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Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Identification of Baptism


Col 2:11  In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, Col 2:12  having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. Col 2:13  And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.

Rom 6:3  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Rom 6:4  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Rom 6:5  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 

We notice in the above passages that we are baptized into Christ.  Whether we are speaking of our spiritual baptism when the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ or water baptism where we publically identify with Christ it is all about union and identity with Jesus as Lord and Savior.  I have spoken with Covenant Theologians who baptize by sprinkling and pouring and who baptize babies.  One argument used to support sprinkling and pouring is the above passage in Col. 2:11-13.  This person said that when the Spirit baptizes us he comes down upon us so sprinkling is an appropriate symbol of this. 

That might be true but it is fundamentally flawed since we are not baptized into the Holy Spirit but by the Holy Spirit.  Also we are never said to identify with the Holy Spirit but with Jesus Christ.  Again, notice the absence of the mention of the Holy Spirit in the above verses.  He is there but behind the scenes.  The Gospel is about what Christ has done for us in his death, burial and resurrection.  Paul preached Christ and him crucified.  When we are baptized we are proclaiming that we have been saved by Christ’s work and we are now followers of Christ because we have been given new life; the life of Christ.  Our baptism is not a picture of how the Spirit came down upon us.  Baptism is a picture of us being joined to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus; we are followers of him, not the Spirit.  Christ said take up your cross and follow me, not the Spirit.  I am not trying to play down the Spirit’s role but he is given to lead us into the knowledge of Christ and to glorify Jesus, not himself.

One passage that I think drives the point home is found in Acts 19. 
Act 19:1  And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. Act 19:2  And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Act 19:3  And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John's baptism.” Act 19:4  And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” Act 19:5  On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus

We see that when you were baptized by John you did so in repentance professing to believe his message about the coming Messiah.  You identified with his message.  The reason Paul tells these believers (they were already converted) that they needed to be rebaptized was they were to identify with Christ, not John and not the Holy Spirit.  This shows that baptism doesn’t save since they already were believers and it shows why only immersion is proper baptism because it alone illustrates Christ’s work.  We are not baptized to point to the Holy Spirit. 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Our Real Enemies


Num 13:30  But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 
Num 13:31  Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” 
Num 13:32  So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. 
Num 14:1  Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. 
Num 14:2  And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 
Num 14:3  Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 

We are all familiar with the account of the 12 spies that spied out Canaan and only two came back and encouraged Israel to take the land while the other 10 said it would be impossible to take the land.  The verses above reveal part of the problem these 10 spies had.  All these men could see was the size of their physical enemies.  They never once mention the power of God or the fact that the Lord had already told them that he was going to give them the land.  In Num. 14:8-9 we see Joshua looking at this from spiritual eyes, “If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey.  Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.”   Clearly he and Caleb feared the Lord more than a few giants.

The 10 spies like the majority of Israel throughout their history did not have regenerated hearts and so could not see the glory of God; they could only see the glory of physical things.  Their problem throughout their history was that they never could identify their real enemy.  Their enemy and ours is never that which can destroy the body but that which can destroy the soul.  It is interesting that they were afraid of the size of the Canaanites but not afraid of the gods of the Canaanites. 

We see why in this account.  To them the giants of the land appeared more fearsome and stronger than Yahweh.  Their enemy wasn’t the Canaanites but the idolatry of their own hearts that refused to honor the Lord but instead only cared about the ease and pleasure of the flesh.  As in vs. 2 above, every time food or water got a little scarce and they were forced to rely on the providence of God they balked and started yearning for the food they had back in Egypt.  Never mind that they were slaves and the king was killing their children and working them to death.

What a picture of this world that will sell its soul for a few moments or years of pleasure rather than worship the Lord and give him his due.  One can’t help but remember Esau who for one meal gave up his inheritance.  To him his enemy was an empty belly but that only showed that his belly was his real enemy; in other words his enemy was his flesh that would be satisfied at all cost.

