Friday, November 30, 2012

Modesty Heart Check

by Carolyn Mahaney, Nicole Whitacre, Kristin Chesemore, Janelle Bradshaw

"...Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness — with good works." 1 Timothy 2:9-10

First, it's time for a heart check...

"How does a woman discern the sometimes fine line between proper dress and dressing to be the center of attention? The answer starts in the intent of the heart. A woman should examine her motives and goals for the way she dresses. Is her intent to show the grace and beauty of womanhood? Is it to reveal a humble heart devoted to worshipping God? Or is it to call attention to herself and flaunt her beauty? Or worse, to attempt to lure men sexually? A woman who focuses on worshipping God will consider carefully how she is dressed, because her heart will dictate her wardrobe and appearance." -John MacArthur
  • What statement do my clothes make about my heart?
  • In choosing what clothes to wear today, whose attention do I desire and whose approval do I crave? Am I seeking to please God or impress others?
  • Is what I wear consistent with biblical values of modesty, self-control and respectable apparel, or does my dress reveal an inordinate identification and fascination with sinful cultural values?
  • Who am I trying to identify with through my dress? Is the Word of God my standard or is it the latest fashion?
  • Have I solicited the evaluation of other godly individuals regarding my wardrobe?
  • Does my clothing reveal an allegiance to the gospel or is there any contradiction between my profession of faith and my practice of godliness?
So, I'm ready to leave the house, but I still have to do a modesty check. What are some things I should look for as I stand in front of my mirror?

Starting at the top...
  • When I am wearing a loose-fitting blouse or scoop-neck, can I see anything when I lean over? If so, I need to remember to place my hand against my neckline when I bend down.
  • A word on purse straps: How could a purse possibly be a modesty concern? When you're wearing the strap across your chest. Regardless of the shirt you've got on, this accentuates your chest and creates a temptation for men.
  • If I am wearing a button-down top, I need to turn sideways and move around to see if there are any gaping holes that expose my chest. If there are, I've got to grab the sewing box and pin between the buttons.
  • The same check is needed if I am wearing sleeveless. When I move around, can I see my bra? If I do, I need the pins again!
  • Am I wearing a spaghetti-strap, halter-top or see-through blouse? Not even pins will fix this problem! Most guys find these very unhelpful. It's time to go back to the closet.
  • Can I see the lace or seam of my bra through my shirt? In this case, seamless bras are a better option.
  • One final shirt check: Does it reveal any part of my cleavage? Does my midriff show when I raise my hands above my head? Is my shirt just plain too tight? If the answer is "yes" to any one of these questions, then I need to change my outfit.
Moving on down...
  • Does my midriff (or underwear) show when I bend over or lift my hands? If so, is it because my skirt or my pants are too low? Either my shirt needs to be longer or I need to find a skirt or pants that sit higher.
  • I also have to turn around to see if what I'm wearing is too tight around my derriere (bum, butt, ass, backside), or if the outline of my underwear shows. If so, I know what I have to do. :o)
  • And for my shorts — I can't just check them standing up. I need to see how much they reveal when I sit down. If I see too much leg, I need a longer pair.
  • The "sit-down" check applies to my skirt or dress as well. And I must remember to keep my skirt pulled down and my knees together when I'm seated.
  • And speaking of skirts, watch out for those slits! Does it reveal too much when I walk? Pins are also helpful here.
  • Before I leave, I need to give my skirt a "sunlight check." Is it see-through? If so, I need a slip.
  • Finally, I must remember to do this modesty check with my shoes. High-heels make my dress or skirt appear shorter.
And don't forget — this applies to formal wear as well.
A note on swimwear: the pool or beach. Look for one-piece bathing suits that aren't cut high on the leg or have a low neckline.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Who We Are

The Klaver Family (myself, my wife-to-be, and our future children) is...
This means that we passionately believe in the doctrines of grace recovered by the original Reformers, and we do not shy away from preaching them to ourselves from the Scriptures every day. Our “salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9), so it is by grace alone, through faith alone, in the merits of Christ alone! This truth is the foundation of everything else we do. Any other gospel is really “no gospel at all” (Galatians 1:7).

This means that we cannot be the church without the empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit, and so we seek to be utterly dependent on Him in worship, evangelism, and in serving the body. This demands all of the gifts given by Jesus through the Spirit to the church (Ephesians 4:10-12). We do not limit the heights of emotional expression, relational development, or passion for Kingdom service, so long as these are a response to the truth of God's Word.

This means that we do not isolate ourselves from either the lost or their futile worldview. To do so would be to deny them the one thing that will save their souls; and it will also send the message to our children that our worldview cannot compete with the world’s. Instead, we seek to assault “every lofty thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5), reclaiming the city, so as to affect the culture.

Beware of the False Choice! The fact of the matter is that North American Christians have been taught that they must compromise between a church that offers sound doctrinal training but is very cold and stale, versus one that offers a vibrant, relational atmosphere, but with no substance. Truth versus Spirit! But this is not the way that Jesus taught us. Just read the fourth chapter of John! We cannot properly worship God if it is not both a passionate response to Him (in spirit) and a response proportionate to who He has revealed Himself to be (in truth). The Christian who has been truly born of the Spirit is thirsting for deep theological reflection and growth as well as a place to express the joy of being a Christian, in worship, prayer, and fellowship.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

All Mine Are Yours, And Yours Are Mine

by James Smith

"All things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine" John 17:10

This claim of Jesus refers especially to the elect. Says Jesus, "All whom the Father has, are Mine!" They are Mine by redemption and Yours by election!

Election, redemption, sanctification, and glorification are divine works encompassing the same people.
All whom the Father chose, the Son redeemed;
all whom the Son redeemed, the Spirit sanctifies;
and all who are . . .
   chosen by the Father,
   redeemed by the Son,
   and sanctified by the Spirit
   are certainly and eternally glorified!

"For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.
  And those He predestined He also called;
  and those He called He also justified;
  and those He justified He also glorified!"
    Romans 8:29-30

The Father's children constitute the Son's Church;
the Father's beloved is the Son's bride;
the Father's property is the Son's portion.

"All Mine", that is, all of My disciples, My friends, My sheep, "are Yours."
The Father as Creator, gives them to the Son as Redeemer.
The Son as Redeemer, hands them over to the Spirit as the Sanctifier.
The Spirit works in them all the good pleasure of His goodness, and brings them to the Son, who presents them to the Father as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gullible Christians

Yet [Christians] could not be called crafty or deceptive. In fact, they were gullible fools. The worshipers of "that crucified sophist" Jesus, wrote the pagan writer Lucian, could easily be bilked by a few confident men. They set so little store by their possessions that "if any charlatan and trickster, able to profit by it, came among them, he quickly acquired sudden wealth by imposing upon these simple folk."
Finally and beyond all that, their community even within itself appeared to lack all proper respect for things like title, social status, education, gender. They did not seem to realize that any society must be structured. They treated one another as equals, sometimes even their slaves. It was shocking. Small wonder Christianity held such appeal to the lower classes and, of course, to silly women. Small wonder, too, that responsible people of rank, senators and statesmen, saw their ideas as a threat. They were. How long could Rome last if fantasies like this took hold?
However, the really grave offense of the Christians, the one for which they would be expelled, enslaved, and executed, was their atheism—that is, their effrontery in denying Rome's twelve gods, within the very walls of the city. ... Christians, therefore, could be charged with atheism at any time.
They similarly distinguished themselves by their support for the needy, the sick, for widows and orphans. They consistently networked. The wealthier employed the needy, preferred their brethren in business, and opened their houses as meeting places, adorning the walls with frescoes and the floors with mosaics showing communion loaves, chalices, praying figures, and such symbols of Christ as lambs and fish. The Christians were their own mutual-aid society that transcended class. ...and since most of them were converts, they stood in marked contrast not only to their neighbors but also to their former selves. As [Justin Martyr] wrote: "We who formerly delighted in fornication now embrace chastity alone; we who formerly used magical arts, dedicated ourselves to the good and unbegotten God; we who valued above all things the acquisition of wealth and possessions, now bring what we have into common stock and share with everyone who is in need; we who hated and destroyed one another and, on account of their different customs would not live with men of a different race, now, since the coming of Christ, live on excellent terms with them and pray for our enemies."1
Is it not sad how none of the above testimony is held true for North American Christians today, yet is evidenced all over the third-world countries? The more I pay attention to what the Bible says, and the more I examine early Christianity and Christianity in every part of the modern world except for North America, the more convicted I am of just how un-Christian I, as well as every other North American Christian, truly am. Would I allow myself to be gullible for the sake of Christ and not put any stock in my possessions? Would I realize that they hold no intrinsic value for me and that if someone were to ask or demand them from me, I should part with them with ease? I can only pray that some day I reach such a point. As of this present moment, unfortunately, I am as selfish and greedy and in love with my possessions as the next North American Christian. We place such immense value and concern on things that the early Christians counted as loss for the sake of knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8). Even during the Reformation we read the same kind of information. Pick up a copy of the documentary Monumental and give it a watch. Would we be willing to do those kinds of things for our God? I cannot help but be ashamed of my vain profession of faith and the unbelief that clings to it. The book of Acts spells it out clearly and informs us that "all that believed were together, and had all things common" (Acts 2:44). We see this in the above historical testimony. We see it everywhere except for North America and in our own hearts. I cannot help but ask, Why?

