Online Comment: Evangelicals are mad at Obama for accurately recounting history. For people who are so bent on calling everyone "sinners" it just seems odd to me that they are less willing to call their own tribal members in history "sinners." Paul said he was the "chief." Question for evangelicals: Did Christians ever justify slavery or Jim Crow in the name of Jesus and "the gospel?" Yes or No?
Christians today can discuss whether the Crusades were in fact warranted. But any such discussion must be made under a clear understanding of what historically transpired and why.
There is a great deal of historical revisionism and hatchet jobs regarding these events which need to be utterly debunked. During the time of the Enlightenment up to recent time critics often claim that the Crusaders were Western imperialists, those who set out after land with a desire to loot. But there is a background that so many of the modern critics of the Crusades, for some reason, ignore: The history begins in the seventh century when conquering Muslim armies swept over the Middle East, North Africa, and southern Europe. One Christian land after another was mercilessly attacked and conquered by advancing Muslim armies. Vast stretches of once Christian lands were now in Muslim hands. The entire of North Africa, once solidly Christian now were under complete Islamic rule. It is important to remember that Muhammad told his followers, "I was ordered to fight all men until they say `There is no god but Allah.'" Just to show that his followers understood his words literally, it was a century after his death in which vast swathes of territory hung under the bloody sword of Islam. Under their rule there were gruesome tortures of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land and vile desecrations of churches, altars, and baptismal fonts. It is in this light of centuries of Islamic conquest, bloodshed and tyranny that the Crusades should be viewed.
Tony Lane is professor of historical theology at the London School of Theology. He is a world-class Calvin scholar and author of several books, most recently Exploring Christian Doctrine: A Guide to What Christian Should Believe. The book is part of the Exploring Topics in Christianity series (includes one other volume at the present) which complements the Exploring The Bible series also published by IVP Academic.
Like the other volumes, this one is very accessible. It is essentially a brief systematic theology in terms of topics covered, but far from typical in the way the material is presented. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. In any case, I was surprised at how some of the contents had shifted from what I consider a standard ordering.
Lane first section (A), Method, is comprised of three chapters. The first is about knowing God, the second is about the Bible, and the third is about language about God. So far, pretty typical. Bonus points for having an actual prolegomena section in such a short systematic.
It seemed to me that the only way I could know I was saved was by knowing the status of my eternal election. Was I chosen by God for salvation or was I eternally damned before I had done anything good or bad? To be sure, the Calvinist theologian in me had responses to this question, yet none of them sufficed…my Calvinistic theology presented my needs for assurance with an epistemological problem: in order to have assurance I needed to know the status of my election, something that by definition is secret and cannot be known.
This objection was articulated in an article by William Lane Craig entitled “Lest Anyone Should Fall”: A Middle Knowledge Perspective on Perseverance and Apostolic Warnings where he essentially argues that the “means of salvation view” is actually more coherent in a “middle knowledge” perspective. Middle knowledge is the view of God’s knowledge that contains what his creatures would freely do in any given circumstances (or “possible world”) before he creates the world.
Visitor: I say whosoever so ever will and you say who so ever God enlightened
Response: Indeed "whosoever will" is right... the thought of denying such an important part of Scripture never crossed my mind ...but if we are to honestly interpret the Bible we must declare the whole counsel of Scripture. The same Bible that teaches 'whosoever will' also teaches 'but men love darkness and hate the light and will not come into the light (John 3:19-20) and "the man without the Spirit cannot understand the things of the Spirit and thinks them foolish" (1 Cor 2:14) and "no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit." (1 Cor 12:3). i.e. No one naturally submits to the humbling terms of the gospel.
So I affirm, together with you, that whosoever will may come. But this is a conditional statement asserts nothing indicatively. "if you are willing", "if you hear", "if you do" declare, not man's ability, but his duty. "Does it follow from the imperative 'repent' that therefore you can repent? Does it follow from the command "'Love the Lord you God with all you heart' (Deut 6.5) that therefore you can love Him with all your heart? What do arguments like these prove, but that 'free-will' can do all things by its own power apart from the grace of God. Is that what you are trying to say?
A good interpretation takes into full account all the Scriptures. Taking everything into account affirms that anyone who is willing may come but it also affirms that no one is naturally willing apart from grace.
Most pastors develop a rhythm with their sermon preparation. You find a way that “works” for you and you pretty much stick with it. But until you have the pattern established, it can be messy. And one of the areas with which I struggled at the beginning was how prayer fit into my sermon preparation.
I knew that I should pray, that in fact I must pray, as part of getting ready to teach God’s Word. But I don’t remember getting much advice about how to pray when preparing a message. And while there’s obviously not just one helpful way to do it, here are eight brief prayers that can be used while writing a sermon:
1. Lord, please help me to understand the meaning of this text and how it points to Christ.
2. Lord, please increase my love for the people who will hear this sermon.
3. Lord, please give me wisdom to apply this text to the lives of the people in our congregation.
4. Lord, please use this passage to help me grasp and love the gospel more so that I might help my hearers do the same.
5. Lord, please help me to see how this passage confronts the unbelief of my hearers.
6. Lord, please help me to be obedient to the demands of this passage. Help me to enter the pulpit having already submitted my life to this truth before I preach it.
