Sunday, April 9, 2017

Substitutionary Atonement

Over the last few years I have engaged on Facebook's Messenger, with a young man of my acquaintance, on the subject of the Atonement. More specifically with his intense dislike of the Substitutionary view of such.

Here is a sample of his comments:
the satisfaction theory of atonement is wrong since Jesus didn't satisfy god since he didn't get eternal punishment.
in the west around the time of Anselm and especially during the reformation people started to view God as a harsh blood thirsty entity that had to be appeased by the blood of His son
is it just that the wrath of God on Jesus was for a couple minutes while for us it's eternal, I don't think so
the substitution theory is a disgusting theory
He recently posted the following video to which I responded.

The video is designed to incite outrage against the Bible - it shows a white man who raped a black woman, but not just any white man, a neo-nazi, so clearly there is no intention on the part of the artist to accurately represent that which he despises, and he succeeds in his effort.

Let's compare his representation of the atonement with what the Bible teaches on the subject, and it will be evident that the artist is not interested in the truth, and actually despises [the one] who created him:

His version - young white man commits a crime - rape. When brought before the judge, there is no remorse nor punishment for his crime, in effect no satisfaction for his sin. The judge has 2 dudes beat up on his own son, and then sets the rapist free, to leave and continue to rape at his pleasure.

The Bible version:

In 2 Samuel 11 & 12, we have the story of King David's adultery with Bathsheba, who becomes pregnant as a result. David sends for her husband who is on the battlefield, fighting for his king. He hopes Uriah will go home and sleep with his wife so that the child will appear to be his own. But Uriah doesn't go home, so David has him killed in battle, and then marries his pregnant widow. The murder is to cover-up the adultery.

If the repercussion of David's double sins followed the video version, you'd have Jesus beat up and David free to go on with life. But that's not how the story plays out.

The first thing the Bible teaches is that there are no innocents as far as God is concerned.

Romans 3:10-18
As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
In David's story we notice the displeasure of the Judge toward the sinner (that's not in the video).

2 Samuel 11:26-27
When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.
The prophet Nathan (the judge's representative) comes to David and calls him out on his sin (that's not in the video), via a story that Nathan tells.

There is punishment for David because of the sin (that's not in the video).

2 Samuel 12:11-12
Thus says the Lord, "Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun."
David's response to Nathan (repentance) is significantly different than the neo-nazi's in the video!

2 Samuel 12:13
David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
David wrote the 51st Psalm after this meeting with Nathan.
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
The Bible affirms that repentance is necessary for salvation and that the atoning sacrifice of Christ is only for those who do repent. All mankind is guilty, but Christ is the substitute only for those who recognize that they are guilty and repent of their sin.

You can do a Bible search for the words REPENT, and REPENTANCE using Bible Gateway

Here's some of what you will find:

Job 42:5-6
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
Psalm 7:12-13
If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.
Mark 1:14-15
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.
Luke 5:32
I [Jesus] have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
Acts 17:30-31
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.
There is a judgement coming and only those who repent of their sins will be saved from that judgement, because Christ has been their substitute.

Romans 5:9-10
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
Romans 5:12-21 explains substitution. Adam was the substitute that took mankind away from God. Jesus Christ is the substitute that brings those who repent and believe back to God.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned...
For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.
The video affirms amnesty with no repentance, and thus encourages the rapist to continue raping, since the judge gave him a free pass.

Clearly, the video does NOT present truth, and you should reject it and embrace the truth of the Bible, repenting of your sin and trusting Christ as the sole mediator between you and God.

1 Timothy 2:5-6
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
For further reading:

What is the substitutionary atonement?

Did Early Christians Believe in Substitutionary Atonement?

