No Compromise – Learning from Balaam

This past Sunday, I preached a sermon at The Blue Point Bible Church, against compromise utilizing the details from the Balak and Balaam narrative of Numbers chapters 22-25. You can listen to that sermon at the following link, http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/2040948-11-10-bpbc-worship-service
In aforementioned sermon I highlighted New Testament texts that give us further information for our Spiritual discernment in marking out and moving away from compromise and disobedience. The texts I marked out, which either highlight areas of disobedience or obedience, are 2 Peter chapter 2, the Book of Jude, and Revelation 2:14.

The remainder of this blog will be an examination of those texts in light of our being desirous to never compromise.

In 2 Peter chapter 2, we see the areas of disobedience and what we want to abstain from:

– Damnable heresies, denying the redeeming work of the Lord (v. 1)
– Causing the way of truth to be spoken evil of (v. 2)
– Covetousness and fakeness revealed through your words (v. 3)
– Vexing the righteous among you (v. 8)
– Walk after the flesh by desiring unclean things and despising government/ authority (v. 10)
– Presumptuous, self-willed, and speaking against others (v. 10)
– Speaking evil of things you don’t understand (v. 12)
– Pleasuring of rioting in the day time (deceiving oneself, eyes full of adultery, cannot cease from sin) (v. 13-14)
– Forsaking the way you know to be right (v. 15)
– Loving wages of unrighteousness (v. 15)
– Speaking swelling words of vanity (v. 18)
– Being allured and entangled yet again by the corruption of the world (v. 20-22).

It is these things that could very well lead to a seared conscience if one continues in them. Therefore, if you examined this list and felt convicted, mark that thing out and move against it. Don’t follow the way of Balaam and suffer devastation because of compromise through disobedience.

In the Book of Jude, we find aspects of obedience and disobedience marked out for us (do’s and don’ts):

– Do content for the faith delivered to the saints (v. 3)
– Don’t turn the grace of God into lasciviousness (v.4)
– Don’t deny Jesus Christ
– Don’t fornicate
– Don’t be carnal by despising those who have authority over you (v. 8)
– Don’t speak evil of things you do not know (v. 10)
– Don’t walk after your own selfish desires (v. 16)
– Do remember words of the Apostles and Jesus Christ
– Don’t mock others (v. 18)
– Don’t separate yourself to sensuality rather than the Spirit (v. 19)
– Do build yourself up in the faith and pray in the Holy Spirit (v. 20)
– Keep yourself in the love of God (v. 21)
– Have compassion and make a difference, thus saving others from the fire (v. 22-23)
– Hate everything even spotted by carnality (v. 23)

Jude provides for ample opportunity of introspection. Prayerfully, we find ourselves compelled to do rather than spending our time worrying about the “don’ts. If we truly set our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, we should find walking in the light almost naturally leads us away from the darkness. Doing right leaves little room for doing wrong.

Our last text to examine is Revelation 2:14, wherein we read, “But I have a few things against you, because you have held to the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication”.

Now notice, “the doctrine of Balaam” is not committing such things, as we have already noted we should move away from, but rather the compromising spirit that leads the people of God into such things. May we endeavor to grow in the grace and knowledge of God as we mark out and move away from compromise.

I trust you will continually use this as an examination against such compromise. I conclude this blog with the following wisdom from Joyce Meyers, “Compromise means to go just a little bit below what you know is right. It’s just a little bit, but it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine”.

