Pilgrim’s Keyboard

November 9, 2009

The Bible Doctrine of Election …

Filed under: Cindy,Some Famous | Some Not So Famous — pilgrimskeyboard @ 3:54 pm

The Bible Doctrine of Election

By: C.D. Cole Condensed Version (with editing and clarification) by: Cindy Lynne Allen

Election! – what a blessed word! Who does not rejoice to know that he has been chosen to some great blessing? Election unto salvation is the greatest of all blessings, but a neglected truth even by many who profess to believe it. Spurgeon said, “There seems to be an inveterate prejudice in the human mind against this doctrine, and although most other doctrines will be received by professing Christians, some with caution, others with pleasure, yet this one seems to be most frequently disregarded and discarded.”

Election is the foundation for the other doctrines of human redemption to rest upon. It takes the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to cause a man to love the doctrine of election. To this we must acknowledge the superior wisdom of God whose thoughts are not as our thoughts. The Bible was given to correct our thinking. Repentance is a change of mind resulting in a change of thinking. We are not to come to the Bible as critics; the Bible is to criticize us (meaning to correct). The surest evidence of a saved state is to have the right attitude toward the Word of God. We must beware against any “poking fun” at any doctrine of the Bible.

The doctrines of grace have found expression in two systems of theology commonly known as Calvinism and Arminianism. These two systems were not named for their founders, but for the men who popularized them. The system known as Calvinism was preached by Augustine at an earlier date, and before Augustus by Christ and the Apostles, being especially emphasized by the Apostle Paul. The system known as Arminianism was proclaimed by Pelagius in the fifth century. The truth system is based upon the truth of man’s inherent and total depravity; the false system is based upon the Romish dogma of free-will.

Some people are thinking that this is some new type of ideology or even heresy that is recently being propagated when in actuality, Arminianism is the new heresy that is being propagated. The London Confession (1689) states: By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace; others being left to act in their sins to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice.

There is no doctrine so grossly misrepresented. The doctrine of election is clothed in an ugly garb and held up to ridicule and sport. Let us strip this glorious truth of its false and vicious garment with which enemy hands have robed it, and put upon it the garments of holiness and wisdom.

Election is not salvation but it is unto salvation. “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,” (Romans 11:7). “God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13b). According to this, election precedes salvation. People are actually saved when they believe on Christ, not when they are elected. Presidents are not presidents when they are elected, but when they are inaugurated. God’s elect are inducted into the position of “new creatures in Christ” by the effectual call, (the quickening work of the Holy Spirit) through which they become believers in the Gospel.

Election is not the cause of anybody’s going to hell; election is unto salvation. Neither is non-election responsible for the condemnation of sinners. Sin is what sends people to hell. Election does not change this.

In the first century, there was a remnant among the Jews who were saved according to the election of grace. “So too at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace” (Romans 11:5). Those who oppose election cannot consistently claim to believe in salvation by grace. Those denominations that believe in salvation by works have no place for the doctrine of election in their confessions of faith; those that believe in salvation by grace, apart from human merit, have not failed to included election in their written creed. One group is headed by the Roman Catholics, the other group is headed by the Baptists.

Election does not prevent the salvation of anybody who wants to be saved, but a distinction needs to be made between a mere desire to escape hell and the desire to be saved from sin. The desire to be saved from hell is a natural desire. The desire to be saved from sin is a spiritual desire resulting from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.

Election means that the destiny of men is in the hands of God. Many have regarded as an axiom the statement that everyone’s destiny is in his own hands. This is to deny the whole tenor of Scripture. At no time is the destiny of anyone in his own hands. If so, when one is saved, he or she has no one to thank and glorify but himself. Perish such a thought! “But all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). “God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:8c-9). Read also Ephesians 2:1-10.

If anyone’s destiny is in his own hands, he will either keep himself saved or he will lose his salvation. But, the Bible says that we are kept by the power of God through faith. We have this promise from John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Philippians 1:6 also says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” What comfort! What security! What trust we can place in Him!

This theory that the destiny of anyone is or ever has been in his own hands reverses the very laws of nature. What man can lift himself into the attic by his own bootstraps? Can the Ethiopian change his color or the leopard remove his spots? By this we know that death cannot beget life. The theory that one’s destiny is in his own hands begets self-righteousness; the belief that destiny is in the hands of God begets self-renunciation and faith in God. How the reputation of the visible church would change before the eyes of the world if we began to act on the scripture in this way!