Substitution in the Church Fathers

What you can't sing without Penal Substitution

Atonement tweet sparks blood feud on social media

All scripture quotations are English Standard Version
unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

60 and counting

Today I celebrate a milestone birthday - 60! Over the last few weeks I have been looking back over those years and decided to write this post encapsulating my journey. The most important  aspect of the trip is an awareness that God is sovereign over all things. There are a few significant turns in the journey over which I had absolutely no input or control. Other turns were by my own choice, some good and some bad, yet in all of them God ruled sovereignly. My trust is settled in God who is merciful and gracious, and I am thankful for the life He has blessed me with. I have broken this post into 5 year segments, to highlight significant events in each segment.


My journey begins almost 15 years before my birth when the Canadian Army drafted my father and sent him to Jamaica with the Brockville Rifles.

In his memoir (unpublished), he recounts his adventures in Jamaica; one highlight is a full-pack climb to Blue Mountain Peak (7400 ft). He wrote that he was determined to reach the summit so that he would be able to tell his children of his accomplishment. He fell in love with the island and, after completing his theological studies, returned to Jamaica with our mother in 1952, settling in Prospect District, St. Elizabeth. Their home had no electricity or indoor plumbing, but this was not a sacrifice to them as their childhood homes in Ontario were the same. They had been married 9 years but had no children, and shortly after arriving adopted a 4-yr old girl from the German community of Seaford Town.

Over the next 7 years my mother gave birth to 5 children, with the first living only a few hours. I am the 3rd of those 5 and the only child not born in Jamaica.

1957-1962 (Birth to 5)

My parents returned to Canada on furlough every 4 or 5 years to report to their supporting churches and raise additional funds for their mission work. I was born on their first furlough and returned with them to Jamaica in the summer. I have many wonderful memories of those early years and even today when I hear wind rustling through trees I am reminded of that house.

1962-1967 (5 to 10)

Furlough in Canada where I was placed in 1st Grade, likely because I was a reader. This should have meant that I would graduate 12th grade in 1974 at 17, a fact that will figure prominently further along in the story. Returning to Jamaica, we moved to Anchovy, St James, and attended St. James Prep School in Montego Bay.

1967-1972 (10-15)

Another year long furlough (6th Grade), then residence in Montego Bay at Felicity Drive (by the gully). Final year at St. James Prep, Cornwall College (2 years), Fairview High School (1 year).

1972-1977 (15-20)

Furlough was delayed a year as we moved to Kingston while another missionary family took their furlough - attended Calabar High School. Returning to Canada I should have entered 12th grade, but was held back. This was probably the most significant decision up to this point in my life over which I had no control. Had I graduated from high school in Canada, there would have been no reason for me to return to Jamaica with the rest of the family. That would have completely changed the entire direction of my life. I am beyond thankful that my parents made that choice for me.

Returning to Montego Bay and Cornwall for my senior year, with the 15 minutes of fame (loved every second of it) that came from my role as Mr. Squeers in Cornwall's production of Smike - the Musical. Had my first date with Gloria when she was visiting with her folks - Pelican Grill for banana splits.

Tennessee Temple University (Chattanooga, TN) for a semester (they asked me not to come back!). Home for the spring of 1976, while my parents prepared to leave Jamaica after 24 years. Canada for the remainder of the year, summer near Hamilton, and fall in Kitchener. Began corresponding with Gloria via snail mail and the occasional phone call.

1977-1982 (20-25)

Toronto for a year, then returned to the US to go back to TTU for a semester. Transferred to Northland Baptist Bible College (Dunbar, WI), where Gloria was, returning to Chattanooga, after one semester. We were married in Wisconsin on June 9, 1979, and enrolled at TTU for the fall, dropping out after a few weeks with no plans to return.

1982-1987 (25-30)

Both of our daughters were born and we returned to TTU to finish our degrees thoroughly enjoyed the college experience.

1987-1992 (30-35)

Both of us graduated (90 & 91) and treated ourselves by returning to Jamaica as our graduation present to ourselves. Had a wonderful trip and returned the next year on the first of 5 trips with large groups. Moved to Lakeland, FL, to be near Gloria's parents.

