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Redeemer Church

Redeemer Church
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Depravity Necessitates God's Choice

Every Christian must have a view of predestination. I know, this is not a catchy intro paragraph, and if you're not a Christian, you've already clicked away. However, I feel compelled to write on this, because Reformed theology is foundational to my worldview and a particular position on predestination is foundational to Reformed theology. I know most of you are confused or bored by now. But if you give this material some time and thought, it may just clear up some tensions you've felt and seen in the Bible and even mankind (as it did for me).

I did not start out in my Christian theology as a Reformed thinker. Most people don't because all of us live most of our lives thinking we make all our decisions with complete autonomy. But at some point in a Christian's life they must (or should) deal with ideas of predestination and God's sovereignty. As I opened, every Christian must have a view of predestination. This is, of course, because it's in the Bible.

Now the popular view of predestination goes something like this: God predestined some people for salvation because He looked down the corridors of time and saw who would chose Him and He elected them. So this view would say we chose God (salvation) because God chose us (election in predestination) because we chose God (our decision seen by foreknowledge). This does not sound like the predestination I read about in Romans 9 done "in order that God's purpose in election might stand, not by works but by him who calls".

Rather, I hold that we chose God (salvation) because God chose us (predestination). No third step dependent on the decisions of man. However, I hold this position not primarily because of the Bible's teaching on predestination, though it is certainly there. Instead, I hold this position because of the Bible's teaching on man's fallenness, sinfulness, and depravity. Our state of sinfulness and helplessness necessitates God making the choice. It was the doctrine of human depravity that drove me to a Reformed position.

Spiritual ignorance: Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires (Rom. 8:5), they are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts (Eph. 4:18), the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them (1 Cor. 2:14), there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God (Rom. 3:11)

Spiritual rebellion: We were God's enemies (Rom. 5:10), [The sinful nature] does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so (Rom. 8:7) All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one (Rom. 3:12), both their minds and consciences are corrupted (Titus 1:15), the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9)

Spiritual inability: Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God (Rom. 8:8), Jesus said "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44), The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4), everyone who sins is a slave to sin (John 8:34), When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness (Rom. 6:20)
Spiritual death: The mind of sinful man is death (Rom. 8:6), you were dead in your transgressions and sins (Eph. 2:1), you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature (Col. 2:13)

As RC Sproul said in Chosen by God, "The uniform teaching of Scripture is that fallen men are fleeing from God. There is no one who seeks after God. We see people searching desperately for peace of mind, relief from guilt, meaning and purpose to their lives, and loving acceptance. People do not seek God. They seek after the benefits that only God can give them."

So, if I believe man is spiritually ignorant, rebellious, and dead, how are we saved? God must regenerate us, He must make an effective call on the heart that breathes life into it. Much like Lazarus, we make no decision to walk out of the grave until God speaks and life is created in us.

For a more in depth treatment of this issue by Greg Koukl, click here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Same-sex marriage in the Public Square

The following is a letter to the editor printed in the Omaha World Herald in response to two other letters printed in an earlier issue. I have not cited those here, but their central thoughts are represented in my response. While the defense is very brief (I was limited to 200 words), I think the central themes and arguments are there.

In response to Jamie's June 2 letter, a vote in support of legislation to legalize homosexual marriage reflects approval of the lifestyle. When a pastor marries a couple, it is understood as an endorsement of that relationship. This is why marrying a homosexual couple is not the same as marrying an alcoholic couple. A marriage is not an endorsement of the alcoholism.

To call someone a bigot who objects to homosexual marriage on moral convictions, as Kelly did in a June 2 letter, is just name-calling. A bigot is someone who holds an intolerant position in an irrational way, considering others and their views substandard.To morally object to something is not to consider that person substandard. We are all sinners. We're all on an even playing field.

Since those of us who object to such unions are not pushing to make homosexuality illegal, it seems that the morality of others is being forced on us, not vice versa.The issue should be put to a vote, and opponents should not be subjected to bullying tactics like name-calling.

Jared Totten, Omaha