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From Augustine to Calvin: Part 2

Aurelius Augustine was born Nov 13, 354 AD at Tagaste in Roman North Africa which is now Algeria and died near Hippo on August 28, 430 AD. He had a Christian mother (Monica) who warned Augustine not to commit fornication, advice he quickly dismissed and indulged himself even surpassing his friends at sixteen. He also had a pagan father who some have claimed converted on his death bed.  At seventeen Augustine went to Carthage to further his studies but falling into deeper sin. He took a mistress and had a child. He also was converted to Manichaean religion founded by Mani (216-276) who was executed by the Persian government

Manichaeism was a Gnostic religion (these were the ones who believed in predestination) but drew from Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Christianity.  It is interesting that some parts of Manichaeism would later be found in Augustine’s theology. Manichaeism is a religion based on the struggle of light and darkness. It was the Manichees who were to assist in the separation of light from the world by asceticism (reaching a higher spiritual state by self discipline and self denial), poverty, celibacy, and vegetarianism. By the way Augustine did practice all those things later in his life. The Manichees were also divided into two groups 1) a minority called “the elect” and 2) the Majority called the Auditors or Hearers.  Augustine practiced this religion for nine years and made many converts. Augustine returned home to teach grammar (in Latin, he could never get Greek) and then went back to Carthage to teach rhetoric (speech or writing which is intended to be effective and influence people). After eight years Augustine became disillusioned with Manichaeism and left for Rome. In Rome Augustine found that students did not like to pay their bills so he took another position in Milan. It was here that he sent away his mistress and took another and then became a Christian.

Three things are said to have lead to Augustine’s conversion, according to Vance, The Other Side of Calvinism pg 48;

1) He was influenced by Neoplatonic philosophy (a revival of Platonic philosophy which involved the reality of a spiritual realm) and according to Peter Brown (Augustine of Hippo)  “this philosophy did contribute to Augustine’s spiritual quest, but only because of his Manichaean background and the fact that he read into Neo-Platonism elements of Christianity that did not exist in it”.

2) He began attending the preaching of Ambrose and learned the allegorical interpretation of scripture (Gerald Bonner – Augustine of Hippo)

3) This is perhaps the greatest factor according to Phillip Schaff (History of Christianity – Vol 3) and the one most overlooked, was his reading of the Pauline epistles through Platonic eyes.

In his work “Confessions” Augustine says that while he was under a period of great conviction, he threw himself under a fig tree and wept. He then heard the voice of a child saying “take up and read” which Augustine understood as a command from heaven that he should open the book and read the first chapter he would see. He opened the book to (Rom 13:14)

(Romans 13:14 (ESV) 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires).

Soon after this he resigned his post, began writing, and prepared for baptism (by immersion) for the following Easter. After the death of his mother he went to Rome for a year and returned to his hometown for three years of monastic study. During a visit to Hippo in 391 AD, he was ordained presbyter and founded a monastery. In 396 AD he became bishop of Hippo until his death.

In Augustine’s theological works he wrote against three heresies;

1) The Manichaean heresy, which he began soon after his conversion (this was his former religion)

2) The Donatists – while Augustine and the Catholics focused on the unity of the church the Donatists insisted upon the purity of the church. They rebaptized all of them that came from the Catholics considering the Catholics corrupt.

3) The Pelagians – this is the controversy that is still raging today between the Calvinists and Arminians. It was Augustine’s writings against Pelagius in the fifth century that Calvin and Arminius continued in the sixteenth century.

Because of the controversy between Augustine and Pelagius is very similar to the Calvin and Arminius controversy, Calvinism is referred to as Augustinianism and Arminianism is called Semi-Pelagianism but often referred to as Pelagianism (a derogatory term used by Calvinists) because it is associated with Pelagius who threatened the “doctrine of Grace”. Augustine’s doctrine of grace was a direct reaction against Pelagius. Philip Schaff (vol 3) states that even Calvinists admit this. And many Arminians would note that nearly all the information that comes to us about Pelagius comes from the pen of Augustine.

Pelagius

Pelagius was born (because no one knows for sure) between AD 350-380 in Britain. He moved to Rome where he was appalled by the low moral standards of the city. He was called a monk but not because he was associated with any ecclesiastical order but because of his holy lifestyle.  He had lived there for some time before the controversy with Augustine broke out.  Pelagius overheard a Bishop quote from Augustine’s Confessions, a quote to which he took exception. The Bishop quoted “give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt” (Bonner pg 317, Augustine Confessions). It is interesting to note that until this incident both those who sided with Augustine, as well as Augustine himself took note of Pelegius’ upright character (Schaff History, pg 790, V3).  This quote made Pelagius feel like a “puppet” in Gods’ hands.  After the fall of Rome, Pelagius and one of his converts, Caelestius, went to Cathage, missing Augustine. The two never met face to face but by letters. It was at Carthage that Caelestius began to promote Pelagius’ ideas. It was also here that Caelestius also applied for ordination and then charged with heresy. According to Schaff (pg 793, V3), Caelestius taught that “Adam’s fall injured himself alone, not the human race” and that “children come into the world in the same condition that Adam was before the fall.” Caelestius was excommunicated and went to Ephesus. These beliefs are what caused Augustine to respond. Yet to Pelagius, the philosophy expressed in Augustine’s statement sounded like the total abandonment of human responsibility and a denial of the ethical dimensions of the Christian faith. If all moral action, thought Pelagius, depends solely on God – both the commanding as well as the ability to obey.  God is either an arbitrary tyrant or else man is a creature deprived of free will. Pelagius conducted his teaching along these lines while he was in Rome. After leaving Rome Pelagius went to Africa and then after missing Augustine he went to Palestine.

He met with John, the bishop of Jerusalem, one who not only sympathized with his views but who became a political ally as well. His chief enemy was Jerome, the scholarly ascetic who had left Rome to establish a monastery in Bethlehem and who was critical of Pelagius and his views. Pelagius openly attacked Jerome’s asceticism especially his views on marriage. Yet because of John, Pelagius’ position seemed secure.

