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When We Lose The Authority of Scripture

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I am thankful that disciples are now standing up for the Word of God.  Brothers such as Dr. Vic Reasoner or Dr. Norman Geisler are standing firm for the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.  It is a fight that is needed.  Some have suggested that we abandon the inerrancy of the Bible.  Some hold that the Bible is infallible but not inerrant.  Others hold that the Bible is infallible only for salvation and nothing more.  Yet there are many problems with such views.

When we lose the authority of the Bible, we no longer have any authority to speak for God.  The Roman Catholic Church has falsely taught that their priestly ordination has led to the infallibility of the Pope beginning with Peter.  Sadly, their long history has produced countless errors, the sins of fallen men who claimed to be speaking for God, and persecution of the true Church that has withstood the Catholics and preached the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.  The Catholic Church continues to teach that authority lies in three places: the Bible, the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, and the Pope.  Yet her history shows that the Bible is often completely ignored, twisted, or even forbidden to read.

The modern liberal church movement in the West has completely rejected the authority of the Bible.  What do they have?  Nothing.  They are a dying bunch.  Their causes have turned to socialism, fighting for human rights, etc.  They have nothing by which to stand for God or His truth.  They have no gospel.  They offer nothing spiritually.  They are not known for their soul winning, their turning sinners away from a life of sin, nor do they have a solid prayer ministry they can point to.  Missions among the liberal churches typically involves just “helping people” while not giving them any truth from God nor speaking peace into their souls that are far from God because of their sins (Isaiah 64:6).

Many evangelical churches have replaced the authority of the Bible with the opinions of men.  Their sermons are full of movie clips, skits, shallowness, and little to no exegesis of the Scriptures.  The Protestant pulpits were once known for their study and explaining of the Bible but today, to appease the world, many churches have abandoned the careful study of the Bible to be replaced with happy, feel good sermons designed to keep the crowds happy and coming and of course, giving money.  Evangelism has been replaced with “friendship evangelism” or just inviting lost sinners to church in hopes that they like it, find it cool, and keep coming back.  Nothing is said about the wrath of God, the justice of God, the holiness of God, our utter sinfulness before a holy God, our accountability toward this God.  Nothing is preached about true repentance, sanctification, obedience to Christ as Lord, and forsaking sin.  Nothing is said about taking up our crosses and following Christ, living a life of holiness and discipline.  Instead we hear over and over again that God loves us just as we are and we stop at that.

Because the evangelical church has replaced the authority of the Bible with feelings and a desire to please the world (1 John 2:15-17), the evangelical church does not address social issues or sins because she has no authority to speak on them with.  The church is silent on many issues when the people are hearing the sinful thoughts of the world all week on issues such as homosexual “marriages,” adultery, gambling, etc.  The church could and should address these issues biblically but she doesn’t.  She remains silent.

This is why the Church must stand firm on the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.  The Church can address issues ranging from sin to science to history to what does God require.  We can preach that God will save sinners by His grace because of the authority of the Bible (Ephesians 2:8-9).  We can preach holiness and righteousness (1 Peter 1:15-16; 1 John 3:7-10).  We can preach salvation through Christ alone (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5-6).  We can preach the wrath of God toward sin (Romans 1:18).  We can preach the existence of God (Romans 1:19-23).  We can preach the cross of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).  We can preach baptism (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16).  We can preach that God answers prayer (Matthew 7:7-11).  We can preach that Christ is coming again (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  We can preach the end of the world (Revelation 21:1).

We can preach all these truths because of the Bible.  We don’t have to listen to the world.  In fact, the Bible says that we must listen to God first and foremost (John 8:47).  The Bible alone is the God-breathed Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16).  Peter the Apostle said in 2 Peter 1:16-21 that even his own experiences with Christ is not as important as the Word of God.  1 Peter 1:23 says that we are born again through the Word of God.  James 1:21 says that the Word is able to save our souls.  Jesus said that we are His true disciples when we abide in His teachings (John 8:31-32) and this only comes through faithful study of His Word.  Jesus Himself said that the Word of God cannot be broken (John 10:35) and thus we can trust the Word of God.

The hope I have for my own salvation and the preaching of salvation to the lost is found in the Bible.  It is through the Bible that I learn more about God, I love God more, I grow in my own holiness and discipline, and it is through faithful study of the Bible that I hunger to worship God and seek His face.  Whenever I cease spending time with the Word, I find that the other things wane as well.  I daily seek to spend time in the Word.  Some days are better than others but daily I seek to know God through His Word.  I believe that it is His Word that has kept me all these years by His grace.  I rejoice that the Word both comforts and convicts me (Hebrews 4:12-13).  At times, the Word is my delight (Psalm 119:16) and at times it is a sword to my soul.  I need them both.  I need the grace of God when I sin but I also need the Word to show me my sins and expose my wicked heart (Romans 7:7).  I rejoice that God’s Word does all that and more (John 17:17)!

