Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Original Sin Revisited

A few years ago, I wrote an essay against the doctrine of original sin. Since then, my position has been refined a little, or at the very least I can describe my objections to the doctrine better. What follows is a revision of the original post.

One of the most common beliefs in the church today is that people are born sinners. Popularized by Augustine, it quickly became the dominant position of the church, a trend which continues today largely thanks to the efforts of John Calvin. His fingerprints remain on the teaching today in the form of the T in the TULIP acronym, “Total Depravity.”

The problem with this teaching’s popularity is that it is very wrong.

First, let us begin with some of the passages used to support the original sin doctrine. You will discover that these are “mystery passages” that only support original sin if original sin is assumed from the outset and read into the verse. I want to get one of the easier ones out of the way first. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That is one of the verses advocates of this doctrine use. This is one of their weaker passages, as a plain reading of the verse says simply, “Everyone has sinned.” It makes no comment how often they sin or when they began to sin. The weakness here is in the “plain reading” I gave above. Who is “everyone”? Is it all without exception, or are there some exceptions to “all”? At least one exception comes to mind, as it well should. Jesus is part of all, yet He did not sin (see Hebrews 4:15).  Jesus was made in all things like His people. He was born with the same flesh anyone else has, with the same desires and weaknesses that come with it.

But if there is one exception, might there be others? I answer this question later.

Another popular passage is in Psalm 51, verse 5 to be exact. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” The psalmist is the passive subject in this verse. He was shapen in iniquity, it was not a choice he made. He was conceived in sin; he did not conceive himself. There is a sinner in this passage, but it is the mother. Context matters. In Psalm 51, David is confessing his sin to God. He traces history of sin all the way back to his conception, saying that even from that instant he has been in a world saturated by sin, and this has always been true.

A third passage is Romans 5:12 (and 18): “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” and “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” This is another of those “mystery passages” because the concept of being born a sinner or born with a sinful nature is nowhere in these verses. Sin entered the world because one person sinned. Because he sinned, he died. Furthermore, those who follow his example in sin also die. “death passed to all men because all have sinned.” Now, it is possible to take your understanding of this verse too far. Everything on this earth dies, whether or not it has a moral character. Animals die, plants die, insects die. Things run down. So physical death cannot be seen as immediate evidence of individual sin. As for the second verse, Calvinists and other original sin proponents ALWAYS take this verse ONLY as far as it suits their purposes and NEVER take the verse as a whole to the conclusion their logic demands. Paul gives two options for men:
  •  By the offense of one, judgment comes to all men
  • By the righteousness of one, the free gift comes to all men

Note that both judgment to condemnation and the free gift come to all men. Unless one wishes to hold to both inherited sin and universal salvation, there is a problem. Let us therefore approach the answer from reverse. We know from the Scriptures that not all will receive the free gift (there are some who will be cast into hell). Whether or not they receive the gift ends up being their choice (I’m not going to go far into free will versus determinism here.) The gift is offered to all, but not all will take it. Likewise, whether or not a person receives judgment depends on the choices they make, not the circumstances they are born into or whatever they happen to inherit.

Let us proceed to examine some passages of Scripture that do not support the original sin doctrine. The first comes from Romans 7:7-9. “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”

This passage is fascinating because it unequivocally states that the speaker was alive before sin came into his life, and when sin came to life in him, he died. This must be a spiritual understanding of life and death because very rarely has someone come back to life from physical death, and the life-and-death illustration would not work if taken physically.

The passage does not say, “I thought I was alive even though I was sinning” or anything of the sort. To conclude this, as some do, is to read into the verse. There was no sin at the time (there was no law), so he was spiritually alive. This is in direct contradiction to what the original sin proponents would have us believe.

Another passage comes from Ecclesiastes. Now, this book is dangerous to use (as are Job, Psalms, and Proverbs) because of the “genre” they are in, but this passage is hard to get around. It is chapter 7, verse 29. “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.”

See that? God has made man upright. God does not create sinners, but they make themselves that way. Even though just a few verses prior the author said there was not a just one on earth who did not sin, he still acknowledged the truth that God makes man upright. He is not responsible for their sinning; it is their choice.

Another reason not to believe in original sin is because it slanders God.

The Psalmist said God formed him in his mother’s womb (Ps. 139: 13). And since there is nothing that makes him special from any other man, it can be reasonably concluded that all people are created by God—this miracle begins at conception. If people are born sinners, what other choice do we have than to say that God created us sinners? It was God who made the decision for us to be that way. This means God creates people to be sinners because of something their ancestors did, and then blames them for being sinners. More on that in a moment.

Also, Genesis says we were created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26). God does not sin. He can be tempted (Deut. 6:16), but He cannot sin, as it goes against His nature. The original sin advocate is therefore forced to accept these two beliefs: “God created man in His image” and “Man is born a sinner.” These do not go together. For if man is created in God’s image, and man is created a sinner, then God is a sinner. As stated, this is unbiblical. The more correct belief is this: “Man is born with the capacity to be tempted, and it is man’s choice whether or not he will sin.”

The doctrine of original sin also makes God a tyrant. If people are born sinners, and they are naturally inclined to sin, what right does God have to condemn them for the way He created them? He has none. So advocates of original sin have to come up with a way to decorate their cruel god with acts of love, saying that God, in His sovereignty, can act however He wishes. This is true, but as God is also just, and condemnation of one who cannot help his actions is unjust, that claim falls flat.

