Turning “TULIP”s into “FACTS” – Acronym Re-education Camp

February 7, 2015

john calvin Calvinists have come up with a rather clever acronym to describe their “Doctrines of Grace” called TULIP.   TULIP stands for:

T  Total Depravity

U  Unconditional Election

L  Limited Atonement

I  Irresistible Grace

P  Perseverance of the Saints.

  Not to be outdone, Arminians created FACTS to refute TULIP:

F  Freed by Grace to Believe

A  Atonement for All

C  Conditional Election

T  Total Depravity (one doctrine the two camps agree on)

S  Security in Christ

Today I would like to examine the “L” in TULIP, Limited Atonement, relative to scripture and hope to convince you it really ought to be an “A”, Atonement for All.  In a nutshell, Calvinists believe Christ died only for the “chosen”, while Arminians believe scripture teaches He died for everyone’s sins, making salvation available to anyone who believes.

Of course we could go into a lot more depth, but let’s look at just a few New Testament verses:

1 John 2:2, “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world“. (the Greek reads “the entire cosmos”)

Luke 19:9-10, “And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. (How was he a “son of Abraham”?  By faith.  Who did Jesus come to save?  That which was lost.  Who is lost?  Everybody.  Oops, now we’re chipping away at the “I”, but we’ll leave that for another time)

2 Cor 5:14, “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died”  (“All” is a word that gets reinterpreted in Calvinism.  Its a rather simple word in real life.)

Heb 2:9, “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.  (“Everyone”, another easily understood concept that can’t be taken at face value in Calvinism.)

John 1:29, “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  (I guess that could exclude those on the ISS, but the Greek is “kosmos” so you would think even they were included!)

Mark 16:15-16, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”  (Jesus and Calvin will just have to “agree to disagree” on this one–Jesus says anyone who believes will be saved, Calvin says only the saved will be believe, and oh, by the way, those who aren’t saved, their sins aren’t paid for.)

Rom 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”  (Because of Limited Atonement, staunch Calvinists must add a “yes, but…” to this verse.)

Last but not least we have:

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

So its in Jesus, the “crucified God”, where we find the entirety of God’s wrath poured out.  Any sinner who goes to Hell goes there because he or she rejects God’s provision for sin–God does not send anyone to Hell in order to glorify Himself; the atonement is complete, His wrath is fully satisfied by Christ who died for any and all.  There is no “L”, Limited Atonement in the Bible, its actually an “A”, Atonement for All.


Job 14-16

January 11, 2015
Job understands that though God brings man “into judgment with (Himself)” and “Who can make the clean out of the unclean? No one!” there is still hope for a resurrection and that God can cover sin:
“If a man dies, will he live again?
All the days of my struggle I will wait
Until my change comes.
“You will call, and I will answer You;
You will long for the work of Your hands.
“For now You number my steps,
You do not observe my sin.
My transgression is sealed up in a bag,
And You wrap up my iniquity.

job-surrender2Eliphaz accuses Job of believing that he has greater access to God than others:

“Do you hear the secret counsel of God,
And limit wisdom to yourself?
“What do you know that we do not know?
What do you understand that we do not?

So far, the book reads like Job has a personal relationship with YHWH, whereas his friends, though wise, do not really know God. Job has a desperate need for God whereas his friends are just satisfied with divine favor and blessing:

“My friends are my scoffers;
My eye weeps to God.
“O that a man might plead with God
As a man with his neighbor!

Job 1-5

January 9, 2015

XIR84999The pattern of Satan addressing YHWH as “Elohim” continues in Job 1:

Then Satan answered YHWH, “Does Job fear Elohim for nothing?

He just can’t address God by his personal name–it reminds me of Fonzie on Happy Days not being able to even say the word “wrong” as in “I was w…, I was wro…, I was wr…”

Calvinism says that God is behind both good and evil, that both bring him glory because by engineering evil He brings glory to himself when He punishes it. Calvinists then should carefully consider this verse and the implications it has for their viewpoint:

Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

God just got through allowing Satan to bring evil on Job, and Job is commended for not blaming God, i.e., saying “God did this to me.” God is not the author of evil. Evil is a consequence of bad or evil decisions made by free agents (in this case Satan, not Job). God, in His sovereignty, created beings both angelic and human with free will, otherwise the cosmos would be nothing more than a giant marionette performance (a marionette is a puppet on strings).

