Rules To Judge Modern Bible Prophets

Because of the future aspect of Bible prophecy, it is perhaps the doctrine suffering most from vainglorious abuse. Just as fortune telling has always been popular if one is good at it, biblical soothsaying is financially lucrative and ego lifting. If Bible prophecy is bent into the same mystic mold, it too can be food on the table and flattering to the ego. The difference between the legitimate study of Bible prophecy and the “art” of witchery is the difference between humility of the soul and the aggression of the human ego. Unfortunately, an aggressive ego operating in a deceptive air of humility seems always to attract a following—a deadly pitfall to innocents.

Certainly Bible prophecy is a vital part of the fabric of Scripture, but that is because its essence is not of the elements of physics, but is the product of the very divine Spirit  who authored  it’s holy record. It’s basis of certain fulfillment is not found in the physical record, but in the Divine omniscience (all-knowing) of the Divine utterance. The physical record may be manipulated by human design, but God’s divine Spirit cannot.

Frankly, it should be an uncomfortable truth for every advocate claiming to have what is called a “Prophetic Ministry,” that there is no such thing! That’s a shocking statement in a Christian world agog on the plethora of modern Bible prophets. But please hear this truth and hear it well: God alone assigns fulfillments simply because it is humanly impossible to know for certain what God has not made plain to everyone already. The reason for this impossibility is obvious: Anyone who has enough human genius to anticipate what and when God intends to fulfill, even though God alone comprehends all the meticulously related prophetic elements, will also possess the power to surprise God himself, which is, of course, completely absurd. Just picture it: When God fulfills it, there stands Rev. Joe Knowitall, thumbs under suspenders, saying, “I knew it, I knew it all along! They don’t call me The Bible Answer Man for nothing.” The Lord scratches His head and asks, “Now how did he find that out?”  Let me emphasize: God’s omniscience cannot be possessed by humans, but that is exactly the source of the prophetic future! God always knows. Humans can only guess. This truth will become clearer as this article progresses. True teachers of Biblical prophecy do not end sentences with exclamation marks, but with question marks. If not, they might be engaged, knowingly or unknowingly, in attempting to upstage God himself!

Lets be clear: God does indeed have a plan and purpose through the ages, but what we invariably fail to consider is that humanity’s power of free choice is very real, and a vital working element in that plan. God himself built it into humanity’s very fabric as a vital part of God’s own image by which he patterned us (Genesis 1:26, 27). God expects us to choose freely, not to just mechanically fulfill what God planned and purposed despite the free choice he instilled within us. Such a view would annul even human curiosity of what is ahead, because it’s driving assumption is, “what will be will be.”  No! God gave us choice to take position for or against God’s plan and purpose through the ages, to the extent that God’s plan gets bypassed, thrown aside, or lies unfulfilled. We don’t like to hear that, but the despotic, blood-running, chaotic wreckage of human history belongs to depraved human choice, not a god with an evil bent.

So what are we saying with that? Just this: God, and only God, knows the true status of his plan at any given time of human history. Intellectual genius cannot logically know it, simply because only omniscience has the power to comprehend the perpetual, boiling, ever-changing, labyrinthine wilderness in the free will of the heaving human race. Every tiny twinkle of time brings a difference to the forefront of the present to shape the future. Think of it: Even he or she who dares to figure out future events of Bible prophecy, is himself only a part of the difference that shapes the future.  Pray tell, how can a modern prophet warn others to change their ways (because of the dark future facing them if they don’t), when, if they actually heed his warning, the prophetic future will be changed from what the prophesier said it was going to be? And if the future is set in stone no matter how the hearer reacts to the message, then what would be the sense of warning them to change their behavior in the first place? As can be plainly seen, such a scenario gets complex and crazy! The prophetic future must always be true to who we, humanity, are in everyday reality, as proven by what we are doing and the living history of where we’ve been and what we did. It is a little crazy to ignore it. Our free wills which God created in us dictate that the future is not set in stone, but our past is. But when the present comes, God is the one who declares the fulfillment of prophecy, not human genius, and he will declare it in ways blind to ego-driven prophetic mavens.

