While there are many who claim to understand this phrase, it only applies to the efforts of many evangelistic appeals that accompany a large majority of “evangelical” ministry. Easy believism as a term has been captured by some to mean simply believing the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in Scripture. For our conversation here, that is not what is meant. Easy believism is the realm of ‘quick’ and ‘fashioned’ methods or responses that supposedly secure faith. These methods are seen in the practices of the ‘altar call’, ‘sinner’s prayer’, ‘Jesus in the heart’, ‘making a decision for Jesus’, ‘checking the box’, ‘raising the hand’, ‘repeat after me’, and more other aspects of sealing the response to the Gospel command.

Without going into a 250-page history lesson on the Evangelical Church, I’ll just place a few highlights on the history of such practices:

  1. In the 19th century, Charles Finney had a very heretical view of man’s condition after the fall of Adam and Eve and supposed that preachers could overcome obstacles to faith in Christ. Finney is in gross error because scripture teaches that man is inherently depraved and sins because of his nature, sinner.
  2. He produced a series of revival tactics that included having people come forward to receive Christ while also employing multiple tactics like coercion through fear, sadness, music, stories, and mourners who would come forward with others to encourage them to “do something” in response to belief.
  3. Others copied and began to expand the practices of Finney which eventually changed the mission and message of preaching through manipulation and response, instead of the biblical teaching of “bold statement of the truth” and trusting in the Spirit to bring salvation.
  4. DL Moody was a successor of Finney who engaged in an ecumenical effort developing campaigns of ‘mulit-faith’ groups who would utilize music and celebrity appearance to bring hearers to the Finney style responses to a call, not to a clear Gospel message.
  5. The most prominent proponents of ‘decisionism’ is Billy Graham who started his ministry in 1950 and in the same year began a national radio show, “Hour of Decision.” This launched his revivalist efforts and Graham’s tactics and techniques have been normative for the majority of professions of faith for much of the 20th century.
  6. Evangelical churches continue to invest a great deal of time and energy in ‘decisions’ for Jesus while the church of America continually gets weaker and weaker in truth, commitment, sound doctrine, and power. The church answered this over the last 40 years by engaging more and more programs, training and assimilation strategies that further divide the simple and plain teaching of Scripture from the lives of people.

In brief, this type of belief is found in no place in scripture. Some may try to employ the Romans 10:9 card, but by doing so, they twist scripture for their own practices. Ultimately, the continued use of such things is a blatant disregard for the Lord and His word. It’s a refusal to listen to sound teaching and engage in useful and profitable dialog concerning the souls of men. Sadly, it appears that people really do love the glory that comes from men rather than God’s ultimate glory that is revealed in the ‘foolish’ gospel message of Scripture.

If you find yourself trusting in any of the aforementioned methods, I would encourage you to consider your hope and whether or not you really do have security in your eternal life. Maybe your hope really is in Christ Alone, and God pushed through the methods with the message of the cross to your ears. If not, then take a moment and write out your testimony. Describe your salvation, your hope, your security and your exultation in Christ. I will gladly and privately respond to walk you through the gospel of Christ and its absolute power over sin and death!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation first to the Jew then the Gentile. Romans 1:16.  Are you ashamed? Let’s pray not.

In closing, belief in Christ is easy. It is seeing and being persuaded of what God has said about His Son. What Jesus has accomplished in His life, death and resurrection constitute the good news, because, without it, every human being is justly condemned in his sins. Believe ‘simply’ on Christ Alone, if you really think about it, all this other stuff isn’t easy at all, but more and more works that condemn and have no object of hope.

For His Glory,

Pastor James

In a recent conversation with a brother in Christ, the matter of the invitational system arose whereby he inquired about the biblical nature of such things. When he confronted the practice with the question of its biblical authority, the brother was led to history and tradition as the backbone of the practice.  This evening I read a post on Facebook related to the same subject and felt it would be good to share some of the points as taught by Dr. WR Downing on the true nature of salvation, which is the new birth, not a choice of man.  While I personally could tragically kill such practice with general elementary exposition of biblical text, especially John 3, Dr. Downing’s thoughts on the nature of conversion ring loud and clear.  More importantly, the scripture speaks to the nature of God’s work ALONE in salvation, thus the following:

True conversion is spiritual. It is much more than merely a question of man’s will or seeking to redirect it under preaching. Conversion is the result of the effectual work of the Spirit of God in regeneration. Conversion is the immediate and spontaneous outward manifestation of regeneration or the “new birth.” The very nature of the regeneration itself reveals its utter necessity before man can savingly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. The necessity of regeneration or the new birth is found in the utter spiritual impotence of man (Jn. 3:3, 5; 1 Cor. 2:14), the blinding power of the devil (Matt. 13:4, 19; 2 Cor. 4:3–6), the eternal redemptive purpose, and the righteous character and omnipotence of God. If any human being is to be saved or delivered from the reigning power of sin, his own innate animosity toward God, the blinding power of Satan, and ultimately delivered from eternal hell, God must initiate the work of salvation (Isa. 64:6; Matt. 13:3–4, 18–19; Acts 16:14; Rom. 1:18–25; 3:11, 27–21; 8:5–8; 1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:3–6; Eph. 2:1–10; 4:17–19; Titus 3:5; 1 Jn. 5:19). To say all this is to declare that salvation is by grace; anything less would be a denial of the same.

There are six essential spiritual realities which comprise regeneration, or the “new birth.” If any one of these realities is not true or actual within the personality, the individual is yet unregenerate: first, the impartation of Divine life (Jn. 3:3, 5; Eph. 2:1, 4–5). Unless the individual receives such a principle of spiritual life, he cannot even “see” the kingdom of God, much less enter it. He may perceive, know or understand much, even so as to be without excuse, but his will is bent toward sin and evil and his inner being is darkened (Rom. 1:18–25; 1 Cor. 2:14).

