Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2 Timothy 3

2Th 3:1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you,
Paul is asking for prayers from his friends, that God would be honored where he carries the gospel.  Remember it was his desire to leave but the Holy Spirit urged him to stay in Corinth.
Unless they prayed the word of the Lord would not penetrate the region.  This is the critical importance of prayer

2Th 3:2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.
Paul also has no desire to be at the mercy of evil people. But notice these men are evil and wicked because they are faithless.  Faith and goodness are explicitly linked, we cannot be good without faith, there are no good people roaming the world who are not faithful to Christ.

2Th 3:3
But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one
A reminder that God is going to keep them, and preserve them from Satan. Men may be faithless but God is always faithful. God is the source of faith, the fount of faithfulness, and He will defend and protect His people.

2Th 3:4 And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command.
The working of the Lord is for them to be able to do the things He commands.  He protects His Christians so that they would be able to do what He commands them through the apostle. Augustine prayed “Oh Lord help us to do what you commanded”

2Th 3:5 May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
Paul’s prayer for them is that the Lord will make them to meditate on the love of God and the immovability of Christ.  Love and patience.  We ought therefore, to reflect on the unchanging steadfastness of God as revealed in scriptures as the Lord has commanded us.

2Th 3:6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.
Disassociate, cut off contact with Christians who are idle and habitually lazy.  Not merely an event, but a way of life (walking).  In 1 Thess 5 they were to warn these people, now they are to shun them.  Same thought of discipline is 1 Cor 5:4.  This is not merely a suggestion, this is a command from Christ Jesus, to disobey it is a sin. 

2Th 3:7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you,
Paul is not making an unreasonable request, but had demonstrated it himself, he was willing to work hard and be oppressed.  He is no hypocrite. 

2Th 3:8 nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you.
Paul was also supported by the Philippians, likely he was using this money to be generous and help out the other brothers in need. He  did not want to see anyone have to pay to help him spread the gospel so long as he was able to do it himself- he did not want to burden the brothers and make it difficult on them.  

2Th 3:9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.
The worker deserved his wages 1 Tim 5:18, Luke 10:7, 1 Cor 9:9-10.  Paul had a right to support from them but chose to forgo it to be an example to them. He was in this way all things to all men.  

2Th 3:10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
The principle is at work in the Old Testament in Leviticus 19:9-10. We are to allow charity for people willing to work, but if they refuse to work let them refuse to eat also.  It won’t take long of being hungry to cure a lazy attitude.
God wants to provide for us through the ordinariness of life, of working. He desires to use His providence to make man experience the daily beauty of His care. Man was created as a slave, to work. 

2Th 3:11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.
They didn’t have an ability to contribute to the saints, and they got into each others business.  If you are a perpetual welfare recipient, stop. 
The Greek is a play on the word busy, ‘busy-bodies who do no busy-ness (business)’ the ESV tries to capture this.

2Th 3:12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
This is a direct command from Jesus. Do your work quietly, and provide for yourself. But also notice that they are to be encouraged.  Help them who are weak who want to do the right thing by encouraging them

2Th 3:13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.
This is also is an encouragement to persevere.  The ones who are already doing good must not be tired or sad, they are not to wear out but are to work even harder at doing good.

2Th 3:14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.
Not to be destroyed, or to be turned over to Satan, but explicitly to put them to shame. Shame is an emotion that God uses to spur us to do the right thing. It’s a cattle prod God uses to encourage us.
This command is beholden on the whole church, and every member in it.  This is an attempt to drive them back to Christ.

2Th 3:15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
The lazy people who refuse to work, they are still your brothers, they must still be treated in love, although they need a dose of stronger medicine

2Th 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.
God is the Prince of peace Is 9:6. He loves peace, He Himself, personally gives us peace

2Th 3:17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write.
Paul has scribes write his letters for him as he verbally dictated them, but signed the last part of it to prove its genuineness

2Th 3:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
The grace of the Lord be with all of us in everything we do. May He give us grace in our conversations, thoughts, actions. May we find His grace all around us, holding us up.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Non traditional Ordo Salutis?

The traditional Ordo Salutis is a logically based progression, election, effectual call, regeneration, justification, sanctification, but it also tends to eclipse the cross, which is the foundation of our beliefs.
I propose therefore that we re-think the ordo in terms of the centrality of grace.

