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Posts Tagged ‘A.W. Tozer

Another Take on Prevenient Grace

I have been listening to a podcast of a brother and he has been dealing with the issue of prevenient grace.  His take is that prevenient grace within Arminianism is not much different from the view of Calvinists only that the order of salvation differs.  His regard is that the Arminian gives up ground to the Calvinist when they admit first that people are born dead in their sins and unable to respond to God at all.  His view is that people are not born unable to respond but simply born with a sinful nature and thus sin but are still able to respond to God’s grace and God’s call.  He secondly says that we give up ground to the Calvinist when we ignore both the call of Scripture for all to repent and say that they can’t or that we teach that people must have prevenient grace given to those whom God foreknows will believe.  This linear view of election is not biblical in his estimation.

In reply, he offers that prevenient grace is not a unique enabling that God only gives to the foreknown elect but rather God gives His enabling grace to all through the gospel.  The gospel is prevenient grace in his view.  The gospel, he argues, is given to us by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), is empowered by the Spirit (Acts 1:8) through Spirit chosen Apostles (John 15:16).  The Apostolic preaching is thus from the Spirit and is the Spirit’s work in the world to bring about the salvation of sinners (John 16:8-11).  As the gospel is preached, this is the prevenient grace of God (prevenient means “beforehand”) at work among the nations to draw them to salvation.  God uses the gospel to entice sinners to repentance.  All are freely able to respond to the gospel of God’s grace (Romans 11:32).  Prevenient grace is thus the work of the Spirit, the preaching of the gospel, the ministry of the Church.  This is all prevenient grace and should not be cornered into one area: just the drawing of the Spirit unto salvation.  This is all the work of the Spirit in bringing salvation to sinners.

This is an interesting view and one that I am curious about.  I have not heard prevenient grace explained in this manner.  I have long heard the concept as taught by John Wesley and the early Methodists.  The Wesleyan concept is that people are born dead in their sins (original sin) and only the work of the Spirit to draw sinners to salvation is sufficient to bring dead sinners to repentance.  Wesley very much held to a Calvinist view in this regard.  Arminius likewise seems to hold to such a view.  The Calvinist question, of course, is how does God choose one person over another.  Is it based on works?  Is it based on the response of the person?  Is it based on foreseen faith?  The Calvinist answer is simple: the elect are chosen based on the arbitrary choosing of God.  While Calvinists would disagree with me and would say that God chooses people based on His love and His glory (Romans 9:22-23; Ephesians 1:11-12) but either way, the Calvinist would never admit that God chooses a person based on anything the person does and the choice is completely God’s choice and a mystery (Deuteronomy 29:29 is the most appealed to passage).

However, Acts 28:27 would seem to disagree with both the Calvinist and Arminian viewpoint.  It reads:

For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.

Paul is speaking here of the Jews.  Notice he doesn’t say that they are born dull or born without the ability to believe.  He says that they have become dull.  These Jews have made themselves this way.  Later he would write that these same Jews can turn and be saved if they will humble themselves (Romans 11:23).

So why does one man believe while another man does not?  The issue is not with God.  The issue is humility.  Does one person humble themselves before God as a child?  Does one person continue in their pride and unbelief?  Acts 28:28 Paul the Apostle states that he is turning to the Gentiles but not because of God’s sovereign election but because they will listen.  The Gentiles humbled themselves while the Jews did not.

This is this brother’s take.  No system of theology is perfect.  We are all humans trying to understand the infinite God.  We are so limited in knowing God.  A.W. Tower said:

The doctrine of justification by faith (a Biblical truth, and a blessed relief from sterile legalism and unavailing self-effort) has in our times fallen into evil company and has been interpreted by many in such a manner as actually to bar men from the knowledge of God. The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be “received” without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is “saved”, but he is not hungry or thirsty after God. In fact, he is specifically taught to be satisfied and encouraged to be content with little. The modern scientist has lost God amid the wonders of His world; we Christians are in real danger of losing God amid the wonders of His Word.

The reality is that knowing God is not knowing facts about God.  It is knowing Him!  Salvation is not a part of a system but a person, the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-17).  Salvation is found in a person (Romans 5:1).  I want to know Him more and more!  I want all people to know Him as well (Matthew 28:18-20).  Thankfully, God does not save Arminians or Calvinists but He does save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/16/2015 at 7:06 PM

KJV Only Doctorates and Loving Jesus

Much has been written about Acts 4:13.  Some contend that Acts 4:13 is proof that we don’t need seminary education to accomplish the work of the Lord.  I would agree.  Men such as A.W. Tozer did much for the kingdom of God without ever attending Bible colleges.  On the other hand, we mustn’t down play the fact that the disciples walked with Jesus for three years.  Nicodemus called Jesus a rabbi in John 3:2 and so we must conclude that Jesus taught His disciples (Luke 11:1).  Jesus would have been the greatest teacher in the history of humanity as He was God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14).  Jesus would have been able to speak of the things of God with authority and not as the scribes or Pharisees (Matthew 7:28-29).  To sit at the feet of Jesus would have been greater than any seminary teaching ever.  So we must not downplay the education that the Twelve received from Jesus.  They had earned their degrees at the feet of the Lord.