Second, the breaking of the reigning power of sin (Rom. 6:3–14, 17–18, 20, 22). Every human being by nature is a willing bondslave of sin. This power is broken by God in a definitive act of grace, and a radical cleavage is made with the reigning power of sin in the life. This aspect of sanctification—definitive sanctification—is contemporaneous with regeneration.

Third, the removal of natural heart–enmity against God and his truth (Rom. 8:7–8; 1 Cor. 2:14). Man by nature has an innate aversion to God and his truth. This animosity is removed by a sovereign act of God, enabling the sinner to savingly turn to God in the context of his truth.

Fourth, the re–creation of the image of God in principle (Eph. 4:22–24; Col. 3:1–10). Both these passages refer to a past act, not to an entreaty. Man was created as the image–bearer of God. In the Fall, this image was devastated spiritually, morally and intellectually; the thought–process became fragmented and given to futility. The physical body, with its appetites and desires, assumed a controlling influence over the individual (Rom. 6:6, 11–14; Eph. 4:17–19). In regenerating grace, God re–creates the image of God anew in principle in righteousness, holiness of the truth and knowledge—a spiritual, moral and intellectual transformation. With the mind thus freed, and a holy disposition given to the personality, the sinner is enabled to freely turn to Christ in faith as presented in the gospel message.

Fifth, the removal of satanic blindness (2 Cor. 4:3–6). Above and beyond all matters of the will or heart, looms the awful, evil power of Satan, who specifically blinds sinners to the truth of the gospel. He further seeks to remove any influence of the gospel in any way he possibly can (Matt. 13:3–4, 18–19; Mk. 4:4, 15; Lk. 8:5, 12). This blinding influence is removed by an act of God’s grace.

Sixth, the gift of saving faith (Eph. 2:4–10). Conversion, or repentance from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is inseparable from regeneration. Conversion is the infallible and immediate consequence of the work of the Holy Spirit upon and within the personality (Acts 16:14). The Scriptures usually consider regeneration and conversion inclusively as one. It is conversion, pointedly personal faith in the Lord Jesus and repentance from sin, which necessarily and infallibly expresses the work of God within the personality (Acts 13:12, 48; 14:1; 16:14, 27–34; 17:4, 11–12, 34; 18:8, 27; 19:18; Rom. 10:9–10, 13, 17; 1 Cor. 2:4–5; Eph. 2:4–10).

So beloved, let us hold dear to the person of Jesus Christ and His infallible word through which one can find salvation by grace alone through faith alone. Anything else is just demonic.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor James

pencil point

The struggle against the glory of God is as old as Adam. Well, it’s actually older. Lucifer had his eye on the beauty of God’s glory eternities prior to the creation and once man was made, he did his best to jump into the “see the glory” and “make it yours” game. While most all professing believers agree that God is most serious about His own glory, few actually understand what it means and how to define God’s glory in the first place. Taking on such a task would not suffice on an article post and the “point” here is to respond to a public “idea” that pits God’s glory against what is stated as “the gospel.”

The Old Testament is replete with example after example of God being most concerned with His glory and this textual expression is upheld by the New Testament. For example, Psalm 19:1 says that all the heavens declare the glory of God and Romans 1:20 advises that His invisible attributes are seen through creation, specifically His eternal POWER and DIVINE nature. Many more opportunities in the New Testament lecture the reader toward understanding that God’s glory is HIS visible power, nature, mind, actions, etc. In other words, God’s glory is GOD alone, it is the expression of Himself in all manners and means both generally and specifically.

The fall of man is measured against the “glory” of God. Therefore, it is a just condemnation when God’s glory is at stake. Man is compared to God and in doing so, God’s glory is revealed to be HIGH above the place of man. In Genesis, God said that it was GOOD to create man, as we began we saw that God says all that He has made is a display of His glory and now, the created man no longer displays such glory but falls far from it. (Romans 3:23) So, God’s glory is seen in creation and defamed in sin. Several places in the prophets we can see God acting for the sake of HIS NAME alone. His name, being coupled intrinsically with His being and essence reflect the whole sum of Himself in some respects, thus His glory.

The Glory of God is used often to describe the attributes and actions of God and seems to be the “END” purpose of all His being and doing. Paul says several times in the inclusive argument of Ephesians that the purpose of redemption was for God’s grace to be praised (His work, Himself) and this grace is described using the word “glorious”. Maybe God cares about His name and glory… maybe this is actually what scripture teaches.  Some would argue that the glory of God is just a simple attribute of His power or something else and is just a particle of the whole. This stands in arrogance as well as extreme ignorance of the nature of God in the first place. (We will cover this in later discussions)  So to the end of understanding a few things, God’s glory is the beginning and the end, for HE is the self sufficient, all powerful God who needs nothing, lacks nothing, exults in Himself, and is far above all things. In a real sense, to look at anything else but God and the fullness of His glory is just a boring journey of garbage and to apply any created purpose or person even at “equal” standing with the Glory of God is Satanic. (Just look at the words of Satan at his demise and his temptation of the first family and the Christ)

God’s glory should be seen as the point of LIFE and MISSIONS and EVANGELISM and PURPOSE.  We can prove it in any text at any time and we would do well to write such things. But let’s start and end with this: John 1 says that the GLORY OF GOD IS SEEN IN THE FULLNESS OF JESUS CHRIST. Please refrain from argument here, so many times I look forward to the day where ALL MOUTHS WILL BE SHUT, but I am thankful that God is gracious enough to enable us to know Him.  Salvation is KNOWING GOD (John 17:3, John 6:40) and the Son which is believing.  So, salvation comes only through SEEING the glory of God and KNOWING God through His revealed Glory. This is God’s work and it is FULLY effectual FOR HIS GLORY!