May the reformation Arminian movement find joy in the Word of God!  May we Arminians celebrate with our Calvinist brethren in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Word of God!  May we all love the Bible and preach its truths to the lost.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/31/2014 at 11:30 AM

Why Arminians Should Read “The Hope of the Gospel”

I don’t write much about eschatological issues here.  It is not my cup of tea.  It’s not that I don’t hold to a position on end times, it’s simply that I don’t use this blog to get my views out.  Part of this reason is that my views have changed over the years.  For example, when I first started blogging back in 2007, I was a premillennialist.  I even taught a Bible study once called, “Seven Reasons Why I Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.”  My views since have changed drastically on these issues.

Dr. Vic Reasoner was once such brother who I read from and who helped to change my views.  His commentary on Revelation was from a partial preterist viewpoint and then his book, The Hope of the Gospel, explored the early Methodist views on eschatology.  When I first was saved, I began to read John Wesley and was struck by his never mentioning the rapture.  I assumed that all Christians believed in the rapture of the church.  I was struck by Wesley’s lack of emphasis on it being the last days.  I assumed Christians had always held that we are living in the last days.  But Reasoner shows that the early hope of the Methodists was the gospel itself.  In fact, it was the gospel that drove them to embrace postmillennialism.  Their Arminianism informed them that they believed in an unlimited atonement and this doctrine set them out to preach the gospel to all nations.  It was their belief in unlimited atonement that pushed them to embrace postmillennialism.

Now I know that some Arminians still hold to both premillennialism and to amillennialism.  I am aware that disciples can disagree over these issues and still serve the Lord tougher, still enjoy fellowship, still worship the King, etc.  This is not an issue of unity nor am I trying to stir up the pot by pointing readers to read Reasoner’s book.  I do believe he makes a strong case both for postmillennialism and how Arminians should embrace this view.  I highly recommend the book and encourage you to study it out (even if you don’t agree with postmillennialism).  For Arminians, the history of Arminianism is strong in Reasoner’s book.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/09/2014 at 11:00 AM

Where Was Arminius on Eschatology?

Unlike John Calvin, Arminius did not leave behind massive amounts of writings.  Much of what we know about Arminius comes to us from those who knew him and wrote about him after his death.  We have his letters which make up his Works.  I have read Arminius’ Works and they are both public and private debates he had with theologians of his day over the issues that would become Arminianism versus Calvinism.

One aspect we know little about with both John Calvin and Arminius is their eschatological views.  The Puritans were clearly postmillennialists and they found their views in the works of Calvin.  Iain Murray, in his book The Puritan Hope, documents how the Puritans passion for the gospel and for Christian living was based in large part because of their postmillennial views.

Arminians, like Calvinists, are not set on one eschatological viewpoint.  There is room in the body of Christ for various views.  The only view that all of us should reject is either a full preterist view that teaches that Christ has already returned or fixing dates (see the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Harold Camping for such a view).  We know that Jesus will come back (Acts 1:11; Hebrews 9:28) but we know not when.  There is room in the Church for various views on this issue and I am not fixed on one though I would align myself with partial preterism and toward a postmillennial viewpoint.

But where was Arminius on this issue?  I think the best we can guess is that he was postmillennial.  This seems to be the view of Calvin and the Reformers.  John Wesley was clearly postmillennial.  Postmillennialism was the dominant view at the time of the Reformation and even into the late 1800’s, it was the most common view.  I remember when I first was reading John Wesley and I was, at that time, a premillennialist.  I was shocked to see that Wesley was a postmillennialist.  I thought the view was only held by liberals who believed that mankind would usher in the millennial kingdom but was shocked to learn that not just Wesley but many others held to postmillennialism.

Dr. Vic Reasoner wrote an excellent book on this issue that he called The Hope of the Gospel.  His passion was to present a Wesleyan understanding of eschatology.  He goes back and shows how the early Methodists passion for revival and for world evangelism was based on their postmillennial views.  They believed that the preaching of the gospel would usher in the millennial kingdom.  They took serious the great commission because they believed Jesus, as King, was establishing His kingdom (Hebrews 12:28).  They believed that Acts 1:8 promised them the power of the Spirit to accomplish this mission and that the gospel would tear down the strongholds of Satan (Romans 1:16-17).  As Reasoner wrote, “They took Psalm 110:1 as they anchor.”

I am not here to persuade you on this issue.  Again, I know that Arminians and Calvinists alike disagree over this issue.  I know many godly Arminians who are premillennialists.  I know Calvinists who are as well.  I know some amillennialists brothers as well.  On this side of eternity, we see through a glass rather dimly.  I do know Jesus will return but I don’t know when.  Neither does anyone else (Matthew 24:36).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/24/2014 at 9:27 PM

Vic Reasoner’s Book on Inerrancy

I want to commend Dr. Vic Reasoner’s book on inerrancy called, The Importance of Inerrancy.  The subtitle is, “How Scriptural Authority has Eroded in Modern Wesleyan Theology.”  The book focuses on this vital issue of the inerrancy of Scripture.