In our day it is amusing to see men and women gloating over their education.  I too have been there.  When I was fresh out of college, I thought I was the gift of God to the world.  I saw myself as a reformational teacher who would change the church for the better.  I entered into my first ministry experience and quickly realized that no one cared what the Greek says, no one cared that I could biblically explain this or that, and no one cared that I had a degree in Bible.  My first experience with a fellow pastor was dismal.  He had grown so weary with ministry that the often preached sermons that he received “from the Spirit” that were poorly put together and often read into the Bible what was not there.  When I confronted him with my sound exegesis skills, he mocked me and said that he was hearing the Spirit and I was not.  He pointed to Acts 4:13 and claimed that the Spirit taught the disciples and He would teach us.  I saw him as an ignorant soul who would fail.

My point here is that education can cut us both ways.  We can become prideful because of our learning.  However, we can also be prideful for our lack of education.  We must guard against both.  Knowledge can puff up (1 Corinthians 8:1).  Knowledge can become an idol.  The lack of education while serving the Lord can also become an idol.  I have known a street preacher who boasted about his “service” to God while having no college degree.  He boasts that he is doing more than college grads are for the kingdom.  Perhaps but he is also full of pride.

In KJV only churches, I have found over the years many who call themselves “Doctor” so and so while having no true degree.  Many of them are given doctorate degrees from unapproved “Bible colleges” that are found in church basements or meeting in Sunday school rooms.  There are a few independent fundamentalists who do have true doctorate degrees from recognized seminaries but many are from unknown sources.

Let me offer a few examples.  Dr. Gail Riplinger is a prominent KJV only advocate.  She has written a book that has been the basis for many KJV only disciples called, New Age Bible Versions.  The doctorate that Riplinger has was conferred on her by a local church.  It is not an earned Ph.D.  She has not attended any prominent seminaries.  Her doctorate is simply a title that was given to her by First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN.  

First Baptist was pastored by the late Dr. Jack Hyles.  Much has been made known about this man since his death including his sexual immorality.  Dr. Jack Hyles did not have an earned doctorate either.  He was conferred the doctorate by Midwestern Bible College that was started by one of his followers.

There are others as well.  Dr. Oliver Greene.  Dr. Harold Sightler.  Dr. Larry Brown.  Dr. Joe Arthur.

Let me state here with what I began with, a degree does not prove nor disprove anything.  A.W. Tozer was known as “Dr. A.W. Tozer” because he was awarded a doctorate by a legitimate seminary (Wheaton Seminary).  Tozer did not prefer this title and did not use it.  Others called him Dr. Tozer but he always preferred to be known as A.W. Tozer.  He was not against a degree but Tozer understood that he did not earn that degree.  It was awarded to him.

Degrees do not prove that we are either serving God nor do they prove we are truly educated.  I once heard a doctor preach who had earned his degree but he was not a good preacher.  He had the education but lacked the knowledge to preach a simple Bible teaching.  On the other hand, I have heard godly men preach who had not even set foot in a Bible college but they had studied the Word for hours and the were truly taught by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13).  After hours in their prayer closets with the Lord and after hours of studying from their Bibles, they had heard from heaven and were used by God for His glory.

Education should not be looked down upon nor used to exalt flesh.  Our biblical education should draw us closer to Jesus.  However, I am troubled that many in the KJV only camp use “Doctor” titles while not truly earning them.   Many of the “doctors” I have heard over the years from KJV only preaching offer nothing theologically to us.  They claim to be “evangelists” and some of them have medium-sized churches (in the traditional sense) but again, offer nothing theologically to show why they deserve an unearned doctorate.

My advice to us all is this: press into Jesus.  Make the gospel your passion.  Jesus, the Person, and not facts about Jesus is who saves us.  Jesus is very much real.  He is very much a real person who lives forever (1 Corinthians 15:3-9).  Jesus is our salvation.  Not facts about Him found in a book.  Jesus is the One that I worship and adore.  Not my education or lack thereof.  I want to know Christ (Philippians 3:8-11).  I pray that is the heart of you who read this and of the KJV only proponents as well.  May we love Jesus and who He is.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/07/2013 at 10:12 AM

Intercession and Doctrinal Disagreements

When I was in college, some guy wanted to debate me theologically.  They knew I was an Arminian (rare on my campus) and so I was often targeted for debates.  My reply was always the same, “Come and let us pray and worship God for about an hour or so and then we can talk theology.”  They never took me up on the offer.