When it comes to the exercise of the so-called church as of late and so-called evangelism and missions much is waining in regards to the authority of God over the message and methods. Such is true when anyone argues that the point of missions is the “gospel” over the “glory of God” when the GLORY of God is the Gospel. Sadly, only the saints of Christ can see and understand this. Only those who behold the fullness of God’s glory in Jesus Christ can savor the majesty of God as their soul-satisfying portion. The Gospel is such because of God’s glory because it is God’s glory.  “GOSPEL” is a newly created word taken historically from “God speaks” revealed in the New Testament as the “The Good News.”

So, the “Good News” of Jesus Christ is the message of salvation which is a reflection of God’s good nature, love, mercy and grace. The Gospel is not a story, it is not a response, it is not a plan of salvation, it is the WORK OF GOD unto salvation by HIS POWER. The problem is that so many professional churchmen and executives with the title of Pastor do not like the humility required to behold and labor in the gospel of God’s glory. They prefer to be ashamed and thus have created a new gospel, which is damnation, not delight.  The Gospel of God is the absolute reality that God became man, born of a virgin who He created into a world that He created in order to perfectly save a people that He created who rebelled against Him and cared not to see His glory but gloried in what they could touch and see. (Rom 1)  The gospel is that this God-man lived a divinely holy and righteous life as a full human being and then willfully and gloriously suffered the cross and death to receive the penalty of sin and was raised to life. Faith in this work of God, this man of God, this God-man is the only way to salvation. Salvation only comes by the PREACHING of the words of Christ (Rom 10:17) who declared that IF YOU HAVE SEEN the Son, you have seen the Father and the Father made this GLORY manifest for salvation. (1 John 1)

The points:

  • The church exists to display the glory of God because she IS because of His working power.
  • Missions exist to reach out with the glory of God seen only in Jesus Christ
  • Worship is done by those who are saved to the “praise of His glorious Grace.”
  • All who believe reflect the GLORY of God and this pleases Him to see HIS work and POWER before Him.
  • Attempts to marginalize “evangelism” toward the purpose of methods and messages are missing the point.
  • Don’t take my word for any of this, read the scripture, be a Berean, know truth, not “tradition”.
  • The GOSPEL is ALL ABOUT GOD, not our response, not our message, but God alone sending Jesus the Son alone to save His sheep alone. Let’s stop missing the point.

For His Glory By His Grace,

Pastor James

 

For more reading, try here: (we do not necessarily endorse all views on links or resources but provide them for extra study and consideration – even opposing views. We desire that our readers would engage in scripture and be learned by God and among the local congregation instead of just regurgitating learned principles)

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/3120.htm
http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Attributes/attrib_01.htm
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/glory.pdf

Just a short search reveals that there are a plethora of articles written about the pros and cons of social media. And there’s no lack of commentators on the concept that social media and mobile living have negative consequences. The purpose of this writing is not to revisit these issues nor is it to actually add to the conversation, but to look at the use of social media, text messages, and non-personal communication as un-biblical and most applications.  What I mean by that is this, that the word of God regulates all that we do as Christians, and because of this the word of God must regulate our use, our language, and our communication when using technology. Without such thinking the Christian community finds itself much like the world when it comes to the use of Facebook or twitter and even the use of text messaging. As a pastor of the local church, I’m finding more and more conflict and sin arising from the fleshly assumptions that are inferred from the non-communicative use of these platforms. After all, if we are to do all things for the glory of God into the honor of his name, and we are to at all times be considering how we are to spur one another on toward  love and good deeds, then we must be very critical and discerning on how we speak, what we share, and how we look to the outside world and to each other when laying our words into public view. The church of Jesus Christ is the light of the world, that means that we reflect his nature, his heart, his words, and the fullness of the glory of God in reflection as his body. Therefore to say and do something that is contrary to the heart and nature of Jesus Christ our Lord, who is the God who created all things and to his holy and above all, is to bring shame and reproach upon the name of Jesus. There is much I would like to say, but I feel it vital to stick to the matter of most importance.

Anonymity in Consequences reveal the Truth of the Heart (Matt 15:18)

In reality, the heart of man is revealed in his words above many things. Those words are a product of his true nature, and if the words on social platforms are not reflective of Christ, then they are devoid of Christ. This goes from the type of things we “like”, “share” or discuss and most importantly, it moves into our conversations and engagements. If our interaction with people is small bits of online trivia or even spiritual memes or bible verses then who are we really talking to? The ‘one’ or the whole? And when we speak on the web, why is it that we are able to say things in such a manner that seems to provide no shame or restraint? This happens because there is really no consequences for our words online. No frowns, no harsh looks, and no real empathy of having to see someone else who is hurt by what we say and how we say it. Now there is a point where sometimes people just read wrongly what we mean but even in that, we ought to consider the fact that we may cause someone else to stumble due to our “freedom” of expression.  It is better to remain quiet and “seem” wise than to speak and be shown an idiot. (Proverbs 17:28… look it up.) So, I believe that the church ought to employ policies that incorporate social platforms and text messages because it is our words and it is our hearts. So, if I offend you in person or online, it is a matter of gospel proportions to which the word of God commands reconciliation. Imagine being brought under public discipline in the church because of your facebook page. Remember out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks – or types.

