Here is a link to a sermon by Dr. John MacArthur called “We Will Not Bow.” I highly recommend it.
You can find the sermon here.
A needful book in this hour.
Originally posted on The Domain for Truth:
The late Christian apologist Greg Bahnsen has written a little known book on a biblical view of homosexuality. The Evangelical Christian Library has hosted this book for free online here.
Here is the table of Content:
Preface … 5
1. Basic Commitments … 13
The Foundational Question of Scripture … 14
The Law as an Expression of God’s Will … 19
2. Homosexuality as a Sin … 27
The Creation Account … 28
The Story of Sodom … 31
God’s Law … 35
Romans 1 … 47
6. Conclusion … 125
The doctrine of the Trinity is not an easy doctrine to grasp. For one, we are limited as human beings to understand God. His ways are beyond our ways and His thoughts are beyond our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). God has made Himself known to us in His Word but even there we are limited in what we know about God. We know enough about God to fear Him and to be saved by His grace (John 17:3) but we are still limited in what we know about God.
This should not cause fear nor doubts to arise. If you can figure out your God, He is not the true and living God who has revealed Himself to us by His Word. The true and living God is simply a mystery to us. He is not a man (Numbers 23:19) nor has He ever been a man (Isaiah 43:10). God has always been God and will always be God. God never changes (James 1:17). God remains the same and His years will never end (Psalm 102:27). The immutability of God is a doctrine that we should rest in (Hebrews 13:8) knowing that God will keep His promises since He is forever faithful (1 Kings 8:56; Romans 4:21).
When it comes to understanding the doctrine of the Trinity, it helps to think this way: there is only one what (God) and yet there are three who’s (Divine Persons). One God eternally existent in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each of the divine persons is a person in that they are co-equal, co-eternal with the other members of the Triune God so that the Father is not the Son nor is He the Holy Spirit nor is the Son the Father nor is He the Holy Spirit nor is the Holy Spirit the Father nor is He the Son. The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God. Yet again, there is not three manifestations of the one true God (modalism) nor is the Father greater than the Son and the Spirit (Arianism). Instead, the Bible teaches us that there is one God (Deuteronomy 4:35; 6:4; 32:39; 2 Samuel 7:22; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Psalm 83:18; 86:10; Isaiah 44:6; 45:18; Mark 12:29; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5). Yet the New Testament is clear that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God yet there is only one God.
How then do we reconcile these facts? Those who deny the Trinity run into error. If you deny the doctrine of the Trinity, you must do something with the one true God. You then must turn to answering who is God? Is the Father then God and yet not the Son or the Spirit? Or are there now three gods which means you must deny the fact that there is only one God? Cults often attack the Lord Jesus and deny His full deity or they make Him less than the Father. Oneness Pentecostals claim to exalt Jesus but they deny the full deity and persons of the Father and Spirit (though they would claim to embrace their deity while denying their personhood). Most cults exalt the Father as above the Son in some way (although the Bible does teach the willful submission of the Son to the Father in His mediating role; see 1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
It is simply easier to come to the mystery of the Trinity and admit I don’t fully understand it but I accept it by faith because it is what the Bible teaches. God is beyond me. Again, I point to Isaiah 55:8-9. God’s ways are not my ways. He is God and I humble myself before Him. I confess that there is only one God and yet three persons in the one Godhead. I confess that the Father is not the Son nor is He the Spirit. I confess that truth to all three persons. There is only one God but three persons in the one Godhead. I know not how this is nor does it completely make sense to me but it is what Scripture teaches and I humble myself before the one true and living God.
I was blessed to read a local Free Presbyterian Church site that wrote of the free offer of the gospel. The site maintained that it is the duty of the Church to preach the gospel and that they were fervent in their evangelism because of the call of God to take the gospel to all. I was encouraged by this. They are absolutely correct in avoiding the hyper-Calvinism tendency to avoid preaching the gospel to all because the hyper believes that the gospel is only for the elect and the elect will be saved by the sovereignty of God no matter what and all this protects the glory of God and His grace.
Charles Spurgeon battled this in his day. Many Calvinists accused Mr. Spurgeon of being an Arminian because of his constant call for all to come and be saved yet Spurgeon maintained his belief in unconditional election. Spurgeon believed that both were truths in Scripture: that God calls all sinners to repentance but the elect alone will come and be saved. John 6:37 was Spurgeon’s favorite passage.