Examples of this truth sit like monoliths in the record of Scripture.

Example: Jesus himself is an example. From the lips of every Jewish scholar of that day came Scriptural speculations concerning the coming of the Messiah. They debated it in the market place, preached on it in their synagogues, and even spent lifetimes studying the subject. It seems unbelievable to us today that when the Messiah actually came to them, they rejected him and even had him crucified! Think of it: These studious scholars had “searched the Scriptures” and determined for themselves that “out of Galilee ariseth no prophet” (John 7:52), but when God sent them the Messiah, all of their genius in theology, their meticulous study of Old Testament prophecy, and all their “prophetic ministry” could not possibly have pieced together all the whirling, changing, human circumstances of society, government, and shifting human masses that actually made the Messiah, Jesus, a Galilean!

Example: Peter, speaking of Judas, the betrayer of Jesus, spoke the words of Acts 1:20. Please read it. But until all the infinite, complex pieces came together in Judas himself, not one human head of genius could possibly have calculated that Psalm 109:8 was even prophetic!

Example: Until Jesus was actually crucified, Psalm 22 could not possibly have been construed to be the fulfillment of it with the approval of the Jewish priesthood, and by the hands of a Roman government which did not yet even exist at the time Psalm 22 was penned!

God’s Spirit inspired the writers of the New Testament to record such accounts for the whole world to read and believe their fulfillment. We read of no Old Testament prophet who preached or wrote down the meticulously detailed future fulfillment before the new Testament fulfillment took place! Again, God alone assigns fulfillment of prophecy after the fact simply because it is humanly impossible to know what God has not made plain to everyone already. Until then, we, from the lowest to the highest, can only speculate about the fulfillment.

But there is more, far more, to this subject of Bible prophecy. But what is left can only be enjoyed by faith and humility, not by egotistical genius. You see, there is a fact of Scripture which seems to have been shuttled aside for the sake of convenience. We, humanity, are the very embodiment of Scripture’s purpose of prophecy. Think about it: Without us, prophecy is nothing, a meaningless word. That being true, it is therefore patently ludicrous to think we, the objective essence of prophecy itself, can rise above ourselves to explain it’s destiny, and so curtail or change it by ceasing to be the object of it. That would be like firing a bullet at a target, but it awakens to itself in route and stops midair to explain where it is going and when it will get there! That act, if possible, would annul the very purpose in pulling the trigger in the first place by altering the trajectory and timing toward the target.

But wait. It gets far more complex. Our sloppy, egotistical handling of Bible prophecy is the result of our slipshod understanding of God’s infinite character. When it comes to Bible prophecy, Isaiah 55:8,9 appears to have puddled and ran off our craniums. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts your thoughts.” Add to that God’s infinite ability in the very act of knowing itself. In his infinite power above us, he not only has the infinite power of recall, but he has equal power to forget on purpose! We have neither. He can do both at will. We cannot. Nevertheless, we become fools by attempting to construe concrete images of our infinite God, using the materials of our puny, finite minds. Many a genius has tried, but ego built a straw effigy of their own image, which sent millions of souls astray. This had an enormous impact on the subject of Bible prophecy.

Jeremiah 31:34 and Hebrews 8:12 tell us specifically of God’s power to not remember on purpose. That is, to forget on purpose. Understanding this of him is infinitely important to us. Why? Because that divine power is why God could create Adam in God’s own image. That image is the reflection of God’s own freedom of will. It animates us, allows us to choose our own way, to move about freely on our own apart from God’s power to manipulate us. If that were not true, there would be nothing worth remembering or forgetting, since himself would be the independent force of action, rendering recall a useless function.

