Why the Virgin Birth is Essential (by John MacArthur)

During this time of year, I feel like we get too caught up in the birth of Christ.  It was a great thing, but the Bible never tells us to celebrate it interestingly enough.  I love celebrating it, and would never discourage celebrating it, but I would also encourage everyone to, along with the birth, celebrate His life, death, resurrection and everything that was accomplished and is being accomplished as a result of those things.

I feel that more important than Jesus’ birth is how it came about.  I’ve struggled to put this into words, but one of my favorite teachers John MacArthur wrote a very great blog about why the virgin birth is essential.  I’ll leave the rest up to him to explain:

Why the Virgin Birth is Essential

“You may be wondering why the virgin birth—of all the miracles in Scripture—is so frequently attacked. After all, if one can believe, say, that Moses parted the Red Sea, what’s the big deal about a virgin birth? It certainly isn’t as spectacular a miracle. And Scripture devotes relatively little space to describing it. Can it really be that important?

Yes. The virgin birth is an underlying assumption in everything the Bible says about Jesus. To throw out the virgin birth is to reject Christ’s deity, the accuracy and authority of Scripture, and a host of other related doctrines central to the Christian faith. No issue is more important than the virgin birth to our understanding of who Jesus is.

If we deny that Jesus is God, we have denied the very essence of Christianity. Everything else the Bible teaches about Christ hinges on the truth we celebrate at Christmas—that Jesus is God in human flesh. If the story of His birth is merely a fabricated or trumped-up legend, then so is the rest of what Scripture tells us about Him. The virgin birth is as crucial as the resurrection in substantiating His deity. It is not an optional truth. Anyone who rejects Christ’s deity rejects Christ absolutely—even if he pretends otherwise (1 John 4:1-3).

Jesus Himself viewed the question of His parentage as a watershed issue. Matthew records one of the last confrontations He had with the Pharisees.

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question: “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” They said to Him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet’? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question. (Matthew 22:41-46)

His sonship was the source of controversy on other occasions. John 8 records another run-in with some leading Pharisees. They told Jesus, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God” (John 8:41). “We were not born of fornication” is a not-so-subtle jab at Jesus. They implied that He was born illegitimately. They twisted the whole point of His miraculous birth to make Him an illegitimate child. They even said later in verse 48, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

The fact is, there is a direct parallel between those Pharisees and modern religious leaders who hint that the virgin birth is unimportant or a fable. Their challenges grow out of unbelief in Jesus Christ. They are the expression of sinful, unregenerate hearts.

Contrast their response with that of Peter. Matthew 16:13-17 records this exchange between Jesus and His disciples. Again, His sonship is the issue.

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

Notice that the answers proposed by the populace were human ones. They had concluded Jesus was either John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. They had not yet grasped the truth of His deity. They assumed He was just a man.

Simon Peter’s response was different. He understood that Jesus was more than a human Messiah, more than an anointed prophet, more than a son of David. He was the Son of the living God. Peter knew because God had revealed it to him (Matthew 16:17). Flesh and blood cannot reach that conclusion. Science, philosophy, and human religion cannot explain who Jesus is. Their adherents will inevitably conclude that He is a great teacher, a good moral example, or even a great prophet of God. But they all miss the fact that He is the Son of the living God.

That’s why the virgin birth is so important. For Jesus to be God, He must be born of God. Joseph, a man, and Mary, a woman, cannot produce God. God cannot be born into this world by natural human processes. There’s no way He could be God apart from being conceived by God.

At this time of year, believers shouldn’t merely celebrate the birth of Christ. Christmas is an opportunity to celebrate every aspect of Christ’s life—His humble incarnation, His transformative ministry, His righteous example, and, ultimately, His sacrificial death. But none of that matters if we don’t believe God’s Word is accurate about His Son’s parentage. When it comes to the truth of the virgin birth, compromise is not an option.”

Advertisements

Faith Cannot Save You…

There are many theories out there about what is required of people to attain salvation.  Some believe that you have to perform religious rites and rituals such as be baptized, take the Lord’s Supper, be a good person, give money to a church or other religious institution, etc, etc.  Others believe that all you have to do is have faith.  Just say you believe certain things, say a prayer, sign a card and you’re good.  These are just a few of many different thoughts on what makes one right with God.  But what if I told you that I don’t think any of these things has any sort of power to save?  No, not even faith.  Not in and of itself anyway.  I’ll explain that in a bit.

