Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Christians" can go "straight to Hell"?

This is a quote from John Piper's twitter feed

First there was this;

Every Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Hindu who murders himself and others for his faith goes straight to hell. (1 John 3:15) from HootSuite

Then he followed it up with this clarification...

Key words to ponder in the last post: "Christian" not just Muslim. "Murder" not just kill. "For his faith" not "in faith". from HootSuite

Obviously Mr. Piper's theology is clouding this understanding of the Scriptures. If a "Christian" can possibly go to Hell then there is no Eternal Salvation in Christ... my oh my!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I've been neck deep in study for an upcoming series of TCC Radio that will hopefully help the Church witness to Muslims. This has been so consuming that I haven't had very much time for blogging at all. Here's a thought though.

Abram was assured by God's promise and God accounted this as righteousness.

Abram was assured and that was accounted as righteousness.

Abram did not look for righteousness in himself in order to be assured.

The Lordship Salvation camp will tell you that you can't be assured of your Salvation unless you are showing some unidentified level of obedience to Christ, or righteousness. Abram was assured based on God's promise and God called him righteous because of it.

We silly Christians want so badly to be validated in our own flesh that we make up all kinds of doctrines that allow us to celebrate ourselves. Shame.

God demands, and deserves perfection, yet the Word of God and our experience tell us clearly that we won't be perfect until we are resurrected. Anything less than perfection is sin my friends. We can not get assurance of anything by looking at our selves other than our need for God. Even truly saved, regenerated people who are indwelt by the Spirit of God look like nothing but filthy rags in our behaviour compared to the perfect obedience of Christ Jesus.

Let us look to Him and not ourselves for assurance of the salvation that He has promised for all those who call on His Name.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Where Does Faith Come From?

Just something quick and dirty here. It's no secret that I completely, flat-out, without reservation or qualification reject "Regeneration (being born-again) prior to Salvation" which is a modern Calvinistic idea that is required to explain some of their other claims about the Gospel.
Eph 2:1-10
1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
So one of the things that might be considered part of "Regeneration prior to Salvation" is that "saving faith" is a gift from God. Some see this as part of regeneration.. some who reject regeneration prior to salvation still hold that faith is a gift from God however... the ideas mix well but one is not dependant on the other.

So where does faith come from? Does the Bible tell us?
Romans 10:14-17
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
See faith comes from hearing the Word of God preached. All the many complex arguments fall deaf, dumb and still to the floor when compared with the plain reading of God's inspired Word.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Penguin God Doesn't Care

*This is a repost of an article just posted at The Cross Current Blog. (See I HAVE been busy *smile*)

Just a couple of days ago I received an e-Mail from the President of The Cross Current. The opening ought to give a sweet chuckle to those in ministry.


If you have time (yeah, I know…the email is funny already:), I would REALLY like for you to author a brief blog posting about that National Post article I sent you.”

Yes I am very busy, and my schedule includes many things that really shouldn’t be put off. However, in ministry there is always time for what’s important.

The article El Presidente sent is God Is not here? by National Post Deputy Comment Editor Marni Soupcoff based on the implications of a child’s surprised and innocent question “God is not here?” The admirable author of this honest work deserves a response of like kind.

Dear Marni,

Thank you for your very honest article ‘God is not here?’ Your writing is far more lucid than anything else I’ve read recently relating to religion in the popular media. I am the writer/producer of The Cross Current Radio Show, which is an outreach broadcast. We’re different from the crowd in that we don’t just do a passive radio broadcast. We focus on helping Christians actually engage the culture in very sane, very real ways by modeling just that every week.

I truly did enjoy your article and so, if you will indulge me, I would like to offer some answers to the questions you asked. I recognize most of these are rhetorical, but since there are answers I would like to give them. You asked, “You see my dilemma?” Yes I do, and I’m confident you are far from the only one facing such. “—how can I not?” You can’t, and I’m thankful you know it. “Is it fair to saddle a child with your own prejudices?” Fair or not, you’ve recognized it can’t be avoided, and the parental responsibility of showing a child “how it should be.”

It is pleasant to read just how aware you are of these facts, and somewhat shocking to see this presented in the National Post (NP). Truly reasonable thinking about “god and faith” is far from the norm in secular media, and similarly in non-secular for that matter. For the first time I’m considering subscribing, if only because what is deemed reasonable to print in NP can be reasoned – seemingly even if this is not the popular approach to a particular subject.

The last question in your article is, to use a technical term, a doozy. “How should children be taught religion?” I’m no parental expert, but the short answer is this; they shouldn’t be. You’re actually closer to what “should” be done for them with your new but incomplete plan.

“…to tell my son what I really think about god and faith…” Oh that parents would be this honest with their children. Here’s a question for you; why do so many parents make a practice of lying to their children? From Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy, to taking kids to some church just to cover the bases; it truly is no wonder children have a hard time believing (and obeying) their parents when it counts.

There is much in the article worthy of discussion. Such as “I’d sooner he be indoctrinated by me than left with a moral void of ‘choice’ and ‘openness.’” Previous to this you accurately identified how almost all media has an agenda. Your child wouldn’t be left to “openness” but would be programmed by someone other than yourself. I’m constantly amazed when parents tell me how entertainment media doesn’t influence their children all that much only to see their child with the new ‘insert movie/tv show title’ action figure, lunch box and sneakers they just had to have. It seems reasonable to me then that the only unfair way of teaching your child about “god and faith” would be to let someone else you have not vetted do it for you.

Your new plan is a pretty good one, yet it lacks a solid foundation. “What I really think about god and faith” really needs to be replaced with “What I have found to be true about God [sic] and faith.” Kids have been fed enough fairy tales. You and your son’s father come from different backgrounds. I checked the comments on a NP blog posting of your article and found people suggesting reconciliation of your views as a solution. One poster specifically suggested reading the Old Testament as a family. That’s not an entirely bad idea, but it misses the real issue. Neither you, nor your son’s father actually knows for sure what is true about “god and faith.”

