding

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pt 3: God forming His plan

We must now reflect on the forming of this eternal plan. God, when forming this plan, did so in accordance with His divine and perfect nature. It is therefore inevitable that the plan is perfect in all it's capacities. God must, with respect to His holiness, damn a certain number of people to hell. He must also, with respect to His mercy, choose a certain number of people to heaven. One response to this idea of God choosing is that it isn't fair. This only begs the question: What is fair?

An entire creation and existence relies on a holy and just Creator, does it not? And this holy and just Creator allows sinful creatures to experience moments of joy and happiness despite their consistent rebellion, does He not? If we search the Scriptures for guidance, since our sinful minds pollute our view of God, what we find is humbling.

The book of Romans says that the wages of sin is death. Reflect on that for just a moment. Imagine your place of employment telling you, "Your wages for moving these boxes will be $100," only they refuse to pay you once you have finished. Your first and most apparent reaction would be to say they are not being 'fair' and that they should honor the agreed wage for the task you've completed. Why then, is our reaction reversed when we are taught that God honors the wages due for sin? Think of it this way. Death is the due payment for any sin committed. In God's eyes, the most minute sin is repugnant and deserves due punishment. The simple fact that God does not strike dead every human the very second they commit their first sinful act is an exercise of His mercy.

And we, as sinful and finite creatures, have the audacity to question God sending sinners to deserving punishment? To this many ask, "Why then, does God create men who will only one day end up in hell?" As Christians we should always approach questions upon God that begin with "Why" very cautiously.


PART FOUR: God's Creation Displays His Glory

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Pt 2: God's Plan

At this point some might say, 'How can His eternal plan have an order if it is eternal and has no beginning?' To this we must admit a sense of mystery. How can God exist eternally? Do we truly have the capacity to understand that? And if He exists eternally, is everything within Him eternal? Thus concluding His thoughts are eternal? The answer is that one cannot be eternal and have finite qualities. For example, 'God is eternal, but His thoughts are not, they come and go.' This is far more contradictory than what I have laid out. The qualities of an eternal being must be of the same nature to which they are attached. Some would then say, 'But we have temporary bodies and our souls are eternal in heaven or hell.' This is not altogether true. We have a beginning, a starting point, a forming in the womb, and God does not. We will live eternally in heaven or hell, but we do not and have not existed eternally, so our existence is still finite.

To restate it in a different manner: To make any facet of God finite robs him of His eternal quality. God is not completely eternal if His thoughts suddenly come to Him and leave when they are unnecessary. We, as sinful humans, are prone to take our finite qualities and project them on to God in an effort to better understand Him. However, we must always remember, God does not bear our image, but we bear His.

So it must be restated: The harmony and order of God's thoughts can be seen and proven by the harmony and order within the universe. God has so engrained Himself into every thing that exists that the smallest most microscopic creature bellows of God's harmonious perfection louder than ten orchestras of the loudest instruments. Anyone deaf to the outcries of creation must be so blind that Satan himself is their master; blinding them and enjoying their inability and imperfection. His enjoyment of their imperfection isn't solely because it makes them serve him, but because they willingly choose to make his job as the dark master all the more easier.


PART THREE: The Forming Of God's Eternal Plan

Friday, June 09, 2006

Pt 1: God's Perfection

God receiving joy from our existence does not create any form of dependency within His existence. The fact that He created us out of nothing proves this. How? Prior to the creation of the world God was perfect in His existence. He needed no added agent of imperfection to complete any part of Him. The reason I say 'imperfection' is because anything that exists outside of the triune God lacks the ability to be perfect. Just the fact that any secondary agent must have been created and is therefore not eternal makes it less than God.

So here He sits; perfect and glorious, unaided and one. He views Himself and thinks of Himself perfectly. In this perfect thought process His eternal and ultimate plan exist. Within this perfect plan lies the birth of time. God, in His ultimate plan, which could only be based on and influenced by His perfect view of Himself, created time as a dimension within which He could carry out His created work. Our very existence depends upon a dimension that was perfectly sown together in the eternal thought process of God.

