Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘False Teachings

Trinitarian Praying

While listening to some podcasts on the doctrine of the Trinity, I begin to consider how we pray.  People often pray without thinking about the theology behind their prayers.  For example, I have heard people pray, “Father thank You for saving me.  Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins.  Father, thank you for loving me enough to sacrifice Yourself for me.”  Yet this is not biblical.  The Father did not give Himself for our sins but instead He gave His Son for our sins (John 3:16).  The Father no doubt has poured out His love upon us in His Son (1 John 3:1-3) yet the Father did not die on the cross.  The Son died for our sins on the cross.

Biblically speaking, we are to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is Trinitarian praying.  The entire Trinity was involved in our salvation.  The Father sent the Son to die for the sins of humanity.  The Son obeyed the Father perfectly (John 8:29; Philippians 2:5-11).  The Son shed His blood to save us from the wrath of a holy but loving God (Romans 5:8-9).  The Spirit raised the Son from the dead (Romans 8:11).  Acts 2:24 says that God raised Jesus from the dead.  True!  God the Spirit!  All of this, the incarnation of Jesus (Luke 1:35) to the perfect life of Jesus in obedience to His Father (Hebrews 5:8-9) and Jesus’ death on the cross and His being raised from the dead was for our salvation!  The entire Trinity was involved in this saving process!

This is also true for prayer.  Jesus is our faithful high priest (Hebrews 4:14) who mediates for us before the Father (1 Timothy 2:5).  The Lord Jesus prays for us (Hebrews 7:25).  The Spirit also prays for us (Romans 8:26-27).  We come before the Father in the name of Jesus (John 14:13-14).  Jesus taught us to pray to the Father (Matthew 6:9).  This doesn’t mean that we cannot pray to the Lord Jesus since even Stephen prayed to the Lord Jesus when he was being killed for his faith in Jesus (Acts 7:59).  However, prayer should normally be addressed to the Father in the name of Jesus who is our high priest before the holy Father.  We find Paul praying to the Father in Ephesians 3:14.

As we begin to think through our praying and realize that we are speaking to a trinitarian God, we begin to see the beauty not only of our redemption unfold but also the New Testament comes alive as we see the deity of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.  We see their work in the New Testament and we see how precious the doctrine of the Trinity would have been to the Apostles.  We see a faithful Jew such as Paul the Apostle taking the great doctrine of God from Deuteronomy 6:4 and showing God in His fulness in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 with the Father and the Son being declared the one true and living God.

The doctrine of the Trinity helps our prayer lives explode with praise as we ponder the deep things of God.  I confess that I don’t understand the Trinity fully.  It is beyond my understanding.  I do confess to my faith in its truth.  There are simply too many passages that affirm the doctrine of one God (monotheism) while yet at the same time the Father is called God, the Son is called God, and the Spirit is called God.  We either can deny monotheism and embrace tritheism or polytheism or form heretical views about Christ (almost all heretical views attack Christ).  We can deny Christ His full deity or that He was a created being (Arianism).  We can teach that Christ is fully God but He takes on three modes (modalism).  We can teach that Christ was not eternal but rather that He had a beginning and was adopted as the Son of God at His baptism by John (adoptionism).  We can deny the full deity or full humanity of Christ and created a sort of half God, half man doctrine (see Bill Johnson and Bethel for this heretical view revised).  Either way, the person of Christ is the One who gets attack by those who want to deny the Trinity.

In the end, I choose to pray to God the Father in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I rejoice that Jesus died for my sins, that He rose again, and that He sits at the right hand of God till His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  I rejoice in Pentecost, the glorious truth that the gift of the Spirit was poured out as promised by God the Father (Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4).  I praise God that all three person of the holy Godhead were fully involved in saving a wretch like me.  It humbles me.  It makes me want to worship Him who is true.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/30/2014 at 10:26 PM

Book Review: God’s Strange Work by David Rowe

God’s Strange Work by David Rowe is the interesting story of William Miller.  I have long been interested in William Miller.  After all, Seventh-Day Adventists and Adventism in general finds its roots in William Miller.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses also trace their roots back to William Miller in a round about way.  William Miller has had an impact on us living in 2014 although he has been dead since 1849.

