Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Compulsion for Clarity

2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth
Blurring God's truth gives everyone a headache and nausea 

Unquestionably false teaching is unacceptable. This we would all agree on. How we then define false teaching and which false teachings are cause for removal is going to vary greatly among Christians of all denominations - even among people who believe virtually exactly what I believe. But chances are if you are reading this blog, you are not one to tolerate false teaching so I will save my breath and energy in railing against that at this time.

What I do believe is worthy of discussion is the issue of clarity. I know this needs addressed because I am guilty of it and will be guilty of it again in the future. I love being as precise as I possibly can be when discussing theology. It is very important for me to leave no room for doubt as to where I stand on a particular doctrine. But I do not always do that.

I need to be as clear as I can be prior to publishing a strong stance on something. This is common sense, yes? Of course it is. I never want someone to read something I write and walk away clueless as to what I believe. This is Teaching 101. Where I fail is not my lack of desire to be clear it is my unintentional lack of perspicuity. I never set out to muddle a verse or a topic but I do muddle verses and topics.

Failing to prepare is an obvious reason for not producing clear teaching so we can skip that for this post though it’s worthy of significant discussion and something I must preach to myself regularly. There are times when we can unintentionally leave people confused and that is not a problem of false teaching or immorality but a problem of wisdom and humanity. Let’s dive into some scenarios and see if you get my point.

“I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture but not the inerrancy of man.”

What does that mean? I agree with that statement if it means that Scripture is inerrant and completely separate from Scripture that man is errant. But what if someone, and it’s not unrealistic many might, interpreted that as me saying I believe Scripture was inerrant but errant man messed it up.

“I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.”

No room for doubt there, right?

“Christian marriage is one man and one woman.”

We all agree. But someone will look at that and think just Christian marriage is defined that way. They may assume that if a couple is not Christian, they need not meet such a standard

“Marriage is one man and one woman.”

No honest mistakes to be made there.

Here is an instance where it is helpful to add qualifiers to enhance clarity because the topic has been so confusing for so many:
“The gifts of tongues and prophecy are not for today.”

I would know what someone meant when he said that but many people would not. They would look at a Charismatic friend and his/her speaking in tongues or maybe know of a prophet and not know how to appraise the statement.

“The sign gifts as defined by the Bible are not for today.”

Now the person must examine how the Bible defines the sign gifts and then compare those gifts to what people are claiming the gifts do today and then come to a determination.

I am not sure how many times I have been ambiguous, which is why I must be so careful with my use of language. I must pay close attention to grammar, spelling and word choice. Recently I was in a study at my church and the word “conservative” came up. If we went around the room it would have conjured up something different for each person. To be honest, I was not sure how the person was using the word as it seemed to have been used as a pejorative. When he defined what he meant and how the word conservative had been defined to him, it made sense why he used it. It was a fascinating example of the importance of diction.

Another example: I was listening to the local Christian radio station one morning and heard something really confusing. This is a very solid Christian station and I highly recommend it to anyone but the problem arose when a woman was being interviewed about a fictional Christian book she wrote. She made a statement equating her fictional stories to those in the Old Testament. This immediately raised my eyebrow because I didn’t know if she meant that most Old Testament stories are fictional (not an uncommon view in American Christianity) or if she meant that the Old Testament is full of riveting, true narratives. For her sake and for the sake of the listeners the interviewer should have pushed the woman on her statement. I do not want to falsely think that she thinks the Old Testament is just a bunch of stories, if she does not. I also do not want her to be allowed to spew false teaching on a solid Christian station. It was to everyone’s benefit for clarity to be pursued in this instance.

Needless to say things can be muddled regardless of what we do. People will always twist and manipulate things that are said. They did it to Jesus in regards to what He said about rebuilding the temple in three days (Outstanding sermon by Steve Lawson on that). We cannot concern ourselves with that inevitable fact. We also cannot deny that a small sample of what we say can also leave people confused. I was talking with my friend one day about how funny/not funny it would be if the only John MacArthur sermon someone heard was him preaching on God’s love for His children and the blessing of being His elect. They, based only on that sermon, might associate him with the likes of TD Jakes or Joel Osteen. It is hilarious to think about and sadly probably somewhat realistic.

