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Archive for May, 2011

Oh how far this country has strayed. Here is a deep, theologically rich prayer from our founding president:

O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul. Direct my thoughts, words and work, wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb, and purge my heart by thy Holy Spirit, from the dross of my natural corruption, that I may with more freedom of mind and liberty of will serve thee, the ever lasting God, in righteousness and holiness this day, and all the days of my life. Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the gospel; give me repentance from dead works; pardon my wanderings, and direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation; teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments; make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber, but daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life. Bless my family, friends and kindred unite us all in praising and glorifying thee in all our works begun, continued, and ended, when we shall come to make our last account before thee blessed Saviour…

(From William J. Johnson, George Washington, the Christian (New York: The Abingdon Press, New York & Cincinnati, 1919), pp. 24-35.)

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Dear Mr. Camping:

In July of 2009 you and I engaged in a debate on the Iron Sharpens Iron radio program concerning your teaching that the church age had ended and that Christ would return on May 21, 2011. I trust you recall our exchange. I am also aware that you have at least seen my book, Dangerous Airwaves: Harold Camping Refuted and Christ’s Church Defended. I have been seeking to warn people about your teachings, sir, for about a decade. I know others have been warning the church about you longer than I.

Mr. Camping I am writing to seek your repentance and the most God-glorifying outcome of the debacle of your failed May 21, 2011 prophecy/teaching. I am not writing to engage in debate with you. The time for debate ended on May 22, 2011. It is now time for you to repent and seek to undo the massive damage you have done, first and foremost, to the cause of Christ.

Let me first list the items you need to repent of, openly and publicly (for you are a public person, and your teachings were disseminated all around the world).

You need to repent of your abuse of the Bible, based upon claims of latter-day opening of understandings no one else has, allegedly, ever had, based upon the horrific misreading of the books of Revelation and Daniel. The Bible is not a code book, Mr. Camping, and it never has been. You have attacked the grammatical/historical means of honoring the intention and meaning of the original authors, and in so doing, have turned the Bible into your own private playground where you, and you alone, set the rules. You decided that certain numbers have certain meanings, and you alone decided which numbers could be added to others. You told your audiences that you were simply teaching the Bible, when you were doing nothing of the sort. Unless you honor the intention of the original authors, which means doing difficult exegetical work, studying languages and backgrounds, you have no business saying you are representing the Bible. This has been your primary error for decades on end, and I know I am not the first minister of the gospel to seek to correct you about this. Your utterly fallacious means of interpretation of the Bible has led to the mockery of the Christian faith all around the world, and you alone must repent for your willful rejection of the correction offered by many to you over the years.

You need to repent of your repeated date-setting, and your twisting of those Scriptures that plainly state that we do not now know, and will never know, the date of the coming of Christ, until it happens. You have been proven wrong multiple times now, and it is time for you to admit that you have been in error every single time you have argued that we can, in fact, know.

You must repent of your many unbiblical teachings, teachings which have grown out of your rebellion against Christ’s Church. First and foremost, you must repent of your attack upon the church. You must return to the church (I would suggest the local Christian Reformed Church from which you made your original defection) in repentance and seek to place yourself under their care, repenting for your schism. You must openly and publicly abjure your teaching that Satan rules in the churches, and that all ministers of the gospel since 1988 are, in fact, servants of Satan. You must call all listeners of Family Radio to return to their churches with repentant hearts. You must instruct them to seek to learn to read the Bible aright, to seek to interpret the Bible in light of its original meanings and intention, not as a secret, gnostic code-book.

You must likewise abjure and repent of the other false teachings you have been promulgating, including, but not limited to, such teachings as Jesus having died twice, your new annihilationism teaching, etc. You once held to mainly orthodox views, but, when you refused godly counsel and went out on your own, you planted the seeds of your own destruction, which have now sprouted, over night it seems, into the crop of condemnation you now rightly face.

