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We Are All Fallible

The Bible is clear that there are none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10).  We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  Our minds and hearts are warped with sin when we come to Christ and the work of God in sanctifying us is to make us more like Christ (Romans 8:29-30).  Yet even after we come to Christ, we bring years of sin, years of filling our minds with wordiness and compromise.  We also bring to the Lord all our culture, our thoughts, our upbringing, our traditions.  All of this must be laid before the Lord and we take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23-25; 14:25-35).

Of course, not all of that is sinful.  Our culture may or may not be sinful.  Our traditions may or may not be sinful.  We must take all of them and lay them before the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).  The Word of God is the only infallible and inerrant guide in our lives (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  We submit to the Word of God (John 8:31-32).

Yet this doesn’t mean we don’t bring our fallible presuppositions to the Bible.  We all do.  I appreciate those who come humbly to the Bible longing for the Holy Spirit to teach us as little children (Matthew 18:2-4).  I acknowledge that I don’t understand everything about the Bible and there are parts I have yet to grasp.  I suppose I never will.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t study the Bible or don’t read difficult passages but I don’t build doctrines on passages that are not clear.  Nor should you.

Furthermore, we can read a passage and bring different presuppositions to the text.  Take the controversy of Romans 9.  When Arminius begin to preach through the book of Romans, it was at Romans 7 that Arminius first differed with the Reformed pastors of his day.  Arminius argued that Romans 7 was not a Christian.  This was (and remains) not the view of the Calvinists.  Arminius, who at the time was himself likely a Calvinist or at least was trained by Calvinists, was willing to disagree with the theologians of his day over the sake of truth.  I happen to agree with much of what he wrote about Romans 7.  That said, I know that neither myself nor Arminius are infallible.  Arminius brought his presuppositions to the text and so did the Calvinists of his day.

Another text that is hotly debated is Romans 9.  We Arminians read Romans 9 and we see the concept of corporate election all though it.  We see God showing mercy to whom He desires to show mercy and hardening whom He wants to harden (Romans 9:18) but we don’t see this in the sense of individual unconditional election of people to salvation.  Calvinists do.  And why?  Can we both be right?  Could we both be wrong?  We both read Romans 9 and we both seek to be faithful to the text but we read Romans 9 totally different ways.

We read Romans 7 or Romans 9 or Ephesians 1 or John 6 in different ways because we are fallible.  Muslims point to the divisions in the Church as proof that Allah needed to send the final prophet to unite all people.  Of course, Islam is not united.  ISIS is proof of that.  Atheists point to John 17:20-23 as a text that shows God did not answer Jesus’ prayer since the Church is not one.  Other cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses harp on the same thing.  Where is the unity?  Where is the one true Church?  Who is correct in their doctrine?  Who is the one who is preaching the true gospel?

All this does is prove that men are sinful.  That is all.  We are fallible.  We are fallen creatures made in the image of God but sinful nonetheless.  Our thoughts are not infallible.  Only the Bible is infallible.

The answer I believe is humility.  I confess that I don’t know all things.  I confess I could be wrong about Romans 9.  That said, there are clear things taught in Scripture that I believe are essential and are vital to our salvation.  Seeing election unto salvation in Romans 9 is not one of them.  Seeing all the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 as operative today or not is not essential to salvation.  Seeing the “rapture” in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is not essential to salvation.  Seeing the book of Revelation as futurist is not essential to salvation.  The deity of Christ, His miracles, His teachings, His saving work on the cross, etc. are essential.  Faith is essential (Hebrews 11:6).  Repentance is essential (Acts 2:38).

My point here is not to be some postmodern in regards to Scripture.  I believe the Bible is the inerrant and infallible truth of God given to us to reveal His salvation (John 20:31; 1 John 5:13).  I am not claiming that humility is greatest virtue and we should not be dogmatic over theology.  I believe theology is vital to our salvation (1 Timothy 4:16; Titus 2:1).  I believe that without sound exegesis, you could be preaching or hearing about the wrong Jesus (Matthew 24:23-25).

