Why I'm Not a Calvinist . . . or an Arminian, Part 2

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Read the series so far.)

Canons of Dort on Limited Atonement

The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin, and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world (Second Head, Article 3).

For this was the sovereign counsel and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of His Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation; that is, it was the will of God that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby He confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation and given to Him by the Father; that He should confer upon them faith, which, together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, He purchased for them by His death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them, free from every spot and blemish, to the enjoyment of glory in His own presence forever (Second Head, Article 8).

That God the Father has ordained His Son to the death of the cross without a certain and definite decree to save any, so that the necessity, profitableness, and worth of what Christ merited by His death might have existed, and might remain in all its parts complete, perfect, and intact, even if the merited redemption had never in fact been applied to any person (Rejection of Errors 2:1).

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Why I'm Not a Calvinist . . . or an Arminian, Part 1

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I am often asked whether I am a Calvinist or an Arminian. Honestly, it is not a simple question because these are not simply-defined theological categories that can be chosen as one would choose from a menu at a restaurant. I certainly understand the importance of the question, as our answer reveals much about our understanding of God’s character and how He works with humanity. But neither label—Calvinism nor Arminianism—is adequate in explaining the biblical position. In fact, the labels aren’t even adequate in explaining the positions of the men they supposedly represent.

For example, Calvin himself had nothing to do with the formal five points of Calvinism, and in reading Calvin over the years, I am convinced he would not have been a good Calvinist. The five points were really developed through the Synod of Dort (1618-1619) in response to the teachings of followers of Jacobus Arminius. These followers were called Remonstrants, after the document published in 1610 called the Remonstrance, which challenged the Belgic Confession (1562-1566) and some of John Calvin’s and Theodore Beza’s teaching. So when we engage this question, we need to understand that we are dealing with decades (and now centuries) of intense theological controversy over theological perspectives and statements. Read more about Why I'm Not a Calvinist . . . or an Arminian, Part 1

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Devotion to Prayer

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Proskartereo in the New Testament: A sermon delivered at Calvary Baptist Church, Derby, Kansas. Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

Tonight, I want us to study a single word in the NT: proskartereo. It looks and sounds like a perfect candidate for use in a Jeopardy category: “12-letter Greek words that are difficult to pronounce”!

This word caught my attention as I ran across it at various times over the years in my studies of the NT in Greek, and I thought its various occurrences and uses rather interesting.

It is a compound word, composed of the preposition pros, which means, “to, toward, in the direction of” and kartereo, a verb with the root idea of “to be strong, firm.” So it literally means “to be strong toward something or someone.” As used in the NT, the word carries the sense and meaning “to be devoted to, to be dedicated to, to focus on, to be committed to, to persist in” some purpose, object or person.

This word is used ten times in the Greek NT, six of which occur in Acts. I want to briefly note each of these uses. Read more about Devotion to Prayer

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Every Pastor is a POET

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From Paraklesis, a resource of Baptist Bible Seminary (Summer, 2014). Used by permission.

What exactly is the pastor’s job? Some churches expect their pastor to speak 20 times a month. Another church demands only three sermons each month. In some churches, the pastor cannot delegate the setting of the temperature on the thermostat. Different churches go to the other extreme and require the pastor to preach and do not let him do anything else.

One pastor took a survey of his church members to find out what their expectations were for how he spent his time. One person put down more hours than there are in a week for the pastor’s average work week.

While tradition plays a role in understanding what a pastor’s job description happens to be, it is the Bible that should prescribe the details of the pastor’s job. God has designed the office of pastor, elder, or overseer. If churches are out of balance or are missing some of what is needed, they will suffer loss in their ministry. The acronym POET is a helpful learning device for remembering what the Bible teaches about the pastor’s role in the local church. Read more about Every Pastor is a POET

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The Incoherence of Evolutionary Origins (Part 1)

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From an introductory lecture in the Telos Course “The Doctrine of Man and Sin.”

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet. (Psalm 8:3-6)

According to the Bible, man, here meaning male and female (Gen. 1:27), is a very special part of God’s creation. According to the scientific establishment we are nothing more than advanced animals, newly arrived upon the scene of earth history, without any more significance than a trilobite or a sea-horse.

Most of us are familiar with naturalistic evolution. This is what I was taught from a young child growing up in England all the way through high school. And when I attended college I was taught it there too, even though it wasn’t really part of the business degree I was earning. Read more about The Incoherence of Evolutionary Origins (Part 1)

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The Blessing of Work

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On September 5, 1882, thousands of workers assembled in New York City to participate in America’s first Labor Day parade. The event was sponsored by New York’s Central Labor Union. According to documents from the period, workers and families marched from City Hall to Union Square, then gathered in Reservoir Park for picknicking, music, and speeches.

Several individual states established official Labor Day holidays until Congress turned it into a Federal holiday in 1894. Curiously, one labor union of that era also passed a resolution setting aside the Sunday before Labor Day as “Labor Sunday” to focus on “the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement” (Dept. of Labor).

What follows considers, not “spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement,” but biblical aspects of work in general, mostly from Genesis 2:7-15.

5 truths to help us value the blessing of work

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The Passing of Evolution

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(About this series)

CHAPTER I THE PASSING OF EVOLUTION

BY PROFESSOR GEORGE FREDERICK WRIGHT, D. D., LL. D., OBERLIN COLLEGE, OBERLIN, OHIO

The word evolution is in itself innocent enough, and has a large range of legitimate use. The Bible, indeed, teaches a system of evolution.

The world was not made in an instant, or even in one day (whatever period day may signify) but in six days. Throughout the whole process there was an orderly progress from lower to higher forms of matter and life. In short there is an established order in all the Creator’s work. Even the Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which being planted grew from the smallest beginnings to be a tree in which the fowls of heaven could take refuge. So everywhere there is “first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.”

But recently the word has come into much deserved disrepute by the injection into it of erroneous and harmful theological and philosophical implications. The widely current doctrine of evolution which we are now compelled to combat is one which practically eliminates God from the whole creative process and relegates mankind to the tender mercies of a mechanical universe the wheels of whose machinery are left to move on without any immediate Divine direction.

This doctrine of evolution received such an impulse from Darwinism and has been so often confounded with it that it is important at the outset to discriminate the two. Darwinism was not, in the mind of its author, a theory of universal evolu-

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Covenants: Clarity, Ambiguity, and Faith (Part 4)

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Read the series so far.

If it were up to us …

If the Lord had relied upon men to fulfill their duties before fulfilling His oaths there would be no reason at all to make covenants in the first place. He was on the safest ground possible, and could have promised the universe without having to concern Himself about fulfilling anything. We all fail. Christians know that unless God is faithful to stand behind His promise in the gospel, we are all done for. Salvation under the New Covenant blood of Christ cannot depend upon us. Inner spiritual perfection is even more impossible for us to achieve than the outward obedience of the Law (1 Jn. 1:8, 10). If God’s promise of salvation and eternal life depended for an instant on our works, heaven would have one human inhabitant—Jesus!

It is for this reason that God only made one bi-lateral covenant with men: the Mosaic covenant. Exodus 24 records the solemn oath which the children of Israel took:

And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. and they said, “All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.” And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.” (Exod. 24:6-8)

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