Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"I've Tried to Believe But Can't. What Can I Do?" - John Piper's Answer Examined


I recently stumbled across John Piper's attempt to handle the following statement and question:
I've concluded that I don't have saving faith. I've tried to believe in Jesus for two years but I can't. I fear I'm beyond saving. What can I do?  
In Piper's attempt to answer this query he makes a number of theological assertions contrary to the notion of salvation by sovereign grace, but which are no-doubt frequently affirmed in Christendom today. What follows is a line-by-line, biblical analysis of Piper's answer:


"Well, it may be that the Lord has put you in this situation—that is, withheld from you the kind of faith that you're looking for (saving faith)—in order to make you feel absolutely desperate." (Piper)
If the person in question lacks so-called “saving faith” (which in Piper’s parlance means “an eternally saving faith”) then this person is unregenerate. If they are unregenerate then Piper’s assertion that such a person is “looking for faith” is completely bogus, because man in his natural state of unregeneracy does not seek after God (Romans 3:11). Moreover, the natural capacity of “desperation” is incapable of producing any spiritual sensibilities whatsoever because that which is born of flesh is flesh (John 3:6).
"Not everybody is given the privilege of realizing they can't produce their own faith. You have that privilege." (Piper)
Is this “privilege of realization” a spiritual realization or a natural one? If it is spiritual in nature then the person in question must be born again because, “the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God.” (I Corinthians 2:11) It follows that this person is ALREADY in possession of eternal life and therefore stands in no need of doing anything to ACQUIRE eternal life, but rather stands in need of instruction. That instruction most likely involves teaching this child of God what Jesus Christ ACCOMPLISHED, not what he “set up” for those who go through the proper exercise in navel-gazing introspection to either develop or coax God into giving them the “saving faith” without which Christ’s work falls short of the mark of achieving eternal salvation for his people. In my experience, where such uncertainty exists it is evidence of a gospel message that is insufficient in teaching Christ’s finished work and the utterly monergistic nature of his saving office.
"Take it as a gift. You have been given the gift that many people, to their sometimes hurt, don't realize:" (Piper)
Is Piper suggesting that if this person does not “take this gift” that he claims God is trying to give them, that it might result in their eternal damnation? This scheme of salvation is nothing other than resistible grace to any reasonable observer.
"We cannot produce faith. If we have genuine faith, it is a gift.” (Piper)
True enough, but apparently someone can have a God-given capacity sufficient to receive the things that Piper is trying to teach here, but yet still fail to go through the proper motions to cultivate this into Piper’s beloved “saving faith” in which case, they evidently end up in hell. This is far more akin to Wesleyan prevenient grace than to the sovereign grace notion of irresistible grace wherein faith is an ex post facto evidence of a quickening that has ALREADY transpired in the life of a child of God unto the salvation of their soul.  Piper’s doctrine suggests one of two possible scenarios:
  • Either a man must improve upon God-given faith such that it becomes “saving faith” in order to obtain eternal salvation
  • Or a natural man who has NO FAITH can do certain things to acquire “saving faith.” 
The former is a type of prevenient grace. The latter a denial of total depravity. Neither is the teaching of salvation by sovereign grace. Either would be deemed a perfectly acceptable in virtually any Arminian assembly.
"The Bible says that very clearly in Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of ourselves; it is the gift of God." You know that now. I hope you do. I hope you realize you are absolutely, radically, deeply, powerfully dependent on God to give you faith." (Piper)
If Piper is addressing a person who has the spiritual capacity of faith required to receive this teaching, then he is addressing someone who is already born again and thus already in possession of eternal life. If he is addressing an unregenerate person, then he is addressing someone who is incapable of receiving this message (I Corinthians 2:14).
"Maybe your statement that you're trying to believe means you don't believe that. You think it really is your job ultimately and finally to do it, and maybe I could relieve you of that burden. You are commanded to believe, yes, you are. You are responsible to believe, but you can't believe. You're dead! You know that better than anybody." (Piper)
So the person that Piper is addressing is dead in trespasses and in sins, yet this person, knows that better than anybody? Do the unregenerate have such knowledge of their spiritual condition? No, they are incapable of receiving such truth (I Corinthians 2:14) Do they care? No, they have no thought of God (Psalm 10:4). Do they seek God? No, there is none that seeketh after God (Romans 3:11).

I believe this is a really good example of how Piper’s theology gives an academic nod to sovereign grace, with all its claims of Calvinism, Reformed, TULIP, etc., but then refuses to accept that these great theological precepts have any practical application in one’s pastoral admonitions. When Piper states, “You’re dead. You know that better than anybody” he affirms depravity in the first sentence while denying it in the next. That is a perfect example of why we refer to the soteriology of NeoCalvinism as "Christian irrationalism."
"Maybe my telling you this would be the means by which God would say, 'I have for the last two years tried to make crystal clear to you that you are dead in your trespasses, and you can no more get up on your own than a corpse can get out of the coffin. I would like now to invite you to rest, to stop trying and to just rest in me.'" (Piper)
So God has spent two years telling someone who is dead in trespasses and in sins that they are dead in trespasses and in sins so that they would, in their admitted state of death and depravity, receive this message, contrary to the bible’s statement that this is an impossibility (I Corinthians 2:14), via their natural faculties of the flesh, and in so doing bring forth a spiritual birth, contrary to the Lord’s teaching that that which is born of flesh is flesh (John 3:6)?

While no doubt unintended, this statement accuses God of folly. A dead man stands in need of resurrection not instruction. Until such resurrection occurs, all the spiritual instruction in the world will prove unprofitable to him because, “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) An understanding of this very simple and foundational precept proves as elusive in Christendom today as it was to Nicodemus some 2000 years ago.   
"I did it all for you! I went to the cross for you." (Piper)
If this person is unregenerate, how can Piper make this assertion given that he correctly embraces the sovereign grace precept of limited atonement? To proclaim to any person one encounters that Jesus “went to the cross for you” is a perfect example of how the theology of NeoCalvinism wants to have its cake and eat it too. It has been stated many times before, but it bears repeating:  Any theology that embraces both limited atonement and the well-meant offer of salvation to all of humanity (WMO) is a form of Christian irrationalism, because it is impossible to sincerely offer eternal salvation to a person for whom Christ did not die. 

This is the most common theological error among the NeoCalvinists and it undermines the numerous good affirmations that they embrace. To correct this error, one must understand the nature and purpose of the gospel. The gospel is not a WMO but a proclamation of the finished work of Jesus Christ on behalf of his people (Matthew 1:21).  
"I will give you now the Holy Spirit. Rest in me. Trust me. This is a gift." (Piper)
So if this person will believe, God will give them the Holy Spirit? This is completely backwards. The teaching of sovereign grace is that one must have the indwelling Holy Spirit of God in order to believe (Galatians 5:22, I Corinthians 2:11). It follows that believing is a lagging indicator of saving grace, not a prerequisite act required of the dead in trespasses and in sins in order to obtain eternal life. 
"You can receive a gift. It's not something you do. You can receive this." (Piper)
So “saving faith” is a gift and not something that one who is dead in trespasses and in sins can do, yet this person who is dead in trespasses and in sins can “receive it” – indeed they must or they’ll be consigned to hell? It is no exaggeration or undue hyperbole to point out that this teaching is unadulterated nonsense, that turns a blind eye to the eternal life imparting nature of the new birth and man's abject inability to actively participate therein. I would ask those who embrace this type of NeoCal theology to recognize that the preaching of Piper’s “receive a gift” soteriology would find no opposition whatsoever in virtually any non-sovereign-grace assembly because this teaching is indistinguishable from their doctrine of salvation.

With that observation we must conclude that NeoCalvinism is a fence straddling theology that claims to embrace the precepts of sovereign grace (TULIP) but then regards such truths as having little or no practical bearing on the nature and purpose of the gospel message. As a result, it ends up with a philosophy of ministry based on the Arminian gospel of well-meant offerism - a theology that it claims to oppose.
"The Lord grant you to receive the gift." (Piper)
So what is required for a person to “receive the gift”? For this person to receive any of the truths that Piper has presented to them thus far, such as depravity, they must ALREADY have the spiritual capacity of faith, else they would be incapable of receiving this truth (I Corinthians 2:14). If, on the other hand, they have the spiritual capacity of faith they are ALREADY born again and thus ALREADY in possession of eternal life and thus stand in no need of “receiving the gift” which has evidently ALREADY been imparted to them.

FINALLY


Piper's brand of evangelical irrationalism does a great disservice to the truths of God’s word and to those of God’s sheep who are prone to swallow his untenable explanation. In my opinion, those who claim to believe the doctrines of salvation by sovereign grace taught in the word of God but who also persist in teaching that the gospel is sincerely offering eternal life to all of humanity should first seek to reconcile the enormous logical contradiction that sits in the middle of their theology.  They should avoid proselytizing others in their unstable religion of irrationalism and instead allow their understanding of TULIP to properly and logically shape their understanding of the nature, extent, and purpose of the gospel message.


All quotes are by John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org


38 comments:

  1. Excellent! As a Primitive Baptist, I have been accused of being a Rationalist. If rightly dividing the word of God in ways that make sense and coherent is rationalism, then I will gladly accept that moniker. Certainly better that promoting doctrines that are both unscriptural and irrational. I rightly felt that Arminianism was irrational when I left it, but this Neo-Calvinism is far worse. It confuses Grace to such a degree that I wonder how any could escape its clutches, except of course by the Grace of God.

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    1. Thank you for your kind remarks, brother, and I completely agree with your rational approach to right division. I believe that Piper's brand of NeoCalvinism does a disservice to the Lord's flock by affirming some doctrines that are essential to a right understanding, but then rejecting the logical ramifications of those doctrines. The result is a double-minded theology that attempts to marry particular redemption with the well-meant offer - an unstable and irrational combination, IMO.