You said “I’m a believer in something (even if I haven’t figured out exactly what)…” I apologize right now for all those who will make fun of this, or use it in a way to try to discredit you. Like the rest of your article, I enjoy the openness of this statement. Replacing the concepts of “god and faith” with “math and reading” ought to relieve us of the pressures of presupposition. So for just a moment; if you were planning to teach your child math and reading I’m confident you’d want to do so with accuracy. Not that you would have to be an expert in either, but you would desire to teach accurately.

Most people we speak with think it doesn’t matter which god they believe in, or don’t. The truth is, the ‘Penguin God’ doesn’t care if you believe in him/her/it or not. The point you reference in the movie ‘Happy Feet’ is actually true, there is no such ‘Penguin God.’ So in that respect, it doesn’t matter if people don’t believe in him. This does leave the sticky problem of believing in him even if he doesn’t exist. However, if there is one true God who actually does exist, then believing in Him might be a matter of great importance. Depending of course on if it matters to Him. If such a God does exist, then the subject of Him and faith in Him becomes a lot more like math and reading. Accuracy is no longer just a preference, it’s a requisite. Yours is not the only will involved so the consequences of inaccuracy are neither solely internal, nor determined by you alone. If this God exists, then His own will may well be exercised even to the exclusion of yours.

Just like with the ‘Penguin God’, if there is no ‘one true God’ then believing in Him is a problem that parents need to address as well. Be sure this fact is not lost on me. I will not portray such as unreasonable or unprintable. We few of The Cross Current actively meet people right where they are in life. One question we like to ask, frankly because it cuts through smokescreens really well, is “Are you looking for something to believe in, or do you want to find the truth?” We know there is only value in believing something if it is actually true. Someone might choose to teach their child to believe in the ‘Penguin God’, but he doesn’t care. He doesn’t care if you believe in him, and he doesn’t care about your child. He doesn’t exist. One danger of believing a falsity is denying something true and that is always harmful. For example; if I believe Santa is real, I’m denying the truth that he is not. When I finally find out my trust has been abused and through deception I have been denied the opportunity to know the truth, I am harmed.

Through evaluation of many related subjects at length it has been determined that the Bible is the true Word of God. It does accurately reveal the one true God, not just another fairy tale character. I don’t expect, or even want you to take my word for it. What I offer is an out stretched hand. To help you determine what is true, not however to convince you. If I were to offer a convincing argument, someone more clever will surely come along after me to convince you of something different. Right now, you lack a firm knowledge of what is actually true. As an individual you not only need the same general revelation of truth as everyone else, but you have your very own concerns, questions, objections, ideas, and the like particular to yourself. Until they are answered you won’t be able to know and be sure of the truth. However, the wonderful thing is that the moment they are you won’t be able to honestly deny the truth you will then know. You will be convinced without me convincing you because your needs will have actually been met.

Would you like to be truly sure of what you’re telling your child? Not just hoping you’re giving him the best information you can, but actually sharing trustworthy truth? The ‘Penguin God’, and his peers will never care either way, but you ought to.

You are a smart, insightful woman. Even if you do not respond I’m pleased to demonstrate, as is reasonable, how it is perfectly OK to admire the people we encounter who none the less need help. During His earthly ministry the Lord Jesus Christ made no qualms about showing people they were in dire danger because of sin, but He reached out to them (and us) in that need. One woman He met knew her need more than many other people do. He admired her for this, and for going for the true solution. Mat 15:21-28 The Lord demonstrated His love by meeting our need through bearing our guilt and shame unto death, though He deserved none of it.

Based on your article, I’m sure no one has ever given you, or your son’s father a reasonable explanation of why He died for our sins, was buried and rose back to life on the third day all in accordance with the same Hebrew Scriptures you were likely introduced to in your youth. I’m sure no one has ever helped you determine if all this actually happened or not. We would like to.

By the way, the sight of a crucifix makes me shiver too, but probably for different reasons. His suffering in our place on the Cross is over, His sacrifice has been accepted and He is risen. I shiver when I see people putting their faith in anything other than this.

I was asked to make this brief, and I did try. Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Water Walking

Admittedly OMW has been put on the back burner for all of November. That should change quickly in December. :)

Oh and the Walking on Water stuff is going to be three parts now. :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What do sheep do?

Do sheep obey commands? Or do they follow where their shepherd goes?

Are sheep naturally orderly or do they need a sheep dog to keep them in line?

Do sheep wander off and need to be fetched?

Do sheep ever continually wonder off and need to have their legs broken so they can learn to trust the Shepherd?

Just a few questions on this day of many "Faith and Works" posts here at OMW.

Why Work?

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I work many hours each week in ministry. I'm not an overly faithful servant of the Lord, so I don't want you to hear any such bragging in this post.

I spend a lot of time talking here at this blog divorcing Good Works from the process of Eternal Salvation. Why? Because Eternal Salvation truly is free to us. Truly. Not just in some complicated "mystery" way that we "can't really understand." Surely not in some way that makes God look like a liar when He declares it as a "gift." Eternal Salvation is truly free.

So why do I work. Why am I sitting at this computer while I can hear my wife cleaning the kitchen on a Saturday afternoon when I truly desire to just hang out with her for a while? Why? Because the time is short.

It happens SO often here (and elsewhere) that someone I'm talking with will be trying to make everything in the Bible about Eternal Salvation. Then when I tell them that the Gospel is the Gospel and everything else is everything else they accuse me of not being mindful of the full counsel of God. We saw this here this past week in a comment I felt I had to delete.

The Dispensational "view" of the Scriptures truly does allow one to see the full counsel of God and to properly obey it. See I know that my works don't show that I'm saved, for there are unsaved people who do the same things I do. I know that when I'm not working that this is no more an indication of my salvation than my work is. So why work?

Well first, I'm not looking to impress anyone. Not myself, not God, and not you. What I do know is that the Church (of which I am securely part) has been given a clear and all important mission. Mark 16:15 I also know that the time is very short. I know that the Church has a narrow window of time to accomplish this mission. I'm doing my part.

How is my faith involved? I know that the Lord will provide for my needs. I know that if I do what He says to do that He'll take care of the things that need to be taken care of. This is how faith played in the works of the "Heroes of the Faith" in Hebrews 11. They were willing to do the things God asked them because they trusted him. Doing them wasn't trusting, it was their trust that allowed them to do them.