As we said, this is very complex, but it has everything to do with Bible prophecy. Now let’s expand the complexity. Consider Mark 13:32, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” When we stumble over that textual boulder, “Neither the Son,” our intellect does a somersault to couch it in human dimensions. In vain, we might add, because it still sits there like a boulder telling us there is information known by one person in the triune Godhead which the other two persons in the Godhead do not! Some scholars take this to mean that Christ now knows because he has been glorified and sits next to the Father in heaven. Not so! Matthew 24:36 is very specific in saying “My Father only,” (Italics mine), which also excludes the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit! Therefore the divine picture is starkly clear: God the Son sits by his Father in heaven, and God the Holy Spirit moves throughout heaven and earth, and yet only God the Father has divinely elected to know some particular prophetic information specific to the behavior of humanity, eventually culminating in Christ’s return to planet Earth to judge the nations. Now I ask you: Where does that leave today’s Bible prophecy preachers? If God the Father alone knows “that day and that hour,” together with all the meticulous details leading up to it, then how, pray tell, can a modern prophecy preacher or teacher even come close to foretelling divine secrets which even two members of the Godhead do not? Yes, Bible prophecy is a wonderful, inspiring subject to study. But we should be extremely discerning and wary in doing so because of those whose purpose is vainglorious recognition. (Better known as an ego trip).

It would be meaningless for God to behave in such a manner in the Godhead without his infinite ability to allow humanity to behave apart from God’s governance on the Earth. No, we can decide for ourselves that God will not be in control of our lives. We can earn for ourselves the consequences of violating his laws. That very freedom and ability is the heart and soul of Bible prophecy because it is humanity’s trail of sordid history of going somewhere of our own making, not a divinely prepared mold we are compelled to fill. God’s omnipotence does not violate his image of freedom within us. In his sovereignty he is able at the outset of any given moment of any one or all of humanity’s exercise of free choice, to know the conclusion of the particular circumstance brought by that choice. But in the very next choice he can then also see that particular conclusion, and so on and on for every single free choice, perpetually all our lives. Every choice counts toward the conclusion of final judgment. This applies to individuals, multitudes, nations, the world. In the end, free choice runs its course, and fair judgment will be rendered by the Judge of all the Earth. It can be said of this that God always knows the end of our journey, while also allowing our full freedom of choice during the journey.

It is also clear that such information in our hands would be detrimental to God’s purpose in us. There are those who advocate a Divine sovereignty which predetermines all things and all events regardless of human choice. But if God’s sovereignty was so stunted that he was confined to predetermining the events of history, we could get our minds around it and consider it. But that is the problem with it. The very instant we comprehend it logically, God is no longer sovereign, we are! Great theological tomes have been written about that, although only two words are needed: Faith and humility. We do not need stiff Eton collars, but ragged holes in our knees, worn there through prayer and humble worship.

Christ’s Olivet discourse tells us we can observe the signs of coming events, but we are specifically told that the knowledge of the day of his return is forbidden to us, and that it is impossible for us to know. So our preaching and teaching of Bible prophecy  should be with utter humility, not dogmatism. The most frequent words on the lips of any teacher of the subject should be, “I don’t know,” or “I’m not sure.” The moment we hear a prophetic teacher or preacher even come close to naming a specific day of Christ’s return, that is our cue to stop listening. Further, caution is in order when any preacher dogmatically advocates a year or season of his return. They might be right, but their dogmatism could be a red flag leading to date setting. Be careful!

Finally, we should think soberly on God’s very purpose in foreshadowing the future in the first place. It is perfectly clear in Scripture that God provides it as a serious prompt for us to live holy, dedicated, unselfish lives in the present! A great deal of information in the New testament epistles concerning Christ’s return was meant to stir them to live for him in their present. That is still the purpose! Hear this, church, we are supposed to live for God day by day in present reality, not as dreamers of the future.

Taken to extremes, the subject of Bible prophecy can reduce us to a life of fear of what is coming in the future. Jesus addressed this in Matthew 6:34: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: For the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” The great Adam Clarke could not have seen this truth better than his comment on this verse: “…Carking truth [that is, truth that makes us anxious] is not only useless itself, but renders us miserable beforehand. The future falls under the cognizance of God alone: We encroach, therefore, upon his rights, when we would fain foresee all that may happen to us, and secure ourselves from it by our cares.  How much good is omitted, how many evils caused, how many duties neglected, how many acts of injustice authorized by those timorous forecasts of what may happen; and those faithless apprehensions concerning the future! Let us do now what God requires of us, and trust the consequences to him.”