But I am arguing to humility toward our brothers and sisters in the faith who disagree with us over non-essentials.  I am calling for love (John 13:34-35) and charity.  2 Timothy 2:24-26 is clear (NIV):

24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

The Lord’s slave should reflect their Lord who is humble (Matthew 11:29; Philippians 2:5).  Our Lord Jesus gave us the perfect example for us to follow in His steps (John 13:15; 1 Peter 2:21).  Jesus Himself was not quarrelsome even with the Pharisees.  Yes He rebuked them in Matthew 23 but He also warned them, loved them, and ultimately (here is my Arminianism coming out) died for them (Luke 23:34; John 11:49-52).  Jesus was kind to all and He taught all who would hear Him.  He handled His opponents with much grace (Matthew 22:23-46).  Jesus always answered His opponents with Scripture.  He didn’t make it a personal issue.  Jesus wanted them to repent and come to the truth.  Many of them did repent after His death and resurrection including a Jew named Saul of Tarsus.

While we are often willing to grant grace toward sinners, we are not willing to grant it toward our fellow disciples.  This should not be.  We should be humble and willing to love even that brother who disagrees with our end times view or our mode of baptism.  We should be willing to preach the gospel with our Calvinists friends who disagree with us over many issues but who preach the same saving Jesus as we preach in Arminianism.  Let us unite over the essentials, defend the gospel at all costs (1 Peter 3:15-16) but love each other over non-essentials and personal preferences (Romans 14:1-4).

And those are the thoughts of a slave of Christ.  May Jesus be glorified (John 3:30).

Should Theological Knowledge Lead to Meaness?

Let me rant just for a moment.  From my reading of the Bible, God honors the humble.  The Lord Himself states in Isaiah 66:2 that He acknowledges the one who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at His Word.  How many I know (myself included) have trembled at God’s Word but instead of it humbling me, I grew proud and looked down on those who didn’t have the knowledge and insights I had (or thought I had).

In Colossians 3:12 disciples are told to put on “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”  

In 1 Peter 5:5 we are told that God opposes the proud but He gives grace to the humble.

Does my relationship with Christ produce pride or humility?  Why does theological knowledge often bring pride and meaness instead of humility?  

I’m not arguing here for shallow theology or for not confronting theological errors.  We must (1 Timothy 4:11-16; Titus 2:1, 15).  Yet let us read and ponder 2 Timothy 2:22-26.  

I’m just tired of the pride in my own heart.  Pride doesn’t produce righteousness.  Pride only brings death (James 1:12-15).  I’m tired of trying to prove my passion by my theological knowledge or how well I can rebuke another person (Christian or not).  I want to truly love Jesus not by merely articulating theology but truly loving Jesus for who He truly is (John 5:39-40; 17:1-3). 

So there is my rant and I confess that it’s aimed at me the most.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/25/2016 at 12:18 AM

Bible Reading 2016

It is that time again to start thinking about reading the Bible in 2016.  This year was a struggle for me in my Bible reading.  I confess that to you and to the Lord (1 John 1:9).  I did read my Bible but not as faithful as I did in 2014.  Part of that reason was that in 2014 I used the One Year NIV Chronological Bible to read from.  That helped me stay focused on my Bible reading.  I thought that this year (2015), I would read my Bible on my own and slowly.  It didn’t go so well.  I did read my Bible but my Bible reading was way down compared to last year.

So next year (2016), I am going to use the One Year NKJV Chronological Bible for my Bible reading.  I already have mine on my Kindle ready to go.  I would recommend this title or the NIV.

Bible reading is a must for a child of God.  The Bible feeds our souls (1 Peter 2:1-3).  The Bible protects us from error (Hebrews 5:11-14) and the Bible keeps us persevering in the faith (James 1:21).  Jesus taught that His disciples abide in His teachings (John 8:31-32) but how can we do this if we don’t know His teachings by reading His Word?  The Bible keeps us from sin (Psalm 119:9, 11).  The Bible is our sword and the only weapon that God has given the disciple of Christ (Ephesians 6:17).  The Bible cuts us open to reveal who we truly are before a holy God (Hebrews 4:12-13).  There is such joy in reading the Word of God.

So my encouragement to you (and to my soul as well) is to focus on Bible reading in 2016.  God has given us such wonderful tools to use to read and study His Word.  I pray that 2016 will be a year of reading, studying, and memorizing the Word of God.  How precious are His truths!

Below are listed various Bible reading tools for you to consider.

  1.  NIV One Year Bible
  2. NIV One Year Chronological Bible
  3. NKJV One Year Bible
  4. NKJV One Year Chronological Bible
  5. KJV One Year Bible
  6. KJV One Year Chronological Bible
  7. ESV Daily Reading Bible
  8. MacArthur Daily Bible (NKJV)

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/25/2015 at 12:58 PM

Persistence in Prayer

I fear that we who truly love Jesus and desire to glorify Him have allowed the devil to rob us of the potential we have in prayer by giving us fear of creeping into error.  For example, we have so feared the Word-Faith movement that we are scared to talk about faith or to talk about faith in prayer.  We hear someone talk about faith and we think instantly about the errors of the Word-Faith movement and we no longer want to hear about faith.

