Posts Tagged ‘God’

I just finished Rob Bell‘s Love Wins. It was a quick read and just hurt my heart while reading it. Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle had similar feelings that I had and decided to co-write a new book called Erasing Hell.

There is a very interesting and helpful interview with Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle about why they wrote the book and their feelings about all of this. Please watch it here.

If someone believes that they got themselves into Christ, then it is only natural to believe they can get themselves out of Christ. But Hebrews 12:2 clearly states that God is both the Author and Finisher or Perfecter of our faith. He began it and He finishes it perfectly. To say you can lose your salvation is saying Christ can only save me if I keep up my salvation. The truth is, you will keep up your salvation perfectly because of the new willing heart that God has given you and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which you received when you were Born Again by the power and will of God and God alone (John 1:13). God has guaranteed your perseverance and your perfect “keeping up of your salvation” (if you want to say that, which I don’t). But when you do persevere you can also say what Paul did in 1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

There is a wealth of Bible passages that guarantee that our salvation is perfectly secure in Christ. There are some passages that people like to look to to try to say that you can lose your salvation, and the most popular one that people use is actually rarely read in context, which is the key to understanding anything in the Bible. This is Hebrews 6:4-6. Let’s look at these verses real quickly and then make some final thoughts.

4For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

People will say that these verses guarantee that people can lose their salvation. We have two problems with that;

  1. Language like enlightened, tasting the heavenly gift, sharing in the Holy Spirit, tasting the Word of God and  the powers of the age to come, do not, I repeat, DO NOT mean that the person was saved. Remember the audience of Hebrews that were being written to here. The Jews were enlightened with the knowledge of who God was because they were given the law and were His chosen people. They tasted of many heavenly gifts such as the manna in the desert in Moses‘ time and Christ’s bread and fish in John 6. They shared in the Holy Spirit in the sense that they experienced the Holy Spirit empowered ministry of Jesus and tasted of Christ’s Word. They also tasted of the powers of the age to come in the many interactions with God through Moses and Christ, as well as every other prophet in scripture. That didn’t mean that everyone who did those things were saved, in fact the reality is that in spite of all those interactions, most still did not believe. A whole generation was left in the wilderness before entering the promise land after the great “experiences” or instances of “enlightenment.” After they all “taste of the heavenly gifts” of Jesus Christ in John 6, the thousands that were well fed just a few verses earlier left Jesus in the dust when he said that God is sovereign over who comes and does not come to Jesus and has eternal life, thus proving that they were never truly born again, they just desired to have their bellies filled for free. What this verse is really saying is that when a person has the fullest experience of who God really is in Christ, and then they reject Him, they are never capable of getting more information and are saying they understand it all, and they still don’t want Him. You can try to tell them, but they have all the knowledge you can give them, it is hopeless.
  2. If you are going to say these verses prove you can lose your salvation, you have to also at least be consistent with the rest of verse 6 which clearly says that this person can never again be restored to repentance because they would be re-crucifying Christ. The crazy thing is that everyone who believes that you can lose your salvation also believes that you can get it back again. This verse clearly says you can’t restore them again to repentance, it’s impossible (Verse 4 and 6).

Telling people they can lose their salvation is more fear-mongering than it is equipping people for the battle that we all face everyday. That’s like a King saying to his people about to go into battle, “gear up, but you will probably lose cause I ain’t fighting with you. I will be back in the castle living it up. Good luck.”

My King says, “I guarantee your victory in this battle because I am the one leading the charge and doing all the fighting. When you succeed it is only because I’ve given you power to defeat your enemy. Also, I have determined the end from the beginning so I know infallibly that you will win this and all battles because I Am the Alpha and Omega and I will do all that I set out to do.”

Haven’t you heard or thought this when the subject of eternal security, perseverance of the saints, or “once saved always saved,” comes up: “That’s going to make people think that once they are saved then they can just go do whatever they want and they’ll still go to heaven. That is horrible!”

I have heard people say this a lot. My question though is, is it true? Once people are TRULY saved, can they do whatever they want and be okay?

Although I need you to hear me out in order to be understood properly, I shout a resounding…

“YES THEY CAN!!!”

Now before I get everyone all worked up, let me explain. The question again was, “doesn’t ‘Once Saved Always Saved’ imply that people can do whatever they want after they are saved and they will still go to heaven?” Sometime it is worded, “isn’t that a license to sin?” This last question I would firmly oppose. It is firmly not a license to sin and this is why:

If the person has truly been taken from the kingdom of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of light, that means that they received what Ezekiel calls a new heart, a new spirit, the Holy Spirit, and God’s forceful causing them to obey His commands. Let’s look at the passage in Ezekiel 36:

“26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

A heart of stone that is void of a willing spirit and the Holy Spirit cannot please God. It has to have a radical change enacted upon itself by God. This is what Jeremiah 31 talks about as well with the New Covenant. So if you truly have been redeemed by Jesus Christ, you have a new spirit (you are now wanting to be holy as God is Holy), you now have the Holy Spirit (which Ephesians 1:13-14 calls the seal or down payment of God which, by giving it, guarantees He will pay in full by bringing you all the way to full Salvation), and finally it says explicitly in the text, God will CAUSE you to walk in His ways and be careful to OBEY His rules. This text should make people who hold to free will go insane.