In Service to Him,
Pastor Michael Miano

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Beyond Creation Science: Review of Chapters 1-10

Here is the link to the YouTube video to accompany this review outline, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3e0iFNSD-s
1.) What is the Olivet Discourse and what does it connect the coming of Christ to?
“The Olivet Discourse (Matthew chapter 24) makes it absolutely clear that the coming of Christ is connected intimately to what happened to the city of Jerusalem and the temple. Not only does that mean that the coming of Christ is related to 1st century events, it also means that what we now call “the great tribulation” took place in localized, historical events”. Pg. 28

2.) What “two debates” does Beyond Creation Science seek to cover?
“…end times prophecy and Genesis creation” Pg. 29
“The purpose of this book is to help revive knowledge of that past and explore the implications, not just in regard to the conclusion of the Bible, but the implications for the beginning as well”. Pg. 68
3.) What is the “proper frame of reference” for reading New Testament prophecy?
“It is very easy to forget that our New Testament speaks of real people who lived at a particular time and place on planet Earth…These first Christians are the reference frame for prophecy; many of them actually listened to Jesus teach in person”. Pg. 33
4.) What does “coming on the clouds” language mean? Provide an example from Scripture.
“”Coming on the Clouds” meant judgement and destruction upon the enemies of God in the Old Testament. God rides on the clouds; every Jew knew this judgement metaphor from their Scriptures”. Pg. 47 (see also, Isaiah 19:1; Nahum 1:3,6,8)
5.) If Preterism is true, the coming of the Lord occurred in AD 70, what should we expect from Church History?
“Jesus warned His disciples to flee (Matt. 24: 15-16)). If the disciples recognized these events in their day as fulfillment of the Olivet Discourse , then Church history should record early Christians fleeing Jerusalem” Pg. 49 (see early historical works of Eusebius and Josephus)
“The difficulty is that most Christians do not know about the Roman-Jewish War”. Pg. 50
6.) Who is Josephus? Why are his writings significant?
“Josephus, a Jewish general and prisoner of war who witnessed the entire siege…Josephus’ War of the Jews is a long book and provides evidence for the fulfillment of nearly every single prophecy in the Olivet Discourse”. Pg. 50
“Josephus’ conception of the flood is important because he is a first century Jew who lived contemporary to the time of the writing of the New Testament. He gives us a glimpse into the accepted view of the flood in his day”. Pg. 114
7.) Who is Eusebius? Why are his writings important?
“…the early church historian…” Pg. 49
8.) Why did Josephus believe his generation “did not attend to nor give credit to the signs that were so evident”?
“…did so plainly foretell their future desolation, but, like men infatuated, without eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them”. Pg. 65
9.) Ed Stevens recently wrote a book detailing the historical happenings fulfilling prophecy in the 1st century. What is the name of that book? ‘
The Final Decade Before The End
10.) In the 1st century, we saw the last days of what?
“The Biblical answer is that the last days have nothing to do with planet Earth or our physical universe. They relate to the last days of an age – a covenant age.” Pg. 70
11.) What is the focus of Bible prophecy?
“Prophecy is generally concerned with the redemption of God’s people”. Pg. 72
12.) In reading 2 Peter 3:10-12, what is one reason you would say this isn’t speaking about the burning up of the literal planet Earth?
“…the Greek word for ‘elements’ is stoichion which is used 7 times in the New Testament. Stoichion elsewhere refers to the regulations of the Mosaic Law”. Pg. 75
13.) According to Matthew 5:17-18, “If heaven and earth refer to our universe, then Jesus’ teachings requires…”. Please complete the thought.
“…the Law of Moses to be observed in every detail until the end of our physical universe!”.
14.) What is Preterism?
“It comes from the Latin word praeter which means “past”. It appears in various forms all throughout Church history”. Pg. 79
“The best way to understand God’s ways today is to understand His acts in redemptive history…Preterism introduces a key principle of covenant context that offers a coherent understanding of Noah’s flood, the Tower of Babel and New Testament prophecy. Preterism may very well revolutionize the Genesis debate”. Pg. 187
15.) What is “theistic evolution”?
“…scientists who accepted the mechanism Darwin suggested were generally committed to the idea that God was involved in the rise of life…It was this view, not Darwin’s naturalistic view, which actually became known as Darwinism in his day”. Pg. 84
16.) What is the significance of the year 1830 and Biblical understandings?
The Coincidence of Theology and Geology. Pg. 88
17.) Finish this quote, “The Rock of ages is more important than…”.
“…the age of rocks”. – William Jennings Bryan
18.) What usually happens when Conservative Christians begin to question Young-Earth creationism?
They are “…commonly accused of evolutionary compromise, liberalism, humanism, unbelief and even apostasy”. Pg. 108
19.) How would you begin to explain that the global flood is a modern view?
The local flood view was demonstrated by Josephus and “…is likely the common understanding among many if not all of the early Jewish Christians. The early Church Fathers relied heavily upon Josephus’ history”. Pg. 114
20.) What does it mean to be “chronocentric”?
When one “…gets stuck in their own time period and cultural mindset”. Pg. 117
21.) Where does the Biblical context of the flood account start and why is that significant?
“Genesis 5 sets the context of the flood…”. Pg. 117
“Genesis 5 narrows the subject in the Genesis account from all the children of Adam to the line of Seth. That sets the immediate context for what takes place in chapters 6 through 9. In other words, Genesis 5 sets a covenant context for all the events to follow in the flood account. If we ignore the chapter break and read this as one continuous story, the flood is related to the covenant line of the progeny of Seth”. Pg. 118
22.) What five (5) “local flood indicators” can you mark out from chapter 5 of Beyond Creation Science?
1.) The existence of Nephilim before and after the flood (cf. Gen. 6:4; Num. 13:33)
2.) Advanced economics and technology in the post-flood world
3.) Water only went up 20-30 feet. (cf. Genesis 7:20)
4.) The Olive branch carried by the dove in Genesis 8:11
5.) Literal interpretation would demand the whole earth dried up (cf. Genesis 8:13-14