I use to rise early while in college to pray with some Indian students.  These Indians knew how to seek God.  In our times of intercession, doctrine was not an issue.  They could have been Calvinists or Arminians or Baptists or Pentecostals and we didn’t care.  We just were hungry to seek Jesus.  These Indians would pray for hours.   They would pray about everything from creation to the news.  They rarely prayed for themselves but prayed for the lost, for revival, for missions, for the Church of Jesus Christ, for the gospel to go forth, for the power of the Holy Spirit.  They would weep and wail and cry out.  Doctrine, during these times of travail, was not an issue.  Jesus was!

Doctrine, of course, is vital.  Paul told Timothy to watch his life and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16).  Paul wrote in Titus 2:1 to teach sound doctrine.  But theologically debates fail when the people of God come together to earnestly seek the face of Jesus.  When the people of God are crying out to Him, you cannot tell the difference between the Arminian prayer warrior nor the Calvinist prayer warrior.

Before Leonard Ravenhill went to be with the Lord, he use to host a prayer meeting at his home.  This prayer meeting was full of brethren from various backgrounds.  There were Pentecostals and Wesleyans and Baptists and Presbyterians.  It didn’t matter.  What mattered was were you born again (John 3:1-7) and were you walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17).  Brother Len would pray and cry out and no one cared that he was an old school Methodist.  People just wanted to pray.

A.W. Tozer once was asked by a young man leaving for Bible college which side should he take when the boys begin to debate Arminianism and Calvinism.  Dr. Tozer replied, “Son, you leave those boys and go into your prayer closet and you seek God.  After 4 years, you’ll leave that Bible college full of the Spirit of God and the wisdom of God while those boys will still be sitting there debating with each other.”

I urge you to pray.  I pray that the people of God will earnestly seek Him.  Pray with Calvinists.  Pray with Arminians.  Pray with brothers and sisters from various backgrounds.  Stand firm for the truth of God but be willing to lay aside minor doctrinal disagreements to seek God.  Agree on the essentials but be willing to give charity on non-salvation issues.  Pray.  Worship.  Seek God while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6).  Don’t be distracted by those things which no one has figured out in 450 years but earnestly seek the face of Christ.  Jesus alone is worthy!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/24/2013 at 10:10 AM

Learning to Pray Requires Praying

Reading a book on prayer is not the same as praying.  We all agree with that.  Reading a book on evangelism is not the same as sharing your faith.  Reading a book on preaching is not the same as preaching.  Reading a book on how to be a better husband or wife is not the same as actually being a better spouse.  James 2:14-26 applies to all these: to merely hear the Word is not enough.  We must do what it says.  Jesus said that those who obey Him are His own (Luke 11:27-28).  Jesus said that the redeemed are those who do what He says (Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 2:3-6).

Prayer is not meant to be dissected.  We can surely learn from great men and women of God about prayer.  I have read and love to read the works of great praying saints such as E.M. Bounds, John Hyde, Leonard Ravenhill, A.W. Tozer, and many more.  They have taught me much about prayer from a biblical viewpoint.  However, if all I do is read Bounds or Wesley or Ravenhill on prayer then I have not done anything really at all.  Prayer is not meant to be studied as much as it must be applied.  I could sit and give you quote after quote from Samuel Chadwick on prayer but I have not done what his book is trying to teach and that is to pray.  Prayer is not a practice of the intellect wherein I read and study various passages of Scriptures on prayer only to sit and meditate upon them without applying them.  Prayer is act of the will, an act of obedience to the Lordship of Christ since He said that His disciples would pray (Matthew 6:5).  Far be it from us to be sinning by not praying (1 Samuel 12:23).

I learned early on that prayer is not something that is taught as much as caught.  Two older saints of the Lord (now both with Jesus in glory) taught me to pray.  Brother Stewart and Brother Bush.  Two godly men.  Two men who loved Jesus with all their hearts.  Two men who worked hard their entire lives and had hands of steel to prove it but two men who feared God and had no problem bowing their knees to pray.  Both of these brothers would stand up during our Sunday night testimony times and basically preach a message and the message was always the same: we need to pray for revival.  These saints of God would go into our church’s prayer room and would spend much time before the throne of God.  They taught me how to cry out, how to enter into the holy presence of God, how to respect the presence of God, how to intercede for the lost, for revival, for the Church.  They would weep and wail and cry out with loud groaning.  These were not men who prayed silently but with loud cries, they cried out to the Lord (Hebrews 5:7).  These brothers knew how to touch God because they had been touched by God.  God had wonderfully saved them years before and here I was, a young 18 years old, learning to pray from them.  And I learned to pray.