Now, just saying God has a 'thought process' robs Him of due glory. We imperfectly taint His perfect nature by describing Him with human characteristics. However, He has stamped us with His image, so the idea or philosophy of 'the thought process' is a glimmer of our Lord's functionality. Also we must remember God describes Himself using human characteristics in the Holy Scriptures. The mere fact that His creation had an order points to the orderly and perfect function of His thoughts. He saw fit to create the dimension of time, and that must have laid within some form of thought process because the creation of time was a necessary preceding act to the creation of the world.

The Lord, in His perfection, created a world and universe of harmony and order. This defeats the notion that our Lord may have had disjointed thoughts. For example, the idea that God spontaneously decided to create man and then needed a harmonious universe to place him in which would then need a dimension called time to exist within. Any notion that even resembles such random juvenility is rubbish that smells of lies from Satan. Our glorious Father laid out His plan, from start to finish, needing no fixes or changes, and all this took place within His thought process which is eternal and has no beginning.


PART TWO: The Order and Harmony of God's Plan

Monday, April 17, 2006

Becoming Conversant With The Emerging Church review

Becoming Conversant With The Emerging Church
By D.A. Carson
Published 2005, Zondervan

The whirlwind of blogs, web articles, and conversations about the Emerging Church has left many Christians confused and curious about what the Emerging is and what its purpose is. D.A. Carson offers a book that approaches the big picture of the Emerging Church within a postmodern culture.

Carson starts his book by giving a broad profile of the Emerging Church. He has to repeatedly admit to being broad because much of the topic at hand is broad already. He states, “At the heart of this “movement” – or as some of its leaders prefer to call it, the “conversation” – lies the conviction that changes in the culture signal that a new church is “emerging.” Christian leaders must therefore adapt to this emerging church. Those who fail to do so are blind to the cultural accretions that hide the gospel behind forms of thought and modes of expression that no longer communicate with the new generation, the emerging generation.”(12) He explores the works of many of the more well known and revered Emerging leaders such as: Chris Seay, Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Todd Hunter, Henri Nouwen, Spencer Burke, and more. Carson closes his opening chapter by concluding that, “…the emerging church movement challenges, on biblical grounds, some of the beliefs and practices of evangelicalism, by and large it insists it is preserving traditional confessionalism but changing the emphases because the culture has changed, and so inevitably those who are culturally sensitive see things in a fresh perspective. In other words, at the heart of the emerging reformation lies a perception of a major change in culture.”(42)

In chapters 2-5 Carson points out some of the good qualities in the Emerging Church movement by examining it’s questions and analyses. He spends much of his time quoting and examining the thoughts of the Emergent leaders. If you are seeking answers about what some of the core thoughts of the Emergent Church are, then these chapters will give you a startling glimpse. Carson is quick to applaud those who ask good questions, but he is just as quick to cut them down logically and biblically when reductionism or manipulation of the truth is present. He is also quick to point out the lack of uniqueness in some of the questions or assertions that are being stated as if they’ve never been uttered before: “the emerging church movement has numerous strengths, and we should be grateful for them – but they are not exhaustively theirs.”(56) Carson also makes sure to tear down the broad stroke scare tactics that many Emerging leaders use: “the rhetoric of these discussions is almost always over the top: the church must adapt to the postmodern world or it will die; unless we get on board with the direction of the emerging church movement, we are probably out-of-date modernists and absolutists to boot – all set forth in absolutist terms.”(84)

Chapter 6 is when D.A. Carson really gets the axe swinging. He postulates that a good and concise approach at showing some of the weaknesses within the Emerging movement would come from analyzing and examining two significant books. The two books examined are: A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren and The Lost Message of Jesus by Steve Chalke. The quotes Carson pulls from each book are startling in light of the up rise in praise and admiration of both books. Quotes like the one from Brian McLaren’s preface, “Beyond all these warnings, you should know that I am horribly unfair in this book, lacking all scholarly objectivity and evenhandedness.”(158) Carson accuses McLaren of disarming the reader with an over-the-top mea culpa while “repeatedly painting all of confessional evangelicalism with the narrowness of the most conservative twig of the most conservative bunch.”(159) It would seem after such a ridiculous preface that nobody would get to the first chapter of McLaren’s book which leads me to believe that Carson’s assertion about “disarming the reader” must be true to some degree, judging from the consistent praise and admiration people give the book.