Some Arminians are content to hold that the Bible is the infallible Word of God but it is not inerrant.  They strain to find errors and in the process they also erode the confidence we are to have in the Bible to speak for God, for His Christ, and for His salvation.  Further, if God can not be trusted to preserve and uphold His Word (Psalm 138:2 NKJV) then how can we trust in His promises to save those who call upon Him (Romans 10:13)?  If God, whom Scripture says cannot lie (Titus 1:2), cannot be trusted for what He said about creation, history, or other aspects of the Bible, how can we trust that we have about the Messiah is accurate?  How do we begin to speak for God without His authority?  How do we begin to know what God deems right, good, or evil apart from Scripture?  If Jesus trusted in the Scriptures (Matthew 5:17-19; John 10:35) then how can we turn and reject His Word?

In this work, Dr. Reasoner discusses the historical view of the inerrancy and infallibility of the Word of God by early Methodist theologians including John Wesley and Richard Watson.  He also discusses how the rejection of the Bible as the inerrant Word of God has led to the erosion of the Wesleyan movement.  He uses the Church of the Nazarene as a case study and shows how Nazarenes have been waffling on the issue of inerrancy for years.  The Church of the Nazarene continues to reject conservative Nazarenes who are pushing for acceptance of the inerrancy of Scripture as part of their doctrinal commitment.  This has led to a steady decline in Nazarene churches as well as the liberalization of their colleges and seminaries.  Both Dr. Reasoner and myself conclude that the Church of the Nazarene will soon be the United Methodist Church: dead and dying apart from pockets of faithful disciples.

Dr. Reasoner shows that the subject of inerrancy is vital.  Some will contend that the Bible is only inerrant in a soteriological sense.  In other words, Scripture is only true and reliable when it speaks on the doctrine of salvation (2 Timothy 3:15-17) and not on science, history, numbers, etc.  Further, some Arminians contend that inerrancy is a Calvinistic teaching and one we should avoid.  Yet Arminius affirmed the authority of the Bible.  Arminius wrote, “The authority of the word of God, which is comprised in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, lies both in the veracity of the whole narration, and of all the declarations, whether they be those about things past, about things present, or about those which are to come, and in the power of the commands and prohibitions, which are contained in the divine word.”

John Wesley wrote about the Scriptures: “My ground is the Bible.  Yea, I am a Bible-bigot.”  Wesley taught that since God gave us His Word by His Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21) then by nature, the Scriptures must be infallible (and inerrant) since they come an infallible source in God.

In this work, Dr. Reasoner builds a case along the way for the inerrancy of the Word of God.  The disciple of Jesus will find joy in the Word of God as Dr. Reasoner encourages us through both comments from the Scriptures themselves on their own faithfulness and authority to the fact that historically Arminians have stood with our Calvinist brethren for the inerrancy of the Word of God.  This is a battle that we should stand with our Calvinist friends and fight with them.  The Bible is the Word of God and remains the way in which God is speaking to us today (Hebrews 1:1-3).  The Bible is faithful in all that it teaches including creation, the history of the nations, and science.  The Bible gives us the boldness we need to both speak for God to a lost world and to declare His salvation and also to speak for God about matters such as science or ethics.

I encourage you to get copies of this book.  You will be blessed as you read and will be encouraged to know that God’s Word will not fail.  Flesh will fail but God’s Word will never fail (1 Peter 1:24-25).

You can find this book here.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/12/2014 at 4:29 PM

When Calvinism Becomes the Issue

Dr. Roger Olson’s blog article is worth reading.  Dr. Olson writes about how Calvinism is more and more becoming like the old Fundamentalism and drawing lines in the sand over secondary issues.  They are also now making separation an issue.  In other words, the new Calvinists demand that their Calvinist brethren not only embrace Calvinism but deny fellowship to anyone not embracing Calvinism and denouncing those who are non-Calvinists or welcome non-Calvinists into their fellowship.  This is a hard-line in the sand but I too see it coming.

This is happening in some cases because some Calvinists confuse Calvinism with the gospel.  They quit Charles Spurgeon’s infamous statement that he preached the same gospel as Paul and that is Calvinism.  Calvinists believe that “the doctrines of grace” honor Christ as Lord above all other systems and in fact, all other systems are man-made, man-centered approaches to the gospel.  Only Calvinism, says some Calvinists, is the pure gospel that exalts the sovereignty of God, denies man’s part in his salvation, and makes Christ’s death on the cross effective.

