Tuesday, June 26, 2012

BACON: It’s the new TULIP

BACON: It’s the new TULIP
By Ben Woodring

Bad people
Already elected
Completely atoned for
Overwhelmingly called
Never falling away
I think this could be a great move for Reformed Theology, who in their right mind would reject the BACON?

Funny but not far afield!-CD

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why I Am Offended By The Statement

I am offended by the recent “Traditionalist” statement on soteriology, not because I have a few differences theologically but because some people were labeled, accused, and judged, and I’m afraid I’m part of that group. And that is disconcerting at least.

The Statement says:
“This movement (“New Calvinism”) is committed to advancing in the churches an exclusively Calvinistic understanding of salvation, characterized by an aggressive insistence on the “Doctrines of Grace” (“TULIP”), and to the goal of making Calvinism the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation.”

    Who are these “New Calvinists”? Am I one because I affirm 5 points. I’m not actually a “TULIP” guy anyway, and neither are most Calvinist leaning Bapstists I know. I’m more of a RUDEP guy myself. But this vague accusation opens up many of us for guilt by association. Even if we don’t know exactly WHO IT IS WE ARE associating with.

The Statement says:
And, to their credit, most Southern Baptist Calvinists have not demanded the adoption of their view as the standard. We would be fine if this consensus continued, but some New Calvinists seem to be pushing for a radical alteration of this long standing arrangement.

Once again, WHO? You know what this sounds like?
“To their credit most Calvinists have enough sense to “stay in their place,” But some of these uppity New Calvinists are making us mad!”
What long standing “arrangement”? Who is rocking the boat? Am I a New Calvinist because I don’t hide my beliefs? I’m not even trying to make the church I have pastored for 13 years a “Reformed Baptist” Church. But I preach Grace and Sovereignty from the pulpit. And I preach salvation by Grace through faith and Call people to Christ.
But I also consider it a dangerous doctrine to tell people, if they say a “sinner’s prayer” and are sincere, that they are saved! Sinner’s prayers don’t save! God’s Grace saves through the demonstration of faith. Or, Faith, enabled by Grace, saves. Not a nicely worded but powerless prayer that is not expressed in miraculous, life-giving, God-given Faith!
So now am I a New Calvinist? I’m really wondering what it is that will cross the line of this “long standing arrangement” that I didn’t even know existed.
I have heard the “Traditionalist” view of Salvation all my life. I was a victim of the easy-believism it engendered. I followed suit by telling people whom I led in Sinner’s Prayers, “There, you’re saved now.” May God have mercy on me for all the people I misled into thinking they were saved, who then went about their merry sinful ways thinking they had fire insurance.
NOW, I have the audacity to tell people I was wrong –before- about salvation. That it’s not a simple matter of reciting the right words. But it is something to be sought with fear and trembling, Calling on the Name of the Lord, with faith and repentance, until such time that the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are indeed the children of God.

I’m not trying to change the good gospel preaching of Baptists everywhere around the world or even in my own church. I believe that the “Jesus and His finished work” message being preached is the gospel that God uses as His power “unto salvation.”But I do want to warn the SBC that we have ushered in thousands upon thousands of unregenerate people into our churches with an affirmation of their salvation that we have no right to give.
That’s why I Believe the teaching that humanity is
1.       Radically Depraved- every facet of humankind has suffered under the fall. That is why every person is guilty of sin, as soon as they are morally capable they are morally culpable.
2.       Unconditional Election means that I did nothing to satisfy a “condition” for salvation. I received the salvation that Jesus secured on the cross for me!
3.       Definite Atonement means that God did not leave my salvation to chance, but definitely redeemed me by His own blood 2000 years ago.
4.       Effectual Grace teaches us that God’s grace doesn’t fail. Yes it is irresistible because it is effectual. All that the Father gives to the Son will indeed come to Him.
5.       Perseverance/Preservation of the saints, teaches that the saints will in fact persevere to the end because they are preserved by the Grace of God.
I stated these “5 Points” not to refute the tenants of the “Traditionalist’s Statement” but to go ahead and put the Bull’s Eye on my chest so people won’t miss if they are shooting at me.
Am I one of these terrible “New Calvinists” or not?  If not who are they, and why am I not one?
If it’s because I’m not trying to enforce my beliefs in the 5-points then I would suggest that’s the case of most every mature Calvinistic Baptist out there.