As Christians it is imperative that we recognize our true enemies.   Pain, sickness, poverty, injustice, loneliness, obscurity and such things are not what we need to fear.  Such things are sent by a loving God to demonstrate his power and that we need him more than these things.  These things can only cause discomfort for a short time.  But we must recognize that our enemy is the remaining sin in our heart that would cause us to flee from them rather than use them to serve the Lord.  When we do, then we will do battle with the way we think and the things we love more than the Lord.  When we live by sight and not by faith, we end up doing battle with God by complaining about his providence. 

As Jesus said in Mat 10:28, And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell  Our true enemy is anything that would become an idol to us; anything that would cause us to fear it more than the Lord or anything that would cause us to love it more than the Lord.

Israel should have been more concerned with the idolatry of the Canaanites rather than the size of their army because one could only kill their bodies, the other destroy their souls.  Of course, most of the Jews never had a regenerated heart but if we are Christ’s, we do and that makes all the difference.  Our problem often is that we don’t live spiritually minded, judging all things by the Scriptures, but we tend to live according to what we can see and feel.  But this is to walk as we did before we were saved and it is of the utmost importance that we walk according to the Spirit and not the flesh. 

The fourth chapter of Ephesians deals with this concept but I will quote just part of it here.  Read it and see if it doesn’t support what I have just conveyed. 

Eph 4:17  Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 
Eph 4:18  They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 
Eph 4:19  They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 
Eph 4:20  But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 
Eph 4:21  assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 
Eph 4:22  to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 
Eph 4:23  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The Favored Son


Gen 37:3  Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. 
Gen 37:4  But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. 

I suppose most children are taught in Sunday School that Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son so Jacob gave him a really pretty coat to wear and his brothers were jealous and so eventually sold him into slavery.  I remember being left with the idea that Jacob just played favorites and no wonder Joseph’s brothers were jealous.  To be sure Jacob had a history of favoritism, especially with his wives and it did cause problems.  But I think there is more to this account than simple favoritism.  This is easier to understand once we see that Joseph is a type of Christ.

As it turns out, Rueben had slept with one of his father’s wives and so lost the inheritance and the blessing of the Messiah coming through his line.  We will learn later that Joseph was given the position of the firstborn (the greater material inheritance) and Judah received the Messianic inheritance (Christ is born through his line). 

This being understood Joseph’s coat is better translated a long tunic as it is in 2Sa 13:18  Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king dressed. So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her.  In other words it was a coat a person of authority would wear not the common laborer.  Joseph took the leadership of his father’s herds and so was the overseer of his brothers, not so much because of favoritism, although that was involved, but also because of his outstanding character as opposed to the deplorable moral state of his brothers.  This is probably one reason why the account of the brothers at Succoth, ch. 34 and the account of Judah and Tamar in ch. 38 are recorded for us.  Jacob’s favor is justified.

Once we put all this together the similarities between Joseph and Jesus are amazing to see.  Here we have a son who has a special relationship with his father.  He is given dreams that he relates to his brothers that someday they will bow the knee to him.  His brothers hate him for the special relationship with his father and for his exalted position seen in his dreams that he unashamedly tells them about.  

In Rueben we have the firstborn brother who forfeited the right to rule his father’s inheritance because he took for himself what belonged to his father alone.  Another son comes along who honors his father as Rueben was supposed to and is given charge over his brothers.  They reject his position and sell him into slavery for a few pieces of silver.  But in their rejection Joseph is exalted to the right hand of Pharaoh and eventually he becomes the means of their salvation from starving to death.

From there it is easy to see Adam as the firstborn man who took for himself the glory he was supposed to give to his Heavenly Father.  Another “Son” down the line is born whose character is unquestioned and in keeping the Law perfectly is given authority over all things.  He comes unto his own and his own do not receive him but instead betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver and he is crucified.  But it is in that very act of rejection that he is exalted to a position in which he is the very Savior we need. 