What is comforting to me about my home church and its example of clarity is that we just finished a series entitled “What We Believe” and I highly doubt many people ever left thinking to themselves, “We believe that???” The pastors have always been clear and it is immensely refreshing to sit under their leadership knowing where they stand. Our church website has a detailed description of the core doctrines we stand by. This is vital for any ministry. I never will give to or support a ministry if I do not know what they believe. I also think it speaks volumes to the integrity of a ministry if they are open about their beliefs. I do not understand why a ministry would not want to make it known what they believe, but maybe that’s just me.

Finally, let me address a uniquely interesting aspect of being clear. Voddie Baucham is a Reformed Baptist preacher and a Covenant theologian. His teaching is undoubtedly influenced by this. He isn’t in the closet about it. He boldly proclaims it. I love Voddie. I’ve learned a ton from him but we would disagree on certain aspects of Covenant theology and some of his other teaching. That doesn’t make him or me a false teacher. One of us has to be wrong, though. The point is that I know where he stands and I know what he’s influenced by. I can listen to him or read him and walk away understanding what his stance is and I’m not confused. In other words, he’s not trying to be sneaky. My only response is to dig deeper and determine if I am right and judge how strong my case is. I appreciate so much his willingness to be so fervently for things and to be so black and white in an age where being gray is perceived as a virtue even though we disagree. That is iron sharpening iron.

I urge us all to be clear. Be clear for your sake. Be clear for my sake. Be clear for the sake of mature Christians so you don’t cause them to question your doctrinal purity. Be clear for the sake of immature Christians so you don’t cause them to be confused. Be clear for the sake of non-believers so as not to put an unnecessary stumbling block between them and the Truth.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Father, Son and Holy Bible?

Frequently the term bibliolater is leveled against people who believe in the authority of Scripture. The accusation implies that certain people, typically Cessationists, have replaced the work of the person of the Holy Spirit with that of holy Scripture. Hence why they condescend such people by flippantly saying they worship the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Bible.  Most definitely I would be one of the people accused of being a bibliolater. The question we need to address is not whether I am guilty of this but whether or not such guilt is even possible given the function of the Holy Spirit.

Bible worship or Bible study? 

Let us quickly extinguish the absurdity that is Bible worship as if the Bible in the physical sense is actually worshiped. I, nor anyone else I know, bows to the book itself. The book itself, that is the binding and pages and ink, is just a composition of man-made materials no different than any other book. There is nothing worthy of worship or supernatural about a Bible in its physical form. This would be akin to bowing to a golden calf or an image of the Mother Mary found in a piece of toast.

Now that we’ve tackled that straw man we can proceed without hindrance. Here is, admittedly, where things get a bit tricky and confusing. The Holy Spirit illuminates the believer’s mind to be able to understand the Bible. The Bible illuminates the believer’s mind to be able to understand the Holy Spirit. Both are true simultaneously. You’ll be very confused in regards to the Bible without the Holy Spirit and you’ll be very confused in regards to the Holy Spirit without the Bible.

Mitch Hedberg (a comedian, not a theologian) had this to say about pants and belts: “My belt holds up my pants and my pants have belt loops that hold up the belt. What’s really going on down there? Who’s the real hero?”

Immediately you are thinking of someone who knows a lot about the Bible but is still a very bad person. Of course such people exist. People can know a lot about the Bible (people, places, themes) without showing reverence to the text and can be learning more about God’s character while failing to emulate it. Just as people can be genuine believers doing good works while being Biblically illiterate. In fact, the norm is probably for people to be Biblically illiterate but comparatively moral.

The intention here is to discover what God asks of us as Believers and that is to be on fire, not lukewarm. Were the heroes of the New Testament balanced in their knowledge of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word? Or did they just have an extreme knowledge of the Holy Spirit but know very little about the Bible?

Did Jesus know the Bible? Absolutely! He was the incarnate WORD!
Did Paul know the Bible? Yes! He wrote a majority of the New Testament AND he knew the Old Testament extremely well.
Judge any of the most prominent Christians in the New Testament against this and you will quickly see they were extreme in both knowledges.

Does the person who is knowledgeable about Scripture but remarkably sinful excuse us from furthering our understanding of Scripture? Of course not. Does the person who is a really Godly person but holds to some really bad theology justify our willful ignorance? Definitely not. So, as Sye Ten Bruggencate would say, why are we arguing about something neither of us believe is true?