Election stands or falls with the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and man’s depravity. Election is not a plan to save a mere handful of people. Matthew 20:28 says, “Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for ‘many.’” The word “many” here is important. If all were intended to be saved, as some believe, all would be saved because God is powerful enough to perform His will. John 5:21 states, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” Again – the implication is no that all people on earth would be saved. Scripture goes even further with this truth in Romans 9:18. “So then he has mercy on whomever he will, and he hardens whomever he wills.

God’s elect are manifested in repentance, faith, and good works; they are not the cause but the evidence of salvation/election. The one who doesn’t pray, who has not repented of sins and trusted Christ as Lord and Ruler of his life, and who does not engage in good works has no right to claim that he is a saved person.

Some issues that are important to understand when talking about election include that people are automatically elected only when they make the decision to be saved. Election took place in eternity before the foundation of the earth; salvation takes place at the time the sinner believes. Some believe that discussion about election pertain only to the Jews. The mystery Christ spoke often about was that the gentiles were also chosen for salvation. Paul, the Apostle to the gentiles, states, “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10).

Some say that election took place in eternity only as a result of God’s ability to look down through time and see who would choose to come to Him. It puts the act of salvation back into the range of the sinner’s innate capacity to save himself. We are reminded in Ephesians 1:4-6 that it is nothing of us, but it is all according to His will and purposes. “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” The Bible does not describe the natural man as having faith. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Not able means unable! Without the understanding originating with God according to His own choice, no one would believe, as is evidenced by most of the world today. This is how Christians ought to view the lost. “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25). Salvation is up to God, not up to us. If we truly believed this and acted according to this scripture, how much better would be our tarnished reputation as Christians.

Many argue against election because they say it robs the Christian of the incentive to preach the word to the lost. This causes missions to be based on sympathy for the lost rather than upon obedience to God’s command. The inspiration of missions is made to rest upon the practical results of missionary endeavor rather than upon the delight of doing God’s will. It is the principle of doing a thing because the results are satisfactory to the one doing them. If we are faithful, God is as pleased with our efforts when we see no tangible results as He is when we do see them. The elect, prior to their conversion, are known only to God. We are to preach the gospel to every creature because He has commanded it. Not because we feel sorry for lost people. He will take care of the results and cause us to be more effective than any who does it from simply humanistic motivation could ever think possible. “If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). I fear that much work done in the name of Christ will be burned up because of this wrong motivation.

If election is based on the ground of something good that is found in the sinner then nobody would have been elected, for there is none good. Election is not in view of foreseen repentance and faith. Election is the cause of repentance and faith and not the effect of these graces. To say that God chose men to salvation because He foresaw that they would repent and believe is to attribute foolishness to the infinitely wise God. It can be compared to the President of the United States stating that the sun would rise tomorrow because he foresees that it will rise.

Some claim that the doctrine of election limits God’s mercy, yet at the same time, they say that God’s mercy is limited to the believer. They believe that God doesn’t have the power to bring those He has elected to Himself without doing violence to those people’s will. God has the power to give a sound mind and cause one to be willing. If God is trying to save every member of Adam’s fallen race, and does not succeed, then His power is limited and His is not the Lord God Almighty. Whether we like it or not, who are we to talk back to God? He tells us in Romans 9:15-16 “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” All sinners are dead until God makes them alive. He can take away the heart of stone. No one is too great a sinner that God cannot save him. Thus we can pray for everyone with confidence knowing that our merciful Lord will accomplish His will at all times.

What do we do with the doctrine of “whosoever will?” Without election the invitation to “whosoever will” would go unheeded. This does not imply that the freedom or ability of the human will is able to do good. The human will is free, but its freedom is within the limits of fallen human nature. It is free like the vulture who will eat only meat but its nature but would starve to death in a wheat field. So sinners starve to death in the presence of the bread of life. It is not natural for a sinner to trust in Christ. Jesus spoke to a group of very religious people, the Pharisees, when he said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:29-40). Even though the very religious sought and sought, they were not given the ability to come to Him unless He first gave them that ability.

