Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas!

I would like to wish all my readers (and those who haven't had the blessing of reading my blog yet) a very Merry Christmas and I pray that you will enjoy this Christmas time as a time of reflection on the Incarnate One, Jesus Christ!
The Crib
May you come to a full knowledge of the love of God and know Him intimately!
Just thinking...

Christian thinking

I have read Francis A. Schaeffer's "The three essential books in one volume: Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy: The God Who is There, Escape From Reason, He is There and He is Not Silent" and one thing that he stresses in his books really is striking a chord with me. He speaks of the "upper story" which includes the concept of God, spirituality, man's soul, heavenly influences, and the "lower story" which includes the concepts of the created, earthly things, man's body. He speaks of the Biblical view of these things that the Bible sees a unity between the "upper" and "lower" stories, and that Christ is Lord of both. Before the 13th century the "upper story" was seen as all important with almost a total exclusion of the "lower." This was seen in art and science.

Grace vs Nature
Heavenly vs Earthly

Osteen's wife asked to deboard plane

Joel Osteen's wife was asked to deboard a plane after causing a disturbance. Joel Osteen is the pastor of the largest church in the U.S.A.
I do not pretend to know why she was asked to get off the plane and what the nature of the disturbance was, but come on! People certainly do not get asked to get off a plane for minor reasons. Is this how high profile Christians portray Christianity to the world?
Just thinking...

You don't have to believe in God

I bet the subject header shocked you a bit! Have I got your attention now?
This morning while getting dressed for work I was thinking about a million things a second. My mind was just milling so much around. Especially in those empty spaces that need filling every now and again!
What triggered all this are the letters on the Letters page of the daily newspaper The Citizen.
While I was thinking about some of the things written there it dawned on me:
You don't have to believe in God to spend eternity in hell!
(You can use this quote as is if you give credit where credit is due. Just add on my name--William Dicks. However, credit for salvation can ONLY be accredited to God!)
Many that don't believe in God think that they are fine simply because they do not believe in a God or they don't believe in Jesus Christ. Wrong! Not believing cannot make them escape the fires of hell. That is exactly what will send them there! Not believing in the God of the Bible won't erase Him from existence! It will simply cement the fact that unbelievers will experience the wrath of God for all eternity.
The only way to escape hell, and indeed experience the loving arms of God is to submit to Jesus Christ and believe in Him and the work He has done on the cross.
Just thinking...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Rick Warren on Larry King Live

David Kjos has started a commentary on the CNN interview by Larry King with Rick Warren. David makes some interesting points in his first part of this commentary.
I decided to read the transcript of the interview for myself and I must say, Rick Warren seems to be one confused and compromising person. He said so much, but oh SO little during the interview. He seemed like the typical Eph 4:14 child being "tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes."
Just thinking...

Sparky Bubba-Louie

I saw that Carla Rolfe decided to spice up her life with a new Elf name, so I thought with Christmas coming, I might as well have a name change. Was I disappointed!

Christmas Elf Name

My Christmas Elf Name is
Get your Christmas Elf Name at

Was I thinking...?

Mentorship with Challies

We all at one time would like to be mentored. Tim Challies continues his thoughts on this issue in A Desperate Jealousy - Further Thoughts.
Just thinking...

Back to Terri Schiavo

Terri Schiavo was on everybody's minds in the first quarter of this year. However, in the last half of this year very little had been about her or the issues related to her case.
Here is an interesting commentary on Terri Schiavo called Schiavo Case Unpacked: Lies, Jesse Jackson, Aretha Franklin and "Terri-ism."
Just thinking...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Which character are you?

Do this test and find out which character you are from the hit TV show 24! Jolly Blogger wanted to be Jack Bauer, but such a pity, not everyone can be!

Jack Bauer
Jack Bauer

Which 24 Character are you?

brought to you by Quizilla

Just thinking...