The walk of a disciple is FAR from easy, but the only risk is loosing that which you don't need. Why work? Because God is telling me to. I don't have to, but I can. If I don't I will suffer correction - believe me I am WELL experienced in this department.

Which gets me to the TRUE reason I work - the Lord has disciplined me.

I want to be clear: I don't work because I'm saved. I don't work because of some great gratitude that I have. I don't work because I've been transformed into Super-Christian. I work because the Lord by His Holy Spirit has disciplined me. This includes the full knowledge of my ability to sin and my need to walk by HIS power Gal 5:16. I'm new in Christ, but my flesh is the same old stinky junk it was the moment before I came to faith.

I don't work because I'm a Christian. Because I'm a Christian the Lord has disciplined me, and this IN MY CASE has resulted in some small measure of maturity that results in some small measure of work.

Great runners are not fast because they agreed to become runners. Great runners are developed by great coaches, but not every runner who signs up to be trained attains the same level.


Mat 20:1-16
1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’
8 “So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ 9 And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 11 And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”
I love this parable.

With it as an introduction let's consider this situation. Your work contract reads exactly as follows;
"You shall be paid (at the agreed rate) for attending your place of employment. Additional rewards shall be paid to you based on performance (in your place of employment) at the completion of this phase of your career pending exacting evaluation. Instances of good performance will be rewarded, but instances of poor performance will detract from the overall reward paid out."
I should note that this article stems from my considering things from Fred Lybrand's Back To Faith. This book is a technical, challenging and even exciting read. I highly suggest you read it.

Please consider these 8 questions;
  1. Will you be paid if you show up?
  2. Will you be paid if you don't show up?
  3. Will you be paid if you show up but do not work?
  4. Will you be paid based on how much work you do?
  5. Will you be paid if you show up but are unwilling to work?
  6. Will you be paid if you are willing to work but never actually show up?
  7. Will you be paid for good work you do from home?
  8. Will you be paid if you for good work you do in your place of employment?
Now I don't want anyone to think that I THINK that Salvation is a payment we receive... I struggled with wording the work contract properly.. and that's as close as I could get. A bit of grace?

Scripture tells us that Christians are "created in Christ Jesus for good works." Eph 2:10 but that we are saved by Grace through Faith, not based on works. Eph 2:8-9 and that our salvation is available to the ungodly one who does not work Rom 4:5:-8

Interestingly enough Rom 4:1-5 speaks to my discussion above;

1 What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness

We are created in Christ Jesus TO work, but our salvation has nothing to do with work. We are saved by "showing up" not by being willing to work.

Your willingness to work doesn't save you. That's "Willingness" just like the people in John 6:28 had. They were willing to work, but Jesus said that instead of being willing to work they had to attend the place of employment - they had to believe. John 6:29

Willingness to work is not faith. Willingness to trust is not faith. Only actually trusting is faith.

When you trust the Christ of the Gospel 1 Cor 15:1-11 then you will be saved and in doing so you'll be "attending your place of employment." Salvation is free, just show up.

How To Walk On Water Without Sinking

I wanted this article to be more involved than it will be. Time is a factor, and truth is I have another subject I want to move on to. :)

There are seemingly endless deep theological insights contained in Mat 14:22-33 but I'm interested in "how to walk on water." Peter did it, and I think we can too.
22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.
25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
In my last article I talked about the idea of walking on water being akin to salvation by grace through faith. Nothing to do with effort (whether God-powered or man-powered), and everything to do with being above the water. You can't swim if you're walking on the water was a sort of catch phrase.

My point was, you're not living a way that is acceptable and so you are saved NOR are you saved and so living a way that is acceptable. The fact is in Scripture that you are acceptable to God ONLY through Christ's full and final payment. You do not "become acceptable" and then "remain acceptable" until you are "finally" accepted. You are accepted the moment you are IN Christ. Your acceptability is based ONLY on that.

That was my point in my last article, but this one is slightly different.

Peter wanted to walk on water. The difference between Peter's attitude and that of our Lordship Salvation friends is that Peter wasn't expected to do the work. Peter didn't say Lord I am willing to swim to you! No Peter called on the Lord and asked Him to call him out on the waters. Peter didn't say I'm willing to get wet so I can get to you! Peter didn't say I'm willing to risk my life for you!

Peter said, in effect, Lord by your power let me walk on water too! So it happened.

But Peter doubted and became afraid, he did not "persevere to the end." Peter had not been transformed into a supernatural Water-Walker. No Peter was still every bit flesh and blood. His carnal fears gripped him and took over the supernatural walk that he had been given the privilege to experience.

Peter then cried out the the Lord to be saved from the predicament he found himself in and the Lord IMMEDIATELY did so. Peter didn't have to come to Him in fealty, in submission. Clearly at that very moment Peter was not exercising what our Lordship Salvation friends would express as "True Saving Faith" for immediately after saving Peter Our Lord and Saviour said to Him "Ye of little faith, why did you doubt?" Peter looked away. Peter turned from Christ to observe the World, and suffered the consequences of doing so - however it did not change his Eternal Salvation. Not only did it not change the fact of his salvation it did not even indicate the state of his salvation.

So how can WE walk on water? We must have the same faith that Abram did, and that Peter did when he stood in the boat. We must trust in the Word of God. Contrast this with what our Lordship Salvation friends might say. Peter, why did you doubt? Are you really trusting the Lord? Why were you not willing to walk all the way to the Lord? Why did you fall away? Could it be that you were never indeed one of us? Peter, you need to check yourself to see if you are indeed in the faith. True Christians do not fall back.

Of course we can check the rest of Peter's life and see that it took many years before the one whom Jesus claimed to have already washed clean became anything at all like what the Lordship Salvation proponents claim a real Christian is. Worse, what a sinner must agree to become in order to be saved.

Walking on water is as simple and easy as Eternal Salvation is (this could be said in vice verse as well).