First, I want to address the idea that works and religious ceremony can save a person.  The main passage of Scripture that comes to mind for me is Titus 3:5: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” I believe this same concept can be found in Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:5.  Jesus had just told Nicodemus that he had to be born again to be saved.  Nicodemus asks, “How can anyone be born when they are old?  Can they enter a second time into their mother’s womb and be born?” So Jesus essentially says, “Let me give you another hint.” Then in verse 5, “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water (the washing of regeneration, not physical birth nor baptism) and the Spirit (Renewal of the Holy Spirit obviously), they cannot enter the kingdom of God.'” In other words, Jesus was saying that there is no kind of work you can do to be saved.  Salvation is all the work of God.

 blog Baptism

Some believe that “washing of regeneration” refers to being baptized.  But then that would mean that baptism is a required work before salvation.  These same people use the idea of circumcision to back up their point.  In the Old Testament, God required the Jews to be circumcised as a sign of their separation as His people.  But Paul refuted the idea that circumcision saved people in Romans 4:9-17.  He made the point that Abraham was considered righteous on the basis of his faith before he was circumcised AND before there was even any law to abide by.  The law didn’t come about until Moses’ time which would have been approximately 500 years after Abraham’s time.  Just for fun, and to make my point, I am going to write out the passage below and replace the word “circumcised” with the word “baptized.”  I’ll only use 4:9-13.

Is this blessing upon the baptized, or upon the unbaptized also?  For we say, “Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.” How then was it reckoned?  While (after) he was baptized or (before he was) baptized?  Not while (after) baptized, but (before he was) baptized; and he received the sign of baptism, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had before he was baptized, that he might be the father of all who believe without being baptized, that righteousness might be reckoned to them, and the father of baptism to those who not only are of the baptism, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had before he was baptized.  For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.

To sum it all up, I believe that John MacArthur made a great point that is a bit shorter.  He said, “For the Jew, Passover is a collective symbol of deliverance and circumcision is an individual symbol of justification.  For the Christian, communion is the collective corporate symbol of our relationship to Christ; baptism is the individual symbol of it.”  These things are just symbols of, not requirements for, salvation.

Now what about faith?  Faith is great.  By grace alone through faith alone can we be saved.  But did you notice which comes first?  Grace.  Grace is what truly saves, and the only kind of grace that can save is God’s grace.  Grace is what gives us faith.  Grace is a gift of God, but so is faith.  Although the picture may be a bit cheesy, the quote on the picture below is what really grabbed my attention.

Blog Faith

John MacArthur once again made a really great point in his commentary on Romans about Abraham’s faith.  He says, “It was not the greatness of Abraham’s faith that saved him but the greatness of the gracious Lord in whom he placed his faith.  Faith is never the basis or the reason for justification, but only the channel through which God works His redeeming grace.  Faith is simply a convicted heart reaching out to receive God’s free and unmerited gift of salvation.”  He continues, “Although faith is required for salvation, it has no power in itself to save.  It is the power of God’s redemptive grace alone, working through the atoning work of His Son on the cross, that has power to save.  Faith is NOT, as some claim, a type of work.” (emphasis added)  Can I get an AMEN??  😛

I think that some people do have “faith in faith,” in other words they think that if faith is strong enough, it will save.  But what does James say about this?  He says, “You believe that God is one; you do well.  Even the demons believe-and shudder!  Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’- and he was called a friend of God” (James 2:19-23).

The point James is trying to make is that if your faith does not move you into action, or is not accompanied by works, it is not real faith.  It is dead faith.  Likewise, good works, by themselves are useless.  (See 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 which bears the idea that love is characterized by self-sacrifice, but not all self-sacrifice is an act of love.)  You cannot have one without the other.  If I say that I believe that a chair is going to hold me up if I sit in it, but I refuse to sit in it, I will never be able to prove that my faith is real, because it is likely not real.  The works fulfill the faith, but these works and this faith can only come by the grace of God, which alone can truly save.

I sincerely hope that this was encouraging to some and challenging for some.  But most importantly, I hope that the truth has been spoken in love.  I understand that I don’t always have everything right, and as always, I invite anyone who wishes to add encouragement or ask questions and converse about these things.  Grace, peace and love to all through the Lord Jesus Christ!