Not only is this a marvelous picture of the gospel but it is also an undeniable proof of the inspiration of Scripture and in this case of the book of Genesis.  This book has always been under attack by those that hate God because it establishes us as his creatures and thus accountable to him.  They can make fun of the six day creation and the universal flood of Noah but this account of Joseph teaches us that we had better take this book seriously as inspired by God; not just some of it but all of it.  If we can’t trust all of the Bible why would we trust any of it?  How could Jacob and his sons live this out in such a way that points clearly to the person and work of Christ unless God was in control of all things and could communicated it clearly to Moses to write it down for us?  If the Bible can’t accurately tell us what happened at the beginning by God who was the only One there, how can God relate any truth to us?

The Bible is a marvelous book and it is self-authenticating as the inspired Word from God.  Woe be to those who ignore it and so miss Christ.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Is There a Limit to Our Service


Mar 1:7  And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie

It is interesting that each of the Gospels record these words of John the Baptist.  As it turns out, this phrase had special meaning in his day.  Jesus, of course, was a rabbi to end all rabbis.  In these days rabbis couldn’t hold regular work and have time to study and teach and so their students were expected to do all sorts of things for them to free up their time.  One regulation found in the ancient times read like this, “Every service which a slave performs for his master shall a disciple do for his teacher, except the loosing of his sandal-thong”. 

So evidently John was known for saying that the one thing that was beneath a student to do for his teacher; something reserved for slaves alone, he was not even worthy to do for Jesus.  John said this in the context of pointing out that Jesus existed before him and was of a higher rank than John.  John knew that Jesus was more than just the latest Rabbi to come along.  Jesus was no mere man but the Word made flesh, the God-Man.

But these words also help us put into perspective not just how we relate to Jesus Christ but to our fellow man.  John knew that he wasn’t even worthy to loosen the sandal of God because he was Jesus’s sinful creature.  The Gap between him and Jesus was the distance of a worm crawling around in a wheel’s rut and Jesus is the moon.  When we have the proper perspective of ourselves before God then we can understand our relationship to the rest of humanity.  We are all worms, crawling around on this earth who deserve nothing but God’s wrath. 

If this is so then it is a particularly obnoxious sin for anyone to think there are acts of service and kindness that is beneath them when it comes to serving one another and even more so in the local church family.  The fact is that the Son of God, our creator, stooped to our level and served us in the most humiliating ways possible.  He was hung naked on a cross and as if that wasn’t enough, the innocent suffered the wrath of God in the place of us rebels.  If he did that for us then who are we to put limits on what we will do to serve each other? 

Of course this is precisely Paul’s point in Philippians 2, Php 2:4  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Php 2:5  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, Php 2:6  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, Php 2:7  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Php 2:8  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

His point is that if Jesus being God condescended to serve man then how can we put limits on our service to each other.  The fact is, there is only one person who can actually condescend to a lower level and that is Christ.  No matter our station in life, we are all just sinners deserving of Hell and cannot condescend because we are already as low as we can get. 

By the way, this point loses its punch if Jesus isn’t God.  If he is just another creature who served us then any example could be used.  But because of his original position, his stooping to become a man and die for us removes any excuse we have for not serving one another. 

Lastly, Paul reminds us that those who serve like Jesus did will be exalted as Jesus was.  The Lord is gracious to reward sinners for doing what is their duty!  This goes with Jesus’s teaching that it is the servant who is great in the kingdom, not the one being served, Mar 10:43  But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, Mar 10:44  and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. Mar 10:45  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.  Notice that Jesus uses the cross as the same motivation for our service as well. 

We are not worthy to serve the Lord in the most menial task, yet by grace he gives us the privilege to “untie his sandal”.  But we must remember that there is no task that is beneath us when it comes to serving one another.  If this mind is in us, then how can the church not be a place of love, peace and fellowship?


