Friday, July 30, 2010

JUDAS : Guilty of the Most Heinous Crime in History? or Victim of Divine Coersion?

Jesus said to him, "Are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"

Judas' role in the crucifixion of Jesus has always been the subject of controversy and mystery. Some say that he should be regarded as a hero of the Christian Faith, because if it hadn't been for what he did, Christ's dying to save sinners wouldn't have happened. Is that really the case?

Was this a situation where the devil really did make him do it? Doesn't the bible say, "Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered with the twelve." (Luke 22:3 )

Some might think that Judas deserves an Academy Award for perfectly playing out the role that had been created and written for him by God, Himself. Or perhaps he ought to be exonerated for his betrayal of Christ because he was forced by Divine Providence to do something that he otherwise would not have done.

The "Rock Opera" Jesus Christ: Superstar portrays Judas as the rational one among Jesus and the disciples. In the story, he comes to realize that what started out as a great cause had taken a bad turn and they were headed for disaster. So he decides to take some kind of action to prevent the inevitable consequences of a plan gone really bad. We hear him saying to Jesus, "Every time I look at you, I don't understand how you let the things you did get so out of hand."

Christian theologian R.C. Sproul, addresses the question of how Judas could be held accountable for something that had been determined long ago and had been foretold in the Scriptures:

"Judas was not a poor innocent victim of divine manipulation. He was not a righteous man whom God forced to betray Christ and then punished him for the betrayal. Judas betrayed Christ because Judas wanted thirty pieces of silver. As the Scriptures declare, Judas was a son of perdition from the beginning.

"To be sure, God uses the evil inclinations and evil intentions of fallen men to bring about his own redemptive purposes. Without Judas there is no Cross. Without the cross there is no redemption. But this is not a case of God coercing evil. Rather it is a glorious case of God's redemptive triumph over evil. The evil desires of men's hearts cannot thwart God's sovereignty. Indeed they are subject to it."

Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.  (Luke 22:3-6)

"The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born." Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, "Rabbi, is it I?" He said to him, "You have said it."  (Matt 26:24-25)

While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. (John 17:12)

I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me. (John 13:18)

Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve. (John 6:70-71)

Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; (Acts 1:16)

Scripture quotes from the NKJV (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
R.C. Sproul quote from the book, Chosen By God (Tyndall House Publishers, Inc.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Calvin Quote

The secret plan of God, which lay hidden, is brought to light - when the Gospel is embraced___

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"God does not exist, and he is a monster." Say What?!

...SSL: Everyone is equally immersed in sin and all deserve justice. God is under no obligation to grant mercy to anyone. That He chooses to save some out of the common mass of humanity does not require Him to save all. Some get mercy - some get justice. Nobody gets injustice.

BS: You are just trying to post hoc justify the monster.

SSL: No. I was merely summarizing Paul's Epistle to the Romans in one paragraph.

BS: And yet it still does not make God any less of a monster. You and Paul were just trying to rationalize the cognitive dissonance in your mind. You see God is a monster for torturing some and saving others just by his own whim, when he has the power to save them all, so you have to come up with a reason for God letting some people go to Hell. This is the post hoc rationalization you give; it is a means to ease cognitive dissonance. Like GE said, it gets even more twisted the more of God's powers you throw in to the mix. The God of Calvinism is a monster.

GE: Actually the god of Christianity. Only that Calvinists are closer to describing it as such.


“You and Paul were just trying to rationalize the cognitive dissonance in your mind.”

It may just be the other way around for those who call God "a monster." Consider this scenario as a possibility :

As each weekend arrives and passes, you* are living in anticipation of the approaching day when you* will be summoned to give a final accounting for your* life, when the complete history of your* actions, words, thoughts and intentions will be on exhibit as evidence to be evaluated by the Righteous Judge. Your* own conscience will be a witness.

In addition to that anticipation, you* harbor contradictory thoughts about your* Creator and Judge. On one hand, you* deny his very being, yet simultaneously you* do acknowledge his being, but only for the purpose of ridicule and making accusations against him. This is a recipe for cognitive dissonance “on steroids.”