Original sin advocates also say that Adam was a figurehead for the entire human race, and since he sinned, we are all born sinners because of that and depending on whom you ask also share in his guilt. (There are competing theories all saying more or less the same thing.) What does the Bible say, though? It certainly never says Adam was the federal head or moral representative for all his descendants. Ezekiel 18: 20 says, “The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.” In other words, we are all responsible for our own sin. Adam’s sin was Adam’s sin, not his descendants’. What Adam did, however, was open up the way for all to be tempted.

Before I go, I will include this last argument. If all are born sinners, then what of the babies who are stillborn, aborted, or die in infancy? The original sin advocate has no choice but to say that these must go to hell. They’re dishonest enough to come up with an excuse (age of accountability), but it is unsatisfactory. Sinners, if they are not redeemed, must go to hell. God never provided an alternate solution. The original sin position must include infants in this.

But infants do not sin. Those who have no knowledge of right or wrong cannot sin. They must be taught right and wrong, and before that time, they are innocent. It is when they are able to make a moral choice (“This is right and I will do it” or “This is wrong but I will do it”) that they are held accountable.

See, moral agents have never needed any “help” to sin. Satan and his followers sinned just fine without one. Adam and Eve also pulled it off. So why invent a concept explaining sin when the Bible is clear enough about it? According to the Scriptures, sin comes into being because people follow after their own desires and want to sin, not because of circumstances beyond their control. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:14,15) People are deceived by sin because it is so appealing at first, and soon they desire to sin. (Proverbs 21:10, Psalm 52:3).

Keep to the Scriptures instead of coming up with an excuse that belongs in a fairy tale.

Friday, May 18, 2012

By this we know that we know Him

"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." (1 John 2:3-6)

This is such a simple passage. John gave his readers (and us) a test to see if we know God, and to know if others know God. The criteria? Do you keep God's commandments or not? Those who are God's will keep His commandments, and those who do not keep His commandments are not His.

Our salvation is more than saying a prayer and having your eternal destiny worked out for you because of it. Our salvation is from death, from our sins, and from the wrath of God. Should we not live accordingly?

Or, because grace abounds with sin, should we continue in sin knowing that by God's grace we remain saved, and that by our sin God's grace can increase even more?

"Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?"

I recognize that was a nonsense question. Of course those who are God's should live a life fitting of their profession and calling. There are very few who would contest it.

So why do not more live it out? Those who do not keep God's commandments can have no assurance of salvation, after all. If they say they are His, yet their lives do not reflect it (they hold on to their wrath, their lies, their sexual immorality, just to name three), then they do not truly know God. Rather, they deceive themselves and their danger is the greater, because they do not know that they do not know God.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Nearing Easter

We are nearing the end of what is often referred to as Holy Week in the Church. This was the most climactic week of Jesus’ life, without doubt. The crowds already know who he is, and many of them are still hyped because of the miracle they had witnessed not far from Jerusalem – a man who had been dead for four days was walking and talking again, healthy and alive. So a few days later when Jesus stages his “grand entry” into Jerusalem, naturally the crowds are enthusiastic. They are waving palm branches and hailing the arrival of their king. They are celebrating. He is teaching in the temple or outside Jerusalem every day. The people can’t get enough of him.

And four days later they are calling for his death. After being falsely accused of sedition and experiencing a mockery of a trial, and scorned by the rulers of the day, he is finally taken to be scourged and killed in the most painful and humiliating way the Romans could imagine.

They missed it. Their king had come to them, although they were looking for someone else. Someone who would overthrow their oppressors and deliver their nation back to them. Although, if they had been paying attention…

The Messiah was presented to them on the 10th day of the month, just before the Passover, when the sacrificial lamb was selected. The lamb had to be without blemish, and after its selection it was to be out for all to see until the time of sacrifice. And then, on the 14th day of the month the Messiah was put to death at the same time as the Passover lamb, according to John. So on Sunday the Messiah appeared to the people, and on Thursday they killed him.

He spent three days and nights in the tomb, and sometime Saturday night he was resurrected. When women came to the tomb on the first day of the week, he was already gone.

Jesus’ death and resurrection are the two pivotal points in history upon which all else hangs. Jesus bore our sins on the cross (it was not technically a payment for our sin, which I’ve mentioned in the past but that’s a topic for another time). He was the sacrifice for our sin, our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) and the last sacrifice that would ever be required (Heb 10:10-12). Because of this sacrifice, we can be justified before God. We can be forgiven and be spared the wrath of God. We die with him, to use Paul’s terminology, and so we live with him. We are set free from sin and made free to live holy lives, since we have been cleansed of all sin.

But his death would not have meant as much without the resurrection. Indeed, had it not happened, we would be the most pitiable of people. For all that, we would still be doomed to die, because even God would not have been able to conquer death. If he cannot, what hope do we have? If he is not raised, we are all still in our sins. We are all the same way we were when we came to God, and He has done nothing to help us. Thanks be to God that death was defeated that day! We do have hope. We are assured the victory, because it is God who works in us and equips us every day.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Too radical?