Some object to the doctrine of election by saying that it makes God unjust. This objection betrays an unrighteous heart by believing that the creator is obligated to the creature. It elevates man to the position of God and says that man is more merciful that God. It denies the right of the potter over the clay. By the same parity of reasoning, it makes the governor of a sovereign nation unjust when he pardons one or more unless he empties out the prison and turns all the prisoners loose. By pardoning some, he does no harm to the others who are serving their just punishment. Salvation, like a pardon, is not deserved. If it were deserved, then God would be unjust if He did not bestow it upon all men. Salvation is not of justice, but of mercy. Those who go to hell will have no one to blame but themselves, while those who go to heaven will have no one to praise but God. This is best explained in Romans 9:22-24. “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?” All things in the universe have an opposite. The absence of light is dark. The absence of salvation is condemnation. One only becomes clear when compared to the other. Oh – the wisdom of God! How unsearchable are His ways!

(All scriptures are from the English Standard Version)

ba

November 2, 2009

When Atheists Believe –

Filed under: Cindy,Some Famous | Some Not So Famous — pilgrimskeyboard @ 2:56 pm

When Atheists Believe –

Christianity Today, Chuck Colson, October 2009 (condensed)

In recent years Great Britain’s chief export to the U.S. has been a payload of books by atheist authors such as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and literary critic Christopher Hitchens. They contend that faith is irrational in the face of modern science. Other prominent British atheists seem to be having second thoughts. Is there some revival sweeping England? No; they are examining the rationality of Christianity, the very beliefs Dawkins and others are so profitably engaging, but are coming to opposite conclusions.

Well-known scholar Anthony Flew was the first, saying he had to go “where the evidence [led].” Evolutionary theory, he concluded, has no reasonable explanation for the origin of life.

More recently, A.N. Wilson, once thought to be the next C.S. Lewis who then renounced his faith and spent years mocking Christianity, returned to faith. The reason, he said in an interview with New Statesman, was that atheists “are missing out on some very basic experiences of life.” Listening to Bach and reading the works of religious authors, he realized that their worldview or “perception of life was deeper, wiser, and more rounded than my own.”

He noticed that the people who insist we are “simply anthropoid apes” cannot account for things as basic as language, love, and music. That, along with the “even stronger argument” of how the “Christian faith transforms individual lives,” convinced Wilson that “the religion of the incarnation…is simply true.”

Likewise, Matthew Parris, another well-known British atheist, made the mistake of visiting Christian aid workers in Malawi, Where he saw the power of the gospel transforming them and others.

Could this signal a trend? Faith and reason are not enemies. We are given reason as a gift. And while we can’t reason our way to God (only the power of God can transform fallen men) Christianity is the most rational explanation of reality.

A strong empirical case can be made to show that Christianity is the only rational explanation of life. Why is there sin and suffering? Is redemption possible? List the various philosophies and prominent world religions. By examining how each view answers these questions, determination can be made about which world-view conforms to the way things really are. This is the correspondence theory of truth–a thoroughly rational test.

— Perfect love casts out fear. Cindy

September 15, 2009

[WE FLED TO THEE]

Filed under: Cindy,Some Famous | Some Not So Famous — pilgrimskeyboard @ 3:03 pm

I thought this was especially beautiful. But more than that – it’s interesting and thought-provoking.    |     Cindy.

If there had anywhere appeared in space

Another place of refuge, where to flee,

Our hearts had taken refuge in that place,

And not with Thee.

 

For we against creation’s bars had beat,

Like prisoned eagles, through great worlds had sought,

Though but a foot of ground to plant our feet,

Where Thou wert not.

 

And only when we found in earth and air,

In heaven or hell, that such might nowhere be–

That we could not flee from Thee anywhere,

We fled to Thee.

 

By: Richard C. Trench – 1885

May 2, 2009

Brief Analysis of Judas and Modern Chritians

Filed under: Cindy — pilgrimskeyboard @ 4:50 pm

By: Cindy Lynne Allen – 4/29/09

 “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him (Matthew 26:15-16 ESV).

Jesus knew from the start that Judas was not a true believer, yet he had a purpose for him.  Judas received all the blessings and the commissions that the other disciples received. No one else had a clue that he was false. Jesus never treated him differently or let on to anyone that he was anything but a part of the group, one of the twelve disciples. Even those closest to Jesus had no idea even up to the moment of betrayal.

Those false Christians in the church today are the same way. Even those closest to Jesus such as pastors, deacons, and other church leaders and prayer warriors frequently can’t tell them apart. God has a purpose for them even if it’s simply to show his kindness and justice on the Day of Judgment. This is a profound thought to ponder.

Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so” (Matthew 26:25).

Judas calls Jesus “Rabbi” or “Teacher.” The other disciples, at this point, call him Lord. There is no record of Judas’ ever calling Him Lord. The difference in attitude of those in the church who think of Jesus as a “good buddy” or even a “savior” can be quite different from those who bow before Him as Lord. As scripture warns us, it is essential for each of us to examine ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV).