How can you* cope with this? Perhaps you* recall the passage from Daniel where the prophet speaks of the resurrection at the time of the end: And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2). C.S. Lewis wrote, “In the end that Face that is the terror or delight of the universe must be turned on each of us either with one expression or the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised.” You* are unwilling to come to Christ for forgiveness and everlasting life; but you* cannot bear the idea of being an object of shame and contempt for eternity.

So, how do you* handle that? You* project your* own guilt and unrighteousness onto the holy Creator and Judge. There it is. You* have imaged a god who is a monster "as a means to ease cognitive dissonance."

The apostle Paul encouraged believers by telling them that God "...chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved" (Eph. 1:4,5) . But God's Eternal Decree does not bar anyone who wants to be saved by Christ from entering heaven, nor does it force others unwillingly to be saved.

Where there is breath and a heartbeat, there is life; and where there is life, there is hope. Jesus said, "I am the door. if anyone enters through me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (John 10:9).

In the words of John Gerstner:

"The "door" is Christ. Anyone may enter it, but the time for repentance is now. Today anyone may enter and be saved. Avail yourself of the means that God has provided - The Word of God, prayer, church, preaching. That is, expose yourself to God's truth and the means of grace He has made available."


"Jesus Christ calls everyone, everywhere to confess his sin and trust in Jesus for his salvation and deliverance."
"I call everyone, everywhere to come who will acknowledge his sin and bring his guilt and need to Jesus Christ, and I assure him, without any qualification, that in doing that he will most certainly be saved eternally by the blood of Jesus Christ"


*('You*' and 'your*' indicate anyone who describes God as a "monster," not BS and GE in particular.)

(The C.S. Lewis quote is from the book, The Weight of Glory.)

(The John Gerstner quotes are from Theology for Everyman, and A Primer on the Atonement.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sincere Repentance

"Sincere repentance is never too late, but late repentance is seldom sincere. The thief on the cross repented, and was pardoned in the last hour of his life. We have one such instance in Scripture – that none might despair; and only one – that none might presume."

        ___Gorham Abbott

Seen at Facets of Grace

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Do You Have an Opinion on Calvinism?

It was about nine years ago that I did a search for "anti-Calvinist" information on line. There were quite a few sites that identified themselves as expressing an anti-Calvinist position, the web site for the Fundamentalist Bible Church having one of the most extensive collection of articles refuting those who "make the Word of God of none effect through [their] tradition which [they] have delivered..." (Mark 7:13)

There was another site which, as I recall, had a particularly scathing essay denouncing Calvinism's "Doctrines of Grace" (TULIP), and claiming to have easily dismantled the Calvinistic teachings by the arguments that it presented. I availed myself of the "contact us" button, and sent an email to Philip, the sites owner.

"Philip, do you agree with the points that the Remonstrants' raised in opposition to the doctrine of salvation as stated in the Reformed church's Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism? If so, how do you think the Protestant beliefs might better have been formulated and explained over against those of Roman Catholicism?"

Philip answered: "Craig, my church holds to the Nicene Creed as it's confession, so we don't have a stake in the Calvinist vs. Arminian debate. Not being a part of that controversy, I have no opinion about the Remonstrants' arguments."

Well, Philip obviously assumed that he had a "voice" in the matter as evidenced in his essay.

Keep that in mind as you read Frank Turk's post on Pyromaniacs:

Filthy Calvinists and the people who love to hate them

Frank is specifically asking for comments from those who disagree with Calvinism and/or Calvinists. Add your "voice" by way of a comment on his post.

(Feel free to give Stranger a piece of your mind, as well. I sure could use one : )

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The Lord Jesus has taught me to pray, not only with, but for others; and the apostle has appointed me to make petition for all the saints, Ephesians 6:18(NASB) and many of his prayers in his epistles are for his friends. And I must not think that when I am in this part of prayer, I may let fall my fervency and be more indifferent because I myself am not immediately concerned in it, but rather let a holy fire of love, both to God and man, here make my devotions yet more warm and lively.

