EXPLORE THE BIBLE

My Sunday School class uses the Explore the Bible curriculum from Lifeway.  This curriculum goes through all 66 books of the Bible in one cycle.  The current cycle ends this quarter (at the end of August) and it has taken 11 years to complete.  In September a new cycle will begin and is scheduled to take 8 years to complete.  It will not be a true verse by verse study through the entire Bible but with a little reading and study on your own it could easily be turned into it. 

My class is only a year old…we formed in May of 2006 and we have used this curriculum for 3 or 4 quarters now.  It has been very positive.  Getting a feel for the whole book really makes a difference in comprehension and retention of the material.  What material does your class use?  Do you like it?  If not, don’t be afraid to suggest a change.  There is lots of good stuff out there so you should be able to find something that will work for your class.

IS PERSEVERANCE NECESSARY FOR SALVATION?

This article was posted today over at Arminian Today.  He gives 4 reasons why perseverance is necessary.  The article is not long and a good read.

FRED THOMPSON UPDATE

Fred released his financial information for the month of July today.  Here is where you can see it.

PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS

This is the fourth of my posts on TULIP and my understanding of the 5 points of Calvinism or Reformed Theology.

What is taught by Reformed Theology: To be saved (included among the Elect) involves several steps.  First a person must be chosen to be among the Elect (Unconditional Election).  Next, Jesus had to come and die to be the propitiation for the Elect (Limited Atonement).  Finally, a person must be regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Irresistible Grace) and receive and willingly respond to the inward call of God.  All of these are actions undertaken and completed by God not the individual.  The person can’t initiate or even desire to initiate this process.  So, since this is a God thing, since He started it He has promised to see it through to completion.  God began the process, God maintains the process, and God has promised to complete the process. 

Philippians 1:6 says And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (ESV)

1 Peter 1:3-5 says Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (ESV)

Now for the question.  Can anyone undo what God has started, maintained, and promised to complete?  The answer is a resounding NO!  Jesus said it this way in John 10:28-29

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (ESV)

All of this means that once we have been saved we cannot lose that salvation.  It cannot be taken from us and we can’t give it back. 

My question and comments:  I agree that this is the correct Biblical understanding of this issue.  What clinched it for me was a simple question.  If we can give back or undo something that only God could do (i.e. lose our salvation) then does that not make us equal to God?  If we are as powerful as God then He is not truly God. 

WHAT IF EVOLUTION WERE TRUE?

Found this article over at the Institute for Creation Research.  It poses an interesting question.  It is worth the read.

Federalism…by Fred Thompson

Good article on Federalism written by Fred Thompson.  Click here to read it.

IRRESISTIBLE GRACE

This is the fourth of my posts on TULIP and my understanding of the 5 points of Calvinism or Reformed Theology.

What is taught by Reformed Theology:  Irresistible Grace refers to the special inward call that the Holy Spirit gives only to the Elect.  Since it goes only to the Elect then by definition it cannot fail to be effectual.  In other words, since the Elect have been pre-chosen (Ephesians 1:3-14) by God to be members of the Elect, when it is time (according to God’s timing) for the person to receive the special inward calling it must succeed in its intended goal and cannot be resisted. 

Before a person can receive this inward call he must first be regenerated.  To be regenerated simply means that the person is changed by God from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive.  Since the Fall (of Adam & Eve) all men are born spiritually dead and unable to hear the inward call.  This is because of the corrupted nature that is a result of being a slave to sin.  See this post on Total Depravity for more information.  Until a person is regenerated he cannot hear the call of God.  The process of regeneration is where the irresistible grace come into the equation.  God, according to His sovereignty, changes the unregenerate persons heart of stone (spiritually dead) to a heart of flesh (spiritually alive).  The person has no say in this change because God has predestined it.  Once the person is regenerated (made spiritually alive) they will hear the inward call and will willingly submit to God as LORD of their lives.  Since only the Elect are regenerated, they will ALL eventually submit to God willingly. 

My question and comments:  When I first started studying this topic I had a misunderstanding of what the reformed position was.  I could think of several examples, in the Bible and in my own life, where God’s grace was resisted so I dismissed irresistible grace as being wrong.  Now that I have studied the topic I now know what the reformed position is.  It only applies to regeneration – see above. 

I still have a small problem with this though.  Does God make the Elect robots?  After all if we have no choice as to whether we are regenerated or not then the Elect are reduced to nothing more than God-robots.  Until recently I could see no other interpretation than this – God was forcing the Elect to become regenerated and violating their will.  But that seems contrary to His character as revealed throughout the Bible.  I do not contend that God does not have the right to do this, He does, but it just didn’t fit with everything that God is and has done.  I have heard many try to explain that God was not forcing us but I was unconvinced by them…it all just seemed black and white to me. 

