Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Choice Meats

In our previous post, I tried to give some of my interactions and history with the Calvinistic thought process and teachings.

With this post, I would like to introduce you to the teacher I referred to earlier. He is a former Calvinist also, and has recanted, and has become a bit of a lightning rod for provisionism soteriology teaching.

Many of his videos are quite lengthy, and have kept my interest now for weeks. What I would like to do is offer his “60 Second Soteriology” clips to introduce you to Mr Leighton Flowers.

I do hope you will consider the teaching with an open mind.


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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – A Contradiction?

As you may remember, I lived as a Calvinist for a number of years, teaching the “doctrines of grace” in a Sunday School Class for Adults, and in Small Group studies for years.

During this time, certain verses and passages seemed to niggle at the back of my mind, but I sought to ignore them and refused to consider alternate ways of looking at the Word, and the God of the Bible.

Certain verses seemed to be in contradiction with the general teaching of Calvin.

One of those teachings were the apparent hatred God has for some sinners, to the point where He would not allow regeneration of their souls prior to their activating the faith required to please God. Yes – that is a common teaching in the reformed thought, that God regenerates a lost sinner prior to the sinner responding to the call of salvation.

Any sinner that is not regenerated, given life eternal, is relegated to eternal suffering. This brings up a number of issues in my mind, which include the justice of God in condemning a sinner for not able to respond to the Gospel of Christ.

Nevertheless, the topic I want to consider is the Love of God in relation to the sinner.

Many times in the New Testament, (golly – bunches of times in the Old Testament) believers are enjoined to love thier enemies.

Matthew 5:44

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

or

Romans 12:20

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

What has that got to do with Calvinism? The doctrines of grace teach that God does not love His enemies, but of the destruction and eternal torment of sinners, the enemies of God. They will suffer throughout eternity and this will supposedly bring glory and honor to the Father.

Wait a minute

We are told to imitate Him, as dear children.

Ephesians 5:1

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

or, consider

 Matthew 5:48

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

So what is your point Carl?

Are we to hate our enemies or love them? If we follow the teaching of Calvin, it seems in order to follow our Father in relation to His enemies, we would have the right to do damage to them. After all, according to the God depicted by Calvin, destruction of the enemies of God pleases Him.

Never mind all the passages that speak of our not taking revenge, or that God is love. I found that once I admitted to myself that the logic of Calvinism had some weakness, the whole scheme tumbled down.

If you are considering the teaching of Calvin, remember to keep a gentle spirit, an open mind to the passages of Scripture that give you pause, and flee from the pride of a “higher spirituality”

To be loved by the suffering Savior and His gracious Father is enough.


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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Discussions

A few weeks back, I published the first of a series of posts offering 60 second video discussions on alternatives to the popular Calvinistic teaching in our churches these days.

The videos were provided by Dr. Leighton Flowers, and addressed a number of topics that related to Calvinism and it’s resultant effects on the believer.

Since then, I have received a number of comments in response to the videos, primarily from those that are associated with the reformed thought process (Thinking like Calvin).

Initially, the comments were cordial, but eventually, due to my guests frustration or anger, their responses became heated, to the point that I was instructed to repent and believe the gospel.

Passion to share your faith is commendable, but we must remember that we are called to fight the good fight, not the harsh fight. By that I mean, we are to fight with goodness, love, kindness, and patience. Condemning a brother, (or even a non-believer) usually results in loss of communication and personal offence. With no positive fruit coming from the effort. Trust me – I have spent far too long trying to argue and berate people into the kingdom!!!

These things ought not to be.

James 3:10

Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

I would encourage all to be gracious in our discussions with those we meet, either in our workplace, over the phone, through teleconferencing, or even on a blog post, in a comment section.

John 13:35

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Please look for my next post on Calvin’s Concerns, where I will make an effort to consider a contradiction in Calvinism. Hope to see you there.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Psalm 2

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we received from this wonderful book.

Knowing we were going to be reading Psalm 2 this evening, I figgered I was ready to discuss, given that I had read this psalm as much as any.

Little did I know that one more time would give me more to be thankful for, and also add a question or two to consider.

Psalm 2

1 Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”

It seems so obvious to me that the passage here speaks of the rejection and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus.

Verse 2 speaks of the rulers and the kings counselling together. I take that as the joining of the Jewish leadership and the Gentile lords coming together to reject God. This is a common theme through the Word, where sworn enemies join forces when it comes to fighting against the Creator and Redeemer of all. (Consider Herod and Pilate)

Luke 23:12

And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

It is sobering to realize that those who are against the Lord will team up with absolutely anyone to fight against God.