Exhortation to Pray for the Whole Lost World of Mankind

I must pray for the whole world of mankind, the lost world; and thus, I must honor all people, 1 Peter 2:17(NASB) and, according to my capacity, do good to all people. Galatians 6:10(NASB)

I pray, as I am taught, for all men, believing that this is good and acceptable in the sight of God my Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth and of Jesus Christ, 1 Timothy 2:3-4(NASB) who gave Himself as a ransom for all. 1 Timothy 2:6(NASB)

O look with compassion upon the world that lies in the power of the evil one, 1 John 5:19(NASB) and let the ruler of this world be cast out, John 12:31(NASB) who has blinded their minds. 2 Corinthians 4:4(NASB)

O let Your way be known on the earth, Psalm 67:2(NASB) that barbarous nations may be civilized, and those who live without God in the world may be brought to the service of the living God; Ephesians 2:12(NASB) and thus, let Your salvation be known among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; yes, let all the peoples praise You: O let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for You will judge the peoples with uprightness and guide the nations on the earth. Psalm 67:2-4(NASB)

O let Your salvation and Your righteousness be revealed in the sight of the nations, and let all the ends of the earth see the salvation of God. Psalm 98:2-3(NASB)

O give Your Son the nations as His inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as His possession; Psalm 2:8(NASB) for You have said, “It is too small a thing for Him to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel”; but You will make Him a light of the nations. Isaiah 49:6(NASB)

Let the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ. Revelation 11:15(NASB)

__Matthew Henry's "A Method of Prayer." A daily devotional for praying the Scriptures. To receive the daily devotional prayer by email, click the "Method of Prayer" banner below the posts, at the bottom of this page.

Monday, July 19, 2010

John Owen exposits John 3:16

For “God,” the glorious, all-sufficient God, that could have manifested His justice to eternity in the condemnation of all sinners, and no way wanted them to be partakers of His blessedness:

so,” that is, in such a degree, to such a remarkable, astonishable height:

"loved,” with such an earnest, intense affection, consisting in an eternal, unchangeable act and purpose of His will, for the bestowing of the chiefest good (the choicest effectual love):

the world,” men in the world, of the world, subject to the iniquities and miseries of the world, lying in their blood, having nothing to render them commendable in His eyes, or before Him:

that He gave,” did not, as He made all the world at first, speak the word and it was done, but proceeded higher, to the performance of a great deal more and longer work, wherein He was to do more than exercise an act of His almighty power, as before; and therefore gave

His Son,” not any favourite or other well-pleasing creature; not sun, moon, or stars; not the rich treasure of His creation (all too mean, and coming short of expressing this love); but His Son:

begotten Son,” and that not so called by reason of some near approaches to Him, and filial, obediential reverence of him, as the angels are called the sons of God; for it was not an angel that He gave, which had yet been an expression of most intense love; not yet a son by adoption, as believers are the sons of God; but His begotten Son, begotten of His own person from eternity; and that His

"only-begotten Son,” not any one of His sons, but whereas He had or hath but one only-begotten Son, always in His bosom, His Isaac, He gave him: - than which how could the infinite wisdom of God make or give any higher testimony of His love? especially if ye will add what is here evidently included, though the time was not as yet come that it should be openly expressed, namely whereunto He gave His Son, His only one; not to be a king, worshipped in the first place, -but He “spared Him not, but delivered Him up” to death “for us all,” Rom. 8:32. Whereunto, for a close of all, cast your eyes upon His design and purpose in this whole business, and ye shall find that it was

"that believers", those whom He thus loved,

"might not perish,” –that is, undergo the utmost misery and wrath to eternity, which they had deserved, -

"but have everlasting life,” eternal glory with Himself, which of themselves they could no way attain; and ye will easily grant that “greater love hath no man than this.””

-from the Death of Death in the Death of Christ

Sunday, July 18, 2010


"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it"    (Matt. 7:13-14).