So, does God bring people into the Kingdom “kicking and screaming” as one common objection puts it?  If the unregenerate person knew beforehand what God was about to do (I.e. regenerate them) then the answer would be yes.  I think that person would resist with everything they could muster.  It would be a futile effort but one that I am sure would be made (because of the sin nature).  The thing is though that God regenerates and changes the will, which is enslaved to sin, in the same instant.  The newly regenerated person simply perceives that they have had an epiphany.  Suddenly they can understand the Gospel that they are hearing and it requires action on their part.

Next, does God give the person a choice to accept or reject after regeneration.  Most Southern Baptist’s would tell you that they believe that God must do something to open the eyes of the person before they can realize that they need a Savior.  This is what I was taught and still believe today.  Before a person can hear and respond to the Gospel’s inward call God must remove the “scales” from their eyes.  Once their eyes are opened, at some point, the person sees and understands their own spiritual condition and will hear and respond (accept or reject) to the inward call when it comes.  I don’t remember the word regeneration being used but after I started my studies I associated the word with the above description of what happens.   I still believe that God must regenerate us but now I am not sure if I still believe that a choice to accept or reject God is given to the regenerate person or not. 

My perspective on this changed on this issue while I was reading Willing to Believe: The Controversy over Free Will by RC Sproul.  On the last page (page 204) Sproul makes the point that freeing someone from slavery to sin should not be seen as violating the person’s free will.  Liberating a slave is not forcing them to freedom.  No liberated slave would be upset and complain that they had been freed against their will.  I still have the thought of being “forced into the Kingdom” in the back of my mind but I have started down the road to a new perspective on this.  What do you think?

FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE……….ALMOST

I am a big college sports fan.  Football and basketball are my favorites.  My favorite college team is the University of Tennessee.  The college football season kicks off in about a month now.  This is a time of much anticipation for me.  By the time game day rolls around for the first game I will be worked up into a frenzy.  My wife and kids think I am crazy but what can you do?  On Saturday’s during football season my day is organized around the game.  Over the years my wife has come to accept this….but it took some time.

Who is your favorite team?  Do you share my enthusiasm for college football?

GO BIG ORANGE!!

CREATION MUSEUM

This is good news.  The people over at Answers in Genesis have a hit on their hands.  The Creation Museum looks like it will be lots of fun.  When it opened I showed my wife the online tour that they had and she surprised me by saying that she might like to go and not just for the kids.  I plan for us to go up sometime and visit.  But for now it seems that it might be a little crowded – 100,000 visitors in 2 months is just under 1,700 per day. 

What is truly interesting it that I have heard that the Creation Museum actually shows evolution in its exhibits.  Now I don’t mean that it teaches evolution but that it actually shows both sides of the issue.  That is confidence.  When we have God on our side how can we help not being VERY confident.  If you get a chance this might be a good trip

WHO CAN WIN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

This post was sent to me by a friend. It mentions some interesting historical facts and applies them to the current Presidential race. Below is an excerpt from the article:

The first rule is that no Democrat from outside the old Confederacy has won the White House since John F. Kennedy. Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were all from the Confederacy. Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry were from way outside the Confederacy. Al Gore was from the Confederacy but lost, proving that this is necessary, but not a sufficient basis for a Democratic win. The reason for this rule is simple. Until 1964, the American South was solidly democratic. In 1964 the Deep South flipped Republican and stayed there. If the South and mountain states go Republican, then the Democrats must do extraordinarily well in the rest of the country. They usually don’t do extraordinarily well, so they need a candidate that can break into the South. Carter and Clinton did it, while Johnson did extraordinarily well outside the South.

The second rule is that no Republican has won the White House since Eisenhower who wasn’t from one of the two huge Sunbelt states: California or Texas (Eisenhower, though born in Texas, was raised in Kansas). Nixon and Reagan were from California. Both Bush presidents were from Texas. Gerald Ford was from Michigan, Robert Dole from Kansas. They both lost. Again the reason is obvious, particularly if the candidate is from California — pick up the southern and mountain states, pull in Texas and watch the Democrats scramble. Midwestern Republicans lose and northeastern Republicans do not get nominated.

The third rule is that no sitting senator has won the presidency since Kennedy. The reason is, again, simple. Senators make speeches and vote, all of which are carefully recorded in the Congressional record. Governors live in archival obscurity and don’t have to address most issues of burning importance to the nation. Johnson came the closest to being a sitting senator but he too had a gap of four years and an assassination before he ran. After him, Former Vice President Nixon, Gov. Carter, Gov. Reagan, Vice President Bush, Gov. Clinton and Gov. Bush all won the presidency. The path is strewn with fallen senators.

Click here to read the entire article.

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