Mission of Social Voice conflicts with Message of the Savior (Mark 16:15)

While it is true that Christian should be concerned with issues related to justice, social problems, economics etc.; we should relate to these things as they are presented in scripture: temporal and certain. And at times we should cry out when injustice prevails and wickedness reigns so that we are lights pointing to and shining out of darkness. We are not to be so dominated by these matters that our light just becomes darkness. We are not to mis-engage the culture with culture but we are to confront the culture with the gospel. There is NO HOPE in government but there is MUCH HOPE in Jesus Christ. So, when we spend all of our waking hours promoting our views, our desires, our opinions or even our platforms we have missed the boat and left the gospel out. There is not to even be balance on these matters because we should be known for the gospel so that when we speak of other things, it shocks people into listening. “Wow, he said something about _______, all he ever talks about is Christ, we better see what has taken his time from Jesus and pay attention.”  Just a thought…

Communication is Thought Flowing not Sound Bites (Col 4:6)

When we communicate, there are many ways to do so and much of communication is non-verbal. So when words are heard the hearer must judge what is being said in the context of SYNTAX and COUNTENANCE.  So, a small bite of information on a page, phone or computer is not communication worth considering. Who can explain a theological position in 140 characters? Who can expose all the points of view on an issue with a “share” or “like”? What text message is not going to be read from the emotional state of the recipient? See the point? We are called to communicate truth and engage the world with truth while we engage each other with truth. When our life consists of continued sound bites, that’s all we are; a pundit talking head with no meaning. So, when using sound bite technology, it must ALWAYS point people to a real relationship that is going to suffer and grow as it matures.

Judgment is Made from a Part instead of Knowing the Fullness in Wisdom (Prov 1:5 & Jas 3:13)

Recently I responded publicly to a private request to review some material on a very controversial subject. I did so because I typed the word “done” in the comment section instead of the reply section to the private post. In doing so I was bombarded by people from all across the nation accusing me of things that they “assumed” the word “done” meant. Then they began to pass judgment on my character, my faith and my purpose. While I first took these things personally, I realized how quickly such things can devour the church, so I have decided to do no more comments other than personal engagement in a public way. (Like, “Great job son….”) While there may be exceptions, for the most part when we speak personally online or via text, it is misunderstood because there is no context. We need to stop this stupidity and learn to talk on the phone so we can explain ourselves as the LORD commands us to. Oh yeah, it does BEHOOVE each of us in Christ to answer biblical rebuke to our character. Anyone who thinks otherwise should be warned. The Bible is in authority over us. (that’s a period)

Breeding of Trivial and Temporal Mindsets oppose Making Disciples of all Nations (Matt 28:19-20)

I guess breeding may be a poor choice of words but it’s how I view it. One places text for view and then another reads it and at the end of the day we know our personality type, our favorite food, have seen three people set themselves on fire and read 100 memes about how God is so good. So what? It’s silly and worthless and has no eternal value at all making it a huge waste of time. It would be different if it wasn’t a continual factory of nonsense, but it’s constant. Let’s be intentional in our disciple making. Leave a legacy not a laughing stock.

Pride of Opinion defuncts Precious Gospel-Powered Affection (1 Cor 13:7)

This one speaks for itself. The ultimate sin of such things is that we lose sight of Christ and our love for each other because the wickedness of our world consumes us and for some strange reason we feel that it is worth divorce.

Idolatry of gods vs the Incredible God of Truth (1 John 5:21)

Time is spent somewhere… and boy it surprises me sometimes when I log onto the web in the evenings to see people who have shared everything under the sun starting at 9PM and continuing until 2AM. Where would these people be if they prayed that much? Where would the nation and the church be if the people of God spent more time praying than spraying silliness across the “interwebs”? Let us repent of such idolatry. If it isn’t time then maybe it is ZEAL. That’s right… I see people walking around with their phones never to have a moment without it open. I learned years ago that I hated technology in my face when I don’t want it there. So, I leave my phone at home or else I would be subject to the same aggravation. It’s time that Christians get out of touch because honestly, we are not in touch in ANY good way. And even if we are, the side views and other things that catch our eye to see the good far outweigh the worth of the good. Maybe it’s time we just go back to connecting with no public profiles at all, no smart phones and no wasted lives.  We must put Christ at the center of our lives if He is indeed our Savior. If He cannot be the center, then He isn’t the center and our profession of faith is a lie and we do not practice the truth. So, utilize social media as if Christ is seeing it, because He is, because He is the Lord of Facebook, Twitter, Texts, Youtube and all!

There is a place for things. I just don’t think it is what it should be for holy people. I will be posting my own journey on this road and the steps I am taking to secure not just my witness but intimacy with my family and friends for the sake of growing in grace instead of growing without a face.

Seriously Engaged by the Grace of God for your Good.

Pastor James

As I finalize the final pages of my recent publication, I have decided to make an addendum inclusive of three final chapters. These will refer to recent (3 years) ongoings and attacks against me and others related to our congregation and teaching ministry for no real reason at all. The matter, while the theology is vital, really hurts me because the manner in which so many respond, attack or accuse their “brothers in Christ” is unbiblical and downright wicked. I forwarded a recent article to several brothers this week and below I have pasted a very good response to the matter . More will follow.

A Response to Dr. Michael A Cox’s Article: Is Calvinism Spiritual Racism? by Dr. Edward Dalcour, Ph.D.

I just read an article on the SBC Today site entitled: Is Calvinism Spiritual Racism?—by Dr. Michael A Cox—Pastor, FBC Pryor, OK (http://sbctoday.com/is-calvinism-spiritual-racism). Dr. Cox, as with others in the SBC, is now participating in the newest wrinkle of the SBC against Calvinism. Like the many others who have attempted to promote a patently synergistic soteriology, Cox takes it to an unusual level of mischaracterization and irresponsible scholarship.

First, it is not my intention here to provide a point by point exegetically refutation the passages that Dr. Cox misapplies (esp. John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:4; and 2 Pet. 3:9). This has been countless times by myself and by many others. My intention is to provide some clarity and accuracy pertaining to Calvinism in light of Dr. Cox’s inaccurate depiction and maltreatment of it. And hopefully cause folks that read his article to invest in a more scholarly examination of it from qualified sources.