     Dante's Inferno tells of Virgil leading Dante to the entrance to Inferno. There is a sign saying, "Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here." There is a sign over the entrance to the Kingdom of God also and it reads: "Abandon all pride, all ye who enter here."

All who would enter this narrow road must abandon all pride. They must recognize that they do not deserve to enter this way. They must know that they have forfeited all right to escape the just damnation of their former evil ways. God is under no obligation whatever to rescue them from their Hellbound way. He has every right to permit them to go on to their destruction.

The narrow road is a road of free grace, of condescending mercy. No one ever deserves to find or enter this way. Only God's grace can show and open it. They must enter it in abject penitence, with nothing in their hands, with only a plea of mercy on their lips and in their hearts. "If any man ," said Christ, "will come after me, let him deny himself." Let him pull himself up by the roots. Let him turn away from himself and rely entirely on Christ. This road is for sinners only. If a man has any righteousness of his own, an iota of merit or goodness to which he can lay claim, the other road is for him. That is where the supposedly virtuous make their self righteous way to perdition.

The road of Life is for sinners only - sinners whose hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.

___ John Gerstner

Monday, July 12, 2010


I have a question for you and Penn about Calvinism that I asked the Calvinist commenters on John Piper's blog about a year ago and never got an answer. (As I think I've mentioned to you, I agree with the Calvinistic emphasis on God's grace but not the determinism.)

During the Great Awakening when George Whitefield and John Wesley preached, many people were saved. Whitefield and Wesley apparently prayed for several hours each day and were very much led by the Holy Spirit while preaching.

This is my question: Were the conversions due to the prayers and Spirit-led preaching, or were there just a disproportionate number of "elect" during that time? That is, did God just choose to soften hearts while these two preached, whereas now He is more inclined to harden hearts when the Gospel is preached? Or is there a correlation between prayer/Spirit-filled preaching and conversions?

The question occurred to me because you said that you have no idea who is elect and who is not. Of course this is true to both Calvinists and Arminians--photosynthesis could be the next Augustine for all we know. But apart from the fact that God is omniscient and has always known who will ultimately be saved, is it carved in stone? We know that Augustine's mother Monica prayed for him far more than most mothers pray for their children, so in my mind that had a lot to do with him being saved. "God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4).

Even after I read Piper's blog for several months (and reading Future Grace) it was not at all clear to me what the Calvinistic position is on this question, so I'd be interested in your thoughts. I'd also like Penn's thoughts.

Very good questions.

 First, I will make one clarification of something Anette said. There is a difference between the concept of "determinism" and the Reformed doctrines of "election" and "predestination ." While they are alike in some respects, there is an important difference. Election (and reprobation) proceed from the "eternal decree" of a holy and wise God whose ways are beyond our finding out (Romans 11:33-36). Determinism can be illustrated in the ancient Greek myth of Oedipus Rex. Although Oedipus was foretold by the Oracle at Delphi that he was destined to kill his father and marry his mother, no amount of care or effort on his part could prevail to avoid the pre-determined outcome. Now, there is no "oracle" involved in the determinism that is inherent in today's materialistic world view, but each event is only the latest effect in a series of impersonal causes. (Some say that it is an infinite series.)

Some people think the Christian doctrine of election and reprobation is just like that, sort of a "you're damned if you do and damned if you don't" situation. This is not the case. It is true that Scripture reveals that there are the elect, individuals whom God has "chosen from the foundation of the world." ( Ephesians 1:4-5 and  2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 ) This is a great comfort to those who have trusted Jesus for their salvation and eternal life. But we have been given no advanced knowledge about which people are elect. Therefore, the church is to preach the gospel to everyone, everywhere, calling them to: "come to Jesus, acknowledging your sin and guilt, and trusting him for salvation, and in doing that, you will most assuredly receive forgiveness and eternal life by virtue of Christ crucified for sinners." So, you are damned if you don't, but are certainly not damned if you do come to Jesus the Savior. You are wonderfully saved.