Look to the Lord only, be assured by His Word (not your own) and you won't touch the water. You'll be lifted above it. Are you catching this? Peter didn't call to the Lord and say "Lord, make me to be able to walk on the water!" Peter didn't call on the Lord to say "Lord, PLEASE change me!" When Peter was still looking at the Lord, "Peter" was not on Peter's mind. Only Jesus was on Peter's mind.

Please consider the object of your faith. Are YOU the object? Are the things you DO the object? Is your FAITH the object? Are you only sure if you're saved if you see something in yourself?

Are you only saved so long as you're walking on the water?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Do you work with audio?

Hi, I'm looking for someone to offer some semi-skilled time on a weekly basis for the cause of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Canada. If you are a committed Christian who has some experience working and are possibly willing to help spread the Gospel in Canada (or know someone like this) would you post here?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Is it better to receive or not to need?

I'm sitting in a coffee shop avoiding writing an episode of TCC Radio.

Do you think it would be better to receive a million dollars or not to ever need a million dollars?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Walking on Water is Not Swimming

Here's a silly question; Have you ever considered that walking on water is not the same as swimming? What about how walking on water doesn’t even involve swimming? This article is going to argue that if you are in fact walking on water, you can not be swimming at all.

You know, those who are sceptics of the Bible often come up with all kinds of explanations of why the Disciples thought Jesus was walking on the water in Mathew 14:22-27. They say everything from it’s a made up story to He was walking along the shore, or even floating on ice. The truth is no one confuses walking on the water with anything else. Actually if someone had never seen, or had a person walking on water properly described to them a person might think that “swimming” is akin to walking on water. However, if one has seen it they would never confuse the two. So, just like the skeptics of the Bible, skeptics of walking on water minus swimming can come up with all the explanations they like and still not change the truth.

For the purposes of this article I'll state that Justification in Christ (which is the prerequisite of Eternal Salvation) is sort of like walking on water. Works based (religious) Justification (and therefore Eternal Salvation) is sort of like swimming. If one is Justified in Christ they are supernaturally lifted above the mire and anything they do there has nothing to do with keeping themselves above it. Such a one is not swimming. I'm also going to state that Eternal Salvation includes resurrection unto life which is recently being referred to as "Final Salvation" by some Brethren.

Readers may remember a long conversation with Lordship Salvation (LS) proponent Mark Pierson here. After I read Mark’s affirmation that no one who understands LS also rejects LS I asked for anyone who believes in LS to proclaim the Gospel to me so that I could understand. For many days I dialogued with Mark about his view of Salvation. I painstakingly examined his presentation using the definitions of terminology that he supplied. In the end, I found that the LS position is exactly as I (and many others) have understood it to be, and I continue to reject it.

After that, Mark asked me to visit his blog and repeat the same or a similar conversation there with him. In the mean time the Lord was working on me about my desire to debate people. I really don’t know how future conversations here at OMW are going to play out but I knew repeating the same debate at Mark's blog would not be profitable. He has suggested that I wished to only converse with him within the safety of my own blog or those of my friends. Such a view doesn't actually seem reasonable in that Mark was given complete freedom of uncensored expression here.

Mark asked me to share the Gospel with him at his blog. That’s not the sort of thing you can just say “NO!” to. So I gave him a link to a YouTube video of the Gospel in one minute. His reply to this video was to suggest what someone who is in gross sin might say in response to this video. The supposed person said they didn’t want to give up the sin they were in. Of course the sin was inflammatory and fully in the realm of the fleshy nature of mankind. Such that ought not even be named among the saints. Eph 5:3-4

I proclaimed the forgiveness of sins, and Eternal Life in Jesus Christ and Mark’s supposed person said “But I don’t want to stop sinning!” as a rebuttal to the idea that the Gospel I proclaim is false. I believe it is the inflammatory nature of the sin Mark chose that is of issue to him. Mark didn’t choose speeding.. or picking your nose, or not telling the people around you that you love them… no he chose gross adultery. Why? Well I can only assume that adultery is a worse sin than those other I noted in Mark’s eyes. However, we’re told in Scripture that one sin is like another because the same God who said thou shalt not commit adultery also said thou shalt not murder. James 2:10-11 It is the falling short of God’s perfection that is sin, not the details of the issue.

So what is it that Mark is saying? Is he saying that a person must be willing to give up adultery in order to be saved?

Here read his comment yourself;

So Kevin, thanks for telling me the Gospel in a minute.

I have some pressing questions for you -You see, I am a married man. Here's
the problem: I've met somebody else, one of my co-workers. She also is married.
At first we were just friends. Then, over the course of time, we both discovered
that we complete one another. We both feel like we are soul-mates. Yes, we have
gone on to be intimate. We really love each other.

Now even Sunday-school kids know that God has said "Thou shall not commit
adultry". If I were to become a Christian would I have to give this woman up? I
can't see myself ever being able to do that.

Of course that is what Mark was saying and has consistently said. Well here’s something to consider. If your unsaved neighbour gives up adultery are they any closer to Heaven? Are they any more worthy of being saved? If the person that Mark makes up DID give up adultery would they be saved then? Or would there be another sin they’d have to give up? If so, then how many? If not then why not? Is there a Biblical example of what sins you can continue in and what ones you may not in order to be Eternally Saved?

Let's get back to swimming and walking on water to see if we can reconcile some of this.

The modern Reformed Calvinist Lordship Salvation proponent will claim that it's not the works (the swimming) that saves (keeps one above the water) but that everyone who is saved will work.

When Paul says that the one who believes and does not work is justified, he is sort of saying that walking on water doesn’t involve swimming. Romans 4:5-8 Paul is surely saying that justification is "apart from" works. The righteousness that a Believer has in this life is accounted, and imputed. It is not actualized until we are glorified (experience this "Final Salvation"). 1 Cor 13:12-13, 1Jn 3:2 The one who is walking on water is not swimming. If one is swimming, or working to be saved then they are not walking on water. They are either truly not saved, or they are acting like it. The idea of works proving that someone is saved is well and fully addressed in Dr. Fred R. Lybrand's wonderful new book "Back To Faith." This book examines the phrase "It is therefore faith alone that justifies, but the faith that justifies is not alone" in great detail. I think it would be foolish to try to offer here what he so excellently offers in his book so I will not. Often people will point to our works as proof of "true saving faith." Unfortunately this is a great perversion of what is written in James 2:14-26. I address this idea of examining your works to see if you're in the faith in my book Fail-Safe for Fallacy but surely not as well as Dr. Lybrand does in his. For the purpose of this article I want to iterate; swimming is not walking on water. If one is walking on water, they can not be swimming. I also wish to point out that looking at swimming for proof of walking on water is absurd.