This verse could go either way; “sons of God” meaning angelic or human–if human, this would be, for instance, the Sabbath or a Feast day:

Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord.

People who believe that the “sons of God” of Gen 6:2 are angels mating with humans of course use this verse to back up their belief. I don’t think its an open and shut case; see my discussion of Gen 6.

This seems to be the critical verses in all of Job:

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Here’s the problem with Job’s friends; they assume the bad things happening to Job are because he deserved it:

“Remember now, who ever perished being innocent?
Or where were the upright destroyed?
“According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity
And those who sow trouble harvest it.

Lesson: Don’t assume bad things happening to our friends are because they are necessarily “reaping what they sow”. That’s more of a personal lesson we apply to our own lives, not to others.


Interview with Asher Intrater, Messianic Jewish Pastor in Jerusalem

September 14, 2014

CBN News – “Asher Intrater, director of Revive Israel Ministries and pastor of Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem, has authored several books about Israel and its role in history.

Intrater was raised in a conservative Jewish home in the United States, but came to faith in Yeshua (Jesus) by what he describes as a series of supernatural experiences in the late 1970s.

Asher has helped write several books, including From Iraq to Armageddon, which offers an in-depth analysis of end-time prophecy concerning the Middle East, whether there’s a deeper reason for the war in Iraq, and how close the world may be to the battle of Armageddon.

Intrater spoke with CBN News in depth about what’s really happening in the Middle East from a biblical perspective.

What are the two prerequisites for Christ’s return? Are more Jewish people putting their faith in Christ? He answers this and more.” Source – CBN News.

Check out this awesome interview with Pastor Intrater.  Here is a shorter version, but the longer 18 minute version is highly recommended:

 


Galatians 3 — Faith or Human Effort?

September 1, 2014

Tiepolo-Abraham-and-IsaacIts important to recognize via the transitive property the equivalence that Paul assigns to the words “Law” and “flesh” in the first few verses of Chapter 3.  Paul says “did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” in v2 and then v3, “having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”  Paul understands that pursuing a relationship with God via the Law is tantamount to attempting to please God through fleshly efforts.  We know from Chapter 2 the law being discussed is the Mosaic Law, identified clearly by its association with circumcision.  Paul said in Ch. 2 that he is not rebuilding the old religion of rules and regulations, that if he did he would be nullifying the grace of God and Christ would have died needlessly.

Paul contrasts fleshly effort with faith, the act of believing God.  If God says that we are righteous in Christ, then the way we please Him is to simply receive that righteousness and walk in the Spirit (5:16).  Paul commends Abraham who believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (v6).  We are are blessed with Abraham “the believer” if we walk by faith.  Whereas Jim Staley wants us to demonstrate our faith by obedience to the Torah, Paul makes it clear that “the Law is not of faith” (v12).

Jim gives an “umbrella” illustration–he says the Law is like an umbrella that offers protection and keeps us dry–when we test the limits of the Law we begin to get wet.  The Law according to Jim defines a blessed life and keeps us from being cursed; obedience was never meant as the method to achieve salvation.  Paul however gives a different illustration of the Law–he describes it as a “tutor” (teacher) leading us to Christ to be justified by faith; and now that we have been so justified we are no longer under a tutor(vss 24-25).  So to Paul, those under the Law are seeking justification by obedience and those in Christ are justified by faith; Paul is clear: “the Law is not of faith”.

Mr. Staley says “we have turned (the Law) into the curse” but Paul quotes Duet 27:26:Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.”  The law is undoubtedly good (1 Tim 1:8, Rom 7:12) but that does not mean we should continue to live under it, umbrella or not.  Staley talks about there being a new Sheriff/authority in our lives, that we are no longer under the tutelage of the Law–he is correct–we are “under” the Spirit (Gal 3:2, Rom 8:1).  This completely changes our mindset from one of fear of violating rules and boundaries to confidence of acceptance in Christ (Eph 1:6)–we now walk in the command of Christ: “love one another” (John 13:34-35).

