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Category: Apologetics Page 3 of 7

The Church of Oprah

(FYI, if you’re coming from a politically liberal-leaning point of view, please ignore the caption at the beginning and end of this video … that’s totally irrelevant to the main issue at hand: Oprah’s deceit. In addition, I realize there is a book mentioned apparently directly linking Obama to the occult and New Age movement at the end of the video. I have done no investigation of these claims or the book and would liken such a title to far-right fear mongering of some kind … though certainly the actual proposal of establishing a Department of Peace does sound eerily familiar to the Ministry of Love in Orwell’s classic 1984, a place in the story in which the main character, Winston, is tortured into submission to “love” for Big Brother, but I seriously digress from the real topic at hand 🙂 )

This is the absolute essence of false religion, the antithesis of Christianity, the antithesis of the Gospel. In this thinking, You are the starting point for all that is in your world and the world that is out there, as it were. How utterly vain. This kind of thinking, left unchecked, will eat our culture from the inside out, because the ultimate end, the ultimate goal of the type of person this creates is a sociopath. A society of sociopaths? Frightening prospect, just on a worldly level, let alone the abandonment and suppression of the Gospel.

You Never Know How the Holy Spirit May Move

Yes, his mind was not changed toward theism (let alone the Gospel), yes, he’s still a confident atheist … yet this act of kindness from a believer very well could be the planting of a seed that the Holy Spirit will use to later bring him to faith. May we pray this happens. Sometimes the best apologetic for our faith are not air tight logical arguments (though those are necessary for removing stumbling blocks and giving clear testimony to the Gospel) but genuine kindness and care for the souls of others. Our hope for his salvation is not in his “decision” or will to believe, for they both are in bondage to the blindness of sin and the hardness of the wrath of God that rests on him even at this moment (John 3:36). Our hope in evangelizing and apologetically defending the faith lies in the power of the Holy Spirit to grant those we come into contact with the eyes to see Him, the ears to hear Him, and a new heart that is submissive and responsive to God. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” – John 3:8 … and the reason this is so is because God is sovereign in salvation, not us.

(Thanks for sending this my way, Ryan McCarthy)

When You Can’t Beat ‘Em Yourself …

… Have your big scholarly brother step up and speak for you. 🙂

(Original): http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/review/code=3863 – I find some of these surprising and others not so much.

(Archive): http://www.westerfunk.net/archives/christianity/Justification%20-%20N.T.%20Wright%20-%20Endorsements/

In speaking of N.T. Wright’s new book, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision, responding to and critiquing Piper’s defense of justification, entitled, The Future of Justification, itself critiquing Wright’s understanding of justification, McLaren says, “John Piper, it turns out, has done us all a wonderful favor. In writing the critique that invited this response, he has given Bishop Wright the opportunity to clearly, directly, passionately and concisely summarize many of the key themes of his still-in-process yet already historic scholarly and pastoral project. Wright shows–convincingly–how the comprehensive view of Paul, Romans, justification, Jesus, and the Christian life and mission that he has helped articulate embraces ‘both the truths the Reformers were eager to set forth and also the truths which, in their eagerness, they sidelined.’ Eavesdropping on this conversation will help readers who are new to Wright get into the main themes of his work and the important conversation of which it is a part. And it will give Wright’s critics a clearer sense than ever of what they are rejecting when they cling to their cherished old wineskins of conventional thought.” —Brian McLaren, author A Generous Orthodoxy

What Is Christmas About? – The Good News of An Objective Salvation

The Worldview of New Age Business Leadership Guru Lance Secretan

This is a brief clip of one of Lance Secretan’s presentations to a group of corporate employees. Notice how at the beginning of this clip, he disregards anything Christianity had to offer in history as an explanation for natural and supernatural reality. He doesn’t even mention all of the thousands of Christian thinkers who have contributed greatly to the progress of “humanity” who believed Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. These voices are simply ignored. Sure, he mentions Jesus as a good moral teacher, and even quotes Him in the presentation. Yet Secretan cherry-picks what he wants from what Jesus said without dealing with the portions of Scripture where He claims to be God Himself, the only way to salvation, the greatest Person in all of history. This is ignored, for to deal with these texts simply denies his own worldview perspective of reality.