The turning point came, however, when the Augustinians presented a brief to Rome, requesting judgment on the validity of the condemnation of Pelagianism, in 411. Pope Innocent I expressed his sympathy with the North Africans and stated his views in a letter of excommunication of Pelagius, which reached Jerusalem in the winter of 417. Pelagius’ cause was further harmed when news reached Innocent that Jerome’s monastery had been sacked by an angry mob; it was unjustly assumed that Pelagius had participated in the violence. The letter of excommunication was followed by another sent directly to the bishop of Jerusalem renouncing both the attack on the monastery and the fact that John was harboring a heretic in his midst.

Pelagius’ fortunes seemed definitely on the downslide.  One bit of hope, however, occurred when the news of Innocent’s death in March 417 arrived in Palestine. Perhaps his successor, Zosimus might be more sympathetic to Pelagius’ views. Therefore, Caelestius presented himself to Zosimus and argued his case. The Pope was impressed and for some time contemplated lifting the excommunication against them and pronouncing both Caelestius and Pelagius orthodox. But persuasive letters from North African bishops, as well as from Jerome, convinced him to rescind his tentative pronouncement in favor of Pelagianism. When Praylius, John’s successor in Jerusalem, joined in Zosimus ‘ final condemnation, Pelagius was beaten. Weary of the conflict, he left Palestine. History does not record where he went or what happened to him thereafter.

According to B R Rees in A Reluctant Heretic (quoted from internet, book no longer in print) the theological question to which Pelagius addressed himself had to do with man’s created capacity for good. Was it possible to lead a sinless life? Augustine answered No (with the exception of the Virgin Mary, whose sinlessness Augustine did assert); for Augustine divine grace must precede every virtuous act. Pelagius said that it was possible for man not to sin, but Augustine asserted that it was not possible for man not to sin. The caricature of Pelagianism found in many orthodox textbooks and devotional manuals is hardly one that Pelagius would recognize. He never, for instance, denied the need for grace or for infant baptism; he never accepted the position that man can, by his own moral efforts, achieve his salvation. On basic doctrinal issues, Pelagius was certainly orthodox; and on matters of Christian morality his chief concern was to foster among Christian people a right regard for the ethical responsibilities he saw as inherent in the Gospel message.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2011 in Calviism and Arminianism

 

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Arminianism or Calvinism ?

I have decided to do a series on the Arminius/Calvin debate as I work on the historical aspect of where these two systems have their beginning. I want to sart by quoting some of the somewhat puzzling statements made by Calvinists, while they continue to defend their system as the only truth. I will let the reader determine what makes sense , as well as inform those that think they don’t need to know. You do need to know because behind every book you read lies the system. I have already promoted them on Facebook and now offer them here for those who do not go on Facebook.

Here is the first of what could be a few more depending on interest;

Repent or Perish is a most puzzling book because of all the statements John Gerstner makes in it. Unless you knew the system he is talking about (Calvinism) you cannot understand his statements. As a non-bekiever you would understand nothing according to Gerstner and you couldn’t even know if you REALLY repented or not. Here are a couple more of my favourite Gerstner quotes from  pgs 198-199   “if only God can give repentance, why did I write Repent or Perish? I did write the book to get you to repent. You are going to hell unless..you repent. That is why I wrote the book. You must repent . If you really do not want to go to hell you will repent. The point is that if you are going to repent and not go to hell, you have to have your impenitent heart changed. You need a penitent heart instead of the impenetent one you have now. Otherwise all you can do is SAY “I repent”. But that makes matters worse because you do not mean it. Your heart is impenetent. If you say otherwise, it is a lying heart. Saying I repent when you do not repent does not save you from hell. Saying I repent when you do not repent sinks you deeper into hell”.

Now some of this true if you really don’t repent you will suffer the consequences but Gerstner is saying only those who are “born again” first actually really repent. But, then, how does one really know if he has repented or not? Well if electted you will be born again in order to repent and can skip the warnings about “enduring to the end” you have no choice but to “endure” or you really didn’t repent. I think I’m getting it, salvation isn’t so simple.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

N. T. Wright – Not of God?

Val Lee caricatures & demonizes a godly scholar

I was checking out some blogs while researching for my next installment on the Augustinian/Pelagian, Calvin/Arminius debate when I ran across this article on N. T. Wright. Now my motto has always been never throw out the baby with the bath water; if there is any good in an article then keep the good.

But test everything; hold fast what is good. – 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ESV)

In spite of all the good things on Val Lee’s blog, this article was quite disturbing not to mention inaccurate. I have never disagreed more with an article. Though I may not agree with all that N.T. Wright has to say, to defame his character with false claims and inaccuracies, rather than engage in robust debate is inexcusable. A reprint of the article is found below as it was posted, see what you think.

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N. T. Wright – Not of God by Val Lee