In reading through Galatians verse by verse Staley skips 3:13-18 for some reason, perhaps it was just an oversight.  This section is very important to Paul’s argument that we are no longer under the Law, however.  In it he discusses the difference between the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, and how the former is not invalidated by the later.  Earlier in verse 8 Paul quotes Gen 12:3 where it is written that all nations will be blessed in Abraham, “the believer” (v9).  Paul says our inheritance is not based on the Law which came 430 years after Abraham’s first act of faith, but on the promise given to Abraham.

When Jim resumes in v19 he criticizes “Greek” thinking which places the Law earlier and Jesus later, “linear points on the timeline”–but yet this is exactly what Paul is saying, over and over!  “Now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (v25)–Paul is saying “it was this, now it is this”–I died to the Law” (2:19).  Staley says this doesn’t mean we still don’t have to keep the Law, just that there has been a “transfer of authority”, that the previous authority “has to step down”.  I would like to know what the difference is between that and the fact we are no longer subject to the Law?  Paul has made very clear that we walk by faith in the Spirit and not by the Law through the efforts of the flesh (v3).

Staley proceeds directly into Chapter 4, which is appropriate since the chapter break here does not follow the line of argument Paul is making about slaves vs. heirs.  We will pick up with the end of Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 next time.

This article is in reaction to this Jim Staley video.

 

 

 


Galatians 2 — If We’re Dead to the Law, How Can We Continue to Keep It?

July 13, 2014

circumcisionPicking up in Chapter 2 verse 3, following along with Jim Staley, we read about Titus, an “uncircumcised” Greek, whose appearance in the narrative baffles Jim—he says its like we ‘walked in on the middle of a conversation and there is missing information.’  But the following verses explain why circumcision is being discussed, and the next verse “it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage is incorrectly interpreted by Staley as meaning “bondage to legalism”, not “bondage to the Law”.  But bondage to the Law is bondage to legalism, as will be seen below in regards to circumcision.

Admittedly, Jim is clear that salvation does not come from the works of the Law but through faith in Yeshua’s sacrifice.  We are in complete agreement on that.  It’s how we walk out our faith that is in dispute—Staley says we keep the Law to “prove” we are followers of Christ, ala James’ “I will show you my faith by my works”.  So then I will ask why in v4 does Paul plainly state that “not even Titus… was compelled to be circumcised”?  If we are to follow the Law, then males must be circumcised per Leviticus 12:3 and elsewhere.  In fact, if Christians ought to follow the Law, then no other day than the eighth day after birth is acceptable for circumcision, per the commandment! Certainly if a non-Jew (Israelite) wants to “celebrate Passover” (i.e., join Israel) he must be circumcised per Exodus 12:48.

Staley attributes the meaning of Paul discussing Titus’ lack of obedience to the Law over a battle in the New Testament about “what it means to be saved”—Jim says 2/3 of the NT is about this battle.  I would also agree with Staley that “what it means to be saved” is a big topic in the NT, but I must ask:  If we “prove” we love God by obedience to the Law (Jim’s words, 31:45 on video), why didn’t Titus feel compelled to be circumcised?

Titus was in a quandary if indeed we ought to keep the Law as Christians—he couldn’t get circumcised because that would play right into the party of the circumcision’s hands, but yet now he is not in obedience to what YHWH desires, if indeed we should keep the Law to prove we are followers, because the Law requires circumcision!  Staley seems to struggle with this issue (about 26 minutes into the video). I suppose Staley must believe at a later time, after the “party of the circumcision” left, Titus had himself snipped.  This serves to illustrate the sorts of issues we run into if we believe every OT command is still to be followed.

“The circumcised” are referenced three times in verses 7-9 (see more discussion in the Chapter 1 study)—“the circumcised” are Israel/the Jews. In verse 12 the “party of the circumcision” were “men from James”, the brother of Christ and leader of the Jerusalem church (Gal 1:19, Acts 15:13-29).  These were Jewish converts who believed Christians must keep the Law to be saved and taught that “unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1).  These people might have also been teaching obedience to non-Mosaic Law traditions (Staley believes this is the sole issue), but here they are only requiring what the Law prescribes.

