Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Free Will?

Do you pray that people you know will be saved from their sin?

Some people insist that the necessary ingredient in salvation is the "free will" of man. According to their view, God has made it possible for anyone to be saved as long as they, by their own free will, take steps to approach God.

How do people who believe this pray for the salvation of their friends and loved ones? Wouldn't God be justified in saying, "Hey, I've done everything I can do. Why are you asking me?"

The God of The Bible
The God of the Bible is the Sovereign Creator, The Almighty, The Judge of All The Earth, The Lord of Hosts. He is INFINITE and OMNIPOTENT. His only limit is His holy nature - He will not act contrary to Who He is!
(Isaiah 43:12-13) I have declared and saved,
I have proclaimed,
And there was no foreign god among you;
Therefore you are My witnesses,”
Says the LORD, “that I am God.
13 Indeed before the day was, I am He;
And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand;
I work, and who will reverse it?”

(Isaiah 46:9-10) Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, “My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure,’
The "Free" Will of Man
People know from experience that they make real choices. They also know that many of their choices are moral choices between good and evil.

Besides that, the Gospel appeals to people to believe in Christ and follow Christ. How can that be a genuine offer if man doesn't have a real freedom to choose?

The answer is that while humans do make real moral choices, all of their choices fall within the range of their fallen human nature which is "dead in trespasses and sins." Man's will is free only within the boundaries of his nature.
(Romans 3:10-12) As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”

(Ephesians 2:1-3) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
So Jesus says,
(John 6:44) No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
(John 6:37) All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
The clear teaching of the Bible is that God is sovereign in all things, including the salvation of the lost. When someone perishes in his sin, it is because he is a rebel against God who has rejected God's grace by his own free (fallen) will. When someone is saved it is by the grace of God, by which God has intervened in his life, shined the light into his darkened heart and made him alive from spiritual death so that he responds to the call of God by his own free (regenerated) will.
(James 1:18) "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures."

(2Timothy 1:9) "who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,"
In seeking the salvation of the lost we are right to come to God in prayer - because "Salvation is of the Lord." (Jonah 2:9) We also take the gospel to "every creature" knowing that by God's grace our message is the means He uses to bring people to Himself in salvation. (Romans 10:14-17)

When someone comes to faith, we give glory to God - not to man - because it is God who brings salvation in every case.

This doctrine is rejected by many people because it requires man to be completely humbled before the sovereign glory of God. Salvation is not due to anyone's intelligence, or goodness, or nobility. Winning people to Christ is not a function of tremendous logic, excellence in presentation or emotional appeals. It is all of God!
(1Corinthians 1:26-2:5) "¶ For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,
29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.
30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—
31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”
1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.
2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

So late!

A few minutes ago it was seven o'clock and I thought I would drink a cup of coffee to keep me awake while I finished up a few things and wrote a letter to a friend.

A few minutes later I thought about refilling my coffee cup and realized it was already after eight and too late to drink coffee unless I didn't want to fall asleep at bedtime.

So I read a little bit.

A few minutes later I looked at the time - quarter past nine! How can that be? Time flies by and I have so little to show for it.

Tick-tock! Tick-tock! Suddenly it is time for bed. Time to go. Time to stop. Time to close the book. Time to move on. Seconds turn into minutes turn into hours and days pass into weeks and weeks into years and years into decades...

Better keep track. Make use of every opportunity.


Friday, May 9, 2008

Anything Goes?

I was listening to the NPR this morning. They did a sweet Mother's Day interview with a woman about her mother. It was nice. It was an emotional tribute to the mother who loved her children and took care of them. But I noticed that the writers made a point of repeatedly mentioning this woman's "partner" and giving her name to make sure you wouldn't think it was a business partner - or a male. Why the woman's partner or sexual orientation had any bearing on the story was unclear.

In the past few days they have had news articles on "transgendered" children. These are boys who believe they are really girls trapped in male bodies. In some cases parents get them therapy to try to get them to realize they are really male. In other cases families get the children therapy to help them become female.

Do you think the people at NPR have an agenda?

I believe that their message is essentially this... "We enlightened folks know that there are no absolutes. Only negative Neanderthals think that any particular 'sexual identity' should be considered wrong. The sooner you just accept everybody the way they are, the better."

I have two issues with this. One is that I believe in absolute truth and Divine revelation. As a consequence, it doesn't matter if all of the people on earth vote and 100% say, "no sexual behavior is sin." The one true and living God - our Creator and ultimately our Judge - is the one who gets to say what is right and wrong. He isn't impressed by the polling.
(Romans 3:4) ... Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written:
“That You may be justified in Your words,
And may overcome when You are judged.”
It is a mistake to suggest that certain kinds of sexual sin are worse than others or that sexual sin is worse than other kinds of sin. ALL sin (including disobedience to parents or lying or blasphemy or coveting) is an abomination to a Holy God.

The other issue is that "sexual identity" is a theoretical construction that has nothing to do with biological reality. What is at issue is behavior - not identity. Despite what modern humanists want to claim - it doesn't matter how you "feel." What matters is what you DO. Almost anything might excite your sexual desires. What matters is that you confine your sexual behavior (mental and physical) to God's design revealed in God's word. God designed heterosexual marriage and confined sex to marriage. Anything else is sin. Control yourself.

We live in troubling times. Anything goes - except to say that other people are wrong.
(Romans 1:28-32) ¶ And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Judge Not...

"Judge not, that you be not judged."

This verse often comes into play when you suggest that a certain behavior is sinful. The person puts up her hand to stop you. "Judge not, that you be not judged!" she says with a "shame on you" tone in her voice.

Ouch! You wince! How frustrating! The conversation is over. How dare you suggest that you know if another person's behavior is wrong?

But is that what this sentence means? In its biblical context, Jesus is telling people that they need to admit their own sin before God and not to be self-righteous hypocrites.
(Matthew 7:1-5) “Judge not, that you be not judged.
2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
4 Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?
5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Jesus is not suggesting that we ignore sin or pretend that we don't know right from wrong. Jesus is not suggesting that we just let everyone do their own thing without ever correcting them or telling them what the Bible says about their behavior.

We should not be self-righteous hypocrites. Instead, we should repent of our own sin and come to Jesus for cleansing.
(1John 1:9) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Once we have found true righteousness in Jesus Christ, we not only CAN warn people about their sins, but we MUST! Notice that at the end of this admonition Jesus says you will finally see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye! You shouldn't pretend you are perfect, but you would be unkind to just let your friend suffer with a speck in his eye when you know where he can get relief.

In modern times "Judge not..." has been twisted into something contrary to its original meaning. Those who use it often do so in a very self-righteous tone - judging those who violate the modern ethic of "tolerance" and relative truth. "Judge not..." has become a code to suggest that anything goes - anything except the condemnation of sin or an appeal to Biblical authority.