On the subject of forgiveness, Jesus said, "If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4). In response, Peter asked the no doubt perplexed question, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?", to which Jesus replied, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven" (Matt. 18:21-22). Ironically, seventy times seven is 490, the same length of time God declared upon Israel until their final and utter rejection of the Messiah. Professing Christians would do well to read Jesus' words repeatedly. I have had people ask me if they have to continually forgive someone who deliberately and repeatedly keeps sinning against them. Maybe this should serve as incentive: "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ... For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" (Matt. 6:12, 14-15). To not forgive is to hold a grudge, which will only fill you with bitterness and hatred. If they sin against you deliberately, forgive them and pray for them.

John Reuben's song Thank You says "You know I'll turn the other cheek but see, I've only got two. So spit in my face one more time and let's just see what I do." Thousand Foot Krutch's song Get Wicked says "I can be nice, but don't test me" and "Don't mistake kindness for weakness" and "Step up, I'll bring you down." None of these statements are consistent with Christian attitudes. These attitudes are anti-Christ. They are not Christian. They all contradict what Scripture says, and the attitudes witnessed from the historical account above. Christians today argue that we should not let others walk all over us like door mats. Where do you find this sentiment in Scripture? This attitude is steeped in rebellion and self-preservation. What did Jesus say? "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it" (Matt. 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33). Jesus made it clear when He said, "do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matt. 5:39). Paul's exposition of this teaching expressed that we should "Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. ... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom. 12:17-19, 21).

Professing Christians today repeatedly ask the questions "How many times should I forgive the same person?" and "How many times should I turn my cheek to the same person?" They want a number so that they can stop doing these things at that point, so that they can check off their little box that says they have done that. That is not following Christ. It is wanting to follow Him to a certain point and no further. Jesus was basically telling them that they need to do these things without end. When Jesus was beaten, spit upon, and mocked, did He retaliate? Did He defend Himself? No! He was silent before His accusers. Professing Christians also ask the question, "What if someone is trying to take advantage of me and asks me to...?" What does the Bible say, Christian? Where is your treasure? Is it in your possessions, which moths and rust can destroy and thieves can steal? Or is it in heaven, being Christ Jesus Himself? If someone wants to take advantage of you, let them. Thank them. Forgive them. Pray for them. It may be that in your selfless generosity that they come to know the Saviour. Having said that, professing Christians will raise all sorts of illogical arguments such as, "So if they want to rape your daughter, you just let them?" Why do these people try and relate items of an unrelated nature? My guess is so that they can continue in disobedience.

Read the above testimony of historical Christianity again and pay very close attention to it: "In fact, [Christians] were gullible fools. The worshipers of "that crucified sophist" Jesus, wrote the pagan writer Lucian, could easily be bilked by a few confident men. They set so little store by their possessions that "if any charlatan and trickster, able to profit by it, came among them, he quickly acquired sudden wealth by imposing upon these simple folk."". Christians should especially be looking out for other Christians: providing work for them; meeting their needs; sharing their own possessions with them. Why is it that every Christian throughout history had no problem doing these things, yet North American Christians refuse? This puts me in mind of Matthew 25:31-46. Will North American Christians be guilty of verses 41-46?

1 The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years, Vol. 2: A Pinch of Incense, 66-70.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christian Zionism

There is a litmus test you can administer in order to determine whether someone is a Christian Zionist or not. It is a single question that you can ask, and it is non-invasive. In fact, it is very welcomed.

"Do you believe that the state of Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy?"

That is it. That is the question. If the person says, "Yes", this person is a Christian Zionist, whether they know it or not and whether they admit it or not. If they say, "Yes", you could ask them a further question: "Then where does Jesus fit in?" Jesus or Israel, one or the other, is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. There is no room for both. Christian Zionists believe that political Israel is God's plan for the future (i.e., it is all about Israel). They believe that the Bible is Israel-centric, not Christ-centric.

Furthermore, these same individuals are the greatest anti-Semitics ever! They encourage Jewish people to return to their land knowing full well that when they do (if their theology were correct in the least, that is), 2/3 of them will be slaughtered by the Anti-Christ. They claim to be friends of Israel when they are anything but. If they were true friends of Israel, and if their theology were correct, they would be urging Jews not to return to their land. Urging them to return to the greatest holocaust ever is not what I would call a "friend".

Christian Zionism is a cult! Their teachings are heretical! Very few, if any, scholarly Christian theologians support the views of Christian Zionism. It is a belief advanced mostly by powerful TV evangelists and lobby groups, such as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, Thomas Ice, Hal Lindsey, Chuck Missler, L. S. Chafer, John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, J. Dwight Pentecost, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch, Benny Hinn, James Dobson, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ralph Reed, and Jews for Jesus (to name a few). Christian Zionism is an elephantine form of Gnosticism, for it presumes to eschatologically decode the Bible and give secret knowledge (i.e., gnosis). Christian Zionism makes the gnostic DaVinci Code, which is mere fiction, look like small peanuts. If you do not know what a Christian Zionist is, perhaps you might know them better by another title: Dispensationalists. Christian Zionism, a.k.a. Dispensationalism, is nothing more than revived Judaism.

The whole concept behind the different dispensations is a false man-made system. The term "dispensation" appears only four times (1 Cor. 9:16-17; Eph. 3:2; Col. 1:25; Eph. 1:10) in the entire Bible, and its context informs you of its meaning. The word "dispense", from where we get "dispensation", has two definitions:
  1. to give something (e.g., a soap dispenser)
  2. to do away with something (e.g., "Let's dispense with the formalities.")
The first three passages fit the first definition, while the last passage fits the second definition. The periods of time divided into different so-called "dispensations" are a fabricated lie. There is no support for this in the Bible. Try applying the above definitions to the various Dispensational periods of time and you will find that they do not make an ounce of sense.

Another lie progressed by Christian Zionists (read Dispensationalists) says that "Paradise" (Luke 23:43) used to be a compartment in hell, separated by a fixed gulf. They claim that in the Old Testament the saints went to Paradise while in the New Testament they go to heaven. However, the word "Paradise" is not found in the Old Testament. The word "Heaven" is. The word "Paradise" is found only in the New Testament, and three times (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:1-4; Rev. 2:7). Anyone who examines the context of these passages closely will realize that "Paradise" is another word for Heaven.

Yet another lie produced by Christian Zionists is that the term "sons of God" in the Old Testament, which occurs five times (Gen. 6:2, 4; Job 1:6; 3:1; 38:7), refers to fallen angels. If this is true, it must include Satan as one of the "sons of God" because he is a fallen angel. Is Satan a son of God? The problem here resembles that heresy of Mormonism that claims Jesus and Lucifer are spiritual brothers. Satan wants to be a son of God, and that was part of his pride that resulted in his fall. Christian Zionists argue that since Greek and Roman myths have gods coming down to co-habitate with mankind, then it must stand to reason that they got these ideas from the Bible and therefore the "sons of God" must refer to fallen angels.

Christian Zionism, and everything it stands for, is a lie straight from the pit of hell. Christian Zionism, like Mormonism and Islam, makes salvation by “race” rather than by grace. Mormonism says it is all about the white man; Islam says it is all about the Arabs; Christian Zionism says it is all about the Jews. There are about 101 other heretical lies that Christian Zionists teach (apart from all their eschatological lies), but there is not enough room in this blog entry (or even several blog entries) to cover them all and answer them biblically according to the Bible. The heretical Bible that helped spread these lies across Europe and America was the Scofield Reference Bible. Through expensive campaigns and propaganda, it replaced many genuine Bibles used at many seminaries and the false notes were treated as if they were inspired by God and belonged there.

After the death of C. I. Scofield, the notes in the Scofield Reference Bible exploded and were accelerated to advance the Zionist aims. Much of Scofield's original notes were removed and replaced with more heavily Zionist-friendly notes. In 1908, Scofield wrote concerning John 8:37:
"Cf. John 8:39. The contrast, 'I know that ye are Abraham's seed' — 'If ye were Abraham's children' is that between the natural and the spiritual posterity of Abraham. The Israelitish people and the Ishmaelitish people are the former; all who are 'of like precious faith with Abraham,' whether Jews or Gentiles, are the latter; Romans 9:6-8; Galatians 3:6-14. See 'Abrahamic Covenant,' Gen 15:18."
Compare that with the Oxford note substituted in the 1967 edition:
"All Jews are natural descendants of Abraham, but are not necessarily his spiritual posterity; Romans 9:6-8, Galatians 3:6-14."
Scofield's original footnote was accurate with Christian teachings and belief of the previous 1900 years. The revised footnote is a fallacious heresy. How can "all Jews" be "natural descendants of Abraham," a Chaldean who lived some 3,000 years ago? People of all ethnicities and nationalities are Jews, and new Jews are being converted every day from every ethnicity and nationality. You might as well say that all Lutherans are the natural descendants of Martin Luther. That is how preposterous and nonsensical this new footnote is. The publishers of this Bible (The Oxford University Press) clearly have an agenda: the advancement of the fallacious, erroneous, and heretical teachings of Christian Zionism.