      May God bless our studies and understanding of his word,
      teth

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  2. As a fellow PB, Piper's remarks do not surprise me. Some time ago he wrote an article titled "The Duty: Faith." Which title alone should set of alarm bells. In it he advocated Andrew Fuller's heresy, the death of Christ is efficient to save all the Elect, and sufficient to save all the rest of the world if they will only believe. Therfore, his response, however scripturally illogical, is consistent with his Fullerite soteriorology.

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  3. Brother Taylor,

    Thanks for taking the time to make a thoughtful contribution to the blog. I have some thoughts on your comment:

    JT: As a fellow PB, Piper's remarks do not surprise me. Some time ago he wrote an article titled "The Duty: Faith." Which title alone should set of alarm bells.

    TETH: I agree.

    JT: In it he advocated Andrew Fuller's heresy, the death of Christ is efficient to save all the Elect, and sufficient to save all the rest of the world if they will only believe. Therfore, his response, however scripturally illogical, is consistent with his Fullerite soteriorology.

    TETH: That is true. The NeoCalvinism that I frequently confront on this blog is essentially the popular, modern variant of Fullerism - a modified form of Calvinism. My desire is to demonstrate that this type of so-called "sovereign grace" theology, while claiming to embrace TULIP, is very different from what the PBs believe and that we should avoid quoting the popular Calvinistic proponents of this brand of Christian irrationalism (Piper, MacArthur, etc.) so that we do not give the false impression that PBs are in agreement with their teachings. While these men affirm many things that we would agree upon, there are enormous differences present as well. Those differences do a great disservice to our proper understanding of grace, IMO.

    Thanks again and God bless,
    teth

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  4. Hello TETH

    I am a 25 year old unregenerate man from the UK and I feel as though I am in the same position as the person who write to Piper, I am seeking salvation (I am aware that no unregenerate person truly seeks Romans 3 etc) and I think am intellectually convinced of the truths of Christianity.

    I wondered if you could do me a favour and provide me with some counsel? Please could you provide me with the answers you would give to the original question Piper received?

    I would appreciate to see what answers a consistent Calvinist would give in this situation.

    I hope you don't mind doing this for me.

    Thanks and regards

    Andre

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    1. Andre1989,

      First off let me thank you for taking the time to interact with my blog. You make a number of statements in your note and I’d like to spend some time with each of them and, in so doing, perhaps provide some comfort along your journey. In the service of clarity, I will try to do so in a manner that is very straightforward. I hope you will not regard this approach as terse, because that is not my intent. In my experience, ministers are often better at dodging questions and speaking in vague generalities than they are at speaking with clarity in regard to what they believe. That said, my prayer is that you might receive my answers in the spirit in which they are offered.

      ANDRE1989: I am a 25 year old unregenerate man from the UK and I feel as though I am in the same position as the person who write to Piper, I am seeking salvation (I am aware that no unregenerate person truly seeks Romans 3 etc)

      TETH: By making reference to the unregenerate man’s inability to seek (Romans 3:11), you seem to admit that your initial statement that you are “unregenerate yet seeking” is a contradiction, at least so far as the bible’s testimony is concerned. We should pause on that point for clarity. Either you are regenerate and your seeking God is an evidence of such (Matthew 5:6), or you are unregenerate in which case you are NOT seeking God (Psalm 10:4). Forgive me if this observation is ponderous, but I feel compelled to try to be as explicit as possible to avoid any misunderstanding. If, by your own admission you are “seeking God”, then it goes without saying that you believe that God exists and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). This is one of the biblical definitions of God given faith. Indeed, why would you be “seeking God” if you did not believe that he existed, or if you did not believe that he rewarded those who seek Him?

      ANDRE1989: and I think am intellectually convinced of the truths of Christianity.

      TETH: Because you categorize yourself as “unregenerate” but also as someone who is intellectually convinced of Christian truth, you seem to be implying that there is something deficient in your intellectual conviction such that it does not constitute “saving faith.” Is that correct? It seems as though you are saying that you “believe it” but that you “don’t believe it enough” or something similar. I would want to ask:

      1) Do you believe that you are a sinner who has broken God’s law and who stands in need of salvation? (Matthew 5:3-6) If you don’t, what are you seeking? If you see your sin, know your guilt before God, and have a hunger and thirst for righteousness, the Lord Jesus Christ describes such people as being ALREADY in a blessed state. That blessed state includes great and precious promises, namely “the kingdom of heaven,” “comfort”, “inheritance”, and that you “shall be filled.” If you believe gospel truth, why would you reject the promises that the bible says attend those who believe such things? Lay hold of that truth, brother.

      2) Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God? (I John 5:1) The apostle John said that those who believe this ARE born again. When Peter proclaimed such belief before Jesus he was told that God the Father in heaven had revealed that truth to him (Matthew 16:17), which is an affirmation of his regenerate state and of his status as a beneficiary of the covenant promises that attend gospel truth (Romans 8:38-39).

      3) Do you believe that he “shall save his people from their sins?” (Matthew 1:21) This is a fundamental of gospel truth, without which God’s people fail to receive the blessings and comforts of the truth.

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    2. ANDRE1989 – ANSWER 02

      TETH: I believe that Jesus Christ taught that people in your situation were “laboring and heavy laden” and he offered to give them “rest.” In so doing he is not telling one who is dead in trespasses and in sins to DO something in order to obtain eternal life, but rather, he is admonishing those who HAVE eternal life, as evidenced by their “laboring and heavy laden state,” to enter into a complete and profitable understanding of their accomplished salvation which is the result of Christ’s actions on their behalf (Romans 5:19) and not the result of works of righteousness which the sinner does (Titus 3:5). Stated plainly, as long as a regenerate man continues to look for something which he must do in order to have eternal life he will persist in a an exhausting labor of futility rather than resting in the finished work of Christ on his behalf which is evidenced by faith (Hebrews 11:1). Believing gospel truth as I assume you do from your earlier statements, you are at liberty to enter into the rest of the gospel. That rest is found in seeing Christ’s work as ALL that was required, and in coming to realize that your efforts at obedience could never be adequate. The beauty of salvation by grace is that it saves God’s people IN SPITE OF their actions, not because of them (II Timothy 1:9, Romans 9:16).

      ANDRE1989: I wondered if you could do me a favour and provide me with some counsel? Please could you provide me with the answers you would give to the original question Piper received?

      TETH: If I take the statement made in Piper’s post and attribute it to you, I would have the following answers, based on your testimony to me.

      ANDRE1989 (PIPER QUESTION): I've concluded that I don't have saving faith.

      TETH: I don’t see how this applies to you. You claim to be seeking God and desirous of salvation. This places you in the category of “laboring and heavy laden” – not in the category of “unregenerate” who do not seek after God (Psalm 10:4).

      ANDRE1989 (PIPER QUESTION): I've tried to believe in Jesus for two years but I can't.

      TETH: I don’t understand what this statement means. I don’t mean for that to be rude, I just don’t understand it.

      ANDRE1989 (PIPER QUESTION): I fear I'm beyond saving. What can I do?

      TETH: If you do not believe that Jesus is the Christ and that there is judgment that will come upon the wicked, why are you fearful? Fear of the Lord is described as the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). Moreover, fear of the Lord is an attribute that the unregenerate man does not have (Romans 3:18). If someone has a God-given “fear of the Lord” they are regenerate, because the unregenerate man does not possess this trait. Such fear is an evidentiary fruit of faith, because apart from believing that God exists and some aspects of his disposition toward sin, there would be nothing to fear.

      TETH: I believe that many of the Lord’s children end up fearful of the Lord’s punishment because they have embraced a truncated gospel that falls short of proclaiming Jesus Christ as a successful savior who ACCOMPLISHED salvation on behalf of his covenant people. Faith, fear of the Lord, and seeking God are all evidences of your regenerate, eternally saved state. They are not prerequisites to obtaining eternal life, they are evidences of eternal life already imparted to one of God’s children. Someone in this condition needs to hear the gospel of the finished work of Christ and recognize that if they believe what Christ has claimed to do for his people, they should likewise believe what Christ says this accomplished, and believe the promises that attend the one who has faith.

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    3. ANDRE1989 – ANSWER 03

      TETH: This is where I believe many “gospels” miss the mark. They affirm a great deal of truth, but they fall short of actually heralding Christ’s accomplishment. This gospel deficiency creates an occasion for man to look to himself to provide something that completes the work – “saving faith” if you will. “Surely it must rise to some level in order for these things to be true for me?” But the gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news of an accomplished salvation (Matthew 1:21) attended by the promise that those who believe it have eternal life (John 6:47) and the admonition to live in gospel obedience as a reasonable service (Romans 12:1). So to summarize, if you believe the gospel, then you will profit enormously by believing the promises that attend those who have such faith in the word of God as well and you should live in obedience to Christ – not in order to gain salvation or to rise to some standard of “saving faith” – but because this is your reasonable service. To the extent that we look to the ever shifting sands of our faith or personal performance as the basis of saving efficacy, we are looking in the wrong direction. When we look to Christ’s accomplishment, we are able to see the beauty in what has been done by the grace of Christ for us, in spite of the frailty of our faith and the manifold imperfections in our personal performance.

      ANDRE1989: I would appreciate to see what answers a consistent Calvinist would give in this situation.

      TETH: I am not a Calvinist. I am a Primitive Baptist. We do share some beliefs in common with Calvinists, but you should not regard my answer as a model for consistent Calvinism, or Calvinism of any sort, really.

      ANDRE1989: I hope you don't mind doing this for me.

