One Elected to Salvation, Others Elected to Reprobation

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God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved1st Timothy 2:3-4

Arminians use the above verse as a proof-text for their erroneous belief that God tries to save everybody and gives people the same chance to go to Heaven. They pluck this verse off the page, slap it down, and say, “Ha!! See!! God wants to save everybody, and he gives everyone the same chance because God is love, all the time love, nothing but love, love, love!” To them, God would never mandate that a certain people were not yet wicked enough for Him to destroy them yet. A God who is all about love, love, love. And if this passage were the only verse in the entire Bible, one could make that case. However, there are thousands more verses in the Scriptures and many of them say the opposite — that Jesus did NOT die for every single person in the whole wide world ever. That Christ’s death was only for particular people, specifically His sheep. (He never said, “I lay down My life for My sheep–and the goats and the dogs and the swine”).  And this the same God once said “I can’t destroy them yet because they’re not bad enough.”

Let’s think back to the God of the Old Testament. Is He the same God that we find in the New Testament? To the Arminian, the answer is “no”. The Arminian says that the God of the Old Testament–the one who destroyed entire cities off the face of the earth (Sodom and Gomorrah and the ten surrounding cities), who decreed that entire people groups would come to an end (the Edomites)–is now an “everybody gets a chance” kind of God in the New Testament. But let’s think about it. Who did God give His Law to? The Israelites. Did He give His Law–with all its offerings and sacrifices that covered over sins until Christ came–to the Amalekites and the Hivites and the Jebusites and the Perizzites and the Hittites? No. Well that’s not fair! (PSSSST–Do you really want God to be “fair”? Think about it!) Did God tell Moses that on the Day of Atonement he should go out and gather all the people from all the lands all around them to come to the tent? Or did He tell Moses to gather only the people of Israel? I think we know that answer. The language of Sovereign election is all throughout Scripture, from God choosing Abram (which we will look at shortly) to God choosing the nation of Israel itself, all the way into Revelation, when God chooses which 144,000 descendants of the tribes of Israel will have His seal put upon them. Continue reading

Is it Time for Christians to Abandon the Republican Party?

Following the re-election of Barack Obama, many people have speculated as to what the Republican Party did wrong and what needs to change for them to win in the next election. While many people, including those of us who are Christians, would point to the fact that nominating a moderate candidate, one who did not hold to consitutional and yes, even biblical principles, when it comes to issues of life and marraige, would account for the loss, many are arguing just the opposite. In the last few weeks, some startling claims have been made by those with whom we Christians have been enamored. In fact, those claims are leveled specifically at those of us who hold to a truly biblical mindset, and they are holding us at fault. As those of the “conservative” political movement seek to distance themselves from biblical Christianity, the question becomes, should Christians continue to blindly support the Republican Party, or is it time to abandon this sinking ship altogether?

If you think I am being a bit melodramatic, let me cite a few examples. On November 21, 2012, Ann Coulter wrote an opininion piece in the Daily Caller in which she blasted those of a conservative mindset for blaming the loss of the election on Mitt Romney not being conservative enough. Among the comments she made, she took the stance that those who hold to the “insane postition” of rape not being an exception for abortion were “moron showoffs.” Likewise, everyone’s favorite liberal media personality turned “conservative,” Bernie Goldberg made similar statements in his November 18, 2012 article. He makes the statement that Republicans “…need to make clear that they are not the party of religious zealots who take their marching orders from the Bible.” Additionally, on a recent appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s program, he said that Republicans need to “stop this Bible-based gay bashing.”

These two political spokepersons hold the attention of quite a few people. They did not get to their current state of popularity simply by chance. They have found that there are many folks who are willing to listen to their political advise and have used that voice to influence many a mind. So much so that Arizona Senator John McCain openly stated on Fox News that Republicans need to have a “bigger tent” regarding various political views and should “leave the issue alone,” when it comes to abortion. Now, it is well known that Senator McCain is a moderate politician, but his willingness to make these statements openly is indicative of the change we are seeing within the Republican party.

