Thursday, November 27, 2014

God and Election: A Defense

In response to my defense of the doctrine election (predestination), one dear brother wrote:

  • It's fatalistic, and, for the reprobate, hopeless. If I'm not a member of the elect, no amount of trying or praying, good behavior, or anything else I can do will save me. I was doomed from the beginning of time by powers beyond my comprehension.

While it is true that the non-elect are doomed, it is not fair or even biblical to conclude that God had doomed them. Instead, Scripture places all of the blame on us:

  • As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside. (Romans 3:10-12) 
  • For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are WITHOUT EXCUSE.  (Romans 1:18-20)
The Hebrew Scriptures also indicate that God beckons everyone:

  • Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity. (Proverbs 1:20-26)
God’s wisdom is available to all, but all reject it! The Prophets consistently proclaimed the same divine indictment on Israel:

  • “Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt,    that you rebelled against the Lord your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 3:12-13)
The problem was invariably with Israel and not with their God. This is why He sent them the Prophets, pleading with them to confess their sins, but they would not:

  • I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me; The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master's crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider… They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. (Isaiah 1:2-4)
So many verses indicate that God had given them everything that they needed, and therefore, their rebellion (and also ours) was unjustified. It is not God who led Israel astray, but their own desires and self-justifying lies:

  • Thus says the LORD… Because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept His commandments. Their lies lead them astray, lies which their fathers followed. (Amos 2:4)
Why then did Israel disbelieve and rebel? Was it because God hadn’t done enough for Israel? There is no indication of this any place in Scripture. Instead, God had given Israel everything:

  • What more was there to do for my vineyard [Israel], that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? (Isaiah 5:4)
What then is the doctrine of reprobation about? It is a matter of God giving us what we want! In contrast, you claim:

  • If I'm not a member of the elect, no amount of trying or praying, good behavior, or anything else I can do will save me.
This is just not biblical! Any who truly seek will find:

  • But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice.  For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them. (Deut. 4:29-31)
  • “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) 
However, we refuse to seek (Romans 3:11). We hate the light and love the darkness (John 3:19-20). We are therefore “self-condemned” (Titus 3:11) in rejecting what is already so clear (Romans 1:18-20; 2:14-15).

Therefore, those who are damned are those who want to be damned and removed from the Presence of God:

  • For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:17-20)
If Jesus didn’t come to condemn us, how then are we condemned? By our own rejection of the Son – the Light of God! We are self-condemned by our rejection of this Light and our willful embrace of the darkness!

This is where election comes in. While we all rightfully deserve condemnation, God mercifully rescued His elect. However, in the end, there will be swinging wide of the doors of salvation (Joel 2:28; Romans 11:15; Isaiah 45:22-25; 66:22-23; Zechariah 14:16-18; Matthew 24:30), when our Lord will vindicate Himself.

Monday, November 24, 2014


Does love give the other what they need or what they want?

  Does love tell the adulterer, “Well done; I’m glad for you?”

  Does it tell the addict, “You deserve this comfort?”

  Does it tell the thief, “I cannot hold you responsible?”

Must love divorce judgment?

   Must it hide this accuser in the back room, like a smelly rag?

   Must love quarantine judgment, like Ebola, or embrace it?

   Must love say, “Away from me, you hater” or “Welcome, dear friend?”

   Mustn’t judgment protect the victim and restrain the victimizer?

                                                   Mustn’t it keep own home in order?

Must not love befriend justice?

            Mustn’t love say to justice, “You protect the afflicted, dear friend?”

Must not love embrace her as a dear partner, as a husband embraces his wife?

When love stands alone, it is blind.

Such a love says, “I can do it alone. I can heal all! I need no partner.”

“My compassion is enough. My heart is truth!”

“My vision is only confused by wisdom.”

Such a love walks in the darkness, and the darkness will overtake it.

Love is other-centered, but it doesn’t lose its center.

It will listen to reason but will say “no” to foolishness.

It will jump up to save the drowning, but it will not allow itself to be taken under.

It will sacrifice, but will not allow itself to be sacrificed.

It is a lamp lighting the way, but replenished beyond the way.