Despising God's Glory

The world we live in has no inkling of the glory of God. In fact, if God was to display His glory among the people of this world, the first thing that would enter their minds would be that of a UFO. Would the world even know that they should fear for their very lives? The moral state of the world has declined so much that they are willing to take God on in their court battles and through their very lives. One man actually (in his puny little God-forsaken mind) took God to court! Does this man not know that one day he will stand in the holy court room of God and he will be judged by God Himself? Apart from Christ, on that day, this man will have no clever, immoral, evil lawyer to represent him before the Judge of the ages! In that day his own sin, his own petulant, Godless mind will accuse him before God, and he is going to lose his case if he stands before God without Christ as his lawyer.
Governments all over the world are throwing God out of their constitutions, out of their schools and out of public life. Perhaps they think that if they can get it right not to hear about Him in the public square He will simply go away?! I have news for them! God does not go away! "So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. " (Mat 10:32-33 ESV) This will become true of those who thought that they could simply kick God out of the public square.
People are living despicable lives. The apostle Paul wrote that "the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Gal 5:19-21 ESV) Of all the evil and deprived acts that are being performed by people today, we have to acknowledge that Paul wrote about these acts in a very euphemistic way.
What of those who claim to be Christian? We have now dealt with the obvious evils of the world in an introductory way, of how they are despising God's glory. Surely Christians do not despise God's glory?! Do they?
One of the classic definitions of sin "is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature."[1] The apostle Paul wrote, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom 3:23 ESV) Sin is a falling short of the glory of God. It is essentially belittling the glory of God. The first question of the larger cathechism of the Westminster Confession of Faith is: "What is the chief and highest end of man?" The answer to this is provided as "Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever." One of the consistent themes of John Piper's ministry at Desiring God and now the motto of our family is "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." In the end, everything, whether it is creation, mankind, God's providence or election, has to do with the glory of God.
You may be asking: "How do I despise or belittle God's glory?"
Before I attempt an answer to your question, I would like to ask a question: "Are you more satisfied in Christ than you are in anything else?"
Is God the ever present thought in your mind? Is He your all in all?
What takes up more time in your life than God? How many hours in a week do you spend reading the Bible? Praying? Discussing God with other Christians? Reading quality Christian books written by reputable Christian writers?
Perhaps I am asking the wrong questions.
Do you spend more time watching television than you are with God? Maybe it is that you spend your spare time playing computer games?
Perhaps you like exercising. I remember in the days that I used to do long distance running. It kept me very busy. From Monday to Thursday I used to be out on the road for 2 hours each night training. On Saturdays I could easily be out for 5 or 6 hours. Maybe you are a runner. How does your training time compare with your time before God in Bible reading or prayer? Perhaps you are a cyclist. No matter what sport you love doing, how much time are you spending in your sport in comparison with your time with God?
Maybe you love your work so much that you work longer hours than required. Do these longer hours have an impact on the time you spend with God? What is the quality of your work?
How about your money? Do you treat it as a gift from God? Perhaps you see money as your "saviour" in this life. The more things you buy, the better you feel about yourself. The better things you buy, the more "self-esteem" you have and the more status you have in the eyes of others.
In today's world, the family really gets the short end of the stick. On television there are sitcoms and other programs about homosexuality galore. In Canada there is an evil government intent on destroying the family, that rushed a bill through parliament that redefines marriage to include two people of the same sex. So, perhaps in this dark and fallen world your family is number one. Perhaps you see the dangers of the world against the family and you are working very hard to ensure the safety and comfort of your family. Maybe that is even why you work so hard.
On the other hand, maybe you are one of those who believe that the New Covenant did away with the Old Covenant (which it did) and as a result did away with the Old Covenant Law (which it also did). However, you may push it even further to say that since Jesus did away with the Law that we do not need to live by any law, even those given in the New Testament. To you, the New Testament laws are simply principles; guidelines of how to live your life. How could there be any law if Jesus did away with the Law? Jesus said,
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Mat 6:19-21 ESV)
So, this probably doesn't mean what it says. You have twisted this command by Jesus to simply be a principle. Perhaps you have done this to many of the New Testament commands.
How are your feelings toward people of other cultures and colour? What are your thoughts on beggars on street corners? When James asks the question, "If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?" (Jam 2:15-16 ESV), the first response you come up with is that these beggars are not your brothers and sisters. 
Maybe you are reading about how many babies have been murdered through abortion? Perhaps your government is considering making same-sex marriage legal? Are you just sitting there hoping it will all go away? What are you doing to fight these evils? Have you written to your government representative or the newspaper concerning these issues? We need to stand up against injustices and the evil of this world and let the chips fall where they may!
Will you, like Abraham, take your whole family with you when God commands you to go to a country you have no idea of? Will you, like the apostle Paul, be ready to go preach the gospel to the very people you originally hated? Will you put your very life on the line for the gospel?
Are you concerned about the truth of the gospel? Does it bother you that there are so many false teachers in the church and on television? Does it even bother you that they are teaching heresy and leading many away from the true gospel of Christ? Or, does the truth not bother you at all as long as there is "love?" Are you being concerned with holiness in your own life and to please God in all things? Then truth should be of great concern to you.
"We are anxious to know truth because we are anxious to be holy; we desire to please God, and so we want to know His mind regarding what we should believe and how we should live."[2]
"Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1Ti 4:16 ESV)
I believe that it is time for each one of us to consider how we live and what we believe. We cannot have the one and not the other. We have to believe what God wants us to believe. We have absolutely no right to rather believe our own preferences. Who are we as humans to dictate to God what we will or will not believe?! By choosing what we want to believe about God (either contrary, in addition or only in part of what the Bible clearly teaches) despises God's glory. It is not up to us to decide what we should believe! There is only one God, and he has laid down what we need to believe in the Bible. PERIOD!
It is not up to us to decide how we are to live either! Once again, God has clearly stipulated how we are to live as Christians. God does not differentiate between little and big sins. "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." (Jam 2:10 ESV) God sees sin as sin, no matter the size of the sin. Adam and Eve were condemned for eating a fruit, not murder or rape. Sin, no matter what sin, is disobedience to God. So, when we sin (even a "little" one) we are being disobedient to God. This despises God's glory!
Let God, and God alone, specify to us what we are to believe and how we are to live.
We can get this from the Bible and the Bible alone. This is God's Word to us. Do not treat the Bible lightly in what it says to us. This despises God's glory.
Decide today to stop despising God's glory and being dishonourable to Him. Start treating the Bible and what it says as really being God's Word. Perhaps when we have really studied God's Word and have come to see who God really is, we will start keeping a close watch on our lives and our doctrine.
End Notes
1. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Theology, IVP, Leicester, England, 1994, p490.
2. Erwin W. Lutzer, Who are You to Judge?: Learning to Distinguish between Truths, Half-Truths and Lies, Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois, 2002, p49.
Just thinking...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Last 20 visits

Here is an idea of the last 20 visits to my blog in a map overview.

I even had a visit from China and another one from Vietnam.
Welcome to these visitors!

Just thinking...

Do you buy Chinese? The Source

If you have read my previous post you would probably be very concerned by now. However, I was cautioned by an old internet friend that considering the source of the video, it would be wise to check out the validity of the video.
So, if anyone out there has the ability to verify that this video is legit and that it is not staged or that it is not a creation by PETA to get a response from the public I would be very grateful. PETA has low credibility and so it would be wise to check this video out.
Just thinking...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Do you buy Chinese?

What I saw today is probably the second most grotesque thing I have ever seen! It has strengthened my resolve not to buy anything that says "Made in China!"

The worst I have ever seen is the result of abortion.

I am feeling so overwhelmed right now as I write this that I am not sure how to proceed. You see, I just watched a video of the fur trade in China. Not just any fur. The fur of what we would call pets! Dogs and cats! And, that is NOT all!! The animals are being skinned for their fur. ALIVE! That's right! These poor creatures are being skinned while alive and then dumped while alive. In this video one poor dog is still alive after being dumped without its skin! When an animal "complains" about being skinned alive, it is beaten into submission! Thanks to Devvy Kidd for bringing this to my attention!

How could this still be allowed by world governments? ANY government that does not stand up against gruesome acts such as these are JUST AS guilty as Communist China! To governments like the U.S.A. and SOuth Africa who have major trade with Communist China, all I can say is: "You have no morality! You speak about it, but it is non-existent! YOU are guilty!"

This is what happens hen a nation gets rid of God! They have no ability to even muster up the tiniest bit of morality. They come up with immoral forced abortions on women who fall pregnant more than once and end up skinning animals alive.