Take this brazen and outrageous newly inserted footnote from the 1967 edition concerning Genesis 12:3: “For a nation to commit the sin of anti-Semitism brings inevitable judgment.” There is no word for “anti-Semitism” in the New Testament, nor is it found among the Ten Commandments. “Sin” is a personal concept. It is something done by individuals in conflict with God’s words, not by “nations.” Even Sodom did not sin—its people did. The word “judgment” in the Bible always refers to God’s action. In the New Testament, Jesus promises both judgment and salvation for believing individuals, not for “nations.” There was also no “State of Israel” when Scofield wrote his original notes in his concocted Scofield Reference Bible in 1908. All references to Israel as a state were added after 1947, when Israel was granted statehood by edict of the United Nations. The Oxford University Press simply rewrote its version of the Christian Bible in 1967 to make antipathy toward the “State of Israel” a “sin.” Israel is made a god to be worshiped, not merely a “state.” That is exactly what Christian Zionism does: it worships the state of Israel as a god. Hence why they teach and believe that the entire Bible is Israel-centric; all about Israel.

The Oxford 1967 edition continues concerning Genesis 12:1-3:
"(2) God made an unconditional promise of blessings through Abram's seed (a) to the nation of Israel to inherit a specific territory forever"
“"(3) There is a promise of blessing upon those individuals and nations who bless Abram's descendants, and a curse laid upon those who persecute the Jews."
This bequeath is joined to an Oxford prophesy that never occurs in the Bible itself:
"It has invariably fared ill with the people who have persecuted the Jew, well with those who have protected him." and "The future will still more remarkably prove this principle."
None of these notes appeared in the original Scofield Reference Bible or in the 1917 or 1945 editions. The state of Israel did not exist in 1945, and according to the best dictionaries of the time, the word “Israel” only referred to a particular man and an ancient tribe, which is consistent with the Bible text. See “Israel,” Webster’s New International Dictionary 2nd (1950) Edition.

Beware of Christian Zionists and their false gospel. Stick with “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), the things that were taught by the church for the past 2,000 years rather than so-called “new revelation” taught in the last 200 years. “If it’s new, it probably isn’t true.” One of the reasons I will never recommend so-called "Study" Bibles to people is because 99% of them contain the heretical Christian Zionist/Dispensationalist notes. Bibles should not have such notes. That is what commentaries are for!

For biblical responses to Christian Zionism errors and heresy, see all my blog entries for the month of May.

Friday, November 23, 2012

John 6:37-44

John 6:37-44 is just one of many passages that teach limited atonement, unconditional election, and irresistible grace. Read the passage aloud and pay close attention to what it is saying. Here is a dialogue on this passage between two well-known evangelicals:
DAVE: “Unconditional election and irresistible grace are found in this passage? The words “unconditional” and “irresistible” aren’t even there, nor can they be found elsewhere in the Bible!”

JAMES: “And Jehovah’s Witnesses dismiss the Trinity because the term does not appear in the Bible. So what, Dave? The concept does, and this is the case with John 6 as well. “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me.” Those are Jesus’ words. It is the Father’s giving that results in the coming of those so given. The giving precedes and therefore determines the coming. Giving is a divine act, and since it precedes the very existence of those so given, it must be unconditional (hence, as I noted, unconditional election). But, beyond this, Jesus says that all that the Father gives Him will come to Him. Not some. Not most. All. Such cannot be said in your synergistic system where grace tries, but fails, to save at least some. What do you call the belief that God never fails to bring His elect people unto salvation, but that they infallibly come in faith to Christ? It’s called ‘irresistible grace,’ Dave: when God raises the dead sinner to life, that newly regenerated believer clings in faith to Christ. So, as you can see, you do not need to use the terms ‘unconditional’ or ‘ irresistible’ to have those divine truths right there in the text. And no matter how much you dislike them, Dave, they are still there. As long as John 6:37 remains in the Bible, people will embrace the doctrines of grace.”

DAVE: “Surely the words in (John 6:40, 44, 54) that state ‘I will raise him up at the last day’ must refer to those who actually come to Christ, but not to all who are ‘drawn’. It would certainly not include those who are drawn, and then ‘draw back into perdition’ (Hebrews 10:39). The Calvinist is reading into Christ’s words more than he actually says.”

JAMES: “I do not argue as you do, Dave. When I say those who are drawn are the same ones who are raised up, I provide exegetical basis. Here’s a summary:
1. In John 6:44, (which is the key passage regarding “drawing”), we read: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” This is a single sentence. In Greek we have, “helkuse auton, kagw anastesw auton en te eschate hemera”. The direct object of the action of the Father’s drawing is the first auton, “him”. A grand total of two words separate the first “him” from the appearance of the same term, “and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Now, you are telling us that this is a different “him”, a different group of people. That in fact there are many, many who are drawn who will not be raised up. You are telling us that the Father draws millions to Christ, but that they do not experience the last phrase of this single sentence. And upon what basis? You don’t tell us. “Surely” you can do so! What is the basis, Dave?
The fact is: there is no reason to insert a disjunction between the direct object of helkuse and the direct object of anastesw. In fact, when we consider the syntax of the passage, we note that while helkuse is found in a subjunctive clause, the main tense comes from oudeis dunatai elthein, “no one is able to come”. Note that the verb in the last clause is a future, “and I will raise him up.” The progression naturally flows into the last clause without interruption. That is, there is nothing indicated in the verbal structure to make kai disjunctive in any way! (Something you would need to find to be able to substantiate your assertion). But.. instead… the Greek grammar makes it beyond dispute: The natural reading is to see auton (“him”) in both clauses as synonymous … (in extent and meaning)!”
That little dialogue goes to illustrate a point. Arminianist-based faiths never argue with an exegetical basis; they argue based upon their pre-suppositions, feelings, and opinions. Calvinist-based faiths often argue with nothing but exegetical basis, as you can see James doing in the above dialogue. An appeal to the Greek words and grammar will always decide the case between two opposing beliefs/interpretations definitively and conclusively. Both can be wrong, but both cannot be right. The only course of action to take when this is done is to either accept what it says or reject it stubbornly, which is pride at its best.

The fact is, John 6:37-44, among other passages, teaches the truths about limited atonement, unconditional election, and irresistible grace. In fact, total depravity is also taught in this passage. The words do not have to be there for the principle to be there. The question is, what are you going to do about it? Will you conform your beliefs to what is revealed in Scripture? Or will you stubbornly reject what has been revealed in Scripture in favour of your beliefs? One is obedience while the other is disobedience.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Romans 6

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.John 8:32

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.John 8:36

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.Galatians 5:1

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.Galatians 5:13

Freedom in Christ is not a license to live as one pleases. It is not “doing whatever I want.” That is false liberty. We are saved to a life of love and service toward others. Believers are compelled by God’s grace to follow one law – the royal law of love: “All the law is fulfilled in one word…thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (v14).
Love” for Christ and others will automatically result in the following of the law, which is a holy law. Whether a believer is following the royal law of love or not will be evidenced in their joy. There is only one way to spell joy:
J = Jesus
O = others
Y = you

ROMANS 6:1-14 - Union with Christ
Receiving God’s forgiveness through faith in Christ does not mean that we are set free to sin at will. The believer is united to Christ in such a way through his conversion experience that he wants to please his Lord through holy and righteous living. The “old self” is no longer in control. We are set free from slavery to sin to service in God’s kingdom.
Paul stated that God’s grace abounded where sin increased (Romans 5:20-21). The question is then raised, “Shall we continue to sin, or sin more, so that God’s grace can be displayed even more?” His answer is an emphatic “No!”
Christians have died to sin and are placed in union with Christ. What he experienced, we have also experienced. We have been united to Christ by Holy Spirit baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13). This union makes it possible to live victoriously over sin. In Paul’s writings, he makes it clear that sin is an alien power within the believer, always trying to dominate him. Our position is victorious over sin!
We need to do two things:
  1. Consider this as true (6:11).
  2. Present ourselves to God (12:1).
v1. Shall we continue to sin so that later we can repent and be forgiven?
v2. No! We are dead to sin. He does not say “if,” he says “are.” It is a fact! Fall into sin we may, but live and lie in it we cannot. It is not falling into the water that drowns a man, but it is his lying in it; so it is not falling into sin that damns a man, but it is his living in it.
v3-4. “Know ye not?” This is a truth which we ought not to be ignorant of. Since we are baptized into His death, as Christ was raised from the dead into “new” life, so we should walk in newness of life.
v5. “If,” which we are, according to verses 3-4.
v6. “Body of sin” – our physical bodies are not the body of sin, but rather where sin manifests itself.
v7. Every believer is dead, partaking in the one baptism, therefore we are all freed from sin.
v11. Know that you are dead to sin, but alive to God.
v12. Do not let sin reign in your body, seeing how you are already victorious over it.
v13. Do not yield your members to sin either. Yield them to God.
v14. Sin does not have dominion over us.