Carson spends 24 pages exposing the major problems with McLaren’s book, so quoting anymore would be over kill, read the book. However, Carson only needed to spend 3 pages dealing with Chalke’s book, due to the ridiculous nature of the content within it. This quote should be all you need to see why: Chalke speaks about God, “The Bible in fact never defines him as anything other than love. But more than that, it never makes assertions about his anger, power or judgment independently of his love.”(183) Any biblical scholar or junior high youth attendee knows this statement to be utterly false. D.A. Carson should be applauded for the patience he must have exercised while penning the three pages dedicated to dismantling the fallacious and repugnant statements of Steve Chalke. I’ll leave the other statements to be read by curious readers, but take my word for it, they get worse.

The final two chapters of D.A Carson’s book are like a breath of fresh air. He exegetes enough Scripture passages to last a month of study and reading while dealing with many of the topics needed to be addressed within the postmodern culture. Those who might think Carson leaves you with nothing more than the sinking ship of the Emerging Church will be pleasantly surprised with his approach at dealing with the questions proposed by the movement. This book is worth the read for anyone seeking to be educated on what the Emerging Church is saying, and what the Christian should take from it… the good and the bad.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Bible and Tattoos

Bible passages commonly used against tattoos:

  • Leviticus 19:28
    You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
    19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Common arguments against Leviticus 19:28:

  • The context is within the Old Testament law, and we are no longer under the Old Testament law.
  • The passage was written during a time period when demon/idol worship was synonymous with markings/tattoos on the body.
  • Demon/idol worship is not synonymous with tattoos in America.
  • I am getting a Bible verse tattoo.

Common arguments against 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:

  • That passage is about fornication, not tattoos.
  • My tattoo is going to be a Bible verse.

Defense of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:

  • Your body is not your own.
  • The Biblical principle that your body should never be treated as your own parallels quite well for the Christian contemplating a tattoo.
  • Tattooing your body could even be viewed as selfish in light of this passage.
    Both your body and your spirit are purchased by Christ.
  • Deciding to permanently mark your body with a tattoo seems contradictory to the Biblical principle that your body does not belong to you, but to Christ.

    **However, this defense is not air-tight nor is it explicitly stated in the Scriptures in reference to tattoos or body markings. But it can be healthily applied to the decision making process.

Principles commonly used against tattoos:

Principles commonly used for tattoos:

  • My tattoo opens up/will open up witnessing opportunities.
  • My tattoo is/will be a Bible verse, it is a form of ministry.
  • Nobody will be able to see it, it is for me.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Should Christians Always Tip?

I feel like the "Why Christians don't tip" topic warrants a response.

A little google research came up with some unsettling finds.

Debra Fieguth wrote a good article entitled "Are You A Cheap Christian?" This witty joke bares with it a cold reminder that our Christian testimony is very important:
"What's the difference between Christians and canoes? Canoes tip. Ouch. That hurts, but unfortunately it reflects a widely believed notion that Christians are miserly when it comes to leaving a gratuity for waiters, hairdressers, taxi drivers and others in the service industry."

Her article isn't concrete and full of statistics, but it shows a stunning trend that I think most of us can admit is true. How many people, excluding Biggz because we already heard his story about the Crowder concert crowd... but how many people do you know that have complained about Christians being the worst tippers? Every person I've known to work in the food industry has told me this in one way or another. "Sunday is the worst crowd." "Christians always leave small tips or just stupid tracts." I've heard these staple statements in over abundance.

Well what should our response be?