23.) According to Beyond Creation Science, what five (5) things are required of those who stubbornly stick to the global flood view? Pg. 127
1.) Ignore ancient understanding of flood as local event as shown in Josephus
2.) Ignore the pre-modern concept of planet Earth which prevailed in Christendom before Christopher Columbus
3.) Ignore the covenant context Genesis 5 sets for the flood event in the line of Seth
4.) Ignore the local indicators in the account
5.) Solve the supernatural/natural tension in the global flood view

24.) According to Beyond Creation Science, global rendering of the flood account, relies on the misunderstanding of 3 words and phrases. What are they?
1.) “earth” 2.) “every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out” 3.) “all the high mountains under the heavens were covered”
25.) What is the significance of the rainbow?
“The sign of God’s covenant with Noah was a bow. We tend to think of it as a rainbow in the sky, and that is accurate because it says it is placed in the sky and is seen when it rains. But the rainbow is a visual manifestation of a deeper image, The bow in this text symbolizes a weapon, God’s bow, that metaphorical weapon God used to wipe out Noah’s corrupt generation”. Pg. 163
26.) According to the ancient Jewish understanding, what was the significance of the Tower of Babel? How does this relate to the flood story?
“Now the multitude were ready to follow the folly of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower…that it might not be liable to admit water”. Pg. 174
“Rather than Noah’s posterity (the people of God) promoting the true worship of God in the culture around them as God commanded them, to fill the earth, we now find them in the story of Babel engaging in the pagan religion common to ancient Mesopotamia…The Tower of Babel resembles a ziggurat which served as a temple in ancient Babylonian and Mesopotamian religion”. Pg. 177
27.) According to Beyond Creation Science, what is the “ultimate contrast to the story of Babel”?
“…the story of the New Jerusalem”. Pg. 177
28.) According to Beyond Creation Science, what is the best way to understand God today?
“The best way to understand God’s ways today is to understand His acts in redemptive history”. Pg. 187

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9/27 – Beyond Creation Science (Pt. 7) – Chapters 9-10

Here is the link to the video review through these details, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tYIOMs4B3Y&lc=z23hgpeazwyxh5ygh04t1aokg2hyhfalt3sxqvm4dmevbk0h00410

 

Beyond Creation Science
Chapter 9 – Water & Fire
The Old Testament Background
The Olivet Comparison to the Flood
The Three-Way Comparison by Jesus
Why Sodom is Central to Prophecy
The Three- Way Comparison by Peter
The (Rain)Bow of God’s Covenant Wrath
All Mankind?
Local Flood – Local Prophecy

 

Solely Biblical Arguments for a Local Flood

 

 

 
Beyond Creation Science
Chapter 10 – The Flood & The Tower of Babel

The Global View of Babel

 

Let’s Bake Bricks!
From Where Did All The People Come

 

Global Flood Interpretation vs. the Septuagint
When “Literalism” Goes Wrong
Prehistoric Babel?
The Biblical Solution & The Fulfillment of Babel

 

Local Implies Insignificance?