      TETH: I do not. I enjoy discussing such things, especially among those who are evidently seeking God. I believe it is a primary mission of gospel ministry to present the truth with sufficient clarity so that God’s people may enter into the rest that attends a complete understanding of the gospel of God’s undeserved, saving grace.

      ANDRE1989: Further to my comments above could I ask what do you think of The Puritan Doctrine of Seeking (Preparationism)?

      TETH: I believe that preparationism is an unscriptural teaching. The new birth is a resurrection mercy – a passing from death unto life. As such there is nothing that a dead subject can do in order to “prepare for” or “actively participate in” his resurrection. Moreover, any so-called “preparatory acts” prior to the new birth would be acts of the flesh. If such acts are required for the new birth to transpire then the flesh would be profitable in the acquisition of eternal life – indeed the flesh would be ESSENTIAL – but this clearly contradicts the Lord’s statement that “the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63) and “that which is born of flesh is flesh.” (John 3:6). And so it is absolutely essential to a right understanding of saving grace to reject the concept of preparationism. That said, I believe that what many call preparationism is actually evidence of those who are regenerate yet unconverted. Because, by and large, neither the Puritians nor the majority of modern evangelicals understand the distinction between regeneration and conversion, they end up inventing unscriptural, novelty doctrines to accommodate the world they see around them. All of this is easily explained by the distinction and separation in time between regeneration and conversion, IMO.

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    4. ANDRE1989 – ANSWER 04

      ANDRE1989: Also can I ask what advice would you give to someone like me, because I read your article "What is The Gospel" and I feel the conviction that I need to believe The Gospel but I just don't have it in me to do so?

      TETH: This statement seems to be at odds with your earlier statement that you are “intellectually convinced of the truths of Christianity.” I don’t understand how you can be “intellectually convinced” and yet claim that you “don’t have it in you to believe the gospel.” Do you mean, “I believe, help thou mine unbelief”? (Mark 9:24) If so, this is the cry of a child of God.

      ANDRE1989: Thanks and regards

      TETH: You are welcomed. I’m happy to provide whatever assistance I can. Bear in mind that my personal assistance is of no consequence whatsoever unless it is in harmony with the word of God. I would ask you to prayerfully search the scriptures to see if these things are so. That said, I would want to leave you with a few questions:

      1) Do the unregenerate seek God? (Romans 3:18, Psalm 10:4)

      2) Are the regenerate in possession of eternal life? (Ephesians 2:1,5)

      3) Can the purpose of their seeking be to obtain the eternal life they already have?

      4) If they seek, will they find? (Matthew 7:7-11)

      Thanks again for taking the time to interact with my blog.

      May you find the rest that rewards those who diligently seek the Lord (Matthew 7:7-11, 11:28, Hebrews 11:6)

      teth

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  5. Further to my comments above could I ask what do you think of The Puritan Doctrine of Seeking (Preparationism)? Also can I ask what advice would you give to someone like me, because I read your article "What is The Gospel" and I feel the conviction that I need to believe The Gospel but I just don't have it in me to do so?

    Thanks again

    Andre

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    1. As my answer to you was quite long, I had to break it into multiple parts which I believe you will have to visit the blog again to see all the parts in their entirety.

      http://theearstohear.blogspot.com/2014/12/ive-tried-to-believe-but-cant-what-can.html?showComment=1419810242326

      God bless,
      teth

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  6. Hello TETH

    Thank you for your in depth replies, I now know I am definitely unregenerate and not seeking God. I guess I was just deceiving myself, so lets just say I am someone that knows he his not a Christian, what advice would you give me then?

    Thanks

    Andre

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    1. Andre1989,

      TETH: You've gone from "I am seeking salvation... and I think am intellectually convinced of the truths of Christianity" to "I now know I am definitely unregenerate and not seeking God." That's an extraordinary change of perspective, IMO. It makes me wonder - what were you doing that you considered to be "seeking salvation" just 4 days ago that you now believe is "not seeking God"?

      ANDRE1989: Let's just say I am someone that knows he his not a Christian, what advice would you give me then?"

      TETH: Eternal salvation is not a matter of either "advice" or instruction, it is a matter of resurrection. I can share the gospel with you but I cannot give you the heart to believe it. The gospel is the objective truth of Christ's fulfillment of the laws demands on behalf of his covenant people. It is true whether someone believes it or not. Those who believe the gospel's testimony, in so doing, bring forth the evidence that they are already beneficiaries of the covenant promises (Hebrews 11:1) and are thus in possession of eternal life (John 6:47). For those who do not believe this testimony, only God knows what will come to pass. It would be an exercise in unsubstantiated judgmentalism to declare that such people are without hope, IMO. Even Saul of Tarsus, who was violently set against the truths of Christianity and who actively sought to destroy it, was eventually quickened into divine life in God's timing and became the great apostle of the faith and writer of much of the New Testament. So with respect to the eternal salvation of one who currently has no Christian profession of faith it ultimately comes down to, "The Lord knoweth them that are his." (II Timothy 2:19) We are assured, however, that the Lord shall deliver his chosen people to glory in keeping with a covenant promise (Matthew 1:21, John 17:2).

      TETH: Where "advice" and instruction come into play is in the domain of Christian discipleship - it is profitable to those who have faith as a result of their regeneration (Galatians 4:6). But all such advice and instruction presuppose a living subject - one that has the ears to hear gospel truth and the heart to receive and profit from the precepts of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 8:47, 14:15). An unregenerate man cannot be given eternal life as a result of advice; it is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing (John 6:63) - neither do they have the ability to receive such instruction (I Corinthians 2:14). It is for this reason that the Lord Jesus Christ taught, "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)

      TETH: That said, the Lord is a God of mercy who died for his people when they were without strength and ungodly (Romans 5:6). If he was merciful to me, the chief of sinner (I Timothy 1:15) I have no reason to believe that might not be likewise merciful to you as well.

      An object of mercy,
      teth

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  7. Great blog topic, and discussion with Andre as good as the initial comments on Piper.

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  8. Dear TETH,

    Last night I stumbled upon your YouTube channel and in turn I was lead here. I have perused the content and have found your posts and especially your comments, like the ones on this thread, quite compelling and grounded. As a result of reading your absolute commitment to the fundementals of Scripture and seeing them applied I have taken comfort in that I believe I may have found respite in Gods council to me through you. I have been waiting eagerly since last night to finish work, put the baby to bed and find time to write you. But even as I'm writing I don't know where to start. Suffice it to say, by way of summary, in regards to our faith, o have lost the forest for the trees. What i mean is this; I have my BA in theology from California Baptist, and a portion of my MA in theology from Talbot, I have done missions for years, I know all the "right" things - yet at the same time I don't really know what is right. I long to share my plight, my spiritual depression as it were, in hopes that the Lord would be pleased to ease my mind by the truth of scipture expounded and applied to my ways of error, ignorance, folly, and just flat out lies. Here goes (this might be jumbeled, but hopefully you can read between the lines and discern my worldview and understanding/misunderstanding)

    I have an almost complete Lack of religious affections towards Christ and His Church (I believe it to be historically abd theologicly true, and it resonates with me, but still I have no real weighty affections)...)...

    I long to love Jesus, I daily want to spend time in prayer, but I'm being honest I wake up and just start trying to pray, but I don't even know what to pray (I feel like I should say "Dear Jesus thank you for your sacrifice, for your love, etc." but to be totally real I don't feel those things (I'm ashamed to say it).

    All this to say, I don't really love Jesus but I want to more than anything, I'm stuck in Christianity as a historical/philosophical truth, but at the end of the day it might as well be a true mathematical equation. But that said I want to press on in faith abd "do"Christian stuff/thoughts/prayers (I wake up every morning and desire to walk in a God honoring way but I just feel like all that looks like is just me saying "no" to "bad stuff" and "yes" to "good stuff")

    I know I am born again, but I feel I am bogged down, I feel I'm bogged down with not being satisfied with the main questions I have and the common responses to them. So, if the Lord allows you time I would be blessed to hear your thoughts on;

    -What is the chief end of man?? Is it a heaven to gain and a hell to shun? Is it about flourishing and enjoying God? From what I see in the scriptures it's clear God cares about His glory, he cares about us being his people and he being our God, but i ask, what does that look like? What does it look like in the day to day? Now that I am saved, what is next for me? Am I to love him more? How do I love this invisible God? What should compel me to not sin? How can I be a delight to Christ? How can I be more like Him? What should be the motivation for me to turn from sin knowing I'm already forgiven?... You needn't respond to all those, I merely desire to paint a picture of where I'm at and I hope by these questions you can gauge me.

    May God be glorified.
    Jason from California




    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. STOPE ANSWER 101:

      TETH: First of all, thanks for taking time to interact with my blog. You make a number of statements that I’d like to respond to:

      STOPE: Last night I stumbled upon your YouTube channel and in turn I was lead here. I have perused the content and have found your posts and especially your comments, like the ones on this thread, quite compelling and grounded. As a result of reading your absolute commitment to the fundamentals of Scripture and seeing them applied I have taken comfort in that I believe I may have found respite in Gods council to me through you.

      TETH: Thank you. That is a really nice thing to hear.

      STOPE: I have been waiting eagerly since last night to finish work, put the baby to bed and find time to write you. But even as I'm writing I don't know where to start. Suffice it to say, by way of summary in regards to our faith, I have lost the forest for the trees. What I mean is this; I have my BA in theology from California Baptist, and a portion of my MA in theology from Talbot, I have done missions for years, I know all the "right" things - yet at the same time I don't really know what is right.