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover…or a man by his faults.

As a person who adheres to the Doctrines of Grace, more commonly known as Calvinism, I find it worth my time to read one of the most inspirational, celebrated and yet controversial theologians in history, the man John Calvin himself; namely his Institutes of the Christian religion.

 

A couple of years ago, when I first began to adhere to the Doctrines of Grace and Reformed Theology, I began to realize that I had, for the better part of my life, misjudged greatly these doctrines as cold, hard, depressing and mean.  That is because I did not really know much about them and certainly misunderstood them greatly because I had never felt the need to study or look into what exactly they taught, and more importantly what was at the heart of the doctrines and of those who taught them.

 

John Calvin

Similarly, I have until recently, judged the man John Calvin as a monster for his alleged partaking in the death of the heretic Servetus.  Upon further study, I came to find that he really had no part in it, but in one of his letters, he did say that although he did not advocate for having him burned at the stake, he did agree that he was deserving of death.  I do not agree with Calvin on this point, but I do not think that this makes him a monster.  In Calvin’s time, heresy was punishable by death, so that’s all he knew.  I am not trying to defend him or say that he was justified in his decision, just that he was a flawed human being like the rest of us, and was no more or less a monster than either you or I.

As I have begun to read the Institutes, I have seen that John Calvin was most certainly a humble man who was very well versed in the knowledge of Scripture.  He was a man after God’s own heart.  He had a deep love for people and for the Truth of God’s Word.  He may have had some temper issues with people (who of us doesn’t at times?), but these do not show in his writings.  He most certainly wasn’t perfect, but I find that he is incredibly consistent in all of his doctrine.  There is a great quote from Arminius, who had his differences with Calvin, but nevertheless, recognized Calvin’s great knowledge and interpretation of Scripture.

He wrote:  “Next to the study of the Scriptures which I earnestly inculcate, I exhort my pupils to peruse Calvin’s Commentaries, which I extol in loftier terms than Helmich himself [a Dutch divine, 1551–1608]; for I affirm that he excels beyond comparison in the interpretation of Scripture, and that his commentaries ought to be more highly valued than all that is handed down to us by the library of the fathers; so that I acknowledge him to have possessed above most others, or rather above all other men, what may be called an eminent spirit of prophecy. His Institutes ought to be studied after the [Heidelberg] Catechism, as containing a fuller explanation, but with discrimination, like the writings of all men.”

Many times, someone’s writing reveals their true heart.  This may not always be the case, but I challenge you and myself to read those with whom we disagree or think we disagree to find out where they are coming from.  We may just find out that they aren’t so bad after all, or we may find out that we still do not agree with anything they say.  But in the end, it is always best, as the saying goes, never to judge a book by its cover.  And more importantly, we shouldn’t judge people by their faults, but love them in spite of them.

I Wouldn’t Worship a god who…

I have used this phrase in the past.  In one sense, it is good, if you are saying, “I wouldn’t worship a god who is not God.  But that’s not what this post is about.  I am referring to those who like myself, have ever used this phrase in reference to the God of Scripture.

Before I became a believer in the doctrines of Grace, I said that I wouldn’t worship a god who would choose to send some people to hell and only choose some to go to heaven.  I reasoned that that wasn’t fair, despite Paul’s admonition in Romans 9:14-15, “Is there injustice on God’s part?  By no means!  For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” Why would God have mercy and compassion on some, but not others?  I will honestly tell you that I have no idea because I do not know the mind of God.  But I will say that I believe that the question of why God would have mercy and compassion on some but not others is not the right question to ask and is completely missing the point.  The point is, rather, why would God have mercy and compassion on anyone at all?

Most recently, I have heard teachers who claim that God will one day save all people say things like, “I wouldn’t worship a god who would send people to Hell,” or “If God isn’t going to save all, then He’s either not loving, or He’s not all-powerful.” I don’t necessarily have a problem with wanting to believe that all will be saved.  I myself would like to believe that and would be more than thrilled if it were true.  But I just cannot find any solid evidence in Scripture to back that idea up.  What I do have a problem with is when people make such statements as those aforementioned, which I consider blasphemous and arrogant.

Paul poses the question, “What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory-even us whom He has called, not from the Jews only but also from the gentiles (Rom. 9:22-24)?