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Walking With a Limp


Gen 32:25  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Gen 32:31  The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 

We know that Jacob in the first part of his life was a deceiver and a conniver.  He got along in life by trying to take advantage of people, con them, get along by his wits and so on.  What he did not do was to seek the will of God and depend on him.  It is something that we all struggle with - listening to our hearts or this world and living in light of natural wisdom that puts me at the center of everything or listening to the revealed will of God found only in his Word. 

I think the main lesson in Jacob’s encounter with God at Penuel was that God is teaching Jacob that he cannot find God’s blessings if he is going to live by his own strength primarily seen in his constant scheming.  Jacob, and we, must learn that we are weak and unwise and need the power of God and his wisdom to live life properly.  So in the account we read of God coming and wrestling with Jacob, the result is that Jacob’s hip is purposefully displaced so that he must walk in a weakened state. 

I believe this is a picture of how God works in every saint’s life.  He moves us from dependence on our own strength and wisdom to relying on him for all that we need.  God has ways of pulling the rug out from under us so that we have no other option than to trust him to take care of us. 

Jacob was about to meet Esau who was coming with 400 men and Jacob assumes Esau is still angry with him and has come to do him harm.  Even though the Lord has shown him that an army of angels are with him, Jacob still schemes by dividing up his family with the hopes that Esau will attack some but spare others.  He has little confidence in the Lord’s promises and protection.  So what does the Lord do?  Instead of allowing Jacob to run the show by his cunning, he gives Jacob a limp so that when he meets Esau he will look weak and vulnerable.

There is a parallel passage to Jacob’s account that helps explain what is going on with Jacob.  It is found in 2 Cor. 12 where Paul goes through the same lesson that Jacob did but in a context that we can more easily relate to. 

2Co 12:7  So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.  2Co 12:8  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. Here we see the same wrestling match or struggle with the Lord.  The Lord has sent something to Paul that makes him appear weak and Paul assumes that this will hinder his ministry.  And so three times he prays that the Lord will remove it but the Lord does not.  Like us, Paul is wrestling with God’s providence that often makes no sense to us; we assume we can do a better job if we had more money or better health or if our church was bigger or if we had talents that someone else has, etc.  And although we ask God to give these things to us, quite often he does not.

Next we see the Lord “dislocating” Paul’s hip; in other words he is explaining why he wants Paul to walk with a limp; to appear weak in front of the world.  2Co 12:9  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…“   Paul had to learn that it is the Lord’s power that is going to make Paul successful, not how well he speaks or what he looks like, etc.

Finally, in vs. 31 above we see the sun coming up and Jacob walking off with a limp.  The same thing must happen with Paul and us, …Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2Co 12:10  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.   God gives Paul light by explaining that when we are weak and God’s work is done through us, then God gets the glory.  If by our talents, looks and money we build a ministry then we will name it after ourselves and God’s glory isn’t seen.  When God makes us weak then we depend on him and whatever we do can only be attributed to the Lord.  So 2 Cor. 12:9-10 is Paul living or “limping” in the light of God’s revelation and the rest is history as we consider what Paul and all God’s people have accomplished throughout church history as they followed the Word of God and lived for the Lord’s glory and not for ourselves.

It is tremendously freeing to know that I don’t have to appear like I have it all together in front of the world or in front of the church.  I just need to do my best to honor the Lord in whatever condition he has put me in and he will be served and pleased with me.  This brings contentment and joy and eliminates envy because I don’t need what someone else has to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant”! 


Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Reason for the Lord's Delay


2Pe 3:9  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Welcome to the one of the most misused verses in the entire Bible.  It is often used to teach that the Lord hasn’t returned yet so that more people can be saved; that he has provided salvation and is waiting to see how many will take advantage of it.  Along with that, it is also used to suggest that it isn’t God’s will for any to be lost but wants everyone to be saved equally.