 
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”

The enemy has a united front. The motivation for confrontation is high. The forces against God seem insurmountable. (At least from our perspective.)

But God has set His King on His holy hill.

But when did this happen? When did God set His King on His holy hill? I used to think that He will be enthroned during the millennial Kingdom in the future. Not so sure anymore. There is much debate over this, but as my wife and I chatted, we considered Hebrews 12:22, where the author refers to believers coming (or having come) to Mount Zion.

Heb 12:22

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,

Jesus is the King now. Let us not forget that He is on the throne.

Mat 28:18

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Sinful actions, evil men and corrupt systems do not frustrate the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus.


7 I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

This next set of verses are the ones that I intended to discuss with this post, but the earlier ones were too tempting to let go without a bit of comment.

Nevertheless, it is good to remember that the apostles gave us much to consider when they supplied the Spirit’s interpretation of verse 7 in Acts 13:32 – 34

Acts 13:32-34

And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers,
this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’
And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’

So often I consider the term “begotten” to refer to being born, as in my son was begotten of my wife and I. The apostle corrects this thinking by informing us that the Psalm refers to the resurrection of the Lord.

This psalm speaks of the resurrections of the Lord Jesus and His triumph over the forces arrayed against His Father

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Consider the mercy of God, in that after the resurrection, and by that I mean after the crucifixion and torture inflicted by the kings and rulers, they are entreated to serve the Lord with fear, and to rejoice with trembling

He is not a God I can imagine! He is much more!


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New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – The Lamp on a Stand

The last two parables were “twins” of sort, but this one is a stand alone type of parable. This parable is couched in the Sermon on the Mount and describes the believer as a lamp. A lamp that is open to view by all.

Let’s take a look at

The Parable of The Lamp on a Stand

Matthew 5:14-15

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

As mentioned in our introduction, we have a number of questions that will provide guidance in understanding each of these parables. Let’s review and delve into this parable

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Matthew 5 starts out with Jesus on a mountain, seeing the crowds and the disciples being with Him. It appears that the sermon was intended for the disciples, since Luke 6:20 informs us that

…he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God

The intended audience is the disciples during this time in the Lord’s ministry. So let us understand this parable as being addressed to His followers.

When did the Lord give this parable?

The Sermon on the mount was one of Jesus earliest messages, and many believe it was given in the first year of His ministry.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

No one knows exactly where the mount is, but we can know that this sermon was on “the mount”

Tradition speaks of it being delivered on Mount Eremos, on Galilee’s northwest shore between Gennesaret and Capernaum.

Why did the Lord give this message?

This message, or parable was not given out of answering a question, such as the last two teachings. This parable came directly from the Master, speaking to His followers.

I have understood the beatitudes in different ways at different times in my Christian journey, at one time thinking it didn’t apply to the Christian life, but only to those during a literal thousand year reign of the Lord on the earth.

At this time in my life, I find that teaching to be weak, and that the sermon was given to His followers, or disciples, in order to be understood and followed.

The lamp on a stand applies to disciples. The Lord gave this message to believers.

What was the message for the original audience?

Let’s consider the lamp as a fixture in a room. In the days of the first century, there were likely one lamp in the house, as a single source of light. The purpose of the lamp was to give light. Why would anyone put a lit lamp under a basket?

The lamp produces a certain amount of light, or in our world, the term is a certain number of “lumens”. (Remember a 40 watt bulb? This is the amount of power a light bulb uses to produce light. The light produced from a watt of power is measured in lumens. But I digress!)

No matter where the light is situated, the amount of lumens is the same. Under a basket or on a stand.

Advantageous Use of the Lamp

Placing the lamp on a stand is speaking of the advantageous use of the lamp.

One other item that occurs to me is the number of beneficiaries a lamp can supply light to.

It takes no more power to produce 100 lumens of light to one person as it does to 10 people. The lumens are not used up by the “consumption” of one person or a hundred.

The light expressed from the lamp is effortlessly blessing those who come within sight of its source. The power is not dealt with in this parable, and will not be commented on, but I bet you know Who the power is.

What is the message for us today?

There are two messages that every believer needs to consider from this parable, that I need to hear.

To be a light that is on a stand is the believers place in the kingdom. It is the purpose of the light, and the purpose of the believer, to bless those in their vicinity with their light they have been freely given by the Master.