You must likewise repent of the perversion of the gospel you have been teaching, wherein you have not only removed repentance and faith under the guise of “works” (neither are works, both are the gifts of God to His elect by His Spirit, but remain part and parcel of the gospel call), but you clearly, in these last days, added belief in your own May 21, 2011 teaching to the gospel itself, saying that those who did not believe this teaching would experience eternal torment. You have been preaching a false gospel, Mr. Camping, and you must repent for this.

The time for haggling and debating has passed, Mr. Camping. Your teaching has been disproven, and your only hope is to be found in complete repentance from your false teachings. I fear if you seek to rescue your reputation, you will end your life under the wrath of God. Your unwillingness to listen to counsel has already caused great damage to the cause of Christ. You have one final chance for redemption, sir. Do not remain stiff-necked. Repent and turn from your ways.

James White
Alpha and Omega Ministries

Source: http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=4645

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“‘Not called!’ did you say? ‘Not heard the call,’ I think you should say.

Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help.

Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there.

Then look Christ in the face — whose mercy you have professed to obey — and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world.”

– William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army

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My new theory is that perhaps atheists evolved from the chicken, because they not only have chicken characteristics–a head, eyes, mouth, skin, neck, heart, earlobes and legs (homology structures), but they also have the chicken’s tendencies–they are chicken livered. They hang around Christians like annoying little bugs hang around light, trying to inject their poison whenever they can.

If you are an atheist, I hope I’m ruffling your feathers. I want to get under your skin and ask why you don’t have the courage to even whisper to Moslems what you keep shouting at Christians. Prove me wrong. Get onto a Moslem website and tell them that you don’t believe their god exists. Do your little “I don’t believe in Zeus” thing. Tell them they believe a myth. Talk about Mohammed as you do Jesus (use lower case for Mohamed). Do your “I don’t believe in the flying spaghetti monster” thing. Tell them that we weren’t made by a god (lower case), but that they evolved from primates (that will go down well). Also, let them know in no uncertain terms that the Koran is full of mistakes (give some examples), and that their mosques are full of hypocrites.

You wouldn’t dare, because you are chicken-livered. You know that they are not like Christians. Despite the “anonymity” of your little chicken coop, they would come after you to lop off your head. And when they find you, you would fall on your knees and be praying to God for help . . .

– Ray Comfort

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We are one body…one body. Not at the expense of truth and not at the expense of iniquity, we do not unite around confusion, we unite around the truth. It is a unity built on truth. It is the unity of the faith…the unity of the faith, as well as the unity of the Spirit. It is that unity which belongs to us because we possess the same life of God…the same living Christ…the same Spirit of Christ, as Paul identifies Him in Romans 8. It is the unity of a common understanding of Scripture and the Word of God.

There is a drive today in evangelicalism…and what a bland term that has become. But there is a drive in evangelicalism for an ecumenism that ignores sound doctrine, that overlooks error and accepts even what we would deem as heresy. There is a kind of evangelical ecumenism that says we’re all one and we need to enjoy one another without regard for any of our doctrinal differences. That is a false and unbiblical and displeasing unity, if indeed it is unity at all in the sense that it dishonors and displeases the Lord.

There is another kind of striving for unity that wants to disregard iniquity and embrace everybody no matter whether they are walking in obedience to the Word of God or not, overlooking their sin and their iniquity.

But quite the contrary. The Scripture says if there is someone in your midst, according to Titus chapter 3, teaching error, if there is a heretic there, admonish him once, admonish him twice and then put him out. He’s forfeited a right to lay any claim to acceptance within that unity. And if there is a brother or sister in iniquity, you go to him or her and you go through a process calling them to repentance. And if they do not repent, you put them out. And the Apostle Paul reminds the Thessalonians of what that’s like. He says this in 2 Thessalonians 3:6, “We command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you stay apart, or keep aloof, from every brother who leads an unruly life, not according to the tradition which you’ve received from us.” That tradition not being some rabbinic tradition, but that tradition established by the revelation from God.