How can someone be guilty of bibliolatry? There must be some instance! There must be a way!!! Let us examine our motives right now as I go off on a rabbit trail. //Is this not our typical response to anyone that is too Christian? Do we not always seek to reduce them to our level? “Yea he’s got a great knowledge of the Bible but I just know he’s a terrible husband and father.” I know I have had those thoughts or similar thoughts. Then I get to know the person and I am completely ashamed to have ever had those thoughts. What it is, and I speak to my own personal experience with this, is that I do not want to see someone really on fire for Christ because I know that he and I have the exact same Holy Spirit and the exact same Bible and I have absolutely no excuse to not be as Godly as he is. None! Is that not just sickening? Does it not make you sick to know that we literally have no excuse to not be as Godly as the Godliest person on the planet?//

There is a way someone can seemingly be a bibliolater and that is if he believes his interpretation of the Bible apart from the Holy Spirit. That is to say that a person can incorrectly interpret the Bible and then hold firmly to that interpretation even though the Holy Spirit stands in opposition to it. Red-letter Christians, ironically, are guilty of this. They elevate the red letters in the Bible (those spoken by Jesus) as being more important than the black letters. They do not think highly of all of Scripture, just parts of it. This is just an extension of liberal theology as it paints an incomplete picture of Jesus that focuses only on the most palatable attributes of His character.

But honestly, that’s a bad example because those people only “worship” some of the text. Anyone who takes the totality of Scripture would come to a balanced view of God. His wrath and grace, justice and mercy, hatred of sin and patience with sinful men. Extrapolating a portion of the Bible is not bibliolatry but actually a hatred of the Bible and a violation of the 2nd commandment!

“The Pharisees, Tim! The Pharisees! They were surely guilty of this, right? The Pharisees emphasized the letter of the law over the spirit of the law. They were soooo guilty of bibliolatry!”
The Pharisees were indeed guilty of being more concerned about obeying the letter of the law than they were the spirit of it. The law was one of their own making though. Oh sure they knew the scriptures but their problem was that they added to them and took them out of context. What reverence can a man have for the Bible if he takes it upon himself to add to it (implying it was NOT good enough as is) and to rip it out of context (implying it is their prerogative, usurping God’s authority)? Their sin was not that they thought too highly of God’s word but that they thought too highly of themselves*. The Bible says to not add to it and to teach it accurately. They do not do either, how then can they worship the Bible if they show no remorse for blatantly disregarding what the Bible says?

I cannot come up with one instance where someone is genuinely guilty of bibliolatry. Why? Because no man in the history of the world has thought too highly or taken too seriously the Word of God! If you want to be filled with the Spirit, fill yourself with His word. It is so simple! Men were moved by the Holy Spirit to write the Bible!

If you want to know more about the character of God, what book do you read? The Bible.
If you want to know more about the character of Christ, what book do you read?
The Bible.
So, logically, what book should we read to know more about the character of the Holy Spirit?
The only reason you would not answer the previous question with “The Bible” is if you reject the Trinity. And if you reject the Trinity you were not concerned with what the Bible teaches in the first place. I am assuming you do indeed know the Trinity to be true and you immediately knew the right answer to the question and thus you cannot refute that the book to read to discern and understand the Holy Spirit is the same book you would read to discern and understand God and Christ.

Do you think God would send us a helper in the Holy Spirit without instructions? Do you think He would lead us into confusion and disarray? Of what use or good would the Holy Spirit be if He is inscrutable? My dear friends, read the Bible and pray to God for understanding and He will oblige for it is the will of God for believers to know Him, for to know God is to love God and to love God is to glorify God and man was created for that very purpose.

*Jordan Hall of Pulpit and Pen broke this down beautifully the other day on his podcast

Friday, May 16, 2014

Do Babies Go to Heaven?

There are few of us who have never had to experience the death of a small child. Many have endured multiple miscarriages personally or through a close friend or family member. Some have had a child die soon after delivery. And some have experienced that pain while their son or daughter was quite young. Few topics are as heavy as what happens to children when they die but the question is asked an awful lot. We will seek to uncover what God’s word says about this issue and hopefully it provides a more blessed assurance to the uncertain.

