Here is a link to Dr. Al Mohler’s book, God & the Gay Christian?. The book focuses on a biblical response to Matthew Vines who has challenged evangelicals over the issue of homosexuality and the gospel. Vines argues that one can be a committed disciple of Jesus and yet still be a homosexual. Dr. Mohler (and three other brothers) tackle this difficult subject with much grace and with the Word of God.
This issue will be (and has been) a key point in our culture. People want to know what the Church of Jesus Christ believes about the issue of homosexuality. Is it a sin? Can one be a homosexual and still be a disciple of Christ? Does the Bible condemn homosexuality or only certain forms of it?
I do pray that homosexuals will see the mercy of God in our preaching toward them and not hatred. I certainly do not hate homosexuals and I only long for them to know the freedom that is in Christ Jesus. I rejoice in the precious truths of the gospel because the gospel shows me more and more that I need Jesus every single day. I am far from perfect! I need His intercession (Hebrews 7:25) and without His grace, I would be lost. It is only by His infinite grace that I am saved (Ephesians 2:8-9) and not because of who I am or what I have done (Titus 3:5-7). May this be the message that we preach to all – that Jesus saves from sin (Matthew 1:21) and that He truly washes away our sins (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). May our cry be John 6:37!
There is a podcast that I listen to while driving my truck that I enjoy until the teacher goes off on a rampant about the King James Version Bible (KJV). He is a KJV only follower and he is convinced that there is a conspiracy on the part of the “modern translations” to corrupt the Word of God, to dethrone Jesus, and to exalt either Satan or humanity above the Lord God. He is convinced that the KJV is the “pure Word of God” and that it alone is the inerrant and infallible truth of God for us in the English language. He is not an extreme KJV only follower in that he holds that the Hebrew and Greek texts that underline the KJV are the superior texts (the Textus Receptus). I can tolerate his ramblings only because I enjoy his other teachings but I will admit that it is pushing me to the edge.
I decided, in regard to this man’s teachings, that I would download a teaching he gave on four reasons for the superiority of the KJV. His four points were: A Superior Text, Superior Translators, Superior Theology, and a Superior Translation. To highlight them, he basically said that the TR was the inerrant Word of God, that the KJV translators were vastly superior men of God than modern translators (and were nearly perfect fundamentalists in his eyes), that the KJV translators and the KJV itself offer sound theology to the church, and the KJV is simply the best English translation ever produced (and probably ever will be produced).
So let me take a shot here at the KJV. Let’s look at just two passages that Dr. James White points to also in his book The King James Only Controversy. The first is Acts 12:4 where the KJV reads:
And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
The ESV reads:
And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people.
The Greek word for “Easter” in the KJV is the word pascha. The word is translated in the KJV as “Passover” (see John 19:14 for example) in every case but here. The ESV is consistent and translates it as Passover throughout. Why did the KJV translators (with their superior theology and being nearly fundamentalists) translate it as Easter? The KJV only theory is that this shows the providence of God but this is incorrect. There is no basis for Easter being the word here as the context shows. Herod is trying to please the Jews (v.3) and the Jews celebrated Passover not Easter. Easter, as we know it today, would not appear for hundreds of years following this text.
The second passage that I want to focus on in the KJV is Acts 19:37 where the KJV reads:
For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.
The NIV reads:
You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess.
For some reason the KJV translators translated the Greek word for “temples” as “churches” despite no reason to. Dr. White believes this to be a case where their own tradition stood in the way of the translation. The New King James Version (NKJV) corrects the KJV here.
In conclusion, the KJV is not a vastly superior translation. It is a good translation and one that I honor though I do not use. I don’t doubt that the Lord used the KJV to glorify His name. I also don’t doubt that many souls have been saved because of the preaching of the gospel from the KJV. But the KJV is just a translation. It is a good translation that falls into line with good English translations such as the ESV, NASB, or the NKJV.