Even sadder is the fact that Calvinists spend their time reading, quoting, commending, and applauding only Calvinists.  On all the new social media sites one can find Calvinists doing this on a daily basis.  Calvinists read Calvinists.  Calvinists fellowship with Calvinists.  Calvinists listen to other Calvinists preach.  Calvinists only study under Calvinist theologians.  This creates a Calvinist church that doesn’t tolerate any other views because Calvinism has all the answers.

My advice to both Arminians and Calvinists has been to read other theologians works.  And don’t just read them with an eye for error.  Obviously Scripture calls us to discernment (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21).  I am not advocating blindly reading any theology book.  But I do advocate stretching yourself and reading those whom you might not fully agree.  I can safely read John MacArthur or John Piper though I know going in that I will not fully agree with all they write.  I can still learn from them.  And yet while I (and many other Arminians) take this approach toward Calvinists, I don’t feel the other side is doing this toward us.  Some might reply that there are a plethora of Calvinists books available but few Arminians (a point I do concede).  But there are Arminian works out there if you look for them.  Just this week I am reading a great new book from Dr. Vic Reasoner on inerrancy (I will post on this later).

My point in all this is that I fear Calvinism is becoming the issue.  Rather than the gospel being the issue.  The five points of Calvinism are becoming the standard for orthodoxy.  I fear a time when orthodoxy will be judged by Calvin and not by Scripture.  Further, I fear a church where only Calvinists are saved.  Anyone else, no matter what they believe, are deemed heretics.  I fear that day.  I pray it does not come.  I know some of my Calvinist brothers and sisters will say that I am being foolish here and paranoid but I do see the rise of Calvinism being a hinderance to the gospel and to fellowship and not a help.  Perhaps I am wrong but I fear I may be right.

May we all meditate on John 17:20-23; Ephesians 4:1-6.  May we remember that Jesus saves sinners (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15) and not isms.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/06/2014 at 10:38 AM

Romans 9:4-5

This is part of a series of posts that I began on Romans 9.  You can find the first post here.

Romans 9:4-5 reads,

4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

Dr. Vic Reasoner correctly states that these two verses may be marked, “Israel’s Privilege and Presumption.”  He points out that Paul gives us eight advantages of the Jews in this text.

  1. Adoption
  2. The Glory
  3. The Covenants
  4. The Giving of the Law
  5. Worship
  6. Promises
  7. The Patriarchs
  8. From their flesh, Christ, who is God over all

However, nowhere in the Old Testament are individual Jews called “sons of God.”  It is obvious from reading these eight advantages then that Paul does not have individual Jews in mind but a corporate body in mind.  While John Piper sees salvation (unconditional election) in Romans 9:1-5, I do not.  I see God’s choosing of a people, the Jews, and Paul is about to discuss the faithfulness of God as it relates to His promises that He gave to the children of Israel.

Furthermore, it must be pointed out that, as Dr. Reasoner does in his commentary on Romans, that Israel lost all these advantages.  If we are to find individual salvation in Romans 9:1-5, why not also teach that a believer can lose their advantages as a believer?  This would obviously go against the doctrine of perseverance of the saints and thus would be denied.  However, the fact that Israel lost their advantages shows that the Israel’s election was not unconditional.  God clearly says in the Old Testament that Israel must not rebel against Him.  Deuteronomy 4:23-24 reads,

23 Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 8:11-20 is also clear about Israel not forsaking the Lord God:

11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. 17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. 20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.

Israel must not forsake the Lord lest He forsake them.  It was clear that His covenant with Israel was not unconditional but was conditional.  Israel would be His chosen people if they followed Him.  If Israel rejected the covenant of God, He would forsake them.

The point of this, by Paul the Apostle, is to show that God was faithful to His promises and to all eight of the advantages that Paul gave in Romans 9:4-5.  It was Israel, as they often did in the Old Testament as well, who failed God.  Paul is wanting to show the Jews that their election was conditional and not unconditional lest the Jews would say that they are the chosen people of God by virtue of birth.  They would claim their salvation by their ethnicity and Paul is going to show (as he has shown in Romans 1-8) that salvation is based on faith in the Lord Jesus, the Messiah of God, and through Him alone.  This condition must be met or one is not a part of the true people of God.

One last note about Romans 9:4-5.  Does Romans 9:5 teach that Jesus is God?  John Fletcher, the esteemed theologian friend of John Wesley, wrote that Paul masterfully is able to place both the humanity and deity of Christ in the same passage!  In Titus 2:13 Paul calls Jesus God.  Here in Romans 9:5 Paul calls Jesus God as well.  In fact, Fletcher points out that Paul doesn’t simply say that Jesus is “with God” but that He “is God.”  Just as in Revelation 5:13, Paul is praising the Lord Jesus who is God over all.  Jesus is above all (Colossians 1:15-20) and He created all (Hebrews 1:1-3).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/05/2014 at 10:49 AM

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