I have also heard that William Miller was a false prophet.  He taught that Christ would return in 1843.  Miller become convinced that Christ would return in 1843 after studying the Bible and especially from Daniel 8:14.  He came to this conclusion in 1818 but continued to study the matter privately until 1823 when Miller begin to preach his new doctrine.  His teachings spread like wildfire.  Miller’s lectures became one of the most popular lectures to attend as thousands came out to hear his new teachings.  Miller was denounced by many evangelicals of his day but none dared to debate Miller publicly for Miller was known as a great public speaker.

What is interesting about this is fact that Miller came from such humbling beginnings.  Here was a man who served the United States in the War of 1812 against the British.  He served well but served as a deist.  He was converted to Christ in 1815 and begin to zealously study the Bible.  He had no formal theological education but read the Bible and prayed earnestly for the Lord to reveal His Word to him.  Miller also longed (as many day following the War of 1812) for the return of Christ.  The nation was in a state of corruption and depravity.  Miller longed for revival and for the second coming of Christ.

Miller did not believe, as some say, in the rapture of the Church.  He believed that Christ would return to earth in 1843 and establish His eternal kingdom.

What I found interesting reading Rowe’s book is that Miller was not a man given to extremes.  This was not a man who saw a vision of Christ returning or heard a voice.  Miller simply studied the Bible and came convinced that Jesus was coming back in 1843.  The rise of Dispensationalism was leading many in the 19th century to assess the biblical teaching about the return of Jesus Christ.  All Christians are convinced that Jesus will bodily return to earth (Hebrews 9:28).  Acts 1:11 establishes the fact that Jesus will return.  1 Corinthians 15:24-25 also establishes this fact.  Miller simply took the excitement of his age and looked to the Bible and using a math formula, he became convinced that Jesus would return in 1843.

Now what about Matthew 24:36?  Miller believed that we couldn’t know the day or the hour but he noted that the Lord said nothing about knowing the year.  Further, Miller noted that Daniel was able to read the book of Jeremiah (Daniel 9:2) and could figure out when the year was.  Why would the Lord do that for Daniel but not for His people today?

When Christ did not return in 1843, Miller was very sad and was going to abandon his theories but another brother convinced Miller that his calculating had been off just a little bit and so they came to the conclusion that the Lord would return in 1844.  This time a date was set: October 22, 1844.  Of course, Jesus did not return and this became known in Adventism as the Great Disappointment.  Many Adventists had sold their belongings, were in major debt, stopped working their farms, indulged in the flesh, etc. in expectation of the return of Christ.  With the day passing, many were in great disappointment over the fact that Jesus had failed to return.

Miller himself apologized for being wrong.  He never meant to deceive people and was sincere in his seeking to know the times of the Lord.  He died on December 20, 1849.

What do I make of Miller?  First, I don’t think he was a false prophet.  One could label him a false teacher since he violated Matthew 24:36.  However, I did appreciate Miller’s zeal for the return of Christ.  Few in our day concern themselves with the return of Jesus.  While I disagree with most of Miller’s views regarding the return of Christ (the exception being that Jesus will return bodily to earth), I appreciate that he longed for Christ to return and make all things right.

Secondly, Miller did preach the gospel at his meetings.  While his lectures focused on Daniel 8:14 and the end of the world, Miller always called people to repent of their sins.  He was a Calvinist in his views on salvation but was not a hyper-Calvinist (which was popular in his day).  Miller preached even more earnestly as 1843 approach that people should repent of their sins.  However, in error and anger, Miller and his Adventists begin to preach that Christ would return only for those who were looking for His return based on Matthew 25:1-13.

Thirdly, Miller was humble in his public acknowledgement that he was wrong about the return of Christ.  He repented of this and denied that we can know the date, year, or the hour when Christ would return.  He did not agree with the later Seventh-Day Adventists and their teaching that Christ did do something in 1844 and the so-called “Investigative Judgment.”  Miller also never accepted the Sabbath emphasis that later Seventh-Day Adventists stressed.

Lastly, should we denounce William Miller?  I think we should deny his teachings.  Miller was orthodox in all areas of theology but his views on the end times.  We would never have heard of William Miller had he never preached that Jesus would return in 1843.  Had Miller only preached that Jesus would return soon, he would be no different from others before him or after him who have preached that Jesus is coming soon.  From Dwight Pentecost to Hal Lindsey to John MacArthur, we have heard that Jesus is coming soon.  Lindsey seems to have speculated that Christ would return even before 1990 but I don’t hear people denouncing him.  Miller erred in preaching a year and that is why he is remembered.

I have no doubts that Miller will be among the faithful in heaven.  While he no doubt erred in his teachings regarding the return of Christ. he did preach the gospel and himself loved the biblical Jesus.

