Calvinism’s endeavor to exalt God by emphasizing compatibilism, unconditional election, and monergism actually diminishes God. One simply cannot diminish the work of the Creator without diminishing its Creator, which Calvinism does by strapping man with compatibilism, whereby man was created to inevitably sin and be totally passive prior to regeneration. Continue reading →
Ethical decisions are a part of everyday life, and it is incumbent upon Christians to make moral and ethical decisions based upon the teaching of Scripture. Some of these decisions seem very easy; for example, murder, lying, and stealing are wrong, and truth-telling, mercy, and sacrifice are good. As clear as those seem to be, real-life experiences, recorded in the Scripture or lived out today, can create some nuances that becloud the issue.
For example, confusion can arise when a certain act that is condemned in Scripture has features similar to other acts that are not condemned and because of the similar features between that which is condemned and that which is not, the two acts are unjustifiably equated as being the same. An example of this would be the difference in being a martyr and committing suicide.
In The Round Table in Ethics, I have noticed a few things that tend to create confusion for Christians trying to understand and apply biblical ethics. This primarily revolves around making similar acts identical or equating God’s commendation of some elements of an event with God’s implied approval of all the elements of the event even when those elements are without exception said to be sin everywhere they are explicitly mentioned in Scripture. An example of this would be lying.
Consequently, in the second week of my Round Table in Ethics, I present something I call “Ethical Considerations and Clarifications”. In this presentation, I seek to address some distinctions that can be helpful in avoiding ethical dilemmas. The issues addressed in this paper do not address every relevant issue, but only those that seem to present problems when considering various ethical issues in The Round Table. I address the relationship of similarities and dissimilarities, the difference between intrinsically good or evil acts and extrinsically good or evil acts, the Is-Ought fallacy, the Sin of Omission, arguments from silence, and then I explain what a lie is. Continue reading →
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor 3:16)
The church in the New Testament has replaced the sacred Old Testament temple. The New Testament says that Christ’s body is a temple (John 2:19–21), the universal church is a temple (Eph 2:20–21), the individual Christian’s body is a temple (1 Cor 6:19), and in this verse the local church is a temple of God. The you is plural in this passage, signifying the corporate local body of believers. Consequently, every local New Testament church is a temple of God. Continue reading →
As our Father, God has delighted himself in granting us some things without our asking him in prayer. He does this out of love. He also withholds some things until he is asked, and this is also done out of love. This latter aspect of prayer relates to things God has made conditional; that is to say, if we ask, he will answer, but if we do not ask, he will not work in these specific areas. James says, “You do not have because you do not ask” (Jas 4:2). We can miss God’s blessing because we do not ask. Continue reading →
The Bible is clear that God loves righteousness and holiness, abhors sin, and desires his creation to choose righteousness and holiness. This is evident prior to the fall (Gen 2:17), immediately subsequent to the fall as seen in his swift judgment upon sin (Gen 3:14–24); the repeated calls for holiness prior to his covenant with Israel (Gen 7:1, 15:6, 18:19), to Israel (Lev 11:44, 19:2, 20:7), in the gospels (Matt 3:2; 5:6, 20, 48; 6:33; 11:20), and to the church (Eph 5:3–9; 1 Pet 1:15–16). Calvinists unwaveringly claim to believe this as much as Extensivists do. However, their commitment to decretal theology and compatible freedom of mankind with its resultant micro-determinism, upon closer scrutiny, does seem to eviscerate such obvious teachings of Scripture. Continue reading →
Both Calvinists and Extensivists (non-Calvinists) speak as though things such as prayers, trials, miracles, preaching, testimonies, child rearing, education, and other influences play a vital part in salvation; these, along with a host of other influences may be categorized as events. It seems as though we all really mean these kinds of events play a similar role in God’s salvation plan. However, such is not the case. The only similarity is that Calvinists and Extensivists use the same words, but the way Calvinists use these words are essentially dissimilar to the way they are normally used and used by Extensivists. Calvinists themselves tend to obscure the real differences. Continue reading →
“like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,” (1 Peter 2:2).
Our willingness to be equipped today will significantly shape how and how much God uses us in the future.
We begin our Christian lives as babes in Christ (1 Cor 3:1; Heb 5:13). God surely can and does use us even when we are baby Christians, but if we remain babes, fail to grow and mature as followers of Christ, then we limit what God may do with and through us. Just like our children, if they remain infants, they limit themselves.
This is not to say God will use us all the same, or even as much as another person. Rather that we will either limit or reach our full potential in what God wants to do with us as an individual by how willing we are to be equipped today for His purposes today and tomorrow. The comparison is not between how much God uses one individual compared to another, but how much God uses an individual compared to how much he would have used him if he humbly sought to become all God desires him to be.
“But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:2).
The Scripture is replete with commands, encouragement, and teachings about the need to grow spiritually and that help us grow; there are no scriptures that extol perennial infancy.