      TETH: I believe this is a very honest, spiritual assessment of your own life. I do not put much stock in formal ministry training or education, as I don’t see it referenced as something profitable or recommended as a proper course of action for ministry in the New Testament (Philippians 3:8). I realize that is a controversial opinion within the domain of modern Christendom, but I also believe it is an incontrovertible fact of revelation provided we are willing to set aside the cultural context in which we find ourselves and take an honest look at the matter. I would want to ask, what do you mean when you say, “I know all the right things, yet I don’t really know what is right.” My interest lies more in not glossing over the statement “I know all the right things.” That could well be an erroneous assumption that prevents us from addressing matters that could be instrumental in your current state of mind. I would want to know how you would answer:

      1. Is salvation the result of an everlasting covenant?
      (II Samuel 23:5)

      2. Did Jesus Christ fulfill that covenant?
      (Hebrews 10:14)

      3. Is redemption a past accomplishment of the Lord Jesus Christ?
      (Hebrew 9:12)

      4. Did God choose a people to save before the foundation of the world?
      (Ephesians 1:4-5)

      5. Is man in his natural state, capable of receiving spiritual truth?
      (I Corinthians 2:14)

      TETH: Apart from clear and proper answers to those questions, I would not be comfortable affirming that you “know all the right things.” I hope you understand that I do not say that to be rude, but to be clear. In my experience, there are many people who rush past this first point and in so doing train all their efforts in the wrong direction. Given that I rarely encounter Christians who understand those aforementioned points, I think it is a good place to start. Stated very plainly, I would prefer that you start by asking – Do I really know all the right things or have I acquired an incorrect understanding of some things, the sheer illogic of which causes me a great consternation and uncertainty as I engage in gospel ministry?

      Delete
    2. STOPE ANSWER 102:

      STOPE: I long to share my plight, my spiritual depression as it were, in hopes that the Lord would be pleased to ease my mind by the truth of scripture expounded and applied to my ways of error, ignorance, folly, and just flat out lies. Here goes (this might be jumbled, but hopefully you can read between the lines and discern my worldview and understanding/misunderstanding)

      TETH: It is certainly of no spiritual benefit to try and hide one’s spiritual error, ignorance, folly or lies. The Lord knows them – I’m sure we both affirm that. The bigger issue, as I see it, is the issue of deceiving ourselves – convincing ourselves that because we went to so-and-so’s Church or got such-and-such degree or have X years in missions, that this somehow means we KNOW the gospel or have a firm grasp of spiritual truth. I can tell you, from my own personal observation, that this statement is categorically false. What has been helpful to me is to commit what I believe to paper and then to defend it from scripture. As I started doing this, the folly of numerous false doctrines became very apparent to me in a way that I don’t believe it ever would have if these things remain locked-up in our minds. But I am getting ahead of myself…

      STOPE: I have an almost complete Lack of religious affections towards Christ and His Church (I believe it to be historically and theologically true, and it resonates with me, but still I have no real weighty affections)

      TETH: It is entirely possible for God’s people to become “lukewarm” or indifferent with regard to spiritual things (Revelation 3:16). The Lord’s words to the Laodicean Church may have application here. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Revelation 3:17-19) I would ask, is it possible that your statement “I know all the right things” constitutes a proclamation of “I have need of nothing” with respect to spiritual instruction? Is it possible that your educational credentials have placed you in a false state of believing you have need of nothing with respect to spiritual instruction, when all the while you are actually persisting in a “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” spiritual condition? Again, I ask this not to be rude, but in an effort to open up avenues of honest exploration for you to consider. I’ll say this, I have had many such conversations with Christians in similar circumstances, and I have found that when they attempt to cordon off certain areas and train one’s attention on where they believe the problem lies, the REAL problem almost ALWAYS lies in the area they roped off. I do not know that this is true in your case, the only way to find out, is to remove the “Police Line” from the topic of what you currently believe and to explore that area in the spirit of openness and sincerity.

      Delete
    3. STOPE ANSWER 103:

      STOPE: I long to love Jesus, I daily want to spend time in prayer, but I'm being honest I wake up and just start trying to pray, but I don't even know what to pray (I feel like I should say "Dear Jesus thank you for your sacrifice, for your love, etc." but to be totally real I don't feel those things (I'm ashamed to say it). All this to say, I don't really love Jesus but I want to more than anything, I'm stuck in Christianity as a historical/philosophical truth, but at the end of the day it might as well be a true mathematical equation. But that said I want to press on in faith and "do"Christian stuff/thoughts/prayers (I wake up every morning and desire to walk in a God honoring way but I just feel like all that looks like is just me saying "no" to "bad stuff" and "yes" to "good stuff")

      TETH: “Doing Christian stuff” is that which should arise out of a proper understanding of the faith, apart from which, there is no spiritual soil within which such spiritual activities to find substantial root. It may be time to break up some fallow ground and dig into what you really believe, rather than double-down on “knowing all the right things.”

      STOPE: I know I am born again, but I feel I am bogged down, I feel I'm bogged down with not being satisfied with the main questions I have and the common responses to them.

      TETH: Having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is a key indicator of regeneration, but being born again is NOT the same as being spiritually mature, or having a right understanding of the faith once delivered to the saints. The reason we need a solid theological foundation is because it is PROFITABLE to our lives (II Timothy 3:16-17). So again, I would ask you to start by revisiting the 5 questions I outlined above.

      STOPE: So, if the Lord allows you time I would be blessed to hear your thoughts on; What is the chief end of man?

      TETH: I believe that man’s chief end is to glorify God (I Corinthians 10:31) and that all men will do this as either objects of God’s mercy or recipients of God’s justice (Exodus 33:19). As Christians we are instructed to glorify God in this life by presenting our bodies a living sacrifice to God as our reasonable service (Romans 12:1).

      STOPE: Is it a heaven to gain and a hell to shun?

      TETH: No. Since salvation is a monergistic, resurrection, mercy of God (Ephesians 2:1, Titus 3:5) it follows that man is not responsible or actively involved in his salvation at all. Very few in Christendom understand this truth, even among those who claim to be preaching salvation by sovereign grace.

      STOPE: Is it about flourishing and enjoying God?

      TETH: Yes. Abiding in his love (John 15:5) through obedient discipleship (15:12).

      STOPE: From what I see in the scriptures it's clear God cares about His glory, he cares about us being his people and he being our God, but I ask, what does that look like? What does it look like in the day to day?

      TETH: Obedient discipleship to the precepts taught by the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:15).

      STOPE: Now that I am saved, what is next for me?

      TETH: Great portions of the New Testament are taken up in exhortations to practical Godliness (Romans 12-16, Ephesians 4-6, James, etc.) We are to live in obedient thanksgiving for the eternal life that we’ve been given by grace, in spite of who we were by nature (Ephesians 2:3).

      Delete
    4. STOPE ANSWER 104:

      STOPE: Am I to love him more?

      TETH: Yes. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

      STOPE: How do I love this invisible God?

      TETH: Keep his commandments (John 14:15) which involves loving others (Mark 12:30-31).

      STOPE: What should compel me to not sin?

      TETH: There are several answers, I’ll give you three. (1) God commands obedience and this is done to provide the more abundant life that is available to an obedient disciple of Jesus Christ (John 10:10), (2) while Christ has paid your eternal sin debt, sin still has tremendous, life-wrecking consequences in this life which can be avoided by obedience (Hebrews 10:31), (3) your practice of sin emboldens other to likewise practice sin and thus visits ruin and distress upon their lives as well (Galatians 5:9).

      STOPE: How can I be a delight to Christ?

      TETH: First and foremost, recognize that you ARE a delight to God because he has loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), and because of Christ’s intercession on your behalf he sees you as clothed in His righteousness (II Corinthians 5:21). Consider the ramifications of the Lord’s statement, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” (John 15:9) Ask yourself this – Is God delighted with His perfect Son? He loves his people in EXACTLY the same way. That is an astounding statement that is worthy of our consideration. That said, we bring glory to God in this life through our obedience and it is a primary way of expressing our love and thanksgiving to God (John 14:15).

      STOPE: How can I be more like Him?

      TETH: Let not sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof (Romans 6:12).

      STOPE: What should be the motivation for me to turn from sin knowing I'm already forgiven?

      TETH: The purpose of not sinning is not to obtain forgiveness or eternal salvation – if it was then salvation would be by works and Paul explicitly excludes this notion in too many passages to recount (Romans 11:6, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5). Sin has horrible consequences in this life, irrespective of whether or not someone has eternal life; moreover, it is our primary means of expressing love to the Lord by his own testimony (John 14:15). To the extent that we do not obey, we in like measure call our love for God into question. I believe it is profitable in these discussions to examine ourselves by asking the honest question – is there sin that has taken up refuge in my life that I regard as “non-negotiable” or “within acceptable limits”? Apart from efforts to root out such sins, spiritual depression is unavoidable and is likely to be followed by its even more horrible replacement – total spiritual indifference.

      STOPE: You needn't respond to all those, I merely desire to paint a picture of where I'm at and I hope by these questions you can gauge me.

      TETH: I appreciate your questions. I don’t know if my answers are helpful or not, but they are honest and guaranteed to be worth every penny that you paid for them. I would invite you to start by prayerfully examining what you believe with an open mind and an open bible, particularly with respect to the 5 questions I asked.

      May God bless our studies and understanding of his word,
      TETH

      Delete

  9. Thank you so so so so much for taking the time to write these thoughtful responses out. Please see below my responses;


    STOPE: I have been waiting eagerly since last night to finish work, put the baby to bed and find time to write you. But even as I'm writing I don't know where to start. Suffice it to say, by way of summary in regards to our faith, I have lost the forest for the trees. What I mean is this; I have my BA in theology from California Baptist, and a portion of my MA in theology from Talbot, I have done missions for years, I know all the "right" things - yet at the same time I don't really know what is right.