I think some basic principles should be applied:

1. Only eat out if you can afford to tip well
This is pretty simple folks. If you go out to eat and claim you "don't really have the cash" to tip well, then you have no business eating out to begin with. (Proverbs 21:20)

2. Don't leave a tract as your means of a testimony, let your candor and tip speak for you
Shoddy evangelism happens enough without small tips or the lack thereof combined with a tract adding to the long list of "don't you hate it when Christians" list. If you want to share your faith, by all means, share it. But don't go leaving a tract as your smarmy way of "spreading the good news" when all you are going to do is ruin the receiving server's night and give them a false representation of what a Christian should be. (1 John 3:17-19)

3. If you do leave a tract, hand it to them personally, and be sure your tip and candor aren't sending a mixed signal
Really think it through before you decide to give a tract to someone if you aren't going to sit down and actually take the time to have a conversation with them. If God gives you a peace about it and you feel it is something you should do, then do it. But don't treat your server in a rude manner and leave a tract under your plate instead of a tip while scooting quickly out the door. Match your tract witness with your personal witness as a means of protecting the name of Christ. (James 2:15-17)

4. Don't use poor service as an excuse to not tip
Since when do we, as Christians, respond to people only in love when we see fit? How many times does Jesus reprimand this type of mindset? Eye for an eye? Isn't that essentially what we are saying when we use a server's poor service as an excuse to be unkind and unloving? We are to be different! (Matthew 5:38-49)

5. Think of tipping as a cultural custom with the mindset of a missionary in a foreign land
How much time and study is dedicated to not offending foreign cultures by being sensitive to their customs? We take such a tender approach to missions, but treat our homeland like backyard baseball in the sense that we think we write the rules. It would be quite offensive for a missionary to know of a custom and to ardently ignore and refuse to follow it. Not only would it be offensive, but it would ruin his witness and limit his effectiveness as a minister of the gospel (Proverbs 18:19). Such a parallel should humble any Christian who refuses to tip graciously.

6. If you are in a situation where you aren't sure what to tip, asking isn't impolite
If it is your first time in a cab or a hotel where tipping is customary, just ask what normal tip size is. Most people won't hesitate to give an honest and humble answer. I was getting my hair cut at a local salon and I just asked "what do people normally tip?" She said five dollars and I politely gave her seven. Now, don't think I'm proudfully bragging on myself, because I'm not. I'm giving an example of how easy it is to avoid offending someone when you are ignorant to the customary tipping total. She saw I was making sure I didn't offend her by not tipping, but she also saw I was willing to give more than the average. (Matthew 5:38-42)

The love of Christ far exceeds just telling people that God loves them. We should love them with kindness and generosity that is against the grain of every day society. Jesus didn't hand out tracts, He loved on people and served them. What a glorious testimony of Christ's love to generously give over and above what's expected in instances like tipping.

If you have anything to add or Scripture passages that touch on this subject, please contribute!

2 Corinthians 9:11
You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

This site was really helpful for Scriptures on everything from Debt, to Saving, to Budgeting... enjoy.

Election, Predestination, Limited Atonement

John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.
Romans 3:10-11 10 As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.
Philippians 1:29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him

This pretty much lays the foundation for inability apart from God's drawing. Now we have to see where drawing is explicitly connected to election...
Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
Ephesians 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will
Ephesians 1:4-5 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will

I could exhaust this part of the email, but it is pretty obvious predestination and election exists. However, if you want more references I can give you more.

Now, since God has chosen and knows who His children are before they are even born, Christ would only die and pay for the sins of those that would reap from the benefit of such a payment. Christ dying for people in hell or going to hell is a mockery of His atoning work. Sins being paid for twice is both contradicting to Scripture and is dismantling to eternal security. Christ did not just make salvation possible for every person that will ever live, but He secured the salvation of many peoples who were chosen by God before the foundation of the world. Scriptures for this "limited atonement" are scarce, but once the foundation of election has been set, logic leads us to only one conclusive end. Here are some passages:

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
This makes more sense when further in the passage Jesus says...
John 10 25-29 25 Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all

The key here is that "sheep" isn't just used for followers of God prior to Christ's death (ie: Disciples), but it also includes all that are "given" to Jesus by the Father. Then we have to remember He "lays down his life for the sheep". This is pretty air tight if you ask me. Not only does it show Christ dying only for His sheep, but it also shows that people weren't believing because they weren't chosen or "given" to Jesus by the Father.

John 17:9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.
Here Christ is praying for the chosen people that He is going to die for. In light of the passage in John 10 using the same wording "given me" and "given them to me", we can clearly see Jesus is praying for His sheep and isn't concerned with the entire world. Again, why pray or die for people that Jesus knows are not His chosen people?