When the “certain men from James” would not eat with the Gentiles in verse 12 Staley does not see a violation of OT food laws (i.e., eating pork) as it is not explicitly stated—he sees only a transgression of oral traditions such as hand washing or in this case, not being allowed to eat with non-Jews.  I would counter that this is also not explicitly stated. However, consider this:  Paul jumps on Peter’s (Cephas) case in v14 for compelling the Gentiles to live like Jews, so how can simply violating tradition be the question here? Jim fails to recognize that the Gentiles will never be able to meet the tradition of not eating with Gentiles, since they are Gentiles!  On the other hand, if what is meant is that they need to follow Moses’ food rules, then they are able do that.  So I think that again Paul is getting back to the basic thesis that will be seen throughout Galatians and elsewhere: we have died to the Law and are wed to another—we are not required to keep the written, Mosaic Law as an evidence of belief in Christ and salvation (see also Eph 2:15; compare with Col 2:14).

Staley admits that “it seems” like Paul is saying to Peter in verse 14 “if you live like a Gentile not keeping the Torah, why do you compel the Gentiles to keep the Torah?” I would answer, it seems like he’s saying that because he is saying that.  I think its funny, tragically funny, that even Staley sees that there are two sides—he has to have “bad guys” and “good guys” because the text demands it—but he bifurcates those keeping the Torah from those keeping the Torah and oral traditions, rather than as Paul does very clearly later in Galatians, differentiating those living under the Law with those walking by the Spirit (5:3&16).

Verses 17-21 are foundational to the Christian life; here is the correct interpretation, and the one Staley says as a “former Christian apologist” he used to put forth:

v17: We seek to be justified in Christ by faith and are no longer abiding by every requirement of the Law (for instance circumcision, see discussion above)—so now, per the Law, because I am no longer keeping its every requirement, I’m a sinner! Does that make Christ a “minister” of sin? Paul says “No!”

v18: If I went back to the Law and tried to keep it because I found I’m sinning, I would be rebuilding the old system that led me to Christ in the first place.

v19: The Law led me to Christ; in Him I’ve died to the Law so that I can live to God.  In other words, I can’t live to God if I’m alive to the Law.

v20: When Christ was crucified, I was too. I’m now “dead”, including to the Law (Rom 7). But Christ now lives in me and I live by faith in Him.

v21: If I believe I should be living by (keeping) the Law now that I’m dead to it, Christ died for no reason; I should have just kept living by the Law.

Staley says several times in his presentation that we need to be clear that when Paul talks about not keeping the Law he means only in regards to salvation; beyond that we are to live according to it.  I don’t see that in Paul’s writings; I see someone saying we were 1) led to Christ by the Law, 2) in Him we died to the Law, 3) now we live by faith, not by keeping the written commands of the old covenant.


Is This The Beast Arising?

July 8, 2014

beastThe expansion and increasing power of the “Islamic State” is stunning–from relatively obscure to a recognized, regional player in a month. They have put out a map and timeline for a Caliphate that is eerily similar to what we find in ‘End Times’ Bible passages:

Rev 6:8, “I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.”

Rev 13:4,5, “they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” 5 There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him


This map and article
describe the Islamic State’s geography conquest aims and their timeline to achieve them–its very close to 1/4 of the earth, both by population and area, stretching nearly the length of the “10-40 Window”.   They believe they can achieve their goal in 5 years, but judging by their recent speed overtaking large areas of Syria and Iraq its not unreasonable to wonder if they could achieve it in 3-4 years.

Though mapAbu Bakr al-Baghdadi has a $10 million bounty on his head, since he was formally  in US custody, he continues to gain strength and its difficult to imagine the US carrying out a raid intended to kill him if he takes on the mantle of Head of a new Islamic State.  Already on Twitter we are seeing a constant stream of Muslims giving him bayah, or Islamic religious allegiance, due to the Caliph, the combined spiritual/governmental/military head of the Ummah, the worldwide Muslim populace.

While its far from a sure thing that the new Islamic State is the final incarnation of the seven-headed Beast of Revelation, this one bears watching.

One thing is for sure, we need to be praying for our suffering brethren in areas under the control of IS–deliverance yes, but faithfulness to the end, since we know there will be a great reward in the coming kingdom of Messiah.  And we need to pray for Israel–Biblically its apparent that great hardships are headed their way. Father, give your people peace, and let them see and know the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus.


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