Find the Power

When I say find the power, I’m not asking anyone to dig deep and find that inner strength. I am becoming more and more convinced that my power is the weakness of my soul, the abject infirmity that keeps me down. My power is a replacement of the true power of God, that I realize I have so little of.

Stand up for Jesus

Stand up for Jesus. Take a stand, in humility and with grace.

I have often made a stand for the Lord Jesus out of pride and hostility, out of fear or religious arrogance. How may I gently, and firmly stand for Jesus, depending on His power and grace? Lord, I ask for your hand and guidance.

You, my Savior, are the only One I can find strength in.

It is my continual proneness to depend on my strength, and I thank you Father for the aging process, where my strength is waning, showing me the emptiness of that source of strength. You are all strength. You are of eternal power. Your strength, Your power, You are the source of all light and life.

Psalm 38:9-10, 21-22

9 O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.

10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes–it also has gone from me. …

21 Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me!

22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

David’s heart sought the Lord. This passage speaks to me and hopefully to the reader, that our strength will fail us, and the light of our eyes will fade. But our salvation is the Lord, and in Him is our strength.



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Bible

Song Squawk – The Finish Line

In the mid nineties, I had a little red Buick and a big ol’ bass box in the trunk, and would listen to “Christian Rock”, cranked to 11.

(What did you say?  Huh?  Can  you say that again, I didn’t hear you….)

I have gotten away from that genre for many reasons, the least of which may be a loss of hearing, but some songs have stuck with me over the decades.

The artist’s I listened to sought to reflect Scriptural teaching for the most part. They ranged from “preaching” pop culture religion to significant theological teaching. As I listened to the lyrics, I found some to be quite challenging.

To be honest, I listened because I could justify the rock beat with “sanctified lyrics”.

Occassionaly I will post a song, supply the lyrics and make a comment or two. If you decide to listen to the tune, turn the speaker down unless you are already deaf. Some of the songs tend to have a certain “volume” about them!


This post will consider the song

The Finish Line – by Steve Taylor

You are gonna get the impression that Steve Taylor was a favorite of mine, and you would be right. His truth-telling can be biting and he is a story teller. This song speaks of my failures and the goodness of our Father. I don’t like the following portion of the song, since it hits me a bit too much, but truth don’t care bout my feeling now, do they?

The vision came
He saw the odds
A hundred little gods on a gilded wheel
“These have tried to take your place, but Father,
by your grace I will never kneel
I will never kneel…”

Take a listen! But once you start, you gotta promise me that you will listen to the end!

The Finish Line – by Steve Taylor

The Finish Line – by Steve Taylor

Once upon an average morn
An average boy was born for the second time
Prone upon the altar there
He whispered up the prayer he’d kept hid inside

The vision came
He saw the odds
A hundred little gods on a gilded wheel
“These will vie to take your place, but Father,
by your grace I wil never kneel”

And I saw you, upright and proud
And I saw you wave to the crowd
And I saw you laughing out loud at the Philistines
And I saw you brush away rocks
And I saw you pull up your socks
And I saw you out of the blocks
For the finish line

Darkness falls
The devil stirs
And as your vision blurs you start stumbling
The heart is weak
The will is gone
And every strong conviction comes tumbling down

Malice rains
The acid guile is sucking at your shoes while the mud is fresh
It floods the trail
It bleeds you dry
As every little god buys its pound of flesh

And I saw you licking your wounds
And I saw you weave your cocoons
And I saw you changing your tunes for the party line
And I saw you welsh on old debts
I saw you and your comrades bum cigarettes
And you hemmed and you hawed
And you hedged all your bets
Waiting for a sign

Let’s wash our hands as we throw little fits
Let’s all wash our hands as we curse hypocrites
We’re locked in the washroom turning old tricks
Deaf
And joyless
And full of it

The vision came
He saw the odds
A hundred little gods on a gilded wheel
“These have tried to take your place, but Father,
by your grace I will never kneel
I will never kneel…”

Off in the distance
Bloodied but wise
As you squint with the light of the truth in your eyes

And I saw you
Both hands were raised
And I saw your lips move in praise
And I saw you steady your gaze
For the finish line

Every idol like dust
A word scattered them all
And I rose to my feet when you scaled the last wall
And I gasped
When I saw you fall
In his arms
At the finish line

Let me know what you think of the lyrics, and of the tunes!