This same error has come over in our understanding of prayer.  We have allowed the errors of the Word-Faith movement to rob us of true praying.  Instead, prayer has become a vein ritual we perform (or not).  We fear asking God even though the Word calls us to ask (Matthew 7:7; James 4:2-3).  We fear that asking means that we are moving toward the errors of the Word-Faith movement.  When we do pray we don’t pray in faith (Mark 11:22-24) trusting that our Father is able to do what we cannot.  We also don’t pray for marvelous things (such as healings) because we fear that we are moving beyond the Word of God into error.

As I was reading from Luke 11, I again noticed the words of Jesus in verse 8:

I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.

Notice that Jesus says that we are to pray with impudence.  Other translations use “persistence” (NASB; NIV).  The King James Version uses “importunity” which is a rich word.  The Greek word is “Anaideia” which means “without shame.”  It means to be reckless or disregard of consideration by the one making the request (from the Key Word Study Bible).  The word for “ask” in Luke 11:9 has a focus on a beggar asking for alms (see Matthew 6:2) and not demanding something.  As children of God, we have access through Christ Jesus our Lord to come boldly before the Father in prayer (Hebrews 4:16).  We depend on the grace of God to help us to pray and like beggars, we come before our Father trusting in Him and not demanding something of God but trusting in Him to provide and meet our needs and to glorify His name (1 John 5:14-15).

There is something then to be said about praying to the Father and trusting God for mighty things.  I have no fear in praying for healings, for Him to save lost sinners, for Him to glorify His name, for His kingdom to come.  I find myself praying Psalm 110:1 often for the nations.  I find myself praying for God to grant me faith to pray for mighty things and trust Him in mighty ways.  This is not some Word-Faith praying but this is biblical praying.  Let’s take back what the devil stole from us.  We have faith.  We have authority in the name of Jesus.  We have the right to come into the presence of the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:13-14).  If prayer is just a religious ritual we perform, why do we read the words of Paul the Apostle in Philippians 4:6-7?  Read Philippians 4:6-7:

6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Notice Paul wrote “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” then we can “let your requests be made known to God.”  As we pray in faith, trusting in our Father in heaven, Paul says in verse 7 that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

That is power!

As a child of God, I can ask, receive and knock (Luke 11:9-10).  If earthly fathers, being evil, give good gifts to their children (Luke 11:11-13) what about our holy Father in heaven?  If earthly dads give because their children ask then what about the Father in heaven?  The Father loves His beloved and He will give to His children what is good and what is holy.

In conclusion, Jesus was a mighty prayer warrior (Luke 11:1).  I have no doubt that Jesus performed miracles because He was God manifested in the flesh (John 1:1, 14) but I also know that He trusted in His Father (Acts 10:38).  Notice that right after this, Jesus performed mighty miracles (Luke 11:14).  Is there a link between Jesus praying to His Father and the mighty miracles He performed?  I think so.  Again, I grant that Jesus was God but He prayed to His Father and His Father worked through Him for His glory.  The Father heard the prayers of the Son (Hebrews 5:7-10).  Will He not hear our prayers through the Son?

My prayer is that the Lord will teach me how to pray.  I have prayed Luke 11:1 many times.  I want the Master to teach me to pray.  I am grateful for the example that Jesus left me about prayer but I want to pray myself to the Father in Jesus’ name for His glory and honor.  I pray that the Father not only meet my needs but that He would be exalted by answering my prayers that are focused on His glory.  I want to pray mighty prayers that exalt Jesus Christ who prays for me before the throne of God (Hebrews 7:25).

I say that we take back true faith.  I say we take back praying bold prayers.  I say we take back praying with persistence.  I say that we take back praying for healings and truly believing God to do the impossible (Luke 1:37).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/06/2015 at 10:00 AM

Grey Areas of Theology

All of us come to the Bible with our systems.  It’s hard not to.  This happens when reading any book.  We bring our presuppositions to what we read, what we watch, what we hear.  This is part of being made in the image of God.  Animals don’t bring presuppositions.  Animals don’t get new ideas.  Animals can be trained but not reprogrammed to think differently.  People  can.  It often takes time and sometimes involves years of study, trials, etc.