I was asked a question by a theologian of the Messianic sect, why I believe N. T. Wright (Bishop of Durham) is demon persuaded. Here is my answer composed in bits and pieces with quotes:
We know Christians respond to their heavenly Father, hopefully. Christ said of the religious leaders that they were of their father the devil; John 8:44. It also states here that every lie originates with Satan. N. T. Wright continually lies about God and His inerrant Word. We know from 2 Corinthians chapter 6 that either a person follows Christ or Satan, there is no in between. This is why we cannot be bound to unbelievers. Demons listen to their commander, performing his bidding.
Demons were presenting satan’s beliefs through the religious rulers of Christ day. The Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes appeared religious with their long robes, Scriptural teachings, etc. However, they were of their father the devil as false teachers who added their own words and traditions to true beliefs. Satan and the religious rulers were intent on destroying God the Son.
Either people hold to the teachings of the Bible or of Satan and his demons. God gives no in between roadway.
New Perspective (Wright’s movement) uplifts the religious leaders of Christ’s day as actually being the good guys in certain realms. Such beliefs represent the doctrines of demons.
New Perspective on Paul is demonic as it teaches Paul was out for his own militaristic agendas, following his own drummer. The NPP philosophies are filled with heresies straight from the pit of hell. Satan is out to discredit God’s Word and he uses his children to do so.
Wright is called the “theologian for everyone” as he attempts to tickle everyone’s ear with demonic false doctrines approving of every demonic way under the sun. He rewrites the Bible according to Wright. He has created his own false religion whereby he continually speaks out both sides of his mouth. He never makes concrete sense. Much of the time he speaks nonsense—confusion. God is not a god of confusion; Satan and his demons author confusion. It is beyond me why he is considered a great theologian.
Paul was errorless in his teachings, as they were the Words of God. No author of the Bible wrote his own words, only what the Holy Spirit instructed him to write.
We know Christ, who is God, never had to be vindicated by the Father as Wright states below. He, like all false teachers, blends truth with error. You see this all through Calvin’s writings as well and N. T. Wright uplifts Calvin.
From N. T. Wright:
Paul, it should be remembered, is one interpretation and experience of Christianity, and while it has become the dominant view it is, again, one of many threads existing in the earliest times after Jesus. When he’s wrong, he’s wrong. When he’s right, he’s astonishing.
For example, there are a few lines that, for me, should be kept within the soul and heart of every person who finds themselves attracted to the Jesus at the center of all that has been added, chiseled and carved to become Christianity. In 2 Corinthians 4:9, Paul writes:
“We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.”
I maintain that is inspiration at its highest, an example of Paul soaring above the confines of his own more mundane and pointed interpretations of who Jesus (or, for him, the Christ) was as a kind of cosmic figure. Is there anything else we can think of to wish for from a religion? That the world will afflict us cannot be debated. We see it every day in our lives and the lives of others. Yet, says Christianity, we can not be crushed. We read the headlines and are perplexed by what we read, from deaths in Iraq to Russia, from crime at home to the troubles of thousands in stroms. Yet, Paul maintains, in spite of all this we do not have to make the choice to be driven to dispair. Certainly, there are those who are persecuted — for their religion, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation. Then again, those victims will never be forsaken. Finally, we will be struck down by life, but cannot be ultimately destroyed by circumstances and events.
Because if in our mind and through our very body we carry the death of Jesus, we cannot help but carry the life of Jesus as well. We are, as the Episcopalians say in their services, part of the mystical body of Christ which, in itself, includes Jesus and includes the very Mystery that empowered Jesus.
Jesus, I believe, went to his death expecting to be vindicated by God. If the cup could not be lifted, Jesus said, so be it. His validation would come from his death in a way that he did not know based not on dogma but, rather, on belief born out of the exquisite personal relationship he knew with God. Certainly, through Paul we see glimpses elsewhere of the fact that Jesus was a man acted upon by God. His resurrection was a visible indication of an invisible operation in the Universe, one of hope and eventual vindication and victory.
In time, then, the closeness to the Eternal that Jesus invited us to became personified as Jesus himself, the historical person. It is that language we speak today in hymns and creeds, but it points beyond itself (as Jesus demanded again and again) not to the man of Nazareth himself, but to the Transcendent which poured forth through him, the vehicle.
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A lady I once knew attended a Bible-believing church where the leadership claimed to not support NT Wright, but the Sunday she visited, the pastor referred to NT Wright as one of the greatest theologians of our day. Tom Wright is leading many down a road of deception.
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I Know N. T. Wright is of the evil one, as he does not condemn homosexuality and sexual promiscuity. Those who are of God, His born again children, teach that premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, etc; is sinful. The Holy Spirit within a true believer reveals that God’s Word is inerrant. This includes the fact that adulterers and fornicators God will judge, but the marriage bed is undefiled. True aged believers understand Sodom and Gomorra and Romans chapter 1.
In What St. Paul Really Said pgs.155-157 Wright does not in any way condemn pre-marital sex, etc. Wright states on page 156 that it is not to be ignored, denied or repressed according to Paul. But we know that outside of marriage it is vile and not of God. N. T. Wright states a demonic lie.
Wright: …it would be a more authentic position, I think, to say, as an intellectually authentic position to say the New Testament says that homosexual practice is not what Christians ought to engage in but I disagree for these reasons. Now I can understand that position. I can’t actually understand a position which says the New Testament is either silent or open on the subject because, frankly, it isn’t. The other thing which comes up again and again is people say, well, all they knew about was certain types of homosexual phenomena and not at all the sort of thing that we have, to which the answer is just go and read Plato. Plato’s Symposium has a lengthy discussion of homosexual love which includes as one of the options precisely the kind of long, stable partnership that some people now are advocating. And this in fact is not new. Modern homosexuality was not invented my Michael Fuko, you know. There’s a great deal that goes back through the 18th and 19th centuries with which we’re in a continuum. This is a much deeper and harder…
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N. T. Wright is an Anglican bishop at Westminster Abbey—a church that believes most everyone is going to heaven. I have been there. I have heard their demonic false teachings that please every ecumenical ear. If you spend time around these bishops, you can tell they are void of the Holy Spirit. They teach the doctrines of men as the doctrines of God. They are demonic and they are doing Satan’s bidding by sending the masses to hell. They implement New Age doctrines that cause people to question God and His inerrant Word. Wright tears God’s Word apart and replaces its truth with Wright’s mentality. He is an antichrist in every sense of the word.
