Blog

Should We Teach "Free Will" for Practical Reasons?

Recently, I received a comment from someone who suggested that we should still teach "free will" because it practically helps encourage people to behave ethically. This was the statement:

The belief that one can choose to do good freely... significantly impacts upon the idea that the Golden Rule is worthy of practice ... and will significantly help to lead one to behave accordingly.... and to encourage treatment of others with the dignity of self-determination. It is better to promote the idea of free will ... the belief is important. Hopefully, whatever one defines as "good" is in agreement.

How do we respond to this? The truth is, freedom entirely depends on which side of grace we are on. There is no biblical concept of free will before grace. Better to be as biblical as we can and explain freedom the way Jesus does: "whoever practices sin is a slave to sin ... [but] if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed." (John 8:34, 36)  To teach that the natural man has a free will, therefore, is to overthrow the gospel. That our will and affections were in bondage to sin (as natural men) is precisely why we needed the gospel in the first place. But now that we have been set free by Christ, we are free to obey and live according to the principles like the golden rule that the comment mentions.

When we give God's commands to an unbeliever, however, it is not because he is able to obey them. Paul rather says the purpose of divine commands is to reveal sin (Rom. 3:19) - and when men and women despair of themselves then they are in a perfect position to receive grace.

Thu, 06/09/2016 - 10:32 -- john_hendryx

What are the Moral Values of a Consistent Atheist?

What are the moral values of a consistent atheist? Well, it would be consistent if he or she were a person of integrity but it would also be consistent if they were a person of dishonor, racism, greed, oppression, torture, human trafficking, slavery and rape ... all of which are not, in any way, inconsistent with being an atheist. But neither is being a person of honor, sincerity and decency. That is the reality of a system of understanding the world which has no belief in objective truth. Atheists cannot, therefore critique the morals of other atheists or people with differing belief systems, and remain consistent in their claim to moral relativism. As soon as they claim their own morals are "better" they are appealing to some absolute standard of morality. To consistently live by "atheistic principles", therefore, is a recipe for moral anarchy. It is true that a person professing to be a Christian may also be a dishonorable person, but he is being inconsistent with what he knows to be true.

Tue, 06/07/2016 - 14:22 -- john_hendryx

God Calls Us to the Impossible

God calls all of us to the impossible: an impossible standard, an impossible life, an impossible faith. The Divine legislation was not designed to awaken our natural ability but to reveal our inability, our impotence, our sin (Romans 3:19-20). It forces us to come to an end of our own resources and find the only way to godly living is if God supernaturally changes our hearts. That is why I can only shake my head when I saw a Yahoo! News headline yesterday which declared that some Christian rocker had come out as gay and left his family. It is not as if this rocker did not know that living for Christ is a call to do something against his very nature. This is explicitly made known throughout the scripture. God calls all of us to a radical, impossible life of self-denial. not a life of self-fulfillment. It is no easier for me than it is for him. Someone might say that they feel happier to do something natural, but so what? What we want, our happiness is not the goal. To be a Christian we are no longer our own but are the Lord's.
 
Frankly, I am not sure what was newsworthy about the Yahoo! story. The man is just doing what is natural to him; sinning. What would really be newsworthy is to do a story about a person who does something that is impossible -- someone who, by the regenerating grace of God, has broken his lifestyle of sinning and lives in a way of love that goes against his nature (1 John 3:9). There are plenty of those stories but I do not see them make the headlines. Impossible to live against our nature? yes, of course. That is the point. "But what is impossible for man is possible with God." (Luke 18:27)
Thu, 06/02/2016 - 13:02 -- john_hendryx

A Reminder to the Covenant God

by John Hendryx

It is pretty common knowledge that it rains quite a bit here in our city of Portland, Oregon. Most often it is a very light rain such that the city-dwellers do not even use umbrellas when they go about their business. But recently we had quite an unusual phenomenon.  My wife and I were in our home early in the evening just before sunset and over the airwaves came the news that a major electrical storm would be passing over our area.  It is not very often that thunder and lightning accompanies the rain here, but especially at this magnitude. As we went out on our front porch the sky became dark and gloomy while lightning flashed from one end of the sky to the other.  But since the sun was near to setting in the west, its light came through underneath the dark clouds creating a surreal glow among the half-darkness.  Then as we looked out at the beauty of the moment, what appeared to be a transcendent rainbow, one like I had never seen in my life, sprang to life in full color in the midst of the mournful sky.  While most rainbows seem to be partial, disappearing into the clouds, this one created a full arc or a half-circle from one end of the heavens to the other. Then another rainbow was revealed creating a double rainbow.   We just stood in awe at its dreamlike quality and immediately both my wife and I, who were now sitting on the front porch transfixed at the vision, recalling its biblical significance spoke of it as a sign of a great blessing from God.  I also saw several neighbors come out of their houses to view the unusual prism of colors. I approached to see if our next door neighbors had seen it and one of them said they thought was that it was “the end of the world”, but my wife and I recalled that rainbows are not signs of the end but of a new beginning in which God looks at His creation with favor.  God uses covenant signs to create and affirm His covenant favor toward us.