Now, for John 3:16, you need verse 17 to see my point...
John 3:16-17 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Now you have to decide how you want the word "world" to be understood. If you think Christ died for every one that will ever live, then you have to replace the word "world" with that. Once you get to verse 17, the universalism springs forth.

John 3:16-17 16 For God so loved everyone that will ever live that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into everyone that will ever live to condemn everyone that will ever live, but to save everyone that will ever live through him.

Obviously you aren't a universalist. So John 3:16 no longer works for proving that Christ died for everyone. And yes! anyone that believes will be saved! But that phrase doesn't negate other passages that clearly show God chooses who will believe and who will not. We have to interpret Scripture with Scripture. So the passages I've used explain that what Jesus meant by "whoever believes" is more about eternal security than anything.

If you have any questions or want to know what other passages mean in light of these, just ask. Remember, I hated Calvinism and set out to disprove it. So I know what a lot of your objections or staple verses might be and I will be able to hopefully satisfy your questions or explain what certain verses mean.

Why I study theology

First let me start by saying if you have a problem with certain passages of the Bible, and think they don't apply to you, stop reading this now. And if you only read the Bible to use it as a moral compass and don't like passages that bring about deep theological meanings and implications, turn back now. And if you don't want to be challenged to take your faith seriously to the point of groaning study and diligence, hit that little X up in the corner.

Now with that word of caution out of the way I am going to give a defense as to why every Christian should study theology and doctrine. Agnosticism within the Christian faith is a growing problem, and the men and women of God's church need to kick it into high gear instead of sliding into neutral. For those of you who aren't familiar with Agnosticism, I will provide a definition:

"the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable"

Now one might say, how can a Christian be Agnostic? Well, to put it quite simply, they don't believe in the extensive study of God (theology) nor do they think systems of belief (doctrine) are worth anything because it is all "probably unknowable". The key issue here is that most Christians are not Agnostic by choice, but they have been influenced into apathetic and lazy mindsets about the Bible by fellow Christians. Preachers that don't take stances on deep theological issues because "we will never know in this life who is right and who is wrong", are doing a poor job of sheparding the flock.

Let us look to the Scriptures...

In Titus we have Paul's charge to Titus and the people of the church. Much to the Agnostic Christian's surprise, Paul places a lot of emphasis on sound doctrine and refuting those who teach false doctrine:

(Paul is addressing the leaders or "overseers", but this still applies to a Christian's duty to study and defend the faith)
Titus 1:9
9He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

The reason this applies to all Christians to know the message and the doctrine so that they can "refute those who oppose it", is because it says "the trustworthy message as it has been taught". The words "been taught" are crucial. If you are a Christian and you have "been taught" the "trustworthy message" of the gospel, your duty far exceeds simply sharing the gospel with the people around you. The wording also leads us to see the urgency and seriousness of Paul's charge. "Hold firmly" bears with it a high level of importance, and is followed by what should be done as a result: "encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." Now let us go further into the text...

The words following verse 9 are also important. They say "For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers". This tells us that enemies of the truth of God's Word were in an abundance; ie: see the word "many". If you live in America, just look around you; enemies of God's Word are slowly becoming the majority. What does Paul say we should do about it? Verse 11 says "They must be silenced," Why? "because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain." It doesn't take a psychologist or a social analyst to see the rampant deconstruction and crumbling structure within the home of our Western culture...