ROMANS 6:15-23 - Enslavement to Sin or to Righteousness
Paul challenges his readers to reject the way of sin and death and to choose the path that leads to abundant living in the Lord: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (v23).
Even though sin has lost its authority over us, it still tries to regain mastery over us. Christians can be slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. The choice belongs to the believer. If sin is the master, believers will experience shame, guilt, and death (death meaning separation – believers who stay in sin and do not confess their sins experience a separation from God in their walk with Him).

v15. We are not under the curse and rigour of the law, yet we are under its direction and discipline: the gospel allows of sin no more than the law. The apostle is careful, both here and elsewhere, to prevent licentiousness, or the abuse of Christian liberty (see Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 2:15). We are not under the law to be judged by it, but that does not mean that we ignore it. God has said that the law is holy.
v16. If we continue to sin, we are servants to that sin.
v18. Being freed from sin made us servants of righteousness. We should walk accordingly (Galatians 5:16).
v19. “As” we did the former, “now” do this.
v21. What benefits came from the things you are ashamed of having done prior to salvation? The end of those is death. And this will be much more equal and reasonable, if you consider these three things:
  1. How little fruit and satisfaction your former sins have afforded you in the very time of committing them.
  2. How nothing but shame and sorrow does follow upon the remembrance of them.
  3. How death, yes, eternal death and damnation (unless pardoning grace and mercy prevent it) will be the certain conclusion of them.
v22. Our fruit is now unto holiness (Galatians 5:22-23).

Since we are dead to sin and victorious over sin, not only positionally but factually, we have the choice to say “No” to sin and temptation to sin. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Because we cannot see the end result of this, we need to have faith and reckon it to be true by trusting God's Word. Would God lie about such a thing? “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). Everything that comes from God is by grace through faith. Salvation is by grace through faith. Sanctification is by grace through faith. Justification is by grace through faith. Everything in this world requires faith. In our friendships, our marriages, our relationships with our children, etc. Husbands and wives need to have faith in each other. Parents need to have faith in their children. Faith is a key element in all relationships, and especially true of our relationship with God. It is how God designed us. He designed us to walk by faith.
There is no need for us to sin any longer; neither is there any excuse. We are dead to sin. It has absolutely no control over us except that which we give it. If we give it that control, we have enslaved ourselves once again to the yoke of bondage. We have enslaved ourselves to our master, sin. Let's realize this doctrinal truth and live our lives accordingly. Let's live our Christian liberty unto righteousness, bringing glory to the name of the Father through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Woman's Right To Choose?

In the first episode of the second season of Tim Allen's new sitcom, Last Man Standing, the eldest daughter ignorantly argues, "Obama respects a woman's right to choose", to which the mother ignorantly responds, "Hallelujah!" We have a colossal problem here.

If a woman has the right to choose, what if the child inside that woman is a female? What about her right to choose? Does she not get a say as to whether or not she lives or dies? Regardless of whether the child inside a woman is male or female, why is the child being punished with the death penalty? Even if the woman in question was the victim of rape, why is the child inside her being punished with the death penalty? A woman has the right to choose whether or not she will keep the child when it is born or put it up for adoption, but she does not have the right to choose whether that child will live or die. Likewise, a woman has the right to choose whether or not she will take her own life, but she does not have the right to choose whether she takes the life of the child inside her.
In the United States, there are many situations in which abortions are recommended, even encouraged, by family, counsellors, medical personnel and even religious advisers. Sometimes an abortion is recommended because of difficult circumstances, and other times simply for convenience. Here are four cases for you to consider. Should these babies be aborted? You decide!

Four Cases:
Case #1. There’s a traveling preacher and his wife who are living in poverty. They already have fourteen children. Now she finds out she’s pregnant with the 15th child. They are very poor and probably will be unable to afford a doctor’s attention. Considering their poverty, the excessive world population, and the number of children they already have, would you recommend she get an abortion?
Case #2. The grandmother is an alcoholic and the father spends his evenings out drinking in the taverns. His mother has tuberculosis. She has already given birth to four children. The first child is blind, the second child died, the third child is deaf, and the fourth child has tuberculosis. Now the mother is pregnant again. Given the extreme situation, would you recommend an abortion?
Case #3. A white man raped a 13-year-old black girl and now she is pregnant. Her family lives in extreme poverty; in fact, to survive, they often have to steal food. If you were her parents, would you recommend or require her to have an abortion?
Case #4. A fifteen year old girl is pregnant. She is not married and lives in a cave in an outback area with very little money or resources. The man she hopes to marry is not the father of the baby. There is no hospital or doctor available. Would you recommend that she get an abortion?

The Reality:
Case #1: You would have just aborted the world-famous Methodist preacher John Wesley.
Case #2: You would have just aborted the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Case #3: You would have just aborted Ethel Waters, the marvellous black Gospel singer.
Case #4: You would have just aborted Jesus Christ, the saviour of the world!

Since we are killing off over a million of our babies each year, how many other geniuses, artists, musicians, scientists, saints, and others have we assassinated? If the “pro-choice” (read: “pro-abortion”) folks have their way, the world may be deprived of a genius with the cure for cancer, or any number of other advancements (technological, medical, etc.).
For a woman to go the nine-month pregnancy term and then have the child executed the moment its head comes out of her (known as partial-birth abortion, where the child is "partially" delivered and its skull is punctured and its brains sucked out) is inhumane. Such women should be on the receiving end of a lethal injection for murdering their children in this manner (and so should the doctors responsible for doing such a thing). It would be far better if they delivered the child and it was immediately put up for adoption.

The Bible teaches us that children in the womb have rights:
"And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." Exodus 21:22-25
The Roman world of Jesus' day supported abortion, infanticide, and child abandonment. The following verses show us that a fetus is a living human being that deserves the same protection as any other human being:
"Now at this time Mary arose and went with haste to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it came about that when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice, and said, "Blessed among women are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy."" Luke 1:39-44

"Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."" Jeremiah 1:4-5

"I will say to God, 'Do not condemn me; Let me know why Thou dost contend with me. Thy hands fashioned and made me altogether, And wouldst Thou destroy me? Remember now, that Thou hast made me as clay; And wouldst Thou turn me into dust again?'" Job 10:2, 8-9
Some individuals attempt to claim that there is no scientific evidence that life begins at conception. Such claims are made in either complete ignorance or deliberate deception. The following banner demonstrates some of the scientific truths regarding infants in the womb.

It is a fact that every woman who has ever had an abortion, whether or not she believed it was the right thing to do, has been an emotional and mental train wreck after the fact. They have been mentally and emotionally unstable. I believe this is due to the fact their conscience convicts them of the fact they murdered their child in cold blood. Women who have not had to suffer with this are those who have received the forgiveness of Christ Jesus for their sins, because these women confessed their sins and repented.

What the eldest daughter on Last Man Standing should have said was "Barrack Obama supports a woman's right to murder", which would have been the truth. No matter how you dice it, abortion is murder and murder is wrong.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Exceptions for Abortion?

by Justin Taylor

I assume by now that most readers are aware of the controversy regarding comments by candidate Richard Mourdock, who is running for Senate, regarding rape not being an exception for abortion. In a recent debate, when asked about the issue, he responded:
This is that issue that every candidate for federal, or even state, office faces, and I too stand for life. I know there are some who disagree and I respect their point of view and I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have [for abortion] is in that case [where] the life of the mother [is threatened]. I struggled with it for a long time, but I came to realize that life is a gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something that God intended to happen.
President Obama, through a spokesperson, “felt those comments were outrageous and demeaning to women.”

There are many angles to this story, including media ignorance, media malfeasance, political clumsiness, bioethics, and Christian witness.

Many members of the media pounced on the story, reporting that Mr. Murdock said that rapes were intended by God. Al Mohler has an important commentary on this today. He writes:
The controversy over his statements reveals the irresponsibility of so many in the media and the political arena. The characterizations and willful distortions of Mourdock’s words amount to nothing less than lies.
A couple of liberal writers have recognized the same. See, for example, Kevin Drum’s “Richard Mourdock Gets in Trouble for His Extremely Conventional Religious Beliefs” and Amy Sullivan’s “Why Liberals Are Misreading Mourdock.”