A few weeks ago, I attended a church small group based on a recommendation from someone at another church back in Clemson. Since I was still looking for a church at the time, I decided to check it out, hoping to find like-minded believers to fellowship with. What interested me at the time was that this group was going to read through and discuss David Platt’s book Radical. Now, I have not read this book yet, although several who know me say I should, but my sister has offered to let me read her copy, so odds are in a couple weeks I’ll have the chance to read the book for myself.

So I won’t mention the contents of the book right now. It’s difficult to talk about what one has not read.
Anyway, the first week of discussion, the group leader wanted to talk about what it meant to be totally devoted to God. Yes! That is a wonderful topic of discussion, and one that Christians need to be reminded of, whether to exhort or encourage. As in any group discussion, several ideas were tossed around, such as praying and reading the Bible, or doing what God wills, or living a life of obedience to God. Sure, these might qualify as “Sunday School answers,” but they’re accurate enough. They are all good things to do. The gist of the discussion was that we needed to be devoted to God.

Most of you know me well enough to guess what I brought up rather quickly. While we’re on the topic of being radical, of encouraging one another to be totally devoted to God, why not live every day in perfect obedience to God? Perfect obedience is a product of perfect love, which will please Him. Despite our day-to-day life in this mortal body, complete with its weaknesses, why not determine to be pleasing to God at all times, and live a life that never fails?

Apparently this is a little too radical. Talk about devotion is wonderful, but once that concept is presented… well, that’s a little too devoted. We can’t do that, because we still have a flesh and blood body that has desires, and we still have our sinful nature that we’re constantly fighting against. And sometimes we will fall, although we repent immediately afterward and are restored in our relationship with God.

It’s too hard, in other words. The deck is stacked against us. Sooner or later (sooner in the eyes of most), we’re going to mess up and sin against God. It’s just part of being imperfect humans. Praise God that He does not see our failings, because He forgives us and sees Jesus instead! We are spotless in His eyes!
It sounds wonderful except for the fact that it’s totally wrong.

I am not denying that we still have a flesh that still has desires. To deny that would be to speak absurdity. What is wrong, however, is to go ahead and decide that we will always struggle against our sinful flesh.

“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When Paul says our old man is crucified with Him (that is Christ), he does not mean our bodies are done away with, along with all the desires that go with them. What he does mean is that our old way of life is gone. A lying habit, the desire to steal, to commit sexual sin, a proud heart… all of that and more is what used to define us, but defines us no longer. All these sins that used to hold us in bondage no longer have dominion over us.

We are finally free to tell temptation, “NO!” We are finally free to choose to obey. This is why Paul tells us to consider ourselves dead to sin. It is not that we are unable to sin (we always will be), but that this attitude no longer defines us. Whenever temptation comes our way, or our pasts try to haunt us, we can refuse them.

If we have this freedom, why squander it? Why go ahead and assume that every once in a while you will tell God that you would rather serve the world and your passions than Him? I thought we loved God. Are we going to – even occasionally – act as though we hate Him?

God forbid!

Why even entertain the thought? Let’s actually try something radical. Let’s determine to live our lives in a way that shows our love for Him, every hour of every day! Who cares if the world and the rest of the church says it’s impossible? God doesn’t tell us it’s impossible. In fact, He tells us He’ll give us everything to make it possible! Our old ways died when He made us a new creation, He has indwelt us with His Holy Spirit, and He’s already promised to provide a way of escape from temptation.

That makes it even better. We don’t have to rely on ourselves to live for Him all the time. If we did, then we probably would fail eventually, and often. But we are not asked to rely on ourselves. We are asked to rely on Him.

How about it?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

95 Theses to the Evangelical Church, by Greg Gordon

A friend told me about these theses, and while I do not agree with all of them, I so fervently agree with so many that I am willing to provide them here.


95 Theses To The Evangelical Church
by Greg Gordon

I submit these to the evangelical church of our day and pray that God would allow anything of truth in these pages to bend and change men's hearts back to God." - Greg Gordon -


“It is useless for large companies of believers to spend long hours begging God to send revival. Unless we intend to reform we may as well not pray. Unless praying men have the insight and faith to amend their whole way of life to conform to the New Testament pattern there can be no true revival.” - A.W. Tozer


Thesis 1 - The evangelical church at large has forgotten that the chief end of man is to glorify God.
(Romans 16:27, 1 Corinthians 6:20, Mathew 6:9).

Thesis 2 - Evangelicals ignore most of the methods, practices and principles found in Acts chapter 2.
(Acts 2:42,44, Acts 2:46, Acts 2:38).

Thesis 3 - We meet for one hour a week and consider that apostolic church. Many evangelicals treat church like any other social club or sports event that they attend.
(Acts 2:46, Hebrews 10:25, Acts 1:14).

Thesis 4 - We have made Christianity about the individual rather then a community of believers.
(1 John 2:19, 2 Timothy 4:16, Jude 19).

Thesis 5 - In evangelical churches the priesthood of all believers is not acknowledged and the role of pastor is abused. The biblical view of a plurality of elders is practiced by very few.
(1 Peter 2:9, 1 Corinthians 12:12, Ephesians 4:11-13).

Thesis 6 – The evangelical church as a whole has lost the concept of their being engrafted into the promises given to Israel.
(Romans 11:17-18,20, Romans 11:25, Romans 11:15).

Thesis 7 - There needs to be a recovery back to teaching through the whole counsel of God expositionally.
(Acts 20:27, 1 Timothy 4:6, 2 Timothy 2:15).

