Friday, August 31, 2012

Jay Seculo Live Failure

No, I don't often listen to the show, and no, I don't have a specific instance of his failure.
But I'm teaching through Nehemiah now, and Nehemiah has a prayer that's very interesting, he basically admits that the people had sinned, and he was one of them. He admits that the punishment of burned gates, and smashed walls was just. This is how he begins in v6: "Please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father's house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses."
Now that's not just a prayer, that's a really bold prayer. It's a little easier to see how bold when you consider a radio show like Jay Seculo Live. Jay's show is just like the people in the (I call it) old people Bible class. They are dispensationalists, so they very much believe that the political climate of America is directly tied into Scriptures, and as a result they are usually praying that God would boot Obama from office, and would deliver America from his hands. Nothing wrong with that prayer. Nothing wrong with wanting to be saved from a man who desires to be a tyrant.
But there is something missing: admission of guilt. I want to tell those people who run the radio show, or call in, or sit in that Bible class: Yes, ask God to remove him, but first realize that God gave us Obama to punish us for our sins. We have sinned. We have acted unfaithfully. It's too easy to draw a line in the sand and say "those people, they elected him, they are sinners." We are Americans, all of us. We have sinned, we have brought this on ourselves. Before we pray for the leader of our nation to be shown the door, a little humility and confession is in order.

The root of hyper-Calvinism?


There is an interesting theological problem that crops up only amongst Calvinists. You know what  I mean. The Arminian is largely immune from it because they really don’t have a high regard for God’s authority over all things. At the end of the day they declare they are responsible for their destiny and nobody but nobody has any other say.
However, the Calvinist, in seeking to be faithful to the Biblical record, has to be very careful to not overstep the bounds of Scripture with regards to God’s nature. The concept of Sovereignty is true and can be liberating, but it can just as easily straitjacket and blind. In seeking to understand Sovereignty the Calvinist constructs two ideas:
God cannot desire what He does not command.
And,
God cannot command what He does not desire.
When adopted as the guiding principle for understanding the person of God this of course necessarily means that the non-elect are doomed without hope or help, and the five point brand of Calvinism is the only one that makes logical sense.
If you argue that this is not the case they are going to look down on you “you really don’t get it?”
Or, the 5 pointer will point out that you have no regard for Scripture or the Sovereignty of God. While it looks like the in house Calvinist fighting is over the “L” I think that it’s rather over this hidden presupposition. 
After all, how can God be all powerful, all supreme, and make a command that He cares nothing for? If He says “Do not steal” then He really wants you not to steal. If not, He’s insane. If He wants you to believe, then He’s going to make sure that in the end you believe. Does He not do this very thing for the elect? Therefore the elect are positive proof that God has no regard for the non-elect.
Once you admit these two principles however, the argument automatically comes apart. There are many things that God demands that go unfulfilled. God demands sinless perfection from us, deserves it, desires it, and does not get it. Is the Calvinist really willing to say that God desires all things equally, that desire is really no more or less than command? The ancient thinkers made the difference between the secret will, and the revealed will of God precisely because of this obvious difficulty. I desire my daughter be happy, I do not command her to it, I lead her to it. In fact I command her to avoid things that would make her miserable, and in so doing I have proved that commands and desires are two very distinct things.
At least, that's where I was earlier this week. I'll let you know if it changes.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

On Cain and Abel

I head growing up that God was upset at Cain because he brought to Him the fruit of the cursed ground. I thought that was somewhat insightful, but wrong. As I reflect on it further however, I think it's right.
In Genesis 3:21 God makes from animals skins for their clothing. That means God killed an animal.
I think this was the first sacrifice, where God began teaching man about the messiah and what it meant to be redeemed. There could be no redemption without blood, without another taking your place.

The by-product of the sacrifice was usable clothes, but the first and foremost thing was to atone for sin, and God showed them how to do it: with blood. It was a brutal, costly thing sin, and it required death.
Now Abel brings forward sheep, and Cain brings forward food. Which is the one God taught them to do? Which one of the sons of Adam brings what God commanded, and which one does his own thing? Which comes on the terms God told him, and which comes on his own terms?
Is it any wonder that God says 'if you do well, will you not be accepted?' If you offered the sacrifice like I taught you would I not accept that? But here you have brought me something of your invention. Do I delight in sacrifices? Would it not be better to obey?

Which is the second commandment you know. God has set forward a way to be worshiped, a way to be righteous, and a way that we may thrive by. Taking up for ourselves a new kind of Christianity is only a very old heresy.

You can't save them, Lot

In Genesis 18:20 God and His two angels come to Abraham, and tell him of the plan of the messiah, and how he will have a son. But as part of this God clues Abraham into the plan that Sodom and Ghmorrah must not be left standing, because their sin is very great.
In a very familiar passage Abraham asks God after the angels go on ahead if He would destroy the city if there were 50 righteous men in it. 45? 20? What is the price of wicknedness that it demands total annihilation?

What if then there is only one righteous family? Will you save the family for the good it will do? Will it not be a light and salt to the people? Will it not be a ministry platform to them? If there is only Lot's family that is righteous, a mere 10 people? (Presumably, Lot, his wife, his daughters, their husbands, and the servants.)

"I will not destroy [it] for the sake of ten."

What happens next is already known to us because the Lord would not destroy it for 10 and He's going to destroy it. We see it unfold when Lot's wife goes back Gen 19:26, when the sons in law refused to budge Gen 19:14. In other words, righteous Lot was totally and completely unable to persuade even his family about the just wrath of God. It's a lesson in evangelism. Lest God give the increase, there will be no response.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The use of sovereignty

I was listening to a sermon on Romans 9, and the preacher stated that God uses His power to sovereignly determine who is and isn't saved. I think that's true, but it's only part of the picture, and it's a misleading one. Look at Micah 6 where the Lord marshals the mountains, the hills, and all the Earth like a captain to come and bear witness against His people:

Hear now what the LORD says: "Arise, plead your case before the mountains, And let the hills hear your voice. Hear, O you mountains, the LORD's complaint, And you strong foundations of the earth; For the LORD has a complaint against His people, And He will contend with Israel. 

You can feel the power in these verses, the strength in them. God must be building to something big, He's preparing to yell from the sky and rain down the power of thunder from a whirlwind like He did to Job. Verse 3

"O My people, what have I done to you? And how have I wearied you? Testify against Me. 

After using His sovereignty to call together a trial for His people, and bringing the foundations of the Earth as witness He uses it to beg His people to tell Him what He's done wrong. You can hear the sorrow in His voice, the pity. He sounds like a husband who desperately loves his wife but she does not love him back.

What's so remarkable about God's sovereignty is not the awesome power of it, but His restraint of it.