The reason I am writing this article is to once again challenge our readers, as we have done on more than one occasion here, to stop viewing the political process as the means by which we are to “save” this country. There have been many Christians who have sounded the trumpet warning the church that an alliance to a specific political party was unwise, especially as more and more compromises were made. Yet, those of us who have made such proclamations have been met with intense opposition, insisting that such alliance were absolutely necessary. We have heard such claims as “You might as well vote for the other guy,” “You’re throwing your vote away,” “If you don’t vote for ‘our guy’ you are paving the way for evil to flourish,” “Don’t you want to guarantee you religious liberties?” and so forth. Each argument was designed to justify the continued support of the Republican party in what is believed to be the only “valid option” in a two party system.

Yet, the sampling of articles listed above indicates that such loyalty is not reciprocative. In fact, the Republican party is little more than a political entity looking to obtain, and maintain, power. If the party heads sense that the political winds have changed in our country, and that holding to conservative (and especially biblical) principles will prevent them from getting power, they will change their stance post haste. We are seeing that effect now, and Christians are squarely in the crosshairs of those who are faulting Republican failures on holding to these moral issues. They are demonstrating that if Christians are seen as a liability, then the Church’s vote will no longer be courted.

This should be a wake up call to the Church. It should cause us to realize that this nation cannot, and will not be won through politics. As I have argued before, I am not saying that Christians should not vote. I believe we have the unique opportunity to be a part of the governmental process in our country. As such, Christians should vote responsibly and be well informed on the issues. That being said, we should no longer align ourselves with a specific party, especially one that has demonstrated it sees us as the problem. We have given ourselves to this political machine for years, yet precious little has been accomplished. And along the way, we stopped being about the work of the kingdom of God and became serfs in the kingdom of politics.

Christians need to re-evaluate their stance in politics and this recent election is the proof we never should have needed. I pray that Christians wake up to this now and start changing their attitude about who their allegiance belongs to.

Obama Was Re-elected??

Yesterday, November 6, 2012, was election day in America. Two major party candidates, incumbent President, Barack Obama and challenger, Mitt Romney, waited for the results as the American people cast their votes. In the end, President Obama retained his office for another four years. Today, a great many Christians, greatly dismayed by the election results, are asking themselves, “Now what?”

From the moment I saw the results come in, I observed just about every possible response on social media. Some expressed outrage, others denied Mr. Obama would ever be their president, some half-jokingly talked of joining Texas in a secession from the Union. Yet, some remembered the scriptures and God’s sovereignty, “Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings…” (Daniel 2:20-21a).” There are no powers and authorities in this world that God has not established. Some He sets up for a blessing, some He establishes in judgment. But all are set in power for God’s glory alone.

The reason I write this is to encourage and remind the brethren that our hope is not in the governments and powers of this world, but in the King is the true power and authority over all things. When Jesus stood before Pilate, He said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world,” (John 18:36). Jesus established at that time that we are not to seek deliverance in worldly authority, but in Him alone. Therefore, our joy is not contingent on which candidate is elected, it is in the One who rules over us eternally. We do not find peace in presidents, congressman and governors, but in the One who willingly allowed those earthly authorities to crucify Him on our behalf.

Knowing this, we can read and submit to Romans 13: 1-7, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” We submit, not because we believe in all the party platforms of the person in authority. We submit, because we honor the Lord who saved us and placed that person in power.

Now before everyone thinks I am suggesting that means we should just bow before every unjust ruling the government enforces, I am not advocating some sort of weak kneed, wishy-washy pacivity. Remember that when commanded by the Sanhedrin to cease preaching the name of Christ, Peter and John said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard,” (Acts 4:19-20). When it came to obeying the commands of God, specifically in this case, the preaching of the gospel, the apostles understood, their obedience to the Lord superseded man’s authority. No earthly authority can command us to disobey the express commands of our Lord and Savior. If and when we are commanded to cease serving and obeying the Lord, then we may stand in opposition to earthly authorities.

This also does not mean that we stand idly by while we watch the authorities God has established abuse their power by promoting immoral and sinful laws. When we see the propagation of laws allowing for the wanton murder of children through abortion, or when we see the religious institution of marriage profaned through promotion of state recognized homosexual unions, we should stand up proclaiming “Thus saith the Lord…” in opposition to them. We should call our representatives and demand they honor the commands of God. We should file suit when unjust laws are passed. We should work within the God ordained governmental system to bring righteous laws into place. However, our hope is NOT in the establishment of those laws, it is in the One who established the system itself. We honor Him when we work peaceably within the system, rather than in rebelliousness or talk of secession.

