Drinking Deeply

Monday, January 29, 2007 at 7:28 PM

TULIP (12) - Unconditional Election

So I think I should get to Romans 9, because I love talking about Romans 9 and hopefully that'll encourage me to post more.

This post is going to be my "goal" post (*groan). This is where I'm going with the next few posts on Romans 9 and how it ties in with unconditional election.

I am planning to point to Romans 9:6-13 to establish that God's love for his children is unconditional, dependent not upon our choice of Him (whether we have faith or not), but solely upon His choice of us. That before we were born, God said "you, you, you, and you I will love" done of His own free will, without conditions on who we were or what we were to become.
6But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." 8This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9For this is what the promise said: "About this time next year I will return and Sarah shall have a son." 10And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad--in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call-- 12she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
To get there, I need to do a few things.

1) Set the context - Answer the question, "what sparked this passage?" This answer will help determine exactly what Paul is talking about.
2) Explain the passage and what it does teach.
3) Defend my interpretation of the passage against other interpretations that have been put forth.

In dealing with the last point, I owe a great debt to two brothers, who, though we disagreed greatly on this topic, demonstrated to me great Christian charity and brotherly affection in discussing the passage. I still think you're wrong though =) , but I'm glad we're able to disagree in a cordial manner.


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at 7:06 PM

Book Review: The Discipline of Grace

The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges is a book written to bring together two equally necessary truths. 1) The need of living by grace and 2) The need for spiritual disciplines as we grow as a Christian. I found the book exactly what I needed.

The book emphasized the continual need of the Gospel for believers. It was not something that only unbelievers needed, and believers needed "discipleship" but something that was daily necessary to the Christian walk.

Beginning with a simple but theologically deep Gospel presentation, the book moved onto a series of chapters that reminded me of my need to preach the Gospel to myself daily, my need for God's grace, and the grounds by which I am being sanctified.

From there, the book moved on into basic disciplines of a Christian life, why they are important and how we can implement them all the while not forgetting our need for God and becoming self-reliant.

I found the book pretty much perfect for where I was at. Not only was it theologically refreshing, but filled with theology-driven application as well. I realized that in my previous two or so years I had viewed sanctification wrong (to some extent or another). One year I bordered upon being legalistic, convinced that the answer to sin was simply to stop sinning (that's probably a bad summary, but boil it down that's what it was). I will filled with Christian disciplines. I prayed. I read my Bible. I memorized verses. And as long as I was ok, that held me up. I had good weeks because I made good weeks.

But then things crashed, went through a tough break and wasn't able to dig myself out of it. Was reminded of God's grace and pretty much went the other extreme. God's gospel was sufficient and I didn't need disciplines as much as I needed the Gospel, so I'll just keep preaching the Gospel to myself and I'll naturally become a good Christian.

To put it simply, I lost a large number of habits (that I am still trying to recover).

I found that this book struck and excellent balance, filling with Scripture what I always kind of thought to one extreme or another, but never really made sense of in my mind.

I would highly recommend this book to all Christians, wherever you are in your walk. Probably recommend it more than C.J. Mahaney's book "A Cross-Centered Life," which was my personal favorite on sanctification prior to this one.

Some quotes -

"Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace." (on the need for the Gospel daily)

"A belief is what you hold, but a conviction is what holds you. You may live contrary to what you believe, but you cannot live contrary to your convictions." (on the need for convictions founded upon God's Word)

here's a blog post by Vincent Cheung on the topic that I found very informative too.

My recommendation: Own it


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Monday, January 22, 2007 at 9:44 PM

TULIP (11) - Unconditional Election

Ok, so people are telling me to start posting again. Yike, it's been almost half a month. I think part of it has been an inability to really use my computer for any period of time without becoming frustrated with how slow it's been running. I'm currently on a cluster computer typing this and am seriously considering buying a new laptop. Let me know of any good models if you know of any.

My definition from ages ago for unconditional election.

God's choice to save people is unconditional, based upon His will and His will alone, and not upon anything that they have done, earned, or will do in the future. Notably, His election of people is not based upon his foreknowledge of their decision to choose Him. Their faith is a gift of God as well, and dependent upon His election of them.

This statement is in contrast to the "foreseen faith" that the Arminians put forth, claiming that God's election of a people was dependent upon the fact that he saw that they were eventually come to faith.

Of course, it's certainly possible for me to accept this and say "yes, God accepts us because he foreknows our faith, but our faith is 100% irresistible gift from God, so he really accepts us based on His giving us faith, so the conditions are in God and not in man." Of course, the real disagreement is where that faith comes from. Is faith an irresistible gift from God or something given to us with the option of accepting or rejecting?

I have previously established (weeks ago) our total inability to come to faith without God's regenerating work as well as the fact that faith is an automatic consequence of God's regenerating work in us.

To tie things together logically. Total depravity means we cannot, without God's work in us, choose God. We're sinners and hostile to God, unable to please Him, unwilling to desire Him. This means that God's reason for choosing us must lie wholly outside of us (otherwise no one would be saved). This is unconditional election.

I'm planning on doing a few posts on Romans 9, as that's a text that's often brought up (and just as often challenged), so I want to do a good job on it.

So for now, I'm going to make a few shorter arguments.

Throughout Scripture we see the term "chosen" commonly used by God of His people. We are God's "chosen" ones (Col. 3:12, Eph. 1:4-6), many are called but few are chosen (Matt. 22:14).

Justification by grace alone demands that our faith be made conditioned upon God alone.

1 Cor. 4:7
7For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
Ephesians 2:8-9
8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
If we actually are given a general grace that enables all people to choose God independent of God's decision to save us, then why do some people have faith and some do not? But if it is grace and wholly grace, then there is nothing different in us. All men are like grass, a breath, his days like a passing shadow. All men are wicked, no one seeks for God, no one pleases God. All that we have (including our faith) is a gift of God, making our salvation conditioned not upon man, but upon God alone.

To come, Romans 9


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Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 1:35 AM

Hell is not a place where God is not

A common misconception is that hell is just an eternal separation from God. Of course, in a sense, that's true. At the right hand of God are pleasures forevermore, joy, true fellowship, delight. There will be no more tears, no more weeping, no mourning. There will be worship and sheer joy to be had in heaven.

In contrast, hell is, in the words of a dear friend, "not so much." We will be eternally separated from joy, from delight, from true pleasure, there will be pain, suffering, wailing. There is no rest for the wicked.

But this doesn't happen somehow away from God, as if it were His dark secret, that He keeps a little dungeon running somewhere far away from Him where no one knows or goes. It is declared continuously in Scripture that hell exists, that it is for those who do not fear God, for those who disobey Him, and it is where people are separated from God's grace and mercy, and brought face to face with His wrath and judgment.

Revelation 14:9-11, though admittedly speaking specifically about those who worship the beast and receive his mark, I think can be extended to include all those who worship false idols.
9And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name."
Notice specifically verse 10 - "He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb."

Hell is not going to be an eternal separation from God. It's going to be face to face with Jesus and the angels in judgment and torment. When people reject God, they will face wrath. And it is a wrath that is a righteous demonstration of a just God. It isn't a dark secret, but it's one that Jesus and all the angels will be watching and delighting in (Revelation 19:1-3).

This is for us! This is where we are headed. This is where you and I are headed. And unless we repent, this is where we are going. May it not be so!


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