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Is God Being Unfair to the Non-Elect?

Visitor:
"Bet you wouldn't be so hard hearted by saying it's "just" if you were one of the non elect. Actually I would like an explanation of how a person professing to care for his fellow man have such an attitude. Can you justify that?"

Response:
Thank you for your email. Per your inquiry, it begins by understanding that my attitude cannot change the facts. If I warn you that there is a large precipice, to be careful, I did not arrive at this conclusion because I discovered it by an attitude, but from the fact that there is really something dangerous to look out for.

Sat, 06/20/2020 - 14:17 -- john_hendryx

Co-operative or Effectual Grace

by John Calvin

IT IS NOT A CASE OF THE BELIEVER'S "CO-OPERATION" WITH GRACE; THE WILL IS FIRST ACTUATED THROUGH GRACE

But perhaps some will concede that the will is turned away from the good by its own nature and is converted by the Lord's power alone, yet in such a way that, having been prepared, it then has its own part in the action. As Augustine teaches, grace precedes every good work; while will does not go before as its leader but follows after as its attendant. This statement, which the holy man made with no evil intention, has by Lombard been preposterously twisted to that way of thinking. But I contend that in the words of the prophet that I have cited, as well as in other passages, two things are clearly signified: (1) the Lord corrects our evil will, or rather extinguishes it; (2) he substitutes for it a good one from himself.

In so far as it is anticipated by grace, to that degree I concede that you may call your will an "attendant." But because the will reformed is the Lord's work, it is wrongly attributed to man that he obeys prevenient grace with his will as attendant. Therefore Chrysostom erroneously wrote: "Neither grace without will nor will without grace can do anything." As if grace did not also actuate the will itself, as we have just seen from Paul [cf. Philippians 2:13]! Nor was it Augustine's intent, in calling the human will the attendant of grace, to assign to the will in good works a function second to that of grace. His only purpose was, rather, to refute that very evil doctrine of Pelagius which lodged the first cause of salvation in man's merit.

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 19:56 -- john_hendryx

Making a Savior of Politics

One of the most egregious sins of our time is political idolatry. Now, as you may know, idolatry is not merely bowing down to an idol crafted by hands, but setting something up in your heart as that which exceeds all others in importance. It is often taking a good and God-ordained thing (like government) and making it the ultimate thing, thus making it into a god, as if it could save, or bring about utopia.

But there is only one Savior, and his name is Jesus Christ. He is not a partisan...a Democrat or a Republican: He is the King of kings and only He reigns supreme over all. All sin is rebellion against Him first. He is not against our participation in the political process (He ordained it), but He makes it clear that we should be under no illusions that any laws or government can deliver us from our captivity to sin. And since human beings cannot save themselves, the solution to total depravity is not law, but gospel. This means that the wickedness of things like abortion and racial injustice will not go away by mere legislation. Certainly it will restrain the evil of it to some degree, so it is clearly necessary to implement better laws. I am all for it. But just as politics is downstream from culture, so culture is downstream from theology. If we simply force a law through an unwilling culture, like curbing or abolishing abortion, the backlash will be severe, because many in our debased culture view this crime against humanity as a sacred rite. It is only as hearts are changed through the gospel, will people begin to see the need to treat all divine image bearers with dignity. So my friends, make it a priority to bring people to the gospel of Christ. Apart from that we are not even beginning to solve the underlying problem.

Sun, 06/14/2020 - 20:48 -- john_hendryx

A Prisoner Awaiting Execution

by Jeremiah Burroughs

Suppose a malefactor is condemned, but now execution is not till two or three days after; in that space of time he has granted unto him liberty to have meat and drink, and friends come to him, and he may refresh himself in those two or three days; but he has forfeited all his estate, and the tenure now upon which he holds any comfort, it is not the same which he had before, but merely through the bounty of the prince it is that he has comforts. 

So it is here. Wicked men have committed sin, and the sentence of death is out against them, and they have forfeited all the comforts of their estates, and of their lives, only God in patience grants unto them some outward comforts here a few days before execution; and upon this tenure do all wicked men hold their estates: I will not say that every wicked man is an usurper of their estates, as some perhaps have held, that they have no right at all before God; some right he has, as you cannot say a malefactor has no right (when he is condemned) to meat and drink before execution; he has right to what is given to him of donation and bounty, but not that right which he had before. 

