Thursday, November 6, 2008

Stuff I Couldn't Figure Out on the Way Back from Work Tonight

1.) Synergism or monergism?

2.) Dispensationalism or Covenant Theology?

3.) Limited Atonement? (Really? Really really?)

4.) Classical cessationism or concentric cessationism?

5.) False teachers with saved followers?

6.) Free Grace or Lordship?

7.) Shorts and flip-flops in church? How? Why?

Thoughts? Anyone? (Yes, it's a long commute).

OK, another thing I've noticed when I check the site meter is that folks from all kinds of exotic locales like the Philippines, Australia and Great Britain have surfed in, if only for a moment. Please, leave a comment; introduce yourself if you've a mind to. I like knowing my readers and who you are!


Barbara said...

My daughter is in her first year of college at a local community school. She told me last weekend that "You can tell we're in the South." I asked why, she said, "Our anatomy teacher asked us if we knew why some people had white skin and why some people had black skin. The whole class (18 year olds to 60 year olds) said, 'Because God made us that way.' "

Here's the thing. Beyond an intellectual curiosity, the truth behind 1-4 cannot be known by us until it is revealed by God, but it is known and perfectly practiced by God. When people go heavy into these debates and spend a lot of time tied up into high theology, I have to wonder if it hasn't become an idol to them. I really just have to go back to Jesus' words, "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." And I thank Him for His wisdom and His goodness. Frankly, after carrying my world on my shoulders for 40 years, I'm more than happy for Him to carry that load for me. His Sovereignty is great and perfect and ultimate and perfect and complete; and yet it is carried out by Him in such a way that we are not absolved of responsibility for our sins and our failure to repent. That's just one of those grand mysteries that our feeble mortal minds cannot comprehend (that's for #1). I'm so glad He's God and I'm not. Isn't He so good?

As for #5, when we deal with the sinful flesh, it is entirely possible for a genuine child of God to wander off the path for a season; but not for forever. And while I certainly don't claim to speak for God, it would seem that if people have gone wholeheartedly for a blatantly heretical teaching and follow a specific teacher for things like personal gain and other means of self-worship and self-exaltation and bear no fruits of the Spirit, I'd venture a guess that a good gospel presentation is in order. It is equally possible for an unregenerate person to be walking the right path but having stolen over the fence and not having come through the gate. It is he who perseveres to the end who is saved. In either case, and in all our cases whether they are brothers/sisters or neighbors, lots of loving prayer and the Gospel is perfectly applicable on a daily basis to every situation and every trial in life. It can bear up the suffering saint, edify the grateful saint, convict the wandering saint, and save the lost. I love John Piper's "The Gospel in Six Minutes". Perfect example of its power in the life of one who already loves its reality.

6. Not short-shorts, but Bermuda shorts, sure, depending on the occasion (is it July Hot in Georgia and the a/c is out? Vacation Bible School? Car wash as a fundraiser? etc etc. Why? I'm going to borrow one of Paul Washer's illustrations when he talks about the nature of being a child of God - he points to an old photo of the Oval Office - this great Inner Sanctum restricted from the general public, only certain select people allowed inside, a place where Big Important Business is done, with JFK sitting at the desk, high officials visiting, Big Important Business going on....and little toddler John Jr. is playing quietly underneath the desk by daddy's feet.

I love that.

Besides. That seems to be a concern primarily for us privileged people who have wardrobe choices. Some people in other parts of the world are doing good to wear grass.

Barbara said...

Musta missed a 6 and gone straight to 7. Just caught it - sorry.

Jesus is very plain about Lordship. Makes no bones about it. Grace is free - unearned, but He never leaves you unchanged, and you are expected to deny yourself daily, take up your cross, and follow Him. Ezekiel 36, that's the "now/not yet" of the NEW BIRTH:

23"I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst Then the nations will know that I am the LORD," declares the Lord GOD, "when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.

24"For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.

25"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

26"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

27"I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

28"You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.
Ezekiel 36:24-28, but I recommend backing up to verse 17 and finishing out the chapter. Great, great stuff. What a wonderful God we have!

That sanctification, that holiness that we cannot see Heaven without, that new birth that makes our desires for Him and turns our hearts from this world - you know? Either He is Lord, or we are. Can't have it both ways. And we all know what happened to Lucifer, to Adam and to Eve when they thought they might be able to run their own lives and did not submit to Him. And how many times did John the Baptist and Jesus and the Apostles talk about "repentance for the remission of sins"? Repent and believe. Which falls right back into my little blurb on #1 regarding the sovereignty of God not eliminating man's responsibility to obey - which Piper also addresses. We dare not venture into hypercalvinism, after all.