One final point. I still have yet to learn which edition of the KJV is the “pure Word of God.” Is it the Cambridge edition? The Oxford edition? The Zondervan edition? Is the one published by Thomas Nelson or one perhaps published by the smaller Bible publishers? They are all different and we need to know which one is the pure Word of God. This is vital!
I have always referred to this season that we celebrate the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and then His resurrection from the dead as Passover. I have always struggled with the term “Easter” as it just simply wasn’t in the New Testament and somewhere along the way, the beauty (and tragedy) of Exodus 12 seems lost to the modern Church because we have replaced it with Easter. I understand that the Church still celebrates the sacrifice of Christ and His resurrection from the dead but it seems much is missing.
Next year I intend to have a Passover meal at our home. I want my children and my friends to see the beauty of the Lamb of God (John 1:29) in the Passover meal (1 Corinthians 5:7). The early disciples no doubt kept the biblical feasts with an eye on Jesus Christ as Lord and understood that they pointed to the reality of Christ Himself (Hebrews 10:1-4). At some point in Church History, the Church begin to celebrate Easter and the glorious resurrection of Christ but stopped celebrating Passover altogether.
My hope is that I can show people the glory of Christ in the Passover meal. One cannot read the Passover account in Exodus 12 and not see the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God who was slain for us. Christ was sacrificed on the cross at Passover and His death pointed back to the book of Exodus.
My hope also is to show that the biblical feasts point to the Lord Jesus (Leviticus 23). They reveal Him in ways that we Gentiles often miss and I am guilty of that. While only Christ saves us by His grace and not works of the law (Galatians 2:15-16), the Old Testament is a wonderful portrait of Jesus that we can miss if we fail to study it. Paul the Apostle stated in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that the Old Testament was an example for us. We can learn from the examples seen in the Old Covenant while praising God that we are saved under the New Covenant that Jesus brought to us by His own blood (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 8:8-13).
In all this, my heart is not to return to Judaism but to worship the Lord Jesus and exalt Him for all that He has done in saving me from the wrath of God (Romans 5:1-11). I want to see Him and know Him more and if this can happen by seeing Him in the Passover, I want to celebrate it with all my heart.
Romans 4:25 reads,
“Who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”
Jesus gave His life for our sins. He died a cruel, unjust death at the hands of sinners. Yet Jesus did this for our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6). His blood was shed so that we could have peace with God (Ephesians 2:14). His blood was shed to wash away our sins (Ephesians 1:7). He committed no sin yet He bore our sins (1 Peter 2:22-24). 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 reads,
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
He died to take away our sins (John 1:29) and in Him alone do we find forgiveness of our sins (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 9:22, 27-28; 10:10, 14; 1 John 2:2).
Yet the resurrection is key to this forgiveness. Without a resurrection, there is no forgiveness. This is the point of Paul the Apostle in 1 Corinthians 15:16-19:
16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But since Christ has been raised from the dead (Matthew 28:6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:6-7; John 20:1-10; 21:24-29), we have the blessing of knowing that our sins are truly forgiven. This is not merely God ignoring our sins or simply by-passing His just law to forgive us just by the waving of His hands but this is true forgiveness. Jesus took my place on the cross. It was my sins that He bore. He died in my place and He stood condemned for me.
And how do I know this? Because of Romans 4:25! Jesus was raised for my justification before a holy God. My only hope for salvation, my only assurance of my forgiveness before a holy God is the blood of Christ that He shed on the cross. The Father raised Christ from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 1:4; 8:11) and showed that the Father had accepted the sacrifice of the Son. Jesus was crucified for my sins and He was raised for my justification. Now I have peace with God because of Christ Jesus and because of Christ alone (Romans 5:1).
What a glorious truth is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus!
The gospel causes me to do two things. First, the gospel makes me realize my utter sinfulness before a holy God. I have no righteousness apart from that which He imputes to me (Isaiah 64:6). I cannot earn the favor of this holy God. My sins have buried me in despair and I see how wicked I appear before this holy and just God. How can I approach this holy One? How can I find peace with Him who is perfect and I a sinner?