January 10, 2009

Spiritual Journey

Filed under: Cindy — pilgrimskeyboard @ 1:56 pm

Spiritual Journey

By: Cindy Lynne Allen

 

            I have heard many times from people that they are on a “Spiritual Journey” and I found myself pondering exactly what this might mean. The implication of the word “journey” suggests a destination. Who would undertake the rigors of a long journey without the intention of eventually arriving at a desired location? So the first question I must ask myself is “What is my intended destination? and/or what do I hope to achieve by reaching this destination?

            One concept I have found helpful in my own so-called “journey” is to ask, “What is the focus of the problem, the puzzle, the activity, the message, etc.?” I rely on this concept a great deal when I’m listening to various preachers or speakers or reading their writings. If one is observant, the focus can frequently be found to be the exaltation of man or self. It may have God in the periphery, but the main focus is often self-interest. This can even appear as a focus on the devil and the great fight between good and evil. This still puts the focus on self because self can be seen as the “great hero of God” fighting on His side to defeat the devil. This places man in the position of the deciding factor and diminishes the omnipotence of God in the eyes of humanity.

            So, the question I ask again is, “What is the intended destination?” Often the destination desired is the alleviation of some type of personal pain. “What can God do for me?” This can be a decent first step because God does indeed wash away our personal pain through the forgiveness of sins and the establishment of a personal relationship with the Prince of Peace, but if this desire remains the sole focus, one can easily stop short of the grand goal and accept something less. Religion alone can pacify. Attending church and gaining the benefits of kind fellowship with others goes a long way toward soothing personal pain. The uplifting music, kind words from a pulpit, church work that causes one to feel that he or she is making a contribution all play their part in this truncated goal. But is this the ultimate purpose of the journey?

            There are many throughout history and continuing into our own time that have embarked on this quest and have come to diverse locations. The Buddha arrived at a place where he felt that a personal separation from conflict and established, consistent self-satisfaction was the great destination. Muhammad felt that his quest led to a place where seeking to gain the attention of Allah through whatever dramatic means necessary was the end of the journey. All the way back to the biblical description of Baal worship where people were satisfied through licentious forms of worship that provided them with much more temporary satisfaction than what the God of Israel had to offer shows the end result of some spiritual journeys. These were all certainly spiritual and certainly provided satisfaction or they would not have been so prevalent. Even today, the denial of God and the embrace of hedonism is for some the grand goal of their spiritual journey. They would deny the use of the word “spiritual,” but seeking satisfaction for their own human “spirit” is what they desire. 

            Arrival at this grand destination then requires that one carefully analyze the motivation of his or her own heart. This can be a difficult thing to do because each of us knows that our own hearts can be quite deceitful. If this analysis proves the deceitfulness of my heart, where do I turn? Think about the one who stretched out the heavens. Is that being not unthinkably wise and powerful? Is this Being powerful enough to make Himself known to those who truly seek after meaning in life? Isn’t this the crux of the “spiritual journey?” the meaning of life? To know one’s place in the universe and to know that the universe has order, to know that the One who provides the order is all powerful does alleviate personal pain. Complete trust as a cherished infant for her father brings peace. But just as the child does not define or dictate to the father what his nature or personality should be, we cannot do this to the creator of the universe. He has given us a Book that holds the answers to how to come to Him, and He has provided the avenue through the cross of Christ. Those who prefer the sensuality of alternatives are blinded to Him. Those who embark on this journey and allow their hearts to be purified through the washing of His Word will surely find Him.

 

January 7, 2009

The Story of 2008 – [food for thought – ba]

Filed under: Cindy,Some Famous | Some Not So Famous — pilgrimskeyboard @ 3:35 pm

An interesting email that came to me from my fiery-side-kick.   

The Story of 2008 
   By Jan Markell
                                
 A one-world system in my lifetime? Never! Yet my frequent radio guest and one of our “Understanding the Times 2009” speakers, Gary Kah, has said this to me for years: “We are just one global crisis away from global government.”
 
Think this is raging foolishness for those who hold to my eschatology? Here are some secular headlines from 2008: “G20 Leaders Struggle to Reshape Global Economy”; “Global Governance, Here we Come!”; “And Now for Global Government”; “Time to Build a Global Society.”  All of these articles can be viewed here.  They are spurred on by a global financial crisis, so-called man-made global warming crisis, and the global war on terror. It’s time for change! Where have we heard that in 2008? Make that “global change.”
 