The whole idea of this truth is clearly stated in Deuteronomy 28 where God admonishes the children of Israel to be holy in God’s sight in the present in order to have a blessed future, and not sin against God in the present and reap a bitter harvest for it in the future. He stated concretely that if they served him correctly, he would give them “Days as of Heaven upon the Earth” (Deut. 11:21). It is starkly clear in this that their prophetic future rested solidly on their chosen behavior! Furthermore, it can be seen by all humanity in this one passage among many that God’s position in the matter is that when it comes to our freedom of choice, we are in control, not God, and that is God’s choice! Well, sure enough, Israel made the wrong choice and suffered the exact horrendous future God warned them to avoid. The aftermath of Israel’s foolish choice was not God’s foreordained plan at work; otherwise, we make God look foolish for even giving Israel a choice when it was really already God’s fore-ordered plan of future events. Such logic borders on the absurd!

The true logic of Bible prophecy is forthright and clear for all to see: We order our own prophetic future,  precisely proven by the wreckage of our past choices! Our sad history is indelible, and God’s pristine, holy character shouts at us that he does not run a wrecking yard, we do! And let us understand perfectly that the same human power of choice that created our horrible wrecking yard, has the God-given power to clean up the mess in our future! When all is finally said and done and judgment is past, it will be as clear as the noon day that we either lived in our present for God, or we didn’t. The future we fretted over will not be criteria to judge us for what we were going to do.

 

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“What Is Truth?”

Humanity’s depraved motive to manipulate truth for selfish gain has been a violent, insane, treacherous road of desperation, full of switchbacks, deadfalls, and detours through rivers of blood.  Even a cynical agent of Rome (an empire built on violence), Pontius Pilate, asked the very essence of truth himself, Jesus Christ, “What is truth?”  (John 18:38), but received no reply.

Why?  Because simple reality is the long and short of truths definition.  But the bitter irony is that as depraved humanity throws itself into this rabid misuse, truth’s reality crowds us like a hungry lion seeking us as prey.  Pilate’s ill motive toyed with truth, even as divine eyes of its reality burned his soul with a desire to be known by him.  Ironically, God’s sublime truth was not Pilate’s prisoner at all.  No, Pilate used what he required for selfish gain, then literally attempted to wash his guilty hands of the rest of it.  But as he would come to learn, truth evilly entreated is coiled with the deadly strike of a rattlesnake.

 

Pilate was not alone in his crisp question.  The builders of the Tower of Babel, the ancient Persian astronomers, the Greek philosophers, even the Mayan priests and other seekers the world over, including those of modern times, were, and are, motivated toward a blind thirst for facts to be used as tools of power whereby their own hand can unify and satisfy the search for humanity’s origin, purpose, and destiny. As Mark Twain once observed, “Get your facts first, then you can distort them any way you please.” Although couched humorously, he spoke true words. But as Solomon said of such selfish aims, “all is vanity…” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Regardless of our tumultuous history, our daring explorations, and our fantastic discoveries, today’s human condition shouts to us that our selfish hands are yet empty.  Truth’s essence of humility yet runs through our misguided fingers like quicksilver slipping through sand, and disappears.

Probably the most faithful metaphor for truth is light and perhaps the best Scripture verse describing it is, “Whatsoever maketh manifest is light” (Ephesians 5:13).  Simply translated, it means, Whatever reveals reality is truth.  The best illustration of it is to enter a pitch dark room and then turn on the light.  Everything suddenly lights up in plain sight, in full reality for every normal eye to behold in true perspective.  But a self-made blind man who enters and turns on the light is yet blind and misses reality because it doesn’t match his preconceived imagination.