    TETH: I believe this is a very honest, spiritual assessment of your own life. I do not put much stock in formal ministry training or education, as I don’t see it referenced as something profitable or recommended as a proper course of action for ministry in the New Testament (Philippians 3:8). I realize that is a controversial opinion within the domain of modern Christendom, but I also believe it is an incontrovertible fact of revelation provided we are willing to set aside the cultural context in which we find ourselves and take an honest look at the matter. I would want to ask, what do you mean when you say, “I know all the right things, yet I don’t really know what is right."
    ---------What I mean is, I know and believe the fundamentals of the faith, namely that I'm a sinner, I deserve physical death, hell... Jesus lived sinless life, was killed, raised to offer atonement for those whom the Father gave him. I know I owe nothing of my own work for the grace given me. I know desire to do good and honor and love God.

    My interest lies more in not glossing over the statement “I know all the right things.” That could well be an erroneous assumption that prevents us from addressing matters that could be instrumental in your current state of mind. I would want to know how you would answer:

    1. Is salvation the result of an everlasting covenant?
    (II Samuel 23:5)
    ------if you mean that God has decreed saving the elect and has revealed the shadow of it under the old covenant and that there would be a new covenant yes I do.

    2. Did Jesus Christ fulfill that covenant?
    (Hebrews 10:14)
    -----Absolutely

    3. Is redemption a past accomplishment of the Lord Jesus Christ?
    (Hebrew 9:12)
    ------Absolutely

    4. Did God choose a people to save before the foundation of the world?
    (Ephesians 1:4-5)
    -------Yes

    5. Is man in his natural state, capable of receiving spiritual truth?
    (I Corinthians 2:14)
    --------No

    ---------That said, apart from number 2, I'm not sure I understand why you chose the questions as a sort of gauge... If I was to understand the beliefs I would choose to ask; are you a sinner? Are you lost in your sin? Was Christ born a man and live a sinless life was killed and rose again as a substitutionary atonement for the elect? Have you confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord? Is the glory of God of the upmost importance??? So I ask you TETH, why is it you choose your questions rather that the ones I choose?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Please see my responses below;

    STOPE: I long to share my plight, my spiritual depression as it were, in hopes that the Lord would be pleased to ease my mind by the truth of scripture expounded and applied to my ways of error, ignorance, folly, and just flat out lies. Here goes (this might be jumbled, but hopefully you can read between the lines and discern my worldview and understanding/misunderstanding)

    TETH: It is certainly of no spiritual benefit to try and hide one’s spiritual error, ignorance, folly or lies. The Lord knows them – I’m sure we both affirm that.
    -----We do


    The bigger issue, as I see it, is the issue of deceiving ourselves – convincing ourselves that because we went to so-and-so’s Church or got such-and-such degree or have X years in missions, that this somehow means we KNOW the gospel or have a firm grasp of spiritual truth. I can tell you, from my own personal observation, that this statement is categorically false. What has been helpful to me is to commit what I believe to paper and then to defend it from scripture. As I started doing this, the folly of numerous false doctrines became very apparent to me in a way that I don’t believe it ever would have if these things remain locked-up in our minds. But I am getting ahead of myself...
    -----Good advice, taking up pen is brilliant. I will

    STOPE: I have an almost complete Lack of religious affections towards Christ and His Church (I believe it to be historically and theologically true, and it resonates with me, but still I have no real weighty affections)

    TETH: It is entirely possible for God’s people to become “lukewarm” or indifferent with regard to spiritual things (Revelation 3:16). The Lord’s words to the Laodicean Church may have application here. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Revelation 3:17-19) I would ask, is it possible that your statement “I know all the right things” constitutes a proclamation of “I have need of nothing” with respect to spiritual instruction?
    -----no I don't think so. God has given me a heart that desires all things that have to do with knowing and loving Him. I might be lukewarm but that is not for lack of zeal for Christ, it's not for loving other sins, it would be for not really loving God that much. What I mean is, I zealously love, and am stirred deeply by my 16 month year old daughter as she and I interact daily. However my love for Christ is a kind of me loving Him because I know I should, because He first loved me, etc., but I just am without that zeal and passion for Him (but I am passionate about being passionate about Him).


    Is it possible that your educational credentials have placed you in a false state of believing you have need of nothing with respect to spiritual instruction,
    ----Absolutely not. The opposite is in true. That is, I feel I know orthodoxy but I KNOW I am missing something (hence my reaching out to you).


    when all the while you are actually persisting in a “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” spiritual condition?
    ------I am this in my nature, but not in my standing with Him.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Responses below;



    TETH: “Doing Christian stuff” is that which should arise out of a proper understanding of the faith, apart from which, there is no spiritual soil within which such spiritual activities to find substantial root.
    ----I think you are 100% correct. It is to that end I have decided to reach out to you in hopes it would be pleasing to God to "diagnose" what I missing...

    It may be time to break up some fallow ground and dig into what you really believe, rather than double-down on “knowing all the right things.”
    ----I spend hours in the Word, listening to sermons, reading theology, history, biogrphy, in prayer, in profitable discourse... Yet still I am missing something, I just don't know what and it breaks my heart

    STOPE: I know I am born again, but I feel I am bogged down, I feel I'm bogged down with not being satisfied with the main questions I have and the common responses to them.

    TETH: Having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is a key indicator of regeneration, but being born again is NOT the same as being spiritually mature, or having a right understanding of the faith once delivered to the saint.
    -----I think you are totally 100% right. I'd say I know a lot ABOUT God, but not that much at all actually really know Him know Him

    ReplyDelete

  12. TETH: I believe that man’s chief end is to glorify God (I Corinthians 10:31) and that all men will do this as either objects of God’s mercy or recipients of God’s justice (Exodus 33:19). As Christians we are instructed to glorify God in this life by presenting our bodies a living sacrifice to God as our reasonable service (Romans 12:1).
    -----How does a Christian, in the day to day, actually glorify God and enjoy Him?

    STOPE: Is it a heaven to gain and a hell to shun?

    TETH: No. Since salvation is a monergistic, resurrection, mercy of God (Ephesians 2:1, Titus 3:5) it follows that man is not responsible or actively involved in his salvation at all. Very few in Christendom understand this truth, even among those who claim to be preaching salvation by sovereign grace.
    ------Ok man is not responsible for his salvation. That said, there is in the NT many adomnissiments, warnings, promises directly tied with humans and how it would not be good to go to hell and that it's good to go to heaven. I ask you, why is there an emphasis on this in the NT?

    STOPE: Is it about flourishing and enjoying God?

    TETH: Yes. Abiding in his love (John 15:5) through obedient discipleship (15:12).
    ----Is God pleased the elect are not going to hell, or is he pleased that he was able to display his mercy, or.... What joy was he looking to when he endured the cross because of the joy set before him?

    STOPE: From what I see in the scriptures it's clear God cares about His glory, he cares about us being his people and he being our God, but I ask, what does that look like? What does it look like in the day to day?

    TETH: Obedient discipleship to the precepts taught by the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:15).

    STOPE: Now that I am saved, what is next for me?

    TETH: Great portions of the New Testament are taken up in exhortations to practical Godliness (Romans 12-16, Ephesians 4-6, James, etc.) We are to live in obedient thanksgiving for the eternal life that we’ve been given by grace, in spite of who we were by nature (Ephesians 2:3).
    ---To what end do believers live in obedient thanksgiving?
    ---I'm great full for His mercy, but I don't think I'm grateful enough. Consider this; if my mother paid a debt for me, kept me from prison, made me not homeless, was tortured and humiliated and killed for me would I be grateful?! Yes!! Would I always keep her in my thoughts? Yes. Would I speak fondly of her? Yes. Would I write a song for her? Maybe... However I wouldn't constantly remind myself how crappy I was that caused her to do all that. Nor would I be as zealously vocal about my gratitude for her the same amount as the first month and first year as I would year 10 and 20, and I don't think her memory would be dishonored, nor would they expect me to constantly speak of her. In the same way, I don't know how to not view the atonement of Christ almost as I explained Amin the example about my mom... Any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Responses below;

    STOPE: Am I to love him more?

    TETH: Yes. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
    ----how does one conjure up love for our invisible and seemingly distant God?

    STOPE: How do I love this invisible God?

    TETH: Keep his commandments (John 14:15) which involves loving others (Mark 12:30-31).
    ---but that doesn't seem like I'm loving him (nor do I feel I'm loving others from a place of love for God), rather I feel I'm loving others cause that's what I should do, but not because I actually do love

    STOPE: What should compel me to not sin?

    TETH: There are several answers, I’ll give you three. (1) God commands obedience and this is done to provide the more abundant life that is available to an obedient disciple of Jesus Christ (John 10:10),
    ---what is this abundant life look like, and how is it available?

    (2) while Christ has paid your eternal sin debt, sin still has tremendous, life-wrecking consequences in this life which can be avoided by obedience (Hebrews 10:31),
    ---I agree, however, sometimes when I weigh certain sins I'm willing to sin because the pros of the sin outweigh the cons of the obedience and that's when I often just choose sin

    (3) your practice of sin emboldens other to likewise practice sin and thus visits ruin and distress upon their lives as well (Galatians 5:9).
    ---true

    STOPE: How can I be a delight to Christ?

    TETH: First and foremost, recognize that you ARE a delight to God because he has loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), and because of Christ’s intercession on your behalf he sees you as clothed in His righteousness (II Corinthians 5:21). Consider the ramifications of the Lord’s statement, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” (John 15:9) Ask yourself this – Is God delighted with His perfect Son? He loves his people in EXACTLY the same way. That is an astounding statement that is worthy of our consideration. That said, we bring glory to God in this life through our obedience and it is a primary way of expressing our love and thanksgiving to God (John 14:15).
    ---beautiful, thanks!!!!