But the gospel also shows me the grace of God, that He would send His one and only Son to die for me, this wicked sinner. The gospel is the goodness of God expressed in His Son. The gospel is the love of God expressed in His Son. The gospel does shout that I am sinful, condemned to die for my sins against this God but the gospel also shouts, “Grace to it” (Zechariah 4:7). I see my wickedness but I see His beauty when I look at the gospel of our God (Romans 1:1).
The gospel reveals to me that Jesus has bore my sins. He took the wrath of God in my place. Isaiah prophesied about this Christ and His work in Isaiah 53. I will place the entire passage here for us to mediate upon and see the wonder of the grace of God at work in His Son:
Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Notice verse 10. It was the will of the LORD to crush Him! The will of God was that His perfect Son would bear my sins. 2 Corinthians 5:21 reads,
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
1 Peter 2:22-24 says,
22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
Hebrews 2:9 reads,
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
The perfect, holy, blameless, righteous Son of God bore my sins on the cross. He died in my place. He suffered for me. His blood was shed to wash away my sins (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7) and by His stripes I am now healed. He bore the wrath of a holy God for me!
Romans 5:8-9 reads,
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 assures us that Jesus has saved us from the wrath to come.
On the cross, the Lord Jesus died so that I might live. He offered Himself to God for my sins. In that moment, on the cross, the holy Son bore the wrath of a holy God against me. That is the glorious gospel! The gospel is not a picture so that I can feel moved to obedience. I cannot obey a holy God enough to please Him nor can I perfectly obey Him all my life (Romans 8:8). I need forgiveness. I need grace. I get both in the Son. The cross is not a mere example of a holy God honoring His Law but it is the perfect Son bearing the wrath that the condemned sinner should bear and will bear if they don’t repent. The sole reason that I can now be saved from God is the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I pray that we all would honor the Son for His glorious work on the cross! Salvation is available only because of His work (Romans 3:21-26). Jesus died for our sins (Galatians 1:4) and He was raised for our justification (Romans 4:24-25). We can now be forgiven and justified before a holy God because of the work of Christ and the work of Christ alone (Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7). Throughout all eternity we will worship the Lamb who bore our sins (Revelation 5:13-14).
The Arminian Confession of 1621 states this about the total inability of the sinner to obtain eternal salvation:
“It was from this [the Fall of Mankind] that the highest necessity and also advantage of divine grace, prepared for us in Christ the Savior before the ages, clearly appeared. For without it we would neither shake off the miserable yoke of sin, nor do anything truly good in religion, nor finally ever escape eternal death or any true punishment of sin. Much less could we at any time obtain eternal salvation without it or through ourselves.”
I was listening to a podcast of Dr. John MacArthur speaking at a Bible conference on the subject of total depravity (though he later admitted that total inability is perhaps a better term). As an Arminian, I was able to listen to this Calvinist brother preach on this subject and agree with him 100%. The sinner is incapable of salvation apart from the grace of God. Sinners, by nature, do not seek God (Romans 3:10-11). Sinners are dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). I agreed with MacArthur that God alone is the one who must act to bring the sinner to salvation. I believe this first act was done by God Himself in the garden after the fall (Genesis 3:21) and in His prophesy about the coming Seed who would crush the serpent (Genesis 3:15). From Genesis to the Gospels, we have the story of God reaching out to lost sinners and ultimately in His Son He showed both His justice and His love for lost sinners (Luke 19:10; John 3:14-18; 1 John 4:14).
MacArthur and I would agree on all this (though he would disagree that Christ came to save all sinners but only the elect). Arminians agree that Christ is the only hope for lost humanity. Christ is the only way we can find forgiveness of our sins (Matthew 26:28) and we must preach that salvation comes only through faith in Him and Him alone (Galatians 2:15-16). We must preach that all sinners are under the wrath of God apart from salvation in Christ Jesus (Romans 1:18) and that the only way for sinners to turn away God’s just wrath is through the sacrifice of Christ (Romans 3:22-27; 5:8-9).