So if our hope is not within the system, but in the Lord, what do we do? In 1 Timothy 2:1-3, we read, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior…” In other words, we need to be in continual prayer for those in authority over us, that they would come to repentance and faith in Christ, that God would grant them wisdom in their decisions and that they would honor God in their deeds. Also, we need to be about the preaching of the gospel to all we meet. Our hope for a country that is righteous and honoring to God is not in elected officials, but in the hearts that are changed through the power of the gospel. Only God can regenerate a sin hardened heart. Only by someone being made a new creation, with a heart inclined to obey God, will men and women desire to live in a culture that is free from immorality and decadence. While we do not preach the gospel to make culture better, but to save souls, a by product of regenerated hearts is a culture that begins to honor the Lord.

My encouragement to those who read this is to remember that our hope is not in who did or did not get elected last night. Our hope is in the sovereign Lord who saved us. Seek to honor and obey Him above all.

It’s Not About the Government, It’s About the Gospel

Yes, this is going to be another article about how Christians should view their involvement in politics. But please, bear with me through this as I attempt to make a few points that I hope may cause you to stop and think a little harder on the issue. I will start off by saying I am not looking to cause you to think about who you should vote for, whether or not you can vote for a person in a theological cult, or whether you should even bother voting at all. It is my sincere hope that by the end of this article, you will have a slightly different perspective on this matter altogether.

The first point I want to make is this: I do not believe Christians are called to “rescue America.” Now before you drag me out into the square and put me in front of a firing squad, I want you to consider some things. In Romans chapter 13, Paul calls Christians to “…be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God,” (Romans 13:1 ESV). Note that Paul does not say that Christians are to rescue Rome by appointing Senators and getting laws passed that are in keeping with the Scriptures. He does not call for Christians to appeal to Caesar to make laws more favorable to religious liberties. Rather he calls Christians to obedience to the governing authorities appointed over them. Also note that Paul does not make a distinction as to whether the government is conservative or liberal, honest or corrupt. He only states that the governments have been established by God who is the one true authority.

And before you tell me that means all governments must therefore submit to biblical principles, I must remind you that it was God who raised up Pharaoh in Egypt for the express purpose of oppressing the Jews so that He would be glorified when He delivered them from Pharaoh’s hand. God raises up good and bad governments for His express purposes. Christians are not called to overturn bad governments, but to obey them. We are called to do this so, “…that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:15, 16 ESV). In other words, when the world sees us obedient to government, it is a testimony to our faith in God. Our obedience indicates our willingness to be obedient to the ultimate authority, God alone.

Now, there are several of you right now who are probably pretty irritated with me. “So you’re saying that we should let the the wicked, sinful government roll right over us, is that it??” Not in the least. I do believe that we are given liberty to stand up for ourselves within the government, which is my second point. In Acts chapter 16, Paul and Silas are wrongly arrested and beaten by the magistrates in Phillipi. When they were to be released the next day, Paul announces that he and Silas are Roman citizens and called upon the magistrates to be held accountable for their actions. Additionally, Paul appeals to have his case heard by Caesar in Acts 25 after false charges are brought against him.

I believe this is clearly a biblical principle which demonstrates that Christians can, and should, work within the legal confines of the government for the express purpose of defending one’s self against unjust government intrusion and false arrests. However, what I do not believe is that is sets a precedent that Christians are called to rescue a broken system and set it right by forcing it to comply to biblical principles. In both cases, Paul legally defended himself against injustice. What he did not do was call upon the Christians to organize the ousting of unjust magistrates or make mass appeals to Caesar to change the judicial system so that false charges could not be made. What I mean is that Christians have the liberty to act within the laws of government to defend themselves against injustice and persecution. But we are not necessarily called to rescue an unjust system. Does that mean I am advocating we should never, ever fight to establish godly laws. No, not at all! But I am saying that the proper biblical, perspective must be maintained. Government is established by God for our benefit, to protect its citizens and punish evildoers. It is not the means by which God will establish His kingdom. That being the case, Christians should not be seeking to win government to God as the sole means of establishing God’s rule on Earth. In fact, there is really but one means by which God has commanded that His kingdom would be established, which brings me to third and final point.

If Christians are called to obey governments and to act within a certain context when it comes to injustice of laws, or the application thereof, then just what are we supposed to do about the mess our country is in? “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’” (Mark 16:15 ESV) That is our command from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To preach the gospel. Why? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16 ESV) When the gospel is preached, people get saved. When people get saved, the Holy Spirit makes them a new creation (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). People who are new creations, who are led by the Spirit, who desire to obey the commands of God willingly because they love their Savior, do not have to be convinced to change laws and appoint representatives that are in line with biblical truths. They do so of their own accord.