And just maybe, the adversarial language of the “Statement” was mis-directed or even inappropriate. And if so, I think there should be some apologies in the offing.

Below, Please see the two part reply by my friend an Brother in Christ Dr. Adam Harwood of Truett-McConnell College.

Will And Grace:

(An Excerpt from I Know Who I Have Chosen) 

Free Will & Sovereign Grace:  What is this ancient debate all about? Is it about God’s sovereignty? That God is ruler over all creation? Hopefully not! Denying His sovereign reign as God of all creation denies the God of the Bible. Every believer should acknowledge the absolute sovereignty of God over the universe. There is no God but God Almighty, YHWH, Jehovah, the triune Deity.

Is it about whether man has a will? Hopefully not! To deny that man makes choices is to deny the obvious. God made Adam with desires, intellect, emotions and a will, an ability to choose. After he sinned he still had desires, intellect and emotions but they were fallen, affected by his sin and depraved. Wasn’t Adam’s will fallen as well?

So what’s the problem? Simply this: How do we reconcile the absolute sovereignty of God with mankind’s ability to make choices? Some say God overrides the will of man and predestines everything to the point that man is just a pawn of fate. Others say that God limits his power to allow man to keep a totally free will. Some go so far as to say God limits his foreknowledge and omniscience. What does the Bible say?

First, let’s look at the Biblical examples where God requires humankind to make choices.

The Old Testament:
Joshua 24:14 “... fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River ...15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, ... But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Isa 1:16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, 17 Learn to do good; ... 18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow... 19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land;

The Gospels:
Matt 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem ...How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks... but you were not willing!

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 7:17 If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God...

Book of Acts:
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ ...

Paul’s Letters:
Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.

Also: 1 Cor 9:17; Phm 14; 1 Peter 5:2 

Now this is only a sample of many like verses, but it is evidence that begs the question, how much of our salvation is up to us and how much is up to the grace of God? Why does God tell us to seek and to choose if our ability to do so is damaged in the fall and disabled by our depravity? And how does ‘whosoever believes’ and ‘election’ go together?
There are other verses that people cite in contrast (not contradiction) to these, which seem to elevate the role of God’s choosing and election in salvation, and in other things pertaining to God’s will. Consider these verses:

The Old Testament:
Gen 25:21 … and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 But the children struggled together within her … 23 And the Lord said to her: “Two nations are in your womb … One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.”  (see Rom 9:10 later)

Malachi 1:2 I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? Saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, 3And I hated Esau… (see Rom 9:13 later)

Deut 7:6 “... the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, ... 7 The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people... 8 but because the Lord loves you…”

Neh 9:7 you are the LORD the God, who did choose Abram, and brought him forth out of Ur

Psalm 65:4 Blessed is the man You choose, And cause to approach You…

The Gospels:
John 15: 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you …

John 6: 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; ...45 ...Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.

John 13:18 “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen…

John 17:6  “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they kept Your word.

Book of Acts:
Acts 2: 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, ...be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ... 39 For the promise is to you, your children, and ....as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Acts 13:48 when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad ...And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Paul’s letters:
Rom 3: 10 “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 ... none who seeks after God.

Rom 8:29 whom He foreknew He also predestined ... 30 ...whom He predestined He also called; whom He called He also justified; and whom He justified He also glorified.

Rom 9:10 ... (for the children not yet born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand ...), 12 it was said...“The older shall serve the younger.” 13 ...“Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” ...15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.

Rom 10:20 But Isaiah is very bold and says: “I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was shown to those who did not ask for Me.”