Now briefly, I want to touch on this “new heart” concept. The Bible has a lot to say about the heart.

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 27:19
As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.

Matthew 12:34
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart
the mouth speaks.

Matthew 15:18-19
But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony,
slander.

Mark 7:21-22
For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22
greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.

The heart of the unbeliever is a factory that continually makes idols and because of the natural condition of the heart, it proves our guilt of sin. The heart is where our desires live. If we have an unconverted heart, we have evil desires, and then, because our will is in bondage to our heart’s desires, we will evil things all the time, proving that we have no free will, but are slaves to sin (Romans 6:5, 20). But, and I repeat, but if/when God gives us a new heart, we have new wants and new desires!

So go and do whatever you want to do because if you are truly a blood-bought child of God, you want to worship God, you want to read His Word, you want to obey all of His commands. You don’t want to sin against Him anymore. Even the Apostle Paul said that the things he did not want to do, he did, and the things he did want to do, he still struggled to do (Romans 7). This means that yes, if we are Christians we are still affected by sin’s presence in our lives and we still stumble and fall, but we don’t want to do that anymore. We want to please God.

How do we know if we are saved though? We don’t want to believe in vain. And also, we have to test ourselves to see if we are of the faith. But listen to this:

Romans 10:9-10
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

So if you are truly saved, and you have had the Holy Spirit testify with your spirit that you are a child of God, Go and do what you want to do, which is worship and glorify Jesus Christ all your days. And when we do we know that it is God who, “works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Philippians 2:13).”

I have more respect for Rick Warren now having seen this interview. If you have any issues with John Piper, I pray you will watch this amazing interview and hear his heart. This is a great thing for the body of Christ. Thank you Desiring God ministries.

John Piper and Rick Warren interview on Doctrine

These are the tough questions that all Christians should be discussing with each other. Enjoy.

Click on the picture to be taken to the Desiring God blog in order to view the video or click here.

Warren apparently believes the doctrines of grace, or otherwise called Calvinism, with some confusion over limited atonement. This interview at least opens it all up for discussion. Do you think he is Reformed or is he just trying to make all the Calvinists happy? If he is just trying to make the Calvinists happy, is that a good thing? By doing this, wouldn’t he just be making all his Arminian followers angry and in some way shooting himself in the foot with the majority of his followers? What are your thoughts?

Harold Camping in 2008

Image via Wikipedia

Well, apparently judgement day was not last Saturday. I listened to a news program this morning that played Harold Camping’s response to being wrong about judgement day… well he would say he is only half wrong. Read more about what he said here.

So I guess the new date is October 21st, 2011.

Now I think this man is completely incorrect for trying to put a date on the end of the world whenever Jesus himself said that only God the Father knows that date (Mark 13:32).

I did not know much else about Harold Camping besides his prediction of the end times. What I learned in his speech that I heard today was really astounding.

Harold Camping believes in annihilationism. To help people understand what this means, I made this video. It is about 6 minutes. He explains some things and I put my thoughts over the audio in certain places.

This is not the traditional view of hell, but like I said in the video, this year has brought us a ton of false teachers who want to change the meaning of hell. Hell is not a fun topic. That doesn’t change the reality of it. Taxes are not fun, but I still have to pay them. I don’t change what I believe taxes are and then try to not pay them. I can try to do that but then I’ll get in trouble eventually.

Rob Bell stripped all the reality of an actual literal place called hell by saying that there is still an infinite amount of chances to change your mind and decide to go to heaven after being in hell for however long. This is called post-mordem salvation. This is not biblical.

Harold Camping says that no one is eternally punished in hell. People are just destroyed and have no consciousness of what happened or anything for that matter because they just cease to exist. This is annihilationism. This is not biblical.

I am so very thankful and excited to hear about Francis Chan’s new book called Erasing Hell. He sums up so much of my thoughts in this 9 minute long video. Please check it out.

I woke up today and chose to wear these specific blue jeans and this black polo shirt. I could have chosen a different pair of jeans and a different black polo shirt. I have to wear a black polo of some kind for my job at the music store. Technically, I have the freedom to just say, “I don’t care if my work yells at me for not wearing the right shirt, I am wearing what I want.” But my desire to be a good employee is greater than my desire to wear a different shirt. So I freely chose to do what I wanted most. To be honest, I wasn’t supposed to work today, and my bed felt really good this morning. I really wanted to just enjoy my Saturday at home, but I had a greater desire to both make a little more money and help out my boss because someone needed the day off.