In the beginning of his article, Dr. Cox’s likens Calvinism with Hinduism when he states at the outset: “I will contend that Hinduism, Racism, and Calvinism have many things in common.” This kind of argument is, of course, logically invalid, as is the argument “all Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Arminianism has many things in common such as conditional election; salvation being left in the hands of the unregenerate; faith and some kind of work(s) being required for salvation (regeneration); God cannot overpower man’s untouchable ‘free-will’ in salvation; etc.”

However, there is a rudimentary defect that is quite apparent throughout the content of his article. Dr. Cox’s assertions are grounded on mistaken views of what Calvinism (that is, the “doctrines of grace”) actually teaches. For example, Dr. Cox uses terms such as “spiritual determinism,” “spiritual caste,” “spiritual bigotry,” “spiritual prejudice,” etc. in his portrayal of Calvinism demonstrating his vast misunderstanding of it. This causes me to wonder if Dr. Cox has read even the most basic works on Calvinism and/or read any of standard Calvinistic/Reformed confessions.

Next Dr. Cox asserts: “It would be interesting to know how many non-Caucasians actually embrace five-point Calvinism as a genuine Bible doctrine.” Really? So here Dr. Cox uses an ad populum argument (fallacy) to validate biblical truth. Did Cox do any research at all on this? Is he aware of the Dutch Reformed movement in Africa, which is one of the largest movements in Africa? The Dutch Reform are a part of the World Fellowship of Reformed Churches—, which is one of the largest “Christian” international communions in the world. Embarrassingly, Dr. Cox is not well educated on religious demography—thus, he should not make these obtuse implications about how many non-Caucasians embrace Calvinism.

Further, in his effort to show that Calvinism is spiritually racist, Dr. Cox asserts: “Calvinism is nothing short of baptized racism, advocating the dogma that one group, the non-elect, is condemned by God to spiritual inferiority and another group, the elect, is destined to spiritual superiority.” Again, statements such as these only show his lack of knowledge on Calvinism. I wonder if Dr. Cox would see Paul’s statement in Rom. 9:21 regarding the Potter (God) having the right (exousian) to make (poiew) from the same lump(all men) one person/vessel for honor (timēn) and another for no honor (atimian), “nothing short of baptized racism, advocating the dogma that one group, the non-elect, is condemned by God . . . and another group, the elect, is destined to spiritual superiority”?

Apparently, Dr. Cox just cannot accept a God that would do this. Nor can Dr. Cox accept Paul’s presentation of vessels/men of wrath that God prepared (note the perfect passive form of katartizw) for destruction. To be sure, the God that Paul speaks of is not the God that Dr. Cox imagines.

Dr. Cox represents Calvinism as “nothing short of promoting a prideful theology of supposed spiritual superiority, due to election.” However, in Acts 16:6ff., we read that the Holy Spirit stopped Paul and Timothy from preaching the gospel in Asia in which many people died without ever hearing the gospel. So would Dr. Cox also charge the Holy Spirit with having a “prideful theology” of election and “baptized racism” since it was the Holy Spirit who chose to prevent some from hearing the gospel? (as the Father does, cf. Luke 10:20-22).

But what I find most befuddling is that Dr. Cox holds a DMin. with (as his bio states) an emphasis on biblical hermeneutics. However, Dr. Cox fast-ball pitches the big three Arminian passages (viz., John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:4; and 2 Pet. 3:9) into his article presupposing they support his views (with no hint of exegetical verification). It is evident to me that Dr. Cox does not apply the same hermeneutical (and exegetical) emphasis to these three passages that he does to passages he would use to affirm, say,  justification by faith alone or the deity of Christ. For Dr. Cox, it seems that “tradition” and his devotion to synergism dictates his so-called hermeneutical method.

Does Dr. Cox suppose that no one who reads his article, which is circulated outside the safety of his church bulletin, has (or will) meaningfully interacted with these three (and other) passages on a basic exegetical level arriving at an interpretation in opposition to his view? The fact that Dr. Cox casually tosses them into the mix in an attempt to prove his position shows that his interpretation of these three passages are really established by the removal of single passages out of its entire context and pre-assigning a universal meaning to pas (“all”) and kosmos (“world”). This, to be sure, is in no way an “emphasis on biblical hermeneutics.” Rather, it is an emphasis on tradition and high emotion—thus, not on the actual exegesis of the passages.

Next Dr. Cox says, “God has demonstrated his love for all people many times over. He did so by promising to make Abraham, a.k.a. Abram, from Ur of the Chaldeans (Gen. 11:31), a blessing to all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:1-3). It is amazing to me that Dr. Cox would make this kind of hermeneutic mistake—applying a universal meaning to the phrase in Gen. 12:3, “all the families of the earth,” when the Apostle Paul tells us what is meant here: “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you’” (Gal. 3:8). Hence according to Paul, “all the nations” (note Paul usage of ethnē, “nations/Gentiles” and not phulai [LXX] to explicate his point) refers to God’s eternal purpose in justifying (note the present indic. dikaioi, “justifies”) the Gentiles by faith (that which was foreseen in Gen. 12). In Acts 13:48, the Gentiles rejoiced at the fact that salvation was brought also to them: “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed [note the plu-perf. part, tetagmenoi] to eternal life believed.”

Virtually every time ethnē/ethnos is used in the NT, it referred to unbelieving Gentiles/heathens, and at times, believing Gentles, and only rarely was it used to denote “people” in a general sense. Dr. Cox seems oblivious to the apostle’s own interpretation of Gen. 12:3 overlooking the exegetical points and Paul’s defining context of the entire chapter of Gal. 3. Even more, in Gal. 3:29, Paul defines as to what nations are blessed (and thus, the promise of Gen 12): “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” Thus, the ones who “belong to Christ” are the heirs according to the promise or blessing of Abraham. In the same sense, Rev. 5:9 states of the Son: “You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation [ethnos].” Does Dr. Cox realize that God loving all of His people/family and sending His Son to die for them is consistent with Calvinism?