Of course, for any of that to work the assumption is that man has a freewill that is independent of the Lord’s will and capable of obeying him and so the Lord has done everything he can do to save us and the deciding factor is whether we will accept his “offer” or not.  One problem is that the Bible never mentions that we have wills that are free  of sin’s effects and can decide to obey the Lord.  It does teach, though, that our wills are in bondage to our sinful nature and so can only rebel at God, Rom 8:7  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Rom 8:8  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  Rom 3:10  as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; Rom 3:11  no one understands; no one seeks for God.  Rom 3:12  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."  Joh 6:44  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.  Eph 2:4  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, Eph 2:5  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved.  Well, you get the idea.

There are some other reasons why 2 Peter 3:9 can’t mean what some want to make it mean; that is, man can make a decision that he is by nature incapable of making.  For instance, the longer he waits to return the more people are going to Hell so it kind of works against the point.  Hell is growing bigger by leaps and bounds the more time he gives this world to rebel.  If he wanted fewer people in Hell he should have come back immediately.  In fact, if all God is concerned about is for people not going to Hell, why create us to begin with or allow Adam to fall? 

Thirdly, if he is being patient and giving everyone a chance then every time a baby is born he can’t come until this child grows up.  Even if we assume that a baby will go to heaven, there is always children reaching the age of reason who are clearly not saved so doesn’t God have to give them a chance if this is what the verse is saying?  So unless God stops us from populating the earth he can never come back because he wants everyone to have a chance to be saved because there are always children being born who need some time to “get saved”!  This is where we end up when we err in the doctrines of God’s sovereigny, election, the bondage of the will, etc.  When we are more concerned that man has the ability to determine his own future than we are God’s freedom to glorify himself as he wants, then there is no way we can understand the Bible or not fall into error.

Fourthly, I might add that if God wanted as many people to be saved as possible then why did he only give any light to the obscure, tiny nation of Israel back in Old Testament times and not all nations?  Actually, the biblical record proves differently.  Why would the Lord command Israel to destroy every man, woman and child in Canaan if he is hoping they will come to him?  Why does he send storms to kill the lost, etc.  If God is giving everyone the opportunity to believe then why is he constantly shortening and ending the opportunities?  Those swept away in the tsunami weren’t given a patient chance.  This verse simply can’t be taken that way in light of what has been happening in human history.

But exegetically Peter is speaking to “you”, the church, not the lost, vs. 1 says,  This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder.  What promise is he referring to?  That they reach repentance; his promise to save the elect.  When God chose to save the elect from eternity he decreed or we might say he promised to save them; we are elected “unto salvation”, Eph. 1.  He isn’t coming back until all that he has decreed to save are saved.  Obviously he isn’t going to end human history if all the elected haven’t been born and brought to salvation.  If he did come back before that it would make election nonsensical.  Vs. 15 of 2 Peter 3 says,  And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him.  The elect don’t all live at the same time so until they all are born and grow up and hear the gospel he isn’t coming back. 

Gen. 6:18 says that before the ark was even built, God told Noah that it was only going to hold eight.  Noah was a preacher of righteousness as he built the ark proclaiming the coming judgment of God.  He wasn’t calling the people to buy a ticket or “get saved”; the Lord was only always going to saved just eight souls.  1 Pet. 3:20 says pretty much the same thing, Because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.  Notice how the Lord’s patience was so Noah’s family could be saved, not to see if any more would enter the ark. 
Perhaps the clearest passage that teaches this is in Rev. 6:10-11.  Here the martyrs in heaven are asking the Lord why he hasn’t avenged their blood yet and here is what God tells them, Rev 6:10  They cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Rev 6:11  Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

It should be obvious; God has already determined who was going to be given grace and saved by the sacrifice of his Son on the cross.  So it would make no sense for him to be waiting to come back so more people could be saved than he has elected.  He is building a kingdom of priests; he is building a temple of living stones.  And when the last sinner chosen before the world began is saved then he will come back and destroy this fallen universe and reform it into the new heavens and earth.


Saturday, December 22, 2018

An Inconsistency of Arminianism


Joh 10:28  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. Joh 10:29  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.
Php 1:6  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.