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

– Hebrews 12:2 (NASB)

One of the characteristics of cults is that they do not focus on Jesus Christ.  They may mention Him and use His name but often the focus is not on Jesus but upon either a man or a group such as a church.  Salvation is generally tied to Jesus (sometimes) but always somethings is added such as Jesus plus a church or Jesus plus a prophet or Jesus plus baptism into that church.  The focus is not on Jesus alone.

The message of cults is not on Jesus either.  It is usually on good works or keeping the commandments of the group (or church).  That list can be short or long depending on the group.  Most cults spend most of their time looking at themselves and what they do with just a casual glance at Jesus and what He has done.

Salvation, however, in the New Testament is focused on Jesus Christ and what He has done.  Hebrews 12:2 is clear that the disciple is not to be focused on the group, the church, their works, their repentance, their lack of sinning, their discipler but upon the Lord Jesus.  Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith.  Jesus is the One who sits at the right hand of God praying for the saints of God (Hebrews 7:25).  Jesus is the One who died for our sins and brought us peace with God (Ephesians 2:14-15).  Jesus is the only One who bore our sins on the cross (Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:24).  Jesus has sat down at God’s right hand until His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:3, 13).

Adam Clarke writes about Hebrews 12:2 and Jesus as our example:

Looking off and on, or from and to; looking off or from the world and all secular concerns to Jesus and all the spiritual and heavenly things connected with him. This is still an allusion to the Grecian games: those who ran were to keep their eyes fixed on the mark of the prize; they must keep the goal in view. The exhortation implies, 1. That they should place all their hope and confidence in Christ, as their sole helper in this race of faith. 2. That they should consider him their leader in this contest and imitate his example.

Jesus is our focus for the redeemed.  Our focus is not on us.  Our focus is not on our church.  Our focus is not on our prayer life.  Our focus is not on our evangelism.  Our focus is not on what we have done but upon the Lord Jesus and what He has done.  Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith.  He has finished this work (John 19:30).  We cannot add to His work nor take away from His work.  Salvation is accomplished through Jesus alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).  Good works do not save (Ephesians 2:8-9).  A church or group does not save.  Jesus alone saves by His grace and for His glory.

If your salvation is dependent upon what you do or what a group does for you, repent!  Repent of your dead works (Hebrews 9:14).  Repent of seeking to save yourself when you cannot (Isaiah 64:6).  The only hope we have is Jesus.  He alone is the One who is able to deliver us from our sins (Matthew 1:21) and He alone is the One who is able to give us peace with a holy God (Romans 5:1).  Our faith must be in Him alone and not in us or our group.

If you are your group spends their time focusing on anything or anyone but Jesus Christ and His cross, I urge you repent or leave.  Flee idolatry (1 John 5:21).  Flee works salvation.  Flee from focusing on anything or anyone but the only One who can save us from us and the wrath of an Almighty God (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/13/2014 at 10:10 AM

Final Thoughts on Strange Fire Book Review

My review of John MacArthur’s Strange Fire has been a long process.  For that I do apologize.  I actually read the book in January and started my review then.  However, because of my work schedule and family duties, etc., I have had to post here and there on the book.  I pray that you did learn something from the review as I tried to be fair with the book and the content.  You can find the first post on this series here.

The book has an appendix in which MacArthur quotes from various Church Fathers and leaders through the centuries about the nature of spiritual gifts.  His point is to prove that many church leaders including men like Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, and Charles Spurgeon all held to modern cessationists views.  Of course, modern charismatic theologians will often respond in two ways.  One is to say that even such views were held, this does make them right or wrong simply because they held those views.  The bottom line for authority is not Augustine or Gill but the Bible.  I know that MacArthur would agree.  Secondly, some charismatics would argue that the Pentecostal revival brought back an emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit that had been buried by tradition and unbelief.  Others, like Dr. Jack Deere, would argue that it is just unbelief and a presupposition argument against miracles that leads to such views.  You can find Deere’s views in his book Surprised by the Power of the Spirit.  

In conclusion to my review, let me state that I do believe that charismatics would benefit from reading MacArthur’s book.  I said the same when he released Charismatic Chaos back in the early 1990’s.  I read Charismatic Chaos three times!  I agreed with much of what he wrote back then and still do today.  I think most charismatics (and I do not align myself with this camp) would agree with much of what MacArthur points to in his books.  The errors of the prosperity gospel, the errors of the healing movements, the sinfulness of some charismatic leaders, etc., are all things that we should all oppose.