But most seemed to be twisting the candidate’s words and also baffled by the worldview. Get Religion‘s Mollie Hemingway offered some advice to fellow journalists:
If you do these two things — bone up on just the very lowest level basics of Christian teaching on theodicy and meet a pro-lifer and find out what they really think — you might not lead your newscasts with a mangling of the news that some pro-lifers really believe (gasp!) that the circumstances of your conception and birth do not determine your worth and that every single child in the world is created and loved by God. You might learn about this
newfangledancient teaching that God causes good to result from evil.
But Mohler does not think the media, while certainly culpable, is entirely to blame:
At the same time, Mr. Mourdock is responsible for giving the media and his political enemies the very ammunition for their distortions. . . . The debate question did not force Mourdock to garble his argument. The cause of defending the unborn is harmed when the argument for that defense is expressed badly and recklessly, and Mourdock’s answer was both reckless and catastrophically incomplete.
Mohler is right: we must speak with precision, clarity, and compassion on this issue. We must put the question in perspective:
Any reference to rape must start with a clear affirmation of the horrifying evil of rape and an equal affirmation of concern for any woman or girl victimized by a rapist. At this point, the defender of the unborn should point to the fact that every single human life is sacred at every point of its development and without regard to the context of that life’s conception. No one would deny that this is true of a six-year-old child conceived in the horror of a rape. Those who defend the unborn know that it was equally true when that child was in the womb.
Mohler also looks at the broader issue of exceptions:
One truth must be transparently clear — a consistent defense of all human life means that there is no acceptable exception that would allow an intentional abortion. If every life is sacred, there is no exception.

The three exceptions most often proposed call for abortion to be allowed only in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. These are the exceptions currently affirmed by Mitt Romney in his presidential campaign. What should we think of these?
Mohler gives his answer:
First, when speaking of saving the life of the mother, we should be clear that the abortion of her unborn child cannot be the intentional result. There can be no active intention to kill the baby. This does not mean that a mother might, in very rare and always tragic circumstances, require a medical procedure or treatment to save her life that would, as a secondary effect, terminate the life of her unborn child. This is clearly established in moral theory, and we must be thankful that such cases are very rare.

Next, when speaking of cases involving rape and incest, we must affirm the sinful tragedy of such acts and sympathize without reservation with the victims. We must then make the argument that the unborn child that has resulted from such a heinous act should not be added to the list of victims. That child possesses no less dignity than a child conceived in any other context.
What does this look like practically, in everyday conversations?

Scott Klusendorf points out that there are two types of people who ask about rape and abortion: the learner and the crusader. It’s helpful to know who you are dealing with. ” The learner is genuinely trying to work through the issue and resolve it rationally. The crusader just wants to make you, the pro-lifer, look bad.” In both cases, Klusendorf points out, “it’s our job to demonstrate wisdom and sensitivity.”

So when someone says that a child conceived by rape will remind the woman of this heinous crime forever, Klusendorf responds:
That’s an important question and you are absolutely right: She may indeed suffer painful memories when she looks at the child and it’s foolish to think she never will. I don’t understand people who say that if she’ll just give birth, everything will be okay.  That’s easy for them to say. They should try looking at it from her perspective before saying that.  Even if her attacker is punished to the fullest extent of the law—which he should be—her road to recovery will be tough.
He then delicately and gently asks one primary follow-up question:
Given we both agree the child may provoke unpleasant memories, how do you think a civil society should treat innocent human beings that remind us of a painful event? . . .  Is it okay to kill them so we can feel better?
In the course of the conversation, he is trying to get them to see the following:
If the unborn are human, killing them so others can feel better is wrong. Hardship doesn’t justify homicide.

Admittedly, I don’t like the way my answer feels because I know the mother may suffer consequences for doing the right thing. But sometimes the right thing to do isn’t the easy thing to do.
Here are two thought experiments that might help:
Suppose I have a two-year-old up here with me.  His father is a rapist and his mother is on anti-depressant drugs. At least once a day, the sight of the child sends her back into depression. Would it be okay to kill the toddler if doing so makes the mother feel better?
Suppose I’m an American commander in Iraq and terrorists capture my unit.  My captors inform me that in 10 minutes, they’ll begin torturing me and my men to get intelligence information out of us. However, they are willing to make me an offer.  If I will help them torture and interrogate my own men, they won’t torture and interrogate me.  I’ll get by with no pain. Can I take that deal? There’s no way. I’ll suffer evil rather than inflict it.

Again, I don’t like how the answer feels, but it’s the right one. Thankfully, the woman who is raped does not need to suffer alone. Pro-life crisis pregnancy centers are standing by to help get her through this. We should help, too.
Back to how politicians should answer this. Here is Doug Wilson’s suggestion to pro-life candidates:
When a rape results in a pregnancy, this means that we are now dealing with three people instead of two. Two of those three are innocent, and one of them is guilty. Take a case of violent rape. The pro-choice ghouls want to do two things—first, they want to go easy on the guilty one, refusing to execute him, while executing one of the innocent parties for something his father did, and secondly, they want to make out anyone who objects to this arrangement as the callused one.

In the future (as if any of these guys are taking my counsel), pro-life candidates for office need to answer the question in this way: “That is an excellent question, but we have to settle certain things first before we answer it. When a rape results in a pregnancy, are we dealing with three people or two?” And then he should refuse to answer the question until the reporter tells him “three or two,” along with the reasons why. This is how the Lord handled this sort of question.
See also Trevin Wax’s post on what pro-life politicians should say about abortion and rape (as well as his post on the 10 questions you never hear a pro-abortion-rights candidate asked).
But the foregoing doesn’t answer the question about legislation and how to think about these issues in light of our current cultural and political context. It’s here where Mohler’s perspective could get more controversial, especially for those who do not recognize the role of prudence in cultural change and the reality of governance:
We must contend for the full dignity and humanity of every single human life at every point of development and life from conception until natural death, and we cannot rest from this cause so long as the threat to the dignity and sanctity of any life remains.

In the meantime, we are informed by the fact that, as the Gallup organization affirmed just months ago, the vast majority of Americans are willing to support increased restrictions on abortion so long as those exceptions are allowed. We should gladly accept and eagerly support such laws and the candidates who support them, knowing that such a law would save the life of over a million unborn children in the nation each year.

Can we be satisfied with such a law? Of course not, and we cannot be disingenuous in our public statements. But we can eagerly support a law that would save the vast majority of unborn children now threatened by abortion, even as we seek to convince our fellow Americans that this is not enough.

We must argue for the dignity, humanity, and right to life of every unborn child, regardless of the context of its conception, but we must argue well and make our arguments carefully. The use and deliberate abuse of Richard Mourdock’s comments should underline the risk of falling short in that task.

Monday, November 19, 2012

20 Ways Satan May Seek to Destroy You

by Paul Tautges

He is the serpent, the Great Dragon, Beelzebul, the ruler of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the evil one, and the adversary. He is Satan. And—if you are a follower of Jesus Christ—he hates your guts with a passion. Like a roaring lion he is prowling about seeking to destroy you. How can you stand firm and resist the devil so that he will flee from you? First, do not be naive; you must consider his ways.
  1. He may slander God to you in order to cast doubt on God’s goodness and shipwreck your faith (Gen 3:4-5).
  2. He may tempt you to deceive others in order to create, or maintain, the impression of being more spiritual (Acts 5:3; Jn 8:44).
  3. He may corrupt your mind and steer you away from the simplicity of Christ and His gospel (2 Cor 11:3).
  4. He may hinder [cut in on, as in a race] your gospel witness and steal it from unsuspecting hearts (1 Thess 2:18; Matt 13:19).
  5. He may wrestle against you, fighting against your progress in Christ (Eph 6:12).
  6. He may tempt you to commit sexual immorality against your spouse as a result of neglecting the intimacy of the marriage bed (1 Cor 7:5).
  7. He may harass you with some form of fleshly affliction (2 Cor 12:7).
  8. He may blind the spiritual eyes of your unsaved family, friends, and neighbors so that they may not see the glory of Jesus in the gospel (2 Cor 4:4).
  9. He may keep your unsaved acquaintances in bondage to sins that hinder them from coming to God (Gal 4:8).
  10. He may smite you with physical disease (Luke 13:16; Job 2:7).
  11. He may murder you (Ps 106:37; Jn 8:44).
  12. He may sow tares [counterfeit Christians, sons of the evil one] within your assembly of believers in order to deceive and create disunity (Mt 13:38-39; 2 Cor 11:13-15).
  13. He may lead you toward theological compromise by causing you to be friendly to false doctrine and its teachers (1 Tim 4:1-3).
  14. He may persecute you for your godliness (Rev 2:10).
  15. He may tempt you to do evil (Matt 4:1; 1 Thess 3:5).
  16. He is—at this moment—prowling about seeking to capture and destroy you, chiefly through pride (1 Pet 5:6-8).
  17. He will most assuredly slander you before God in heaven (Rev 12:10).
  18. He may ask God for permission to sift you out for concentrated attack and temptation (Luke 22:31).
  19. He may use the power of suggestion to move you away from the will of God (Matt 16:21-23).
  20. He may try to cripple your effectiveness through confusion, discouragement, and despair (2 Cor 4:8-9).
How can you stand firm and resist the devil so that he will flee? The Bible exhorts believers to war against the enemy of faith by not remaining ignorant of his schemes (2 Cor 2:11); by submitting to God (Jas 4:7), being sober and alert and resistant to him (Eph 4:27; Jas 4:7; 1 Pet 5:8), and by not speaking lightly of him (Jude 8; 2 Pet 2:10).