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Post- Labor Day Sale

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE – https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=AC2YW5BSN6H9E

 

 

Image may contain: Michael Miano, text

 

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8/19 – Beyond Creation Science (Pt.6) – Chapters 7-8 – The Flood Account

Here is a link to the Part 6 video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9liqbjV9iE&feature=youtu.be

Below you will find outlines for both chapters 7 and 8.

 

Beyond Creation Science
Chapter 7 – The Great Flood Debate

The Logic of Flood Geology

 

 

 

Why A Global Flood Is A Modern View

 

 

 

“Antipodes” and the Spherical Earth

 

 

 

The Biblical Context of the Flood

 

 

 

Local Flood indicators

 

 

 

 

Natural vs. Supernatural

 

 

 

The Current Status of the Flood Debate

 

 

Beyond Creation Science
Chapter 8 – The Flood and Prophecy

Chapter Opening

 

 

Universal Terms:

Erets

 

Ge

 

 

A Partial – Local Flood?

 

 

Erets and the Flood in the Old Testament

 

 

Universal Terms:

Face of the Erets

 

Under Heaven

 

 

The Result of Deeper Bible Study

 

 

 

Consistency: Global, Global vs. Local, Local

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Inherent Wickedness & Sovereign Grace

Last Sunday, 7/28, I preached a sermon detailing the Biblical narrative of inherent wickedness and God’s divine intervention with sovereign grace. You can listen to that sermon at the following link, http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/1468030-7-28-bpbc-worship-service

I also participated in a public discussion/ debate with C. Kyle Elliot at the Spirit & Life Lectureship this past Friday, 8/2, at the Ludington Church of Christ in regards to the nature of man and regeneration. My affirmative in that debate was as follows, “According to the Scriptures, all men are wickedly inclined and are in need of divine intervention for salvation”. You can watch the video of this debate at the following link (starts at 15:19 and ends at 2:00:00), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqvZVRhOFBk&t=2832s

 

For the remainder of this blog, I’d like to share the written outline for the sermon above and the 5 questions answered during the debate.

My goal will be to first and foremost offer up an intellectually honest explanation of the view I hold. However, also, as I endeavor to do through most of my teaching here, I will be highlighting the importance of following the Biblical narrative to develop our theological views. As popular narrative-theology teacher, Andrew Perriman, has written, “The narrative-historical approach to the interpretation of Scripture provides us with much more rigorous and credible connection with Scripture than the selective, reductive, and distorting approach of much modern evangelical theology”.

So this morning, I’d like to deviate from our normal agenda of thinking through the Scriptures where we find ourselves in the book of Numbers, and bring us into thinking through details of the Gospel. This is fitting also since many of us will be going out to saturate the community with Gospel resources following today’s worship service.

 

1.) The Fall of “Man” & the Biblical Narrative

The Blue Point Bible Church Constitution states;

“We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker, but by voluntary transgression fell from that happy and holy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint, but choice; being by nature utterly void of what holiness required the law of God, positively inclined toward evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse”. – BPBC Constitution

Let’s think this through.

Adam was created in holiness, law and voluntary transgression, happy and holy state = covenant

subjected to – Galatians 3:21-24 (law – schoolmaster); Romans 8:19-23 (futility awaiting redeptiom)

voluntary – limited will (choose to obey or disobey). Many, if not all of you, know full well that I often make the case that the story of Adam is a type of Israel’s story. It is not the story of all mankind, but rather a historical background and picture of Israel’s identity.