However, if you teach someone that their works prove their salvation, will they not try to swim? Isn't the consistent question of the lost "What must I DO to be saved?" Acts 16:30, John 6:28

Beloved reader, the answer to this question is always the same - BELIEVE (put your trust in) the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 16:31, John 6:29. Not "really believe and prove it by working"! No, we are never told to test our faith by our works.

What is true saving faith? That is the question. If you have faith in Christ alone, then your faith finds validation in Christ alone. If your faith is not in Christ alone then it will find validation in the various things your faith is in. If your faith is in Christ alone you can not have your faith in anything else. So, in the swimming/walking discussion if you’re walking on water you can’t swim, and if you’re trying to swim you're either a very confused water walker, or your not a water walker at all.

True saving faith is trust and assurance. We read this in Genesis 15:1-6. A fearful Abraham came to believe God, or rather trust God and be assured by His promise. This was accounted as righteousness. Abraham didn’t look for validation of God’s promise in some aspect of his own life. He didn’t look for “evidence” of God having saved him. He didn't look at his performance in view of how he should serve this glorious and faithful God. He trusted God, and was assured that God would fulfill His promise. The issue was settled. With regard to our conversation Abraham walked on water and did not swim. Nothing he did or didn't do had reflected the truth of his being above the water. Why? Because he was above the water ONLY because God faithful. Not because Abraham was made faithful. God alone is faithful.

If I trust and am assured by God then I need not look anywhere else. If I do not trust God and or am not assured by His promise then I must look elsewhere for my assurance. If I’m assured by anything else than God’s promise then I do not have faith in Christ alone.

If I am swimming I am not walking on water.

If one is Justified then they can set aside the wondering if they are saved and start operating in the trust they have for God. Instead of constantly looking inward to find validation of their confidence as those who check their works do, the one who knows he is justified simply gets on with the work of the day. If your justification is based on God's faithfulness, then you are assured as surely as His Word is true. Heb 6:13-20

Let’s spell it out. You don’t do the works that we read of in Hebrews 11 if you are not sure of God’s promises. You don’t do those works unless you already know you are saved. These works are not evidences of salvation, they are evidences of getting past the milk and onto the meat. Leaving the beginnings of faith and moving on to perfection, not laying the foundation of repentance again. The person who is looking to their works for validation of their confidence doesn’t have the kind of faith it takes to do those works. Their faith is not “in Christ alone.” They are still trying to swim instead of realizing they can simply walk.

This concludes part 1 of this two part series. In the next article I’ll be looking at how Peter was able to physically walk on water, and what happened when he sank. God willing this will shed some light on how we too can stop trying to swim and start truly walking on water.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Greatest Show on Earth

Richard Dawkins has released yet another book. The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. Some may ask why I would link you to a way to purchase such a book. Well truly, if the Bible can not stand up to such as Dawkins then it surely fails any reasonable expectation of what the Word of God would be. In other words, Dawkins' arguments are laughable.
Looking back on these books, I realized that the evidence for evolution is nowhere explicitly set out, and that it seemed like a good gap to close. ~ R. Dawkins
That quote ought to be truly funny to anyone who's had to endure a conversation with someone who claims that Dawkins' books have provided undeniable evidence for Evolution. The idea of quoting this to the next person who quotes Dawkins' assertion of the idiocy of anyone who denies Evolution after hearing his arguments has me on the verge of a giggling fit. has a short article which looks at some of the Straw-man Arguments and Just-So story telling that Dawkins uses in his latest work. They're also preparing a full response in the form of a book.

Been sick

Well, I haven't finished the article I've been working on. Believe me, I don't like reading "I've been busy" blog posts any more than you guys do. I have been busy, and sick though. :(

I'm sorry for the delay. I'm thankful that many of you check here for new content. I promise to have this article up in the next couple of days. I'm struggling a bit with the tone right now.. prayer is always welcome. :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Up coming article - Walking On Water Is Not Swimming

OK so I have been working on an article off line. Unfortunately I've had extra ministry work to do over these last couple of weeks and I'm actually feeling a bit overwhelmed.

I'll be connecting Peter's experience in walking on water with Eternal Salvation. I hope this will be done in the next few days.. but ya it's not the first time I've said that here. :)

Oh, right now my wife and I are getting ready to attend our new church and we're listening to Christmas music. Yes I am "that guy." :) Actually it's hard to find better praise music than Christian Christmas music.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Change Of Course

I've learned some things this week.

Something like a month ago one poster, Luke (I believe) who goes by the handle "Look Up" rebuked me for engaging in pointless discussions and debates. He said I should be "preaching the Word" only. I saw some value in what he said, even if I did think his view was greatly limited.

Well here's a change of course for this blog. I'm done "debating" people who have opposing theology from mine. If we are on the same course, then "iron sharpens iron" and we can discuss and even debate the finer issues. However, I will no longer seek to win over those in heresy through the means of debate and discussion. Because it is "iron" that sharpens iron. It is plainly abusive of me to be sharpening myself against those who are outside of fellowship.

Those who are preaching fallacy will be marked as such. They can read whatever work I present and accept it or not. If they disagree they can surely say so. However, I will not engage in point for point discussions with them.

As I explain in the chapter entitled "Ground Rules" of Fail-Safe For Fallacy true teaching on the issues of fallacy (False Prophets, False Teachers, False Conversion Experiences, False Doctrine....) is only helpful if it helps people come to truth. Pointing out the evils of another man is plainly silly if it is only directed at pointing out his evils... So I won't be focusing on how bad this or that person is... unless it is to help someone specific. I will be focusing on my on-going journey toward He who is the Truth.