This seems like a rhetorical question, but that’s not the point.  The point Paul is trying to make and the point that I have come to realize that I need to be able to accept is,

Can we worship God for all that He is, in spite of the fact that there may be things about Him that we do not like?

You may have noticed that in the title and in most references to the statement “I wouldn’t worship a god who…” that the ‘g’ is not capitalized.  That is because I believe that if you are not willing to humbly accept all that God says about Himself in Scripture, but continue to insist that He is a certain way, you are worshiping a god made in your own image and not the God of Scripture.  If I were to say, “I wouldn’t worship a god who would save everybody,” I would be making the statement that I completely know the mind of God and if by chance it is true that He is going to save all, in spite of what I believe Scripture clearly states, I am worshiping a god made in my own image.  Therefore I will not utter such a statement because I believe that that would be blasphemy and arrogance.

What I have come to understand about God is that He is perfect in every way and everything He has ever done and will ever do is perfectly just and good and right.  Since I do believe that there is a Hell and that people’s natural choices and desires send them there, not God, I am obligated to obey Christ’s command to “preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).  If I didn’t believe that there were eternal, and not just temporal consequences for sin, I would see no point in sharing the truth, because if all were going to be saved, then there is no danger to not repenting and no danger to living however you want.

I believe, rather, that God has shown His kindness in some way to everyone who has ever lived and that that “kindness of God leads (people) to repentance” (Romans 2:4).  I completely agree with John MacArthur’s idea:  “Without exception, every person who has ever lived has experienced the kindness and forbearance and patience of God.  Every breath a person takes and every bite of food he eats is by the kind provision of God.  God is the only source of goodness, and therefore everything good and worthwhile a person has is from the gracious hand of God.”

He continues:  “Rather than asking why God allows bad things to happen to seemingly good people, we should ask why He allows seemingly good things to happen to obviously bad people.” And expounding upon that idea, and kind of along the lines of what I said earlier, “The crucial question is not ‘why do certain people suffer or die,’ but ‘Why does anyone live?'” And finally, “The purpose of the kindness of God is not to excuse men of their sin but to convict them of it and lead them to repentance.”

I don’t claim to know everything, and I realize that I could have a lot of things wrong.  I’m just trying to faithfully share what I believe Scripture has to say and trying to leave my own ideas out.  I realize that this is impossible.  I am a fallible man trying to understand an infallible God through His infallible Scriptures.

Grace, peace and love to all through Jesus Christ!

 

A Very Hard Teaching

This is my blog from 2 years ago when I first started believing Reformed theology.  I realize how much better my writing has become since then, haha!

From April, 2012:

“Lately, I have been really wrestling with certain aspects of Scripture. I have gone back and forth on some issues for a few years now, but tonight, God opened my eyes to some key verses that have always been there, but that I have always ignored or overlooked so that I could continue to believe what I had always been taught, what was most comfortable to me. I am talking about Calvinism.

I always hesitate to use the word because it has so many negative connotations and many who hold to these veiws do so with a self righteousness and do not embrace the true meaning and value of these doctrines, also known as the Doctrines of Grace. I realize that it is much easier to believe or accept that everyone will get to Heaven eventually or that all anyone has to do is simply say a pre-written “sinner’s prayer” to be saved, but the more I study the Scriptures, the more I find that these things are just not there.

And the more I study the Scripture, the more I find that these “Calvinistic ideas” are everywhere. The Old Testament talks a lot about God’s choosing of people before they were born or before the foundations of the earth, and these ideas continue all the way throught the New Testament including many of the teachings of Jesus Himself.

The passage I read was John chapter 6, which I encourage everyone to read (also Romans chapter 9) because it involves a deep discussion that Jesus was having with His disciples, and not just the twelve. There were thousands still following Him at this point because He had done so many wonderful things, the most recent of which was feeding them from two fish and five barley loaves. They were trying to force Him to be their King, which is what prompted Jesus to say these things. The verses that stuck out to me the most and hit me the hardest were verses 64-66 of chapter 6.

“Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, ‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.’ As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” -John 6:64-66

It’s been right there in plain sight the whole time, “No one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” When Jesus said this, it caused many people to turn away because it was “a hard saying. Who can accept it?” (Verse 60) This seems to be the reaction of so many people today as well. In a way, I guess that’s kind of how I reacted when I was first introduced to these ideas.