In theological circles, talking about the sin of Adam and it’s effects often brings up the doctrine of “Original Sin” – all in Adam, die.

I want to take us through a narrative detailing of the innate, idolatrous, and continued wickedness that was demonstrated, dare I say magnified through Israel, however first I want us to look at Romans 3:9-20.

“What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written, (citation from Psalm 53)“There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God;  All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.”  “Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”; “Their feet are swift to shed blood,  Destruction and misery are in their paths, And the path of peace they have not known. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”

The story of Adam found in the Law is and was Israel’s story. Covenant death is Israel’s identity. However, the nations (Gentiles) were in idolatrous ignorance, therefore dead to God as well. To put it another way, in the Old Testament, God subjects His people,, Israel, to futility (increase of transgression). The futility of the nations is because of non-election and stubborn idolatry.

The narrative of Scripture is primarily focused in on God’s relationship with Israel. He chose them, unconditionally, to be His servant nation, the priesthood of God to reflect Him to the world. However, the covenant God made with them was based upon their flesh and blood descendants being obedient to the Law, which flesh and blood cannot do because it is wicked (which I believe I will demonstrate clearly in a moment), and the whole point of that covenant relationship with Israel, what we call the Old Covenant, was to prove that. However, the implication of Israel’s mission – to bring salvation to the nations – is that the nations, the Gentiles, were in need of it, because they were wickedly inclined as well. What is magnified through Israel, sin, was also inherent in the Gentiles as well.

As I mentioned, I’d like to provide a narrative detailing of the wickedness that was made known through the Biblical story.

Genesis 6:5 – “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Job 14:1 – ““Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil.”

Psalm 14:1-3 – “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.”

Psalm 53 – similar as Psalm 14

Psalm 58:3 – “The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth”

Prov. 3:5-7 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”

Ecc. 7:29 – “Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.”

Jeremiah 17:9 – “ “The heart is more deceitful than all else. And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”

Nehemiah 9:30 – ““However, You bore with them for many years, And admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets, Yet they would not give ear. Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.”

Acts 7:51 – “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.”

Romans 3:9-20 – (I read earlier in the message; above)

Ephesians 4:17-19 – “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.”

 

In my book Wicked I charge that, “…not only did Israel subvert the truth of God, but also each of us are predisposed to subvert the truth and lean upon our own misunderstandings as well. Furthermore, (as we continue to learn about the history of God’s people), we will see evidence that even with complete victory given to the Church, subversion and confusion creep in.” I go on to offer somewhat of a beginning solution in saying, “By recognizing this ‘imposter quality’ inherent within us, we can see the subtle attempts at revisionism in making the story fit our design and desires…”

Joel Beeke, a Reformed writer stated it like this, “Total depravity does not mean that the unbeliever is wholly evil in everything he does, but rather that nothing he does is ever wholly good…The very heart of man is unbelieving, selfish, covetous, sensuous, and always desiring to replace God”…He goes on to say, “…when God scrutinizes the human heart, affections, conscience, will, or any part of it, He finds every part damaged and polluted by sin…alienated from God and actively pursuing sin”.

 

God-provided Solution (Gospel)

Due to Israel’s sin and death, dare I call it “total depravity”, as revealed through the Biblical narrative, and the idolatrous wickedness of the Gentiles, divine intervention was and is necessary. As the saying goes, “a dead man cannot raise himself”, neither can Israel in sin and death and the gentiles dead outside of covenant bring themselves to life. Thank God for His sovereign grace, amen?

I love the way former Evangelist, Rolfe Barnard had detailed sovereign grace – ““What do the terms grace and sovereign mean? One of the attributes of God is goodness. The goodness of God is the divine essence seen as energized benevolently and kindly towards the creature; “I will be gracious – I will be merciful”, Saith the Lord. “The Lord is plenteous in mercy.” “The Lord delights to show mercy.” Mercy and grace are varieties of God’s goodness. Grace has reference to sinful man as guilty, while mercy has respect to sinful man as miserable.

