Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The verse that makes you a moderate Calvinist II

Jude 1:5 "Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe" 

Hyper Calvinists assert that Christ died only to pay the penalty due the elect alone and did nothing for the non-elect.  "For if Christ intended to save the non-elect" they argue "then they would no longer be non-elect, they would by definition be elect.  Yet they are in hell, so obviously He did not intend to save them, which means His death was of no use to them.  He did in no way die for them."
With great difficulty the occasional hyper Calvinist may be argued down to the position where he assents that Christ's death is sufficient to save everyone, theoretically, because Christ's blood is of limitless value, but they would compare it thusly: if I invited George Washington to sleep at my house for the night there is room enough in the house, there is no deficiency in the house, but the corpse is not going to make good on my offer, therefore I never intended to have G.W. over.

While that has a certain appeal in being able to easily understand the mission and motive of Christ (save the elect) we must first ask ourselves, is this Biblical?  

The answer is ultimately no, because of the Jude passage which speaks to this point exactly. Jesus saved a people out of Egypt, but then because of their unbelief destroyed them. Christ dying to save mankind and then condemning them for their sins is therefore not only in character for Him, but an action that has historical precedent.  Jude felt that this aspect of God's character was so important that He was giving a special note to it.  Paul too has this same thought in 1 Corinthians 10:1-6 "For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did."
Moderate Calvinism is then the only one which can successfully make sense of these two passages: Christ's death is for all mankind, but especially for those who believe and are thereby saved fully.  For just because the children of Israel didn't make it into the promise land didn't mean they were not delivered from slavery in Egypt.

The hyper Calvinist will attempt to hold fast to his worldview by reading the word saved as separated.  Jesus did not save them, but culled them so that He might pour His great fury on them in the wilderness. "Yes God drew them out of Egypt, but since they perished in the wilderness it was His will to destroy them, therefore God drew them out to destroy them." To this, three answers.  (Likewise, since Jude established a connection between the desert wanderings and our faith, each of these arguments is directly applicable to the satisfaction provided by Christ on behalf of all mankind.)

  1. It's expressly and explicitly against Scriptures.  Deuteronomy 6:21,23 "then you shall say to your son, 'We were Pharaoh's slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand....And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers" 
  2. It's against reasonWhy should God rescue them and not merely let them perish with the wonders in Egypt when He poured the plagues on them?
  3. The word saved is the same found in Matthew 1:21.
  4. It sows confusion into the text.  When Moses begged God on behalf of Israel, what did he say?  Exodus 32:11 "Why should the Egyptians say, 'With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth'? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people." For His glory, and because Moses asked, God relented.  Yet if the hypers are right this passage makes no sense, because it was always God's intention to destroy them, certainly not to allow Moses to intercede.
It will also be argued that the Jude passage is a warning to the elect, who cannot lose their salvation because God will preserve them until the end.  But that cavil only is to nullify Jude's warning and wipe out the passage entirely. "Christ will save you regardless, so who cares about what the children of Israel did or didn't do in the desert?" Christ perseveres us in Him by His power, by having us work out our own salvation, by having us strengthen ourselves, by making our election secure.  He warns us that the warning may goad us into action. To ignore the warning then is to miss the salvation it points towards.

If the Bible says that the problem with men not being saved is in their lack of faith, then we should insist that lack of faith not sufficient atonement is the problem.  Jude is a warning that the failure mechanism lies with us, not God's intention for us.  If people end up in hell it's because of their own lack of faith, not because of a sufficient provision. Not because Christ didn't atone for their sins, but because they didn't accept His offer. 
Thus, moderate Calvinism is the only one which allows us to make sense of this passage.

Friday, April 15, 2011

James quoting the scriptures

Proverbs 3:27-30 - Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, "Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it"--when you have it with you. Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you. Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm.

James 5:4 - Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Very Jewish Sermon

From selected text

Matt 5:5 "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
Ps 37:11 "But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace."

Matt 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Ps 34:8-10 "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing."

Matt 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Ps 18:25 "With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;"

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Ps 18:26 "with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous."
PS 73:1 "A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A repentance analogy with American cars

Repentance is making a serious moral about face. I don't mean the word serious as an adjective meaning greater, or more impressive, I mean it in the sober, committed sense of the word. If you really believed you have done wrong and want to stop you need to change your behavior.

Full disclosure: I inherited a Dodge Neon my wife bought before we were married, and the car is a lemon. And I hate it. So now she and the baby use my Corolla and I get the junker which has transmission problems (we rebuilt it twice) it leaks fluid, and has since 40,000 miles.

While fixing it again the thought occurred to me this morning: what would it take for me to be willing to commit my family to a GM, or Chrysler, or Dodge car? What would it take for me to accept them as part of my own cherished possession and trust the safety of my family to them? I think the answer is simple: they must repent.  They must make an apology for all the wrongs they have done to me and mine, they must admit they've screwed ups, that they have been deceitful, lazy, maybe even criminal. And they have to be specific. If they issued a generic blank apology that would indicate to me they had no intention of changing their poor car performance, and that would be unacceptable. They must be so committed to changing their ways that they not only say it, but do it. And then I would accept them.

James 2:14, 17, 24, 26

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Christ is the fufillment of Isaiah 25:6-9

Isaiah 25:6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
Luke 22:15-18 And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it  until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."
John 14:2-3 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also"
v7 And He will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.
2 Cor 3:14-16- "But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed."
v8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.
1 Cor 15:55-57- ""O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Rev 7:17- "For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
Rev 21:4 "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
v9 It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, that He might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation." 
Matthew 27:37 "And over His head they put the charge against Him, which read, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews."
1 Peter 2:24 "He Himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed."
Phil 4:4- "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice"

Orthodoxy Chapter 5 - The Flag of the World

So it’s beyond question that our world is a fairy tale, but there’s also no denying that something is seriously wrong with it as well, becau...