Further, because of the nature of depravity, sinners cannot just choose to be saved when they want. Sinners must have the Holy Spirit working upon their hearts to be saved. Jesus promised this work toward sinners in John 16:8-11. Notice in John 16:8-11 that this would be toward the entire world. The Spirit is working even now in the world to draw sinners to the Savior (John 6:44). As we preach the gospel, sinners hear the gospel and the Spirit of God draws sinners to repent of their sins (Acts 2:37-38). Those sinners who appropriate the work of Christ are the elect of God (1 Timothy 4:10) and are truly saved by His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). I have no problem saying that salvation is the work of God (John 1:12-13) and that apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, none could be saved. In our depraved state, sinners simply will not look to Christ for salvation. We hate the true God and we would rather do it our own way if left to ourselves. We need the divine aid of the Spirit of God.
And yet in the midst of all these truths that MacArthur said, twice in his lecture he mentioned Arminians. In both times he was wrong about what Arminians believe. In his first statement, MacArthur stated that the Western Church was largely Arminian in its approach to evangelism meaning that it is up to the sinner to choose to be saved and so the church must facilitate that belief by making church appealing to the sinner hoping that the sinner will choose Christ. This is not Arminianism. This is semi-Pelagianism at best. Arminius affirmed the depravity of lost sinners.
Concerning the original sin of Adam and Eve, Arminius wrote:
The whole of this sin, however, is not peculiar to our first parents, but is common to the entire race and to all their posterity, who, at the time when this sin was committed, were in their loins, and who have since descended from them by the natural mode of propagation, according to the primitive benediction. For in Adam “all have sinned.” (Rom. v, 12.) Wherefore, whatever punishment was brought down upon our first parents, has likewise pervaded and yet pursues all their posterity. So that all men “are by nature the children of wrath,” (Ephes. ii, 3,) obnoxious to condemnation, and to temporal as well as to eternal death; they are also devoid of that original righteousness and holiness. (Rom. v, 12, 18, 19.) With these evils they would remain oppressed forever, unless they were liberated by Christ Jesus; to whom be glory forever.
Regarding so-called “free will” and whether mankind is capable of just choosing to be saved, Arminius wrote:
In reference to Divine Grace, I believe, 1. It is a gratuitous affection by which God is kindly affected towards a miserable sinner, and according to which he, in the first place, gives his Son, “that whosoever believers in him might have eternal life,” and, afterwards, he justifies him in Christ Jesus and for his sake, and adopts him into the right of sons, unto salvation. 2. It is an infusion (both into the human understanding and into the will and affections,) of all those gifts of the Holy Spirit which appertain to the regeneration and renewing of man — such as faith, hope, charity, &c.; for, without these gracious gifts, man is not sufficient to think, will, or do any thing that is good. 3. It is that perpetual assistance and continued aid of the Holy Spirit, according to which He acts upon and excites to good the man who has been already renewed, by infusing into him salutary cogitations, and by inspiring him with good desires, that he may thus actually will whatever is good; and according to which God may then will and work together with man, that man may perform whatever he wills.
In this manner, I ascribe to grace the commencement, the continuance and the consummation of all good, and to such an extent do I carry its influence, that a man, though already regenerate, can neither conceive, will, nor do any good at all, nor resist any evil temptation, without this preventing and exciting, this following and co-operating grace.
In fact, about free will Arminius wrote:
This is my opinion concerning the free-will of man: In his primitive condition as he came out of the hands of his creator, man was endowed with such a portion of knowledge, holiness and power, as enabled him to understand, esteem, consider, will, and to perform the true good, according to the commandment delivered to him. Yet none of these acts could he do, except through the assistance of Divine Grace. But in his lapsed and sinful state, man is not capable, of and by himself, either to think, to will, or to do that which is really good; but it is necessary for him to be regenerated and renewed in his intellect, affections or will, and in all his powers, by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit, that he may be qualified rightly to understand, esteem, consider, will, and perform whatever is truly good. When he is made a partaker of this regeneration or renovation, I consider that, since he is delivered from sin, he is capable of thinking, willing and doing that which is good, but yet not without the continued aids of Divine Grace.