This attribute (goodness) expressed in grace and mercy is free and sovereign in its exercise. “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” Exodus 33:19. The goodness of God is infinite and circumscribed by no limits; but the exercise of His goodness may be limited by Himself. God is necessarily good in His nature, but free in His communication of it. If the Bible is plain about anything it is plain about the fact that God must be just to all men; He may be merciful to some. God owes all men justice; He owes no man mercy or grace! A sovereign God exercises mercy and grace as it seems good to Him. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” Matthew 11:25-26.”

Let’s consider the work of Jesus as described in Hebrews 9:11-15, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

The New Covenant was given because fault was found with the Old, not surprisingly, because God in His sovereignty intended it to be so. The Old Covenant was a shadow, not the reality, of God’s true sovereign grace, and it could not bring one into true and spirit worship. Christ, by providing everything pertaining to life and Godliness, enables us to love from a pure heart, have a good conscience, and a sincere faith. As the text said, namely pertaining to Israelites under the Old Covenant, He has “cleansed their conscience from “dead works to serve the living God”. Our immersion, or baptism, in Christ, which I have taught before, and believe to be, an ongoing reality as we grow in Christ and His fulfilled work (dare I refer to it as continually drinking of the “water of life”) not a physical demonstration of being “fully immersed” in water, is that which gives us a good conscience (cf. 1 Peter 3:21).

Without God intervening, giving His people a Spirit to discern Him, birthing them from above – man is lost – Romans 8:8; John 3:1-8; 1 Corinthians 2

John Owen, famed Reformed writer highlighted this point in saying, “Spiritual darkness is in all men and lies on all men, until God, by an Almighty work of the Spirit, shines into men’s hearts and creates light in them”.

Those who come to God must be called – Psalm 65:4; John 6:44; 1 Cor. 1:24-25, 29-31; Ephesians 2:8-9; Colossians 1:28-29; Titus 3:3-7;James 1:18

I appreciate what A.W. Pink has stated in regard to the notion that man participates with God in his regeneration, “To argue that natural man is capable of co-operating with the Spirit is to deny that man is dead in trespasses and sin, for a dead man is incapable of doing anything”.

God provides “eyes to see and ears to hear” – Duet. 29:29; Luke 24:45; Acts 10:4;Romans 11:33

A change of mind and heart will occur and should continually be renewed thus making the “new creation” spiritually discerned – Matthew 15:17-20; Romans 12:2; 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All of that make known, clarified, and thought- through has brought me to the point of believing our growth in Christ is spiritually discerned, should be fostered by efforts of growth, and might not fit into any particular theological box all that neatly. Instead of trying to fit my “soteriological”/salvation views into any doctrinal category, I endeavor to live and preach what I refer to as the “Fully Effective Christian Life”.

Hear the Gospel/ divine intervention  – which comes by way of a preacher being sent. You must hear it to absorb it. (The natural man can hear and know the Gospel in many senses,  maybe even try to follow it, however without the Spirit of God, these truths cannot and will not have their full effect on that natural man’s life).

Repent/die – recognize your thinking is flawed, trust in Him and His ways rather than your own.

Confess/resurrect – acknowledge the Lord in word and deed

Study & Grow – possess and increase (be baptized or immersed in Christ)

 

Conclusion

Biblical narrative – Israel’s total depravity, and by implication the “innate wickedness” found within all men. God’s sovereign grace is seen through His divine intervention, His unconditional election by which he compels us with irresistible grace, and those whom he calls he justifies and glorifies with perseverance.

So, as a thinking church, a small Bible church on the corner of Maple St. and Blue Point Ave. what do we do with this spiritual wisdom? As you would imagine this is a question I consider daily. Of course, I believe we are already doing it and will continue to do so. I conclude by summing up what I believe we are doing and should be doing – 3 particular things.

We must EMBODY Gospel proclamation – our proclamation goes beyond words.