Again, simple reality is truths definition.  Truth is factual and real.  It is not a product of human intellect; instead, human intelligence is a product of truth.  Truth is ahead of us, not something we have in tow.  The wise do not own it; rather, it owns them, and wisdom’s rightful definition is that a man is possessed of it, not its dictator.  The very nature of reality is that it has fixed laws, and these may be regarded as the White Stallion of Truth.  For example, the law of gravity may be foolishly violated, but such foolishness falls to the ground to be trampled by the razored hooves of truth.

We should learn that truth never progresses, for it is an eternal essence; we either progress, digress, or regress in knowing it. Never the deceiver, it always tells the truth.  It never changes, is never new, never old, never evolves, it just is, ever present, never compromising.  It laughs hard at so-called “Situation Ethics,” but sits rather as a lead weight in the pit of every stomach who fantasizes, philosophizes, doctrinizes, or compromises.  Truth demands respect, and has a sharp presence equally in slums or mansions, churches or brothels, on death row or the Supreme Court, in the seat of a garbage truck or the one in the Oval Office.  It is always simple reality, the nose on our own faces regardless of who looks down it, be it Joe Stalin, Genghis Khan, Geronimo, or the Pope; whether we be farsighted, nearsighted, ego-sighted, or stone blind. Truth always wins every debate because it is in essence its own proof of what winning is.  Though all humanity should call it false, it yet looms before us because it cannot not exist.  It is never the captive, but itself either sets free or imprisons.  It never bounces because it is the bouncer.  It is unmoved if missed, if stumbled over, or even if it kills you.  Although humanity’s recklessness to ignore it should turn the landscape into a chaotic nightmare of confusion at the cost of millions of lives and human suffering, there it yet looms as an unmarred granite monolith amid utter human chaos saying, “I was right here all along; how could you possibly have missed me?”

By observing humanity’s sordid past (and present), one might reason that no honorable search for truth exists.  Oh, but it does!  You see, the facts contained by reality are actually for the pleasure and benefit of those who seek truth in humility, not for selfish gain.  “The meek will he guide in judgment: And the meek will he teach his way,” (Psalm 25:9). He who truly finds it embraces its very embodiment.  He does not crucify it as a subservient to a perceived higher power, as did Pilate.  Rather, he discovers that truth itself is a higher power to be embraced in broken humility.  Those grounds are not for Neros or Hitlers, nor are they for intellectual stiff necks.  Such as these will be ground to powder, but “the meek… shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).  Who are the meek?  These are they who found that life worth living never came from tyranny, but from following Him whose very name is Truth (John 14:6; John 17:17; and 1st John 5:6).  Such passages declare truth to actually be a person, even though secular minds tossed that idea aside long ago as useless nonsense.  Nevertheless, the moral principle of perfect goodness, intuitively known among depraved humanity, demands the existence of a Perfect Person to judge the validity of right or wrong.

It is in fact the driving force in the natural law of cause and effect, a process Jesus Christ aptly called sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7, 8).  Our bad moral choices in the very face of truth’s reality renders us victims, much like the insanity of beating our own faces bloody against a stone wall.  The truth Himself declares with omnipotent authority, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6), but our dull ears and scaled eyes, swollen with inflated egos, are why our guilty hands are yet empty.  Even though “The heavens declare the glory of God,” and although the very firmament above us, and the world of wonders engulfing us below, shows his power (Psalm 19:1), we vainly ignore truth’s guarantee that, “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Until we come humbly to know truth personally, intimately, and until all our ego, genius, pride, and debate, dissolves into God’s personal presence and fellowship, until that day, our grasping, clutching hands are yet empty.  What great eternal loss is that when his resounding voice echoes through the chambers of our souls, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

DA

 

 

 

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Christian Predestination

(Romans 8:29-30)