This is true of theology as well.  I have never been a Calvinist.  I was raised in a Pentecostal home where Calvinism was avoided.  That said, I have known many friends of mine who “converted” to Calvinism.  None of them (that I know of) actually took time to study Arminianism or other non-Calvinist approaches to the Bible, they just enjoyed listening to John MacArthur or John Piper and dove into Calvinism.  Most of them were looking (as Austin Fischer points out in his book Young, Restless, No Longer Reformedfor something more in their faith.  They wanted to go deeper in the Lord and found Calvinism to be what they needed.  Of course, I would argue that Arminianism is actually deeper still.  Arminianism goes past Calvinism in my estimation.

What I want to point out here in this blogpost is that all of us have grey areas in our theology.  I don’t know of a perfect system. There are holes in all of our theology.  For honesty sake, I will post just a few holes I see in my own theology.  These are holes that I can’t fully explain but they don’t cause me to turn away from Christ.  I live with them and just seek to know Christ more and more.  My goal is to know God (John 17:3) but I know that I will never fully know Him and I believe that even in eternity, I will never truly grasp God.  He is infinite in His ways (Psalm 145:3).  So let me list a few holes.

1.  The Trinity.

Cults attack the doctrine of the Trinity because they say that it is illogical.  How can three persons be one God?  How can there be one God yet three persons?  I don’t grasp this myself.  I know the Bible teaches there is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4) and the Father is called God, the Son is called God, and the Holy Spirit is called God but there is only one God.

Again, the infinite God is beyond my understanding.  I humble myself before His truth and simply worship Him who is true.

2.  Prayer.

How does God answer prayer?  What role does faith play?  Why does God seem to delay?  What causes God to not hear our prayers nor answer us when we call?  Is God moved by our prayers?  All of these are unanswered questions I have about prayer.  No doubt God calls us to prayer (Matthew 6:5) and Paul the Apostle says that we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) but I don’t begin to fully understand prayer.

3.  The Incarnation of God.

I truly believe that Jesus is God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14) and that this is based on the prophetic promises (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7) but how this is, I don’t know.  How a virgin can be pregnant with the holy one of Israel (Luke 1:35).  When Mary asked how this could be (Luke 1:34), I love Gabriel’s reply (Luke 1:37) and Mary’s response (Luke 1:38).  It was as if Gabriel was saying, “I don’t know how this can be but with God all things are possible.”  God can do whatever He likes and in this case, He becomes a human while not ceasing to be God.  Jesus was not a man on earth while God was in heaven.  Jesus was fully God and fully man.  Jesus was not half man and half God.  While Philippians 2:7 says that Jesus humbled Himself and became a slave, it does not say that Jesus ceased to ever be God.  He can’t.  Jesus was fully God before the manger and He was God after He ascended to the right hand of God.  Jesus has always existed with the Father and the Spirit before time began (John 17:5).  Yet how God became a man is beyond me.

4.  Regeneration.

I accept the biblical truth of being born from above (John 3:3) but I don’t fully grasp this miracle.  Even the good doctor Nicodemus in John 3:4 tried to ask Jesus how can this be.  Let’s give Nicodemus credit here and know that he was not asking about being born physically again.  He is wondering about this miracle of being born from above.  How can this be?  Jesus points to the wind and the mystery of the wind (John 3:5-8).  Again Nicodemus replies, “How can these things be?” (John 3:9).  I agree Nicodemus.  I don’t know.  I preach salvation through Christ alone.  I preach repentance.  I preach being baptized into Christ.  Yet the mystery of the new birth is beyond me.  I know Titus 3:5-7 is true and I preach that salvation is the gracious work of God yet I can’t explain how the God who created all things comes and indwells us.  It is a mystery that I am willing to preach and accept.  I praise God that He saved me!

5.  Free Will.

As an Arminian, I hold to libertarian free will.  I believe all people have the power to choose to either do or refrain from a given action whether sinful or good.  Yet I can’t explain how God allows free will and yet His decreed will is always done.  The cross, for example, was predetermined by God (Acts 2:22-23) yet God did not make the Jews or the Romans kill Jesus.  He permitted them to kill His Son and it was part of His plan but no one believes (even Calvinists) that God made the people kill Jesus.  The people chose to kill Jesus by God’s definite foreknowledge.