1 Cor 1:27 God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, God has chosen the weak ...28 and the base ...and the despised things God has chosen ...29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.

Eph 1: 4 …just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world... 5 having predestined us to adoption ...according to the good pleasure of His will... (cf. Eph 1:11)

Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

James 2: 5  Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith...

1 Peter 1:1  Peter, ...to the pilgrims of the Dispersion... 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God...

2 John 1  The Elder, To the elect lady and her children…

Jude 1  Jude, ...to those who are called, sanctified ...and preserved in Jesus Christ:

Once again there are many scriptures on the ability and need to choose to repent, believe, be baptized, etc; and many scriptures on God’s choosing. So the ancient question remains. How do we reconcile God’s sovereign election and man’s need or ability to make choices?

Some have said election is not individual. It just means all of those who have believed are in Christ and He is the elect one. It is true that Jesus was chosen by God to be the Messiah, but this view doesn’t do justice to the many verses on election of us individually. (Eph 1:4-5)
It is a belief that is well with-in the pale of orthodoxy and held by respected Bible Scholars. But it appears to many others that there is a richer, more personal, approach to God’s election.

Some have said, God saves people in spite of themselves and man’s choice only “seems” to be involved. (This is commonly seen in the view called hyper-Calvinism.) It doesn’t do justice to the scriptural call on us to repent, believe, and call on the name of the Lord. (John 3:16)

Think for a minute about the three primary states in which mankind has existed. In the garden, Adam and Eve were perfect. Their intellects, emotions, desires, and choices were all perfectly pure and unblemished for a time. Then sin came, and in every way we know, humanity was fallen; living in a state much less than perfection and without hope. Our desires became evil, our emotions and minds were darkened. Why not our will? I would say our wills were damaged, too.[1] Not completely done away with, any more than our brains or emotions were.

Now, people find themselves born again; forgiven and changed. This is the third human condition. The Bible says we are new creatures. So are you perfect now in all that you do? No? Can you make choices independent of the bondage to sin that you once were in? I think so. Do we always love the Lord with all our hearts, minds and strength? No, but are you able now to love the Lord at all? You can and do if you have been forgiven of sin, regenerated, and born again. We’re not like we will be in glory, but we’re better than we used to be when we were lost.

This is where we find ourselves then. God knew us intimately (Rom 8:29ff)[2] before we were born, before the world began He didn’t just know about us, He - Knew - Us.

(For the Booklet:) 
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[1] Rom 11:7 ...Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see, ears that would not hear, down to this very day." 9 David says, "Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; 10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever."
[2] Rom 8:29 for those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son... 30 And those whom he predestined he called, and those whom he called he justified, and those whom he justified he glorified.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Soulful Statement on Baptist Theology of Salvation (OR - People get ready, There's a train a-coming)

Because there are some who would like to express their doctrine of salvation in a polemical way, to define themselves Away From another point of view; this statement has been proffered to demonstrate a simple way of recognizing the Lord's Awesome Sovereign Holiness and Love. Please accept this view of salvation that has been heralded by the likes of Curtis Mayfield, Rod Stewart, and U2. I have no idea if they would "sign off" on this statement as definitive and representing their view of God's saving work. But it suits me jessssst fine!

People get ready, There's a train a-coming
You don't need no baggage, You just get on board.
All you need is faith, To hear the diesels humming.
Don't need no ticket, You just thank the Lord.
     (comment: Salvation is by Grace Alone through Faith Alone. So all you need really is Faith! For without Faith it is impossible to please God. But as Eph 2:8-9 says, Faith is a gift of God. Unless God gives you faith, you ain't got no faith.)

People get ready, For the train to Jordan, Picking up passengers, From coast to coast.
Faith is the key, Open the doors and board them.
There's room for all, among the loved the most.
     (comment: While v1 says get on board, this verse says to open up the doors and board them. This implies there is another power at work than that of the person desiring redemption. God is the instigator of Salvation because there is NONE that seeks after God. And while God does love the whole world (or cosmos) and that includes all of his creation, he loves His own children the most.)