If you have someone in your church who is teaching error, you cannot have unity with that individual. If you have someone who is leading an unruly or sinful life, you cannot have fellowship with that individual. So what we’re talking about here is the pursuit of the true unity of the Spirit that belongs to those who surround the truth and affirm it and who live godly lives.

John MacArthur

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Jesus is the great teacher of lowliness of heart. We need daily to learn of Him. See the Master taking a towel and washing His disciples’ feet! Follower of Christ, wilt thou not humble thyself? See Him as the Servant of servants, and surely thou canst not be proud! Is not this sentence the compendium of His biography, “He humbled Himself”? Was He not on earth always stripping off first one robe of honor and then another, till, naked, He was fastened to the cross, and there did He not empty out His inmost self, pouring out His life-blood, giving up for all of us, till they laid Him penniless in a borrowed grave? How low was our dear Redeemer brought! How then can we be proud? Stand at the foot of the cross, and count the purple drops by which you have been cleansed; see the thorn-crown; mark His scourged shoulders, still gushing with encrimsoned rills; see hands and feet given up to the rough iron, and His whole self to mockery and scorn; hear the thrilling shriek, “My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken Me?” And if you do not lie prostrate on the ground before that cross, you have never seen it: if you are not humbled in the presence of Jesus, you do not know Him. You were so lost that nothing could save you but the sacrifice of God’s only begotten. Think of that, and as Jesus stooped for you, bow yourself in lowliness at His feet. A sense of Christ’s amazing love to us has a greater tendency to humble us than even a consciousness of our own guilt. May the Lord bring us in contemplation to Calvary, then our position will no longer be that of the pompous man of pride, but we shall take the humble place of one who loves much because much has been forgiven him. Pride cannot live beneath the cross. Let us sit there and learn our lesson, and then rise and carry it into practice.

 

This devotional was taken from “Morning and Evening”by C.H. Spurgeon.

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ARMINIANISM is a teaching regarding salvation associated with the Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius (1560-1609). The fundamental principle in Arminianism is the rejection of predestination, and a corresponding affirmation of the freedom of the human will. Shortly after his death, the followers of Arminius (later called Arminians) presented a statement to the governing authorities of Holland in which they set forth five articles of doctrine. These were: (1) that the divine decree of predestination is conditional, not absolute; (2) that the Atonement is in intention universal; (3) that man cannot of himself exercise a saving faith, but requires God’s help to attain this faith; (4) that though the grace of God is a necessary condition of human effort it does not act irresistibly in man; (5) that believers are able to resist sin but are not beyond the possibility of falling from grace. In essence, the Arminians maintained that God gives indispensible help in salvation, but that ultimately it is the free will of man which decides the issue. After a period of sharp theological controversy the Dutch government convened a National Synod of leading churchmen, which met in Dordrecht in the years 1618-19. At this “Synod of Dort” the members adopted five articles in direct opposition to the five articles of the Arminians. The articles of Dort have come to be known as the “five points of Calvinism.”

The following paragraphs (taken from Romans: An Interpretive Outline, by David N. Steele and Curtis Thomas) give a particularly clear and concise summary of the differences between Arminianism and Calvinism.