Jesus did the same.  Certainly He taught on prayer (Luke 11:2-13) but He did so because the disciples saw His prayer life (Luke 11:1).  This was not abstract teaching.  The disciples saw the prayer life of Jesus and they wanted to learn to pray from Him.  Scripture says that He often withdrew to pray (Luke 5:16).  The disciples saw this and wanted to learn to touch the heart of the Father like Jesus did.

The sad reality is that many of us are educated beyond our level of obedience.  We know the commandments to prayer.  We know from memory many passages of Scripture on prayer.  But do we pray?  We read books on prayer.  Hear sermons on prayer.  Blog on prayer.  Talk about prayer.  But do we pray?  It is not enough to hear sermons, read books, and discuss prayer on blogs.  We must pray!  Prayer is an act of submission.  Leonard Ravenhill called prayer, “The acid test of devotion.”  Preaching, said Ravenhill, allows one to show your talents off before others but prayer does not.  Prayer is to be done in secret and only God knows the cries of our hearts and whether we truly pray.  God knows whether we spend more time blogging on prayer or reading about prayer than actually praying.  We cannot hide our prayerlessness before Him.  We can hide our prayerlessness before others easily and we can even deceive people into thinking we are a person of prayer but God knows whether we are seeking His face.  He knows whether we are lying about our prayer lives (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/28/2013 at 11:51 AM

How Money Robs Prophets from Prophesying

In the city where I live there are literarily hundreds of churches.  In fact, we have been living here now for over one year and since that time we have seen several new churches come up.  All of them but one are new churches that aim to be “relevant and real” our culture.  They all promise to offer the world something to entice them to come such as “a kicking band” or “Bible messages that you can apply to your daily life” or “fun for the whole family”.  One of them is a Baptist church that built a new building, moved to a new location, and changed their name (well dropped the Baptist off their name).

And yet, sadly, this sums up most of the churches here in the United States.  We have thousands of churches here in the United States.  How many churches must there be in the Western world?  How many churches are there in the Pacific islands?  We have thousands upon thousands.  And yet where are the prophets of God?  Where are the John Wesley’s?  Where are the Leonard Ravenhill’s?  Where are the D.L. Moody’s?  Where are the Alexander Campbell’s?  Where are the A.W. Tozer’s?  Where are the Frank Bartlemen’s?

I believe that part of the problem with the loss of prophets is money.  Too many churches now require lots of money to survive.  Take that Baptist church I mentioned above.  They are millions of dollars in debt over their new building.  They recently sold their old building to try to compensate some of their loss.  Do you think that the prophet would be welcomed in such a church?  He would scare off the nominals quickly.  He would call the church to repent.  He would convict them through his exalting of God and His Word.  He would call them to prayer and fasting.  How many would remain?  Remember the words of Jesus in John 6:67, “Do you also want to go away?”  This would be the cry of the prophet.  Those who are true disciples of Jesus would cry Peter’s words in John 6:68, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  

The vast amount of pastors can’t do this.  They are preaching for money.  Oh they don’t compromise by teaching sin but they just avoid preaching on sin.  They preach hollow messages that lack the conviction of the Spirit.  They do “series” preaching that never deals with the rotting flesh.  They never exalt the holiness of God.  They never pray with passion and weep before the people of God as they call them to repentance and faith.  Where are these pastors?  Where are those who would fast for souls?  Where the pastors who would preach without fear of a board kicking them out of their job?  Where are the pastors who labor in prayer hours upon hours and go before the disciples of Christ and proclaim what the Spirit has shown them in His inerrant Word?  Where are the pastors who stand up and say, “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1) and truly mean it.

Tomorrow the churches in our area will be filled.  Yet where is the holy presence of Christ?  Where are the weepers?  Where are those who will mourn for the lost?  Where are the prophets of God who will declare that Jesus alone is worthy of praise?  Where are the prophets who will say, “Enough of this clattering called praise and worship and let us be a people of holiness in all that we say and do”?  Oh how we need prophets again in the Church!  Oh how I long for men of God to rise up and preach the Word of God without fear, without compromise, without remorse.  I long to see the Church on her face in holy prayer as she seeks her King.  I long to see sin being beat over and over again through the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).

Oh God visit Your Church!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/17/2011 at 3:16 PM

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