    STOPE: What should be the motivation for me to turn from sin knowing I'm already forgiven?

    TETH: The purpose of not sinning is not to obtain forgiveness or eternal salvation – if it was then salvation would be by works and Paul explicitly excludes this notion in too many passages to recount (Romans 11:6, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5).
    ---agreed

    Sin has horrible consequences in this life, irrespective of whether or not someone has eternal life; moreover, it is our primary means of expressing love to the Lord by his own testimony (John 14:15). To the extent that we do not obey, we in like measure call our love for God into question.
    ----I think I have my extent of self discipline is huge, but that shouldn't be confused for love right??

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hello brother - I eagerly await your response 😊

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. STOPE ANSWER 201:

      STOPE: What I mean is, I know and believe the fundamentals of the faith, namely that I'm a sinner, I deserve physical death, hell... Jesus lived sinless life, was killed, raised to offer atonement for those whom the Father gave him. I know I owe nothing of my own work for the grace given me. I know desire to do good and honor and love God.

      TETH: With the possible exception of what you intend by “raised to offer atonement” those all appear to be good affirmations, as are your answers to the five questions I placed before you.

      STOPE: That said, apart from number 2, I'm not sure I understand why you chose the questions as a sort of gauge... If I was to understand the beliefs I would choose to ask; are you a sinner? Are you lost in your sin? Was Christ born a man and live a sinless life was killed and rose again as a substitutionary atonement for the elect? Have you confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord? Is the glory of God of the upmost importance??? So I ask you TETH, why is it you choose your questions rather that the ones I choose?

      TETH: I chose them because I rarely encounter self-professing evangelicals who would deny that they are a sinner, or deny that the practice of sin makes one feel lost, or deny that Jesus was born a man, or deny that Jesus lived a sinless life, or deny his death-burial-resurrection, or deny that he made an atonement, or deny that they have confessed Christ, or deny the importance of God. While there are certainly grave errors that exist with respect to these matters, they just are not the most common errors that I encounter. On the other hand, what I do encounter with great frequency among evangelicals is numerous good affirmations regarding Jesus Christ coupled with an abject misunderstanding of what He ACCOMPLISHED along with a the downstream effects of failure to understand the nature and purpose of the gospel message. It is for this reason that I often start such conversations by establishing monergistic, accomplished, salvation by unilateral covenant, coupled with a sound understanding of man’s abject depravity. You might think of it this way – it is an affirmation of “the grace of Christ” in salvation, apart from which one’s understanding is a departure from the truth and is thus an unsound foundation upon which to build one’s Christian practice (Galatians 1:6).

      STOPE: No I don't think so. God has given me a heart that desires all things that have to do with knowing and loving Him. I might be lukewarm but that is not for lack of zeal for Christ, it's not for loving other sins, it would be for not really loving God that much. What I mean is, I zealously love, and am stirred deeply by my 16 month year old daughter as she and I interact daily. However my love for Christ is a kind of me loving Him because I know I should, because He first loved me, etc., but I just am without that zeal and passion for Him (but I am passionate about being passionate about Him).

      TETH: I guess I don’t understand what you mean when you say, “I might be lukewarm but that is not for lack of zeal for Christ, it's not for loving other sins, it would be for not really loving God that much.”

      Delete
    2. STOPE ANSWER 202:

      STOPE: I am this in my nature, but not in my standing with Him.

      TETH: If you have a nature that sincerely desires to seek after God, then your standing with God is certain, because unregenerate men do not seek after God (Psalm 10:4).

      STOPE: I think you are 100% correct. It is to that end I have decided to reach out to you in hopes it would be pleasing to God to "diagnose" what I missing. I'd say I know a lot ABOUT God, but not that much at all actually really know Him

      TETH: I understand this feeling and I feel certain that all Christians feel this way from time to time, often times as a result of an over emphasis of Christian-activities and “ministries” and a lack of emphasis on the simplicity that is found in simple obedience to the precepts of God and the blessings that attend a knowledge of the truth. I’m not saying this is the case with you, but it has been at times for me.

      STOPE: How does a Christian, in the day to day, actually glorify God and enjoy Him?

      TETH: Largely through obedience to his teachings, a primary attribute of which is that we love one another. This is how we abide in Christ and experience his blessings within the kingdom of God available to us in this life. That may sound trite, and it lacks the sizzle of much of what transpires under the rubric of Christendom today, but it is fundamental to the faith and the Lord Jesus Christ believed it to be of central importance none-the-less. I believe that most Christians spend too much time focused on “doing something BIG for the kingdom of God” when we would be better served by “doing something SMALL for the kingdom of God” so far as common opinion is concerned. It’s easy to get involved in a BIG ministry and DO a bunch of stuff and even get the t-shirt, but the day-to-day Christian walk often involves doing that which is NOT seen and NOT big at all. If more Christians did that, the world would be a better place and Christianity would cease to be an absurd caricature that bears no resemblance to Christ.

      STOPE: Ok man is not responsible for his salvation. That said, there is in the NT many admonishments, warnings, promises directly tied with humans and how it would not be good to go to hell and that it's good to go to heaven. I ask you, why is there an emphasis on this in the NT?

      TETH: There are no texts in the word of God that place an elect child of God at risk of eternal damnation. There are some texts that would seem to indicate as much at face value, but I believe they are only rightly interpreted when viewed through the lens of an everlasting covenant that is ordered in all things and sure (II Samuel 23:5). We are admonished to obedience not for the purpose of avoiding eternal damnation, because no such obedience unto salvation is possible for us (Matthew 19:26), but rather because it is profitable to us in our lives as a means of loving one another, entering into the abundant life of the kingdom of God available to us here, and as a means of showing our faith – letting our light so shine if you will.

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    3. STOPE ANSWER 203:

      STOPE: Is God pleased the elect are not going to hell, or is he pleased that he was able to display his mercy, or.... What joy was he looking to when he endured the cross because of the joy set before him?

      TETH: Pleased for his glory? Yes. Pleased that he saved those he promised to save? Yes. Pleased that he loved his people precisely as he loved Jesus? Yes. (John 15:9) Pleased that the person and work of Jesus Christ represents that love with perfection? Yes. (Deuteronomy 32:4) And a great many other reasons…

      STOPE: To what end do believers live in obedient thanksgiving? I'm great full for His mercy, but I don't think I'm grateful enough.

      TETH: Let me assure you, you are NOT grateful enough - none of us are. Thankfully our salvation is not beholden to some requisite standard of gratefulness, but rather to the perfect work of Christ. Does that help you appreciate grace more? It does me, though we often lose sight of this blessed truth.

      STOPE: Consider this; if my mother paid a debt for me, kept me from prison, made me not homeless, was tortured and humiliated and killed for me would I be grateful?! Yes!! Would I always keep her in my thoughts? Yes. Would I speak fondly of her? Yes. Would I write a song for her? Maybe...

      TETH: Ok.

      STOPE: However I wouldn't constantly remind myself how crappy I was that caused her to do all that.

      TETH: Really? You wouldn’t find it hard to live with the fact that what YOU did caused your mother to be TORTURED and HUMILIATED? I rather doubt that statement.

      STOPE: Nor would I be as zealously vocal about my gratitude for her the same amount as the first month and first year as I would year 10 and 20, and I don't think her memory would be dishonored, nor would they expect me to constantly speak of her.

      TETH: This may be true, but I it is speculative and certainly debatable. It could be that the older you got the more you recognize the sacrifice she made and how undeserving you were. That’s how I feel looking back at my own parents as I travel farther down life’s road. Hopefully that gratitude is expressed in mature ways, through trying to live in a way that honors what they’ve done for me, and not always just “verbally testifying” – and ultimately, isn’t it true that the way we live is a greater testimony given that talk is cheap?

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    4. STOPE ANSWER 204:

      STOPE: I don't know how to not view the atonement of Christ almost as I explained as in the example about my mom... Any thoughts?

      TETH: We all grow cold to the truth from time to time. But given that the Christian love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is metaphorically described as a marriage, I think looking at that model may be helpful in understanding the difference between say “first love” and “mature love.” I know in my own marriage there is a difference between the “passion” that existed in the early days, and the more mature expressions of love that exist in my marriage today. While first love was full of passion, it was also full of ignorance, full of not knowing one another the way we do today, and far less full of having shared so many common experiences along our walk together. I believe that those who try to rekindle “first love” are actually just kidding themselves – and that we would do well to develop the deeper and more mature love that only comes with time, common experiences, and relationship building. I believe this parallel holds true in our Christian walk of discipleship as well – though admittedly this is an anecdote.

      STOPE: how does one conjure up love for our invisible and seemingly distant God?

      TETH: Discipleship – beginning to understand how putting one’s faith in practice in our day to day walk, in our marriages and the raising of our families, in our friendships and work relationships. I believe that it is by our daily obedience – by our abiding in Christ – that we come to love the Lord more – indeed did he not say, “If ye love me keep my commandments”? (John 14:15). This is how we express love to the Lord, and while it seems profoundly simple, the manner in which it works to build our relationship with the Lord is simply profound. It far surpasses the endless rabble and ballyhoo that takes place under the rubric of Christendom in this day and age, IMO.

      STOPE: but that doesn't seem like I'm loving him (nor do I feel I'm loving others from a place of love for God), rather I feel I'm loving others cause that's what I should do, but not because I actually do love

      TETH: It most certainly is what you should do, but in my experience, love in the long haul is expressed through steadfast commitment and purposeful volition and does not simply arise out of sheer passion. That may be discouraging, but I believe it is often true. Back to the marriage metaphor – there are times that I do things for my wife (go to work, help with kid things, whatever), not because I feel the passion and giddy butterflies of first love welling up in my belly, but because I know what I do is helpful to her and I am committed to her and I love her – so I do these things even though they are at times contrary to passion or ease.