So I say, for wicked men that have estates in this world, they have a kind of right to that they have; but how? Just that right that a condemned man has to his dinner or supper before execution; this is the right of wicked men to their estates; that is, God of his bounty grants a little while before execution they shall have a few comforts to them in this world: And this is the evil of sin, and the least sin, there is not any one sin, but the fruit of it is condemnation. And brethren, you must not mistake, to think that wicked men are never condemned until they come before God in the day of Judgment; they be condemned here, mark that, John, 3. 18. He that believes not is condemned already: now condemned, not hereafter, but a condemned man already: this is a sad condition indeed. 

Wed, 06/10/2020 - 20:50 -- john_hendryx

Poverty of Spirit

by Thomas Watson

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3

Some are of opinion, that this was the first sermon which ever Christ gave, therefore it may challenge our best attention. 'Blessed are the poor in spirit'. Our Lord Christ, beginning to raise a high and stately fabric of blessedness, lays the foundation of it low—in poverty of spirit. But all poverty is not blessed. I shall use a fourfold distinction.

1. I distinguish between 'poor in estate', and 'poor in spirit'. There are the Devil's poor. They are both poor and wicked—whose clothes are not more torn than their conscience. There are some whose poverty is their sin, who through improvidence or excess have brought themselves to poverty. These may be poor in estate—but not poor in spirit.

2. I distinguish between 'spiritually poor' and 'poor in spirit'. He who is without grace is spiritually poor—but he is not poor in spirit; he does not know his own beggary. 'You know not, that you are poor' (Revelation 3:17). He is in the worst sense poor—who has no sense of his poverty.

3. I distinguish between 'poor-spirited' and 'poor in spirit'. They are said to be poor-spirited who have mean, base spirits, who act below themselves. Such are those misers, who having great estates—yet can hardly afford themselves bread; who live sneakingly, and are ready to wish their own throats cut, because they are forced to spend something in satisfying nature's demands. This Solomon calls an evil under the sun. 'There is an evil which I have seen under the sun—a man to whom God has given riches, so that he lacks nothing that he desires—yet God gives him not power to eat thereof' (Ecclesiastes 6:2). True religion makes no man a niggard. Though it teaches prudence—yet not sordidness.

Sun, 06/07/2020 - 20:35 -- john_hendryx

Universally Binding Standards

I am delighted to see how many young people are committed to universal justice. But, at the same time, modern society tends to be deeply incoherent. On the one hand our culture demands justice for the oppressed and impartial benevolence toward all. On the other hand it teaches that no one has the right to declare right and wrong to anyone else, as secularism asserts that every person must determine his or her own moral values. This is cognitive dissonance. It demands moral behavior of others and yet insists morality is relative. The idea undermines itself. The promotion of universal justice, human rights, self-sacrifice, a commitment to human dignity and considering the poor can only coherently make sense in a world where morality is objective and whose source is God. Either stop moralizing others or stop pretending to believe morality is relative/subjective. You can't hold to both at the same time and expect people to take you seriously.

If you lie to yourself in this way, you are not helping. It is a type of willful blindness to the real source of the problem. This means if you are fighting for justice with human wisdom alone, with no thought to where human dignity comes from, you are keeping humanity in the very bondage and slavery you claim to be fighting against. We cannot merely judge policies by their "good intentions" but by a consistent commitment to the truth, in a way that corresponds with reality. The real remedy for our problems cannot be based on a lie.

Sat, 06/06/2020 - 15:08 -- john_hendryx

Where Have You Placed Your Hope?

Every human being places his hope in something, and every human being asks that hope to deliver something. Where have you placed your hope?

We’ve all been hardwired for hope. We all project our lives out into the future to imagine things as we would like them to be. We all carry around with us personal hopes and dreams. We all surrender our hearts to some kind of expectation. We all silently wish that things could be different than they are. We all hope in something and we all hope for something. So much of how we look at life and how we live our lives is connected to the things in which we place the fundamental hopes of our lives.