Arminianism

  • Free-will or human ability. Although human nature was seriously affected by the fall, man has not been left in a state of total spiritual helplessness. God graciously enables every sinner to repent and believe but does not interfere with man’s freedom. Each sinner possesses a free will, and his eternal destiny depends on how he uses it. Man’s freedom consists in his ability to choose good over evil in spiritual matters; his will is not enslaved to his sinful nature. The sinner has the power to either cooperate with God’s Spirit and be regenerated or resist God’s grace and perish. The lost sinner needs the Spirit’s assistance but he does not have to be regenerated by the Spirit before he can believe, for faith is man’s act and precedes the new birth. Faith is the sinner’s gift to God; it is man’s contribution to salvation.
  • Conditional election. God’s choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world was based upon His foreseeing that they would respond to His call. He selected only those whom He knew would of themselves freely believe the Gospel. Election therefore was determined by or conditioned upon what man would do. The faith which God foresaw, and upon which He based His choice, was not given to the sinner by God (it was not created by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit) but resulted solely from man’s will. It was left entirely up to man as to who would believe and therefore as to who would be elected unto salvation. God chose those whom He knew would, of their own free will, choose Christ. Thus the sinner’s choice of Christ—not God’s choice of the sinner—is the ultimate cause of salvation.
  • Universal redemption or general atonement. Christ’s redeeming work made it possible for everyone to be saved but did not actually secure the salvation of anyone. Although Christ died for all men and for every man, only those who believe on Him are saved. His death enabled God to pardon sinners on the condition that they believe, but it did not actually put away anyone’s sins. Christ’s redemption becomes effective only if man chooses to accept it.
  • The Holy Spirit can be effectually resisted. The Spirit calls inwardly all those who are called outwardly by the gospel invitation. He does all that He can to bring every sinner to salvation. But inasmuch as man is free, he can successfully resist the Spirit’s call. The Spirit cannot regenerate the sinner until he believes; faith (which is man’s contribution) precedes and makes possible the new birth. Thus, man’s free will limits the Spirit in the application of Christ’s saving work. The Holy Spirit can only draw to Christ those who allow Him to have His way with them. Until the sinner responds, the Spirit cannot give life. God’s grace, therefore, is not invincible; it can be— and often is—resisted and thwarted by man.
  • Falling from grace. Those who believe and are truly saved can lose their salvation by failing to keep up their faith, etc. All Arminians have not been agreed on this point; some have held that believers are eternally secure in Christ, that once a sinner is regenerated, he can never be lost.

According to Arminianism, salvation is accomplished through the combined efforts of God (who takes the initiative) and man (who must respond); man’s response being the determining factor. God has provided salvation for everyone, but His provision becomes effective only for those who, of their own free will, choose to cooperate with Him and accept His offer of grace. At the crucial point, man’s will plays a decisive role; thus man, not God, determines who will be recipients of the gift of salvation.

The Five Points of Calvinism

  1. Total inability or total depravity. Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the Gospel. The sinner is dead, blind and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free; it is in bondage to his evil nature; therefore, he will not—indeed he cannot—choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently it takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ—it takes regeneration, by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God’s gift of salvation; it is God’s gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.
  2. Unconditional election. God’s choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world rested solely in His own sovereign will. His choice of particular sinners was not based on any foreseen response of obedience on their part, such as faith, repentance, etc. On the contrary, God gives faith and repentance to each individual whom He selected. These acts are the result, not the cause, of God’s choice. Election therefore was not determined by or conditioned upon any virtuous quality or act foreseen in man. Those whom God sovereignly elected He brings through the power of the Spirit to a willing acceptance of Christ. Thus God’s choice of the sinner—not the sinner’s choice of Christ—is the ultimate cause of salvation.
  3. Particular redemption or limited atonement. Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save the elect only, and actually secured salvation for them. His death was the substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ’s redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation; including faith which unites them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, therefore guaranteeing their salvation.
  4. The efficacious call of the Spirit or Irresistible Grace. In addition to the outward general call to salvation (which is made to everyone who hears the Gospel), the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special inward call that inevitably brings them to salvation. The external call (which is made to all without distinction) can be—and often is—rejected; whereas the internal call (which is made only to the elect) cannot be rejected; it always results in conversion. By means of this special call, the Spirit irresistibly draws sinners to Christ. He is not limited in His work of applying salvation by man’s will, nor is He dependent upon man’s cooperation for success. The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ. God’s grace, therefore, is invincible; it never fails to result in the salvation of those to whom it is extended.
  5. Perseverance of the saints. All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God and thus persevere to the end.

According to Calvinism, salvation is accomplished by the almighty power of the triune God: the Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the Gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation. This is the biblical Gospel.