The cross is the source and fountainhead of all grace, it flows outward from the bleeding Savior as He hangs there.
When this flow of grace reaches your ears it's called the gospel call
When it reaches your heart it's regeneration
When it touches your personal account before God it's justification
When it reaches your identity as a person it's adoption
When it flows through you it's sanctification
and when it knocks you over and submerges you utterly, it's glorification

Friday, March 25, 2011

High Calvinism exegesis of 2 Cor 5:14-15

In another post I demonstarted that there is really no other conclusion to come to when you exegete this verse then moderate Calvinist's viewpoint.  While I was reading a systematic examination and exposition of the atonement in the book The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness about 48% of the way through I found Jerry the High (or hyper, as I make no distinction) Calvinist came to 2 Cor 5:14-15.  This is what he had to say about it
John Owen masterfully demonstrated in Death of Death in the Death of Christ that the all for whom Christ died is the same all who have died in him, with no wider or more general translation acceptable. 
The best way to argue against the historic Calvinists on this verse is thus: appeal to John Owen and assert that Christ must have died for the elect alone.  I find this interpretation dubious since there is no mention of the verse, no hint of any serious exegetical analysis, just an unsubstantiated appeal to Owen.  Could he have at least summarized Owens argument in a sentence or two for our benefit?
Perhaps by 'elect' he merely means those who benefit by the atonement. He clarifies the question 'who do you mean when you say elect?'
They are the ones who have become united with Christ as their representative in death, and thereby have received the forgiveness and the redemption purchased by the great atonement.  Christ died only for all the ones who have also died in him.
To buttress the argument that Christ's death is useless to the non-elect Jerry re-asserts that Christ couldn't have died for all men as the verse seems to say. As if simply appealing to this thought several times would make it true.
Since we are naturally left wondering why Christ death couldn't be available for the non-elect since Christ died as a man he continues 
To attempt to say that Christ died for those whom he failed to save is to distort and misrepresent the atonement and deny its nature as a single, whole, complete, vicarious transaction.  The death of Christ must save all for whom he died, and all for whom he died must participate by faith in his act of representative, substitutionary death in which he completely changed places with the redeemed.  
Notice again, no appeal to any reason why this must be so, just the argument again.
To his credit Jerry seems to see what is coming next: the argument that the non-elect enjoy common grace.  If the non-elect do not enjoy common grace and God's general love then he's a hyper-Calvinist come out of the closet, but if they do enjoy common grace it will be asked 'on what basis does a just and holy God treat them so well?'  By sovereignty?  If God has the power to merely forgive men or offer grace then why the cross? 
This is not to deny that unbelievers derive great benefits from the fact of Christ atonement.  They enjoy a period of God's patience and all the common graces of living among the people of God.  But these blessings do not mean that the Lord died in a double way- for some vicarious, and for others to give them only a temporary advantage- for that would undermine the Biblical truth that all for whom Christ died also died in him.
To repeat his statement- the non-elect do have a period on this Earth where God doesn't smash their souls, but this is not because of the atonement, because that would imply that the non-elect died in Christ and if both groups died with Christ then they are equilivant, and that would mean the elect are equivalently unsaved.

I'm starting to think that Hyper-Calvinism has only one argument that it clings to ad nauseum (with no scriptural support)- faith has no bearing on reconciliation and Christ's death was useless to the non-elect. 
The key thing here is that there is no mention of the verse, no study of the verse, no interaction of any kind with the verse.  The text itself says that all have died, but only some live. The key difference in these verses between the elect and non-elect is not in the death of Christ, but in the participation with the resurrection and life of Christ.
Because if they really did have the correct interpretation they would show their hand and explain the passage.  Moderate Calvinism stands.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Imputation in the OT

Jeremiah 23:5-6 "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: 'The LORD is our righteousness.'

The Lord is our righteousness- a promise of imputation apart from the law as clear as a bell from even before the Babylonian exile. A promise that the savior would be known as the one who is righteous, and gets His righteousness from God- from being God.  A promise that God would credit His righteousness to us and make us both saved and secured. I wonder if this went through the minds of the Jews who read the epistle to the Romans.