Growing up in Fundamental Arminianism we didn’t hear very much about the sovereignty of God and especially so when it came to our salvation.  When speaking about that subject we didn’t hear about God’s sovereignty at all.  We were taught much about how each of us has a free will and it is up to choose whether we will believe in Jesus.  In Arminian thought all men have a sovereign, autonomous free will that even God can’t control if we won’t let him.  So our eternal destiny is determined, not by the will of God but by our will. 

Of course, we know that the Bible teaches that all men have a will only it is depraved, at odds with God, and so unable to do any good thing before God.  What many fail to realize is that there is a difference between a sovereign, autonomous free will (which only God can have) and a creaturely freewill that must be subservient to the eternal decrees of the only true Sovereign, God Almighty; notice it is not some mighty but all mighty! 

But let me just focus on one teaching of Arminianism that shows the inconsistency of this theology.  As a rule they make it clear that God cannot overcome our will or our will wouldn’t be free, so everyone must have a choice as to whether they want to believe or not.  But oddly enough, when it comes to losing one’s salvation they are perfectly fine with God forcing our will.

Often I would hear the idea of “Once saved, always saved” and “Eternal Security”.  They would use verses like those quoted above to teach that one cannot lose their salvation.  Some even go so far as to say that all Baptist are “Calvinists” because we believe you cannot lose your salvation.  By this they mean they believe the last point of the TULIP, Perseverance of the saints.  But, of course, this is a corruption of this doctrine.  They are saying that all this means is that God won’t let us lose our salvation but deny that he does this in part by transforming us so that we won’t walk away from the faith.  So the idea is that no matter how we live God won’t let us be lost even if we could care less about being saved anymore.

I have heard “Eternal Security” illustrated as a lobster in a pot of boiling water.  Once we are saved God closes the lid down and we can’t get out whether we want to or not.  One immediate problem with this is that no real saint wants to walk away from the Lord but when your theology doesn’t need a transformation of the will in order to be saved then your will isn’t changed to begin with.  So if you choose to be saved, the next day you might choose to walk away.  Fortunately, they are saying, that God won’t let you.

But the most striking inconsistency with this illustration as well as the whole concept of “Once saved, always saved” is that they are saying that it is perfectly okay for God to keep us from ever walking away from him but it is absolutely unacceptable for him to change our will so we will believe in him to begin with.  So it is okay for God to sovereignly keep us from rejecting Christ but he cannot sovereignly bring us to the point of receiving Christ.  It seems that they are picking and choosing when it is okay for God to be sovereign or be God.  And this is the whole problem with Arminianism; it puts man’s “free will” above God’s sovereign will and only one kind of will can be truly free and that is a sovereign will.

The Bible teaches our salvation is a result of the eternal plan and decree of God, not man’s will.  God can’t decree to keep a people saved unless he first chooses to save a people; otherwise how does he even know if anyone will choose to get saved to begin with?  So I ask, why is it okay for God to override our will (And I realize this is a totally unbiblical way to express it, but I am using the Arminian’s way of describing this) and keep us saved but he can only wait and see if we will choose him? 

Part of the problem with this unbiblical theology is that Calvinists know and the Bible clearly teaches that God doesn’t merely force our will but he makes us willing and there is a huge difference between the two. 

But at the end of the day even the lost can only do what the sovereign God ordains and yet they are at the same time doing exactly what they want to do and so are held accountable.  I leave you will these texts to confirm this:

Psa 33:10  The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. Psa 33:11  The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
Dan 4:35  all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?"
Pro 21:1  The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.
Pro 16:9  The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
Psa 105:25  He turned their hearts to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.
Finally, the passage that should end all debate, Act 4:26  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'—Act 4:27  for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, Act 4:28  to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Will any doubt that Herod, Pilate, and the Jews all willingly crucified Jesus and that they were judged because of it?  This is the greatest sin ever committed and yet they were doing and could only do what God had ordained they do from all eternity.  It is not our job to understand how this can be true but it is certainly our duty to submit to this truth and live our lives in light of it.