1992-1997 (35-40)

Worked a number of different jobs in FL from sales, to software training, to pizza delivery, and a stint as a night auditor at a hotel. Heavily involved in the church we were members of, in teaching, music, and drama.

1997-2002 (40-45)

Left FL for Columbia, SC, to attend seminary with the intention of going to Jamaica as missionaries. Worked for a computer firm as a trainer and served as a Music Minister with a very talented praise team and fantastic choir.

2002-2007 (45-50)

Served as the Executive Director of a small ministry based in PA that sponsored a deaf school in Jamaica. Also served as pastor of a church and interim pastor of another, and went to work as peak season help at UPS.

2007-2012 (50-55)

Resigned from the pastorate and returned to a sales career, just as the economy began to struggle. Major failure there! Continued with UPS and joined Columbia Charlotte Shuttle.

2012-2017 (55-60)

Continue to work at both jobs. Very thankful to enjoy both jobs and the people I work with.

2017-? (60 and on)

My goal is to start and finish 2 large personal projects: 1) writing a book - I have written a few blog articles on the theme of Monergism vs Synergism. There are a number of additional articles on that theme I would like to write and there may be enough to constitute a book; 2) compile a list of 100 Hymns for Worship. The premise for that number comes from fact that there are 50 Sundays in a year, excepting the Sunday for Easter and Christmas. Four hymns per Sunday is 200 hymns, so each hymn would be sung twice a year. There are so many great hymns spanning almost 500 years of writing, that I expect to leave out many wonderful songs.

These projects will mean that I will spend less time on Facebook, so will be trimming my friend list a little. We also have a granddaughter who brings joy to my heart and have already made up 2 silly songs for her.

I am blessed beyond my worth with the family and friends God has granted me. My father lived into his 93rd year and my mother will celebrate her 95th in a few days, so I have fairly good genes, if only I hadn't worn them out in the knees. I look forward to the continuation of the journey.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Election 2016 - Ramblings

For my first post of 2017, I present to the reader a chronological compilation of my Election 2016 posts on FB, as well as responses to some of my friends FB posts. I also have included a link to my previous blog post on the election.

– – – – – – – – – –

Jul 24 - from FB

So we were watching "Air Force One" this afternoon and I decided that i'ma gonna vote for Harrison Ford for President. He was downright Reagan-esque when he said "Get off my plane!" Almost the same inflection as "tear down this wall."

Get Off My Plane!

I expect that my support for him will earn me an ambassadorship - to Jamaica of course. My first task as ambassador will be to move the residence to MoBay, so that I can go to Doctors Cave for my sea bath every morning, before all them there ship tourists show up. My second task will be to build a Devon House I-Scream shop on the property, so I can have ice cream with every meal.

All 502 of my FB friends will be welcome to stay in the residence for a nominal fee, deposited to my account at the First National Bank of Cayman.

Thank you fer yer support.

– – – – – – – – – –

Aug 9 - Blog Post: 2016 Election

– – – – – – – – – –

Sep 6 - from FB

My wife informed me this morning that if either of the 2 main candidates is elected this fall she is moving to Canada. She further stated that if I, as a Canadian citizen, don't go with her (so that she has some legal standing for her citizen application), she will be rowing across Lake Erie, with the hope that Canada has a wet foot, dry foot policy.

– – – – – – – – – –

Nov 4 - from FB

A friend posted this meme to which I responded.

The fact that many so called evangelicals support a woman who supports the slaughter of unborn children in the place where they should be the safest - their mother's womb, proves that Christianity has nothing to do with their belief system - it's just a cover for left wing politics...

Many conservative evangelicals struggled with whether to vote for Trump, or to vote third party, or write-in, because of Trump's serious character flaws. He was no more worthy of the Presidency than Clinton. The difference for many came down to the party platforms - for life or for the murder of the unborn.

– – – – – – – – – –

Nov 9 - from FB

This meme struck my funny bone, forcing me to respond.