7. Lord, by your Spirit please help me to preach this sermon with the necessary power and with appropriate affections.
8. Lord, please use this sermon to bring glory to your name, joy to your people, and salvation to the lost.
There is nothing in the Bible which can remotely give the impression that some people are good and some people are bad, and being good is how we get God to accept us. We're all bad. The Bible draws a sweeping and devastating picture of human beings in Adam as corrupt, greedy, foolish, selfish, mean, envious, hateful, sexually perverse, cruel and violent. And even if we do not always exhibit all these characteristics outwardly, the germ of all these acts dwell in each heart. That is why those who declare that certain individuals are 'born this way' and so cannot change only understand half the truth. We were ALL 'born this way' captive to our lusts and corruptions and none of us can do anything pleasing to God to appease His displeasure with us (See Rom 1-3). This is no hyperbole. Our state is so hopeless that we can do nothing, except, by the grace of God, acknowledge that we justly deserve God's wrath save for Jesus Christ alone. Given that we are 'born this way' our only hope is to be born again... and since we cannot give birth to ourselves, this is only something God can do.
But if the Holy Spirit dwells in you, He will cause you to grieve and repent over your sin and conform you your identity in Jesus Christ (1 Cor 11:31-32) ... but, because of the grace you have in Christ, you will not abide in sin nor continue in it. He loves you too much to leave you under the tyranny and bondage of of sin. Abiding in sin and being a regenerate Christian is wholly incompatible. "No one BORN OF GOD makes a practice of sinning, for God’s SEED abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been BORN OF GOD." (1 John 3:9) ..."and his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been BORN OF GOD overcomes the world." (1 John 5:3-4)
"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence."
Did you read that? Jesus was heard BECAUSE of his reverence. He was not simply heard because He was ontologically righteous as the Second Person of the Trinity. But he was heard because he obeyed as a flesh and blood human being. So what? you say. Well, this demonstrates that Jesus obedience as a human being, his life, not just his death was critical in our redemption. His obedience to God's law in his life was part of the righteousness that was imputed to us that we might be right before God.
That is why Paul declares to the Corinthians, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." The "no sin" aspect speaks of a necessary aspect of Christ's redemptive work. His atonement for sin requires a sinless sacrifice, one which obeyed God in every way. Paul also says "For as by the one man's disobedience [Adam] the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience [Jesus} the many will be made righteous." He did not merely mean to say that Jesus was obedient in offering Himself up to death (although it includes that), he also means the obedience of His whole life. Otherwise Jesus could have merely been killed by Herod as a small baby and that would have been sufficient for us. His death is not all that mattered. Jesus declared there were things he needed to do in his life "to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15)
In the age to come, in righteousness, Jesus will judge and make war (Rev 19:11). He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty and will strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. (Rev 19:11-16). But thanks be to God, in this age, Jesus grants pardon in advance to all who ally themselves with Him. Because of Christ and His redemptive work, Final Justice is being delayed until the full number of the elect from every nation are gathered in, or else all of us ill-deserving sinners would all be swept up in judgement. Considering the severity of my own sins, I am very, very thankful for that. Let us take care, then, not to "judge anything before the time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of hearts." 1 Corinthians 4:5, For "What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?" 1 Cor 4:7
You sit down to eat your lunch and begin peeling your orange, when your lunch buddy makes a strange comment. “Why in the world do they call it an orange if it is green?”
After gaining your composure, you realize your friend is likely color blind and unable to see the difference between orange and green. To him this orb in your hand is green and nothing you say is going to change that “fact”.
He insists that the burden of proof is on you. In order for him to believe that this orange is actually orange you will have to prove it. Secondly, he insists that only six colors exist and every other “color” is just a myth created by the greedy tyrants at Crayola. Lastly, he cares little about what others believe on the issue—he won’t believe it until he sees it with his own eyes.
Apart from the discovery of a cure for color blindness you’ll never win this debate. But what has actually been proven in this debate?
By your inability to win the debate your friend has not disproven that oranges are actually orange. Nor has he shown that oranges are actually green. All that has really happened is that we’ve shown that a fruit that is the color orange cannot and does not exist in your friends view of the world.
When Christians Lose the Debate
The above scenario is played out in lunch rooms every day, but over things far more significant than the color of an orange. There are those who insist that the Bible is a bunch of fairy tales and that God does not exist.
Just as the color-blind dude in the above scenario insisted that the burden of proof was upon you, so also unbelievers insist that we must prove that God exists in order for them to believe. They will say things like “if something is true then it must be scientifically proven” even though such a statement itself cannot be scientifically proven.