As seen, Dr. Cox’s conclusions of Calvinism (as “spiritual racism,” etc.) are built on faulty presuppositions. I do not think Dr. Cox would charge Calvinism with “spiritual racism” likening it to Hinduism and assert many other mischaracterizations if Dr. Cox reached at least an elementary level of understanding as to what Calvinism actually affirms.

Lastly, as with so many Christians who are so antagonistic to Calvinism, Dr. Cox 1) holds to a crass and mistaken understanding of Calvinism, 2) does not engage in proper exegesis on the passages he uses to endorse conditional election and universal atonement,which is especially seen when he applies a universal meaning to various OT passages and Greek terms such as pas and kosmos when they are contextually unwarranted, and 3) seems to have a disjointed view of the love of God limiting it to a universal redemptive love for every single person, which results in a view where God keeps waiting for and wanting all men to respond to His “great” plan of redemption, but He keeps failing in His effort to save all men every time someone dies in unbelief.

As a Christian apologist (and esp. for pastors), truth and providing an accurate representation of both biblical doctrine and other religious systems (Christian or non-Christian) is first and foremost. Dr. Cox presents in his article his “personal” views of Calvinism in which, in my assessment, are very misleading and inaccurate showing his lack of scholarship and basic understanding of Calvinism. As seen, he has fallen prey to the traditional ruse and pride of the autosoteric (self-salvation) system of Arminianism in which prompted him to launch an unreasonable and very haphazard attack on Calvinism.

Because Dr. Cox’s knowledge of Calvinism is apparently vacuous, he sees it as, among other things, a “prideful theology.” However, if he would ever take the time to do a scholarly study and educate himself on what it actually teaches he would understand that Calvinism, that is, the doctrines of grace exalts and recognizes God as the sovereign God in and of all things (cf. Eph. 1:1) including the eternal destiny of all menhence, salvation is of God alone! In contrast, Arminian soteriology sees man as sovereign over his own eternal destiny—thus, it is man’s so-called righteous “ability” cooperating with God’s plan (just as Rome teaches), not God’s grace alone. Hence, the Arminian system is a man-centered system (which we call pride), it is a  “I did it” scheme in which the ultimate decision of choosing Christ is essentially placed in the hands of the unregenerate sinner (in the face of opposing biblical passages, such as John 6:44; 63; 8:43-44, 47; Rom. 8:7-8; 1 Cor. 1:30-31; etc.)

Calvinism is called the “doctrines of grace” for the simple reason that Scripture presents that by God’s grace alone, He gave to Christ those whom He chose for Himself to deliver and set them free from the bondage of sin. He chose these in love, before the foundation of the world, not on the basis of a foreknowledge response to their works, but according to the kind intention of His will. These He made alive granting them faith justifying them in which He adopted them as sons when He was not obligated to do so—but by His grace alone: “So then, He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” And, “By His doing,” not our doing, we “are in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:3-31; cf. Rom. 8:28-30; 9:16, 21-23; Eph. 1:4-5; 2:8-10; Phil. 1:29; 2 Thess. 2:13; etc.).

– Dr. Edward Dalcour

Dr. David F. Wells (PhD, University of Manchester) is the Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In addition to serving as academic dean at Gordon-Conwell’s Charlotte campus, Wells has been a member of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, a distinguished lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, and the recipient of a major grant from the Pew Charitable Trust. The author of numerous articles and books, he has written extensively on postmodernism, open theism, and the history of Christianity in America.  Over a decade ago he penned a small article entitled, “The Bleeding of the Evangelical Church” that broke some surface thought on at that time, a major problem among Evangelical churches in America. Some of the foundations of his concerns have yet to be seen or even addressed and I fear that today’s church is more than dead, she has become apostate. That article is copied here in its entirety from Monergism.com.  I would love to hear your thoughts as we process such things together, for the good of our hope in Christ Jesus.

 

The Bleeding of the Evangelical Church

by David F. Wells

Article by Dr. David Wells, from a booklet of the same name, copyrighted by The Banner of Truth Trust.

I came to America twenty-five years ago, a newly minted doctor and ready to begin a teaching ministry. Today I look back on this quarter of a century with immense gratitude for the opportunity to serve Christ during these years and for the nourishment which I have received from the Church during this time.

This quarter of a century has been a time of many bright highlights, but if I am not mistaken it is also a time of lengthening shadows in our evangelical world. We have been transformed from being an inconsequential religious player to one of some consequence during this time, but the costs are now becoming plain.

Twenty-five years ago, evangelicals were outside the religious establishment. That establishment was made up principally of the mainline denominations. But today evangelicals have become the religious establishments, however informally. But despite this, I believe that today we are in some peril. We have a fight on our hands and what we’re fighting for is our evangelical soul, for it is possible for us to gain the whole religious world while losing our own souls. I do not say this because I am one of those who thinks that the best is always what is in the past, that we are always in a state of decline, and that if we want to think of a golden age we have to think of something that is behind us. I do not think that way at all. In some ways we, today, are better off than we were twenty-five years ago. Perhaps a lot better off. And yet in spite of that, I believe there are matters within the evangelical world today which are seriously amiss. Continue reading “Evangelical Death or Delusion?”

In my entire life I have been inundated with ideals, philosophies, strategies, theories, plans, events, and efforts to engage the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If I were to frame and paste every “certification” in evangelism techniques I have it would cover a good 1000 square feet of wall for sure.  While I don’t want to sound crass or ungrateful for many who serve the Lord in an effort to reach people with the gospel, I have to maintain a strict understanding of what scripture teaches and how God alone gives life to unbelievers in spite of the style and engagement of human beings. In my brief two decades in ministry I have discerned several reasons why people do not share their faith.