Thoughts on Piper’s Book, The Future of Justification – A Partial Review

In the past, just doing a cursory reading of some of N.T. Wright’s statements on justification, I thought that I could at least grasp a basic concept of his understanding of this centrally important piece of the Gospel message. Then I picked up Piper’s book. Now I’m even more confused than I was before; I now have some clarity on various points, but I see now I haven’t even scratched the surface of where the man is coming from on justification. Wright’s comprehensive picture of God’s working out salvation in history seems to be coming from a totally different avenue, one the church has never been down in 2000 years. It seems Piper is confused at points to, or sees seemingly contradictory understandings within Wright that he is putting out there at various junctures. While reading Piper’s critique and seeing quotes of Wright’s, I think to myself, “This is a Catholic understanding of justification,” and then at other points, I affirm with Wright that part of his articulation is the traditionally historic Protestant view (i.e. the “Wright” one … get it? Wow, okay I’ll stop … you knew it had to come, ya know, a pun … okay I’m digging a hole).

Things became much clearer tonight though as I continued reading (as much as it can in waters already muddied by a whole new articulation of a super vital doctrine that has never once appeared in all of church history). One of the things that has really come to bear in my understanding of Wright on justification is the way in which he distinguishes present and future justification. I have never even considered these as two separate, yet related doctrines (nor do I at this point still, just so I’m clear … I believe I’m justified now and will be in the future on the same basis, Christ alone). In the present, says Wright, we are justified by faith alone, knowing that all Christ has overcome and achieved is ours, or in other words, the verdict is in: we are His and have been made His by Christ. Okay that’s comforting. Here it comes though … yet future justification, the justification yet to occur at the judgment seat of God, is faith and the entire life lived in love as a confirmation of true, authentic saving faith. Confused?

With Piper, along with Wright, I concur that our lives should be overflowing with good works (imperfectly) from the supposed supernatural change in our hearts we claim to have had happen in us by God’s working alone, and that if that isn’t happening in us now (or we have no desire or struggle even with such things), we should very well question if God has born us anew at all; that is, is our faith the work of God in us alone to save us and keep us, or is it a false faith we worked up out of our sinful flesh that cannot stand the test of time and trials that will inevitably come (and believe me, they will)? If God has created in us a new heart, made us a new creation by the resurrection of Christ, then what necessarily results from that supernatural work in us is sweetness and fruitfulness, not bitterness and rottenness. I affirm this with Piper and Wright.

Wright is correct to point out that so much of Protestantism has erred in not presenting a balanced view of Paul’s understanding of faith and works, that the two go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other (James 2:14-26). If God brings about faith in your heart, faith that can only come from Him, a faith that is supernaturally struck by the “beauty of His majesty” and the extent to which He went to bring us to Himself, that faith will inevitably produce good fruit because that is what we’ve been redeemed to. Faith and works are indeed interconnected.

But are they interconnected as the basis for our final justification? Or even our present justification? And yet somehow that understanding in itself isn’t connected with my present justification before God’s throne (the very thing that gives me hope when I’ve sinned and fallen short of the glory of God)? Are the two “justification’s” even distinguishable other than by time? I have a hard time accepting that understanding. It’s like a synthesized version of Protestant and Catholic views on justification almost, patching the former into our present justification and the latter into our future justification. Ultimately though, it comes down to our works in his view, from my standpoint.

I affirm with Piper that in Wright’s view of these two “justification’s” (present and future), the basis or root of both is different. In the present, for Wright, justification is rooted in faith alone through Christ alone. Yet in the future, our justification, the final proclamation of our vindication, that we are God’s covenant people, is based on our faith and our whole life lived … or in essence, our works. I agree that faith “works in love” of necessity and the effect of faith is works, but negate the understanding that our justification, either present or future, rests on faith + works in any fashion. This itself is a perversion of the Gospel of Christ and, as Martin Luther said, sola fide (faith alone) was “the very hinge upon which the Reformation turned.”