Romans 5:9,17 -Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God... For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

It takes two to reconcile

Reconciliation is by definition a two person event.
It's hard to understate the force of this statement, or the consequences that must have on our understanding of theology.  Moderate Calvinism, which asserts that God has procured salvation for all men upon condition of belief, is the only workable idea given the nature of reconciliation, a process whereby both God and man come together.

Before our relationship can be restored, God, as the injured party, must first be willing (or in this case, able) to forgive. Because He is a just God Ps 111:7, and His justice demands punishment upon sinful men, Is 13:11, His wrath must first be appeased.
The word ἱλασμός rendered propitiation most nearly speaks to this, that the only way God could be finally appeased was by the perfect sacrifice of Christ.  It's the word in 1 John 2:2- Jesus has made a propitiation not only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world. 
The hyper-calvinist take this verse to speak exclusively of the elect, that is, Jesus atones for the sins of the elect, and not only the elect, but the elect as well, but it's not conceivable that this sin offering to God would be good for only the elect, because it satisfies the justice of God, and in a sense moves God from unwilling to forgive, to willing. It is not to man, but to God that propitiation speaks.  God's wrath is satisfied, not mans sinfulness, for if that were the case we would be saved apart from faith.
That the Bible speaks about the forgiving disposition of God indicates this principle as well, Eze 18:23, Eze 33:11, Jer 27:17, Luke 13:34 speak of God as pleading for men to come back, which indicate that His fierce wrath has been in some way appeased. Therefore God can earnestly desire the salvation of all men, 1 Tim 2:4 not merely the elect, because He invites all, having removed the debt against them as long as they draw breath. The offering Jesus makes on the cross being toward God, as a man, is therefore to the benefit of all men.

For their part men must want to come back before they can be reconciled, which is why God urges men to take freely of the water of life, to come and experience the free gift, Rev 3:20, to turn and be saved.  Men demonstrate their return to God by possessing faith, by putting their trust in Christ, by doing what He has demanded of them John 6:29, and since all men have the natural ability to do this, all men may be benefited and saved by the death of Christ. In other words, God invites all to return because all men can return, and when they do both they, and God, have come together for reconciliation.

Once both sides have been brought together, they have between themselves reconciliation, the word in Romans 5:11, or 2 Cor 5:18 καταλλαγή, which speaks to a final, ultimate, peace between God and the saved.
It is here only that we may make the distinction between elect and non-elect, and we can say whether or not Christ's blood is of ultimate benefit or not. The elect are the ones who by God's secret council and power come back because they desire God, the reprobate are the ones who don't. 
Which leads me to the bottom line of the post: although there is reconciliation only between the elect and God, we must be careful that we don't assert the atonement, which is part of the equation, is only for the elect.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Theologians Fall First

Jeremiah 26:7-8 The priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD. And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, "You shall die! 

The wickedness of the priests and prophets drive the madness of the city.  This is in stark contrast to the faithfulness of the leaders of the city:

v10 When the officials of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king's house to the house of the LORD and took their seat in the entry of the New Gate of the house of the LORD.
v16 Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, "This man does not deserve the sentence of death, for he has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God." 


It's the rulers of the city that kept justice, did rightly, and obeyed God, the priests and prophets attempted as much faithlessness, rebellion, and evil as they could get away with.  Once the good rulers were carried to Babylon the evil priests took control and invited God's full fury. 

Oh Rob Bell, be warned lest you, and those under you be destroyed. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Praying in sovereignty

A quick thought on the idea of "what's the use in praying if God is completely sovereign and is going to do it anyway?" Or "why bother if He knows everything?"
But this is to turn it upside down, it's only because of God's sovereignty over all things that we have a reason to request anything. For example, if God wasn't in control over our health, and didn't have the power, or authority to affect us in this matter, then there would be no reason to pray to Him about our well being.  It's because He is over all things that our prayers get answered in the first place.  And because He knows everything, He knows our thoughts, allowing us to ask in the first place.  If He didn't know our thoughts then He could never hear us, and thus never answer our prayers. 
Logical traps are often resolved when we give God great glory.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Negative Inference Fallacy

The argument of the high Calvinist on limited atonement in John 10:15 is thus:
Those for whom the Son died, the Holy Spirit regenerates and grants saving faith. Christ died for the sheep. We know there are sheep and goats. By not stating "Christ died for the sheep and goats" we know that Christ only died for the sheep.
Therefore, He did not die for the goats. Therefore, the sins of the goats were not expiated for.