My issue as an Arminian with all this is not the call to salvation. I agree that God calls all to salvation. John 3:16 is clear that God loves the world and desires the world to be saved. 1 Timothy 2:4 says that God desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Ezekiel 18:32 says that God does not delight in the death of the wicked. Acts 2:38-39 says that the promise of salvation is for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call. This call, as the Free Presbyterian site agrees, is to all. Revelation 22:17 says that all may come and drink of this water of life. Matthew 22:9 says that we can invite all to the wedding feast. Because of the nature of Jesus’ authority (Matthew 28:18) we can go into all nations and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).
In my estimation, the nature of the call goes hand-in-hand with the provision that God has made for our sins. The Calvinist replies while the call goes out to all, only the elect respond and repent and God has only provided for the elect’s sins. The rest of humanity is passed over and reprobated to hell by their own sins (though their nature has been predestined by God as well as their sins but the mystery is how God can hold sinners punishable for their sins that they committed by His sovereign will). The Arminian viewpoint is that both are true: the universal call and the provision therein for the atonement. I see both as true.
The atonement only makes provision for the one who repents (Romans 3:23-25). The elect are those who repent. When a sinner repents, they become part of the elect of God (1 Timothy 4:10). The elect are those who are in Christ Jesus (“His elect”). Jesus shed His blood for His sheep (John 10:11), for His Church (Acts 20:28), for our sins (Galatians 1:4), for Paul the Apostle (Galatians 2:20). Yet He also shed His blood for the world (John 3:16; 1 John 4:14). Through the blood of Jesus, sinners can come before God and be saved (Hebrews 9:14). This salvation has come for all people (Titus 2:11) but only those who repent and believe the gospel are saved (2 Thessalonians 2:12).
A key verse here is 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 which I think holds all these truths together. The verse reads:
13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
Three truths are presented here. First, the sovereignty of God is seen in verse 13 with “God chose you.” God chooses us in Christ Jesus who is the provision for our sins (John 3:14-15). Jesus is the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. He is the one who bore our sins before a holy God (Romans 5:8-9). This is by the sovereign will of God (Acts 2:23). The Father sent the Son to die for the sins of the world that whosoever may come and be saved.
Secondly, the provision must come by the proclamation of the gospel as we see in verse 14. Even my Calvinist brethren agree with me here. The elect are saved by hearing the gospel and repenting of their sins. This is the truth of Romans 10:14-17. The command of Jesus is to go and preach the gospel to all (Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:47-49). The Lord has given us the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this truth (Acts 1:8). As we preach the gospel, the Lord is faithful to save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). As we preach the gospel, the gospel opens the sinners hearts to the truth of salvation in the Lord Jesus. The Spirit of God works through the gospel to draw sinners to salvation (John 6:44; 16:8-11). The conviction of the Spirit prepares the sinner for the gospel and for true repentance.
Lastly, not only do we see provision and proclamation but we see perseverance in verse 15. After we are saved by the sovereign hand of God working through the gospel, we must stand firm in the gospel. This is a biblical truth found through the Bible. God’s warnings to the Israelites was to remain faithful, stand firm in true worship, teach the children the truth of God, don’t abandon Yahweh for false gods, etc. This is equally true for the New Testament disciple. Jesus said that if we keep His word (present active sense), we will never see death (John 8:51). Paul beat himself to make sure he was a slave of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Paul also warned the Corinthians to remain in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-2). Paul also warned the disciples in Colossae to remain steadfast (Colossians 1:21-23). If Israel could be cut off, so can we (Romans 11:20-22).
All these truths: provision, proclamation, and perseverance are the keys of salvation in the Arminian understanding. The focus is always on Jesus and what He has done for us. We preach Him (2 Corinthians 4:5). We call all to repent and believe the gospel. We preach that Jesus demonstrated His love for lost sinners by dying for them on the cross. We proclaim this truth to lost sinners. We preach that God does love sinners because He has demonstrated His love on the cross through His Son. We don’t mind preaching this truth to sinners and to saints.
Chapter 1 of the book Grace For All is written by Roger Olson. Dr. Olson’s focus is on the issue of whether Arminianism is man-centered theology. This is a key question as Calvinists often accuse Arminians of being “man-centered” and “Pelagian” in our theology. I find this ironic since I have read much of great Arminian scholars such as Arminius, John Wesley, Richard Watson, Adam Clarke, Daniel Steele, Roger Olson, Vic Reasoner, Jack Cottrell, etc. and none of them have a man-centered approach.