A financial tsunami hit America and the world in 2008. After leaders in America, including President Bush, sized up the situation, America was largely “bailed out.” We were told there was no other option. Credit had dried up. American establishments were going broke.  Unemployment would reach 10% if the government didn’t step in and offer a solution. The only problem is, the solution left capitalism gasping in America and placed socialism on center stage. This set the merry-go-round spinning for the cheerleaders of global government.
 
Sure, I knew this would happen — someday. The book of Revelation outlines it perfectly for those of us who take that book literally. So in 2008 we saw the prophetic clock go on fast-forward in all categories. But the worldwide cry for global governance accelerated almost overnight?
 
Then global panic set in. The Washington Times led the chorus by saying, “Leaders and economists from Western Europe to East Asia urged that America go beyond reviving a failed domestic bailout and start working on a new global financial system. The next U.S. president should immediately call for a second ‘Bretton Woods’ conference to devise a new doctrine of international finance.” Could “international finance” be another term for a cashless society also predicted in Revelation?
 
Since the U.S. government is almost as broke as the institutions it is trying to assist, won’t minds be more open now to this idea? Yes! Who is going to bail out the U.S. government when it goes broke, which will surely happen? With America crippled with so much debt, it will clearly take a global solution or global government to fix the American and world economy. It will be presented as the healing balm. When unemployment hits 10% or higher and when it appears people’s retirement savings are wiped out, the world will accept any kind of magic plan. And all this is coming together with rapid speed!
 
At the same time in 2008 we saw one man captivate global headlines. Newsweek magazine calls President-elect Barack Obama “The President of the World.” The Bible says a man-with-a-plan will come along to dazzle the world. I am not suggesting Barack Obama is the antichrist. We cannot know such things and he lacks some qualifications. The point is the world grabbed hold of one man who promised he would “fix things” and create “change” in desperate times. Hundreds of Web sites called him “the messiah.”
 
The world has never watched any vote, in any nation, so closely. In country after country, polls show record-high fascination with the outcome.  The Voice of America, which broadcasts in 45 languages to a worldwide audience of 134 million, saw “unprecedented interest.” In Pakistan there was so much interest in the first presidential debate, the VOA changed its initial plans and broadcast the next two as well.  And many in other countries said Barack Obama would fix all the world’s problems. I point this out just to emphasize that the longing for someone presenting all the answers is a global one.
 
The coming together of these two issues is no coincidence, and it may be the most significant end-time event since the rebirth of Israel. It was the perfect storm.  As prophecy writer Terry James says, “So obvious are the tremendous forces pushing the nations of earth toward one world that journalists who have little to no interest in or knowledge of Bible prophecy are making the connection. This world is changing dynamically, dramatically, astonishingly, even before the much ballyhooed coming administration of Barack Obama . . . ”  
 
There has been a misperception that government solves everything when in reality, big government is the problem. The average man on the street is sure that political regimes can save the world. The pump is now primed. The world is wide open to receive a “Mr. Fix-it.” It is also very nearly ready to accept a world without borders. At the very least, it will first accept regionalism and then globalism.
 
There are no other human options to make the world right again. And none will work until we are under a perfect Theocracy with King Jesus on the throne in Jerusalem! In the meantime, fasten your seat belt. We are in for a bumpy ride in 2009.  Those who have their eye on the sky to discern the times will never be bored!

January 4, 2009

The Bible Doctine of Election

Filed under: Cindy — pilgrimskeyboard @ 2:49 am

The Bible Doctrine of Election

By: C.D. Cole

Condensed Version (with editing and clarification) by: Cindy Lynne Allen

 

            Election! – what a blessed word! Who does not rejoice to know that he has been chosen to some great blessing? Election unto salvation is the greatest of all blessings, but a neglected truth even by many who profess to believe it. Spurgeon said, “There seems to be an inveterate prejudice in the human mind against this doctrine, and although most other doctrines will be received by professing Christians, some with caution, others with pleasure, yet this one seems to be most frequently disregarded and discarded.”

            Election is the foundation for the other doctrines of human redemption to rest upon. It takes the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to cause a man to love the doctrine of election. To this we must acknowledge the superior wisdom of God whose thoughts are not as our thoughts. The Bible was given to correct our thinking. Repentance is a change of mind resulting in a change of thinking. We are not to come to the Bible as critics; the Bible is to criticize us (meaning to correct). The surest evidence of a saved state is to have the right attitude toward the Word of God. We must beware against any “poking fun” at any doctrine of the Bible.