I have a hard time accepting the idea that my present justification and my future justification are somehow not the same at the root, that is in Christ’s work alone, appropriated through faith alone, that is all granted by God’s grace alone. The thing that gives me hope, everyday, is that both forms of justification, present and future, are exactly the same and are both rooted in the singular saving work of Christ alone, wrought out upon the cross, sealed and confirmed in the resurrection, and applied by His Holy Spirit to His elect covenant people, and in my particular case. It is knowing I’m secured by His grace, that I’m declared righteous, that gives me freedom to work for His glory and honor, because now no longer am I doing it to be justified (or made right with God), but I do it because I want to out of a love that overflows in my heart (all of which is it self a gift a grace).

If in the present I look off into the future justification of my life at the judgment seat of Christ and I see that His judgment of me is based on my faith and the life I’ve lived (or works), and not merely faith alone, will I not attempt to work harder to make sure “I’m in” the covenant community of God? Does my final justification then not hone in and rest upon what I’ve done in my life, which is defiled and wretched? What hope is that?

You see then, in all reality, if I believed this, ultimately the final verdict of whether or not I go to heaven or hell depends on my obedience, my works, which once again hits at the very distinguishing mark between Protestants and Catholics for 500 years (which Wright, in my opinion is folding on doctrinally): for Catholics, their justification, or right standing before God, comes by faith and works, produced by the infusion of the Holy Spirit into their hearts; for Protestants, our justification is through faith alone, that we are accounted righteous by Christ’s working on our behalf … but we saved through a faith that works in love of necessity … because the faith that God grants His people is of Himself and full of power, effectively changing the course of our entire lives (though we still yet remain imperfect). Ephesians 2:8-10 articulates this Protestant doctrine the best: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God saves His people by grace, granting faith, which justifies them, and then He moves in them to work for His glory.

I find all of this highly confusing, especially to those who have only a fundamental understanding of what justification is, let alone Wright coming along and making distinguishing marks between two different kinds, a present and a future justification. Wright says the Reformers were confused on the issue and that the conversation between Protestants and Catholics got off on the wrong foot during the Reformation. But I can only say Wright seems to have confused himself 1) about what the Reformers were saying concerning faith and works, and 2) he may be reading too much Second Temple Judaism back into the texts of Romans and Galatians in particular.

But, I am no scholar, nor do I presume to be, nor have I read any Second Temple Judaism from which to make any kind of a standing assertion such as that. I have only grasped a few of the concepts Wright is articulating, or at the very least attempting to, so I could very well be wrong and misunderstanding what he is saying. As you study, one of the things you realize is just how little you know of anything really. If Piper is confused at points, surely I’m going to be. Somehow I feel that Piper’s confusion comes from (possible) contradictory statements and a (possibly) confused N.T. Wright who is uttering them. But maybe I have a bias.

Unconditional Election – What Does It Mean? – Dr. James White

Thoughts on the Day After an Historic Election – James White

Environmentalist Battles Will Never End Until We Do

http://gizmodo.com/5065587/greenpeace-o … ood-enough

So Apple, in response to the environmentalist outcry over the past few years, that their products are harmful to the environment (which I am for reducing toxins I might add), stepped up their efforts to make good on reducing the amount of damage they cause in towns like China where they are produced, as well as issues such as the cancer-causing toxic fumes reported to be burning off of the motherboards. So, as this article says, with one hand, environmentalists are patting Apple on the head and saying, “Good job,” while apparently the other hand is still chastising them for not doing enough. What is enough for an environmentalist, I ask?