Wed, 06/01/2016 - 16:40 -- john_hendryx

The Self-Denial That Brings Contentment

by Jeremiah Burroughs

Christ teaches self-denial and how that brings contentment.

1. Such a person learns to know that he is nothing. He comes to this, to be able to say, 'Well, I see I am nothing in myself.' That man or woman who indeed knows that he or she is nothing, and has learned it thoroughly will be able to bear anything. The way to be able to bear anything is to know that we are nothing in ourselves. God says to us, 'Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not' (

Proverbs 23:5) speaking of riches. Why, blessed God, do not you do so? you have set your heart upon us and yet we are nothing. God would not have set our hearts upon riches, because they are nothing, and yet God is pleased to set his heart upon us, and we are nothing: that is God's grace, free grace, and therefore it does not much matter what I suffer, for I am as nothing.

2. I deserve nothing. I am nothing, and I deserve nothing. Suppose I lack this and that thing which others have? I am sure that I deserve nothing except it be Hell. You will answer any of your servants, who is not content: I wonder what you think you deserve? or your children: do you deserve it that you are so eager to have it? You would stop their mouths thus, and so we may easily stop our own mouths: we deserve nothing and therefore why should we be impatient if we do not get what we desire. If we had deserved anything we might be troubled, as in the case of a man who has deserved well of the state or of his friends, yet does not receive a suitable reward, it troubles him greatly, whereas if he is conscious that he has deserved nothing, he is content with a rebuff.

Tue, 05/31/2016 - 13:29 -- john_hendryx

Follow the Lord Wherever He Leads

by John Calvin

ALTHOUGH the Law of God contains a perfect rule of conduct admirably arranged, it has seemed proper to our divine Master to train his people by a more accurate method, to the rule which is enjoined in the Law; and the leading principle in the method is, that it is the duty of believers to present their “bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is their reasonable service,” (Rom. xii. 1.)

Hence he draws the exhortation: “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” The great point, then, is, that we are consecrated and dedicated to God, and, therefore, should not henceforth think, speak, design, or act, without a view to his glory.

What he hath made sacred cannot, without signal insult to him, be applied to profane use.

But if we are not our own, but the Lord’s, it is plain both what error is to be shunned, and to what end the actions of our lives ought to be directed.

We are not our own; therefore, neither is our own reason or will to rule our acts and counsels.

We are not our own; therefore, let us not make it our end to seek what may be agreeable to our carnal nature.

We are not our own; therefore, as far as possible, let us forget ourselves and the things that are ours.

On the other hand,

We are God’s; let us, therefore, live and die to him (Rom. xiv. 8.)

We are God’s; therefore, let his wisdom and will preside over all our actions.

We are God’s; to him, then, as the only legitimate end, let every part of our life be directed.

Mon, 05/30/2016 - 14:58 -- john_hendryx

Key Quotes from Answering Jihad by Nabeel Qureshi

If we define Islam, not as the practice of Muslims, but as the teachings of Muhammad then violence is an integral part of Islam. 

Those Muslims who teach that surah 9 of the Quran has not been abrogated (the final teaching of Muhammad), still affirm the command to disavow all treaties with polytheists and to subjugate Jews and Christians so that Islam may "prevail over every faith." This final surah of the Quran gives no limits to assimilation, subjugation and violence against non-Muslims.  According to this surah those Muslims who do not fight are even counted among the hypocrites.

Former Muslim Nabeel Qureshi says,

"...frustrated by the increasing frequency and scale of Islamist terrorism [many people] suggest that Islam needs a reformation. What they may not realize is that radical Islam is the Islamic Reformation.

This might sound shocking, but consider: Just as the Protestant Reformation was an attempt to raze centuries of Catholic tradition and return to the canonical texts, so radical Islam is an attempt to raze centuries of traditions of various schools of Islamic thought and return to the canonical texts of the Quran and Muhammad's life. 