Where in the teachings of Arminius does MacArthur get that Arminians believe in free will to just choose to be saved? This perhaps is the teaching of the seeker churches in the United States and the Western Churches but it is not the teaching of Arminius.
Secondly, MacArthur states in his lecture on free will that Arminians deny the total inability of the sinner by teaching that there is still something left in man that allows him to choose Christ. He states that this was the view of the confused Calvinist, John Wesley (to which he received a laugh from the audience). MacArthur goes on to state that Wesley was right on so many issues but he missed it here on the subject of total inability.
For now I won’t go to Wesley on this (though I feel MacArthur is wrong on that) but to Arminius. Did Arminius believe in partial depravity or total depravity? Notice the above quote on free will and ponder Arminius’ answer to the state of free will in man.
Arminius goes on to write about the state of depraved man:
In this state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace. For Christ has said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” St. Augustine, after having diligently meditated upon each word in this passage, speaks thus: “Christ does not say, without me ye can do but Little; neither does He say, without me ye can do any Arduous Thing, nor without me ye can do it with difficulty. But he says, without me ye can do Nothing! Nor does he say, without me ye cannot complete any thing; but without me ye can do Nothing.” That this may be made more manifestly to appear, we will separately consider the mind, the affections or will, and the capability, as contra-distinguished from them, as well as the life itself of an unregenerate man.
Does Arminius affirm a partial depraved state there? Arminius continues:
Exactly correspondent to this darkness of the mind, and perverseness of the heart, is the utter weakness of all the powers to perform that which is truly good, and to omit the perpetration of that which is evil, in a due mode and from a due end and cause. The subjoined sayings of Christ serve to describe this impotence. “A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit.” (Matt. vii, 18.) “How can ye, being evil, speak good things?” (xii, 34.) The following relates to the good which is properly prescribed in the gospel: “No man can come to me, except the Father draw him.” (John vi, 44.) As do likewise the following words of the Apostle: “The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be;” (Rom. viii, 7;)
therefore, that man over whom it has dominion, cannot perform what the law commands. The same Apostle says, “When we were in the flesh, the motions of sins wrought in us,” or flourished energetically. (vii, 5.) To the same purpose are all those passages in which the man existing in this state is said to be under the power of sin and Satan, reduced to the condition of a slave, and “taken captive by the Devil.” (Rom. vi, 20; 2 Tim. ii, 26.)
It seems clear that Arminius affirms the wickedness of mankind.
Arminius wrote later on about the nature of God’s grace after regeneration saying this:
The Second thing to be observed is, that as the very first commencement of every good thing, so likewise the progress, continuance and confirmation, nay, even the perseverance in good, are not from ourselves, but from God through the Holy Spirit. For “he who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ;” (Phil. i, 6;) and “we are kept by the power of God through faith.” (1 Pet. i, 5.) “The God of all grace makes us perfect, stablishes, strengthens and settles us.” (i, 10.) But if it happens that persons fall into sin who have been born again, they neither repent nor rise again unless they be raised up again by God through the power of his Spirit, and be renewed to repentance. This is proved in the most satisfactory manner, by the example of David and of Peter. “Every good and perfect gift, therefore, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights,” (James i, 17,) by whose power the dead are animated that they may live, the fallen are raised up that they may recover themselves, the blind are illuminated that they may see, the unwilling are incited that they may become willing, the weak are confirmed that they may stand, the willing are assisted that they may work and may co-operate with God. “To whom be praise and glory in the church, by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen!”
And I echo Arminius’ “amen” here. All of salvation is by the grace of God! We are not saved by works, kept by works but we are wholly saved by the work of Christ alone and kept in Him by His grace alone. Salvation is indeed the work of God.