[1] A Psalm of Asaph. God has taken his place in the divine council; in the
midst of the gods he holds judgment: [2] "How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. [3] Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. [4] Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." [5] They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. [6] I said, "You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; [7] nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince." [8] Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!
(Psa 82:1-8 ESV)

Anyone that says that man is basically good must have his head read! This is what happens when God is taken out of the equation. Without God, man will keep on sliding down that greasy slope of immorality and gross sin! A slope that cannot be climbed with any of man's wisdom or psychology. God alone can save these people from themselves. The question is: "Why would He!" But then, God alone knows why He would save any of these violent barbarians!

It is time for you and me to stand up against these grotesque violations of God's laws!

What are you going to do?! I am going to start writing to newspapers, the Chinese Embassy here in South Africa and the South African government. I will also start checking what I buy. If it is made in China, I will not buy it!

Now it is up to you!

Just thinking...

21 December 2005

UPDATE: I wrote about this to about 20 South African
newspapers and at least one printed my letter (The Citizen, Tuesday, 20 December 2005).

Convictions: How are we bound by them?

One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.
Romans 14:5 NASB
When we think of convictions, what do we normally have in mind? Is it not true, that when we think of convictions, we think of it in terms of something we hold to be true, but do not necessarily have to stick to them? The convictions I am writing about are those things that reside in the grey areas of life. These are those things which are not specifically commanded or forbidden in the Bible. This could include things like drinking alcohol, smoking, eating of certain foods, keeping of certain days, listening to certain styles of music, Christian music vs secular music, hymns vs contemporary worship music, and many more. None of them is expressly forbidden in the Bible making it sin to practice them and none of them is expressly commanded making it a sin if we refrain from practising them.
So, how do we deal with these convictions? Should we demand everyone to be bound by them, or should we be more lenient with those of different persuasions?
Norman Geisler writes of the abuse when we "couch our own personal feelings in the more powerful language of divine injunctions."[1] This happens when we make our own convictions the rule others must follow. When we take our own convictions--those things that are not clearly commanded in Scripture--and make them laws for everybody else to follow, we turn into legalists. We must resist this turn of events!
Enter Romans 14!
Accept the weak in faith
Romans 14 starts off in verse 1 with an injunction to accept those who are weak in faith. Who are those that are weak in faith? The apostle Paul reveals to us who the weak in faith are. "One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only." (v2 NASB) The ones who believe that we are not to eat certain foods are the ones Paul calls weak! However, we are not to regard the weak ones with contempt. On the other hand, those that are weak should also not judge those that regard all foods equally and who eat all foods. In this Paul addresses those who do not eat certain foods for religious reasons--the weak--and poses a question: "Who are you to judge the servant of another?" (v4 NASB)
Whenever we have certain convictions, we tend to want everybody else to have the same convictions we have. In this way we want them to become subservient to us. However, Christians are servants to God alone, and He is their Master. In these grey-area convictions, we have no right to judge the servants of God. "To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand." (v4) The Lord is the Master of the weak--those who do not eat--and He is the Master of the strong--those who do eat! We will all stand or fall by the strength of our Master. He will make us stand!
We all live to the Lord
Paul sets off in verse 5 dealing with our treatment of days. Is Paul attempting to resolve a dispute among keepers and non-keepers of days? When read in the larger context of Romans 14, it becomes clear that Paul was not trying to make one view stand above another view, but rather that the two different groups should exercise mutual respect.
Some feel that the Sabbath is not one of the days in consideration here but rather refers to the elaborate Jewish calendar of holy days. They feel that if the Sabbath were in view here, then it would have been more natural to say: "One person regards the Sabbath above the other days." If the dispute in Romans was about the Sabbath alone, then certainly this phrase would have been a more natural phrase for Paul to have used. However, Paul did not have to use the Sabbath as his example since it was not just the Sabbath that was in dispute. The keeping of days, any day, was in view here. Whether it was the Sabbath or any other day, some Roman Christians regarded these days above other days.
In Colossians Paul was more direct when he wrote: "[16] Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day -- [17] things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ." The way Paul wrote here, he wanted to make sure that all foods were included in his statement, and likewise all festivals, all new moons and finally all Sabbaths. Paul considered all of these as "a mere shadow of what is to come." Paul regarded Christ as the substance of all of these. Christ became the fulfilment of them ALL!
"The sum of Paul’s understanding is this: every Christian is free to keep whatever days he cares to keep as long as he does not impose them on others, though Paul himself feels it shows a certain lack of Christian maturity to impose such laws as a religious obligation on one’s self."[2]
Paul said it well when he wrote in Rom 14:6, "He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God." (NASB) If we observe days or we do not observe days, it should not be to elevate either our own righteousness or our liberty in Christ. It should be done for the Lord and Him alone! If we are glorified for our observances, then we have missed the point. All glory should go to Christ! Our living and our dying should be unto the Lord (v7)!
Each one will give an account
Whether we judge others for eating or not observing days, or whether we hold those who do not eat and observe days in contempt, we will all come to "stand before the judgment seat of God." (v10) "Each one of us will give an account of himself to God." (v12)
What will we be judged on? It will certainly be by how we have treated others with different convictions than ours. If you believe that we should observe certain days, do you judge those who do not believe that we have to observe them? If you believe that all days are alike, do you hold those who observe days in contempt? Do you consider them as inferior Christians?
Do not be an obstacle
Are your convictions a stumbling block to other Christians? "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this -- not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way." (v13 NASB) Is your freedom causing others to stumble in their walk with the Lord?
In verse 14 Paul wrote that he is convinced that nothing is unclean in itself. He is here moving ahead with his usage of food as his example. What is perhaps a difficult concept to understand is that of anyone "who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean." Paul is not expressing the attitude by so many today that sin is simply a matter of subjective opinion. In this passage Paul is not discussing behaviour that is clearly sinful in light of Scripture. He is writing about things in which Christians may justifiably differ. In matters such as these we should be guided by conscience.
How, in circumstances such as these, do we treat those that are weaker than us? "For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love." (v15 NASB) If you do not believe that there is anything wrong with having an alcoholic drink on occasion, then it would be wrong to hurt a brother that believes that we should not drink alcohol at all. In the presence of the weak, the strong should adjust their behaviour for the sake of the weak. If you do hurt a weak one, then it will cause that of which you think good, to be spoken of as evil. (v16) Freedom without responsibility can lead to evil results. Paul writes to us not to "tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense." (v20 NASB) It would be better to rather abstain from those things which will cause our weak brothers to stumble. (v21)
"THE STRONG ARE not wrong to think they have freedom to eat whatever they want. Rather, they are wrong for using that freedom without regard to the effect it may have on their weaker brothers and sisters--people for whom Christ died. The strong need a reordering of priorities, in which kingdom values take precedence over selfish interest and pleasure."[3]
The kingdom of God is not ratified in what we do or do not eat or drink. It is "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (v17 NASB) When Paul uses the word righteousness in this context he is speaking of an ethical righteousness. It is behaviour pleasing to God.[4] When Christians can live among each other with such an ethical righteousness that takes into consideration the weaker Christians, they can live in peace with one another resulting in joy. "[18] For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. [19] So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another." (Rom 14:18-19 NASB)
If you have convictions that, according to Paul, make you a strong believer (those who reckon all days alike and who eat anything), then you should rather not flaunt your freedoms, but keep it a matter between you and God. This does not mean that you should change your standards for the sake of the weak, but to adapt your standards for the sake of the weak in the presence of the weak. When you are away from the weak, then it would be a matter between you and God how you treat food and days.
Finally, the conscience in this regard can guard us from sin. If a person has doubts concerning something such as food and days, and has convictions about not eating or observing certain days and breaks those convictions, then it is regarded as sin. If you are not sure about something, rather stick with your conscience. If your faith is not strong enough to eat what you consider forbidden, then you will sin when you do eat. (v23).
The main consideration of Romans 14 is that we should respect those that have differing views than ours in things that are not regarded as direct commands from the Lord. Rather live in peace, than letting food and the observance of days destroy the household of faith!
End Notes
[1] Geisler, Norman L., Christian Ethics Options and Issues, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, Thirteenth Printing, June 2001, p35.
[2] Wells, Tom & Zaspel, Fred, New Covenant Theology, New Covenant Media, Frederick, MD, 2002, p248.
[3] Moo, Douglas J., The NIV Application Commentary, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 2000, p460.
[4] Ibid., p461.
Just thinking...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Russia an Islamic ally