Thesis 8 - We take it too lightly, the blessing and honor of having God’s Scriptures in our possession.
(Psalm 119:16, Acts 13:44, Nehemiah 8:9).

Thesis 9 - There has never been more access to the word of God yet so little reading of it.
(1 Timothy 4:13, Nehemiah 8:1-3, Psalm 119:59).

Thesis 10 - Some read the Scriptures to attain knowledge and do not practice what they read.
(James 1:22, Matthew 7:21, 3 John 4).

Thesis 11 - Worship has become an idol in many churches. The music resembles the world more than anything else.
(Amos 5:23, Philippians 4:8, 1 John 5:21).

Thesis 12 - The world is shaping the views of the evangelical church more than the church shaping the views of the world.
(Romans 12:2, Matthew 5:13, 1 Corinthians 1:22-23).

Thesis 13 - The evangelical church spends more money on dog food then missions.
(2 Corinthians 9:6, Luke 21:2, Acts 4:34-35).

Thesis 14 - We take lightly the cost of discipleship laid out by Jesus Christ and consider following Him a sort of jovial thing rather then it truly costing us our actual entire lives.
(Luke 14:33, Luke 14:26-27, Matthew 8:19-20).

Thesis 15 - There is a lack of true discipleship and making others to be obedient disciples.
(Matthew 28:20, 2 Timothy 2:2, 2 Timothy 2:14).

Thesis 16 - The modern day evangelical believes the error that parts of life are to be spiritual while other parts are to be worldly and secular. Rather than our entire life’s being spiritual and our walk with God.
(1 Peter 4:2, Colossians 3:3, 1 John 2:6).

Thesis 17 - The modern day evangelical finds Jesus’ command to sacrifice and serve abhorrent.
(Philippians 2:21, James 3:16, Romans 12:1-2).

Thesis 18 - Self disciplines in the Christian life such as fasting, praying, suffering are considered legalistic.
(2 Timothy 2:21, 2 Timothy 1:8, Matthew 6:17).

Thesis 19 - Little thought and contemplation is put towards the lostness of men, the seriousness of the gospel, and the sacrifice of the call of Christ.
(Philippians 3:8, Galatians 2:20, Hebrews 10:34).

Thesis 20 - We are living with an epidemic of cheap grace in the Church. Flippant confession, shallow consecration, superficial surrender.
(Luke 14:28-30, Luke 14:26, James 4:8).

Thesis 21 - Since the inception of the Church, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached with the requirements of repentance and discipleship.
(Acts 2:38, Luke 14:26, John 8:31).

Thesis 22 - Presently, the “High-Calling in Christ Jesus,” has never been offered at such a low level. Forgiveness without repentance, discipleship without obedience, salvation without sanctity, confession without consecration.
(Hebrews 10:29, Hebrews 4:11, Luke 13:24).

Thesis 23 - Such terms as: Introspection, counting the cost, godly sorrow over sin, repentance from dead works, are all foreign to this church age of cheap grace.
(Acts 2:37, Psalm 119:9, Hebrews 6:1-2).

Thesis 24 - The modern evangelical church loves itself more than its neighbor.
(1 Corinthians 3:3, Galatians 5:13, Philippians 2:3).

Thesis 25 - The church must repent of its idolization of personality and business principles.
(2 Corinthians 2:17, 1 Corinthians 3:5, 1 Corinthians 12:23).

Thesis 26 - The elders and pastors of the church, as ministers of the gospel, are charged by Jesus to feed the sheep. But sadly many are fleecing the flock to supply their wants.
(John 10:12-13, 1 Peter 5:2-3, Revelation 2:15).

Thesis 27 - The qualities most in demand in today's pastorate are frequently foreign to the qualities which are made most important in Scripture.
(1 Timothy 3:2-3, 1 Timothy 3:5, 1 Timothy 1:5-7).

Thesis 28 - The professionalization of the pastorate is a sin and needs to be repented of.
(2 Corinthians 11:13, Galatians 3:1, Galatians 2:6).

Thesis 29 - There must be repentance for the ambitious desire and idolization of the celebrity pastorate.
(3 John 9, Jeremiah 17:5, 1 Corinthians 12:22).

Thesis 30 - The evangelical pastor must trust the Spirit, not statistics.
(2 Samuel 24:1, 1 Corinthians 1:25, Romans 8:14).

Thesis 31 - Modern day prophets are being stoned by criticism and neglect.
(2 Timothy 4:3-4, Galatians 1:10, Jeremiah 1:7-8).

Thesis 32 - God’s prophets are ill treated and shunned by most evangelicals and considered too extreme or harsh.
(Jeremiah 6:10, Isaiah 6:9-10, Galatians 4:16).

Thesis 33 - An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And my people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?
(Matthew 24:4,11-12, 1 Corinthians 1:19, Jude 8).

Thesis 34 - There are many false gospels being preached from pulpits. God has no interest and is not required to honor a gospel that is false.
(2 Corinthians 11:4, Galatians 1:8-9, Jude 16).

Thesis 35 - There is an epidemic of a sort of “mock” salvation being preached from many pulpits today. It is a gospel message that is not authentic. It is correct in doctrine but false in reality.
(2 Corinthians 3:6, 1 John 5:11-12, Romans 8:9).