The first thing we need to establish is that whether babies go to heaven, hell or no where, it’s God’s choice. All His ways are just and right. So if the evidence suggests all babies go to hell, we need to be willing to accept that as a just choice made by holy God. If the evidence tells us that some babies go to heaven and some go to hell, that is a choice we need to be satisfied with. Regardless of the conclusion, we need to respect God’s judgment. A tough pill to swallow? Oh yeah. Real tough. If you’re thinking now about questioning God, I encourage you to read Romans 9 a few times.

You may be thinking to yourself that I am a terrible person to investigate this question. I am at times cold and seemingly inconsiderate of people’s feelings. I will often say things that hurt people’s feelings or upset them (though they are irrefutably true) when something contradicts what the Scriptures teach. I have even called out false teachers by name (Gasp)! So why does what an insensitive man such as I have to say about such a delicate topic matter? Because I am going to proclaim the Truth, regardless of what people think of me. Amen? Since there’s nary a person who doesn’t have some emotional connection to the death of a small child, I think it’s safe to say I’m no more disqualified (because of emotions) than anyone else.

The first example we will look at is the death of David’s son. This story is told in 2 Samuel 12 and the salient verse from the passage is in verse 23:

23 But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

This is the seminal verse. No other verse speaks with this degree of perspicuity on the matter of babies going to heaven or hell. David is a man after God’s own heart specifically chosen to be king of Israel and to be the earthly father to Christ. So when David is confident that he will see his son again when he dies, it is evident that will be in heaven.

It is important to note the manner in which David’s son was conceived. David committed adultery with Bathsheba. Bathsheba committed adultery with David. The child was conceived outside of God’s design for marriage and as a result of a premeditated plan David concocted and at the expense of another man’s life. What other child was conceived in a more damning set of circumstances? All that is to say that the parents of the child have no part in where the child goes when he or she dies. Whether the child is born to believers or not or to a mixture, the child is not impacted by the parents’ salvations.

The next passage I want to examine is Jonah 3 and specifically verse 11:

11 Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”

Jonah is infuriated with God because God chose not to destroy Nineveh. In verse 11 we see God’s explanation to Jonah for His compassion. 120,000 persons who can’t distinguish left from right could be explained in any number of ways. That could mean they are mentally handicapped, babies or just plain dumb. But stupidity (in the ignorant sense) is never a justifiable excuse of rebellion against God. I think it’s safe to eliminate that option. But what does “as well as many animals” mean? Animals have not rebelled against God. Animals don’t have the mental capacity to make a conscious choice to disobey their Creator. They are stubborn beasts. They can have their behavior modified to make them domesticated but they don’t have the cognitive abilities to truly differentiate between right and wrong in the manner you or I do. Children are the same. We modify our children’s behavior to make them domesticated. Is that not exactly what we do when we potty train them, teach them not to scream, not to hit, and how to eat? We’re essentially domesticating small humans.

God felt compassion on Nineveh because so many of its inhabitants were oblivious to their rejection of Him. Think back to when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. He challenged Abraham to prove that the cities were worth keeping and Abraham brought back no evidence. As the town was overrun by homosexuality it’s not a stretch to suggest there weren’t many if any children there.

The third relevant passage is in Luke 2:39-52. This passage is the only record we have between Jesus’ birth and when He began His ministry about 30 years later. He is age 12 in this account. So what does this have to do with anything? Let’s look at verse 40:

40 The Child continued to grow and become strong, [r]increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

Jesus wasn’t born into complete spiritual maturity. He was born without a sin nature but not with complete or perfect wisdom. Obviously 12-year-old Jesus is greater than 28-year-old me or anyone else for that matter, so I don’t want to have us expect 6th graders to be teaching well-read religious leaders. But what does it mean? Jesus still had to learn and grow. He wasn’t expected to immediately begin doing His thing. It wasn’t until 12 years after His birth that we have an idea what He was up to. No later than 12-years-old did Jesus become aware of His deity. His brain had to develop just like ours. He could have known this of Himself at age 2. His first words could have been a reciting of Isaiah 53 for that matter. What we know is that He had to increase in wisdom and strength.

So if Jesus’ brain’s development was necessary before He could begin His Father’s work, can we not say the same of our children? Children don’t have the cognitive means to willingly reject the Gospel. I don’t know the cut off for the “age of accountability.” People are cast into hell based upon their willing rejection of God’s Truth. A child does not willingly reject God’s truth. Sure children can be nasty, but their brains aren’t developed enough to understand their need for a Savior.