Russian president, Vladimir Putin, seems to have drawn a line in the sand in his declaration of Russia as an Islamic world ally.
What does this really mean for the west in its battle against Islamic terror?
Just thinking...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My test results...

So, my test results are in:
You scored as Reformed Evangelical.  
You are a Reformed Evangelical. You take the Bible very seriously because it is God's Word. You most likely hold to TULIP and are sceptical about the possibilities of universal atonement or resistible grace. The most important thing the Church can do is make sure people hear how they can go to heaven when they die.
Reformed Evangelical          93%
Fundamentalist                86%
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan 71%
Neo orthodox                  64%
Emergent/Postmodern           43%
Classical Liberal             29%
Charismatic/Pentecostal       29%
Modern Liberal                 4%
Roman Catholic                 4%
Find out what your theological score is!
Just thinking...

Do you obsess over Calvinism?

If you want to know if you are obsessing over Calvinism, then Purgatorio can set you straight!
Just thinking...

Salvation for the world!

Before I was convinced of the doctrines of Grace, the Reformed position, I used to read the universalistic passages of salvation very glibly, thinking, "God wants us all saved, and that is why He sent Jesus to die for us. This way, a plan of salvation was created and all we had to do was sign up for the plan, and... voila, we were saved!" WRONG! God's plan was to send Jesus to die for us, not to set up a plan that we had to sign up for, but to die in order for certain people to be saved. There is a great difference here! Jesus died to save certain people, not just to make a plan of salvation available for those willing. In the one scenario, a definite group of people are saved; in the other, the possibility exists that no one would be saved and the death of Jesus was in vain.

Man's religion is a synergestic religion. It is a religion in which God cannot save anyone, unless that person also works with God to save himself. It is a religion in which man is exalted with an "almighty" free will. Even the sovereign God cannot go against this "almighty" free will. In effect, man's free will has been exalted above God, making God a slave of man! In this synergestic two way street of compromises between "god" and "Man," "god" has to serve "Man," because "Man" does as he wants, and so "god" has to play the game according to the rules set up by the free will of man. This religion of man is completely humanistic, in which "Man" has become the god of this world and touching his "precious" free will is a violation of his rights of being that god. With his free will intact, man has made the death of Christ worthless and of no effect. The death of Christ accomplished nothing, because "man" and his free will brought it to no effect!

Biblical religion is monergistic. God can and does save. He is not restricted by anyone and He does not have to save anyone. Yet, in the good pleasure of His infinite wisdom He has chosen some to be saved, but they cannot do it out of themselves. All, even those who have been chosen, are unable to make a positive step toward God and to please Him. Sin, which brought spiritual death and complete separation from God, has so marred man that He cannot make a choice contrary to that nature of sin to which he is in bondage. Yes, he is free, but his freedom is restricted to that nature which he received upon the advent of sin, and so, can only make decisions that are formed by that nature. It is because of this that God had to do the work of salvation for us. Electing those He did not have to save, He sent Jesus to die in their stead, and by His death He actually saved them. In this way the death of Christ was effective to save the elect and certainly accomplished what it was meant to do.

Is God's intention for everybody, the whole world, to accept the call of the gospel, or did He only have the elect in mind for salvation?

1 Timothy 2:4
[1] First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, [2] for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. [3] This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, [4] who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, [6] who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Tim. 2:1-6 ESV)

In verse 4 Paul writes that God "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Many would say "all" means "all." Sure "all" means "all." Yet, only as related to the context in which it is used can we find the scope of "all." When Jesus told Paul "for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard" (Ac 22:15 ESV), did Jesus mean Paul was going to be a witness to every single individual, or to all kinds of men? When Paul was accused of preaching to "everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place" (Ac 21:28 ESV), did they mean that he was preaching to every single individual in this world, or to all kinds of people? Paul sets up this generic use of "all" elsewhere too.

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Col. 3:11 ESV) .

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28 ESV)

It is consistent with the context of Paul's writings to recognize this use of "all." This is Paul's way of including all kinds of people. "All" in the above two passages cannot mean every individual, but all kinds or groups of people!