            The doctrines of grace have found expression in two systems of theology commonly known as Calvinism and Arminianism. These two systems were not named for their founders, but for the men who popularized them. The system known as Calvinism was preached by Augustine at an earlier date, and before Augustus by Christ and the Apostles, being especially emphasized by the Apostle Paul. The system known as Arminianism was proclaimed by Pelagius in the fifth century. The truth system is based upon the truth of man’s inherent and total depravity; the false system is based upon the Romish dogma of free-will.

            Some people are thinking that this is some new type of ideology or even heresy that is recently being propagated when in actuality, Arminianism is the new heresy that is being propagated. The London Confession (1689) states: By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace; others being left to act in their sins to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice.

            There is no doctrine so grossly misrepresented. The doctrine of election is clothed in an ugly garb and held up to ridicule and sport. Let us strip this glorious truth of its false and vicious garment with which enemy hands have robed it, and put upon it the garments of holiness and wisdom.

            Election is not salvation but it is unto salvation. “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,” (Romans 11:7). “God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13b). According to this, election precedes salvation. People are actually saved when they believe on Christ, not when they are elected. Presidents are not presidents when they are elected, but when they are inaugurated. God’s elect are inducted into the position of “new creatures in Christ” by the effectual call, (the quickening work of the Holy Spirit) through which they become believers in the Gospel.

            Election is not the cause of anybody’s going to hell; election is unto salvation. Neither is non-election responsible for the condemnation of sinners. Sin is what sends people to hell. Election does not change this.

            In the first century, there was a remnant among the Jews who were saved according to the election of grace. “So too at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace” (Romans 11:5). Those who oppose election cannot consistently claim to believe in salvation by grace. Those denominations that believe in salvation by works have no place for the doctrine of election in their confessions of faith; those that believe in salvation by grace, apart from human merit, have not failed to included election in their written creed. One group is headed by the Roman Catholics, the other group is headed by the Baptists.

            Election does not prevent the salvation of anybody who wants to be saved, but a distinction needs to be made between a mere desire to escape hell and the desire to be saved from sin. The desire to be saved from hell is a natural desire. The desire to be saved from sin is a spiritual desire resulting from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.

            Election means that the destiny of men is in the hands of God. Many have regarded as an axiom the statement that everyone’s destiny is in his own hands. This is to deny the whole tenor of Scripture. At no time is the destiny of anyone in his own hands. If so, when one is saved, he or she has no one to thank and glorify but himself.  Perish such a thought! “But all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). “God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:8c-9). Read also Ephesians 2:1-10.

            If anyone’s destiny is in his own hands, he will either keep himself saved or he will lose his salvation. But, the Bible says that we are kept by the power of God through faith. We have this promise from John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Philippians 1:6 also says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” What comfort! What security! What trust we can place in Him!

            This theory that the destiny of anyone is or ever has been in his own hands reverses the very laws of nature. What man can lift himself into the attic by his own bootstraps? Can the Ethiopian change his color or the leopard remove his spots? By this we know that death cannot beget life. The theory that one’s destiny is in his own hands begets self-righteousness; the belief that destiny is in the hands of God begets self-renunciation and faith in God. How the reputation of the visible church would change before the eyes of the world if we began to act on the scripture in this way!

            Election stands or falls with the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and man’s depravity. Election is not a plan to save a mere handful of people. Matthew 20:28 says, “Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for ‘many.’” The word “many” here is important. If all were intended to be saved, as some believe, all would be saved because God is powerful enough to perform His will. John 5:21 states, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” Again – the implication is no that all people on earth would be saved. Scripture goes even further with this truth in Romans 9:18. “So then he has mercy on whomever he will, and he hardens whomever he wills.

            God’s elect are manifested in repentance, faith, and good works; they are not the cause but the evidence of salvation/election. The one who doesn’t pray, who has not repented of sins and trusted Christ as Lord and Ruler of his life, and who does not engage in good works has no right to claim that he is a saved person.

            Some issues that are important to understand when talking about election include that people are automatically elected only when they make the decision to be saved. Election took place in eternity before the foundation of the earth; salvation takes place at the time the sinner believes. Some believe that discussion about election pertain only to the Jews. The mystery Christ spoke often about was that the gentiles were also chosen for salvation. Paul, the Apostle to the gentiles, states, “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10).