The next thing I want to look at is really the entire scope of the Bible. I can’t think of one example of a child (age 0-whatever age you think a child can be) coming to saving faith.
“Tim, isn’t that bad news?”
Not really. It means, as I said in the last section, that children don’t have the mental capacity to reject God or to accept their need for a Savior.
“Tim, are you saying kids can’t be Christians????”
I have no idea! I really don’t. Kids can say the sinner’s prayer (don’t get me started) and be baptized (don’t get me started) at a really young age. I’m not denying that. Does that mean that they’re saved? No. Does that mean they can’t be saved that young or understand and clearly communicate in their own words the meaning of baptism? No.
Here’s what I do know, and it’s sure to make people upset: Most of my friends and most millennials prayed the prayer and got baptized and now millennials are the most anti-God generation in a long time. That’s undeniable. That’s an entirely different issue and I could write a thousand pages on the irreversible damage caused by emotional manipulation via the seeker-friendly movement and typical altar calls.

No kids were recorded as rejecting or accepting their Savior. Agreed? So what does Jesus think of children? Matthew 19:

13 Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “[i]Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 After laying His hands on them, He departed from there.

Jesus apparently loves children. He rebukes those who keep children from Him. Which is why I’m not trying to discourage anyone from praying with their kids or letting their kids ask for God’s grace. In fact, I encourage all parents to pray with their kids and I would never tell a kid that the prayer they just prayed doesn’t mean they’re saved. But we have to be careful in just assuming that anyone who prays such a prayer truly understands what they’re praying and they aren’t just reciting some words to please or appease their parents. We can all relate because any of us who grew up in the sinner’s prayer era, and especially those of us who went to church our whole lives,  didn’t pray the prayer just one time. You’re nodding your head right now, aren’t you?

The final point I’d like to evaluate and lay out is that I believe the death of children serves 2 divine purposes. Firstly, it saves the children from potentially terrible circumstances. Where infant mortality rates are highest, conditions are typically the worst. Abortion and the Godlessness of America run almost hand in hand. Since 1972-3 the state of American Christianity has surely not been on the rise. Truth is hated now more than ever before. Error is not only tolerated by most of the church, it is also rewarded! In John MacArthur’s series “What Happens to Babies Who Die?” he makes a very strong case for this. I highly recommend that series and the accompanying book he wrote.
Secondly, I believe babies who die are a judgment or at least the withholding of a blessing. This doesn’t mean all babies who die are a judgment against their parents. By no means do I think that but in some cases, yes. I believe they are a judgment against a nation that despises them. Since I believe, because the evidence in the Bible points to it, that all babies who die are in heaven I also believe they are a part of God’s elect people. Imagine, if you can, 57 million (approximate # of abortions since Roe v Wade) more Christians in the United States. If God’s tiny remnant currently left in America can create such a stir, what would 57 million more do? God is extremely protective of His people. What does God do to those who killed His people in Revelation? What does God do to those who killed Jesus? Their nations will be/were destroyed.

Does this mean I’m indifferent toward abortion since I believe babies go to heaven? I am as indifferent toward that as I am toward adult Christians being murdered. I can comfortably rest knowing they are in heaven but I don’t have to be indifferent at their mistreatment.

This is such a heavy topic and it deserves a Biblical assurance. I know we all want to just believe that all babies go to heaven. That’s pretty easy to believe. But we also all want to believe that most people go to heaven and that hell is only for the worst of the worst. The case can’t be made for all adults going to heaven but I pray I clearly articulated why I believe the Bible tells us that children are with our Father in heaven.

Once Saved Always Saved?

Sin clouds our judgment. We cannot see because sin is blinding (John 3, 1John 2, Romans 1). The recurring theme in my life is that my understanding of Scripture is concurrent with my understanding of my sin. The Bible reveals two things throughout: the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. It works as the authoritative text on theology and anthropology. Scripture is much easier understood from God’s perspective than from our own. “That’s not what I would do; therefore I reject it,” was my initial approach to many of the doctrines I now hold dear to my heart. As God began to work on my heart and mold it I became more aware of my sinfulness and was able to better understand Scripture. You will see as we go through what the Bible says about eternal security a few themes that pop up. The first is that we put way too much emphasis on our experiences. The second is that the notion that a Christian can lose his salvation is completely without merit because it is sinful and is thus in opposition to God’s holy nature. Just so we’re clear I am indeed saying that if you hold to the belief that a Christian can lose his salvation, that is sinful.