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    5. STOPE ANSWER 205:

      STOPE: what is this abundant life look like, and how is it available?

      TETH: One could start by pointing out that living in obedience eliminates the life-wrecking consequences of one’s own personal sin from their existence – this is sort of an obvious choice, but I wonder if we really ever give it proper consideration for the potentially massive blessing it could visit upon our lives. A great many of the difficulties I have encountered in my life have been brought on by my own disobedience, not thrust upon me in some epic, Job-like saga.

      STOPE: I agree, however, sometimes when I weigh certain sins I'm willing to sin because the pros of the sin outweigh the cons of the obedience and that's when I often just choose sin.

      TETH: I believe that is an honest admission on your part and I understand the sentiment behind it – but it is a faithless remark. To the extent that we deal in such carnal pragmatism we are likewise dealing in the domain of unbelief regarding the precepts of obedience taught in the word of God. I don’t believe this means you’re unregenerate or anything like that, but I do think it means that you’re being honest about your dealings with sin and stand in need of a reminder that all such dealings are disobedient and carnal. The thing is, if we believe in Christ, we should likewise believe what he taught, and the line of reasoning you describe here is just completely contrary to that.

      STOPE: I think I have my extent of self-discipline is huge, but that shouldn't be confused for love right??

      TETH: Those with high-levels of self-discipline are pretty rare. If you are one who possesses a high degree of it, then you are blessed. But you are likewise probably prone to either religious self-flagellation or pharisaism as a result – which I’ve observed among the dedicated and disciplined. I don’t mean that as an insult, but as a cautionary word based on past observance. It may not be true of you at all, but it is a risk – much like the risk that someone who is personally charming might be prone to encouraging inappropriate relationships with people other than their spouse – it’s just something that comes with the territory of having that “gift.”

      That said, your statement that expressing sheer self-discipline is not necessarily love is certainly true, IMO. That said, self-discipline most certainly could be useful in one’s walk as one moves out of “first love” and moves into a more “mature love” of God. The guardrail in this is having a clear understanding of the grace of God in our eternal salvation, knowing that whatever you have in the form of self-discipline is a gift from God, and in recognizing that our Christian walk must grow and often times this means less passion and more depth. I do not say this to be insulting or condescending, as if you somehow lack depth, or anything like that. I’m just trying to provide some perspective on these issues as a fellow disciple along life’s journey. I’ve had some of the same thoughts in my own life.

      May God bless our lives with a greater knowledge of what it means to love the Lord and to abide in him,
      TETH

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    6. Thank you so much – I am so overwhelmed with genuine gratitude that you have again taken the time to respond to me and offer scriptural truth to my wearied soul. I would respond in great detail to each of your responses to me, but I don’t want to completely overtake your thread nor do I want to make you commit more time (seeing that you to are a father and husband). Therefore I will only respond below with issues that I need more understanding:

      TETH: I guess I don’t understand what you mean when you say, “I might be lukewarm but that is not for lack of zeal for Christ, it's not for loving other sins, it would be for not really loving God that much.”
      -----What I mean by this is that, I am very much desirous for the things of God and concern myself with prayer, study, fellowship, etc often, yet despite my discipline and time spent in these activities I am saddened to say that they don’t overflow from a love for Christ, rather they overflow from a simply “because I should” as my reasoning behind them. That said, I have joy, and flourishing, etc., when I engage, but I do get sorrowful knowing that they don’t flow 100% (or even really 5%) from a genuine love for Christ.



      STOPE: How does a Christian, in the day to day, actually glorify God and enjoy Him?
      TETH: Largely through obedience to his teachings, a primary attribute of which is that we love one another. This is how we abide in Christ and experience his blessings within the kingdom of God available to us in this life. That may sound trite, and it lacks the sizzle of much of what transpires under the rubric of Christendom today, but it is fundamental to the faith and the Lord Jesus Christ believed it to be of central importance none-the-less. I believe that most Christians spend too much time focused on “doing something BIG for the kingdom of God” when we would be better served by “doing something SMALL for the kingdom of God” so far as common opinion is concerned. It’s easy to get involved in a BIG ministry and DO a bunch of stuff and even get the t-shirt, but the day-to-day Christian walk often involves doing that which is NOT seen and NOT big at all. If more Christians did that, the world would be a better place and Christianity would cease to be an absurd caricature that bears no resemblance to Christ.
      -----Wow! This is so liberating, eye opening, and well said, thank you!!!!!!!




      STOPE: To what end do believers live in obedient thanksgiving? I'm great full for His mercy, but I don't think I'm grateful enough.

      TETH: Let me assure you, you are NOT grateful enough - none of us are. Thankfully our salvation is not beholden to some requisite standard of gratefulness, but rather to the perfect work of Christ. Does that help you appreciate grace more? It does me, though we often lose sight of this blessed truth.
      ----Yes, it is beautiful. Jesus is beautiful

      STOPE: Consider this; if my mother paid a debt for me, kept me from prison, made me not homeless, was tortured and humiliated and killed for me would I be grateful?! Yes!! Would I always keep her in my thoughts? Yes. Would I speak fondly of her? Yes. Would I write a song for her? Maybe...
      TETH: Ok.
      STOPE: However I wouldn't constantly remind myself how crappy I was that caused her to do all that.
      TETH: Really? You wouldn’t find it hard to live with the fact that what YOU did caused your mother to be TORTURED and HUMILIATED? I rather doubt that statement.
      -----You are right, I think I would be much more sorrowful if it was my mother whom I knew first hand, whom I had a human relationship with (namely seeing, interacting, and audibly talking and experiencing one another), but that makes me sad knowing that I would have more gratitude for my mother than for Christ


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  15. STOPE: I don't know how to not view the atonement of Christ almost as I explained as in the example about my mom... Any thoughts?
    TETH: We all grow cold to the truth from time to time. But given that the Christian love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is metaphorically described as a marriage, I think looking at that model may be helpful in understanding the difference between say “first love” and “mature love.” I know in my own marriage there is a difference between the “passion” that existed in the early days, and the more mature expressions of love that exist in my marriage today. While first love was full of passion, it was also full of ignorance, full of not knowing one another the way we do today, and far less full of having shared so many common experiences along our walk together. I believe that those who try to rekindle “first love” are actually just kidding themselves – and that we would do well to develop the deeper and more mature love that only comes with time, common experiences, and relationship building. I believe this parallel holds true in our Christian walk of discipleship as well – though admittedly this is an anecdote.
    ------Of all that you have spoken to me, this, the reminder that the marriage metaphor is one to look to excited me and liberates me. Thank you!!!!!


    STOPE: I agree, however, sometimes when I weigh certain sins I'm willing to sin because the pros of the sin outweigh the cons of the obedience and that's when I often just choose sin.

    TETH: I believe that is an honest admission on your part and I understand the sentiment behind it – but it is a faithless remark. To the extent that we deal in such carnal pragmatism we are likewise dealing in the domain of unbelief regarding the precepts of obedience taught in the word of God. I don’t believe this means you’re unregenerate or anything like that, but I do think it means that you’re being honest about your dealings with sin and stand in need of a reminder that all such dealings are disobedient and carnal. The thing is, if we believe in Christ, we should likewise believe what he taught, and the line of reasoning you describe here is just completely contrary to that.
    ----What advice would you give me to actively turn from sin that ensnares me so easily and that, at the end of the day, I really don’t care (at leats by my actions) about what God would think? I often read of rewards and punishments, how does that apply to the elect?

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    1. STOPE ANSWER 301

      STOPE: Thank you so much – I am so overwhelmed with genuine gratitude that you have again taken the time to respond to me and offer scriptural truth to my wearied soul.

      TETH: It is my pleasure. “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” (Proverbs 25:25)

      STOPE: I think I would be much more sorrowful if it was my mother whom I knew first hand, whom I had a human relationship with (namely seeing, interacting, and audibly talking and experiencing one another), but that makes me sad knowing that I would have more gratitude for my mother than for Christ

      TETH: I believe that the bible speaks to the notion that it is easier for us to love and appreciate those whom we have seen as compared to God whom we have not seen with statements like, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (I John 4:20) While this text is admittedly speaking of someone being unloving toward another human being, it makes the case on the basis of the underlying precept that it is easier to actively love the seen than the unseen. Therefore if the seen is unloved, the unseen is likewise unloved by logical consequence due to its greater degree of difficulty – or stated another way those who cannot crawl do not sprint.

      TETH: Find comfort in this fact – the Lord recognizes this difficulty and he likewise equates serving and loving those we see as an act of serving and loving him directly (Mark 9:41, Mark 12:29-31).

      STOPE: Of all that you have spoken to me, this, the reminder that the marriage metaphor is one to look to excited me and liberates me. Thank you!!!!!

      TETH: I continue to learn things from the bible as a result of being married. Many of the marriage references that were lost upon me as a young, single man make a great deal more sense to me now. We find ourselves surrounded by a culture that glorifies youth and sex, and this tends to foolishness and cheap thrills. But God’s truth and the march of time are equally relentless – and the thrills of youth are seasonal, irrespective of our quixotic attempts to extend them in perpetuity. It is foolish to resist this reality, and there is a great blessing to be gained in the mature, balanced diet of truth provided we are willing to release our death grip upon the cotton candy thrills of youth. I believe that many marriages are destroyed because people have bought into the bogus fantasy that married life in your 40’s is going to resemble the same level of passion and thrill as married life in your 20’s. The lie is that this is what is required to make a 20 year old marriage successful and fulfilling. The truth, hard as it may be for us to embrace, is that there is a greater blessing that awaits those who press on beyond the thrills of youth to find pasture in the domain of a seasoned marriage, tempered by many trials and afflictions. This is likewise true in the domain of Christian discipleship. We must all ask ourselves whether we believe this truth (John 14:15) as much as we believe that Christ died for our sins (I Corinthians 15:3-4). Both are true.