I received a call this morning from someone who I had a hard time understanding. At first I thought he was calling from Microsoft to help me with the virus on my computer, but then I understood that he was the Prime Minister of Canada.

He informed me of a fantastic business opportunity for Canadian citizens living in the US. In order to facilitate the vast number of Americans desirous of moving to Canada this week, I have volunteered to help with their transportation. If you are in this group, please send me $20 in non-sequential numbered $100 bills. I will take care of all the paperwork and will provide transportation to the US side of Lake Erie, where a high speed boat will take you to the Canadian side. Buses are leaving at midnight from a back lot near you.

If you think this is just a scam for me to make boatloads of money, you should call 1-800-OCA-NADA, and they will confirm the veracity of this correspondence.

Thanking you in advance, I am respectfully.....

Oops, that's actually a real phone number!

– – – – – – – – – –

Nov 10 - from FB

I read today that Clinton received 6M less votes than Obama received in the previous election. I have also heard it said that poll numbers are designed to discourage the voters of the party that is trailing in those polls. Since the polls incorrectly showed Clinton leading, I wonder if they had the opposite effect - rather than discouraging Trump voters, they actually discouraged Clinton voters from casting a ballot, as they assumed a win by Clinton?

– – – – – – – – – –

Nov 12 - from a friend's FB

"The idea to do a million woman march in support of Hillary sounds like a really really great idea to me. Let's do it ladies!"

Electoral College: Make Hillary Clinton President.

My 1st response: "Ignore the Electoral vote for the popular vote - will never happen. America would cease to exist as a nation if that were even possible. Anarchy would rule but maybe Clinton's supporters would prefer that to Trump!"

A third party's response: "That's why your opinion is about the size of your brain. Almost nonexistent. Popular vote should have always been. Not even Biblical. Line your mind up."

My 2nd response: "You are showing your ignorance of American history and why the founding fathers established the electoral college. Do a little research before you write nonsense on FB.

p.s. I am NOT a Trump supporter."

– – – – – – – – – –

And finally

It is common knowledge that Clinton won the popular vote by 2M over Trump. That vote difference caused an uproar by folks (like the individual above) who apparently did not pay attention in their Civics/Government class in high school.

If the system had been based on the popular vote, a single state, California, would have determined the outcome of the election. The New York Times shows that Clinton had almost twice as many votes in California as Trump (8.7M to 4.4M). The math from those numbers shows that in the other 49 states Trump won the popular vote by 2M.

Market Watch noted that "Under our electoral-vote system, American voters elected a national president, not California’s choice."

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

18 days, 9 states, 6 airports, 5 planes, 2 trains, 3000 miles driven

Week 1:
Sun/Mon - Gloria and I drove from SC to Mother's house in MO, passing through GA, TN, KY, and IL.
Thu - Gloria stayed at Mother's, while Mother and I flew to Portland, OR, stopping in Denver, CO. (my first time in CO)

Week 2:
Sun - nephew Raj's wedding to Heather. Love dancing with all of my family at weddings.
Mon - Back to MO, via San Francisco, CA. (my first time in CA)
Tue/Wed - Gloria and I retraced our route to SC.
Sat - Loaded Sarah's moving truck.
Week 3:
Sun/Mon - identical route as week 1 to MO.
Tue - on to Chicago to unload truck.
Wed - Metra Train into downtown Chicago, then CTA Subway to ORD, then to CLT and home.
Had confused Washington Blue Line station with Washington/Wells Brown/Orange/Pink Line station. Spent 30 minutes wandering around downtown Chicago until a nice young lady directed me to the correct station.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Misunderstanding or Misrepresentation

I occasionally engage on social media in discussion related to biblical topics. In some cases my remarks never see the light of day, or are removed shortly after I post them. As a result I have adopted the habit of typing and saving my remarks on my computer before posting them. I have already posted some of those conversations and in the coming weeks will be posting more of them.

This post contains 2 of those conversations. The first is from a post in August, 2009, by Dave Noffsinger titled Calvinism Illustrated at his Kansas Preacher blog.