Thesis 36 - What is this “mock” salvation that is being spoken of? Simply defined it is a salvation that does not make men holy.
(Jude 4, Romans 8:1, Romans 6:17-18).

Thesis 37 - No other evangelical phraseology has caused more damage to true gospel preaching then this simple coined phrase: “we are all just sinners saved by grace.”
(Ephesians 1:1, Hebrews 6:11-12, Hebrews 10:26-27).

Thesis 38 - There is a gospel message that keeps men sinners and never allows them to change and become saints in actual experience.
(1 John 2:29, Colossians 3:5-8, Titus 3:8).

Thesis 39 - The warning of Christ is against this gospel where professors of religion are forbidding people to be a part of the holy body of Christ.
(Matthew 23:13, Psalm 119:1-2, 2 Peter 1:3-4).

Thesis 40 - Preaching has become all about the happiness of man and not the glory of God.
(John 6:26, Romans 4:20, 1 Peter 4:11).

Thesis 41 - Preachers give smooth words to entice men, yet very few give any words of correction or rebuke.
(Jeremiah 6:14, Proverbs 1:23, 1 Timothy 5:20).

Thesis 42 - Run from gospels that focus on your success and prosperity. From those that use the name of Jesus Christ only for personal gain.
(John 2:16, Acts 20:33, Jeremiah 6:13).

Thesis 43 - Run from gospels that focus only on self-improvement.
(1 Timothy 6:5, Hebrews 12:14, James 4:14).

Thesis 44 - Run from churches where men and not Christ are glorified.
(Colossians 1:18, Jude 25, John 16:14).

Thesis 45 - Run from churches where there is no Bible, no cross, no searching Word, no repentance from sin, no mention of the blood of Christ.
(1 Peter 1:18-19, Ephesians 3:13, Revelation 1:5).

Thesis 46 - Run from churches where the worship leaves you cold, where there’s no sense of God’s presence.
(1 Corinthians 5:4, Psalm 80:14-15, Jeremiah 12:11).

Thesis 47 - Run from churches where you’re comfortable in your sin.
(1 Corinthians 14:25, Hebrews 10:30-31, Hebrews 4:13).

Thesis 48 - Run from churches that use the pulpit of God for a personal agenda.
(Jude 10-11, Jude 19, 3 John 9).

Thesis 49 - Run from those who preach division between races and cultures.
(James 2:4, Galatians 3:28, Revelation 5:9).

Thesis 50 - Run from ungodly, spasmodic movements and endless empty prophesying.
(Jeremiah 5:13, 1 Corinthians 14:33, 1 John 2:16).

Thesis 51 - Run from preachers who tell only stories and jokes.
(Ephesians 5:4, Titus 1:8, Titus 2:12).

Thesis 52 - Run from those that are only after money and they use one gimmick after another to get your money.
(2 Peter 2:3, 2 Corinthians 12:14, 1 Corinthians 9:18).

Thesis 53 - The phrase “accept Jesus as your personal Saviour.” Is not found in the Scriptures.
(Romans 10:9-10, Colossians 1:13, Acts 26:20).

Thesis 54 - Evidence of true conversion is something that does not seem important to modern day evangelicals.
(1 John 2:6, 1 John 4:17, Matthew 7:20).

Thesis 55 - In result thousands of sinners think of God having only one attribute, love! which has allowed multitudes to sit at ease with their sins.
(Romans 1:18, Acts 5:11, Psalm 2:12).

Thesis 56 - God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life has caused much confusion in evangelism to the lost.
(Romans 3:19, Acts 26:18, Philippians 3:18-21).

Thesis 57 - A Gospel of love and grace only without the law of God is being preached. Martin Luther called this gospel a doctrine of Satan.
(2 Timothy 4:3-4, Romans 2:4-5, Romans 3:19).

Thesis 58 - We have inherited a system of evangelistic preaching which is unbiblical. This has clearly arisen from the careless mixture of 20th century reasoning with God’s revelation.
(Colossians 2:8, Romans 1:25, Galatians 1:6).

Thesis 59 - Decisionism and the sinners prayer has been the major cause of false conversions in the evangelical church.
(2 Peter 2:1-2, Ephesians 2:4-5, 2 Corinthians 5:17-18).

Thesis 60 - Evangelicals are swelling the ranks of the deluded with a perverted gospel! Many who have made decisions in churches have been told in the inquiry rooms their sins have been forgiven will be surprised to hear “I never knew you depart from me.”
(Matthew 7:22-23, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21).

Thesis 61 - Men have taken the place of the Holy Spirit of God in confirming men in their supposed salvation.
(1 John 2:3-5, 2 Thessalonians 1:8, Galatians 6:12-15).

Thesis 62 - The doctrine of hell and eternal suffering is something little grasped by most evangelicals.
(Matthew 13:42, James 5:1, Psalms 9:17).

Thesis 63 - The judgment seat of Christ is perhaps one of the most neglected topics in the modern evangelical pulpit.
(2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 14:10, 1 Corinthians 3:13).

Thesis 64 - The second coming of Jesus Christ needs to be re-instated as the general thrust and burden of the church.
(1 John 3:2-3, Colossians 3:4-6, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).

Thesis 65 - The evangelical church has lost the fear of God and has over emphasized the love of God.
(Hebrews 12:28-29, Luke 12:5, Hebrews 10:31).