The mystery is here is how God in His sovereignty still accomplishes His will while allowing people to make free decisions.  I have no doubt that God knows the free decisions of people but that He knows just means that He knows.  Knows and causes are not the same.  My mystery in free will is that God allows free will people to make free will decisions yet God’s decreed will is done.  However, not everything that happens in this world is the will of God.  Even God said about His people in Jeremiah 7:31 that they did that which He did not plan nor came to His mind.  How can that be?  If God knows all things and He plans all things (according to determinism), how can this be?  Right before Jeremiah 7:31, God says that He had sent prophets to warn His people but they stiffened their necks and became hardened.  This would be later on as well in John 12:40 where God says that He has allowed the Israelites to be hardened for the purpose of the cross.  How can these things be?

6.  The Cross.

Could there not be another way?  Did the cross have to be?  I understand the holiness of God demands a sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 9:22) but could there have been salvation without the cross?  Could God have accomplished redemption of sinners by some other means?  Biblically I know that the cross is a must.  Sinful humanity sinned against a holy God with the fall of Adam and Eve (Romans 5:12) and the cross demonstrates both the love of God for human beings and His holiness at the same time (Romans 3:22-27).  Amazing!  Jesus died for sinners since He never sinned Himself (1 Peter 2:21-24).  Jesus suffered at the hands of sinners to redeem sinners (Luke 19:10).  Simply amazing!

Yet did the cross have to be?  Could the Lord have saved us another way?  I don’t know.  I am thankful for the cross and I praise God that salvation comes through the cross but the mystery of the cross is beyond me.

7.  God Changing His Mind.

Genesis 6:6 is tough.  How could God truly be sorry for making mankind when (according to determinism), He knew what would become of them in the first place?  Is this not true emotions from God?  The typical answer is that such talk from the Lord is only given to show us humans so that we can relate to God who is beyond us.

In Exodus 32 we read of the Israelites and the golden calf.  God declares to Moses that He is going to wipe them out for this sin yet Moses intercedes for the Israelites and God relents (v. 14).  Some say that God did not really relent but He was using this to teach Moses how to be a leader or how to pray.  Yet the text is a mystery.

There are more.  I could go on.  There are texts that suggest that God relents and I don’t know how to answer them.  The open theist points to them as proof that God learns certain things (see for example Genesis 22:12).  I can’t ignore the language but I don’t have clear answers either.  Yet the same God can say of the unborn Cyrus that he will be his servant (Isaiah 45:1).  God could call forth even the city where the Messiah would be born (Micah 5:2) and arrange entire nations for this purpose (Luke 2:1-2).

So on the one hand God is said to relent of things and learn things yet the overwhelming teaching of Scripture is that God is infinite in His wisdom and awesome in all His ways.  This is a mystery to me.

What To Do With Grey Areas?

My advice: keep studying.  Keep praying.  Keep hoping in God.  Grey areas don’t mean that God’s Word has failed nor do they mean that God is not trustworthy.  His promises are sure (2 Peter 1:4).  Grey areas mean that I don’t have God figured out and that He is God.  I am satisfied with that.  I will never grasp God.  His ways are beyond me.  His thoughts are beyond me (Isaiah 55:8-9).  I do know that He loves me (John 3:16) and He has demonstrated that love through the cross (Romans 5:8-9).  I rejoice that this is clear: Jesus died for sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  This is clear: Jesus rose from the dead (Acts 1:3) and salvation comes through the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10).  I rejoice that the gospel is simple and clear (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  My prayer is to know Christ more (Philippians 3:10).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/30/2015 at 11:18 AM

Being Careful With the Love of God

The love of God is a biblical truth.  I adore the God of the Bible because He has revealed Himself as loving and good.  Psalm 145:8 says that God is abounding in steadfast love.  1 John 4:8 says that God is love.  Some believe that love is an attribute of God.  However, I agree with others such as A.W. Tower who said that love flows from God and is part of His personage.  Love then is not an attribute of God but is freely given by Him toward His creation.  Truth is said to be a part of God but we would not say that truth is an attribute of God nor should we say this about God’s love.  God loves because He chooses to love.  God has demonstrated His love toward us sinners by the giving of His Son (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).