Saturate (Gospel resources);

possess and increase

 

Here are the 5 questions that were asked of me and my written responses in the debate:

1.       What is sin (a nature/rebellion/other)?

I want to emphasize the importance of understanding the unified Biblical narrative. I believe we arrive at good doctrine by taking in the whole story with the various details mentioned, not “proof texting”, especially pertaining to sin and the need for salvation. Most of us are probably familiar with the texts of 1 John 3:4 – “sin is a breaking of the law” or 1 Corinthians 15:56 – “the sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law”. These are the sins that are manifest through the lineage of Adam from the beginning chapters of Genesis all the way through to the New Testament. The Law was given to magnify sin (cf. Galatians 3:19), so that grace would abound.

However, we read in Romans 5:14 that “sin reigned even over those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam”. Adam violated a law – sin – which lead to covenant death in regards to his relationship with God. Those who do not sin in the likeness of Adam are those who do not have a law, but as James 1:14—15 declares – “ But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death”. This is manifest all throughout the Scriptures regarding the Gentiles, who through God’s divine plan, but manifest through their selfish desires and leaning on their own understanding lived in obstinate idolatry against God.

 

2. From where does the wicked inclination in all men come?

Genesis 6:5; Ecclesiastes 7:29 – Israel’s story – heart manifested evil and idolatry; sought out inventions

James 1:14-15; Proverbs 3:5-6 – lust conceived gives birth to sin; man leaning on his own understanding

Matthew 15:18-20 – from the heart

 

3. What is the eternal fate of a wickedly inclined miscarriage/stillborn/infant/child/teen/adult/ elder who has not been predestined to be part of the Elect of God?

I will readily admit, I’m not all that comfortable calling a miscarried, stillborn, infant or even child “wickedly inclined”. In that regard, the honest and humble answer I can offer up is  – only God knows. I’m sure most if not all of us are familiar with texts such as Deuteronomy 29:29 – “the secret things belong to the Lord” or Romans 11:33 – “How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out”. Understanding and trusting in the sovereign plan of God should lead all of us to be content with His ways are above our ways. I do lean toward God providing a special grace for children, beyond the doctrine of election (which of course is beyond our understanding anyway). The Scriptures seem to posit a kindness toward the children of Believers, or even children in general. We read of John the Baptist “leaping in the womb” at the sound of good news in Luke 1:44 which has also intrigued me.

As for those teens, adults, and elders who have lived long enough to have selfish desires, thereby being “wickedly inclined” and not predestined to salvation – they perish (John 3:16); suffer eternal condemnation; and along with their longings, hopes, expectations and strength – they will come to nothing (cf. Job 8:13; Psalm 112:10; Proverbs 10:28; Proverbs 11:7).

 

4. Does God, according to Sovereignty, always get what He wants?

In talking about God, the Righteous Judge, Job asserts

Psalm 115:3 – But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

Psalm 135:6 – Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.

Proverbs 19:21 – There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

Isaiah 46:10 – My counsel will stand, and I will do all my pleasure.

Isaiah 55:11 – His Word goes forth and does not return void, it shall accomplish that which I please

I imagine this question was asked because in 2 Peter 3:9 we read the often cited “proof text” that God “is not willing that any should perish”, yet clearly in our observable world – many perish. We must ask, what does God want. The key to understanding this perceived dilemma regarding His sovereignty is solved by realizing who the “us” are in the text. Some correlating texts would be:

John 10:15-17 – Jesus lays down His life for the sheep that they should not perish

John 17:9-12 – of those whom God gave Jesus during His earthly, none are lost; and effectually the same for those who trust in Him through their word (cf. verse 20-21). See also, John 18:9

Romans 11:26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

If it was God’s will that absolutely no one at all should perish, then none would perish.

Also, in our interpretation of Scripture we must be careful with sweeping generalizations of the terms “all” and “none”.