They are not in the faith

According to scripture, MOST people among the fellowship of local congregations are NOT in Christ. They enjoy the life of church, but not the giver of life. Jesus says that many are going through the broad way and few will find and enter the narrow gate. He says that He is the door to Heaven, not the ways or words of man. So, for a large majority of people, they don’t share the faith because they don’t have it to share. No one can give what they do not possess.

They are ill equipped by methods and memorization

Being ill equipped is either one of two things: First, it is not being taught anything about sharing the faith, living the faith or the like and second, it is being taught that sharing the faith is a method, system, strategy etc. that completely disregards the commands and practice of God’s word. When people learn to throw a ball, they don’t need lessons and strategies dealing with their finger placement, rotation of spin, muscle retention in the fingertips, or the methods of measuring the arch, friction, or force of the ball moving through the air.  They just need to pick it up and throw it to someone. Scripture teaches that sharing the faith is done in only TWO ways. Through the teaching of God’s Word either through preaching or daily living. Matthew 28:19-21 teaches that all Christians are to just simply teach others to obey Christ through the Scriptures. There is nothing more to it. I guess the question should then look to the first point, do those who profess Christ even know what He has certainly said they will be and do in the first place?

They are fearful due to a lack of power from God’s word

Fear intimidates many in the faith because they see all the magnificent oration and presentation skills of so many and their ability reason and engage in dialog and debate. They feel as if they would never be able to do these things and in a biblical sense, they should not do them. Paul says to the Corinthian church that he did not come in “eloquence of speech” or in wisdom but in “fear and much trembling” being nearly “unable to speak.” He says this because that was his ability, not what we think when we consider successful evangelism. When we put ANY ANY ANY ANY ANY ANY ANY stock in one’s ability to share the gospel, we have dismissed the cross of ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL power. Read 1 Corinthians 1 for the proof.

They don’t have the word of God in their fellowship 

I won’t claim that many people sit in ignorance of their own doing on this matter but I will say that for the most part they sit under talking but not teaching. Teaching requires something being learned and when all one gets from a so-called preacher is stories, examples, personal reflection, commentary or worse, life lessons, they are NOT getting any teaching from Scripture because it doesn’t teach these things. It doesn’t need these things. It doesn’t requires these things. If God’s word is preached as it is written, the the wisdom of man moves into the garbage and God’s wisdom who is Christ Jesus Shines clearly to empower HIS true church to teach others the same.

They think it requires a response by all who hear

Sadly, the efforts of sharing the faith in the last 100 or so years has been compacted to a few verses, a technique or two and then a request for a response to which men, beginning with Satan in the garden then to Charles Finney during the SGA, has gladly put their seal upon as the “right” response for the gospel “plan” or “presentation.”  I will remain focused on this point but if you read more and listen more you will see I have very little tolerance for this “bewitched” practice of damnation that plagues the world today settling the hearts of many who believe they are born again when they are not.  God’s word demands a response and the effect of teaching people to obey Christ and to believe in Christ and to repent of their desires to find JOY in Christ is either God saving them through the hearing of the gospel (Christ died for the ungodly for the judgement of sins) or hardening them through the idea of legalism or rejection of the truth. (Rom 1)  We should not lead people through a process of saying or doing anything but rather engagement to be continually committed to the joy of Christ through the fellowship of the saints around the word and worship. (See Matthew 28 again if you need to.)

Share the faith, share the gospel, live the life of a child of God and stick to the word of God and watch God make disciples!   μαθητεύω (For my Greek Loving Peeps… take a gander at that verb found in Matt 28:19)

In the end, many practices or lack there of regarding evangelism are a direct result of either not knowing or not trusting in the promises of God. Scripture teaches that all who see the Kingdom of Heaven and Enter it are “born of God” (John 3) and that only through hearing of the words of Christ will God create life in that hearing unto faith. (Rom 10:17)  So, when the church begins to reduce God’s saving grace little more than being sincere like when you get married, make a new year’s resolution or commit to a job, then we have failed the cross most certainly and it’s no wonder why so many Christians just are not willing to engage in a losing, false converting game of cat and mouse.

Matthew 28:19–20 (ESV)

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

See this text. It brings with it decades if not near centuries of man-made manure of purveying a godless hope for the gain of self glory and head counting producing false celebration, false worship and false churches for the world to love and enjoy. Jesus says simply that sharing the faith in obedience to Him is on two things:

  1. As you “GO” – so we have to be in the world doing our daily things.
  2. “Make disciples” – this is what we think we’re doing by “committing” people to Christ or sharing the “process” of salvation when Jesus clearly explains it.
    • Making disciples is bringing them into the flock of Christ evidenced by Baptism or inclusion into the local church. This would be those who desire to “know” and “learn” Christ who profess in their own understanding that they are born again by Him. (A whole new discussion)
    • Making disciples is teaching them to observe (0bey) ALL His commands.

The result of real evangelism is that CHRIST IS WITH US ALL until the end of age. Amen.

Pastor James

 

There is no lack of evidence and media coverage in the last few years of law enforcement taking wrong actions and causing deaths because of abuse of power, fear, overreach of authority and most likely, bigotry.  I have remained silent on these issues recently in an attempt to look through the lens of objectivity and scripture so that my responses and thoughts are not emotional salt in readily forced open wounds.  That being said, I have come to conclude a few things that may be of interest for the body of Christ to consider and understand that we have a platform not so much for change, but for grace and power.

Here are seventeen thoughts on the recent issues related to police violence and death.  If you are not privy to what I am referring, then just turn on a news broadcast, you will quickly be informed.