Coming back to 1 Timothy 2, knowing how Paul sometimes used the word "all," we need to have another look to see what Paul meant in verse 4 when he used "all people." In order to discover this we need to look at the context. In verse 1 Paul tells Timothy that we should be praying for "all people." Does he mean here every individual everywhere? I contend that he does not! Although the Bible tells us to pray for all people everywhere, I do not believe that Paul is telling us to pray for every individual everywhere in this verse. The meaning of "all people" in verse 1 is unambiguous. Paul sets up the scope of the meaning of "all people" in the very next phrase from verse 2: "for kings and all who are in high positions."

[1] First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, [2] for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1Ti 2:1-2 ESV)

We have to remember the reason Paul wrote this. It was at this time that Nero blamed the Christians for the burning of Rome. It was a time of intense persecution for Christians, and not very long after this Nero had Paul and Peter executed. Paul reveals to us why we need to pray for "all these people:" "that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." It would be the "kings and all who are in high positions" who would be able to ensure the peace of all in the land apart from God as its first cause. Paul was trying to make a point here. "Even pray for those in authority who seems to have your future in their hands. God even wants to save those types!" These "kings and all who are in high positions" are represented as classes of men. Now, having seen Paul's use of "everyone" or "all men," we can come to some conclusion about the phrase "who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim 2:4 NASB). God desires all kinds of people to be saved.

To find out more about Paul's meaning of "all" we need to also look at verse 5-6. For what reason do we need to pray for "all men" to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth? Verses 5-6 tell us this reason. There is only one way of salvation without which no one can be saved. Now, let us get back to Paul's meaning of "all." First, if in verse 4 we take "all men" to mean "all men individually," then the conclusion here in verse 5 has to be that Christ must be mediator for "all men." If Christ then mediates for every individual, then He fails as mediator everytime an individual denies Christ as Lord and Saviour by his almighty free-will. It is absurd to assert that Christ mediates for "all," but fails to save "all." Second, the ransom - His own sacrifice - that Christ gives in verse 6 is either a saving ransom or not a saving ransom. If that ransom is a saving ransom, and it is made in behalf of "all men", then "all men" would be saved. Is the intention of the ransom, for "all men" to be saved? Then the ransom has failed miserably when the result is compared to the intention.

2 Peter 3:9
[3] knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. [4] They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." [5] For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, [6] and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. [7] But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. [8] But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. [9] The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. [10] But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. [11] Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, [12] waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! [13] But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:3-13 ESV)

Once again the context of our verse is important. We have to realize the topic of this passage is not salvation, but the second coming of Christ! It mentions mockers questioning the promise of the coming of Christ. Peter tells them that the coming of Christ will be like a thief, and at God's own time. By the time Peter comes to verse 9 he merely mentions it in passing! However, there is a clear identification of the recipients and audience of this passage. When Peter refers to the mockers, he refers to them as "their," and "they." By verse 8 Peter's audience changes to the "beloved," "you" and finally "we" in verse 13 where Peter includes himself in this group. When Arminians read this passage, they assume the "you" in verse 9 - "but is patient toward you" - refers to everyone individually. Similarly, it is assumed that the "any" and "all" refer to every individual everywhere. However, the audience here is specific. The intended readers are the "you" and so the meaning of "all" and "any" are limited by the "you...," the intended readers:

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: (2 Peter 1:1 ESV)

So, Peter here is writing to a specific group, not every single individual, and verse 9 is intended for this group. A group that has already "obtained a faith of equal standing with [Peter and other Christians]." Therefore, the context of verse 9 is limited to the saved. Who, therefore, is the Lord patient toward? The "you!" The "elect" (2 Pet 1:3). Peter is obviously writing directly to his audience here and that audience is the elect. Thus, the "not wishing that any should perish" group, and the "all should reach repentance" group must then be the same as the "patient toward you" group. The elect! Why did Peter say this, then? Peter is saying that the coming of Christ has been delayed to ensure the in-gathering of all the elect!

1 John 2:2
[1] My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. [2] He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2 ESV)

What is the common explanation of this verse by humanistic religion? Christ is the propitiation for the sins of all Christians, but not just for Christians, but also for every individual everywhere in all times!
The Reformed position differs from this, however. Christ is not the propitiation for the sins of those believers John was writing too only, but for all believers everywhere, whether Jew or Gentile, everywhere in all times!

What does propitiation mean?

"Romans 3:25 tells us that God put forward Christ as a "propitiation" (NASB) a word that means "a sacrifice that bears God's wrath to the end and in so doing changes God's wrath toward us into favor." Paul tells us "This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus" (Rom. 3:25-26). God had not simply forgiven sin and forgotten about the punishment in generations past. He had forgiven sins and stored up his righteous anger against those sins. But at the cross the fury of all that stored-up wrath against sin was unleashed against God's own Son...[] the sense of "a sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God--and thereby makes God propitious (or favorable) toward us." This is the consistent meaning of these words outside the Bible where they were well understood in reference to pagan Greek religions. These verses simply mean that Jesus bore the wrath of God against sin."[1]

Propitiation is an appeasement for God's wrath against sinners. When we understand God's attitude toward sin and our condition in sin without Christ, we will also understand why we need to be made propitious before God.

What does it mean to have an advocate with the Father? It comes from the Greek word paraklhtoV (PARAKLHTOS), which means "one who appears in another's behalf, mediator, intercessor, helper... In our lit[erature] the act[ive] sense helper, intercessor is suitable in all occurences of the word."[2] Jesus appears before the Father as an intercessor for us. Why is Jesus our intercessor before the Father? He intercedes for us to make propitiation for our sins. Not only does He stand in our behalf, He also brings His own blood.

The question now remains: Is Christ the propitiation for every single individual everywhere, whether elect or not? If that is the case, then we have to go back to verse 1 and insist that He is also the intercessor of every single individual everywhere, whether elect or not. This creates a problem. If Jesus is interceding for every single individual everywhere, whether elect or not, then we also have to accept the fact that His intercession has been a miserable failure, because a major portion of those He interceded for has gone to hell without the desired effect. They did NOT become believers! How can this be? How can the intercession of God the Son be a failure? How can God the Father not accept the intercession of God the Son? Can it be true that Christ's intercession amounts to a failure? May it never be!