What the Bible Says and doesn’t Say about Homosexuality

 I just joined a Facebook group called “Liberal Evangelicals.” Unsurprisingly, several postings wrote positively of same-sex marriage (SSM). I therefore asked:

  • In view of the biblical testimony against homosexuality and the fact that the church has never affirmed homosexuality, what is the best Christian evidence in favor of SSM?
One responded:

  • I reject both of your premises. There is no biblical testimony against homosexuality and the Church did in fact perform SS unions in some parts of western Europe between the 5th and 8th centuries. The stark opposition to "sodomy" only began in fervor in the middle of the 14th century, when the Sodom story started being interpreted as a denunciation of male homosexuality.
Did some early churches perform SS unions? I had my doubts. However, his other claims were clearly erroneous.

Denying that Sodom had been destroyed because of homosexuality, many advocates cite Ezekiel 16:49:

  • Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.
No mention of homosexuality! However, these advocates neglect to cite the next verse:

  • They were haughty and did an abomination before me. (49:50)
“Abomination” usually refers to sexual sin. Jude 6-7 is more explicit about Sodom’s sin:

  • And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home--these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
The respondent’s other claim - “there is no biblical testimony against homosexuality” - is directly contradicted by the evidence:

  • Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion. Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. (Leviticus 18:22-24)
  • If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. (Leviticus 20:13-16)
  • Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened… Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. (Romans 1:21-27)
  • Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (Cor. 6:9-11)
Besides these verses, there are many others that speak against homosexuality. How then can this respondent and many others deny the biblical teachings against homosexuality? Even more seriously, how can “evangelicals” misrepresent what God has uttered in His Scriptures?

Some have argued that Jesus would have received adulterers and homosexuals. Indeed, but He would also have required them to repent of their sins (Luke 13:1-5; John 8:1-11).

Sadly, we often confuse love with endorsement of questionable behavior. However, James had warned us to be hesitant about our endorsement of cultural trends:

  • You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? (James 4:4-5)
As the Apostles had confessed, it is better to obey God rather than man! Another “evangelical” answered:

  • I would contend that the burden of evidence lies on those who argue that same-sex marriage, if consecrated by the church, is somehow offensive to God. 
Although he is right about the “burden of evidence,” I think that the evidence is there, and the burden now rests with such evangelicals.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Antony Flew: An Atheist who Looked at the Evidence

Antony Flew has been called the “foremost atheist thinker of the 20th century.” However, after 40 years of debating Christians, he surprised the world.

At a 2004 debate at New York University, Flew declared that he “now accepted the existence of a God” (p. 74). In that debate, he said that he believed that the origin of life points to a creative Intelligence,

·       Almost entirely because of the DNA investigations. What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together. It’s the enormous complexity of the number of elements and the enormous subtlety of the ways they work together. The meeting of these two parts at the right time by chance is simply minute. It is all a matter of the enormous complexity by which the results were achieved, which looked to me like the work of intelligence.” (Antony Flew with Roy Varghese, There is a God: How The World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, 75).

Reviewer Lita Cosner points out that:

·       Flew was particularly impressed with a physicist’s refutation of the idea that monkeys at typewriters would eventually produce a Shakespearean sonnet. The likelihood of getting one Shakespearean sonnet by chance is one in 10690; to put this number in perspective, there are only 1080 particles in the universe. Flew concludes:

o   “If the theorem won’t work for a single sonnet, then of course it’s simply absurd to suggest that the more elaborate feat of the origin of life could have been achieved by chance.” (78)

Why was Flew influenced by this evidence and not the majority of atheists? Did he have a religious experience? He explained:

·       “I must stress that my discovery of the Divine has proceeded on a purely natural level, without any reference to supernatural phenomena. It has been an exercise in what has traditionally been called natural theology. It has had no connection with any of the revealed religions. Nor do I claim to have had any personal experience of God or any experience that may be called supernatural or miraculous. In short, my discovery of the Divine has been a pilgrimage of reason and not of faith.” (93).

Flew’s embrace of theism was driven by the evidence! Well, why doesn’t it drive others to the same conclusion? Here’s how the Apostle Paul explains it:

·       For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)

Flew might have agreed!