Thesis 66 - The church has left evangelism to a few trained professionals rather than simply obeying the Scriptures call to personally evangelize themselves.
(Acts 8:1,4, Acts 4:29, Romans 10:14).

Thesis 67 - Repentance is considered a one-time act in modern evangelism rather than a way of life.
(Revelation 3:19, Hebrews 12:17, 2 Peter 3:9).

Thesis 68 - The Lordship of Jesus Christ is something that is not imposed on sinners initially and creates half-saved people who have a Saviour but not a Lord.
(Acts 2:36, 1 Corinthians 12:3, Romans 6:18).

Thesis 69 - We are not open to correction, discipline or rebuke. And most would rather just move to another evangelical church somewhere down the road.
(1 Corinthians 5:5, 1 Corinthians 11:31-32, Hebrews 12:7-9).

Thesis 70 - There is a great deal of preaching that amounts to a mere believing of the different theories about salvation, instead of persuading men to come to Christ and be saved.
(John 5:40, Colossians 1:28, 2 Corinthians 4:5).

Thesis 71 - There has been a loss of the fullness and majesty of the gospel.
(1 Timothy 1:11, Jude 25, Romans 15:29).

Thesis 72 - There is little mention of sin or the depravity of man from evangelical pulpits.
(John 3:20, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:5).

Thesis 73 - Covetousness, consumerism, and coddling the world’s goods is something that does not appear wrong to evangelicals.
(Jeremiah 22:17, 1 John 2:15-16, 1 Timothy 3:3).

Thesis 74 - Little is made of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in churches or in evangelism. Yet it was one of the major themes and glories of the apostolic church.
(1 Corinthians 15:14-15, Acts 4:10, Acts 4:33).

Thesis 75 - The evangelical church has relied more on technology then God.
(Zechariah 4:6, 1 Corinthians 1:21, 1 Corinthians 2:4).

Thesis 76 - The prayer meeting is considered in the evangelical church one of the least important meetings. The idea of meeting for an entire day together seems ridiculous and a waste of time.
(1 Timothy 2:1, Acts 4:31, Philippians 4:6).

Thesis 77 - Pastors have never prayed less than they do in the evangelical church in our day.
(Jeremiah 10:21, Philippians 2:21, Ephesians 6:18-19).

Thesis 78 - Very few are waiting on God for His direction and purpose for the church.
(Ephesians 1:11, Psalm 37:7, Isaiah 40:31).

Thesis 79 - The evangelical church has many organizers but few agonizers.
(Philippians 3:18-19, Romans 9:1-3, Jeremiah 9:1).

Thesis 80 - We need to have the gifts of the Spirit restored again to the Church. The one gift we need the most is the gift of prophecy.
(2 Timothy 4:2, 1 Corinthians 14:39, 1 Corinthians 12:31).

Thesis 81 - The evangelical church at large has never been more frivolous about the things of God. A serious, sober, self-controlled Christianity is very seldom found or preached.
(2 Peter 3: 11, 1 Peter 4:7, Jude 3).

Thesis 82 - The evangelical church at large has forgotten how to pray.
(1 John 3:22, Acts 6:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Thesis 83 - Churches are more dependent on tradition rather than on the leading of the Holy Spirit.
(Mark 7:13, Acts 16:6, Acts 13:2).

Thesis 84 - It might seem strange to say that ministers of religion are “pleading for impurity and sin.” Yet this is exactly what multitudes of professors preach and teach that you cannot be free from sin. That you must sin!
(Romans 16:18, Romans 6:1-2, 2 Peter 2:1).

Thesis 85 - The Apostles and Christ always preached from the vantage point of the possibility to walk holy and free from sin.
(Titus 2:11-12, 1 Peter 1:14-16, Romans 6:19).

Thesis 86 - Sinners are not saved to sin but rather saved to holiness and good works.
(Romans 6:13, Ephesians 2:10, 2 Peter 3:14).

Thesis 87 - Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of the church.
(2 Timothy 2:19, 1 Peter 4:17-18, 2 Timothy 3:12).

Thesis 88 - A baptism of holiness, a demonstration of godly living is the crying need of our day.
(1 Timothy 6:3, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Thesis 89 - Most in the Church are utterly confused about the practical godliness, obedience, and good works which the Scriptures readily mentions.
(Titus 3:8, John 10:32, Revelation 3:15).

Thesis 90 - Little or no emphasis is put in evangelical churches on the plan of God to make us like Jesus Christ, conforming us to His image.
(1 Peter 1:14-16, 1 John 2:6, 1 Peter 4:1).

Thesis 91 - Christ did not die on the cross to obtain a worldly Church or for worldly Saints but for a “glorious Church.”
(Ephesians 5:27, Titus 2:14, Colossians 4:12).

Thesis 92 - Christ does not come into our unregenerate, sickly, impure hearts as many contemporary theologians say. He gives us a new heart to dwell in wherein is found holiness and righteousness.
(2 Corinthians 5:17, Matthew 5:8, Ezekiel 18:31).

Thesis 93 - A holy Church is God’s blessing to the world; an unholy Church is God’s judgment upon the world.
(Matthew 5:14,16, Ephesians 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:12).