A word of warning now for all who visit and intend to post. Posts that I BELIEVE (even if it is not absolutely so) are criminal in nature SHALL be reported to the VARIOUS proper authorities without exception. You who read and post are free to play "hard ball" but you are not free to commit liable or other criminal offences. I have seen enough of this in the past week.

I pray often for the people who visit, read and post at this blog. Those who agree with me and those who do not all the same. You are precious to the Lord God Almighty, and through His love you are precious to me. However, you are not all lambs and sheep whom the Lord has given me care for. Many of you are simply passers by. It is not my position to have oversight over you. Therefore if you are harming those who I do have care for, you will be banned.

I have to say that almost always everyone who posts here has shown great care for the character of those they disagree with. When this has not been the case I have never once seen the person step so far over the line as to go into the realm of criminal activity. I hope that will never be the case here. I'm posting this now based on things I've seen at other areas I frequent on the net recently. Such behavior will not be allowed to spread to my blog.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

James 2 Without The Tension

Update: To see how I've applied what I learned in Back To Faith please read James 2 From The Text.

I've just finished reading an exegetical work on the second chapter of James that resolves the tension that most everyone finds in that chapter between James and Paul. In my book, Fail-Safe For Fallacy, I bring up the fact that the problems people have with understanding this chapter of the Bible are due to our presuppositions that the words "justification" and "save" only have one meaning or usage. However, Fail-Safe does not exist to teach doctrine but to teach Christians how to learn so explaining James 2 was beyond the scope of the book.

Truly, my grasp on James 2 has been tenuous, which is true of almost everyone I've ever discussed the chapter with, and who's work I've read.

Yesterday I started reading Dr. Fred R Lybrand's book Back To Faith. Right from the start, by reading his dedication to both John MacArthur and Zane Hodges I realized this book was going to be different from anything I've read before. His examination of the very familiar cliché "Salvation is by faith alone, but the faith that saves is not alone" is done from every angle I could imagine and more. Dr. Lybrand details the history of the various views of Faith & Works, and spends much effort to expose the history of the cliché itself. The next two chapters discuss how the cliché is both logically, and theologically invalid. I found reading these chapters to be very challenging, they exposed presupposition in my own study!! Not only that but I found myself truly thinking the Doctor had bitten off more than he could chew time and time again. Yet each time he closes another loop-hole in understanding and returns the reader safely again to the Text. These two chapters are a thrill ride for the student of the Word who TRULY wants to get beyond all the ideas of man to what the Text actually says.

I was up very late with this book last night, and awake very early with it this morning. In fact, I went into work and put in a vacation day because I could not bring myself to wait to read the very next chapter.

Dr Lybrand's fourth chapter is entitled "The Cliché is Exegetically invalid" and I knew what he would have to tackle in this chapter. James 2. (cue dramatic music) James 2 (with all assumptions included) is the Magna Carta for both the Reformed, and the Roman Catholic view on Faith & Works.

I have just now finished reading this chapter. It does not disappoint. I would dearly love to type the whole chapter out here for all to read. I can't though.. though I am tempted to risk the legal implications for the good of your personal walk with the Lord. Because I've been shown that if one effectively refutes the assumptions, and divorces them from the Text, then James can be the Magna Carta of pure unadulterated free Grace!

Brethren, if you are at all like me you will be amazed at how easy it is to let presupposition define what the Text says before we read it. Even if we claim it does not. I have been approaching this chapter with the Reformed & Catholic views in my mind. I've allowed that to color my view and so miss what the Text says.

What if we put the responsibility on James to explain what he's saying instead of on the Theologian? What if we obey the rules of logic and language? What if we let these things inform our theology instead of having our theology (or the theology we "want" to refute) inform them?

I was shocked. I am edified. I am excited. I'm longing for you to have the very same experience!!! I'm telling you I'm at 109 pages into this book and I can whole heartedly recommend it to you.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Three Books On The Way To My House

Well it seems like almost everyone's got a book out this Fall! Here's some books that I've ordered and that Amazon tells me are finally being shipped.

Tom Stegall's "The Gospel Of The Christ" Fred Lybrand's "Back To Faith" and Kevin Lane's (who?) "Fail-Safe For Fallacy."

Obviously the last one there has my full endorsement, but I'm going to be giving my thoughts on the others in the coming weeks. I'm really excited about Tom's book, and I'm expecting to be challenged by Fred's.

Lou's been doing a series of introduction articles on The Gospel Of The Christ.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Kinsman Redeemer & Sandals

I'm going to quote Ruth from the NIV because it uses the terminology of a Kinsman-Redeemer instead of simply "close relative."

King David came out of this line, and so the Lord Jesus Christ was born out of it as well.

Ruth 4:1-12 NIV
1 Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat there. When the kinsman-redeemer he had mentioned came along, Boaz said, "Come over here, my friend, and sit down." So he went over and sat down.

2 Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, "Sit here," and they did so. 3 Then he said to the kinsman-redeemer, "Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech. 4 I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line."
"I will redeem it," he said.

5 Then Boaz said, "On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, you acquire the dead man's widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property."

6 At this, the kinsman-redeemer said, "Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it."

7 (Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.)

8 So the kinsman-redeemer said to Boaz, "Buy it yourself." And he removed his sandal.

9 Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, "Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion and Mahlon. 10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon's widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from the town records. Today you are witnesses!"

11 Then the elders and all those at the gate said, "We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 Through the offspring the LORD gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah."

We read about the redemption of land in Lev 25:23-28

23 ‘The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me. 24 And in all the land of your possession you shall grant redemption of the land.
25 ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor, and has sold some of his possession, and if his redeeming relative comes to redeem it, then he may redeem what his brother sold. 26 Or if the man has no one to redeem it, but he himself becomes able to redeem it, 27 then let him count the years since its sale, and restore the remainder to the man to whom he sold it, that he may return to his possession. 28 But if he is not able to have it restored to himself, then what was sold shall remain in the hand of him who bought it until the Year of Jubilee; and in the Jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his possession.
29 ‘If a man sells a house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year he may redeem it. 30 But if it is not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house in the walled city shall belong permanently to him who bought it, throughout his generations. It shall not be released in the Jubilee. 31 However the houses of villages which have no wall around them shall be counted as the fields of the country. They may be redeemed, and they shall be released in the Jubilee. 32 Nevertheless the cities of the Lemvites, and the houses in the cities of their possession, the Lemvites may redeem at any time. 33 And if a man purchases a house from the Lemvites, then the house that was sold in the city of his possession shall be released in the Jubilee; for the houses in the cities of the Lemvites are their possession among the children of Israel. 34 But the field of the common-land of their cities may not be sold, for it is their perpetual possession.