            Some say that election took place in eternity only as a result of God’s ability to look down through time and see who would choose to come to Him. It puts the act of salvation back into the range of the sinner’s innate capacity to save himself. We are reminded in Ephesians 1:4-6 that it is nothing of us, but it is all according to His will and purposes. “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” The Bible does not describe the natural man as having faith. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Not able means unable! Without the understanding originating with God according to His own choice, no one would believe, as is evidenced by most of the world today. This is how Christians ought to view the lost. “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25). Salvation is up to God, not up to us. If we truly believed this and acted according to this scripture, how much better would be our tarnished reputation as Christians.

            Many argue against election because they say it robs the Christian of the incentive to preach the word to the lost. This causes missions to be based on sympathy for the lost rather than upon obedience to God’s command. The inspiration of missions is made to rest upon the practical results of missionary endeavor rather than upon the delight of doing God’s will. It is the principle of doing a thing because the results are satisfactory to the one doing them. If we are faithful, God is as pleased with our efforts when we see no tangible results as He is when we do see them. The elect, prior to their conversion, are known only to God. We are to preach the gospel to every creature because He has commanded it. Not because we feel sorry for lost people. He will take care of the results and cause us to be more effective than any who does it from simply humanistic motivation could ever think possible. “If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). I fear that much work done in the name of Christ will be burned up because of this wrong motivation.

            If election is based on the ground of something good that is found in the sinner then nobody would have been elected, for there is none good. Election is not in view of foreseen repentance and faith. Election is the cause of repentance and faith and not the effect of these graces. To say that God chose men to salvation because He foresaw that they would repent and believe is to attribute foolishness to the infinitely wise God. It can be compared to the President of the United States stating that the sun would rise tomorrow because he foresees that it will rise.

            Some claim that the doctrine of election limits God’s mercy, yet at the same time, they say that God’s mercy is limited to the believer. They believe that God doesn’t have the power to bring those He has elected to Himself without doing violence to those people’s will. God has the power to give a sound mind and cause one to be willing. If God is trying to save every member of Adam’s fallen race, and does not succeed, then His power is limited and His is not the Lord God Almighty. Whether we like it or not, who are we to talk back to God? He tells us in Romans 9:15-16 “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” All sinners are dead until God makes them alive. He can take away the heart of stone. No one is too great a sinner that God cannot save him. Thus we can pray for everyone with confidence knowing that our merciful Lord will accomplish His will at all times.

            What do we do with the doctrine of “whosoever will?” Without election the invitation to “whosoever will” would go unheeded. This does not imply that the freedom or ability of the human will is able to do good. The human will is free, but its freedom is within the limits of fallen human nature. It is free like the vulture who will eat only meat but its nature but would starve to death in a wheat field. So sinners starve to death in the presence of the bread of life. It is not natural for a sinner to trust in Christ. Jesus spoke to a group of very religious people, the Pharisees, when he said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:29-40). Even though the very religious sought and sought, they were not given the ability to come to Him unless He first gave them that ability.

            Some object to the doctrine of election by saying that it makes God unjust. This objection betrays an unrighteous heart by believing that the creator is obligated to the creature. It elevates man to the position of God and says that man is more merciful that God. It denies the right of the potter over the clay. By the same parity of reasoning, it makes the governor of a sovereign nation unjust when he pardons one or more unless he empties out the prison and turns all the prisoners loose. By pardoning some, he does no harm to the others who are serving their just punishment. Salvation, like a pardon, is not deserved. If it were deserved, then God would be unjust if He did not bestow it upon all men. Salvation is not of justice, but of mercy. Those who go to hell will have no one to blame but themselves, while those who go to heaven will have no one to praise but God. This is best explained in Romans 9:22-24. “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?” All things in the universe have an opposite. The absence of light is dark. The absence of salvation is condemnation. One only becomes clear when compared to the other. Oh – the wisdom of God! How unsearchable are His ways! 

 

 

All scriptures are from the English Standard Version.

December 15, 2008

If I Were God

Filed under: Cindy — pilgrimskeyboard @ 4:45 am

In this post-modern era where there is little or no understanding of absolutes, how do we teach the sovereignty of God? The bible declares this truth from cover to cover and yet those who claim to believe the bible and say that God is sovereign still don’t appear to grasp what this means. Even famous bible teachers such as Beth Moore seem to think that God was somehow surprised by Adam’s sin in the garden. The Word does tell us that even nature teaches us about God. In that context, look at nature to determine if this God is sovereign.