  1. Christians should not be surprised by the fact that people are wicked, hateful, racist, power hungry and murderous.  It’s the nature of the human condition that we are at inception fully focused on self and self feelings and self power.  So do not think it strange… that racism and power have not subsided.
  2. Christians should know that while these happenings are not new and while they are extremely wicked and evil, things could be and have been worse.  This is not to down play anything but to remind us of history and that if things do not change, they will become very very worse.
  3. Christians should always remember that even in the worst of American history, many in other countries are suffering to a greater degree at the present time.  So many people in other lands are even suffering because of their faith in Jesus Christ, and they are being tortured and burned for it.
  4. Christians should be aware that there is a proven fear of “black” men in America even among the “black” culture according to recent research done at Stanford University but even so, these recent happenings are not bad because they are targeted, they are result of bigoted fear and hunger for control and power. At the core of it stands power and pride.  It is wicked because it is an attack against people, those who bear the image of God, not because of skin color or economy.
  5. Christians should remember that even though our laws and constitution protects against such actions, the erosion of truth among the “church” and the failure of focus has aided in making the law of America less necessary.
  6. Christians should realize that because of this “lawless” mentality that the culture has established entitlement over justice whereby those who are not “in power” are abused by the entitlement of power. Staying alive is not entitlement, it is a natural right for all people, especially when the constitution grants it.
  7. Christians should know that ALL authority is placed in power by God and is known as those who govern or rule.  Scripture also teaches that those who do “good” or live “rightly” should have no fear of the sword.
  8. Then why is there a need to fear law enforcement?  Even when doing right after doing wrong is doing right (ie. submitting to discussion or arrest.)  Even then, the police are NOT government.
  9. Christians should realize that according to our own laws and government, that law enforcement is NOT authoritative but “enforcing” the laws of those who govern. They are to abide by the law, not violate the law because they are slaves to the public who pay their salaries in taxes, both property and sales.  Slaves have no authority over their masters, such as the police, if not abiding by the law, are unable to enforce correction or subjection of another to their desires. Police do not have any authority over the law nor over those who are not in violation thereof.
  10. Christians, never forget that all governments are established by God for good.  The USA is for the good of righteousness and justice and the laws that God has established in this country allow for resistance against tyranny by public servants who do not care about the preservation of life and a violation of liberties.
  11. Many citizens of this country are unaware of the severity of this issue while others are deeply aware and grieved and would be willing to die for the sake of the liberties of future generations.
  12. Justice sits at the center of God’s essence as His holiness is an outward display of his intrinsic worthiness.
  13. Therefore, while social justice is NOT the main issue among believers, and while it is not the call and purpose of the church, it is something that should be top of mind for the church because the gospel itself is a direct image of God’s justice toward evil so that the church should have a heart and voice for the oppressed.
  14. In our culture it isn’t just violence, murder, and police brutality but also corporate greed and power that have overstepped the righteousness of God and His establishment of justice.  This greed has created a slavery of poverty and a powerful control over enterprise that keeps many under its thumb.
  15. Christians, remember that the message of the cross subjects ALL people to the justice of God who will rightly bring recompense on all who do not believe and for all who are in Christ, he has placed His wrath apportioned for them on Jesus Christ His Son.
  16. Christians should remember that no real justice will be found in this world and that which is seen does not suffice in the light of God’s holiness. So all the greatest judgment seen in this Earth pales in comparison with the justice of the face of God as He parts to each one that which is deserved.
  17. Christians should respond as she is created to respond.  Here are a few closing thoughts on what that looks like:
    1. She cannot lose her mission.
    2. She needs to remember that God may NOT grant change in these areas.
    3. She holds fast to the truth that on the Gospel preached will change anything that is changed.
    4. She should WEEP, not nash her teeth over this evil.
    5. She should remain humble and grateful for God’s sovereignty in all things.
    6. She should remain peaceful, even when in battle, so that Christ’s holiness is seen in her.
    7. She should rejoice when one wicked one comes to faith and rejoice in the forgiveness of murder.
    8. She should make her mind settle on the truth of scripture, not the error of man’s understanding and media.

In the end, whether these things stop or not, the church has an obligation to the lost and the hurting.  PRAY beloved and proclaim the True Gospel (Good News), not the “NOT GOSPEL” ways of this world.

 

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finney bust

The title may be a little confusing, but one can clearly see the trend in the last one hundred years as countless numbers of individuals have come to faith in something other than Christ and called themselves Christian.  James Adams presents some points on this matter in practice, theory and theology and remarks that many people are indeed being led astray by such things.  A few weeks ago, I preached a sermon on the idolatry of “salvation experiences” and I would implore all to consider the gospel and the implications of the gospel by such practices.  The following is the complete article by James Adams on the matter posted from here.


Continue reading “Regeneration of Death to Death”

child with bible handsSomeone stumbled upon the short post I published in 2006 after the baptism of my second daughter Grace, who at the time was five.  Reading through it gave me moment of pause, first of gratitude for God’s grace in the matter of the salvation of my children and second, in the manner in which I place my trust in Christ, both for that and my own salvation.  It was a good reminder that while my children are born again to their own confession, it is my responsibility to continue to grow them in the Lord and that one day, God will bring full fruit to His redemptive work in every aspect of their lives as He is continuing to do in mine.  In reflection I was reminded by the Lord of Spurgeon’s sermon from March 6, 1890 about the simplicity of Salvation and its divine ineffability.  As I read it again today I was reminded of how often we Evangelicals stab to death the processes and procedures of salvation making them an idol while either downplaying man’s belief and God’s gift of faith.  The two passionately collide into a symphony of praise to the glorious Grace of God our Father through the Lord Jesus Christ.  I now share it with all of you.  Read well and pray better.

Pastor James

N. 2259 – C.H. Spurgeon Metropolitan Tabernacle 3/16/1890

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”—John 1:11-13.

Continue reading “The Simplicity and Sublimity of Salvation”