We as humans tend to think, “That’s not fair of God to choose some but not others.” We want God to be “fair” but someone gave a very valid point to me. If God was truly being as “fair” as we wanted Him to be, then He would not have sent His Son to die on the cross and raise Him from the dead. He would not have provided a way to salvation for anyone at all but would have left every single person on earth dead in their sin. We would all be going to Hell.

But this is not the case. This is the Good News, that despite the fact that we are all sinners, completely enslaved to our sin, God made a way out. We as believers have a reason to rejoice and praise God for allowing us to be part of His Church.

For me, it was very hard to rejoice at first because all I saw was the negative fact that there are many who are not chosen and how hard to understand this all is. But I’ve come to a better understanding that God has saved me and freed me from sin and has done so for many others who have believed, do believe and will believe.

I still struggle with it because it is a very hard teaching, but I realize that the Gospel is supposed to make people stumble, it is supposed to be offensive. This teaching made Jesus’ disciples grumble and He knew it. (verse 61) But my focus as a disciple is not to be worried about whether the Gospel offends people or not, but to continue to gain knowledge of Scripture and to obey what Jesus said, to go and make disciples of all nations.

It is not my responsibility to save people, only God can do that. But it is my responsibility to share with the World what God has done for me and what He can do for them. Many will hear the Word of God, but like the parable of the sower in Luke 8, some of the seed will fall by the wayside, some will take root among thorns and be choked out, some will take root among rocks and be scorched but some will fall on good soil and will grow and produce fruit, and that is the reason we are to take the Good News to the whole World.

We have no control over what happens to the “seed” once it has been planted but we are to simply obey. I am not saying that this is easy, but it’s not supposed to be. Our Americanized version of the Gospel has made us think that being a disciple is easy and involves only simple belief. But for many this belief is only superficial and is simply just that, belief. But the Greek word used in the New Testament for belief is pisteuo, which means a complete trust and total reliance upon.

Unfortunately, many who say they believe in Jesus only believe that He existed, died on the cross and rose from the dead, but they do not rely on that completely in their lives as the basis for all that they do. They do not follow Him with their whole heart and are not willing to obey Him at any cost. They have only as much “faith” as the demons do, because the demons even know these things to be true (James 2:19). But the difference is that the demons do not obey Christ and that belief is not the essence of all that they do.

I’m not saying that I have this all figured out or that I do not struggle with any of this. But I feel that God laid this on my heart to share as I continue in my journey to know God more and to obey Him with all of my being. I am still wrestling with my faith and my beliefs, but I feel that that is a healthy place to be rather than complacent and unquestioning because then I am not learning or growing, but in my wrestlings and strugglings, I find that I am learning more now than ever before and am more excited about my faith that ever before.”

 

Why do I Believe this Stuff Anyway? (Part 2)

If you haven’t read Part 1, or the self titled blog, you should go back and read it.  (Why do I Believe this Stuff Anyway?)

 

I left off where I changed schools, which gave me the chance to reinvent myself, or to kind of get a fresh start.  And it couldn’t have come at a better time.  After we moved, I decided that I was going to be REALLY good and talk about my faith a lot.  The pendulum in my life swung from basing my life as a Christian on what I believed but not how I lived, to thinking that I was better than everyone else, because I didn’t cuss any more, I didn’t go to parties or have sex like most other people, etc, etc.  So I became self-righteous, which is also a dangerous, not to mention sad, way to live.

 

This lasted through the rest of High School and went on through a lot of College.  I went to a Christian college and was studying to get a degree in missions, which I did after squeezing it into a 5 year program, haha!  I had a really great mentor in college named Matt.  He was in the Grad School at our college, and introduced me to John MacArthur, who is now one of my favorite Bible teachers.  I was given the MacArthur Study Bible, and found that I really enjoyed a lot of his teaching.  I found him to be a solid teacher who preached the Scripture really well.  My only problem with him was that he taught the Doctrines of Grace, or Reformed Theology, sometimes know as Calvinism. 

Image

 

I hated the idea that I hadn’t chosen God and that others can’t really choose God on their own, but really didn’t want to take the time to study for myself.  I wrestled with it for 8 years, and most of that time, I was really offended by it, but I loved many people who believed these doctrines and had great respect for them because their lives showed great humility toward God and His word and they really knew what they were talking about.  But I continued to reject these ideas and wrote them off as hard-hearted, boastful ideas.  I remember several conversations with my dad, and we would talk about this stuff and he rejected these ideas as well until right around the time I graduated from college.  Then both he and my grandpa (his dad) started to see that these ideas were truths taught all over Scripture, but in spite of that, I still wanted nothing to do with it.  