Who has this advocate/intercessor? "[W]e have an advocate with the Father." It does in no way say that Jesus intercedes for anyone else but His own, the believers. John sets up this idea of the intercessor by imploring his readers not to sin, but if anyone does sin, we have an intercessor. Who does the anyone refer to? The same readers he was trying to encourage not to sin! If the target group, therefore, for Christ's intercession was meant for the believers John was writing to, who in essence represented the elect, then surely the propitiation effected by His intercession is meant for the same group, and the word "world" has to be seen in light of that context. Therefore, we can see it this way: "If you sin, Christ is your intercessor before the Father, and so He is the propitiation for your sins, and not only yours, but every believer in the world."

Obviously the charge is made against our interpretation of every passage here, that we change the obvious on-the-surface meaning of these passages. We have to remember that when these writers wrote these letters, their readers knew exactly in which context the letters were written to them and what the letters' intent were. When we read these letters, we do not have the writers' minds at our disposal, so we need to do very necessary exegesis to come to the heart of any passage of Scripture.

Use of "World"

I end off with a lenghty quote from Boettner:
When it is said that Christ died "not for our sins only but for the sins of the whole world," I John 2:2, or that He came to "save the world," John 12:47, the meaning is that not merely Jews but Gentiles also are included in His saving work; the world as a world or the race as a race is to be redeemed. When John the Baptist said, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world!" he was not giving a theological discourse to saints, but preaching to sinners; and the unnatural thing then would have been for him to have discussed Limited Atonement or any other doctrine which could have been understood only by saints. We are told that John the Baptist "came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him," John 1:7. But to say that John's ministry afforded an opportunity for every human being to have faith in Christ would be unreasonable. John never preached to the Gentiles. His mission was to make Christ "manifest to Israel," John 1:31; and in the nature of the case only a limited number of the Jews could be brought to hear him.

Sometimes the term "world" is used when only a large part of the world is meant, as when it is said that the Devil is "the deceiver of the whole world," or that "the whole earth" wonders after the beast, Rev. 13:3. If in I John 5:19, "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one," the author meant every individual of mankind, then he and those to whom he wrote were also in the evil one, and he contradicted himself in saying that they were of God. Sometimes this term means only a relalively small part of the world, as when Paul wrote to the new Christian Church at Rome that their faith was "proclaimed throughout the whole world," Rom. 1:8. None but believers would praise those Romans for their faith in Christ, and in fact the world at large did not even know that such a Church existed at Rome. Hence Paul meant only the believing world or the Christian Church, which was a comparatively insignificant part of the real world. Shortly before Jesus was born, "There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled,"..."and all went to enroll themselves," Luke 2:1, 3; yet we know that the writer had in mind only that comparatively small part of the world which was controlled by Rome. When it was said that on the day of Pentecost, "there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven," Acts 2:5, only those nations which were immediately known to the Jews were intended, for verses 9-11 list those which were represented. Paul says that the Gospel was "preached in all creation under heaven." Col. 1:23. The goddess Diana of the Ephesians was said to have been worshipped by "all Asia and the world," Acts 19:27. We are told that the famine which came over Egypt in Joseph's time extended to "all the earth," and that "all countries came into Egypt to Joseph to buy grain," Gen. 41:57.

In ordinary conversation we often speak of the business world, the educational world, the political world, etc., but we do not mean that every person in the world is a business man, or educated, or a politician. When we say that a certain automobile manufacturer sells automobiles to everybody, we do not mean that he actually sells to every individual, but that he sells to every one who is willing to pay his price. We may say of one lone teacher of literature in a city that he teaches everybody, -- not that everybody studies under him, but that all of those who study at all study under him. The Bible is written in the plain language of the people and must be understood in that way.

Verses like John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life," give abundant proof that the redemption which the Jews thought to monopolize is universal as to space. God so loved the world, not a little portion of it, but the world as a whole, that He gave His only begotten Son for its redemption. Andnot only the extensity, but the intensity of God's love is made plain by the little adverb "so," -- God so loved the world, in spite of its wickedness, that He gave His only begotten Son to die for it. But where is the oft-boasted proof of its universality as to individuals? This verse is sometimes pressed to such an extreme that God is represented as too loving to punish anybody, and so full of mercy that He will not deal with men according to any rigid standard of justice regardless of their deserts. The attentive reader, by comparing this verse with other Scripture, will see that some restriction is to be placed on the word "world." One writer has asked, "Did God love Pharaoh? (Rom. 9:17). Did He love the Amalekites? (Ex. 17:14). Did He love the Canaanites, whom He commanded to be exterminated without mercy? (Deut. 20:16). Did He love the Ammonites and Moabites whom He commanded not to be received into the congregation forever? (Deut. 23:3). Does He love the workers of iniquity? (Ps. 5:5). Does He love the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, which He endures with much long-suffering? (Rom. 9:22). Did He love Esau? (Rom. 9:13)."[3]

1. Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England, 1994, p575.
2. A GREEK-ENGLISH LEXICON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT and Other Early Christian Literature, A translation of the fourth revised and augmented edition of WALTER BAUER's Griechisch-Deutsches Worterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der ubrigen urchristlichen Literatur by WILLIAM F. ARNDT and F. WILBUR GINGRICH, SECOND EDITION, REVISED AND AUGMENTED BY F. WILBUR GINGRICH AND FREDERICK W. DANKER FROM WALTER BAUER'S FIFTH EDITION, 1958, THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS, CHICAGO AND LONDON, 1979. BAGD comes from Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, Danker.
3. Boettner, Loraine, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 1932, pp291-293.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A small start in politics