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    2. STOPE ANSWER 302

      STOPE: What advice would you give me to actively turn from sin that ensnares me so easily and that, at the end of the day, I really don’t care (at least by my actions) about what God would think?

      TETH: How do you feel when you see your daughter behaving this way with respect to the commands that you have set before her? Do you regard her rebellion as a display of love and respect for you as her father? It is pretty distasteful to witness a child in open rebellion to the will of a parent. In the same way that our Christian discipleship is described as a marriage in scripture, it is also commonly regarded as a father/child relationship. I think we do well to consider these perspectives in light of the Lord’s command to obey him as an expression of love for him (John 14:15). When you find yourself on the verge of willfully sinning against God, you might ask, “How does it look when my daughter brazenly looks at me and openly defies my command?” While your daughter may not be old enough for this notion to provide a direct example, it doesn’t take much imagination to consider this scenario coming to pass in her teen years – and the pain that would attend such an open rebellion.

      STOPE: I often read of rewards and punishments, how does that apply to the elect?

      TETH: Jesus Christ paid our ETERNAL sin debt and as a result we can proclaim that, “There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to them which are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1a). But sin still has temporal consequences and God punishes HIS PEOPLE (Hebrews 12:6-11, 10:30-31). One need look no further than the lives of David, Solomon, Samson, and Lot to see the devastating consequences of sin played out in the lives of God’s people. This is a tremendously overlooked concept in the bible, IMO, and much of the Christian world would consign the rebellious Christian to hell, but clear examples of such exist in the word of God, and we would do well to recognize the distinction between our SONSHIP wherein we have eternal life by what Christ did on our behalf (John 10:11,28), and our DISCIPLESHIP wherein we can have the more abundant life (John 10:10) as a result of willfully abiding in Christ through personal obedience to his teachings (John 15).

      STOPE: When a fellow human is not a Christian, and they seem very happy/content in their current state, what should I say to them?

      TETH: You should endeavor to live your life in a manner consistent with your profession of faith (John 14:15) and be ready to explain the reason for your hope, not with condemnation and judgmentalism, but with meekness and fear (I Peter 3:15). You should also recognize that what appears to be happiness and contentment can be either a natural display of the carnal perfectly at home in carnality (II Peter 2:22), or a façade to hide a conscious that is troubled by guilt. I have encountered both.

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  16. A few other questions if you don’t mind:
    -When a fellow human is not a Christian, and they seem very happy/content in their current state, what should I say to them? Further, what about me, when Im 100% happy just with my wife, daughter, eating a nice meal, enjoying one another company, to why should I concern myself with Jesus at those moments?

    -I ask the following question, even though its of the subject, but I have no idea how God is not the author of sin. You’ve heard it said God created all things, sin is a thing, therefore God created evil. Then you hear Augustine saying God is not a thing but the absence of a thing. And so I say, well why did God even create the POSSIBILITY of sin? How could an EVIL thing (sin) emit from God (that is, prior to creation, there was only love, justice, mercy, and the attributes of God, so where did a window for evil open up and allow it in, and why did God open that window, better yet why did he create/allow evil to even come close to the window)?

    -Of all you have said, I love Discipleship vs. Sonship, its awesome – how can I unlearn what I have known since? I read the bible, I read NT Wright, Spurgeon, I read ALL the “neo Calvinists”, where would you direct me to for a proper systematic theology, proper commentary’s, proper theology???

    -Lastly, my in-laws are Mormons, and I often wonder, what is it that Mormons do/believer that they are dammed for? Surely they don’t believer the Trinity, they do believe in works, they do believe that there are more than one God (that they themselves can become a God), and all kinds of whacky stuff – but at the end of the day, im not sure at what point there “wrong theology” becomes “damnable heresy”. Any thoughts???

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    1. STOPE ANSWER 401

      STOPE: Further, what about me, when I’m 100% happy just with my wife, daughter, eating a nice meal, enjoying one another company, to why should I concern myself with Jesus at those moments?

      TETH: If “every good gift and every perfect gift cometh down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17) then what makes you think that enjoying your wife, your daughter, their company and a good meal is somehow devoid of connection to God? It is unhealthy and unscriptural to set these things at odds with one another, IMO. Recognize the source of such blessings and perhaps you can simply enjoy them as intended, as blessings from God, rather than as something that is set at odds with the service of God. Love your wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25), and your children as God the Father loves his own son (John 15:9-12). These things are not contrary to loving God, but rather flow logically from loving God and for the purpose that our joy might be made full (John 15:11).

      STOPE: I ask the following question, even though it’s off the subject, but I have no idea how God is not the author of sin. You’ve heard it said God created all things, sin is a thing, therefore God created evil.

      TETH: God is not the author of sin because he did not create sin. Sin is an act of willful disobedience committed by a being with the freedom to make such choices. It is therefore a direct creation of the creature, not a direct creation of the creator. We know this because the bible associates the entry of sin into the domain of humanity to an act of man’s disobedience (Romans 5:12,19). While it is certainly true that since God is the creator, and since apart from creation no such creaturely rebellion would be possible, and therefore one could attribute the existence of sin to God’s creative act through a chain of causation, this position proves more philosophical than biblical, since the word of God directly attributes the matter of sin to an act of creation, not an act of creator (Romans 5:12).

      STOPE: Then you hear Augustine saying God is not a thing but the absence of a thing. And so I say, well why did God even create the POSSIBILITY of sin?

      TETH: The bible’s answer is pretty straightforward, but probably equally unpopular among professing Christians. “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,” (Romans 9:21-23)

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    2. STOPE ANSWER 402

      STOPE: How could an EVIL thing (sin) emit from God (that is, prior to creation, there was only love, justice, mercy, and the attributes of God, so where did a window for evil open up and allow it in, and why did God open that window, better yet why did he create/allow evil to even come close to the window)?

      TETH: I believe that it is improper to refer to sin as emanating from God, because if this is the case, God is most certainly the author of sin, which he is not. I would refer you back to how the word of God deals with the matter of sin in the domain of humanity and ask yourself this – does the bible attribute the entry of sin into humanity to God through a string of causation that extends back to creation, or to man through an immediate act of rebellion against the command of God? The former is vain philosophy, the latter the biblical truth, IMO.

      STOPE: Of all you have said, I love Discipleship vs. Sonship, its awesome – how can I unlearn what I have known since?

      TETH: It seems that this biblical distinction is in very short order in Christendom today. Many who recognize the distinction use it to wrongly justify antinomian disobedience. Others who refuse the distinction end up pressing a sort of “back-end Arminianism” or “pseudo-grace” theology upon their followers (i.e., Lordship Salvation, NeoCalvinism). As a Primitive Baptist, I would want to recommend that you spend some time reading and listening to some of our best ministers on this subject. At the risk of sounding biased, I honestly find them to be among the very few in Christendom who understand this topic.

      STOPE: I read the bible, I read NT Wright, Spurgeon, I read ALL the “neo Calvinists”, where would you direct me to for a proper systematic theology, proper commentary’s, proper theology???

      TETH: I suppose it’s obvious that I would not recommend the NeoCals, as they are very confused on this topic, IMO. Spurgeon is a mixed bag and is in many respects the Patron Saint of NeoCalvinism. While he said many good things that I would affirm, he also said a lot of things that were instrumental in the Well-Meant-Offerism and paradox theology that is so prevalent in modern Christendom. NT Wright, I am not terribly familiar with but most of what I have read I find to be problematic. I would recommend that rather than a “new take on Paul” that we are better served by an “Old Baptist take on Paul” which I believe to be “Paul’s take on Paul” or better still “The Lord’s take on Paul.”

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    3. STOPE ANSWER 403

      STOPE: Lastly, my in-laws are Mormons, and I often wonder, what is it that Mormons do/believer that they are dammed for?

      TETH: Man’s condemnation is the result of sin, not some particular sin. It is man's just state before God who is not inherently obligated to save anyone. But God entered into a covenant to save a chosen people from fallen humanity (Matthew 1:21, Romans 5:19, Hebrews 10:14, John 17:2). We are saved by what CHRIST ACCOMPLISHED (Hebrews 1:3) not by some magic formula of truths embraced by the elect.

      STOPE: Surely they don’t believe the Trinity, they do believe in works, they do believe that there are more than one God (that they themselves can become a God), and all kinds of whacky stuff – but at the end of the day, im not sure at what point there “wrong theology” becomes “damnable heresy”. Any thoughts???

      TETH: Ask yourself these questions:

      - Are all men in a damnable state by nature? (Romans 3:10-18)
      - Do the actions of man modify this natural state? (Ephesians 2:1)
      - Are we saved by what we do or by what Christ accomplished? (Titus 3:5, Hebrews 10:14).

      TETH: I believe that much of the confusion in Christendom arises from a failure to understand that salvation is a matter of unilateral covenant based on the ACCOMPLISHMENT of God himself and that damnation is the just desert of all of humanity apart from sovereign grace. Men are not damned by believing some magical wrong thing, rather, they are fallen and by nature children of wrath apart from a covenant of grace to extract them from this hopeless plight, and therefore they are inclined to believe all manner of false things – such false beliefs are evidentiary of man’s damnable nature, not determinative of it.

      May God bless our studies and understanding of his word,
      TETH

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