PART ONE

The subject of predestination can only be in reference to the supernatural; it is foreign to atheism, except in terms of imagined space aliens, which drums up even more nonsense than religionists do. In reference to Christian theology, words such as predestination, Divine foreknowledge, and foreordination must be seen in perspective to the Divine, sovereign character and ability of the triune Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, three separate and distinct Persons, yet only one God operating in three capacities while remaining the composite whole of oneness. This truth is how the Scriptures throughout presents God to us, knowing that we finite creatures of His image cannot possibly comprehend it without becoming equal to Him in his Divine attribute of omniscience (all-knowing). That was exactly the Serpent’s temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). We creatures of God’s creative hand must therefore always reason from a position of utter humility rather than the prideful vanity of our own intellectual prowess. This is true especially in handling such Divine expressions as the words in question.

Also vital to the understanding of such expressions is the truth that God’s triunity is expressed very early in Genesis in direct reference to the creation of Adam, and thereby the entire human race, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). Note most carefully the “US” and “OUR.” The balance of all Scripture reveals their identity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is so very vital to note that in perfect unison they decided to create by Divine fiat a finite creature patterned after their own triune image of authority, fore-planning, and personal freedom to live and move and have individual being (Acts 17:28), all of this with the specific Divine purpose of having another person, though finite, with whom God could share His fellowship outside His Holy Self. And so it happened exactly that way, and Adam and Eve walked in perfect fellowship with God in the Garden of Paradise. Until, that is, they exercised their image of individual freedom to disobey God’s clear directives against God’s perfect will in what He had planned for them.

Contrary to much erroneous doctrine, that disobedience did not annul man’s created image of authority, fore-planning, and individual freedom to live, move, and have being.
That image, dear Christian, IS us! It is who we are, and will always be, for what God created us to be lasts eternally one way or another. That truth is as certain as God’s image in us. Frankly, if we ever cease to possess that identifying Image, we will simply cease to be at all! But let’s be clear: That eternal Image in us is the very thing that will make for us Heaven Heaven or Hell Hell. We will either eternally realize the perfect use of that Image in Heaven or else suffer eternally the never-ending agony of being denied it to escape the flames of the judgment of God’s eternal wrath against His enemies. It is our choice. The image of freedom He put in us guarantees it. Hell without it would be like a lifeless granite statue under water that could never drown.

One aspect of this Image in us bears directly on our interpretation of what the words in question mean. You see, instinctively humanity, designed to enjoy eternal happiness with our Creator, quite naturally enjoys hearing the Heaven part of our eternal image, but just as naturally we want to turn a deaf ear to the bad news of Hell. As a result, we have a natural corrupt bent, knowingly or unknowingly, to construct doctrinal sidesteps, loopholes, and deflections against God’s fiery missiles of warnings against ungodliness, so as to persuade us to flee from the wrath to come. Such doctrines of convenient escape from bad-news warnings seem always to aim not at ditching worldliness and the cleaning up of our risqué indulgence and the practice of holy living, but are rather constructed to soften the bad news of possibly winding up in Hell. Always, the convenient slant is to the false notion that God is more tolerant of sin than we seem to think. That notion aims at allowing us to engage in worldliness but still enjoy the prospects of going to Heaven instead of Hell. It envisions God as throwing wide open His big, compassionate, merciful arms to a wide range of saints and deviants alike, allowing us to have Heaven’s cake and eating it too. Such convenience doctrines have taken many and varied forms down through the ages of history, such as Purgatory, the sale of indulgences, the notion that there is no Hell at all, or that Hell is temporary, after which we all go to Heaven. Of course, atheism gets rid of Hell by getting rid of God altogether!

However, some doctrines of convenience are far more subtle and extremely complex. Such was and is the sophisticated notions of the famous John Calvin. His definition of absolute predestination had (and has) God decreeing before creation to build two categories of humans, one to go to Heaven, no matter what, and the other created to go to Hell, no matter what. Despite Calvin’s explanation that the Heaven-bound should nevertheless live holy lives, in actual practice they are prone to live loosely simply because one cannot help being saved anyhow. A modern splinter of that aspect of Calvinism, operating in the mode of the Perseverance of the Saints, opts instead for what they call “Free Grace” in which holy living is not even a necessity. Modern teachers of the Free Grace idea are championed by such popular preachers as Dr. Charles Stanley.