For some time now I have noticed that the ordinary Christian in the street simply does not have a Biblical worldview to speak of.
In a country, where it is claimed that 70%+ are Christian, it did not amaze me that the ANC party won such a landslide victory of more than a two-thirds majority in the 2004 general elections.
Here in South Africa we have a true multi-party system. Not like in the U.S. where there are truly only 2 parties.
When the ANC won that majority, it proved to me one of two things: 1) South Africa do not have 70%+ Christians or 2) the Christians simply do not have a Biblical worldview!
In September I wrote, in a post called 'Democracy' in South Africa, how members of parliament can change parties in what is known as "crossing the floor" while keeping their parliamentary seats. There were so-called Christians that left the ACDP party to join the ANC. When a person leaves a very overt Christian party, to join a very apparent godless party, there can't be too many reasons for that. 1) The person never was a Christian to begin with, 2) the person has no solid understanding of a Biblical worldview, or 3) the person is in it for the power of politics.
I have also lately seen how someone is a member of the ACDP, but has decided to join the ANC and stand for them in the local municipal elections to be held on 1 March 2006.
This has been worrying me, that Christians with no Biblical worldview can stand together with such a godless party as the ANC.
I simply felt that the ANC was going the wrong way with South Africa and that they are leap-frogging certain new laws through parliament without having proper debates in parliament. They also stand for the cold-blooded murder of babies in the womb (abortion), pornography, same-sex marriage and the like.
One day, while the whole family were sitting at a local Mugg & Bean, my father-in-law and I had a discussion on how things were in this country and how I just wished things could change. I told him of how I have written to newspapers and TV stations about issues. Almost without blinking he asked me: "Why don't you go into politics?"
Well, it took me about 6 weeks to think it over and now I have decided to do it. I officially joined the ACDP as a member and met with some of the current members and those that are prominent in the party. I also made myself available as a candidate for the ACDP in next year's local municipal elections. For this I had to have a testimonial from my pastor, two character references, CV (resume), copies of my qualifications and then come before a screening committee (Guardian Committee) of the ACDP for an interview for them to see if I would make a suitable candidate.
I attended the screening this last Saturday and I am glad to say that the ACDP has accepted me as a candidate in the coming municipal elections. Now the hard work will start.
Whether I am elected as a councillor in our city or not is not really the issue. The issue is getting involved in order to help make a change.
This is totally new ground for me, so I will need prayer for strength and wisdom.
Just thinking...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Christmas Challenge: The forgotten Christ

Christmas treeWe’re a family that enjoys Christmas. Every year we decorate the house with Christmas trees, tinsel, flashing lights, candles and all kinds of ornaments. This year is no different. The same can be said of my wife’s family. They also love decorating their houses. The only difference last year and this year--in our own home--is that I did not help. I had to work on the day the house was to be decorated.
Last year, at the end of my working day I walked into the decorated house and it hit my like a ton of bricks. Where is Christ? Yeah, I know He lives within my heart. I am saved by grace alone through faith alone in the work of Christ alone! Yet, with regard to the decorations in the house, where was He? There is a Santa on the wall unit... Santas on the wall unit! Santas on the Christmas tree...Santas everywhere! But... where is Christ? Is this not the season we celebrate the birth of Christ? Then how is it that we decorate our houses with an incremental amount of Santas, tinsel, lights and other trinkets every year, but Christ is hardly anywhere to be found? Sure, we do have a scene of the birth of Christ; however, it is tiny and lonely in comparison to the rest of the Christmas garb! In fact, I do not even know where to buy any Christ related Christmas decorations!
Have we forgotten Christ? Contrary to the cry from many Christians to put Christ "back" into Christmas, I contend that many of these same Christians forget Christ every Christmas! Sure, the world has taken Christ out of Christmas and made it merely another holiday to celebrate in drunken festivities. But, so what? If the world does not know how to put Christ "back" into Christmas, who can blame them? They are without Christ, remember? How can we ask the world to put Christ "back" into Christmas if they do not know Christ? They are a lost and dying world! How do you expect them to celebrate Christmas? If your answer here is anything else but worldly revelry, then you misunderstand the human condition. Read my article on the condition of the world called The World as it is: Psychobabble? The world, or any government for that matter, is not in the business of putting Christ "back" into anything! The further they can get from Christ, the happier they will be, unless, of course, Christ steps into their individual lives and brings them to repentance through his kindness.
So, as Christians, whom do we have to blame but ourselves? We are the ones who have taken Christ out of Christmas, and replaced Him with all kinds of Christless Christmas paraphernalia. Before you point fingers at the world, shouting to put Christ "back" into Christmas, perhaps you should stand in front of a mirror pointing and shouting at yourself! You are to blame if you find to little of Christ in Christmas! I am to blame if I cannot find Christ in our home during the Christmas season!
SantaYeah, yeah, you claim to create a joyful environment of memories for your children to remember for years to come, but as a Christian you owe it to yourself and your children to create memories of Christ over Christmas time! It is easy to say that our children know that Christmas is about Christ and not Santa, but do you know it? Do they act like they know it? Prove it by showing Christ in your home a bit more than you do Santa! (I am preaching to myself and my own family here!)
We have created idols of Christmas trappings and we have not realised it yet! If you believe that these Christmas accessories are not idols in your life...(think before you answer this challenge), then remove all your Christmas trinkets and replace them with things that will remind you directly of Christ! Do not come up with a knee-jerk reaction here! They are invariably wrong. It is time for us as Christians to think about this challenge for longer than it takes us to put up all the Christmas baggage in our houses. This is as much a challenge to me and my house as it is to you!
It is okay to decorate your house with Christmas goodies, but when these goodies do not show the King of the celebration, then do not claim that you celebrate it for the King. Christ has sole command of your heart, or so He should. Now prove it!
I can see why so many Christians are questioning the celebration of Christmas and are now starting to remove all Christmas furnishings from their homes in order to restore Christ to Christmas. Idols are funny things, are they not? They creep into our lives, and somehow they create this wholesome view for us to see. Next, we start seeing how good it is to have them, since they are not idols. So, by the time we are confronted with a claim that we harbour idols in our lives, we quickly jump in to defend ourselves and our idols denying their idolness. If idols were that ugly and gruesome, then they would never find a place in our lives. However, in the western world, they have recreated themselves into very acceptable images, like Christmas paraphernalia. Many of these idols have changed themselves to look acceptable to the point of even being wholesome. So, as Christians we jump into the fray to create an environment of wholesomeness for our children, but in the event we have created an environment of idol worship, distracting our hearts and eyes from Christ, the "reason" for the "season!" We need to deal with idols as king Josiah did (2 Ki 23:4-20). They need to be destroyed! Christ will not share His place with anyone or anything! He is absolutely jealous of your heart!
So, if you want Christ back in Christmas, then you put Him back! The world will not do it. Why should they? They do not belong to Christ, but you do!
It is your move. Make the right one!
Just thinking...