We make decisions everyday. We do so freely based off of our deepest desires and the options that are set before us that we are capable of choosing. Then we read in the Bible about God having the ability to choose whatever he wants.

Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases.”

So if we have the ability to freely choose whatever we want and God has the freedom and right to do what he desires, what happens when God wants something but we want something different? Who ultimately reigns over everything and gets what he wants; God or man? This leads to a deeper question; Can any fallen human being choose of his or her own free will to do what God commands, which is repent and believe in Jesus, unaided by a special work of God first?

These are good questions. It is good to think about things concerning us and God. Thinking about things lead to thinking deeper about God. The deeper we go with our understanding of God, the greater our desire for more of Him.

One of the most discussed/debated subjects that thinking Christians will inevitably discuss is the concept God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Or, another way to put it, do we have free will? If God is in control of everything (sovereign), and we freely choose what we want, how can these two concepts coexist. This discussion usually gets misunderstood by misconceptions in our modern language, as well as our misunderstanding of another person’s position.

Recently, Geoff Ashley from The Village Church, wrote a great 5 part series on whether or not we have a free will, and what is really meant by that.  Each one is a very quick read and each one is supported by Scripture. Please read these posts if you have any questions about the reformed position on the freedom/bondage of the will. Here are links to each of those posts:

Do We Have A Free Will?

1.Introduction

2. Opening Clarifications

3. The Reality of Unregenerate Bondage

4.Considering the Objections

5. Conclusions

Also if you would like a .pdf file of all of these articles in one document click here.

Thanks for visiting. Add your thoughts to the comment section. Let the conversation begin.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: People celebrate in the...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

So this morning I wake up at 5:00 am to do my P90X workout to then have my wife tell me that she just heard on the news that Osama Bin Laden has been killed by the US. She said that there were videos and pictures of people gathered at Ground Zero in New York City, as well as countless other places around the US, celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden. As soon as I heard this, I had no idea what to think, feel, or do. My heart sank. As a Christian I felt that it would be wrong to celebrate the death of someone created in God‘s image. But I also began to think of some deep thoughts, questions, and observations that I would like to share with you.

Here are some pictures of people celebrating over Bin Laden’s death.

Why was everyone celebrating? I understand that if he really did orchestrate the attacks on 9/11 then he must be punished for them. But why do I understand this to be so? It is part of our deepest desire to have the wrongs righted in our lives. 9/11 was a terrible event that saw many people lose their lives. We wanted justice. If Bin Laden died this week, which I think it is terrible that we just assume at face value that this is true because President Obama said so even though there is absolutely no evidence for this, then my question is where is he now?

Think over that question long and hard. Is Bin Laden in hell or heaven? Or is he in a temporary hell being offered the chance to still work through his 9/11 garbage, as well as other sins, and come on through the open doors of heaven? This is what Rob bell has written about lately. He suggests that it does not matter if you actually cognitively understand the gospel and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior who alone saves from sin, death, and hell. He goes on to say that God wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and God has to get what He wants in order to actually be worthy of praise so then the natural assumption is that all men will be saved, even through the temporary correction of hell’s flames.

Rob Bell recently did an interview with NPR news. Hear it here. He says in his interview that he leaves the door open for people from other faiths to be getting to heaven through Jesus. He also says in the interview that he cannot trust a God who sends people to hell to be punished for eternity. What about Osama Bin Laden? Is he in a place of eternal flames right now without ever getting the chance or offer of escaping it? It is ridiculous for a Christian to assume that a Buddhist man who rejected Christ is not in heaven, but I do understand that it is not easy to admit this because he may have been seen as a good man. We don’t like to think of “good” people being in hell. I put “good” in quotes because the Bible is clear that there is none good or righteous (Romans 3).

But is it easy to go along with Rob Bell’s ideas and say Bin Laden is in Heaven? Or at least Bin Laden will be in Heaven… someday?

We want justice. That is why these people celebrate over the death of Osama Bin Laden. If we are all going to be in Heaven someday then who cares about 9/11? There would be no justice. While Bin Laden was alive, Christians should have been praying for his soul to come to know Jesus, but now his time is up.

And this isn’t even touching on the fact that all of our sin is actually first and foremost against God. That is the real matter. That is what brings out the discussion about Gandhi, or anyone else who rejects the Gospel of Jesus Christ, being in Hell, no matter how “good” they seem to be.

I leave you with this thought. Heaven is eternal. Hell is eternal. The way to God is through the atoning work of Christ’s blood. The grace of God through faith in Christ. The forgiveness of sins that is only found in Jesus. There is no other salvation outside of Christ. If both Gandhi and Bin Laden rejected Christ, they are both in hell. Their sin is equal in the eyes of God because they both trampled on the blood of God’s one and only Son Jesus Christ.

“If Rob Bell is right then the Bible is wrong.” – Sean Harris