Wright aligns himself with the bishops in this Abbey and all Anglican bishops. They tell the tourists who come to this abbey, that all the people who buried there are in heaven and visitors must feel so proud to be amongst these great people. They lead prayer in this vein. I know most of the nobility buried here where murderers, adulterers, thieves, tyrants, etc. The bishops state all of Britain’s royalty and noble are in heaven—all the vile of the earth who are buried in this Abbey. (Of course, Wrights view of heaven is not Biblical: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AA0NLb0pXGI)
I must also ask, how can a true born again Christian preach in a church that has Mary idols placed about and all kinds of secular stupidity? What born again Christian is going to preach in a building full of crypts that hold the remains of godless people? Who in their right mind is going to uplift kings and queens who murdered Christians? These people are continually exalted by the Abbey bishops. This was where they held Princess Diana’s funeral and countless other vile people who lived sexually promiscuous lives and did not acknowledge Christ as their Savior and LORD. The bishops will say they all went to heaven. This is Westminster Abbey and Wright’s environment that he powerfully upholds.
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Wright definitely is not pro Israel. A true child of God looks toward the removal of Israel’s enemies and Christ world rule in Jerusalem.
From Article:
Just consider Wright’s most recent commentary for Newsweek’s “On Faith,” anticipating the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Remarkably, Wright sees little difference between the ideals of Western democracies and those of Islamic terrorists. “What I wish we could say to terrorists and others: Look, we take our religion seriously too, and it leads us to different conclusions from you. We might be wrong; so might you; but in the name of whichever god you invoke, would it not be a better thing for us all to talk together about the issues at the heart of our respective faiths than to try to achieve dominance by violence?” Adding to the ambiguity, he closes with this line: “Unfortunately, they could quite well come back at us and say, ‘You mean, like you westerners have been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last five years?’”
We expect to hear this sophism of moral equivalence from spokesmen at Al Jazeera television or the Arab League. Yet it somehow has emerged as a central argument in Wright’s critique of the war on radical Islam.
In his first major address on terrorism, “Where is God in the War on Terror?” Wright never mentioned the activities and ambitions of Osama bin Laden and his terrorist allies. He failed to cite any government assessments of the international terrorist threat. Al Qaeda and its operatives are plotting violence in 30 to 40 countries, are actively seeking nuclear material to detonate in urban centers, and are responsible for attacks that have killed or injured thousands of civilians in the last year alone–but you’d never know it from a speech approaching 8,000 words in length.
The bishop exudes moral outrage–but not at the extremists. Wright reserves the weight of his scorn for the United States and Great Britain and their foreign policies since the attacks of 9/11.
In the address in Durham, delivered last November, Wright condemned not only the war in Iraq, but also the U.S.-led coalition that toppled the Taliban in Afghanistan–a military offensive unanimously approved by the U.N. Security Council. He compared the United States to a “rogue elephant teased by a little dog,” staggering along on a militaristic rampage and “imposing the will of the West” on hapless populations. A first century historian, Wright can’t help but regard America as ancient Rome, nurturing similar imperial dreams: “All empires claim they possess justice, freedom and peace and that they have a duty to share these things with everybody else.” Imperialism, in fact, is a recurrent theme. “We have relied on the same methods as we used in the nineteenth century,” he said. “If in doubt, send in the gunboats and teach Johnny Foreigner a lesson he won’t forget.” And, as if the imperial metaphor weren’t crude enough, Wright reached for a cartoon reference: “The Superman myth, or the Captain America complex, has been shown to underlie the implicit narratives of generation after generation of American leaders,” he claimed, “generating the belief that the hero must use redemptive violence to restore the town, the country, the world to its proper state.”
Likewise, in his recent book, Evil and the Justice of God, Wright supposedly sets out to offer a sober reflection on evil in the age of terror. Too often, however, he descends into sloganeering, revisionist history, and downright incoherence. He chastises the “dualism” of the “us-and-them disjunction” that supposedly finds no fault with Western democracy. He characterizes the U.S.-led effort against radical Islam as a “knee-jerk, unthinking, immature lashing out” against its enemies, real and imagined. “Just as you cannot eliminate evil by act of Congress or by a philosophical argument,” he writes, “so you cannot do so with high explosives.”
Wright’s straw-man arguments all ignore the character and reach of militant Islam. A serious reading of the U.S. government’s most authoritative study on terrorism, the bi-partisan 9/11 Commission Report, would correct the deficit. “Bin Laden and Islamist terrorists mean exactly what they say: to them America is the font of all evil, the ‘head of the snake,’ and it must be converted or destroyed,” the commissioners concluded. “It is not a position with which Americans can bargain or negotiate.” The most recent National Intelligence Estimate of the threat of global terrorism confirms that view. Its authors believe that “the global jihadist movement” is spreading, adapting, and plotting new attacks on civilian targets. “We judge that most jihadist groups will attempt to conduct sustained terrorist attacks in urban environments.” No wonder, then, that the 9/11 Commission Report summarized the threat of al Qaeda thus: “With it there is no common ground–not even respect for human life–on which to begin a dialogue…
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Wright follows the doctrines of demons. Every belief contrary to the Bible is a doctrine of satan. Wright would not have been accepted 50 years ago within Christendom. People today do not know their Bibles nor own the faith to believe them; they have quenched the work of the Holy Spirit. This is why Wright’s words are being received. We are in the age of the apostasy. Christians must wake up and walk by the Spirit and not the flesh. The flesh, the world and satan all function as one against God’s truths. A very wicked trio.
(Please read John Chapter 10)
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Again, there are many articles on her blog I would heartily agree with but not this one. To say Wright is “demon persuaded” and use (John 8:44) to infer he is of the devil. She goes on to say that “new perspectives” are “doctrines of demons” and that “much of the time he speaks nonsense-confusion” without sighting anything from Wright’s writings to back up her claim. The only place she does refer to a book by Wright “What St. Paul Really Said pgs 155-157 quoting specifically from pg 156 there is nothing there at all about pre-marital sex (see the book). She makes the claim that Wright takes a position “which says the New Testament is either silent or open on the subject (of homosexuals) because, frankly, it isn’t.” Where does Wright take this position? Then she accuses Wright of being an “antichrist in every sense of the word”.
I think I have given enough of my opinion and now the readers can decide for themselves. I do hope opinions that are given will be given in a Christ-like way. To respond with character assassination is not what I want to see because, as I have already said, there are many articles on her blog that I would agree with – but this is just NOT one of them.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