We read how this is done by Levirate Marriage in Deut 25:5-10

5 “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. 6 And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. 7 But if the man does not want to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate to the elders, and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to raise up a name to his brother in Israel; he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.’ 8 Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him. But if he stands firm and says, ‘I do not want to take her,’ 9 then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the presence of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, spit in his face, and answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who will not build up his brother’s house.’ 10 And his name shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal removed.’
So I'm interested in how this relates to Jesus Christ, OUR Kinsman Redeemer.

Matthew 3 shows us that Judah was witness to John's baptism of repentance. I believe this would include Christ's baptism.

Matthew 3:1-17
1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:

“ The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘ Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make His paths straight.’”

4 Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
We read similarly in each of the Gospels. Mark 1:7 Luke 3:16 John 1:27

John felt he was not worthy to loose the Lord's sandals. Just like Ruth who uncovered Boaz's feet and laid down at them. Ruth 3:1-18 She didn't feel worthy, and indeed she was not.

However, Boaz did remove his sandals and become the Kinsman Redeemer. We read in Ruth 4 that there was another who was naturally the "close relative" who was not willing to pay the price of redemption. But Boaz was willing, so he took of his sandals. I believe the Lord would have taken off His sandals when He went into the river to be baptized.

It is at this moment that the Lord declared His intention before the witnesses of Jerusalem, Judea and all around and the Father declared His pleasure.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fail-Safe For Fallacy at Amazon

Wow. This is one of those moments in my life that I won't forget. I just searched Amazon for my book and found it.

You can find it at and

A sure faith and a clear understanding of the Bible is available to every Believer, not just Pastors and theologians. There is no need for any of us to be led astray and have our hopes dashed because they have been built on fallacy. God who cannot lie has breathed out truth in His Word to us in such a way that we each really can understand it. We live in an age of unprecedented access to knowledge yet the popular media thrives by selling us news bites we seldom verify. Most church goers today get all their theology in 40 minute purpose filled messages on Sunday mornings. Many have almost no ability to "rightly divide the Word of Truth" and so leave the deeper things of God and the sure faith they build to be experienced by only those who have been to seminary. This makes us easy prey for false teachers, and prophets. Shockingly, it mostly goes unnoticed that the lost are being inoculated against Eternal Salvation by false conversion experiences. We need a fail-safe against all this error and God has given it to us in His Word. Fallacy lays in wait for every unprepared believer but the Bible was written to reveal truth to us. Fail-Safe For Fallacy can help anyone confidently learn this truth directly from the Scriptures. Every Believer really can cut straight through to the truth God has given us in His Word instead of being tossed to and fro by the various doctrines of men. You can know truth, and be sure of it!

When A Tower Falls

Why do bad things happen to people? Doesn't the World want to know the answer to that question?

We read the answer in Genesis 3, but people love to discredit Genesis don't they? We Christians in our zeal to have people like us often disregard that book too. We are willing to embrace Evolution if it will make people like us enough to come sit in Church with us. OK not all of us act that way, and the faithful few of us here have probably just cried out in our hearts with anger at being accused of doing that.

But popular Lordship Salvation proponent John Piper is denying the truth of Genesis.

Recently a tornado hit Central Lutheran Church, Piper's explanation?
6. Conclusion: The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.
This is the conclusion, his whole article can be found at Desiring God.

It's a shame when even an Open Theist has a more Biblically sound answer than a Calvinist.

With view of John Piper's use of Luke 13:4-5 Greg Boyd says the following;
Far from supporting John’s speculation about why a tornado broke a church steeple, it seems to me this passage directly assails it! It makes me want to ask John, “do you think that the folks at Central Lutheran church are more guilty than you or any others living in the Twin Cities?” And the only answer this passage allows us to give is an unequivocal “no!” In the fallen world in which we live, towers sometimes randomly fall; bridges sometimes randomly collapse; and tornadoes sometimes randomly do property damage – even to churches. That’s all there is to be said about it.
Read all that Greg Boyd had to say about this at his website.

Genesis 3 tells us that God cursed Creation. That's why bad things happen to people. Good people, and bad people... that's why cars rust, people get cancer, people die, why towers fall over, and why tornadoes hit both good and bad churches.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Debates, Discussions and Discourse

I've found that debating things doesn't ever seem to win anyone over. Look up, ignoring some of his behavior, has validity in his posts about sticking to "preaching the Word."

I do not agree in the slightest that discussion is wrong. However, I don't see much in the way of good fruit coming out of many debates.

People learn as they discuss things, they discover the things they don't know and reinforce the things they do know. Deep discussions are needed.

It's clear that there was discussion in the Acts 15 meeting.

Acts 15:22-29
22Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers. 23With them they sent the following letter: The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. 24We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.
They came together and "decided" to send... they "all agreed to choose"... it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us...

They didn't just preach to each other, these Godly men came together and worked through these things. They laboured in the Word together, and that surely involved discussion. Am I arguing from silence here? You would be hard pressed to make a compelling argument that men (even if they were inspired) could evaluate what burdens should be placed on the Church. Such an argument would also be, and I believe more so, from silence.

However, I'm interested in the potential for growth. Is there a better way to reach and teach those whose theology doesn't match the Scriptures than debating?

BTW just because one is in error in some bit of Theology doesn't make them a False Convert.. so just preaching the Gospel to the one in error isn't the whole solution.

If The Scriptures Are True We Can Know What They Say

This article is a response to a comment in another thread. To discuss the comment there would distract from the intended conversation so I'm starting a new discussion here.