 

5. Is the regeneration of an Elect man performed without his consent?

First, a word about “regeneration” – Regeneration is expressly denied to be of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man (John 1:13), and is ascribed to God himself. Not all men have faith in Christ; and those who do have it, have it not of themselves; it is the gift of God…

“’it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”- Rom 9:16

“And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live…Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.” – Ezekiel 37:14

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive [quickened us] with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

“It is the Spirit who gives life [quickens]; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.”…And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” – John 6:63, 65

You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God… – 1 Peter 1:23-25

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. – 1 John 5:1

The Biblical narrative of God declaring His covenant never seems to be a choice – did Adam choose and ask God to place him in the Garden of Eden? Did Israel choose and ask God to be in covenant with Him? No. However, when they were brought in covenant, they seem to be willing to be in covenant, though not willing to follow the dictates of the covenant.

No. The Lord makes the man willing. Consider Psalm 51:12; 65:4; 110:3.

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Repentance & Righteousness (Romans chapters 1-2)

Lately, I have been involved in various conversations regarding soteriology, the doctrine of salvation. There is of course the ongoing discussion regarding the moment of salvation and baptism with those who are members of the Church of Christ, then there is discussion with some others regarding the details of 1 Corinthians chapter 6, and debate about “the creation” that is in focus from Romans chapters 1-8. I imagine in months to come, if you’re interested, you may see the fruit of those studies in written articles and public discussions.

REVIEW OF ROMANS 1-2

This morning I began reading in Romans, namely outlining and summarizing chapters 1-2. The Apostle Paul is emphatic that he preaches the “Gospel of Christ”, the “salvation”, the “righteousness of God” that was hidden but highlighted throughout the Old Testament prophets (see, Romans 1:1-2, 16 cf. 1 Peter 1:10-12; Acts 24:14-16; 26:22-23).  The Apostle goes on to cite Habakkuk 2:4, “The just shall live by faith” to express how this salvation is received.  So naturally my studies took me to the book of Habakkuk.

Habakkuk prophesies to Judah during the 7th century BC condemning the corrupt kingdoms of his time. Habakkuk’s prophecy declares the sure coming of the God’s wrath at the “appointed day”, wherein a remnant will “live by faith”. The Apostle Paul’s use of this citation in Romans demonstrates the coming wrath of God upon those who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” and how those in Christ Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile,  will be saved – by faith in Him.

Two salvific details were brought in my study that I wanted to share.

GOODNESS OF GOD LEADS TO REPENTANCE

Romans 2:4 declares, “…the goodness of God leads you to repentance”.

The Apostle Paul is making the point that those who have continued to pass hypocritical judgement upon others, doing the very things they condemn others for, are coming under the sure judgement of God. In their judgement they seem to have failed to realize that their hypocrisy reveals their despising the “riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering…”, all of which lead man to repentance. Notice it does not say, ‘lead man to repent’, but rather repentance is a work of God, so that no man may boast.

FAITH NOT COVENANT SIGNS COUNT FOR OBTAINING HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS

Romans 2:26 declares, “Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the Law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision”.

The Apostle Paul goes on to make the point, citing from Ezekiel 20:27 and Isaiah 52:5, that those under the Law and who had the outward covenant sign of circumcision are not more righteous than the Gentiles who did not have the outward signs. Rather, those Gentiles who lived with a good conscience toward God keeping the righteousness of the Law, despite their lack of an outward covenant sign, were declared righteous, “whose praise is of God, not of men”.  Trust and assurance in, giving credit to, being persuaded by the truth of the God of Israel “inwardly” was sufficient for salvation.

SUMMARY

In summation, reading through Romans requires being a bit familiar with the prophecies of Habakkuk, Isaiah, and Ezekiel. The Apostle Paul borrows prophetic insight from those prophets to declare the  judgement of God that was coming upon the world because of those who “suppressed the truth of God in unrighteousness”, and there would be no partiality with God, outward efforts of hypocritical judgement (trying to seem righteousness) and outward works of “circumcision” would not lead one to righteousness. Instead, “But now the righteousness of God without the Law is manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ to all and upon all that believe: for there is no difference (outward signs or not) (Romans 3:21-22)”.

 

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