From Augustine to Calvin: Part 1

In my last post I gave a little background as to my exposure to the Calvinist mindset and because we were new Christians (barely on “the way”) we thought there was something seriously wrong with Christianity. Again I do not refer to all Calvinists but only to those that I have had personal contact with. Many of these seem to think that if you do not agree with them as to their Calvinistic views that somehow you have strayed from the Gospel. They somehow think that the Gospel and Calvinism are synonymous and to stray from Calvinism is to be on your way to becoming “apostate” (something that really can’t happen anyway because of their doctrine of “perseverance of the saints”). If one were to “fall away” this MUST mean you weren’t really saved to begin with.  We once again have a problem with words in their plain sense not making sense.

An interesting, yet confusing example of, plain sense not making sense, is found in John Gerstner’s book Repent or Perish. In Chapter 10 (pgs  107-108) he states ….

please note that people are capable of misunderstanding the very title of this book (an understatement I might add), Repent or Perish. The title states that the reader must repent. Most people have a general idea of what “repent” means-a turning away from sin. It is the “you” that is likely to be misconstrued. Not the “you” but the “you repent”. And not quite the “you repent”, but what must happen that “you repent”

He goes on to say that even those in Hell will not repent even though they experience it. Now I can agree with that statement because whatever state you are in when you die you will remain in forever.

Gerstner goes on “Nevertheless, the terribleness (of Hell) has never made one soul repent….. Nothing will make you repent – not even you (emphasis mine). Only God can cause you to repent and be saved. If He changes you, you will repent. If He does not, you will not (because grace is irresistible).

Now comes the confusing part..

I did not write “Repent or Perish” thinking I could persuade you to repent. I am not that naïve. I am not an Arminian fancying that I, by my writing, my preaching, my praying, can bring you to repentance. By the grace of God I know better. I know that only God can lead you, or me, or anyone, to repent. Paul who under divine inspiration wrote “knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men” (2 Cor 5:11).

Gerstner then goes on to show how “we persuade men” by quoting …

(1 Corinthians 3:5-7 (ESV) 5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.) and explains “when God changes you, you will repent.  Not when He warns you, threatens you, pleads with you. He must change you if you are ever to repent

But is that what the passage is saying? If God changes you before you repent what does the word “persuade” even mean? Is it not God who speaks through men (though they are nothing) that warns, threatens and pleads? Why would God “warn, threaten and plead” through men except for the sole purpose of changing mens’ minds, something that would NOT be required if God has ALREADY changed their hearts.  The passage says nothing of irresistible grace but instead speaks about the word being planted and watered by men and then God giving the increase.

Well enough of Gerstner for now, we will return to him later. I just wanted to show that” plain sense makes no sense” when you read statements like those of Gerstner.

It was, however, not so in the beginning of church history-that is until Augustine. Early Christians were strong believers in free will. Justin Martyr, Clement of Rome, Arcelaus, Methodius (who lived near the end of the third century) all believed in free will. They actually believed the scriptures like…

(John 3:16 (ESV) 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.)  and …

2 Peter 3:9 (ESV) 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Revelation 22:17 (ESV) 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

In the early church it was the Gnostics that believed in predestination. It was Origen in his work “On First Principles” who says…

Now when ‘in the beginning’ he created what he wished to create, that is rational beings, he had no other reason for creating them except himself, that is, his goodness. As therefore he himself, in whom was neither variation nor change nor lack of power, was the cause of all that was to be created, he created all his creatures equal and alike, for the simple reason that there was in him no cause that could give rise to variety and diversity. But since these rational creatures, as we have frequently shown and will show yet again in its proper place, were endowed with the power of free will, it was this freedom which induced each one by his own voluntary choice either to make progress through the imitation of God or to deteriorate through negligence. This, as we have said before, was the cause of diversity among rational creatures, a cause that takes its origin not from the will or judgment of the Creator, but from the decision of the creature’s own freedom. God, however, who then felt it just to arrange his creation according to merit, gathered the diversities of minds into the harmony of a single world, so as to furnish, as it were, out of those diverse vessels or souls or minds, one house, in which there must be ‘not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth, and some unto honour and some unto dishonour.

 

You see here that the “movement of the free will” is foreseen by God and diversity is the result NOT of God’s “will or judgment” but “the decision of the creature’s own freedom”.

Origen –  On Prayer, Ch. 6, par. 3.

If, then our free will is preserved, its future, with its numerous inclinations to virtue or to vice or toward what is fitting or toward what is improper, must, like other things be known to God from the creation and foundation of the world. And in all that God prearranges in accordance with what he has seen with regard to each act of our free will it has been prearranged that what is fitting to each action under free will be met from his providence and in accordance with the succession of things to come. Yet the foreknowledge of God is not the cause of all things that are to come about, and all the actions that are to be performed out of our desire and in our free will. For if, for the sake of argument, God were ignorant of the future, we would not thereby be absolved from performing some actions and from willing them. Rather, our individual free will receives direction from his foreknowledge so that everything may be usefully arranged with a view to the constitution of the world.”

Again Origen argues that it is mans free will that causes all that came about rather than God determining all things.

One must ask, if many of the early church fathers did not hold to a Calvinistic doctrine of predestination and election and it wasn’t found in the Scriptures, from where did Calvin get it? According to Calvinists themselves it came from Augustine.

Alan Baker said “there is hardly doctrine of Calvin that does not bear the marks of Augustine” (Berkouwer’s Doctrine of Election; pg 25). Baker is not the only one who feels this way. There are many who think Augustine was “one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time” and “the greatest Christian thinker since new testament times” (Norman Geisler-What Augustine Says; pg 9). B.B. Warfield of Princeton said “Augustine determined for all time the doctrine of grace”.  There are too many quotes for me to put them into this blog.