When I observe the natural world, I know that it was certainly not a random act for it to work with such precision, from the vastness of the universe to the minutiae of DNA. Think about the fact that He created us in His image (not referring to eyes, nose, arms, and legs). We can learn many things about God by thinking about ourselves.

I have some limited creative abilities. If I were God, lived outside of time, and had unlimited creative abilities, how would I do it? The entire plan would be in my mind from start to finish. (The earth was without form, and void…And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Gen. 1:2) Another translation uses the word “brooding” instead of “hovering.” God was brooding? Was He planning? I think He worked out every detail from start to finish. Our problem with this concept comes about as a result of our having to deal with our own pitifully finite minds. I can’t understand the mind of God. I know that we are responsible before Him, but I also know that He didn’t just spin this ball of existence into motion, sit back to see what happens, and then scramble around for solutions.

The other religions of the world put God into this type of category where He is made in our image rather than we in His. With this philosophy, God gets stressed, He gets worried, and He gets involved in a struggle of good against evil. People struggle with this good vs. evil dichotomy, God doesn’t. He truly is the Alpha and Omega. His Word is final! Nothing is outside His control. Just because we don’t understand it or have neat explanations for it doesn’t nullify the fact. That is yet one more reason why “The just shall live by faith.”

The Fiery Side-kick Cindy

November 28, 2008

On Near Death Experiences

Filed under: Cindy — pilgrimskeyboard @ 3:10 pm

Finally! Someone has stated this better than I could and has given words to what I only could describe as an uncomfortable feeling I have had when reading these books and hearing testimonials about near-death experiences. The problem I have had is that I’ve read several books and seen several programs about this. The people who have experienced them have been from several different faiths and beliefs or from none at all. It gives the impression, as the ’80s children’s cartoon film portrayed, that “All Dogs Go to Heaven.” This is Universalism and is the prominent spirituality of today.

 

 I had a friend some years ago who suffered from Lupus. She was in a coma for a few days and said that the things she saw while in that state were so real that she was certain she was really “there.” The truth is that she never left her hospital bed and her medical instruments showed that she never died. The mind is a powerful organ and is wired in such a way as to provide the person with a pleasant escape during an extremely stressful experience. But Mark Hitchcock expressed it better than I could in his book, The Complete Book of Bible Prophecy (pp 216-217).  I will quote him here:

            Some of the best-selling books in the last decade have been about near-death experiences or NDEs. Books like Embraced by the Light and Saved by the Light (and I might personally add the most recent 90 Minutes in Heaven) have captured the attention of millions of people who want to peer behind the veil of death to get a sneak preview of the afterlife.

Two points about NDEs are important to understand. First, it is critical to note that they are called “near-death” experiences, not “death” or “after-life” experiences. The fact that the person came back from what-ever state he or she was in is proof that he or she didn’t really die. Therefore, we shouldn’t put any stock in what this person purports to tell us about the afterlife. After all, this person was only near death, not dead. It’s as ridiculous as a woman telling another woman about her “near-pregnancy” experience. The idea is laughable. Everyone knows that you’re either pregnant or you’re not. Likewise, you’re either dead or you’re not. As one writer said, near-death experiences “tell us no more about death than someone who has been near Denver but never within city limits can tell us about that town. Both NDEs (near-Denver and near-death experiences) are bereft of certitude…In both cases, more reliable maps are available.”

The only people who ever really came back from the dead are the few individuals in Scripture that the Lord or one of his prophets or disciples raised. And none of them wrote a book about their experience or hit the talk-show circuit. Even the apostle Paul, who was caught up to heaven on one occasion, did not reveal the things he saw there (2 Cor. 12:1-5).

Second, the only reliable map for the afterlife is the Bible. The Bible defines death as a separation of the spirit from the body (James 2:26). And true physical death occurs only one time for each person (Heb. 9:27). Moreover, much of the idle speculation related from NDEs sounds more occultic and New Age than biblical. If we want to know about the afterlife, we should turn to God’s Word and be satisfied with what he has chosen to reveal to us about heaven and hell.

 

I would further add what I feel to be an important litmus test when evaluating what anyone says aside from the obvious one related to whether it’s biblical or not. That is, who receives the glory or the focus of the attention here? If the fascination is on the person, the music, the scenery, the fellowship, or the pearly gates, I would seriously question it. The focus of heaven is the Son. Though light emanates from Him, He is not just a bright light or impersonal force seen through a tunnel. Let all that we do or say be for the purpose of bringing glory to Him alone!

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