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Jesus · Kingdom of God · Love

Love Like Jesus – Without Boasting


lovelikejesus_157x157

Lately, I have been exclusively in the Apostle John’s writings, in my personal readings, my blog writing, and my time with my wife.

John reiterates one theme, over and over again in my opinion, and that is that we are to love one another, to love like Jesus, to love.

It is refreshing to be reminded of the core mission of believers.

Love like Jesus.

Without Boasting

Love is the goal of all of Christian life.  Love that is displayed in the life of Jesus.  The life and death of Jesus.  This love is described in 1 Corinthians 13.  Let’s consider

Love does not envy or boast

It has been years since a brother once instructed me to replace the term “love” with “Jesus” to get a better understanding of who He is.  

Jesus does not envy or boast

Boast

The second term that describes what love does not do is boast

This word is used only once in the New Testament and we find it in the verse we are looking at.

The term is built on a root word to describe a braggart. Our modern descriptions would include a show-off, a blowhard, and egotist.

How does this relate to the popular self esteem movement that has travelled through the modern church in the last few decades? Is there a conflict with the teaching of high self esteem and the characteristic we are looking at today. Is being a braggart comporable to being one with high self esteem?

First off, let me confess my history with this movement. I have been involved with a church that jumped into this self esteem movement when it became uber popular in the 90’s.

I struggled with it due to the teaching that self esteem is equated with self love, and this is definitely a teaching that we need no help on. The Word describes us humans as having no trouble with self love. As a matter of fact, it is self love that has drove us from the love of God and love to God.

There is a confidence we believers are to exhibit due to the love of God expressed through Jesus work on the cross, the sacrifice he has given to redeem us from ourselves. Focusing on our own self is a dangerous past time.

A number of Bible passages speak of our requirement to humble ourselves. Verses such as

James 4:6-10

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

If we seek our own exaltation, we will fail. Humility before the Lord is the only way to be pleasing to the Lord and to find our self worth.

1 Peter 5:5-6

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,

One more passage that speaks of the need of humility. It is imperative that we see this as an action we are to initiate. We are to humble ourselves.

Romans 12:3

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

It is interesting that Paul does not tell believers to not think of himself too lowly than he ought to think. Think with sober judgement. Serious contemplation of self before the throne of the Father will bring about a crumbling of our self love. He is the one worthy of our love. Bragging of our own self worth or of our accomplishments is not in the description of love we are considering in this post.

So is boasting to be evident in the believer? The Word speaks of boasting in a favorable light.

Psalm 34:2-3

My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.

Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!

Our boasting is to be in the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice how David connects humility with boasting in the Lord. In our boasting of ourselves, we cut off opportunity to exult in the Lord

1 Corinthians 1:31

so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Paul, in speaking to the Corinthians, prior to getting to our chapter on love, speaks of the proper place of boasting the the believers life.


2 Corinthians 10:17

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

It seems the Corinthians didn’t quite get the message last time since Paul needs to remind them one more time of the principle of boasting for the believer to be in the Lord, (and not in themselves).

Galatians 6:14

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Paul, in his teaching to the Galatians, speaks of the exclusivity of his boasting, in relation to his religious duties before the Father. He has none, as we need to recognize in our lives also, that before the holy Father, our deeds are not of boasting value. Only in the cross of Christ is the truth of boasting for the believer.

Jesus replacing Love

So is my brother’s suggestion of replacing the term love with Jesus accurate and helpful?

Jesus does not boast.

Is that a good description of the Lord Jesus? A few posts earlier, I referred to the Lord’s self description

Matthew 11:29

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

He describes Himself as lowly in heart. Humble.

Since He is God in the flesh, any statement he makes could not be boasting. Say He declared “I made the moon” Well, that is a true statement, and the element of boasting may be evident if I said it, (along with the bold face lie), but for Him to make this statement would only be stating part of a greater truth.

I can’t see, given the status of our Lord, where boasting would be a possibility. He cannot lie and any statement He supplies is truth. Boasting may also be considered an attitude of superiority, and Jesus has informed us that this is not His attitude.

His attitude is of humility, of gentleness and of a low degree. This mind of Christ is to be in us my brothers. We are to take on humility and gentleness.

Philippians 2:5

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

Please join me in our next study where we will consider a sister characteristic of being “puffed up”. Hope you can join me as we continue our study.

I look forward to comments and discussion.  May the Lord give you an understanding heart and a willing spirit to consider the Bible and all it’s wealth.


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