September 8, 2011 § 6 Comments
A common argument made by Arminians against the Biblical Doctrine of irresistible grace is both fallacious and absurd, for it (i.)is an appeal to emotion and (ii.)it refutes the Arminian position itself. I’ll briefly demonstrate this logically.
The Arminian Argument
MP: It would be unfair for God to impose His will on free creatures.
Mp: God would never do anything unfair.
C: Therefore, God would never impose His will on free creatures.
The above argument is an appeal to emotion because it does not explain precisely how God’s imposition of His will on supposedly free creatures would be unfair. Instead, it uses the word unfair so as to stack the deck against the Christian who is arguing in favor of the doctrines of grace. On this basis alone, the argument is shown to be fallacious and, therefore, false. However, for the sake of fully demolishing the Arminian notion of Prevenient grace, I’ll take it a step further and show how such a view makes Arminianism itself impossible.
- Arminians believe, as Scripture teaches, that man is born dead in his sins.
- Moreover, they assert that man cannot of his own freedom come to Christ.
- They, however, state that God grants Prevenient grace to all men in order to enable them to come to faith in Christ.
- Thus every man, although born dead in his sins and obstinately opposed to the Gospel, is given the capacity to choose Christ.
- However, this means that all men, regardless of their natural opposition to God, are given something they never asked for, viz. Prevenient grace.
- Therefore, they have Prevenient grace given to them against their will, since they are born dead in their sins and opposed to God and His Gospel.
- Therefore, God’s giving of Prevenient grace, which supposedly enables them to choose to place their faith in Christ, is unfair.
- Therefore, Prevenient grace is an unfair doctrine, for it teaches that God gives enabling grace to those who do not want it.
- Therefore, God imposes His will on free creatures.
- Therefore, Prevenient grace is absurd.
Soli Deo Gloria.
April 29, 2011 § Leave a Comment
“The Lord detests a proud heart.” That is largely the theme of this little, but powerful book, that prophesies of the coming destruction of Edom who, in the vanity of his heart’s pride, took advantage of Israel’s sorrowful plight. What strikes me about this book is how personal these political interactions are spoken of by the Lord. This is not a matter of indifferent political decisions based upon the welfare of the Edomites who just so happened to prosper at the expense of Judah; this is an intensely personal interaction between two brothers. Edom should not have done “x” is the refrain we read over and over, but Edom did – he “gazed” on the day of his brother’s calamity, rejoicing in his destruction, laid hands on his possessions, and cut off those who would try to escape from calamity. Edom was not a brother to Judah but a thief and a murderer, and, ipso facto, not a descendant of Abraham.
There are many things that can be said regarding this book, but one that strikes me is that the Lord does not merely see a nation, he sees the individuals who form that nation. And He judges nations not upon the basis of their socio-political merits, but upon the only Law that is eternally stable – His own Law. Men may try to absolve themselves of guilt by hiding behind the turning wheels of the political machine or by assuming the function of a cog therein so as to consider themselves nothing more than an amoral agent whose deeds are not as important as are the results of those deeds in conjunction with the aims of that machine to which he belongs – but this is fantastical nonsense. The Lord sees the nation as a brother who has completely forsaken his duty, who, like Cain, has slain his brother, hating him, stealing from him, etc. What the Lord sees, He sees entirely, judging with complete righteousness both the part and the whole.
Love is the mark of belonging to God – love for God and love for one’s brother. And this is the second application: Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and [we] know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3:15). For Edom gives us opportunity to test our own hearts before the Lord. What is my response to the brethren? Do I assist those who are troubled and in need? Or do I take advantage of their helplessness? Have I blocked them from escaping whatever calamity has befallen them in order to plunder them? If I have, then am I a Christian? These are tough thoughts to think, but we must think them – for we all err in many ways, and it is only by looking into the perfect mirror of God’s Law that we can see our own guiltiness. This is not so that we can wallow in our sinful self-condemnation, but so that we can turn to Him who justifies the ungodly in (i.)repentance, (ii.)faith that He will forgive us, cleanse us, and sanctify us, and (iii.)Christ Jesus, our only source of righteousness and hope. The Law hurts at times, but it leads us to Christ as Moses led the Israelites to the Rock which provided for them water and refreshment in a dry and desolate land.
So how then does this passage point us to Christ? That is to say, How does one fit Obadiah into the larger biblical history of redemption? The last verse gives an indication of how to do this when it states that in the end “the kingdom shall be the LORD’s.” For a time, God’s people will be oppressed, says Obadiah, but God will deliver His own, judge the nations, and the world will recognize His rightful place as Sovereign Lord of all lords and King of all kings. And we – the poor in spirit, brokenhearted, hungry and thristy, abused by false brethren and haters of Christ – will become rulers with Christ, inherting the earth. That this has been inaugurated is clear from such passages as Matthew 28:18-19 and John 20:21-23. And one day we will rule and reign with Him.
May 10, 2010 § Leave a Comment
1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
All Men/One God and One Mediator Between God and Man: Did Christ Die for All Men?
1 Timothy 2:4 is one of the more famous prooftexts for Arminianism, but does it really support the idea that God desires “each and every” man to come to salvation? Although a very quick reading of the passage might lead one to think that Paul is informing Timothy that God desires “[each and every man] to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” upon closer inspection we see that the context in which verse 4 occurs militates against any such interpretation.
In chapter 1, Paul has already set forth the Law/Gospel distinction, Timothy’s call to preach the Gospel, and his own call to serve as an example of the Lord’s longsuffering toward His elect. He tells Timothy: “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life (1 Tim. 1:15-16).
Similarly, Paul’s main concern here, as it is in chapter 1, is the propagation of the Gospel message for those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Who are these who are going to believe? They, like Timothy, are children of God by faith (cf. 1 Tim. 1:2), not by adherence to traditional interpretations of the Law or by genealogical affiliation (see my previous post for more info). They are the elect; and they are from every imaginable classification of peoples. That is why Paul uses the term “all” in 1 Tim. 2:1-7. [And that is all that all means: "all types."]
To interpret v. 4, therefore, to mean that God desires each and every man to be saved misses the point of Paul’s writing to Timothy to defend and preach the Gospel against what seems to be nationalistic and legalistic (i.e. Judaistic) opposition. Paul’s contrast between all men and One God and One Mediator between God and men, and Paul’s own ministry to the Gentiles only gives this further emphasis. Christ “gave Himself a ransom,” therefore, “for all [types of men], to be testified in due time, for which [Paul] was appointed a preacher and apostle…a teacher of the Gentiles…” (2:6-7).
Our Lord’s commission to preach the Gospel to all the ends of the earth was taken very seriously by Paul, who, unlike us much of the time, was fully aware of the ramifications of such a calling. He knew that “in due time” the fact that Christ “gave Himself for all” would be made evident. The apostle John gives us a glimpse of this in Revelation 7:9-10, where he writes:
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Did Christ, then, die for all? Yes, but this “all” refers to: (i.) all who would believe on Him, and (ii.) all nations, tribes, people and tongues – that is to say, all types of men. For men everywhere on earth, from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, there is only one God and one Mediator between God and men. Therefore, it is Timothy’s job, as it is ours, to preserve the Gospel’s truth, and to proclaim the Gospel to all men, for there is no other name under heaven whereby men can be saved. It is only through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do we see that our call to proclaim the Gospel is much bigger than ourselves? Do we, like Paul, recognize the magnitude of our calling to be salt and light, and to tell the world about the hope we have in Christ?
Just something to consider…