This argument is based on a faulty premise (the sentence in pink), and results in a false conclusion (red). Their mistake is that a disjunctive syllogism (either P or Q, P, therefore Not Q) is only valid for the exclusive case (either P or Q, but not both).  For example, the following exclusive case is valid: he's either dead or alive. The inclusive case however, is not valid: it's either raining or it's warm outside, it's warm, therefore it cannot be raining.
This presumption of the exclusive case may look strong at first, but a closer examination shows this assumption doesn't hold up. Of course the hyper-calvinist will answer this charge by saying that Q is the case NOT P- Christ dies for the elect, therefore His work is not for the not-elect.
But this is a false dichotomy, it's to assume that election is the mirror opposite to reprobation. Reprobation and election are not in the same class, they are not symmetric; scriptures speak of the reprobate being given a fair trial and of condemning themselves, "You lazy and wicked servant, from your own words will you be judged etc" while the elect, being justified, have their case dismissed before God. The categories remain distinct.  So unfortunately, given we know God elects all we can conclude is that He elects. P isn't non Q, it's just P.

If that were not enough there is a second problem with the statement in the modus ponens: "All whom Christ expiates sins for are saved, the goats end up in hell, therefore the goats didn't have their sins expiated on the cross" in that it commits the fallacy of denying the antecedent (A implies B and B is false, therefore A is false). An example of this fallacy might help to show the problem with it: all good math students can do calculus, Sam can't do calculus, therefore Sam is a bad math student.  The faulty premise of the High Calvinist is that expiation from the cross automatically saves regardless of faith, but the Bible teaches us that to get to Heaven we must have both an expiation of sins and faith, (A implies {B AND C}) and unless both conditions are met a person goes to hell.  So even if we know a reprobate is in hell we can only conclude that they failed to have both {faith AND expiation}. We cannot conclude that because they go to hell they had no expiation.

What the hyper-calvinist needs is a negative statement that Christ did not atone for the non-elect.  It would look something like: my death serves no purpose to the non-elect. But in fact the scriptures never give a negative on the nature of expiation. We see an affirmation that Christ dies for all, and we certainly clearly see His death is for the elect, but we are never given the denial that would prove the hypers assertion.  In the final analysis of this verse we know that Christ dies for the sheep, therefore the sheep will be saved.  P, therefore P.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Original Sin in Romans 5

Romans 5:12-14- "...sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned-- for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.  Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam..."

The argument broken up logically is as follows:
Because God is just He does not count men as sinners unless they personally sin against Him by disobeying His commands.  No command means lawbreaking is possible, which means no sin is possible.  Sin is not counted where there is no law

After the command given to Adam God did not issue another explicit prohibition until Mt. Sinai - many, many years later.  In theory that would mean that there was no opportunity to sin, and everyone who lived during that time period would have been sinless. In reality there was sin in the world. For sin indeed was in the world before the law was given.  So much sin that God decided to wipe it out with a flood.

And this is the proof that they were all sinners to the last man: death reigned from Adam to Moses. Death is the ultimate proof of sin, because sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.

That means that somehow those people had disobeyed an explicit, direct command from God, in a time when it was impossible to do so.  The only explination is that they must have sinned in Adam, or with Adam in the garden, they must have broken the only prohibition in existence.  Adams actions counted as a personal sin against God for every one of Adam's progeny when he acted as our spokesman.
This is original sin.

Stated as an outline:
Sinfulness only happens when we disobey God's commands.
Before Sinai the only breakable command was the one given to Adam: "do not eat"
All men who lived between the time of Adam and Sinai are dead, therefore all those men were sinful
Because they are sinful and the only breakable command was given to Adam all those men became guilty by breaking the commandment given to Adam.
Because they weren't alive for it, they broke the command given to Adam when Adam broke it.
Adam must have acted as a federal head on behalf of everyone.

Which means
When Adam personally, willfully disobeyed and sinned against God I personally, willfully disobeyed and sinned against God.
Surely I was conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The two witnesses

Revelation 11:3-5 "And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed."

Jeremiah 5:14 "Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts: "Because you have spoken this word, behold, I am making my words in your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and the fire shall consume them."