We need not concern ourselves so much with how God is going to use us in the future. Instead, we must focus upon availing ourselves to the opportunities for spiritual growth and service that are before us in the present. Then, when God is ready, and we are ready, he will open new areas of influence and ministry; often in ways, we could have never imagined. Do not wait on the magic moment to serve or grow; seize the present moment to grow and serve in whatever way is available.
“but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:15–16).
“Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it” (Psalm 37:5).
At times Lord, it seems I am overly concerned about the future. You have more than provided for us. Still, I feel that I have failed to plan for the future. But Lord, You know in my deepest being, I desire to follow you; not that I have truly sacrificed, but it seems to be a sacrifice because I am so frail, weak, and sinful.
Lord, you know in my weakness, I seek to make my decisions based upon following you. I have no regrets except that I have not served you in any way like you deserve; for then I would go, stand, speak, and give without ever considering how it might affect me, but instead, I wrestle with fear. Only by your grace am I able to walk away from earthly things and pursue what I cannot see.
You know I desire to know what is coming and to prepare for such, but that is rarely a part of the walk of faith. What if I lose my job, am disabled, must retire, or die and leave my family in want? I have no answer. Not that I believe I would have been a financial success if I had sought something other than the path you have me on, but I know that would have been a priority, whereas, in following you it has not. I pray that today I will not let you down. Please let me not come to the end, which only you know, having let your holy name down.
You have been so gracious to rebuke me about fretting over the future, and I pray that you would remind me again so I will trust only you. I can think of countless things that could happen for which I have not made provisions. May I walk in my faith knowing that you have provided plenty. May I seek to be a good steward of what you have provided today. I am in your hands, and that is what I desire. Let me not make decisions about the future that tempt grace or eschew trust. Let these years honor you more than my earlier years of following you.
Twenty-six large financial supporters have sent a letter to SWBTS Board Chairman Mr. Ueckert and the Executive Committee. The letter records charges of several errors, including lack of biblical moral dignity, legal infractions, and Bylaw breaches that were made by the Board, particularly Chairman Ueckert and the Executive Committee. The letter calls for an investigation into the board’s actions regarding Dr. Paige Patterson.
This letter is an important read, which provides an essential perspective regarding the actions of the Trustees under the leadership of Mr. Ueckert. Here is the link to the actual letter.
To see other important actual documents regarding allegations and actions by SWBTS trustees and my perspective regarding Dr. Patterson, see my article, Dr. Paige Patterson: Things you need to Know.
Jesus said, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matt 5:44). We all know this verse but actually doing this or even knowing someone who regularly prays for their enemies is quite another matter.
Several years ago I was experiencing one of the most difficult times of my ministry. Some people were causing great harm to the church I pastored. As the pastor, my hurt was deep. Most pastors know the pain that comes from watching people we love turn and begin to attack us and do things that harm or even destroy the flock. It can cause anger, bitterness, depression, and even cynicism in the heart of the most dedicated of shepherds.
As I was leaving a meeting during this time, Dr. Patterson approached me. I was not aware he knew of my painful situation. His words helped me immensely. Not by psychologizing my plight or a pep talk of clichés, but rather he spoke directly from the Scripture. How he advised me to handle this situation were some of the most difficult words I could have heard.
He told me to pray for my enemies. He encouraged me to get down on my knees and pray for them before our heavenly Father. He said God might work in their lives and bless them. He told me this was his practice. He said there is a level of intimacy with our Lord Jesus one experiences while on his knees praying for his enemies, persecutors, and those who want to destroy him, an intimacy that cannot be experienced without following Jesus and praying for the very ones who seek our destruction.
Though I well knew the Scripture Dr. Patterson was referencing, his admonition helped me see it more practically and personally. For I knew, as leader of the resurgence, Dr. Patterson had many enemies. I knew he personally felt the human emotions that come with even contemplating such an act, and how one must die to self to seriously enter into such communion with our Lord. Knowing he had done this many times helped me have the faith and humility I needed to pray for people who hated me, for those who hurt my family and the church I love.
I am so grateful for his counsel and example of praying for those who seek to destroy us. I have experienced this intimacy with Christ on many occasions, and I have counseled others to handle their detractors in the same manner. I desire to be faithful in praying for loved ones and those with whom I have fellowship, but none so much as those who seek to harm me. Even as I write this article, God has brought some to mind who have done me harm; thankfully, by only his grace, I prayed for them.
Jesus commanded us to pray for them, and he practiced what he taught when he prayed for the lost (John 17:21) and his enemies at the cross. “‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.” (Luke 23:34).
May our Lord give you the strength to do the right thing in the right spirit. May he lead you to your knees to pray for the very ones who seek to hurt you, fire you, or malign your character. May you know Jesus in this dying-to-self-act. May this experience be repeated in your life and leave you forever changed as it has changed me.