Philip Schaff in his Creeds of Christendom gives a very full discussion of the Arminian controversy, and although he is not entirely in sympathy with the articles of Dort, he rightly observes that “Calvinism represented the consistent, logical, conservative orthodoxy; Arminianism an elastic, progressive, changing liberalism.” (1) He sums it up well when he describes Arminianism as a “moderated semi-Pelagianism” (2) Semi-Pelagianism was an ancient heresy which held that man out of his own free will takes the first step in salvation, and is then assisted by God. The Arminians merely reverse the order, saying that man must respond out of his own free will after God first prompts him with “prevenient grace.” In both, the decisive thing is the will of man, not the will or decree of God.

Although Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism were rejected in the Protestant confessions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, during the eighteenth century Arminian doctrine was revived and promoted by the English evangelist John Wesley and his followers. Through their influence Arminian ideas eventually gained the upper hand in most American churches. Dwight Moody, who was the most popular evangelist of the nineteenth century, was essentially an Arminian with regard to his doctrine of salvation, although he inconsistently taught that salvation could not be “lost” after it was “obtained.” The same is true of Billy Graham in the twentieth century. Arminian interpretations are to be found in one of the most popular versions of the Bible, Ken Taylor’s Living Bible paraphrase. Today a naive and incoherent mixture of Arminian and Calvinistic teachings is typical of many churches, in which people describe themselves as “four point” or “three point” Calvinists after having implicitly accepted the basic premise of Arminianism that it is the free will of man which ultimately decides his standing with God. This premise is incompatible with explicit teachings of the Bible concerning predestination (see for example the ninth chapter of Paul’s epistle to the Romans—a chapter which Arminians have never been able to explain). Theologians who have tried to present a coherent system of doctrine based upon the concept of “free will” have tended to fall into gross Pelagianism (e.g. Charles Finney). Churches in which Arminianism prevails tend to become humanistic and liberal, after having rejected the authority of the Bible. In recent years the brazenly heretical “Open Theism” movement lead by Clark Pinnock and John Sanders is a result of Arminians following their premises to logical conclusions. In the end, Arminian premises cannot be maintained without denying cardinal truths of the Christian faith.

The naive Arminianism that prevails in American churches represents a serious threat to the gospel. It involves a failure to understand the grace of God, and an ignorance of the gospel preached by Paul and the other apostles. Its tendencies are fundamentally heretical, because it attributes salvation to a human capacity or disposition rather than to God alone.

Soli Deo gloria

Michael Marlowe
July 2005


1. The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes, sixth edition (New York, 1931), vol. 1, p. 509.

2. ibid., p. 516. Defenders of Arminianism have raised objections against this use of the term Semi-Pelagianism as a description of their doctrine, but these objections have no more merit than the objections of Roman Catholic writers when Protestants describe the doctrines enforced at the Council of Trent as a species of Semi-Pelagianism. Cf. the Presbyterian theologian Charles Hodge, who writes: “It is an undeniable fact of history … that in the Latin Church, Augustinianism, including all the characteristic doctrines of what is now called Calvinism, was declared to be the true faith by council after council, provincial and general, and by bishops and popes. Soon, however, Augustinianism lost its ascendency. For seven or eight centuries no one form of doctrine concerning sin, grace, and predestination prevailed in the Latin Church. Augustinianism, Semi-Pelagianism, and Mysticism (equally irreconcilable with both), were in constant conflict; and that, too, on questions on which the Church had already pronounced its judgment. It was not until the beginning of the sixteenth century that the Council of Trent, after long conflict within itself, gave its sanction to a modified form of Semi-Pelagianism.” (Systematic Theology, vol. 1 [New York: Charles Scribner and Co., 1871], p. 124.) Pelagianism and its (largely cosmetic) modifications seems to be a perennial heresy that keeps springing up in different times and places whenever it can find an opening; and, if it is not rooted out, it flourishes and eventually chokes out the biblical teaching on salvation. As it happened in Judaism in ancient times, and in Roman Catholicism during the middle ages, so also it has now happened in the Protestant denominations. The “five points of Calvinism” were designed to suppress it when it recrudesced in Reformed churches during the seventeenth century.

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