If you are saved once does that not mean you are saved for good? If you are eternally secure does that not mean you are saved for good? Of course. But the chief argument someone would use to argue that someone can indeed lose his salvation is based upon the definition of once saved always saved (OSAS) that he has created. The way this person looks at OSAS is something like:
Billy prayed the prayer at age 6 at summer camp. He never bore any good fruit. Therefore, Billy lost his salvation.

Indeed, based upon the framework of that argument, Billy did lose his salvation.

Truly though, the question isn’t whether Billy lost his salvation. The Bible is crystal clear that a believer is eternally secure. There is no cogent argument that can be concocted to dispute this irrefutable fact. The question is actually whether Billy was ever a believer. Now we must ask what believer’s do. They bear fruit! If Billy never bore fruit, what evidence is there he was ever saved in the first place? None! Billy was never a Christian, that’s why he is not saved. His salvation status did not change.

That was a simple case to solve. The complication arises not with someone who never bore fruit but with someone who did. I will now try to outline the best experiential evidence I can of someone losing his salvation. This is one we really really wrestle with. In my interactions with various professing agnostics I have noticed a recurring motif that paints a picture of their evolving worldview. The painting begins with them attending church at a young age and being active in the church, but the painting ends with their current state as an agnostic. How does that happen? How can two views so diametrically opposed be held by the same person in such a short span? Has that person not lost his salvation? Was he not bearing fruit?

Perhaps he may have been bearing fruit in some sense. He could have been attending church, been kind, patient and caring for others. He may have even been witnessing to people and sharing God’s word with people. I am certainly not denying these things have indeed happened. I am not even denying that this person believed, if only for a while, that he was a Christian. But did God believe this man was a Christian? We judge what someone does, God judges the heart. We will see what scripture says about this and then we can make a better determination as to what was actually happening in the agnostic’s scenario.

I should only need one verse to prove this case. But we are stubborn people, are we not? I should only be told by my wife one time to not leave milk in my glass. Ask her how that is going. I keep doing it. I see her reasoning and I agree with it. I’m just dumb and stubbornly attached to my own line of thinking. If you are convinced after one verse, stop reading. I’m not sure how long I’ll go on.
I sincerely do not understand how anyone can deny eternal security in light of this verse:

John 6

 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

Who is speaking? Jesus! He just walked on water and fed thousands of people with a little bit of bread and fish! And we’re going to doubt Him? C’mon! What is unclear about that verse? “I lose NOTHING.” Zero! Not one person that God saved will Christ lose. This debate is over. Why did anyone even consider that salvation could be lost? They could not have read this verse. There’s no way.

But alas, many remain unconvinced. I do not understand it. I really do not. If you still think a Christian can lose his salvation after reading that verse...First off, you’re wrong and second, you’re reading comprehension skills are wanting.

The tragedy of the denial of eternal security is that it stems from a deeper denial of something even more core to the Christian faith and that is the authority of Scripture. Think of how lowly one must think of God’s word to read John 6:39 and then remain steadfast that a Christian can lose his salvation. God providentially planned to incredible detail the life of Christ and His ongoing fulfillment of prophecies but that same God didn’t establish any type of provision to protect His sheep from themselves? The most dangerous person in my life is always me. God didn’t plan for that? I say He did. Enter the Holy Spirit. Of what use is the Holy Spirit if I (a mere man) can cast Him out?

Mark 3

23 And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables,“How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but [l]he is finished! 27 But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.
Can Satan cast out Satan? No. The juxtaposition: Can a Christian cast out Christ? No. Especially given that Christ is infinitely stronger than any of us. If Christ now lives in me, He is the strongman in the house. How, pre tell, do you suppose I could overpower the Son of God?

Hebrews 6

4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, [d]since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

Here is your verse, salvation-loosers. This is your proof text. A cursory glance would suggest salvation can be lost. But the belief in temporary eternal salvation has always been the result of perfunctory research. Hebrews 6 is not even about Christians, it is about people that have rejected Christ. Oh sure they have experienced some aspects of the Kingdom and have participated to a high degree in the ordinances, but does that make a Christian? Are we Christians because of those things? No, we truly are not. We are Christians because of the work of Christ. We are given grace to have faith. Those mentioned in Hebrews 6 rejected the former and thus never had the latter. If they rejected grace, they never had faith and thus they were never saved. Hebrews 3 addresses those who reject salvation.

