Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Direct Operation of the Holy Spirit

Direct Operation of the Holy Spirit - The Holy Spirit accomplishes the new birth by direct operation upon the heart, and therefore works independently of all agency of man, including the gospel as preached by man.

Since the gospel is a spiritual thing, and since natural man rejects things of the Spirit, the gospel can never serve towards elevating natural men to a state of spirituality. Belief of the gospel is not a cause of spiritual birth; rather, it is a manifestation of such birth (Jn 1:11-13, Jn 5:24, Jn 8:43-47, Jn 10:25-27, Acts 13:48, 1Cor 1:18, Gal 5:22-23, 1Thes 1:4-5).

The scriptures teach that certain infants have experienced spiritual birth (Ps 8:2, Ps 22:9, Mt 11:25, Mt 21:16, Lk 1:15, Lk 1:41) even though infants are incapable of receiving the preached word. However, the scriptures offer no support to the theory that infants are spiritually quickened by means other than adults. Indeed, the opposite is suggested (Mk 10:15). Nor do the scriptures teach a different scheme of spiritual quickening for those in Old Testament times. There is but one method of spiritual quickening that can be common to all; namely, by direct operation of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus taught that those dead in trespasses and sins would be quickened by the power of his voice (Jn 5:25-29). In this same context it is taught this voice will also raise the bodily dead at the end of time. A man can give the words of Christ but not His voice, and as Christ will not use man to raise the bodily dead, neither does He use man to raise the spiritually dead.

If it were the purpose of the gospel to accomplish spiritual birth in natural men, then the gospel should be most urgently directed toward the nonspiritual. In fact, this is not its principal direction in the scriptures (2Thes 3:1-3, Rom 15:31, Acts 18:9-10).

Though certain of the elect may be deprived of the natural faculties or circumstances necessary to receive the preached word (2Sam 12:18-23, Mt 9:37-38, Rom 15:30-31, 2Thes 3:1), such considerations do not limit the power of God to directly reveal His Son in the hearts of all the elect (Mt 11:25, Mt 16:17, Mt 21:16, Lk 1:15, Lk 23:39-43, Jn 5:25, Jn 5:38, Jn 6:37, Jn 6:44-45, Gal 3:8, Heb 8:10-12).

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Preservation of the Saints

Preservation of the Saints - The blood of Christ is sufficient both to procure and secure salvation of all for whom it was shed. Therefore, all of the elect will finally be saved.

The truth of preservation is implied when the scriptures describe the saved as being children of God. Hence, they are in vital relationship with God in the same sense in which a son has vital relationships with his natural father. This relationship can never be destroyed. That is, a man can never cease to be his father's son. However, the fellowship between a father and son can be greatly diminished through the son's disobedience. This is also the case between God and His children.

The scriptures directly assert that all saved persons are the current possessors of eternal life (Jn 3:36, Jn 5:24, Jn 6:47, Jn 6:54, 1Jn 5:11) and that this life can never be lost (Jn 6:37-39, Jn 10:28, Rom 8:35-39, 1Pet 1:3-5). Indeed, life which can be lost cannot properly be called eternal.

The Lord's people are said to be predestined to glorification (Rom 8:28-30, Eph 1:3-6), and a predestined event is irreversible by definition. Romans 8:29 asserts that all who are called and justified are also predestined to glorification. It follows then that any who fall short of glorification must never have been truly called and justified.

Man can be condemned to hell only after a valid charge has been made against him. This cannot be the case for God's children (Rom 8:33) since they are sanctified once for all (Heb 10:10) and are forever perfected (Heb 10:14).

Were eternal life secured by man's power, it would doubtlessly be lost. However, the scriptures teach eternal life is secured by the infinite power of God (Jn 10:27-29, 1Cor 1:8, Philip 1:6, 1Thes 5:23, 1Pet 1:5).

The doctrine of preservation is not intended to teach that saved persons can sin with impunity. The scriptures teach God will bring corrective chastisement against all of His disobedient children (Ps 93:12-13, 1Cor 11:32, Heb 12:6-8, Rev 3:19). Accordingly, scriptures teach the power of God's Spirit is ever at work within His children bringing forth the fruits of righteousness (Philip 2:13, 1Thes 4:9, 2Thes 3:3).

Though the Spirit of God moves His people both to will and to do His good pleasure (Philip 2:13), both scriptures and experience teach this Divine influence is not of such degree to bring forth complete sinlessness. Therefore, the good works performed by saved persons cannot account for the preservation of their eternal salvation. Salvation is both obtained and maintained by the grace of God. The scriptures often associate good works with eternal salvation, but salvation is not the result of works; rather, works are the result of salvation (Mt 12:33-35, Jn 8:43-47, Jn 10:25-29, Jn 15:16-19, Acts 11:18, Acts 13:48, Acts 16:14, 1Cor 1:22-24, 1Cor 1:30-31, Gal 5:22-24, Eph 1:4-5, Eph 2:10, 1Thes 1:4-5, 2Thes 2:13-14, 1Pet 2:9).

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Ant and The Grasshopper

A little political Humor...

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

Be responsible for yourself!

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so? Kermit the Frog appears on MSNBC with the grasshopper, and everybody cries when they sing, "It's Not Easy Being Green." Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the news stations film the group singing, "We shall overcome." Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper's sake.

Democrat leaders, in every media outlet they can find, exclaim that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper and call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity and Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer! The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.

Hillary Clinton gets her old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a defamation suit against the ant, and the case is tried before a panel of federal judges that Barack Obama appointed from a list of single-parent welfare recipients. The ant loses the case.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant's food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he doesn't maintain it.