Thesis 94 - If Christianity is to make any headway in the present time, it must be proved to be more then a theory.
(2 Thessalonians 3:6-7, 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

Thesis 95 - Unbelief has us captive; the evangelical church is gagged and bound as risen Lazarus, it needs release in this final hour!
(Hebrews 3:12-14, 1 Corinthians 3:21-23, Hebrews 11:6).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Peace on Earth?

Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is given to covetousness;
And from the prophet even to the priest,
Everyone deals falsely.
They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?
No! They were not at all ashamed;
Nor did they know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time I punish them,
They shall be cast down,” says the LORD.

Thus God spoke through Jeremiah to a rebellious Judah, what was left of the tribes of Israel. By this point in Judah’s history, they had experienced revival through Hezekiah and Josiah; however, the reforms did not penetrate the souls of the people. Instead, they covered the surface and ignored the deeper problem: a heart in rebellion against God.

But what was true then rings just as painfully true in these modern times. The Church, commanded by God to be a light in the world, has allowed itself to sink into darkness and chains. No more do they claim the victory over sin in their lives, though they may speak of it. No more do they blaze with the light of love and truth to a world lost to lies and self-centered indulgence. No more are they representatives of Christ in a dying world. Instead, they flaunt the cold ashes of defeat while living in a never-ending cycle of sin and despair. The love of the Church has faded into nothingness. It is not a powerful force to change the hearts of man, it is a petty institution derided by the world.

Instead of listening to the few who bleed to see the Church restored to God, they choose instructors who tickle their ears with comforting words of failure. Don’t be upset when you sin, they tell the prisoners who lap up their every word. Everyone does it, even me. All you have to do is tell God you’re sorry. He loves you and He wants to forgive you. And when you mess up again (because we all will), God will be waiting for you to run into His arms again. They proclaim peace and life, but the fruit is turmoil and eternal death.

This is the lie that has been fed to the Church, and the lie that the Church now widely accepts as the gospel truth. The lie is all the more insidious because it contains some elements of the truth. God does want mankind to repent, and He forgives all who come to Him with a contrite heart. But the lie propagates the false doctrine that a Christian can never hope to escape from the shackles of sin and failure in this life.

After an idea steeps for a while, its effects begin to show. After listening to a socially acceptable gospel that tells them they will sin for the rest of their lives, multitudes of professing believers will sin. And they will not be bothered. They are not ashamed. Why should they be, if the blood of Christ covers them, and God only sees Jesus and not the sins of His followers? They go to church on Sunday morning and commit idolatry on Monday, confident in their false hopes. Is God blind? For millions, the answer is a resounding, “Yes.” They have become like the harlot Israel. They have forgotten how to blush.

When you look at it too long, the picture could start to look hopeless. The world drowns in sin, and the Church called to proclaim the way out of it has instead joined the death march. Yes, we weep, we cry out to God. But we, the followers of Christ, must not give in to despair.

Two millennia ago, God Himself took the form of a man and came to dwell with His rebellious creation, wanting to rescue them and bring them into His family. He did this by humbling Himself, being born to the lowliest of estates in an unflattering location. He lived among His people and suffered and died at their hands, and three days later He resurrected Himself from the dead. All those who believe in Him will not perish.

We must proclaim this wonderful news. We must be a light in the darkness, showing the way to the lost. Let our lives glorify God every second of every day, and may our hearts burn with passion to reach the lost. Though the world opposes us and tries to shut us down, they will never be able to silence the truth that rings across the land.

Praise be to God.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

1 John -- Alleged Contradiction

(I'm moving this blog entry from the Coyote for Christ page.)

A few weeks back, a friend asked me to write a post on the topic of 1 John 1:8 and 3:9.

There are two verses in 1 John that sometimes cause confusion. When taken out of context, the verses appear to contradict each other. Do they? Well, that is the purpose of this post. My claim is that they do not, and I will seek to show this.

The verses are as follows:

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)


No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (1 John 3:9)

Probably the most important rule to remember when interpreting Scripture is context. It is entirely possible to rip just one verse out of a passage and make it mean the opposite of what it truly means – or at least misuse the verse to support one’s preconceived notions of what Scripture says. (Matthew 7:1 and 1 John 1:8 are frequent victims of out-of-context quoting.)
To get a better understanding of the two verses, let’s look at them in a broader context. I will still be limited in what verses I can include, but I will seek to be faithful to Scripture in all my efforts.

To better understand 1 John 1:8, we need to look at verses 5 to 10.

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

Verse 8 is most commonly used to support the notion that Christians sin, indeed that they must sin. This interpretation is false.

Verses 5-10 are a condensed version of the Gospel message. While many would immediately object to this claim on the basis that John is speaking only to Christians, bear with me for a time and you will see the reasoning behind my statement.

John begins by saying that God is light and there is no darkness in Him. There should be no reason to further explain this statement. It should be evident to all who profess Christ that God is good and only good. Professing Christians claim to trust God, and it would be absurd for them to trust in a being that could act against them just because it felt like being cruel.

John then continues with a series of if-then statements. He uses “we” the entire time, but it will become evident that there are two distinct groups of people in “we.”

First, he says if “we” claim to have fellowship with God (that is, to be saved) and walk in the darkness, “we” lie. Since God is light, someone who walks in the darkness cannot be His.
What is the darkness? “Darkness” is often used in the Scriptures to refer to sin (See John 1 and 3:19-21). Men, it says, preferred the darkness to the light, because then their evil deeds could remain hidden. But the light God brings exposes their wickedness.