We are getting closer to Anette's questions, but there is something else that needs to be established in order to give context to the answer, and that is How God Brings About Conversion.

God applies His saving grace by the operation of the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8) through the word or ministry of reconciliation; (2 Cor. 5:18-19) which is the gospel concerning Christ, by means whereof it has pleased Him to save such as believe (1 Cor. 1:21)...(Canons of Dort III & IV Art. 6)

The means which God has ordained to be the seed of regeneration is the preaching of the gospel. (Isa. 55:10-11; 1 Cor. 1:21; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23, 25; Romans 10:13,14,15,16,17)

So, Anette's questions:

Were the conversions due to the prayers and Spirit-led preaching, or were there just a disproportionate number of "elect" during that time? That is, did God just choose to soften hearts while these two preached, whereas now He is more inclined to harden hearts when the Gospel is preached? Or is there a correlation between prayer/Spirit-filled preaching and conversions?

The Calvinist's answer is, "Both." We have seen above that God has ordained preaching as the means of conversion. Also, Christ has taught us in the "Lord's Prayer" what things God is pleased with and will hear. The second petition, "Thy kingdom come" certainly includes praying for the increase of His church through salvation of souls.

Scripture tells those that have come to Christ for salvation (e.g. Wesley and Whitefield's hearers, and Augustine) that God the Father has chosen them in Christ from before the foundation of the world ( Ephesians 1:3-4 ), and that they have been saved and called with a holy calling, not according to their works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to them in Christ Jesus before time began (2 Tim. 1:9). They see that they never could have come to Jesus unless the Father had drawn them (John 6:44).

History shows that there are times and places in which  a greater number of people are being saved than in other times and places. That seems to be happening right now in China and on the African continent.

"...And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

True Christians Love Christ Because of His Love

Last month I quoted an excerpt from Puritan Thomas Vincent's book, The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ, where he discusses "loving Christ because of His loveliness." Now I would like to share a short excerpt from the following section, Loving Christ Because of His Love to His own people.

True Christians love Christ because of His love, His love which He bears to them. He loves them with a first love and with a free love. He loves them with a tender and compassionate love, with an active or doing love, with a passive or suffering love. His love is infinite, without bounds or limits; it is superlative, without comparison; everlasting, without change; and will have no end or conclusion.

He loved them when they were polluted in their sins, and washed them with His own blood; He loved them when they were naked in their souls, and clothed them with His own righteousness.

He loves them in their sickness and sorrows, and is their Comforter. He loves them in their wants and straits, and is their Benefactor. He loves them at death, and is the stay of their hearts; and He loves them after death, and will be their portion forever.

     There is great reason that true Christians should love Christ because of His loveliness; and there is further reason that they should love Him because of His love; especially when both are incomparable, both are incomprehensible.

__Thomas Vincent

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Yesterday morning, a friend, Mike Hinton, took my son Joseph, and me flying in his Cessna 182 Skylane. We flew up to Big Bear Lake, where we ate breakfast at the Barn-Stormer Restaurant. Afterward, we did some sight seeing over the San Bernardino Mountains and the High Desert. Mike let me steer the aircraft for about 20 minutes, as he prepared for an I.L.S approach to Southern California Logistics Airport (formerly George A.F.B.). Then, back home to Apple Valley.

Me, sitting in the pilot's seat.

Craig and Joseph, prior to departing Apple Valley

With Mike Hinton

Over the San Bernardino Mts. Mt. San Gorgonio in background.

Approaching Big Bear from the east.

Parked at fuel station at Big Bear

Nice view of the lake, looking west

Beautiful Lake Arrowhead. You can see Apple Valley in the background.

Over Victorville. You can see the Victor Valley Mall, just to the right of center.

Mike is making an ILS approach to SCLA. When we were over the runway, we banked off to the left, and headed back to Apple Valley.

Out of service aircraft parked at SCLA.

Landing back home at Apple Valley

A big thank you to Michael Hinton for taking us flying on this beautiful morning.