5 Defensive Pieces of Armor and 2 Offensive Weapons: We must put on the armor of God, which includes the defensive weapons of truth, righteousness, gospel proclamation, faith, and salvation. We must also employ the offensive weapons of the sword of Scripture and prayer (Eph 6:11-18). These are the only means by which we may firmly stand against the devil. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph 6:12).

Friday, November 16, 2012

Definite Atonement in John: World & All

Of all the Gospels, John’s gospel is the most theological, and presents the doctrines of grace in stark relief. John also poses a challenge to interpreters with his extensive use of the word world (kosmos), which appears in his gospel eventy-eight times, compared to fourteen times in the synoptics combined. John uses world in several different ways, and the student must be careful to understand each use correctly in its context. Steve Lawson lists ten different uses:1
  1. Entire Universe (John 1:9, 10; 17:5).
  2. Physical Earth (John 13:1; 16:33; 21:25).
  3. World System (John 1:10; 12:31; 14:30; 15:18–21; 16:11; 17:14).
  4. Humanity Minus Believers (John 7:7; 15:18).
  5. Large Group (John 12:19).
  6. General Public (John 7:4; 14:22).
  7. Jews and Gentiles, all groups of people, as opposed to the Jewish people only (John 1:29; 4:42).
  8. Human Realm, contrasted with the realm of heaven and angelic beings (John 1:10; 3:12–16).
  9. Non-Elect (John 17:9).
  10. Elect Only (John 3:17; 6:33; 12:47).
Lawson summarizes:
It is clear that world has many shades of meaning in the gospel of John. This diversity must be kept in mind when studying this fourth gospel. Great care and skillful precision must be exercised in assigning a proper meaning to the word kosmos in each context. The apostle John himself moves freely from one meaning to another, sometimes even within the same verse. An investigation of these many verses and the multiple meanings of world reveals that one cannot automatically assume that the word always means every living person. Such would be a too-simplistic approach bordering on naiveté.
Likewise, the word all (pas) has multiple meanings. Lawson lists three:
  1. All without Exception (John 1:3).
  2. All without Distinction, that is, all kinds or categories of people (John 12:32).
  3. All the Elect (John 6:45).
Whether or not you agree with each of these definitions, it should be obvious that correct interpretation is not as simple as “all means all.” Lawson writes:
Now that we have considered the various meanings of world and all in the gospel of John, it should be apparent that the extent of the atonement—whether Christ died for every person or only the elect—cannot be determined by assuming that the widest possible meaning must be intended. Instead, the entirety of Jesus’ teaching about the scope of His death must be examined.

1 Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace, 281-286.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sovereign Election In John

If you are a believer, have you ever stopped to think about the fact that, before you came to Christ, he was praying for you? Do you know that he still does?
Even before their conversion, all believers already belong to God by virtue of eternal election. They are considered to be the possession of God because He has chosen them to be His own:
“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.” —John 17:9
Jesus made a careful distinction between those for whom He prayed—the elect of God—and those for whom He did not pray—unbelievers. The Lord focused His priestly intercession upon those the Father chose as His own possession before time began, then gave to the Son. Standing behind this verse is the monumental doctrine of sovereign election. MacArthur writes, “‘They were Yours’ (cf. v. 9) is a potent assertion that before conversion, they belonged to God (cf. 6:37). That is true because of God’s election. They were chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), when their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev. 17:8).”1

1 Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace, 281.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Radical Depravity In John

The natural depravity of man is so deep that the unregenerate actually hate God.
Jesus explained that the unconverted person who hates Him also hates the Father. The world’s rejection of the Father, who is invisible, is rooted in its hatred of Christ, who has been seen:
“Whoever hates me hates my Father also.” —John 15:23
Whatever anyone’s relationship with Christ may be, it is inseparably bound with one’s relationship with the Father. No one can hate Christ and love the Father. Unbelief toward Christ causes the same disdain of the Father. Hendriksen writes, “A person may imagine that he loves the Father while he hates the Son, but he deceives himself. Whoever hates the one necessarily hates the other also. And this holds also with respect to the present day and age. Men who scoff at blood-atonement and reject the vicarious death of Christ do not love God!”1

1 Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace, 277.
In a tangential note, this passage also disproves the popular notion that people of other religions worship the same God. Whoever rejects Jesus also rejects the Father.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Preserving Grace

Scripture clearly teaches that the salvation of God’s people is guaranteed. As we see in the passage considered below, God does not guarantee our eternal salvation by making us unable to fall. He guarantees it (in part) by protecting us from circumstances in which we certainly would fall.
In the Mount Olivet Discourse, Jesus unveiled the end of the age. Through this sermon, He taught His disciples that those who persevere to the end are, in reality, the elect of God. They are kept eternally secure by God:
“And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” —Matthew 24:22 (cf. Mark 13:20)
Unquestionably, the elect have been chosen by God to be His people, and He will move heaven and earth to preserve them forever. They will be kept secure in their faith. Affirming this truth, MacArthur writes, “This is the first use of the term elect in the New Testament, and through it Jesus introduced a new concept concerning those who belong to Him. They have been divinely chosen and called out as His own people and indeed His very own children. And when God chooses people for Himself, He will restructure the entire universe if that becomes necessary to protect them and to fulfill His promises concerning them.”1
In one of the most comforting and encouraging New Testament passages, our Lord tells us why Satan can’t have us:
Jesus made known that He intercedes with the Father on behalf of all believers. He prays that they will endure in their faith in the face of much opposition by Satan:
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” —Luke 22:31–32
Jesus prays this prayer for His elect, asking the Father to overcome Satan’s attempts to subvert the faith of true believers. God always answers this prayer. As a result, the faith of all of the elect never fails. Ryle explains, “The continued existence of grace in a believer’s heart is a great and constant miracle. His enemies are so mighty and his strength is so small, the world is so full of traps, and his heart is so weak, that it seems at first sight impossible for him to reach heaven. This passage explains how he is kept safe. He has a mighty friend at the right hand of God who always lives to intercede for him. He has a watchful advocate who is daily pleading for him, seeing all his daily necessities, and obtaining daily supplies of mercy and grace for his soul. His grace never totally dies because Christ lives to intercede (Hebrews 7:25).”2

1 Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace, 257.
2 Ibid.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Jesus Says To Rome

by David Mathis

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “Pray to Mary, and petition the Saints.” But I say to you that there is only one mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5). You need no other go-between than me. Do you not know that you already have an advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1)? Do you not know that I am the way, and the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6)? So, when you pray, ask in my name, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13).

You have heard that it was said, “Kneel before the consecrated host, and worship the one sacrificed in the mass.” But I say to you that when I had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, I sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until my enemies should be made a footstool for my feet. For by a single offering I have perfected for all time those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:12–14). And have you not heard that where there is forgiveness of sins, there is no longer any offering for sin (Hebrews 10:18)? I meant it when I said on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

You have heard that it was said, “Honor the pope.” But I say to you that this is a sadly misguided understanding of the role my disciple Peter played and the reality of succession in the church. The Rock on which I have built my church (Matthew 16:18) for two millennia is not Peter alone, but the band of the apostles together (Ephesians 2:20). All my specially appointed apostles, not just Peter, are my expressly commissioned authoritative spokesmen for my church (John 14:26; 15:26–27; 16:13). Their authority is not their own, but mine. I am the one who has authority (Matthew 7:29), not your ecclesiastical scribes. And when I ascended, it was my apostles together, not Peter alone, who served as my authoritative on-the-ground spokesmen in the first generation of the church. At my word, it was the apostles’ spoken and written words that served as the early church’s final authority — and when the apostles had passed, it was their preserved writings that have carried my voice as the church’s final authority these two thousand years, not the accumulated traditions of the church.

Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, “Priests are prohibited to marry.” But I say to you, I appreciate that you’re listening to 1 Corinthians 7, but what about the other things I have to say through my inspired spokesmen? I say twice that a presbuteros must be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6) — without, in any way, excluding the celibate (like me, and Paul) from church office, but also emphatically not excluding the married. Why do you exclude them from your priesthood, except upon special exception? Celibacy is a special calling, not to be coerced with church law. Have I not been equally clear that it is better to marry than to burn with passion (1 Corinthians 7:9)? 

You have heard that it was said, “Your acceptance with God is not based solely on another’s goodness, but also on your own.” But I say to you, do not rob me of my full glory in your full acceptance before God. Let me be honored as the one who alone forgives your sins (Mark 2:10), and the one who alone provides the perfect righteousness you need to be accepted by God (Philippians 3:9). It is true that you get involved in your ongoing holiness as my righteousness is imparted to you after you have been fully accepted (Romans 6:12–14). But don’t jump the gun by thinking you could ever muster holiness enough to earn your acceptance with the thrice-holy God. It is not the godly that my Father justifies, but the ungodly (Romans 4:6). Do you not know how profoundly sinful you are (Romans 3:23), that it is impossible for those in the flesh to please God (Romans 8:8), that no mere human effort can ever justify you in my Father’s sight (Romans 3:20)? You need Another’s work to count for you — the perfect life and death of the one God-man who came to earth to achieve for you the acceptance with God that you could not achieve for yourself.