Hope always has three elements—an assessment, an object, and an expectation. First, hope looks around and assesses that something or someone could be better than it is; that that something or someone is somehow broken. If things were as perfect as they could be, you wouldn’t need to hope. Second, hope always has an object. It is the thing that you bank your hope on. You ask the object of your hope to fix what is broken or to deliver what is desired or needed. Third, hope has an expectation. This is what you ask the object of your hope to give you, what you hope the object of your hope will deliver.

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 16:48 -- john_hendryx

The Heart of the Matter for Secularists. How Do You Know that Racism is Wrong?

Is racism universally (that is, objectively) wrong, or is this something that people should be free to decide for themselves?  In other words, is racism something that you think should be wrong at all times for everyone in all cultures and communities, or is this merely your personal preference? 

If there is one thing Christians can wholeheartedly agree with young postmodern secularists, it is that, in large part, they are motivated by altruism, a strong desire to advance human rights, and to care deeply for the universal welfare of humanity. There is a tendency among young postmoderns to want to treat with benevolence all people regardless of their ethnicity.  This is truly to be admired. 

At the same time, however, without blinking an eye, secularists will openly tell you that there is no objective right or wrong - that all morals should be left to the individual to decide. That there is no cosmic or ethical order outside of subjective preferences. But if morality is nothing more than our expression of personal preference or feelings, and does not exist independent of them, then why do people (even secularists) find universal judgments to be irresistible in practice? Their views of racism is a good example. Even the most ardent materialists are unable to refrain from passing moral judgments, even as their philosophy tells them otherwise. They live as if we are accountable to a moral standard that exists beyond themselves. 

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 14:29 -- john_hendryx

Treating the Underlying Disease

Something has gone terribly wrong the world and it must be made right. There is genocide, terrorism, corruption, authoritarianism, racism, world wars, human trafficking, slavery, abortion, environmental disaster, exploitation of children, greed, abuse, anger, addictions, etc. There is a lot of moral outrage over these things, yet most people do not have any coherent explanation of why humanity is in such a mess. Many believe much of what ails us are things like psychological trauma, self-esteem problems and addiction, and while there may be some superficial truth in this, our problem really runs much deeper than this. These behavioral problems are but the symptoms, not the underlying disease.

What's amazing it that people keep trying the same solutions that have never worked. Each week the masses on social media are outraged at the latest contemporary scandal or injustice but seem to only offer superficial ways of treating the symptoms (anger, law), but rarely offer a cure for the underlying disease (the gospel). The solutions offered are usually vague, non-descript and amorphous. Fact is, you can put in place all the good laws in the world but they will do next to nothing to change the evil of men's hearts. It may restrain evil to an extent, and that's good (and necessary), but it will never, ever resolve the underlying cancer that causes the problem in the first place. 

The problem with the world starts with me. Good and evil run right down the center of my own heart. Lord have mercy on me. There is no hope for me if I am left to myself.  Thank God for Jesus Christ, who saves sinners like me... and who is coming as the sovereign King to bring all things in the light and make all things right. 

 

 

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 13:07 -- john_hendryx

Moral Outrage and the Quest for Power

It is not difficult to notice the overwhelming number of people who express their moral outrage toward social and political issues on social media. They find it natural to pronounce judgment on issues that offend them. Ironically, many of these same persons find the idea of the final judgment of God to be offensive. I've had numerous friends express to me that the concept of a final judgment of wheat and tares, sheep and goats, to be a stumbling block for them.

Why? Outrage presupposes the concept of justice. But if the pursuit of justice is virtuous in human courts then why is it so offensive that God, who is objective, who exercises perfect justice, and who knows all the secrets of men, something to stumble over? We will not let God be God, yet eagerly willing to take on the role of God ourselves.

There is a universal desire for justice in the human soul, regardless of where you are born. It is not something that must be taught, but rises up within each one of us. This points to the fact that a universal law has been implanted in each one of us. The desire for justice points to the reality of God. For moral outrage is absurd, if you believe in moral relativism. Either there is an objective right and wrong OR it is a mere personal preference. And if it is but a preference, then how can you consistently express moral outrage at others who are merely expressing their preference? If there is no objective, universal morality that transcends human opinion, then, to be consistent, all that's left is power .. the desire to impose your preference on others.

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Sat, 05/16/2020 - 13:12 -- john_hendryx

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