Here is the text of my comments, which not surprisingly do not appear on Noffsinger's blog.

Your illustration fails at this point:

3. As a matter of fact, I even decided to see the eldest (who has done nothing to me) suffer eternal punishment...

The truth is that all men have NOT "done nothing." We have freely and willfully turned our backs on God, rejected Him, and hated Him.

We should be amazed that He has offered mercy and grace to any of His enemies, when He was in no way obligated to do so.

It appears from this post that you have not read Calvinistic writers. Most of your arguments are not arguments against what Calvinism actually affirms, but against misrepresentations of that which Calvinism affirms.

Read some Piper, Sproul, White, MacArthur, Edwards, Boettner, and the Canons of Dordt. Then critique that which Calvinism actually affirms, rather than a mischaracterization of it.

(posted August 13, 2009 10:52 AM)

The second is from a post in April 2014, by Chris Noland at his Pastor Chris Noland blog.

Don't bother looking for this post as you'll get an "Oops! That page can’t be found" message. It appears to have been removed sometime after I commented and replaced by this post.

Here is the text of my comments:
"I may agree with some minor tenants of Calvinism, but I am not a Calvinist. I may agree with some minor tenants of Armeninianism, but I am not Armeninian."

I once talked with a gentleman who was well informed about a number of disciplines and I was able to learn things I did not know about those disciplines. However, when he began to talk about the Bible, he had Moses building the Ark to save his wife, his sons, and their wives. It was at that point that I began to wonder if he wasn't as well informed about the other disciplines he seemed so knowledgeable about!

I had a sense of deja vu reading your post and wonder if you are also not as knowledgeable about this topic as you might think. ArmEnians are from the country that touches the northern border of Iran. ArmInians are those who are named for Jacob Arminius, a Dutch theologian (nor are there as many N's and I's in the names).

Here are some of the other errors in your post:

You note that "we are to believe the scriptures for what they say", yet you will not find any affirmation in the scriptures of your notion that God gives to all the unregenerate "the ability to choose to believe on Him." You will actually find the opposite of that in Romans 8:5-8

"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

Notice that the carnal mind CANNOT be subject to the law of God and those in the flesh CANNOT please God. That is a word that indicates lack of ability.

Another error is that you believe that Calvinists affirm that God will turn away some who desperately want to be saved and will save some who have no desire to be saved. Clearly you have not read any anything written by Calvinists!

In John 6, Jesus states that "all that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out (v.37), and continues by saying that "no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (v.44).

The Father here gives individuals to the Son, those individuals come to the Son, and the Son will not cast them out. This chapter is one of the strongest in affirming the Father's electing choice.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

2016 Election

A friend of mine posted a video on Facebook that was critical of the Republican candidate for President in the upcoming American election. I responded with the following:

Brian - Not too many people I know that are supporting Trump, but not going to vote for Clinton. Is there a 'Neither' option on the ballot.

– – – – – – – – – –

Others joined the conversation and here are some of their comments, along with a further comment of my own. To protect their identities, I have removed anything in their posts that would identify them, and have edited their comments for content.

– – – – – – – – – –

Bob - All Americans need to understand that they are into a political state of civil war. But it's not just a case of Democrats vs Republicans or Hillary vs Trump. To avoid the rhetoric and state it simply, it's battle of sanity vs insanity. And, in this battle, the only arms available are votes. So, they must go out and vote for what they stand for, or, put another way, send a message to the world that America will NOT have a Trump for President.

– – – – – – – – – –

Joe - Isn't the insanity in this case the empowering of a clear criminal?

Thus far you know Trump is NOT a politician, but is relatively successful at producing something of value to society. Until 8 yrs ago he voted & funded Democrats - so he IS a NY Democrat at his core. Because of his choice, the press is now against him and their natural hate for all things not labeled with a D makes them particularly vicious.