You have heard that it was said, “The Scriptures are the product of the Church. The authorized tradition sits alongside the Scriptures as your final authority.” But I say to you, for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God (Matthew 15:6). In my new-covenant marriage with my bride, the Groom speaks the authoritative final word, not the Bride. It is my voice the sheep hear and follow (John 10:3–4, 27), not the voice of the church.

It was the unique, irreplaceable apostles whom I specially trained for over three years and specially appointed as my authoritative spokesmen. The old-covenant prophets and new-covenant apostles have spoken for me and about me (John 5:39, 46; Luke 24:25–27, 44–45; Ephesians 3:5; 2 Peter 3:1–2). It is my voice in their recorded words that is your final authority for doctrine and practice. When I say your final authority is Scripture alone — sola Scriptura — I mean the writings of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20). And when I say the apostles and prophets, I mean that I myself am the Word (John 1:1), God’s final say (Hebrews 1:2). I am the Church’s final authority, and the way that I have appointed to mediate that authority to you is not through ongoing church tradition, but through the apostolic and prophetic word alone.

By setting your accumulated traditions alongside the Scriptures, you have emptied my word of its power (Matthew 15:6). You have been taken captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ (Colossians 2:8). Putting the traditions of men on par with the words of God means losing the words of God. No matter how hard you try to hold divine revelation equal to human tradition as your final authority, the words of man will inevitably distort and diminish the words of God.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Logic is a thoroughly and exclusively Christian concept. Logic, in and of itself, does not furnish us with “meaning” or “definitions”. Logic, in and of itself, is simply the way to communicate meaningful or truthful propositions (sentences) if one wishes to be meaningful (make sense, instead of non-sense). Logic, strictly speaking, is the science or study of how to evaluate arguments and reasoning, separating truth from falsehood. Logic is the science of “necessary inference.” That is it. Nothing more, nothing less.

When we plug in things (meanings) to the terms (forms) of sentences, we do so on the basis that make sense (do not contradict ourselves). Follow so far?

So, with animals talking—what is, with the above definition of logic, illogical about an animal talking? Where does logic say, “Animals cannot talk”? On what basis? Clearly, none. What many confuse for “illogical” is really something we do not encounter on a regular basis, like talking animals. It is not “logical” or “illogical” if animals talk. It may be something we do not encounter, but that does not make it illogical. If the Bible said, “Animals can never talk”, and then we have a story of an animal talking, then we would have a logical problem (a contradiction). See what I mean?

So, God made the animals. We have witnessed the serpent talking. Balaam's ass talked and saw the angel. These are miraculous events, not often repeated. But, they are not illogical events. They do not contradict anything in the Scriptures. Now, if one said, “Knowledge is based on empirical observations, and according to all my observations, I have never seen an animal talk. Therefore, animals do not talk!”, then we would have a logical contradiction. But, upon what basis does one discount biblical miracles? See what I mean? Hope that helps. We honour God's Word by systematically understanding it so that it squares with the image of God we are made in so that we can communicate together, God and man, reasoning together, understanding each other together, and also, from reverence, understanding that we are always the creature, and He is the Creator. His attributes will always be higher than ours, but this does not mean that we cannot postulate logical statements concerning what He has revealed. It is honouring to God and honouring to His Word. I deem settling for paradox to be dishonouring both to God and to man.

Here are some examples of logic at work:
  • When a person tells you, “You are judgmental”, remind them that they are judging you for being judgmental.
  • When someone says, “You are intolerant”, inform them that they are not tolerating your intolerance.
  • When the activist asks, “Don’t you want them to be happy?”, ask them if they want murderers or rapists to be happy murdering and raping.
  • When the progressive demands, “They should just be allowed to marry whomever they love”, ask them if that is true for pedophiles.
  • When the atheist huffs, “You use your Bible to prove your position”, remind them that they use reason and logic to prove reason and logic.

The study of fallacies is an important branch of logic. Within my blog entry Limited Atonement vs. Universalism, you will have seen logic used extensively. The problem is, most people do not study logic any more. They make illogical and silly statements without giving an ounce of intelligent thought to what they are saying. Within my blog entries on Exegeting Homosexuality, I answered some linguistic, etymological, and exegetical fallacies raised by homosexuals and homosexual advocates. From my experience, the three most often used fallacies are the Red Herring Fallacy (the introduction of irrelevant information into an argument, avoiding the question), the Straw Man Fallacy (changing or exaggerating an opponent's position in order to make it easier to refute), and the Ad Hominem Attack Fallacy (attacking an opponent's character or his motives for believing something instead of disproving his argument).

There is also something called the Genetic Fallacy, which is another personal attack fallacy. It is called "genetic" because it addresses the genesis—or beginning—of something. It attacks and condemns an argument because of where it began, how it began, or who began it (e.g., "Ew! Did you know flip-flops were invented by hippies?"). If an argument was made up by a bad person or came out of a bad historical event, it does not mean the argument is bad itself. This fallacy is often used by well-meaning Christians. However, a doctrine or theology is not false because of where it began, how it began, or who began it. A doctrine or theology is false based upon its own internal evidence. If it is self-contradicting or just a bunch of nonsense, then based on its own testimony in contrast to what the Bible teaches, it is false.

If you would like to learn more about the different kinds of logical fallacies, I suggest picking up a book called The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn. It will serve you well.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Slavery: Is It Wrong?

There appear to be many individuals who seem to enjoy using slavery as a support crutch for whatever false cause they hold. This is especially true with regard to homosexuality. They claim that many texts have been "reinterpreted" in the case of slavery. However, this is a lie. The texts on slavery have never been reinterpreted because they cannot be reinterpreted. They say what they mean and mean what they say. Nowhere in the Bible will you find a text that condemns slavery. The Bible condemns the abuse of slaves, but nowhere condemns slavery itself. In fact, it was the Old Testament that first provided dignity for slaves (Ex. 21:1-11; Deut. 15:12-18). In the New Testament, Jesus never condemns slavery, nor do any of the other Apostles. In fact, it was Paul who wrote in regard to slaves and their masters the most, yet he never condemned it (Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 3:22-25; 1 Tim. 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10; Phile. 1:10-21). Peter also briefly addressed slaves (1 Pet. 2:18-20).
"Had the holding of slaves been a moral evil, it cannot be supposed, that the inspired Apostles ... would have tolerated it, for a moment, in the Christian Church. ...they would have enforced the law of Christ, and required, that the master should liberate his slave.... But, instead of this, they let the relationship remain untouched, as being lawful and right, and insist on the relative duties. In proving this subject justifiable by Scriptural authority, its morality is also proved; for the Divine Law never sanctions immoral actions. ... That the holding of slaves is justifiable by the doctrine and example contained in Holy writ; and is, therefore consistent with Christian uprightness, both in sentiment and conduct."
—Richard Furman, "Exposition of the Views of the Baptists
Relative to the Coloured Population of the United States
in Communication to the Governor of South Carolina
The individuals who attempt to use slavery as their support crutch claim that the church was "morally blind" on the issue in the past and that presently those texts have been "reinterpreted" and objected against. Both the premise and the conclusion of these individuals is false. The church was never the leading party behind the mistreatment of slaves that occurred in Britain and the United States. No doubt there were "Christians" and common men who used the various passages in the Bible to their advantage, but they did so lop-sided, ignoring what the Scriptures say to the masters. A similar example would be a "Christian" or common man who uses the passages in the Bible regarding his wife's submission to his advantage.

You see, homosexuals attempt to relate slavery to homosexuality, but do so in error. The Bible is against homosexuality (Gen. 19:4-9; Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Jud. 19:22-24; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10). It is not against slavery. A true related scenario to slavery would be a tyrannical husband, for both things have common ground: positive Scripture abused for personal purposes. Yes, the Bible commands wives to submit to their husband's authority as head of the home, but this is not a mindless slave-like submission. The Bible tells her to do so "as to the Lord" (Eph. 5:22). The other side of that is the command to husbands to "love your wives, as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (Eph. 5:25). Neither command is incumbent upon the other. The wife is not to submit only when her husband loves her, nor is the husband to love only when his wife submits. The commands are absolute whether or not the other deserves it or has earned it.

Likewise, slaves and masters are instructed how to act and treat each other. But remember, this is in regard to Christian slaves and Christian masters. The end result is that Christ is revealed and glorified. If a Christian slave has a master who is not Christian, he is to act in such a way toward him so as to glorify Christ. If a Christian master has slaves who are not Christian, he is to act in such a way toward them as to glorify Christ. You will find the same thing true with regard to husbands and wives (1 Cor. 7:12-16). By their conduct, the other might be won to Christ.