Stop and think about this. Just how much time, energy and effort have Christians poured into the political system in the last several decades? Every election cycle, we are inundated with calls for churches to mobilize and get into the voting booth. Organizations pour countless man hours into tracking voting records, courting candidates and sending out mailers with recommendations on who to vote for. In the end, we end up with two candidates that just about everyone agrees are terrible, but nevertheless, we are encouraged, guilted and practically ordered to vote for the “lesser evil” because at least he’s not as bad as the other guy. And even when the “right guy” wins, or the right measure is voted into law, it doesn’t take long before all that hard work is reversed when the next guy takes office, or when the right lawsuit gets filed. For all our victories, we are left with very little to celebrate. I’m not advocating that Christians not vote, don’t get me wrong. I believe we are blessed with an amazing privilege to have a voice in our government, but like I said before, it has to be in the right context.

Imagine something different now. Imagine if every single, truly born again Christian got as excited and driven about the souls of those in Washington, in their legislatures, in their city councils, or even about their neighbors, as they do about who is going to get elected. Imagine if we spent nearly the amount of time praying, studying and sharing the gospel with them as we do watching news reports, complaining to our co-workers about candidates and attending political rallies. Just imagine if the souls of those who were going to Hell got us as incensed as the increase in our taxes, or the next failed social program being announced. What if, instead of calling our representatives to complain or demand action on an issue, we took the time to care about their eternal destiny and shared the gospel with them. If the amount of time, effort and energy we spent fighting political battles was spent in preaching the gospel to a lost and dying world, what might the end result look like? I’m not advocating that we preach the gospel to get a better country. I am saying that rather than caring more about rescuing the country, we should care more about rescuing souls. And if souls are rescued and captured for Jesus Christ, then all these other issues might not be as big a deal as there are now.

Christians, we are not a political party, though we may align ourselves with one when we get into the voting booth. We were once wretched, vile, God hating sinners who God condescended to save through the perfect life and sacrificial death of His Son. We were the ones who lied, cheated, stole, lusted, hated and blasphemed. We were the ones who deserved nothing but the fires of Hell. We deserved no good thing, especially not a good government and a free society. Yet, God, in His mercy, sent His Son to take on human flesh, to live a perfect life free from sin, to die a bloody death on the cross in our place, and to be risen again to give us a promise of eternal life. He did this so that our old man might be crucified and that we might be created as a new life. He granted that through repentance, the turning away from our sins, and through faith in the Savior alone we might be granted eternal life with Him. What on earth could possibly convince us that “rescuing America” has more value than that? What could possess us to believe that political maneuverings and machinations could do more for the lives of our countrymen than the preaching of the gospel? It simply boggles the mind that we could ever want to do more in the realm of politics than in the proclamation of the greatest news ever told.

Election time is coming and I encourage you to vote. It is your right as a citizen and a liberty as a Christian. But let’s keep it in perspective. Let’s stop pouring so much energy into a world system that can only produce temporal results and let us be driven to share the gospel which has eternal results.

The Mormon Moment? Religious Conviction and the 2012 Election

To vote or not to vote…that is the question. At least it has been the question at Defending. Contending. for many months now. We have all discussed whether a Christian should or can vote for a Mormon candidate…or if we should or can vote for a pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage candidate, or if we should just stay home and not vote at all. Previous articles: Mormon President?, Vote for Mormon?

I don’t have a solution for the good readers of DefCon, as this is split along many different lines of conviction. However, I do offer this interesting video of a round table discussion at Southern Seminary this week. The title tells the story:

“The Mormon Moment? Religious Conviction and the 2012 Election”

The roundtable discussion features Albert Mohler, Russell Moore, Greg Gilbert, and Mark Coppenger. This video contributes to the conversation and helps each of us think through the issue from several angles. The panel discusses what Mormonism is, where they have appeal to our society, how it is a false gospel, and what impact a Mormon President of the USA might have on the world stage.

 

(you may have to press “play” twice)

**** This video is in no way an endorsement for either candidate or an endorsement for not voting, but a contribution to the discussion.****

Southern Seminary Resources Website

Panel Discussion MP3 Download