Hillary in [sic] the other hand has been horrid... [and] she look[ed] us all in the eyes and lie[d] on [matters that] she clearly does not need to lie about...

So if we have to get a NY Democrat, wouldn't a financially and ethically successful one make more sense?

– – – – – – – – – –

Bob - I refuse to be an ostrich. Donald Trump is the worst candidate for president in the history of the USA. I don't care if he is a washed over Democrat or a bigoted Republican.

– – – – – – – – – –

Joe - I will not march in line with "lemmings" while telling others they have their heads in the sand...

I will abstain the vote because [the candidates] are both liberals.

– – – – – – – – – –

Brian - I have lived in the US since 1978, when my parents and all but 1 sibling acquired our green cards. Since I am not yet a citizen, I have not had the opportunity to vote in any political election in that time. If, however, I had been a citizen, I would have voted for the Republican candidate in every previous election.

The reason for my voting in that way has to do with the platforms of both parties.

Democratic Platform

Republican Platform

The Democratic platform supports the murder of unborn children via abortion, which I hold to be reprehensible - a mother's womb should be the safest place for a child.
Securing Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice (p.37)

We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion...

We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion...
The Republican platform supports the sanctity of human life.
The Fifth Amendment: Protecting Human Life (p.13)

...we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.

We are proud to be the party that protects human life and offers real solutions for women.
This single issue is enough reason for me never to vote for the Democratic candidate for President. My opposition to abortion is not recent, but with the birth of my first grandchild a month ago, the issue is more real to me now than ever. I cannot imagine her not having been brought into the world.

It is of great concern to me that many who profess to be Christians are willing to support the Democratic candidate, and I wonder if they are ignorant of the party's platform, or if other issues take precedence over human life.

But the current election season presents me with a quandary. (Remember that I don't have a vote.) I could not in good conscience vote for Clinton, even if I thought she would make a good President (and I don't). I would also have a difficult time voting for Trump because his position on abortion is unclear. One would hope that a candidate would heartily affirm his own party's platform, but Trump may or may not. What is strange is that I find myself in agreement with those who are opposed to Trump, but not for the same reasons. There is strong disagreement among my friends who consistently have voted for the Republican candidate. None of them are willing to vote for Clinton, and many of them are unwilling to vote for Trump. Others intend to vote for Trump, not because they believe that he will make a good President (in fact the opposite), but as a vote against Clinton. This is a strange election when voters are determining their preference by who they are against rather than who they are for.

In the midst of this confusion, there is comfort from the Scriptures. In Daniel 2, we have the record of God revealing Nebuchadnezzar's dream to Daniel, after the king had determined to execute all of the wise men in the kingdom because of their inability to tell him his dream.

Daniel 2:19-23
Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king's matter.” (ESV)

Our Sovereign God removes kings and sets up kings, and the next President will be no exception, even though neither of the candidates is worthy of such high office.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Solus Christus

A friend of mine (we'll call him Sam) posted the following to Facebook. Bob and Joe (not their real names) joined the conversation, centered around whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God. I entered the discussion, which went back and forth between Bob and myself. To protect their identities, I have removed anything in their posts that would identify them.

– – – – – – – – – –

Sam - I grew up in the 70s which means I got to watch the whole careers of Bird, Magic, Jordan, Ripken, Payton, etc. In the boxing world it was a time like no other. Frazier, Foreman, Norton, Quarry, Shavers, and of course, Muhammad Ali. He was absolutely amazing!

Ali boasted and truly believed he was the greatest. History has, with little room for doubt, revealed this to be the truth. Many years ago, Ali made a decision to commit his life to the Muslim faith. "There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah." Last night, Muhammad Ali found out if he made the right decision.