Other theologians concluded that pure Calvinism was too severe, so they softened it to mean salvation is provided for all fallen humanity. However, those who opt to receive salvation believe the last half of Calvin’s notion kicks in: Meaning, once one does make the choice for salvation, it is Divinely decreed that it must remain that way forever, no matter what, including our free choice to back out of it. And, of course, this opens the black door of convenience into imagined Divine toleration, by which we can be saved, live as though we are going to Hell, but at last quietly do a flip-flop into Heaven. How convenient! In truth, though, any Christian who turns to sin, lives in sin, and dies by sin will find no mercy at the throne of our absolutely Holy God who judges us in light of what we do with his beloved Son. To excuse such travesty by saying that if they died in sin, then they were simply not saved to start with, is like plugging a gaping shell hole in a concrete bunker with cheese cloth and claiming it’s fixed. It flies in the face of common sense.

PART TWO

No one can deny that the great John Calvin was one of the most intellectual giants of the church age. Next to Martin Luther, he was perhaps the most influential as well. When studying the theological strains of this man we should carefully consider that he lived during the arrival years of the Renaissance, the era of the rebirth of the old Greco/Roman culture of intellectual humanistic thought. Calvin’s wealthy contacts allowed his father to send his young son to the best, most up to date, schools of his time. At a very early age young Calvin was meticulously taught the humanist culture until it was who, what, and how the patterns were to be in his gray matter all of his life. It became the powerful tools he employed to form and argue his later theological points of view of the Scriptures. In fact, his conversion to Christianity by all accounts was simply an intellectual decision, void of any fanfare or emotion. So much so that, of all his writings, he makes only one passing reference to it in his Introduction to the Book of Psalms. Even so, it still leaves intellectual heads scratching as to whether or not that was even what he had reference to, or if he was simply referring to his turning away from the Catholic Church. Whatever it was, from that moment he began formulating his rigid, logical, philosophical system of theology, which he described with the acronym, T.U.L.I.P., the meaning of which we will not go into here. Once formed, his formidable intellectual prowess challenged and won every debate by the sheer science and art of his mastery of debate, whether he was right or wrong in his theology.

However, Calvin, together with all who approach the Gospel through the power and pride of their intellect, run aground in truth by the sheer brute force of their own law of intellect. Inadvertently, he brazenly imposed himself into God’s own forbidden mysteries, and pressed on until he had a “perfectly” logical answer for Divine secrets which even Paul himself said was impossible for a man to utter (2 Corinth. 12:4). Paul also mentions the thing formed saying to it’s Creator, “Why hast thou made me thus?” (Rom. 9:20). Scriptural inference there says we can just as well ask, “WHEN (Divine Decrees) did you form me?” Or, more intrusively, “HOW LONG was it between your idea (foreknowledge) to create me and when you actually did it?” Further, “WHAT WAS YOUR REASONING behind making a decision (ordaining, predestinating) in the infinite past to create a batch of saved humans and another identical lost bunch for…come to think of it, when did you come up with the awful notion of Hell, anyhow?” Paul’s grand point of making his observation was the utter futility of even engaging in such useless intrusions into the Divine mind, the answer to which we in our fallen state cannot possibly comprehend now nor perhaps never will. In fact, the entire exercise in even attempting it can only be an indulgence of intellectual pride of one’s own mental powers. The intrusion amounts to the proverbial bull in the china closet horning around among precious things, which a bull’s nature knows nothing about. The same still applies today.

It must also be pointed out that Calvinism in any degree must in some degree hang its hat on the old Westminster Confession of Faith, which states unequivocally, “God did from all eternity, by the most just and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.”