The next set of “we” walks in the light. This is the first clue that the same group of people is not being talked about. How can a person walk in the light and the darkness simultaneously? The answer is, they can’t. Furthermore, the person who walks in the light, as God is in the light, is cleansed of all sin by the blood of Jesus Christ.

This talk about “we” continues in verses 8-10:

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

John just finished saying in verse 7 that believers have been cleansed of all sin. Shall we attempt to introduce another contradiction, in which John says that believers are cleansed of all sin, but if they claim to be cleansed of all sin, they are self-deceived and not having truth? Quite simply, that is absurd. If a person has been cleansed of all sin, as verse 7 states, it is natural and proper for him to proclaim that God has removed all sin from him, and that none remains.

In verse 8, he is referring to the other group of people within “we,” the ones who walk in the darkness. If they say they have no sin, they deceive themselves. They are not saved, so they are still sinning. In fact, by saying they do not sin, they make God a liar, because God says they do sin (see Romans 3:23).

But for those who insist upon the sinning Christian doctrine, a question. What if a time frame were introduced, say, five seconds? Does the statement “I can go five seconds without sin” violate the principle they claim in 1:8? If so, what about a smaller increment. A second? A millisecond? If these don’t, then why assume that longer time periods such as weeks, years, or even decades violate the verse? And if the small increments do, what then? Shall we state that there is not a single moment in time in which the Christian does not sin? This would come into conflict with their “continued sin” idea in chapter three.

However, if these sinners confess their sin, then God is faithful and just to forgive their sins and to cleanse them of all unrighteousness. This cleansing of all unrighteousness and all sin is a one-time act. Yes, it was written in the present tense. No, that does not denote a continued action. John was providing us with a series of hypothetical statements.

Now, how is this the Gospel message? Simple. Those who walk in darkness, who sin, do not have the truth, and they need to be saved. The way to do this is to believe (which is implied) and confess their sins, after which God will forgive them and cleanse them of all sin. Then they become those who walk in the light.

The next verse is 1 John 3:9. Just as with 1:8, the verse makes sense when viewed alongside the verses around it, beginning with verse 4:

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

(It is unfortunate that the NASB decided to use the word “practice” instead of “does,” since that creates a loophole.)

The situation here is similar to that of the 1 John 1 passage. In chapter 1, we were presented with two groups of people: one walks in the light and the other walks in darkness. Once again John is contrasting two different types of individuals, this time to set up a test.

The two types are evident: one practices (does) sin, and the other practices (does) righteousness. Because these are presented as opposites, we are shown that sin is the opposite of righteousness (or of righteous behavior). This indicates that sinlessness and righteousness are synonyms of each other. More on this in a moment.

In this passage, John states without reservation that true believers do not sin. Believers abide in God, and there is no sin in God. Also, John makes it simpler by saying that those who abide in God do not sin. In fact, those who do sin are of the devil. He even says that those who sin do not know God, nor have they known God.

Why is this important? John is establishing a test so that the readers can know whether or not they (or anyone else) are saved. He does this by contrasting children of the devil and children of God. One sins and the other does not.

A common interpretation of this passage forces the words “continue to” do sin, claiming the tense denotes a continuous present. This is wrong on at least two counts (only two will be mentioned here). The first is that the tense is not continuous present, it is gnomic present. It serves to state a truth for all time.

How do I know it is gnomic? Let’s illustrate with an example:

“Fish don’t say English words.”

This is gnomic. This is a principle, something that most people would agree to without need of proof. However, you might come across someone who says that the sentence means that fish don’t often say English words, or they do not continually say them. In order to understand what is meant, we need to look at the rest of the paragraph:

“If a creature says English words, it is not a fish.”

This proves the first sentence was gnomic, because the author was establishing a test based on a principle. This is exactly what John did. He said that those who are born of God do not do sin, and those who do sin are not born of God. If John was not using gnomic present, and if he were not assuming a universal truth, then he would not be able to establish the test. It would make no sense. The test would have too many exceptions to be valid.

And besides, even if “continue to do sin” or “do sin continually” were correct, what should we make of it? How many sins does it take for “continue to do sin” to describe someone? Ten a day? One hundred? Once? Even here, the interpretation destroys itself. If a person sinned even once after supposedly surrendering to Christ, then they “continue[d] to do sin.”

Secondly, John says that the children of the devil and children of God are obvious. If sin is permitted, the “obvious” qualifier becomes meaningless. Will we allow for the occasional sin? I touched on this above, but it is worth asking again. What is the sin:righteousness ratio that distinguishes a sinner from a saint? More than half? Three-quarters? To draw the line anywhere using this line of thinking, the distinction becomes purely arbitrary.

But no, the difference must be obvious. The only line that makes any sense in relationship to that verse is obedience one hundred percent of the time. With even one sin, the “saint” is acting like the sinner.

1 John 1:8 is a portion of the condensed gospel message. It is a warning to sinners, telling them that if they claim they are not sinners, they are liars and not of the truth. Verse 3:9 is a condition of a test to determine whether or not someone is a true believer. So we can see that 1 John 1:8 and 3:9 in no way contradict each other. Both affirm true Christians won’t sin.