I do think that we can make too much about the love of God.  Of course, I rejoice that God is love.  I rejoice that God has sent His Son to die for our sins and to rise again on the third day where the Son now sits at the Father’s right hand till His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  I rejoice that the Christian message is one of love as we point to the cross as the greatest example of true love (Galatians 2:20).  I rejoice that God has revealed His great love for us sinners (1 John 4:10).  This love should flow from God into our lives and we in turn are to love others (1 John 4:11).  Jesus said that loving others was the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:39).  Jesus said that His disciples would be marked by loving others (John 13:34-35).  He told His disciples in Matthew 5:43-48 that we were to be perfect in love as our Father is.  John Wesley defined this love as “perfected love that flows from the God of love.”  Wesley said that this type of love can only be found in the grace of God and His Spirit working within us to perfect this love.  Perfect in love then was Wesley’s preferred term for entire sanctification (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

The love of God drips from the pages of the Bible.  We see God’s love demonstrated toward Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:14-15, 21).   We see God’s love in the calling out of the Israelites from Egypt into the promised land.  God Himself even says that it was His love that motivated Him to choose Israel and not because of the Israelites themselves (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).  It was the love of God that called the prophets in the Old Testament to call His people to repentance (see Hosea as an example).  It was the love of God that motivated Him to promise the Messiah and then to send His one and only Son to earth (Isaiah 9:6-7; Matthew 1:23; John 1:1, 14, 17).  Jesus was God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14) and He fully revealed God to us (John 14:9).  Jesus never said He was the Father nor did He say He was the Spirit but instead He fully revealed the fullness of God to us (Colossians 2:9).  Jesus is the exact representation of God (Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:3).  What do we see when we see Jesus?  We see Him “doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38).  We see Jesus coming not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).  We see Jesus coming to call sinners to repentance (Luke 19:10).  We see Jesus telling the Pharisees that God goes looking for the one sheep out of the ninety-nine who turns and is lost (Luke 15:1-7).

There is no doubt that God is love.  There is no doubt that Jesus has revealed the love of God.  There is no doubt that Jesus shows us that God is good and that He desires all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:5-6; 2 Peter 3:9).  There is no doubt that the love of God flows throughout the Bible.

But I do want to place a warning.  Just a fire across the bow if you will.  Again, I am one of those who gladly preaches the love of God.  I gladly preach Arminianism because I see that the love of God is limited in Calvinism.  In fact, I don’t see a loving God when I study Calvinism but instead I see the overwhelming issue being either the sovereignty of God (in this case the all-power of God in Calvinism) or the glory of God (wherein God must determine all things lest He share His glory).  The love of God is seen as a part of God’s sovereignty either in choosing the elect by arbitrary means rather than love but in some form of love nonetheless or the love of God is seen as part of His glory.  Calvinism diminishes the love of God by failing to proclaim the truth of the unlimited atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Oh yes, His atonement is infinite in value and could atone for the sins of the world but instead the sovereign God has chosen that He will place His love only on the elect.  To me, this doesn’t match either the biblical view of God as loving and good nor does it fit with the parables of Jesus such as found in Luke 10:25-37.

Let me fire this shot though across the bow.  This is a friendly shot to us Arminians.  I do believe in the love of God but let us not exalt the love of God above other truths about God.  For example, God’s wrath or God’s justice or His holiness.  The open theist, in my estimation and I know I have some brothers and sisters who read this blog who are open theists, elevate the love of God above all other truth about God.  The same might could be said about the conditional immortality holders (whom I likewise regard as brethren in the kingdom).  Others want to lift up the transcendence of God.  Some want to exalt the power of God (my charismatic brethren might fall here).

My point is that we must seek balance.  There is no doubt that God is love.  There is no doubt also that God is holy.  There is no doubt that God is sovereign.  There is no doubt that God is powerful and He does hear our cries and can demonstrate His power.  Yet we tend to uplift the truth about God that we love the most.  Arminians might be guilty of doing this with God’s love.  Calvinists might be guilty of exalting the sovereignty of God (or actually the omnipotence of God).  I pray that we would simply make sure that when we preach that we don’t make a god in our image.  This is what cults do.  Their gods are figured out but our God is beyond our understanding.  God has revealed Himself in the Bible but not exhaustively.

I pray that we preach to sinners both the love of God (that He has demonstrated His love toward sinners through the cross) and the wrath of God against sin (Romans 1:18).  Both are true.  God loves but God also hates.  God cannot tolerate sin in His presence so let us preach the truth of His holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Let us preach that God desires the sinner to come to repentance but let us also preach that all who reject His love remain under His just wrath (John 3:36).

I rejoice in the love of God, the goodness of God, the grace of God.  I also preach the biblical truths of His holiness, His justice, His sovereignty, His transcendence, His wrath.  May we be balanced in our preaching.

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