Bob - You know, that's always been a confusing point for me. The God that Christians, Jews, and Muslims all believe in is the same God in the Old Testament. We just differ when it comes to Jesus, Muhammad, and messiah yet to come. Yet, in this world, we treat each other with such hate and venomous vile towards each other, spewing forth so much violence. If we all believe the same God and pray to the same God, why hasn't God just stopped this confusion and hate? We all pray to him, he hears all of us, so why let all his children fight and kill each other in his name and glory? That's like the president letting the different military branches fight and kill each other to see which branch is the best. That wouldn't happen because we all are Americans and the president (no matter which president) would order the branches in a clear and precise way to stop fighting and focus on enemies abroad. And the branches would all listen to him because he is the one they are all following. So why isn't that happening with God? Does he want us to fight and kill each other? This fighting has been going on for at least a thousand years.

I'm ranting, but you hit a nerve when you said that Ali will find out if he made the right decision by picking Allah. Allah is the same God we as Christians worship. Allah means God in Arabic. If Ali picked the wrong God, then we as Christians have too.

And I know that we Christians pick Jesus and Muslims pick Muhammad, but if Jesus and God are one and the same person, then Muslims pick Jesus too, they just don't realize it. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. That who so ever believes in him, shall not parish, but have ever lasting life.

Well, if you believe in God, and God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one, then you believe in Jesus as well. Thus all Muslims and Jews also would go to heaven when they die.

Sam - A true believer in Jesus Christ must be a believer in ONLY Jesus Christ. He claimed that He was the only way, the truth, and the life, and that NO ONE could come to God without Him. If this is not true,then Jesus is either mentally disturbed and deluded or He is flat out lying, either of which would disqualify Him as a Savior. If He is speaking the truth then He cannot be simply one of the ways.

In a search for truth, if you start with a flawed premise you will eventually end up with a wrong conclusion. Jehovah God of the Bible and Allah are absolutely NOT the same. I will not debate this on Facebook but I challenge you to do diligent research on this. It won't take you long to see the difference.

Bob - What I am questioning is if we as Christians/Jews and if Muslims can stop hating each other based on religion bc technically we all worship the same God. I'm trying to make sense of a thousand year old war and finding common ground for more peace and less death and violence. But the more we make differences that separate us with something as important as who we worship, the harder it would be to ever find common ground. We will never find peace and will continue to fight and kill each other over something as silly as religion.

Joe - My understanding is that Ali accepted Christ into his heart as his savior in his early years. If that is true, I believe he's in pretty good shape right now. Just my opinion

Brian - The Bible never references the notion of "accepting Jesus into one's heart." It insists that repentance is necessary for the forgiveness of sins:

Luke 24:45-47 - Then he [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem."

In Acts 17 Paul is preaching to the philosophers in Athens and here is how he ends his sermon (v.31-32) "The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Nothing in either of these passages about "accepting Jesus into one's heart," but a clear emphasis on repentance.

Bob - I could have sworn it was all about just believing in Jesus. Say it with me, "for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that who so ever believes in him shall not perish, but have ever lasting life." Could you hear yourself saying it in your kid voice? So if Ali believed in Jesus at some point in his life, then he's good. I'm sure he asked to be forgiven of his sins at some point, but it's not a requirement for heaven.

Brian - You show a lack of understanding the Gospel when you insist that forgiveness of sins is not a requirement for heaven.

Bob - Look, I'm not saying as sinners we shouldn't repent and ask for forgiveness for our wrong doings. What I'm say is if a man on his dying breath proclaimed Jesus as his lord and savior and then died, without asking for forgiveness of his sins, he would still be in heaven.

Brian - No, that man would not. The Bible is clear that one must first recognize that they are a sinner and that Christ is the only Savior of sinners. That leads to repentance and faith. A man cannot proclaim Jesus as Lord without the above understanding.

Bob - Well then sir, this is where we were taught differently. I go off of John 3:16 as do a majority of other Christians. God seemed very clear in the bible verse about simply believing in Jesus as lord and savior to get to heaven. My church even reinforced that idea.

But if you believe differently, then that's up to you and I'll pray for you. God bless.

For more articles on the subject of Solus Christus see Monergism

All scripture quotations are English Standard Version
unless otherwise noted.