The ant has disappeared in the snow. The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.

Be careful how you vote in 2012.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Irresistible Grace

Irresistible Grace - All of the elect will be quickened by the Spirit of God at some point in their natural lives.

Jesus taught that one could enter the Kingdom of God only after being born again (Jn 3:3, Jn 3:5). Jesus also taught that all who were given to Him by the Father would indeed come to Him and be raised at the last day (Jn 6:37-40, Jn 10:27-29, Jn 17:1-2). It follows then that all given by the Father to Christ will be born again.

Natural man, being unreceptive to spiritual things, would invariably resist the spiritual birth if he could. The quickening power of God's Spirit must therefore be irresistibly imposed. This reasoning is confirmed by the fact that the scriptures consistently describe salvation as being the result of God's will and not of man's (Jn 1:11-13, Jn 5:21, Rom 9:11-16, 2Tim 1:9-10, Heb 10:7-10).

Jesus taught the work of the Holy Spirit in the new birth is analogous to the wind in that it is sovereign and irresistible (Jn 3:8). Jesus also taught this was the case for everyone that is born of the Spirit.

The principle of irresistible grace is clearly illustrated in the case of Paul on Damascus road. Since the Spirit works in similar fashion for all (Jn 3:8), it follows that all must experience the same irresistible power that confronted Paul. Accordingly, Paul later claimed his experience to be a pattern for all believers (1Tim 1:12-16).

All analogies of the new birth presented in the scriptures suggest an irresistible power working on a passive object. In particular, the acquisition of spiritual life is presented in the scriptures as being analogous to:

1) birth - Jn 1:11-13, Jn 3:3-8
2) quickening - Eph 2:1-5, Col 2:13
3) translation - Col 1:12-13
4) resurrection - Jn 5:25-29
5) creation - 2Cor 5:17, Eph 2:10

No individual experiencing any of the above transitions ever contributed in the least degree to the transition, nor have they ever successfully resisted it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Limited or Special Atonement

Limited or Special Atonement - The saving benefits of Christ's death were intended for the elect only; furthermore, His redemptive work was alone sufficient to secure their salvation.

The death of Christ was intended either for all people or some people. If the former be true, then Christ's death did not actually secure salvation for any; rather, it merely made salvation possible for all. However, the scriptures teach that Christ came to accomplish definite salvation for a definite number of people (Mt 1:21, Lk 19:10, Jn 6:37, Jn 17:1). Accordingly, the scriptures teach Christ was victorious unto this end (Rom 8:32, Rom 5:10, 2Cor 5:14, 2Tim 2:11).

If the death of Christ were intended for all people, then the fact not all people will be saved proves that conditions apart from the death of Christ are needful for salvation. The various denominations differ in their claims as to what these conditions are; however, all of the proposed conditions are sadly alike in one important regard; namely, not all people have had the opportunity to comply with them. It is inconsistent to claim God loved all people to the extent He would die for their salvation, but that He did not love all people to the extent He would give all opportunity to procure the benefits of this death.

Critics of special atonement frequently claim that God would be unfair if He did not give all men opportunity to be saved. Such reasoning fails to appreciate the fact that God is under no obligation to save anyone, and that salvation is therefore a gift of grace. Furthermore, if God is obligated to provide opportunity to all, then it follows that He is also obligated to give equal opportunity to all, yet experience plainly shows God has not done this.

The claim that God loved all men to the extent that Christ died for all men is inconsistent with what the scriptures teach about the love of God. This inconsistency occurs at several points:

1) Though God never deals unjustly with any man, the scriptures clearly teach that His grace is not extended in equal degrees to all men (Mt 11:25, Mt 20:1-16, Lk 4:25-27, Rom 9:11-24, 2Thes 2:13). In as much as grace derives from the love of God, varying degrees of grace imply varying degrees of love.
2) The scriptures teach God's corrective chastisement is upon all He loves. But the scriptures also teach not all are under this chastisement (Ps 93:12-13, 1Cor 11:32, Heb 12:6-8, Rev 3:19).
3) The scriptures teach God's love is effectual in the sense it produces change in those receiving it; however, in no case is the effect universally observed; therefore, the cause cannot be universally applied (1Jn 4:19, Tit 3:3-5, Eph 2:4-5).
4) God's love is presented as an assurance of salvation (2Tim 2:19, Rom 8:32, Rom 8:38), yet it could be of no assurance at all if others under this same love will finally be damned. Salvation is assured by God's love because He changes not (Is 49:15, Jer 31:3, Mal 3:6, Heb 13:5, Heb 13:8). The unchangeableness of His love implies that if He ever loved one to the extent that He would die for them and save them, then He will continue to love them to this same extent through all eternity.

Scriptures which refer to God loving the world or to Christ being given to the world (Jn 3:16, 1Jn 2:2) do not encompass all people without exception. Instead, such scriptures are intended to teach that God's love extends beyond the bounds of the Jewish people unto every nation, kindred, people and tongue (Rev 7:9). The term world is used repeatedly in the scriptures in a limited sense; however, this fact seldom receives proper recognition. In the Gospel of John alone there are such usages in: Jn 6:33, Jn 8:12, Jn 8:26, Jn 12:19, Jn 14:19, Jn 15:18, Jn 16:20, Jn 17:9, Jn 17:14, Jn 18:20. It is unfortunate that the few texts which are misinterpreted as teaching universal atonement are not interpreted in light of the many texts which describe Christ's work as being for a special group of people (Mt 1:21, Jn 10:11, Jn 11:51, Jn 15:13, Jn 17:1, Rom 8:32-33, Eph 5:25, Tit 2:14, Heb 9:15).