From divorce rates, to rebellious children, to husbands that look at porn, to wives that cheat; we can see the results of what Paul warned us about. Houses have been ruined by things being taught that shouldn't be taught. Things like this quote I just read by Donald Miller, "At the end of the day, when I am lying in bed and I know the chances of any of our theology being exactly right are a million to one, I need to know that God has things figured out, that if my math is wrong we are still going to be okay. And wonder is that feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow. I don't think there is any better worship than wonder" What he says is quite comforting to anyone who sees study of theology as a wasted effort. However, those of us that pursue a deeper understanding by sharpening our swords through the diligent study of theology and doctrine, are quite insulted and prone to scoff at such "we are still okay, nobody knows who is right, lets all just be happy" ideology. Silly answers?! Mapped out rules that we want God to follow?! Since I have rently read his book, "Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality", I'm quite sure the point he is trying to make. Biblical theology matters very little to Donald Miller judging from his book. He focuses on loving people and serving those that are around us. At times his book removes the importance of study while elevating making people feel good. Well, I hate to disrupt the fluffy feel good message but... We are at war. The culture war over abortion, gay rights, and evolution has become so heated in the public square that Christians need to firmly stand their ground. The study of theology and doctrine is the only way to properly equip ourselves for the defense of God's Word. Donald Miller's, dare I say, belittling of theological systems and doctrinal systems flies in the face of the seriousness of Paul's charge to Titus.

The Agnosticism that is being spread within the Church is probably the single greatest reason people don't take their Christian faith seriously. Yet the Agnostic Christians have the nerve to mock those who study theology with generalizations about "over intellectualizing the Bible" or "being too logical" or "having to place God inside a box". Were the Apostalic Fathers fools who over intellectualized the Bible? Or were they bold men of God that defended their faith against early pagan philosophy and heresy by studying sound theology and doctrine? They didn't do it as a reaction to the pagans, they did it because it was their duty. They saw plainly the urgent necessity for solid biblical doctrine, theology, and philosophy; and equipped themselves accordingly.

In the book Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey, she talks about how Christians in America privatize their faith and neglect applying/bringing it to their secular jobs or environments. At the very core of this problem lies the poisonous venom of Agnosticism. People that shrug their shoulders and say "there is no way to know who is right" probably don't stand up for their Christian beliefs in their workplace. How can we assume this? Quite simply by observing that if among Christian circles they lack the motivation to study and defend sound doctrine, what reason would they have to defend any faith at all in a non-Christian environment? Wouldn't they also be hesitant due to the fact that they probably would do a shoddy job defending their faith due to their lack of study? We can easily deduct from this simple observation that most if not all people who look at the Christian faith with such apathy will not going to defend their faith when it is challenged. I am not, however, discrediting or taking away from Christians who are young in their faith that share Christ with everyone they meet. I am addressing those that refuse to study theology and doctrine as some strange form of intellectual rebellion.

So what are we dealing with here? Simply put: An infection in the church. The Agnostic secular worldview has breached the walls of our crumbling defenses and has now set up camp behind the pulpit. I've heard such criticisms as "what God must think when His children sit around and debate and discuss rather than win souls". Unfair and non-conclusive assertions about God's disposition toward study and defense of sound doctrine come from the apathetic privatized Christianity that Agnosticism has created.

Here is the reality check:

We are the future leaders of the church. That sentence alone should inspire you or scare you. I am scared for the future of the church because more people ascribe to this Agnostic approach to Christianity every day. However, I am also inspired to take my studies here at College more seriously than I have in the past. Hopefully some of you are inspired and motivated by this refreshing look at our duty as Christians to study. "But where do I start?" Start with your Pastor, I don't think I'm being presumptuous to say that he probably graduated from a Bible College (unless your pastor is Joel Osteen, the college drop out.) Ask him for books or studies that he would recommend. "But how do I study?" If you have any formal education, studying the Bible shouldn't prove to be too difficult if you start small. Find a book that is a study on a specific book of the Bible and go through it with your spouse, friend, boy/girlfriend, fiancé, or be really bold, and *gasp* do it on your own! "But why?" I'll answer this with another passage of Scripture...

2 Timothy 2:15
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Some translations don't say "study", some say "strive" or "be diligent". So before you assume that is the crux of the passage and think it is therefore nullified by different translations, I direct you to the last part of the verse. "Rightly dividing the word of truth"; it is our aim, our mark, and our duty. God's Word is not simply a morning devotional for daily inspiration(not mocking, but it is definitely more than just those two things). It is the very Words of God, it is God breathed, it is the only way to truly know God; and we should take very serious the charge to study it, defend it, and know it.

In closing, don't take this entry as an assault or an attack if you think that is what I'm setting out to do. You will be wonderfully surprised at how rewarding and refreshing it is to study the Bible on a doctrinal and theological level.