Nonetheless, MacArthur painted with a big brush.  He grouped together men such as Dr. George Wood with men such as Todd Bentley.  He grouped together even Reformed charismatics like Wayne Grudem with the likes of a Rick Joyner.  He blasted all charismatics as blaspheming the Holy Spirit while ignoring the good that is done in the name of Jesus by groups such as the Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland, TN), or the Foursquare Gospel Church.  What about ministries such as Teen Challenge that was started by a Pentecostal (David Wilkerson) and is still maintained by Pentecostals?  Teen Challenge remains the top ministry for those addicted to drugs and alcohol.  I personally have visited Teen Challenges and seen the good that they do.

Two prominent seminaries, the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS) and the Church of God Theological Seminary (now called the Pentecostal Theological Seminary) are both schools that seek to glorify Christ and exalt the Word of God.  AGTS teaches its students that expository preaching should be the norm for biblical preaching and teaching.  These are both seminaries with theologically trained teachers.  These are not fanatics are they?  Should we lump AGTS alongside Bill Johnson and Bethel Church?

However, the main issue is what does the Bible teach.  It is easy to lump people together in groups and say that they are all the same.  Both Arminians and Calvinists and have done this for years.  Yet people are still people.  Some charismatics are out there.  Most are not.  There are false teachers among Pentecostals.  There are also false teachers among the Presbyterians as well.  People have fallen into sin in the Pentecostal movement.  The same is true of people in all other circles as well.  None of us escape the temptations of the flesh.  But we must seek to be biblical.  The Bible must be our guide.  Not one teacher or group.  The Bible is where we must fall or stand.  I am grateful that I personally know godly Pentecostals who love the Bible and preach the Bible.  They would be appalled if someone said that they were basing their faith on their emotions and not the Word of God (2 Peter 1:19).

I pray that God would use MacArthur to call all of us back to the Bible.  The Bible and not MacArthur or a study Bible or a denomination must be our foundation (Matthew 7:24-27).  We must be people who love the Word of God and delight in His commandments (Psalm 119:131).  We must be like the Bereans and search the Word of God for truth (Acts 17:11).  We must not be foolish and fall prey to false teachings (1 John 4:1-2) but we must embrace and love the truth of God (Psalm 119:173).  This is my earnest prayer, that God would help us all to love the Word and follow Him with all our hearts.

Arminius on the Five False Sacraments

DISPUTATION LXVI

ON THE FIVE FALSE SACRAMENTS

I. As three things are necessarily required to constitute the essence of a sacrament — that is, divine institution, an outward and visible sign, and a promise of the invisible grace which belongs to eternal salvation — it follows that the thing which is deficient in one of these requisites, or in which one of them is wanting, cannot come under the denomination of a sacrament.

II. Therefore popish confirmation is not a sacrament, though the external signing of the cross in the forehead of the Christian, and the unction of the chrism, are employed; for these signs have not been instituted by Christ; neither have they been sanctified to typify or to seal any thing of saving grace; nor is promised grace annexed to the use or to the reception of these signs.

III. Penitence, indeed, is an act prescribed, by the Lord, to all who have fallen into sin, and has the promise of remission of sins. But because there does not exist in it, through the divine command, any external sign, by which grace is intimated and sealed, it cannot, on this account, receive the appellation of “a sacrament.” For the act of a priest, absolving a penitent, belongs to the announcement of the gospel; as does likewise the injunction of those works which are inaccurately styled by the papists satisfactory, that is, fasting, prayers, alms, afflicting the soul, &c.

IV. That is called extreme unction, by the papists, which is bestowed on none except on those who are in their last moments; but it has then not the least power or virtue; nor was it ever instituted by Christ to signify the premise of spiritual grace. It cannot, therefore, obtain the appellation of “a sacrament.”

V. Neither can the order or institution, confirmation or inauguration of any person to the official discharge of some ecclesiastical duties, come under the denomination of a sacrament — both because it belongs to the particular and public vocation of some persons in the church, and not to the general vocation of all; and because, though it may have been instituted by Christ, yet, whatever external signs may be employed in it, they do not belong to the sealing of that grace which makes a man agreeable [to God] or which is saving, but only to that which is freely given, as they say by way of distinction.