I can only agree with Will Durant a secular historian who said “Calvin based his ruthless creed upon Augustine’s theories of the elect and the damned” (the Age of Faith – pg 74).

I will begin my next post with a little history about the man Calvin so eloquently systemised-Saint Aurelius Augustine of Hippo

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2010 in Calviism and Arminianism, Free Will

 

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The Early Church and Free Will

Many today want the church to return to the way it was when it began. They seem to believe that when it began it didn’t have many of the problems of the modern church. But one only needs to read the letters that Paul wrote to the Corinthians and Galatians or the letter that John sent to the seven Churches in the book of Revelation to see it was not so. Most of the letters are, in fact, letters of correction. There are also other problems to consider when we seek to become like our predecessors, especially when it comes to doctrine.

A Personal Story

I have experienced the home church where, in fact, doctrine becomes such an issue that it caused the church to eventually break apart (Gal 5:15). You see many come out of the institutional or established churches of the modern world with all their ideas of what it means to be the bride of Christ. They assume their doctrines are the ONLY doctrines that existed in early Christianity especially when it comes to Calvinism and Arminianism (or Augustinianism and those heretical Pelageans, sorry I meant semi-Pelageans).

Unfortunately these are not the only doctrines that we argue over, but for now these are the ones I want to look at for a moment. When my wife and I first became Christians we were filled with joy and began to read the Word of God with great fervor and anticipation of great things to come from God and His people. We read and decided we needed to be mentored by Gods people so we went to our first church. It was an Anglican Church, so I picked up my bible and headed for the door. At this time my wife kindly informed me we would not need our bibles since the scriptures that would be read would also be handed out on pieces of paper at the door. I took my bible anyway thinking “surely she must be mistaken, if these Scriptures are just on this piece of paper how we would know the context without the whole word being readily accessible?”

Well, off we went, newbie’s, off to meet with the Lord’s people. Merridy was right we were indeed handed the pieces of paper and the Scriptures were written on them and we had what many would call Church. Let’s just say we didn’t return to this church anytime soon.

Next we went to (what we had been told were) the WORD people – The Baptists. With awe we entered a church with a people who “knew” the Scriptures. Well praise God, we thought, we are truly going to learn God’s Word now. And learn the Word we did, the way a Baptist would have us learn. If we had not been reading the bible for ourselves, we would have never noticed a difference between what the scriptures actually said and what the church said the scriptures said.  Just a side note here, the music should have been written the way they liked also, I had no idea that the song writers really didn’t know what they were doing. They should have submitted their music to the church for approval before allowing us to play it.

Merridiy and I began to ask questions at this point because we really wanted to serve our Lord and if we somehow had missed something we really wanted to know more. We surely did not want the Lord offended. The more we asked, the more annoying we became.  We found out quickly that women were to be subject to their husbands (1Cor 11: 1-16), that we shouldn’t be gluttons and drunkards at the Lords Supper (something difficult to do on grape juice and a cracker).  Next we should ignore Chapter 12, go right to Chapter 13 –the love chapter because so many lack love and need to be reminded. Then cut out chapter 14 because it doesn’t apply to us today. You see this church interprets (1 Cor 13: 8-10) as “the perfect” and applies “the perfect “to the Scriptures, rather than The Lords second coming. Therefore if the perfect HAS come why use the imperfect spiritual Gifts the apostles were using. We must all, therefore, become cessationists.

To really understand the Scriptures we needed an in-depth look because we obviously didn’t understand. It was essential that we go to a bible study for an in-depth look at why the scriptures say what “they said it says” and not, what it seemed to say. Apparently the Holy Spirit was not teaching us.  So off we went to our new adventure.

We arrived at a home where the study was being held. There sat my mentor, the one who knew so much of the scripture. He not only could quote them but tell you exactly where they could be found. How I wanted to be like him. The study went well for several weeks until we arrived at Heb 6 and lo and behold it didn’t mean what it said. Why would it? We apparently needed Baptist glasses to see these things.

(Hebrews 6:4-6 (ESV) 4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.)

Oh how I began to become discouraged. No longer did the constant saying of “if literal sense makes perfect sense then look for no other sense”. To see what these Scriptures really mean we need to look at Ephesians 2 (I was constantly reminded of these verses)

(Ephesians 2:1-2 (ESV) 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—)

We were at this point instructed as to our “deadness” before we were “born again”. As I understood it, you are either dead and made alive (“elected” was the term, I needed to repeat and memorize) or you were dead and religious (a spiritually dead person going through the motions but having no life in himself). There could be no “falling away” because you weren’t really saved if you “fell away”. Wow, that was an utterly amazing statement. I would never have known that “enlightened, tasted, shared, and tasting the powers of the age to come” applied to a dead person. I apparently had wrongly assumed that dead people were just that – dead. Even “apostasy” which means “falling away from the faith” doesn’t mean what it was supposed to mean. This REALLY made “plain sense, so why would I look for any other sense”. The bible I had was obviously wrong. I purchased more bibles (different interpretations) and found they all seemed to say the same thing. Then I realized I didn’t need to change versions just denominations or biases. Unfortunately our questions became increasingly annoying and the mocking of our understanding of “plain sense” intensified by the so-call elders ending our” in- depth” training. We were stamped “unteachable” and shunned. One night Merridy and I went to study only to be told by the babysitter that there were no more studies and no one was home. Surprise, surprise, differences will not be tolerated. Isn’t it funny how some people can constantly state their opinions but you cannot utter a word about yours?  Try the dispensational pre-trib rapture view for some real insults. They have not yet begun to mock. I have always like the line “I just don’t want to argue with anyone over these non essentials”, which really means “I’m right and I don’t care what you think”.

Back to History

When you look back even as far as the reformation you realize Luther did entirely “reform”. He continued to believe in infant baptism, in church structure and failed to bring the church back to her original place. He did however translate Scripture into the language of the common people but not without help on how to read and understand Scripture. At the introduction of each book Luther tells us how we should interpret the book. I wonder if he was afraid that people might read their bible and not have the same understanding as he did. Maybe even thinking Luther could have been wrong.