When I interpret Scripture I always start with three fundamental premises that are declared in Scripture. First that ALL Scripture is plenarily inspired by God the Holy Spirit Himself (this means that right down to every jot and title is inspired). Second that God cannot lie. Titus 1:2 Third that the Word of God does not have trickery, falsehood, all is plain. Proverbs 8.

If I am using a good translation of the Scriptures then I can confidently say that anything that I read that seems to falsify any of those three fundamental and declared premises is untrue and related to my lack of understanding.

There can be no in context disagreement between Jesus, Paul, Peter, Isaiah… and so on. If there is a in context disagreement between them found in the Scriptures then Christianity is a lie. Either God is true and every man a liar or He is not the God He claims to be which would make Him a liar unfit for worship and unable to save.

With this bit of business out of the way I’d like to reply to your post. First let me quote you in whole so as to maintain your context for our readers.

I have yet to meet, or read on line, a Bible-believing Christian who does not explain away some Biblical reference which fails to conform to their own view of what a Bible-believing Christian should believe. One example in my personal experience was the pastor who teaches that Christians should never drink alcohol, then said that surely our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would not have turned water into wine for the guests at a wedding feast. I have the same problem with explaining away James 2:14-26 as "about justification before men, not before God." That is not what James said. That is what someone who doesn't want to believe James is talking about justification before God would naturally suggest. Martin Luther had the same problem - he came close to arguing that James should be deleted from the Protestant version of the Bible, along with six books accepted by the Roman church which WERE deleted.

I believe that if two Bible verses conflict, we generally have to admit that no doctrinal explanation, which is necessarily a matter of human reasoning, can reconcile them. WE can't be the ones to chose which verse modifies the other verse, or vice versa. The only exception is, if Jesus said it, then it takes precedence over Paul, Peter, James, John... But we can only hope we understood Jesus correctly.

Since salvation is ultimately a matter of grace, not our own merit, I don't believe most of the criteria being discussed here are definitive. Does God have the power and authority to extend his grace to one who has not trusted that the Christ paid the full price of their sins? Could God of his mere grace and mercy forgive someone who seeks to please God on their own terms? Of course, whether we like it or not. God may even extend his grace to an atheist. If He does so, none of us will have anything to say about it.

Now I would like to reply on a though by though basis.

I have yet to meet, or read on line, a Bible-believing Christian who does not explain away some Biblical reference which fails to conform to their own view of what a Bible-believing Christian should believe

That’s quite a statement. I’d find it more believable if you were to say that you haven’t found someone you think is completely consistent. The classis “What do you DO with this verse then?” is along the same thinking as your statement here. Just because you don’t agree with someone doesn’t mean they are “explaining away” anything. I don’t mean to be offensive, but that question, and the statement you made says more about the person asking and making it than the person they are describing.

I challenge you to find a single instance of me “explaining away” any verse in the Bible, which is what you are accusing me of here. There are challenging portions of Scripture that require deep study, but that doesn’t mean one must explain it away. I might very well “explain away” someone’s understanding of a verse, but only if that understanding is not supported by Scripture. Such as the case with people claiming that James 2 indicates that Salvation is dependant on works. Scripture overwhelmingly destroys such a thought front to back. So to keep that understanding of those verses, in denial of the rest of Scripture, truly makes someone miss what James was inspired to write about. We miss the true value of these verses when we force them to mean what they do not.

One example in my personal experience was the pastor who teaches that Christians should never drink alcohol, then said that surely our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would not have turned water into wine for the guests at a wedding feast.

It is unfortunate that you’ve experienced inconsistent preaching…. But as you mention it is very common. Christians are “allowed” to drink alcohol of course. They were drinking “strong” wine at the Passover Feast (the last supper). Also if we actually read what Scripture says on the subject we find that alcohol robs us of wisdom but it is not prohibited. We suffer because of it but there is no law or command against using it.

I have the same problem with explaining away James 2:14-26 as "about justification before men, not before God." That is not what James said. That is what someone who doesn't want to believe James is talking about justification before God would naturally suggest. Martin Luther had the same problem - he came close to arguing that James should be deleted from the Protestant version of the Bible, along with six books accepted by the Roman church which WERE deleted.

If James 2 means that Salvation is by faith & works then it is not part of inspired Scripture and should never be included with Scripture. This is the reason the Catholic books are not part of the Bible, they are inconsistent with the rest of Scripture. However, James 2 does not mean what that, and it is inspired Scripture.

I believe that if two Bible verses conflict, we generally have to admit that no doctrinal explanation, which is necessarily a matter of human reasoning, can reconcile them. WE can't be the ones to chose which verse modifies the other verse, or vice versa. The only exception is, if Jesus said it, then it takes precedence over Paul, Peter, James, John... But we can only hope we understood Jesus correctly.

Then we are in a very bad way. “But we can only hope we understood…” This thinking puts us in the driver’s seat. We are no longer believing God Almighty, we are fashioning a god of our own making… that doesn’t go over very well with the True God of the Universe.

You should notes that Jesus didn’t pen any of the Bible, even His own words… Writers inspired by God the Holy Spirit wrote ALL of it. No Scripture is of any private interpretation – we are not involved in deciding what it means. We can’t pick and choose. It all fits together because it is all true. There is no portion of Scripture that takes authority over any other part. It is “all given” for study and correction.

Since salvation is ultimately a matter of grace, not our own merit, I don't believe most of the criteria being discussed here are definitive. Does God have the power and authority to extend his grace to one who has not trusted that the Christ paid the full price of their sins? Could God of his mere grace and mercy forgive someone who seeks to please God on their own terms? Of course, whether we like it or not. God may even extend his grace to an atheist. If He does so, none of us will have anything to say about it.

If God were to violate His own word then that would make Him a liar. He would no longer be righteous. Christ was able to pay our sin debt because He alone was qualified to do so. He was sinless. If God is a liar then Jesus is not sinless, and could not then have died “in accordance with the Scriptures” for our sins. He would have simply died like any other man hung on a cross.. and would have stayed dead.

If God lies, then Scripture is of no profit to men. If however, God is not a liar and His Word is perfectly true then we can actually trust it. If we can trust it then we can study what it says in the context of what it says and know for sure what it means.

These are the thoughts I had when I read the comment. How about you?