Image

 

As I graduated college and got married (photo above), I began to get burnt out on church.  I had felt for a while that God was calling me away from my home church that I had grown up in, but I didn’t see the point in leaving since we weren’t moving anywhere, so instead, I delved deeper into ministry at the church.  Instead of stepping out of the ministries I was involved in, I joined a couple more thinking, “Well God, look, I’m too attached, you can’t get me out of here now.”  But all that led to was misery on my part, knowing full well that it was time for me to move on, although I didn’t really know why.  After I did finally leave, I tried to blame the church and the circumstances for the burnout and my distaste for church in general which followed.  I later realized the error in that and went back and apologized and made amends.  

 

My wife and I began to go to another church in town, which was our church up until the time we moved to Kansas City, which is where we are now.  We really enjoyed it, and loved the people, the pastors (there were 5 at the time), and the ministry.  Plus it was much smaller than our old church and it was made up of a lot of college students and young marrieds, which is where we were in life.  

 

Since I was finished with school, I was finally able to start to enjoy reading.  I actually started reading a lot.  I read some really good stuff and some not so good stuff, though I didn’t know it at the time.  I was kind of moving in the opposite direction of Reformed Theology, or Calvinism, and started reading people like Rob Bell.  I really enjoyed a lot of what he had to say, especially in light of where I was with church and theology and stuff like that.  At the time, I enjoyed the things he said because it wasn’t offensive.  It was easy to swallow, and I’m not saying that that’s all bad.  As a matter of fact, I still try to remember what he said in Velvet Elvis, that God has spoken and the rest is just commentary.  To me that means that Scripture is what is important, and the way we interpret it is fallible, even though I believe that Scripture itself is infallible, so what others say about it doesn’t matter if it does not line up with what Scripture says.

 

Image

 

After the book “Love Wins” came out, I initially tried to deny that Bell was a Universalist, but after seeing the way he danced around questions and wouldn’t give direct answers, I started to wonder if his ideas could be trusted.  I figured if he’s not bold enough to come out and say what he believes, then it must not be very good, or he doesn’t really know what he believes.  I began to really study the Scripture to see if there was any credibility to the idea that all would be saved one day, as he seems to have suggested in the book.  But even after a couple of years of searching and studying, I just couldn’t find a way to justify that belief without either twisting and stretching Scripture or taking it completely out of context, which I know is a bad idea.

 

Then my wife and I signed up for the World Race.  It is an 11 month mission trip to 11 countries.  You join a squad of about 60-70 people and live in community on smaller teams and do ministry together and live life together as you travel the world.  It was a big step of faith because we had to sell or give away most of our stuff and fund raise over $30,000 to go on this trip.  We moved out of our apartment and into my parent’s house where we lived for 6 months as we struggled to raise the funds necessary to go. During that time, I continued to study the Scripture and debate with my dad and grandpa about Reformed theology and how I just didn’t think it was right or didn’t seem fair.  But then one day, as I was reading through the Gospel of John, I saw something that I had never noticed before, and it changed my life for good.

 

To be continued…Part 3 coming soon. 

An excerpt from…

An excerpt from “The Silver Chair”:
“Please, what task sir?” said Jill.
“The task for which I called you and him here out of your own world.” (Aslan)
This puzzled Jill very much. “It’s mistaking me for someone else,” she thought. She didn’t dare to tell the Lion this, though she felt things would get into a dreadful muddle unless she did.
“Speak your thought, Human Child,” said the Lion.
“I was wondering-I mean-could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call to-to Somebody-it was a name I wouldn’t know-and perhaps the Somebody would let us in. And we did, and then we found the door open.”
“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.
“Then you are Somebody, Sir?” said Jill.
“I am.”

Then the questions that followed:
-Why is it hard for Jill to think that the Lion called her instead of the other way around?
-Do you tend to credit yourself with too much power or to accept too little responsibility for events in your life?
-What are some of the repercussions of each tendency?

I am currently reading “A Year With Aslan” and today’s was really thought provoking.  It was also, I guess, proof that C.S. Lewis was reformed.