VI. Though matrimony between a husband and wife agree by a certain similitude with the spiritual espousals subsisting between Christ and the church; yet it was neither instituted by the Lord for signifying this, nor has it any promise of spiritual grace annexed to it.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/30/2013 at 11:14 AM

Calvinists: Read Arminius!

There are a few Calvinists on Twitter who like to create tweets aimed at Arminians.  They hash tag the comments with #Arminianism in them.  Nearly all the posts are aimed at “self-righteousness” or “self salvation” as they see it.  These men honestly believe that Arminians teach and believe that we save ourselves, that we are responsible for our own salvation, or that an element of human pride exists in us so that we want credit for our own salvation before God.  Of course, none of this is true.  I have been saved over 20 years and have never, not once even, heard an Arminian say that they saved themselves or that they were responsible to keep themselves saved.  I have had long discussions with both Arminians and Calvinists over issues such as eternal security or salvation in general and we all agree that salvation and our security is based on the work of Christ.

Yet these men on Twitter continue to promote lies about Arminianism.  I finally had a talk with one of them.  We went back and forth discussing his tweets.  He admitted to me that he has never read Arminius.  He stated that he didn’t know if John Wesley was saved or not (though I suspect he thinks Wesley is in hell because of his rejection of Calvinism).  He said that he is not against evangelical Arminians (which is what Wesley was by the way) but against self-righteous people who teach that we are saved by grace but kept by works.  I agreed with him, that the Church should preach that this is untrue.  However, in the end I felt like he was going to start avoiding tweeting that Arminians or Arminianism was self-righteousness or we teach that we are saved by grace through faith but keep ourselves saved by good works.

He did not.  He went right back to tweeting that Arminians believe this or that when none of it is true.

Here is my suggestion for him and for any other Calvinists who are interested in Arminianism or in studying Arminianism: read Arminius.  While it is true that some aspects of both Arminianism and Calvinism don’t entirely come from Arminius or Calvin, I would argue that it is helpful to at least start with these two men.  For instance, Arminius never taught that we save ourselves, that we should take pride in saving ourselves by our own free will, or that mankind is free to just choose God whenever they desire to.  Arminius, like Calvin before him, taught that salvation is a work of God’s grace, His mercy, His Son, and that the will of mankind is bound by sin and apart from the Spirit of God opening our eyes to the gospel (John 6:44), none could be saved.  Arminius wrote,

In reference to Divine Grace, I believe, 1. It is a gratuitous affection by which God is kindly affected towards a miserable sinner, and according to which he, in the first place, gives his Son, “that whosoever believers in him might have eternal life,” and, afterwards, he justifies him in Christ Jesus and for his sake, and adopts him into the right of sons, unto salvation. 2. It is an infusion (both into the human understanding and into the will and affections,) of all those gifts of the Holy Spirit which appertain to the regeneration and renewing of man — such as faith, hope, charity, &c.; for, without these gracious gifts, man is not sufficient to think, will, or do any thing that is good. 3. It is that perpetual assistance and continued aid of the Holy Spirit, according to which He acts upon and excites to good the man who has been already renewed, by infusing into him salutary cogitations, and by inspiring him with good desires, that he may thus actually will whatever is good; and according to which God may then will and work together with man, that man may perform whatever he wills.

In this manner, I ascribe to grace the commencement, the continuance and the consummation of all good, and to such an extent do I carry its influence, that a man, though already regenerate, can neither conceive, will, nor do any good at all, nor resist any evil temptation, without this preventing and exciting, this following and co-operating grace. From this statement it will clearly appear, that I by no means do injustice to grace, by attributing, as it is reported of me, too much to man’s free-will. For the whole controversy reduces itself to the solution of this question, “is the grace of God a certain irresistible force?” That is, the controversy does not relate to those actions or operations which may be ascribed to grace, (for I acknowledge and inculcate as many of these actions or operations as any man ever did,) but it relates solely to the mode of operation, whether it be irresistible or not. With respect to which, I believe, according to the scriptures, that many persons resist the Holy Spirit and reject the grace that is offered.

It should be clear from the above that God’s grace alone brings salvation and it is the grace of God that keeps us saved.

I would stress the importance of reading Arminius.  I urge you, my brethren, let us not make up things about one another and send them into the world on Twitter.  Let us be honest, admit when we are wrong, and admit when we just don’t know if Arminians or Calvinists believe such and such.  We are called to love one another deeply (John 13:34-35) and I just don’t see this when we lie about one another. This is not Christian but pagan when we do so.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/08/2013 at 9:33 PM

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