Paul had to fight against the "greasy grace" folks - the Antinomians. Author of Hebrews says several times how if we continue sinning on purpose that there is no sacrifice left for us. John makes it very plain in 1 and 2 John. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey my commandments." Lordship is essential. As for which nuance happens first, like Driscoll said, every birth is different but in the end you still have a brand new baby.

Good video clip on the whole thing here: I'll say it again - either Jesus is Lord, or we are. And if we are, then we're lost.

Marie Notcheva said...

Hi Barb,

Thanks for your insightful comments, as always. There's not a thing you said that I disagree with.

With the Lordship thing, what I'm struggling with is not the idea of "cheap grace" - I know there are many with false professions and I'm not defending superficial "conversions" - but rather the idea promoted in some Lordship theology that one's repentence must be full, complete and irrevocable immediately upon conversion, all the time. "Either Jesus is Lord of all of He's not Lord at all" - that way of thinking. In fact, many Christians - my pastor included - attest to a very gradual change in their lives that wasn't overnight immediately. It almost makes it sound like works-based salvation. He once said that Lordship preaching can hurt or damage new Christians by discouraging them (and please don't get the wrong idea; he preaches sanctification and living for God in obedience with no compromise).

It seems to me that not all Christians are 100% surrendered in every area of their lives....but I wouldn't necessarily say they were not saved.

Could you please link to the original Piper's 6-minute Gospel, if you have it handy? "Desiring God" is a big site (thanks!)

Barbara said...

Oh, I see. *Sigh* - People forget that "Gospel" means "GOOD News." I believe it means we do battle with our flesh and with sin every day. Sometimes we fall. There is grace for that. But sinless perfection THIS side of heaven in order to be saved (which is what that amounts to)? Oh, my. We are not our own, true. But were that the case, Paul's outline of the battle with the flesh as outlined in Romans 7 would be pointless. You ever read Doulogos? Good explorations on sanctification here.

Here's your requested video:

John Piper: The Gospel in Six Minutes

And some on sanctification that I have found comforting or convicting depending on my situation at the time:

Paul Washer: Man's Two Problems

John Piper: Sanctification - a Slow Transformation

Mark Driscoll: Why I Hate Religion

...and then if you haven't taken the time to download and listen to any of Paul Washer's stuff from here, may I recommend starting with "Clothed in Christ" 1 & 2 - on the Beatitudes.

You know what? See if this downloads for you. I was one of those who found herself marvelling at the transformation that was going on in my Spirit and in my will, and I had to figure out what God did - that download is a sermon by Jeff Noblit (Washer's pastor) where he basically told my story as he told his own. It was the eeriest and yet most amazing, comforting thing. It's about signs of life - signs of Christ's life in you as preached by a Puritan 400 years ago and as applied to us. I still listen to it now periodically because it has real gems in it for the times when we need a little encouragement - it's there.

Hope it helps!

Hadassah said...

Aaah. Good questions all. Dive in and explore.

As to the whole shorts in church thing, think of this. Would you be offended if someone (who you knew had nice clothes) came to a funeral (or a wedding) in casual shorts and a graphic t-shirt? Why?

Marie said...

Hi Hadassah,

Yes, I would be, but for a different reason - it would be disrespectful to the family & other people around. My personal feeling on the overly-casual (sloppy) dress in church is that it shows a lack of reverence for God. I wouldn't go to work in old jeans and a t-shirt hanging out; why would I go to church like that? (No, I'm not talking about at a church picnic or car wash - I'm talking about Sunday in the sanctuary). Including Easter Sunday. Just something I don't get at all; not something that keeps me up at night.

You are the election/doctrines of grace expert; some of these issues you've dug into on your blog! Yesterday, over at Pyromaniacs, I found an old entry that discussed the difference between Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism pretty well; it helps to read about it from that perspective.

Hadassah said...

Well, I figured you could pretty much guess where I would stand on most of those questions, and I didn't want to come at you with both barrels blazing! But since you asked so nicely, here is where I stand on those things, for whatever it is worth:


covenant theology

limited atonement (sigh, yes, really, I wouldn't have worked it out that way, but I'm not God, and I'm convinced that Scripture lays out the doctrine of election clearly)

very suspicious of continuation, but not willing to rule it out completely

By their fruits you shall know them.

Free Grace (with ongoing sanctification that may or may not be obvious at various times in the believers life.)

I don't think we should approach corporate worship of El Elyon in the same clothing we wear to pick up a gallon of milk at WalMart. (There are obvious exceptions, like the mother and daughter who came to my church today wearing very casual, scrubby clothes. I have seen them eat at the church many times and know that these happen to be their nice clothes, so that is not a problem. But most people who attend my church do not fall into the same catagory as those two. I like what barbara pointed out about grass (it made me giggle) but even in the poorest parts of the world, there can be an effort to present whatever is culturally considered best, even if that just means whatever is cleanest!