But whether the Calvinistic theology be Absolute, Modified, Reformed, Presbyterian, Neo-Calvinist, Congregationalist, Particular Baptist, Reformed Baptist, Strict Baptist, Free Grace Baptist, Southern Baptist, Neo-Orthodoxy, Church of England, Church of Scotland, or even modified, rectified, qualified, certified or dignified, and whether the Divine Decrees were Sub-lapsarian, Anselmic Sub-lapsarian, Infra-lapsarian, Supra-lapsarian, or any other lapsarians, when all of that intellectual collection of theological ramifications of cranial speculation falls out to the man in the streets, he finds it overwhelming and meaningless to his own perceived reality of everyday living. All he knows for certain is that riding atop his shoulders is a sphere with the ability to decide for himself what he jolly well pleases, no matter if he is an atheist, serious Christian, an agnostic, or a nothing. He just knows for certain (what theologians call a Rational Intuition), that something is mysteriously missing in his soul, and he knows for certain when he hears some good news that will correct it. He knows for certain that he can accept it now and, if he wants to, can change his mind later and toss it out; he also knows he can reject it now and change his mind and accept it later. He is just naturally NOT confused at all about that part of his humanity. Why? Because it is something he does all the time, day in and day out, and that anything else is purely a figment of the imagination. How simple can THAT be? Any old John or Jane Doe seems to know those things about themselves by sheer instinct, and believes and behaves as if anyone who disagrees with that common sense has been standing too close to freeway fumes!

Such words as Divine predestination, foreordination, foreknowledge, decree, and others, although legitimate words of Scripture, have been pounced on by spoiled human intellect as a reflex to escape God’s long, holy, accusing finger at our guilt for disobedience. We have tried many dodging maneuvers in the past, but finally centered on a sophisticated system whereby we blame God by extolling His sovereignty over even our own free wills. It is unique in that while we laud and honor His greatness, we think we found lodging once for all, and warts and all, from further guilt by disappearing our finite wills inside His sovereign will where we can always excuse ourselves with “God is in control.”

It won’t work. Cover to cover, from Eden to the New Jerusalem, Scripture is a flashing billboard along life’s freeway telling every soul who ever lived that God longs to restore fellowship with every soul He breathes life into, none excluded. Each one is a very personal thing between that one soul and God Himself for the express purpose of intimate closeness and fellowship. It is a Divine love and longing strong enough that He would give His own Divine Son to make it possible. Lost people get saved, not because of Calvinist theology, but in spite of it. Once joined, the Infinite God is not there to be intellectually analyzed, but to be accepted at face value and worshipped as one’s Creator and Lord. The joining of Almighty God and a finite creature always leaves a Divine vapor trail of utter mystery, and He is shortchanged when we run behind Him to fix on the vapor trail instead of simply falling at His feet in worship and personal fellowship. If that is not what we do when we encounter Him, we have deceived ourselves in a false encounter. God created us as emotional creatures to emotionally react to Himself first of all. If we get emotional listening to The Grand Ol’ Opry, rock concerts, football games, soap operas, and comedy shows, but show up in God’s presence with dead-pan faces with starched shirts, and a two-by-four down our collars, then we missed our first purpose by a country mile!

It behooves us to reexamine the words in question as they appear in Scripture, and reinterpret them in light of literal and Scriptural reality of who God made us to be, instead of an intellectual construct of debated positional statements and humanist hatched ecclesiastical checkerboards of mathematical vanity. Ancient Israel tried it, but their faith became legalism and wound up crucifying the very Thing their entire system was supposed to be about. Paul, speaking prophetically to the Roman Christians in regard to God cutting off the Jews (the branches of the olive tree) and turning to the Gentiles (who had been grafted in), put it this way, “You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.’ Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off” (Rom. 11:19-22 NKJV). It behooves us to remember that the Jews’ rejection of their roots crucified their Messiah, for which God discarded their branches; Paul’s solemn warning against our failing to continue in His goodness is the identical reverse: we also crucify our Messiah if we fail to stand by faith. We fool ourselves if we think He will not also break off our branches, leaving only the roots available for His further consideration. As we serve our gracious God and Creator, let us fear Him as we adore Him.
—DA

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