The question arises then, If Muhammad taught this, why don't all Muslims believe this then? Because each persons Islam is interpreted through the tradition of their local imam or jurist. Many local imams may claim this part of the Quran has been abrogated. But those Muslims who continue to affirm surah 9 and the traditions of Muhammad and the earliest followers of Muhammad, believe violence or subjugation against non- Muslims is still valid. Qureshi says,

Sun, 05/29/2016 - 16:17 -- john_hendryx

Sanctification via Union With Christ

God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." (1 cor 1:28-31)
 

I often think that our sanctification is very much like our original conversion experience. The more we grow in grace, the more we lose all confidence in ourselves. It seems, somewhat ironically, that as Christ works sanctification in us, the greater is our recognition of our own sinfulness. And it seems this is done for a purpose, for as we come face to face with our own corruption, we are driven to Christ as our righteousness, holiness and redemption, our all in all...our only hope before God. So sanctification is not so much about our own spirituality as it is about Christ and Him becoming greater. Christ commanded us to partake of Communion "till He come" and perhaps the reason for this is to continually focus our eyes less on what we do for Him, and more on what He has done for us and relish it. What we do in response to Him is only penultimate or secondary. The most critical error we make as believers is to look in ourselves for something that can only be found in Christ.

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 16:53 -- john_hendryx

No One Beyond the Reach of Prayer

by A. W. Pink

 "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34)

This first of the seven cross-sayings of Jesus presents Him in the attitude of prayer. His public ministry had opened with prayer (Luke 3:21), and here we see it closing in prayer. Surely He has left us an example! His hands would no longer minister to the sick, for they are nailed to the cross; His feet would no longer carry him on errands of mercy, for they are fastened to the cruel tree; He would no longer instruct the apostles, for they have forsaken Him and fled. How then does He occupy himself? In the ministry of prayer! What a lesson for us.

In praying for his enemies not only did Christ set before us a perfect example of how we should treat those who wrong and hate us, but He also taught us never to regard anyone as beyond the reach of prayer. If Christ prayed for his murderers, then surely we have encouragement to pray now for the very chief of sinners! Never lose hope. Does it seem a waste of time for you to continue praying for that man, that woman, that wayward child of yours? Does their case seem to become more hopeless every day? Does it look as though they had gone beyond the reach of divine mercy? Perhaps that one you have prayed for so long has been ensnared by one of the Satanic cults of the day, or he may now be an avowed and blatant atheist, in a word, an open enemy of Christ. Remember then the cross. Christ prayed for his enemies. Learn then not to look on any as beyond the reach of prayer.

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 09:15 -- john_hendryx

Christ Died for Sinners

Syndicated Column by Steve Hays

In 5-point Calvinism, is limited atonement and/or limited election in tension with the universal offer of the gospel? 
 
i) God doesn't directly offer the gospel to every individual, or directly command every individual to believe the gospel. 
 
In that respect, the offer of the gospel parallels special revelation. In might be more efficient if God privately revealed himself to every individual, but instead, God resorts to a public revelation. A mass medium. 
 
One reason, perhaps, is that humans are social creatures, so having Scripture as a common reference point is a unifying principle.
 
Be that as it may, the offer of the gospel is like a recipe. If you follow the instructions, this will be the result. A recipe doesn't order anyone in particular to use that recipe. 
 
ii) In nature, there's a principle of redundancy. For instance, a maple tree produces far more seeds (or maple copters) than will every take root and become trees in their own right. But the redundancy is purposeful. If enough maple trees produce enough airborne seeds, that greatly raises the odds that some of them will take root and produce trees in their own right.
 
Likewise, many animals produce multiple offspring, only a few of which survive to maturity. But in order to at least achieve a replacement rate, it's necessary to produce offspring in excess of the replacement rate, to offset the loss of the offspring that are eaten by predators before they reach sexual maturity and repeat the reproductive cycle. By the same token, multiple sperm raise the odds that one will fertilize the ovum. 
 
Humans imitate this principle. For instance, absent vaccination, some people will contract a serious communicable disease and some won't.
Sun, 05/22/2016 - 11:54 -- john_hendryx

Pages

Subscribe to Monergism.com Blog Feed

By Topic

Joy

By Scripture

Old Testament

Genesis

Exodus

Leviticus

Numbers

Deuteronomy

Joshua

Judges

Ruth

1 Samuel

2 Samuel

1 Kings

2 Kings

1 Chronicles

2 Chronicles

Ezra

Nehemiah

Esther

Job

Psalms

Proverbs

Ecclesiastes

Song of Solomon

Isaiah

Jeremiah

Lamentations

Ezekiel

Daniel

Hosea

Joel

Amos

Obadiah

Jonah

Micah

Nahum

Habakkuk

Zephaniah

Haggai

Zechariah

Malachi

New Testament

Matthew

Mark

Luke

John

Acts

Romans

1 Corinthians

2 Corinthians

Galatians

Ephesians

Philippians

Colossians

1 Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians

1 Timothy

2 Timothy

Titus

Philemon

Hebrews

James

1 Peter

2 Peter

1 John

2 John

3 John

Jude

Revelation

By Author

Latest Links