Luther’s doctrine of salvation was not the same as it is today.  David Bercot  states “while it is true that Luther sometimes said that man is “saved by faith alone” he also taught that man alone is so totally depraved that he is unable even to have faith in God or to accept the gift of salvation. Therefore the only persons who have saving faith are those to whom God has given such faith. And God has given such faith only to those He arbitrarily predestined before the creation of the world” (Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up – pg 69).  So it is nothing in man that is considered for salvation but only an arbitrary pick by God.  Then it cannot possibly be by “faith alone” but by “election alone”. It is interesting to note here that it was not Luther or Calvin that came up with the “perseverance of the saints” but Aurelius Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD). John Calvin only logically systemized Augustine’s theology. Before Augustine or the first three hundred years no one apparently believed that a person did not have a free will.

Yet as much as we say we want to return to early Christianity do we not realize that it was the early Christians that tried to convince a scoffing world we are NOT predestined (Bercot).

Read the early statements of the church fathers;

Justin Martyr to the Romans “We have learned from the prophets and hold it to be true that punishments, chastisements, and rewards are rendered according to each man’s actions. Otherwise if all things happen by faith, then nothing is in our own power. For if it be predestined that one man be good and another man evil, then the first is not deserving of praise or the other to be blamed. Unless humans have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice they are not accountable for their actions-whatever they may be…for neither would a man be worthy of a reward or praise if he did not himself choose the good, but was merely created for that end. Likewise if a man were evil, he would not deserve punishment,  since he was not evil of himself being able to do nothing else except what he was made for” (Justin-First apology-pg43). Clement, Archelaus, Methodius (a Christian martyr living near the end of the 3rd century) all said the same thing. They based their beliefs on the scriptures (Deut 30:19; John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9; Rev 22:17). Apparently they took the Scriptures literally and looked for no other sense. This is not to say the early Christians did not struggle with passages that seem to indicate that one is predestined. Origen dealt with many of those passages in his work “On First Things” but his argument was not against other Christians but Gnostics. It was the Gnostics that taught predestination and we certainly know that they were false teachers. Am I saying all Calvinists are false teachers-God forbid. They are not, but many teach that if you do not hold to Calvinism you do not have the real Gospel. They ridiculed my wife and I for believing what we read. Instead of showing us what Jesus was like (the love chapter) they showed us what Calvin was like. They treated us with distain and breaking fellowship was their solution even though we were new Christians. I truly have found through the years that many in the Church say “read your bibles so you can be workmen approved and not deceived” but silently add “but read it only in light of what we tell you to believe”. Only then can we have fellowship with you.

That was twenty five years ago and yet things have not changed that much. Calvinists still think that they are the only ones that have the right to write what they seem to think is as God inspired as Scripture itself. They have the only way to God, anything less seems to diminish the sovereignty of God. For the Calvinist, we Arminians MUST be more powerful than God if we could do that. In this post I didn’t want to just use Scripture to prove a belief system but to see what the early church understood from these same scriptures. Were they wrong? Many Calvinists would say these early Christians were Pelageans for sure.

To end this post I would like you to look at:

Genesis 4:2-7 (ESV) 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Again, should we take this scripture in its plain sense? Is God just kidding when He said “if you do well, will you not be accepted”? Maybe we should Calvinize it and say “you won’t really do well because I the Lord, have already determined you will fail and are unacceptable already”.  This would make perfect sense for a Calvinist. God might add here “By the way Cain, I’m just kidding about ruling over your EVIL desires, you really have no choice in this matter”.

Just thinking.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2010 in Free Will

 

The Power of God……..?

Romans 1:16 (ESV) 16 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.


This is a quote taken from a comic strip by Walter Kelly called “Pogo” and has profound insight into the human condition after the fall (Gen 3). We truly are our own worst enemies and yet it seems like it is that very enemy that continues to exist, even after “receiving Christ”.  Why is that? Is not the gospel the “power of God unto salvation to all who believe”? This is what the Word of God states and yet so many remain unchanged. Scripture states:

(1 John 4:17 (ESV) 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.)

Is that true or not? If not then why write it?

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

JFB Commentary states on this verse “Therefore — connected with the words in 2Co_5:16, “We know Christ no more after the flesh.” As Christ has entered on His new heavenly life by His resurrection and ascension, so all who are “in Christ” (that is, united to Him by faith as the branch is In the vine) are new creatures (Rom_6:9-11). “New” in the Greek implies a new nature quite different from anything previously existing, not merely recent, which is expressed by a different Greek word (Gal_6:15).

What I find interesting with JFB’s statement is the old you has died and a new you has emerged or been raised from the dead yet “quite different from anything previously existing”. Is that what we see? If not why would we not wait to see this change BEFORE we tell people “their names are written down in the Lamb’s book of life”. Why are we always trying to build up the OLD self (self esteem) while the new you is starving for lack of discipleship.

Colossians 3:1-10 (ESV) 1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Paul is telling us we have been put to death and the new you has been raised from the dead, but that life has been HIDDEN with Christ in God. We should not see the old you anymore but we should see Christ. You no longer walk in your old life but “by faith “we live the life of another (Christ). You have been “salvaged” not only from yourself but also from this world which would include “the god” of this world.

Galatians 2:20 (ESV) 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 6:14 (ESV) 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV) 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Salvation is a complete work. It is more than raising your hand and saying a “sinners” prayer. It is a work of God and “complete makeover”. It is a passing from death to life a putting off of the “old” and a putting on of the “new” (Rom 6:6; Eph 4:22; Col 3:9). You have been transferred from this world (Satan’s) to a new world (God’s Son’s).