Our sacred Theology, therefore, is chiefly occupied in ascribing to the One True God, to whom alone they really belong, those attributes of which we have already spoken, his nature, actions, and will. For it is not sufficient to know, that there is some kind of a NATURE, simple, infinite, wise, good, just, omnipotent, happy in itself, the Maker and Governor of all things, that is worthy to receive adoration, whose will it is to be worshipped, and that is able to make its worshippers happy.
Far from having a man-centered theology, Arminius was clearly at home with the Reformers in embracing a theology that first and foremost focused on God. It is the nature of God, His character that is the main debate among Arminians and Calvinists in my estimation.
Dr. Olson focuses first on various Calvinist theologians view of Arminianism and how it is nothing more than “man-centered theology.” It seems Calvinists (or some at least) hold that Arminianism is barely orthodox. Dr. Olson points out that Calvinists often attack Arminianism as man-centered in three ways:
1. It’s focus on human goodness and ability in the realm of redemption.
2. It limits God by suggesting that God’s will can be thwarted by human decisions and actions.
3. It places too much emphasis on human fulfillment and happiness to the neglect of God’s purpose and glory.
Dr. Olson uses these three questions to jump into the rest of the chapter. He does a good job of using the works of Arminius here to show what Arminius believed about what Calvinists have later said about his theology. Ironically, even John Piper says that after reading Arminius, he enjoyed him and found him to be a deep, serious thinker with a focus on the glory of God. I couldn’t agree more. Having read Arminius on and off for most of the past 10 years, I have found Arminius to be nothing like what Calvinists often describe of Arminianism. Arminius is clearly God-centered and his focus is on the glory of the King!
With regard to the three questions. First, Olson points out that Arminianism has always held to total inability when it comes to sinners. We need the divine aid of God to be saved (John 6:44). The concept of prevenient grace both in Arminius (though he doesn’t use those words) and later John Wesley clearly shows a view of man that is anything other than sinful. Man, because of sin, cannot obtain the perfect righteousness God requires (Matthew 5:48). We need the aid of the Lord which He has graciously given to us in His Son (2 Corinthians 5:21). Like Paul the Apostle, we find nothing in us but everything in Jesus (Philippians 3:8-9).
Secondly, Olson points out that Arminius held to the sovereignty of God. The mystery in Arminianism is just this: how does a sovereign God get His will done while still allowing for free-will decisions by sinful humans. The mystery in Calvinism is this: how is God not guilty of sin when He is the one who renders all things certain and nothing comes to pass without Him first ordaining it. I will continue to uphold the mystery in Arminianism as the biblical mystery rather than trying to explain (as in Calvinism) how God can punish people who are only doing what God has ordained for them to do (according to their nature but their nature is determined first and foremost by God). Arminius never wavered on the issue of God’s sovereignty. He merely didn’t see divine determinism in the biblical understanding of God’s sovereignty. To be sovereign does not mean that God must not only control but cause all things as in Calvinism. Arminius was clear that God is sovereign over His creation and can do as He like but there is one thing God will never do and that is sin (James 1:13). Because God cannot sin nor does He tempt anyone to sin, Calvinism runs into trouble by taking their definition of sovereignty and applies it even to sin. In this way, God ordains sin and renders it certain yet the Calvinist has to wrestle with why God is not sinning.
And lastly, Olson rightly points out that Calvinism does not back away from the issue of happiness either. John Piper preaches on this issue often with his Christian Hedonism. A reading of Arminius shows that this was not a focus for him. Arminius lived and preached during a time of great plagues. Many died from the plagues and Arminius often risked his life to minister to the dying. Arminius knew that heaven was the joy for the child of God. This world is fleeting but heaven is eternal (John 11:25). We focus on what is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Olson concludes this chapter by making the focus not about man-centered versus God-centered. The key issue, writes Olson, is the character of God. In Calvinism, writes Olson, he finds little difference between God and Satan (Olson is not suggesting Calvinists worship Satan nor a false god). The God of Calvinism wants a few to be saved and to damn most. How is this different than Satan? writes Olson. The character of God is best seen in His Son who is the “exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). In Jesus we find a God who is loving, kind, praying both for His friends and His enemies, who has come to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus came to show the Father (John 14:9) and He perfectly revealed Him to us in His life, death, and resurrection from the dead (Colossians 1:15-20). Christ died for sinners (Romans 5:8) and this love was given for the entire world (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 John 4:10, 14).