The World as it is: Psychobabble?

I read a recent article in a church newsletter that mentioned how a missions conference motivated the church to "reach out to a hurting world that really need Jesus." This newsletter also claimed that having a "relationship with Jesus" is "not a life style that no person who is happy in the world or his religion would not like to embrace." This approach to the world without Christ has become quite systemic to the modern church. What would have been a definite no-no just fifty years ago has become the norm in the modern church. This "modern church" has taken what the Bible says about this world and started rewriting it in order to soften the blow on unbelievers to make the gospel message a bit more acceptable and non-confrontational. There has been this attempt to make the gospel less offensive to the world.
What does the Bible say about those who need Christ? What is the basis of their need? Do they need Jesus because they are hurting? It is at this point that we need to look at what theologians call original sin. The phrase original sin does not refer to Adam’s first sin. Traditionally it has meant the sin that is ours as a result of Adam’s fall. This doctrine would be better understood as inherited sin. The reason why inherited sin may be misunderstood is that we do not inherit our sin from our parents. Our sin is inherited or imputed to us from the original sin of Adam’s fall. The guilt belongs to us because it belonged to our first father, Adam. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." (Rom 5:12 NASB)
The effects of Adam’s sin are of such a nature that God thought of all of us as having sinned when Adam sinned (Rom 5:12-21). It is futile for us to claim that it is unfair, when we deal with an omniscient and all-powerful God. We cannot even begin to claim to know better than God does. "[18] So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. [19] You will say to me then, Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will? [20] On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, Why did you make me like this, will it? [21] Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?" (Rom 9:18-21 NASB)
If it were unfair for God to count Adam’s sin to our account, then it was also unfair of God to count the righteousness of Jesus to our account. Yet, this is exactly how God gets it right in His almighty justice to get us away from having to keep the law down to the final iota for our salvation. If it were not for this system of God of one for all, we would have had to keep the whole of the law for our salvation. The result would have been that no one would ever be saved. Therefore, if we are so happy to accept the work of one man on the cross to pay the ransom for our salvation, then we should not be hesitant to accept the sin of one man to our account! Apart from the fact that Adam’s guilt was imputed to us, it also remains a fact that each one of us has committed many actual sins, and we will be judged for those (Rom 2:6; Col 3:25), because we are guilty. Adam is our representative in our sin, in the same way that Christ is our representative in salvation.
We have not just inherited the guilt of Adams’s sin, but we have also inherited the corruption of that sin. "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me." (Ps 51:5 NASB) In this passage, especially verse one to four, David shows how our nature has a disposition to sin. This disposition can also be clearly seen in Eph 2:3, "Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." (NASB)
Naturally, the tendency of humans to sin does not mean that human beings are all as bad as they could be. God has put many constraints in this world to prevent us from being as bad as we could be: civil law, family and societal expectations, and human conscience (Rom 2:14-15)
We totally lack any spiritual good before God. It is not just some parts that are sinful; rather sin affected every part of our beings: intellect, emotions, desires, etc.  "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not." (Rom 7:18 NASB) "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled." (Tit 1:15 NASB) "The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?" (Jer 17:9 NASB)
Due to the effects of sin on our lives we are totally unable in our actions to please God and neither do we have the ability to come to God in our own strength. "[5] For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. [6] For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, [7] because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, [8] and those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom 8:5-8 NASB) "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away." (Is 64:6 NASB; cf Rom 3:9-20) "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." (1 Cor 2:14 NASB) Man, in and of himself "would not like to embrace," to use the phrase from the newsletter I read, "a relationship with Jesus" nor can he understand the need for it.
Apart from having the guilt and sinful corruption imputed to us, we are also sinful before God in practice. There is a universal sinfulness in mankind. "They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one." (Ps 14:3 NASB) The fact is that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23; cf Rom 1:18-3:20).
So, what is the result of sin on man? The final result of sin is God’s wrath against the sinner. "[30] Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, [31] because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." (Ac 17:30-31 NASB) The day will come when judgement will come upon sinners, those who have not believed in Jesus (Mt 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:36; 25:31-46; 1 Cor 4:5; Heb 6:2; 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6) "[5] But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, [6] who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: [7] to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; [8] but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation." (Rom 2:5-8 NASB)
Man was created in God’s image, but because of the sinful fall of man, he has become unable to please God or to come to God in his own strength. Man has become totally unable to approach God, and is therefore doomed to endure God’s wrath unless.... unless he believes in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Since the natural man cannot understand nor accept "the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him," he takes offence at the gospel. The natural man does not run to find Christ, nor does he go looking for the gospel, since Jesus is "THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED" (1 Pet 2:7 NASB) and "A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed." (1 Pet 2:8 NASB) By taking the natural offence out of the gospel in our preaching when we try to soften the blow of the gospel to the world, we in effect have stopped to preach the gospel! By removing an element from the gospel, in this case its offensiveness, we have made the gospel less than it really is; therefore, we have made it no gospel at all! As a result, our gospel may not be offensive to the world any longer, but it definitely is offensive to God! "[8] But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! [9] As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! [10] For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ." (Gal 1:8-10 NASB) Any gospel, but the gospel of Christ, is an accursed gospel and those who preach such a gospel "is to be accursed!" Paul is clear in this passage, that if we preach a gospel that we have made pleasing to men rather than God, we can no longer call ourselves "bond-servant[s] of Christ." This is a huge indictment against the modern church of Jesus Christ!
It is absolutely imperative that we preach the gospel of the Bible, not some pseudo-Freudian, psycho-babble designed to make a sinful, evil, rotten world think that it is in fact okay! The fact is that the world is not okay and if we preach a softened, false gospel to them we are indeed doing them a disservice. By preaching such a tempered down gospel, we in fact make the world think that it is acceptable, and suddenly we have a world of victims--since nothing is their fault anymore--instead of a world of sinners in need of salvation!
My plea to every Christian, is to preach the gospel--the whole counsel of God--to a world stewing in a cauldron of ever deepening sin and gross evil. Honour God by preaching only the gospel that He gave us to preach!
Just thinking...
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