Colossians 1:13 (ESV) 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

The Old Testament has already given us a picture of this deliverance from one realm to another. In the exodus of Israel God took them from Pharaoh’s bondage in Egypt (darkness) to a “land flowing with milk and honey” or the Promised Land (God’s Kingdom). Noah and his family also experienced this total change when they passed from the old world to a new world in an ark (a type of Christ) which God told him to build. The ark was to protect the family against the wrath of God in the form of a flood that was about to destroy that world because of wickedness (Genesis 6:5 (ESV) 5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.)

When you read these accounts the thing that stands out is the fact, God never wanted those He saved to return to the old land or the old way of life. In both cases the world that Israel knew or Noah knew were completely destroyed by Gods’ power so they would understand there was nothing for them in that world. God delivers COMPLETELY. We have become a new people for a new world and there is no room for self, sin, Satan, or the world. We must separate ourselves from unbelief and worldliness.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (ESV) 14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

To conclude a Gospel that does not KILL you or the world system in you is no gospel at all. A Church that no longer teaches the gospel will be made up of people who have never died to themselves or the world system and will one day KILL the Gospel.

James 1:13-15 (ESV) 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

James 4:4 (ESV) 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Revelation 11:3-7 (ESV) 3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. 6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. 7 And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them,….

With this in mind let us really examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV) 5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2010 in The Gospel

 

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The Man of Lawlessness (Sin)

1 John 3:4 (ESV) 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (ESV) 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

The “man of lawlessness” differs from “the antichrist” in that he is exclusively associated with the church.   Why do I say this?  Because the church is the only organism connected to “the apostasy/rebellion” against God. The world and all other religions have always been in rebellion to God so it cannot mean them. The word ” rebellion/apostasy (Grk – apostasia) is defined according to Clarkes Commentary as “We have the original word αποστασια in our word apostasy; and by this term we understand a dereliction of the essential principles of religious truth – either a total abandonment of Christianity itself, or such a corruption of its doctrines as renders the whole system completely inefficient to salvation.”

So this “apostasy”, according to Paul, MUST occur before the Lord will return. Now we must ask, is this “man of lawlessness” one person or many?  I believe it will be many and even if it was one man as head, there would be many in league with him to make this apostasy effective.

One must wonder what would cause people in the church (Temple – see my previous posts for definition) to fall into the devil’s offence and desire of wanting to be “like God”.

Isaiah 14:12-14 (ESV) 12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

Adam Clarke has summarized the apostasy as we have noted above as “……. a dereliction of the essential principles of religious truth – either a total abandonment of Christianity itself, or such a corruption of its doctrines as renders the whole system completely inefficient to salvation.”

In other words if we neglect important doctrines we just become a social club which produces a gospel without any effect.

Romans 1:16 (ESV) 16 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.

The true Gospel is, “the power of God for salvation” a gospel that declares God and his law are holy and we are not. It is a gospel that says we were born wrong the first time and need a new birth to get a new start (John 3:3). It is a gospel that says you must “deny yourself” and not allow your pride and arrogance to stop you from “picking up your cross” (an instrument only used for death) so that your arrogant self might die and God can give you His life in order to “follow Christ” .

Matthew 16:24 (ESV) 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Jesus in (Matt 28:19-20) said to make disciples and teach them to obey the Lord’s commands. These are the people we should bring into the church. People that WE KNOW are on “the way”.  The church should be a sanctuary where we rest from this world not enter into a new form of the world. Instead we bring the unsaved into the “holy place” and hope Pastor will preach a salvation message to get our loved ones “saved”. Hopefully, these loved ones will raise their hands to “receive Jesus” (whatever that means), come down to the front and say the “sinner’s prayer” (if they even know what sin is). Then they are guaranteed that their names are written down in the Lamb’s book of life. My question is how can they know that without any evidence?

Even John the Baptist required “fruit in keeping with repentance”.

Luke 3:8 (ESV) 8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.”

With this kind of message we end up with an unholy mixture in the church.

1 Corinthians 5:1-13 (ESV) 1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

If we refuse to purge out the old leaven we begin to have spiritual, carnal or worse, unsaved people in the church and possibly even in leadership. What do light and darkness have in common? What spiritual decisions can be made in this kind of situation? There will be a lot of quarelling, arguing and fighting.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (ESV) 14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

The Galatians had fallen into this state and rather quickly so Paul writes a letter to rebuke them. Because they had been duped into following the law once again they became carnal and the result was not good.

(Galatians 5:15 (ESV) 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.)

When men control the church rather than the Spirit they become “lovers of themselves” and a feel-good gospel takes precedence. The true Gospel kills the old man, making him realize the greatness of God and the insignificance of himself.  God would then be worshipped in “spirit and truth” and not in pride and arrogance. It is only by the true Gospel that men fulfill the Law by dying to the law. The true Gospel brings a person to repentance because they beleive what God has said. They are water baptised into that death as a funeral service.  Then they come out of the waters of baptism with a new life – a life in the Spirit as they are baptised into Spirit (Heb 6:1-3). The law is now written on their hearts. (Ezek 11:19; 36:26). They are born of the Spirit.

Jeremiah 31:33 (ESV) 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

When the law is NOT written on the heart they WILL be LAWLESS. Self will rule in the church and people will “hold to a form of godliness although they have denied its power….”  They will certainly be religious but it will all be carried out in the “flesh”. They will deny the very power of God that would change them (2 Tim 3:1-5).  These people will (by their actions) declare themselves to be God in the very temple of God. This was the same action taken by Adam when He rebelled against God by listening to his wife rather than God. He became a “man of lawlessness” and God had to kick him out of the Temple (Eden) because there were too many “gods” in the garden. When the church disobeys God and allows what God forbids and the congregation does nothing to stop this, they give approval by default.

Romans 1:32 (ESV) 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

The people of lawlessness will be revealed but only to those who do what is right in God’s sight. People will think they are serving God but will only be serving themselves. This will happen in the church so watch the church! Jesus said, “…… will I find faith when I return?” (Luke 18:8)   We would be wise to keep this in mind.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2010 in Apostasy, Second Coming

 

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