If you are rich enough to afford butlers or maids, you have slaves. The objection might be raised that butlers and maids are paid, but that objection is overruled as slaves in the Bible were not only provided for but sometimes paid, too. Having all your provisions met is the same as if you were paid for them, but you receive them freely. Rich people today who can afford butlers or maids or someone who serves in a slave capacity still mistreat their slaves (perhaps not nearly as bad as they once used to) while others treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve as human beings. Just because someone twists Scripture for their own perverted purposes does not mean the thing is wrong to begin with. Slavery in the Bible was not the same as the slavery of modern times. The period of slavery was limited to six years (Ex. 21:2). Slaves had rights and protection under the Law (Ex. 21:20). It was also possible for slaves to attain positions of power and honour (Gen. 24:2; 41:12).

Lastly, Christians are slaves of Christ Jesus. In many of Jesus' parables, God's people are likened to slaves (Matt. 24:45-51; 25:14-30; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 12:42-48; 14:16-24; 19:12-27; 20:9-18). In the New Testament, the Greek word for "slave" is δουλος, which can also be translated as "bond-servant" (bound to serve, i.e., slave). Romans 6:16-18 says, "Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." Make no mistake about it, we are slaves to sin and the devil. Jesus said in John 8:34, "everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin." When we are freed from sin, we become "enslaved to God" (Rom. 6:22).  Some Christians do not seem to like that terminology, but that is the truth of reality. The Bible clearly calls us slaves. Jesus, as our Master, gets to command us as He wills, and we are to obey. Jesus will not be your Saviour if He cannot be your Lord and be in control of all of your life.

ADDENDUM: Here is a list of Bible saints who explicitly identified themselves as slaves of God or Christ: the virgin Mary, Paul, James, Jude, and John. Peter said, "Live as slaves of God" (1 Peter 2:16). Paul wrote, "You have become slaves of God" (Romans 6:22). Jesus commanded his disciples to regard themselves as slaves of God (Luke 17:10).

The Bible affirms both our slavery and our sonship to God. It is utterly impossible to read the Bible, pay attention when you read it, and miss this point. We call God "Father" because we are his children, and "Lord" ("Master") because we are his slaves. God's fatherhood does not trump his lordship, and our sonship does not trump our servitude.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Sin-less Christian

Sinless perfection, the teaching that says Christians do not sin at all, is a heresy. Equally, the belief that says Christians can do nothing but sin and that sin is still the master over them is also a heresy. The Christian who believes this has neglected to read his/her Bible correctly. To believe such a thing implies that Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection effected nothing in and for the Christian. In other words, Jesus' work at Calvary was without power. This is a gross misunderstanding of what Scripture teaches.

Sin resides in the heart of man. The heart is not the human muscle beating inside our chest. Rather, the heart refers to the core being of man. God says "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26; cf. 11:19). If God has given man a new heart—given him a new core—where does this false teaching come in that says a Christian has two natures? Only one man ever had two natures, and that was Christ Jesus, being both God and man. Men have only one nature. "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17, emphasis mine). If man is a new creature and all things have become new, where is there place for the old men to reside, who the Bible clearly tells us was crucified with Christ?

Repeatedly throughout His ministry, Jesus told people to "sin no more" (John 5:14; 8:11). Why would Jesus tell them to do something they were apparently incapable of doing? To tell them this implies an ability not to sin (i.e., self-control). The apostle John said, "I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1, emphasis mine). Why would John say this if we are totally incapable of not sinning? The "if" makes no sense if the conclusion is that we have no control over whether or not we sin.

Paul told the Romans that "our old man was crucified with [Christ], in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin" (Romans 6:6), doing sin's bidding. The power and rule of sin has been broken in those who believe (Christians), for their old man was (past tense) crucified and put to death with Christ. Therefore, they are no longer enslaved to sin. Paul tells them to "consider yourselves to be dead to sin" (Romans 6:11). Christians must realize that the mastery of sin has been broken in their lives. He continues by saying, "do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts" (Romans 6:12). Why would Paul say these things if we are incapable of doing nothing but sinning? If I am to not let sin reign in my body, I must possess some form of self-control in order to prevent it from doing so. All these statements by Jesus, John, and Paul are ridiculously absurd if I do not possess the self-control to be able to do what they are telling me to do or not to do.

The Bible paints a drastically different picture than we are often led to believe. Paul tells us to "walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these [the desire of the flesh and the desire of the Spirit] are in opposition to one another [not warring against each other], so that you may not do the things that you would do [if you were not led by the Spirit]. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. ... Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16-18, 24-25, emphasis mine). I have just been told that if I walk in or by the Spirit, I will not gratify the desires of my flesh. If the Bible is inspired, this must be true. If it is true, I must reckon it to be so and renew my mind by living accordingly. Paul reminds us that "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit ... For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. ... For if you are living according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:1, 5-9, 13, emphasis mine). Why contrast the two ways in which we can live if we are only able to live in perpetual sin, even after becoming a Christian?

With regard to Romans 8:1-13, the ESV Study Bible says, "The following verses then show that indwelling sin is overcome through the power of the indwelling Spirit, with ten references to the Spirit in vv. 4-11. The evidence that believers are in Christ is that the power of sin has been broken in their lives by the work of the Holy Spirit. ... By definition, Christians are not in the flesh, for all who believe in Christ are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. ... A conclusion is drawn from the previous verses. Since Christians live in the Spirit, they are no longer captive to the flesh and should no longer live according to the flesh. Those who give their lives over to the flesh will face eternal death, but those who slay the desires of the flesh through the power of the Spirit will enjoy eternal life. God and believers each have a role in sanctification: it must be by the Spirit and his power, but you put to death shows that one must take an active role in battling sinful habits."1 Christians are freed from the condemnation of sin. With regard to "But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him", in the margin of his translation William Tyndale had this written: "Christ's spirit is in all his, and the spirit is life because it consenteth unto the law. And the body that is dead because it consenteth to sin, will that spirit quicken at that last: give him lust to do the law, and will not suffer him to remain in sin." Stumble and fall into sin the Christian will, but to dive and remain in sin the Christian will not.

The apostle John makes this case: "Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. And you know that [Jesus] appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother" (1 John 3:4-10, emphasis mine). This passage really sharpens the point as to whether we have the ability to say no to sin or not. It emphasizes strikingly everything we have just looked at.

The "lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16) are our personal lusts that ever tempt us to commit sin. James says that "each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death" (James 1:14-15, emphasis mine). Peter informs us to "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world" (1 Peter 5:8-9). Sin is never God's fault. In James 1:14-15, it is a person's evil desires that ensnare him. In 1 Peter 5:8-9, it is the devil who seeks to devour.

The fact that we are capable of resisting the temptations that lead to sin is evident in that "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). When we are tempted by "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life", God's Spirit that dwells within us always provides a way of escape from such temptation in order that we do not sin (as the apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:1). "Even when Christians face morally confusing situations, they should never think that they have no options other than sinful ones. There will always be a morally right solution that does not require disobedience to any of God's moral laws."2

"Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him" (Colossians 3:9-10, emphasis mine). "Being renewed" is progressive sanctification. We are not made holy over night, but are compelled to strive for it. We will never achieve it in this life, but that does not mean that we do not aim for the bar. "But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (Ephesians 4:20-24, emphasis mine). Not only has it been done (as the previous passage revealed), but this passage informs us that we must do it. Scripture is replete with this dual responsibility. On one hand, these things have already been done. On the other, we must do them ourselves. God has done them and we must do them. For example: God has already sanctified us, yet we are told to sanctify ourselves.

"For these reasons we are constrained to regard Ephesians as furnishing no other conception of the new man or of the old man than that provided by Romans 6:6; Colossians 3:9, 10. The case is rather, that Ephesians 4:17-24 is corroboratory of the explicit emphasis of Romans 6:6 to the effect that the old man has been crucified and that this is one of the ways in which Paul announces the definitive cleavage with the world of sin, which union with Christ ensures. The old man is the unregenerate man; the new man is the regenerate man created in Christ unto good works. It is no more feasible to call the believer a new man and an old man, than it is to call him a regenerate man and an unregenerate. Neither is it warranted to speak of the believer as having in him the old man and the new man. This kind of terminology is without warrant and it is but another method of doing prejudice to the doctrine which Paul was so jealous to establish when he said, "Our old man has been crucified"."3

You see, it is possible to live a life of victory over sin. That is not to say that you will absolutely never sin whatsoever, which would be the teaching of sinless perfection. Sin's rule in and over your life has been broken. You are no longer a slave to do sin's bidding. You are not at sin's beck and call. When sin knocks on your door, you do not have to answer or open up to it. Christ's Spirit will not suffer a Christian to remain in habitual sin. The entire New Testament teaches us this. To believe otherwise is to be willingly ignorant of what Scripture has to say. We are not sinless Christians, we are sin-less Christians; i.e., as our sanctification progresses, we should be sinning less and less.

1The ESV Study Bible, p. 2170.
2Ibid., p. 2205. 
3John Murray, Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics, p. 218.