Hebrews 3

12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart [c]that falls away from the living God.

Again, the issue, from the beginning, is an unbelieving heart (rejection/blasphemy of the Holy Spirit).

The Parable of the Sower
Any illustration you could come up with of someone “losing his salvation” would fall into one of the categories. Why would Jesus share with us this parable if not to reinforce the fact that many people will call Him Lord but will actually be workers of iniquity? Jesus doesn’t seem surprised that many will fall away--He predicted it!

Matthew 13

3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 Others fell [a]among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.

I emboldened where I believe people who have “lost their salvation” fall into. It does not have to be the first day of the sun or the second. It could have been weeks later or months later. The point is that for a while the plants appeared to be healthy but because their roots had no depth the plans died the same as the others.

The Example of Judas
Herein lies the irony of the Arminian argument. The ONLY example an Arminian can use to support his theology is that of the one who committed the ultimate act of betrayal. Think about this, there exists not one example of someone losing his salvation throughout the entirety of the Bible. Not one. The best example one can come up with is that of Judas Iscariot. If Judas Iscariot exemplifies one of the distinctives of your theology, you better start studying what the Bible actually says.
The argument says that Judas lost his salvation. He was with Jesus that whole time. He did good works. He followed Jesus. He betrayed Him. He lost his salvation. False assumptions result in bad theology. The Arminian assumes that because Judas was hanging around the right people, that Judas was saved. Look back on the language used by the gospel writers as they describe Judas. The language does not support the idea that Judas was at any point saved. Judas’ betrayal was prophesied. Would God choose to use one of His Elect to carry out such a heinous crime? May it never be! Who is Judas but the seed that grows up for a while and then gets choked out? Revelation refers to those who persevere as overcomers. They have overcome the world (as Christ did) and this proves they were God’s. By enduring til the end, a Christian substantiates their adoption.

The Problem of Works
When we break down virtually any aspect of Arminian theology it reveals itself as a works based system. Whether it be their synergistic view of attaining salvation or their temporary-eternal view of salvation in terms of perseverance, it always logically ends with man’s works. I did something and thus God saved me. I did something and thus God kept me. Where then does grace fit in? If I am able to do something to lose my salvation then I must have done something to earn it. Neither is true. Nothing was done to earn it and nothing can be done to lose it.
We must inquire how many sins we are allowed to commit before God lets us go. An Arminian cannot reply to such an inquiry with any authority. It is a terrifying thing to impose this illogical belief upon God’s adopted children. No sin was too awful for us to be irreconcilable to God through Christ and no sin is too awful for Christ to maintain us after we have been justified. The pride of man stands in opposition to grace. Allow yourself to contemplate this quote from Voddie Baucham:     

“How arrogant do you have to be to think one can lose their salvation,
yet you have managed to obtain it?”

The reformers were guided by what was called analogia Scriptura. It basically means that Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture. You saw that illustrated as we used the Parable of the Sower to interpret Hebrews 6. You saw that as we used the clearer passages to interpret the less clear. The question we really want answered is why do some people hang around and then fall away?

1John 2

18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that [d]it would be shown that they all are not of us.

There’s our answer. They went out or fell away so that it would be shown they were not of us. People fall away as proof they were never Christians. That is pretty simplistic, right? Can we get any more black & white? The practical application is that sometimes the wheat and tares are separated before the harvest. Some were skeptical about Rob Bell when he first came on the “evangelical” scene. He displayed some signs that his beliefs were a bit warped. Eventually his departure made it evident to true believers that he was not really of us. There are many other examples of this and probably examples you can think of in your own life personally where it eventually becomes perspicuous that someone was part of a different flock all along.

The real debate is not whether a person can lose his salvation. There is no Biblical evidence for that. The only evidence is experiential. Experiential evidence in light of a dogmatic truth is utterly useless. May God be true and every man a liar (presuppositional apologetics). The debate that is worthwhile and hotly contested is whether or not there is a such thing as a carnal Christian. That is what I believe the argument is really about. Can someone be a Christian but not bear much or any fruit? That’s the stripped down question. There are very intricate details that are debated and it might just depend on your definition of carnal Christian.