There ain't no room, for the hopeless sinner,
Who would hurt all mankind just To save his own.
Have pity on those whose chances are thinner,
Cause there's no hiding place From the Kingdom's Throne.
     (comment: The Hopeless Sinner is the sinner that will not repent. He has no hope outside of Christ and repentance involves "turning" to Christ for the gifts of faith and salvation. But we are to have pity on those without hope, proclaim to them the good news because there is no hiding place from the Throne.)

So people get ready for the train a-comin'
You don't need no baggage you just get on board!
All you need is faith to hear the diesels humming,
Don't need no ticket you just thank the Lord.
     (comment: We "don't need no baggage" because all our righteousness is as filthy rags. But the Lord has prepared for those that love Him, Robes of Righteousness and Crowns of Glory. Once you have embraced the Lord Jesus in faith, trusting Him for forgiveness and grace the only thing that is left is that you "Just thank the Lord.")

You may decide to sign on to this statement or you may decide not too. I don't really stinkin' care. I do care that you proclaim Jesus, as our only High Priest who came from God to humanity - representing God, and then went to God for humanity - purchasing the redemption of all those who would believe with His Own Blood.

Hence the Title of this statement: People Get Ready, There's a Train Comin'.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sovereign Regeneration - Guest Blog

Interestingly, concurrent with the recent publication of the Statement from Traditional Baptists on Baptist Soteriology, my Tabletalk updates have been on Regeneration for the last several days. So here's a Guest blog from R.C. Sproul on:

Sovereign Regeneration

Acts 9:1-19 "Falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' And he said, 'Who are you, Lord?'" ( vv. 4-5a).
We made the point a few days ago that every Christian tradition has formulated some doctrine of regeneration. Despite the differing formulations of this doctrine, however, there are ultimately only two different views of the role of man and the role of God in regeneration: monergism or synergism.
A synergistic view of regeneration says man and God cooperate in bringing new life to a person. The Lord acts upon the heart of the unbeliever, imploring him to change. However, though God calls to the heart, regeneration cannot occur unless the unbeliever, who has the ability to say, "yes," or "no," embraces the divine call. There are several problems with this view. First, synergism sees the human will working with the divine will to achieve salvation. Yet we all come into the world spiritually dead and, being dead, cannot take hold of God's grace unless first moved by His grace (Ps. 51:5 Eph. 2:4-5). Synergism also reverses the order of regeneration and faith. Synergists argue that we first come to faith, and then we are born again. But if being born again is necessary to see the kingdom (John 3:3), regeneration must precede faith. After all, you cannot trust the Lord if you cannot see the truth of His kingdom.
Monergism, on the other hand, says that God's Spirit is the sole agent in regeneration. God moves sovereignly upon the souls of those He has chosen, enabling them to have faith. He takes the spiritually dead and makes them alive. We are actually born again - regenerated - before we have faith. We are not born again because we trust Jesus; we trust Jesus because we are born again.
God's sovereignty in regeneration is seen clearly in the account of Paul's conversion found in today's passage. Saul of Tarsus was completely unwilling to follow Jesus the Messiah before God took the initiative. He was so hard-hearted, in fact, that he did all he could to destroy the church of Jesus Christ. But when Jesus appeared to Him, Saul could not resist. Christ, by His Spirit, gave Paul the eyes to see the kingdom and to become one of its greatest ambassadors (Acts 9:1-19 ). Had Jesus not overpowered Saul's natural inclination against Him, there never would have been an apostle Paul.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Some of us have had dramatic conversion experiences that we remember vividly. Others cannot remember a time when they did not trust in Jesus. Whatever our story, the same God who raised Jesus to life and knocked Saul of Tarsus to the ground also overpowered our natural bent against Him. The fact that you believe is evidence of the Lord's mighty working in your life. He loved us enough to seek us out when we were running from Him.