Here is what we should ask when someone says they used to be a Christian:
Is Jesus lying or is the non-Christian lying?
Pretty easy to answer that question, amen?

No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

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Gabbatha and Pontius Pilate

Have you ever been asked, “If you could have dinner with someone from any point in history, who would it be?” It is one of those questions designed to get to know someone and to know their interests and what not. Whether you have heard it before or not is of no matter to me but II know my answer and will discuss it now.
Pontius Pilate is one of the most tragic and complex characters in the history of the world. We all know him as the one who turned Jesus over to the Jews. A terrible crime to be sure. That is a crime that by itself is awful but as we look back and see the crime compounded by what else Pilate did we will see,in my opinion, the most inscrutable man in the Bible. Carefully examine what Pilate says and thinks about Jesus and then what he does to Jesus. It is, if you’ve never looked at it closely before, heartbreaking.
Matthew 27
Jesus before Pilate
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” 12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer. 13 Then Pilate *said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” 14 And He did not answer him with regard to even a single [e]charge, so the governor was quite amazed.
Pilate was quite amazed. So it begins…
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the [f]people any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over.
Pilate knew the reason they were handing Christ over.
19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for [g]last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.” 20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. 21 But the governor [h]said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate *said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all *said, “[i]Crucify Him!” 23 And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “[j]Crucify Him!”
His wife has a dream that disturbs her and she asks Pilate to have nothing to do with Jesus. Pilate knows Jesus has done no evil but the more he tries to reason with the Jews, the more upset they become.
24 When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” 25 And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas [k]for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
He washed his hands, symbolically, of the guilt of Jesus’ blood. He knew for certain that Jesus was innocent and undeserving of death.
Luke 23
Jesus before Herod 8 Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some [c]sign performed by Him. 9 And he questioned Him [d]at some length; but He answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently.11 And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate. 12 Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other.
Herod and Pilate became friends! What united them was the intense guilt  for cowardice they both felt for putting a blameless man, the Son of God, on trial. That’s one of those events that few people could ever relate to so it only makes sense they were able to bond.
Pilate Seeks Jesus’ Release
13 Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. 15 No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him. 16 Therefore I will punish Him and release Him.” 17 [[e]Now he was obliged to release to them at the feast one prisoner.]
No guilt. Pilate undoubtedly knows Jesus is innocent.
John 18
33 Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this [c]on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom [d]is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not [e]of this realm.” 37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38 Pilate *said to Him, “What is truth?”
Such a strange interaction. Jesus almost doesn’t acknowledge that Pilate was asking a question, rather He tells Pilate that He agrees with his statement!
John 19
The Crown of Thorns Pilate then took Jesus and [a]scourged Him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; 3 and they began to come up to Him and say, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face. 4 Pilate came out again and *said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” 5 Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate*said to them, “Behold, the Man!” 6 So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate *said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” 7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”8 Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid; 9 and he entered into the [b]Praetorium again and *said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate *said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” 11 Jesus answered,“You would have no authority [c]over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” 12 As a result of this Pilate [d]made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king [e]opposes Caesar.”
13 Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called[f]The Pavement, but in [g]Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the[h]sixth hour. And he *said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” 15 So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate *said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”
When Pilate heard that Jesus made Himself out to be the Son of God, he becomes more afraid. He was already afraid because he was about to punish an innocent Man and now that fear is exacerbated because the same Man also performed miracles, also raised the dead, also spoke with unmatched authority and Pilate was now about to send Him to be killed! Fear was the proper emotion to have at that time.
Pilate rightfully sat on the judgment seat, for he was being judged and so will all of us. What makes Pilate so uniquely tragic is that he clearly knew who Christ was. He knew Christ claimed to be God. He knew Christ performed miracles. He knew Christ spoke with authority. He met Him. He was right there in front of him. His wife told him not to touch Jesus. His intuition told him the same. The evidence told him conclusively what was true. Yet Pilate still, after all that, handed Jesus over. Pilate understood the evidence and laid out the facts concerning Jesus and found Him to be who He said He was. Pilate emotionally made a connection that Jesus was who He said He was. So he knew in his head and with his heart that Jesus was the Messiah, right? Why then did Pilate turn Him over???
John 12
42 Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be [p]put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the [q]approval of men rather than the [r]approval of God.
The question is not so much what you know and what you feel but what are you going to do based upon the truth of what you know and what you feel?