This leads me to one fundamental conclusion: as long as humans are alive and consume anything, anything at all, whether it is food such as plants, animals, or if we use wood for building houses to live in, or use cars for transportation, fuels for energy, environmentalists will complain and fight all forms of technology that advance society. Now that doesn’t mean we have no responsibility to take care of the Earth as Christians. But it does mean that it should not become our god as it has for the environmentalist movement who opposes the God of the Bible (for the most part, with exceptions of course).

This leads me to more thought at a worldview level of where we as Christians are coming from and where our environmentalist friends are coming from. Are humans more valuable than anything else on the face of the planet as the Scriptures say, or are they of the same worth, value and honor as everything else that exists, which makes us just common place amongst a host of other organisms and matter? For instance, does a plant, as has been dictated in Switzerland by their governmental ethics board, have just as many inherent “rights” as humans and as much God-given value and honor? Or are humans distinct in honor and value apart from all other things in creation as has been ordained by our Creator?

Now my presupposition with all of this is that God is the Creator of all things and created all for His glory. In addition, I believe people were created in the image of God, to reflect His glory and attributes. The evolutionist/environmentalist does not believe any of this and so just as belief in the God of the Bible guides all my other beliefs and decisions, so also their underlying beliefs about reality (based largely outside of any text or manuscript, but based in very large assumptions that have been widely accepted by the scientific community) guide all of their other decisions regarding the world and our role as humans in it. These beliefs naturally and logically lead them to conclude we have no more inherent worth than that of a rock.

The Christian worldview says humans were created by God as His crowning achievement, made in His image and possess more inherent worth than any other of His creations. The evolutionist/environmentalist worldview (though not all environmentalists I might add) explain humans away as just a series of chemical and biological reactions that just happened to come into existence by chance, survival of the fittest or natural selection. Therefore, what worth do we have as humans that is more than that of other creatures, they seem to ask on an almost constant basis, at least implicitly?

This exposes the fundamentally different ways of viewing humanity and our use of the environment. Both camps believe (or should at least) that we should care for and protect the environment. Yet the reason why we should do this is what splits us. The Christian worldview says that we should take care of the environment out of our glory to God and thankfulness for what He has granted us to live in. The environmentalist (who for the most part holds to a evolutionist worldview) is merely a survivalist, believing humans to possess no more worth than that of a rock or plant and then applying the same worth and value we possess as humans, as granted to us by our Creator, to that of other objects with which we come into contact.

At what point will environmentalists cease their varied agendas? In their worldview, until humans are using no resources or are using only the most limited amounts possible to the point where there is no progress made at any level in our civilization, will their endeavors be complete. So should environmentalist policies and legislation be imposed on the collective society so that everyone must abide by their assumed rules? Is this not the very thing the same kinds of people accuse Christians of doing, imposing moral laws on the collective society? Do they not believe their proposed laws to be rules that are morally correct for all people and that we all should abide by them?

As Greg Koukl insightfully points out in his lecture on Relativism, and this whole discussion proves as a case in point, when you really get down to it, morality is the only thing you can legislate. This is clear between both the Christian and environmentalist worldviews. Now I don’t believe you can bring people to salvation through legislation (what many on the Christian right seem to assume), all the while ignoring the actual changing of people’s hearts by the Holy Spirit.

But the question is, which one of the meta-narratives for our existence is true? The Christian worldview that values humans above all in creation? Or an atheistic, evolutionist, radical-environmental worldview which believes humans to be of equal worth and dignity as anything else that exists, like plants now? I would argue it takes way more faith to believe we got here from nothing than to believe God was always there, self-existent, creating us and all things out of nothing by His infinite power. The latter at least logically makes more sense for how we got here and what our point of existence is: to find our ultimate joy and fulfillment in giving glory to God through Jesus, not in trying to save a world marred by the fall, though of course we sinners can make it worse off a lot faster if we’re not careful by how we use resources.

Does God Trust Us With His Work After We Believe?

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10

I have had a couple of conversations recently in which I noticed a certain idea being articulated as it related to the person’s life circumstances and God’s role in it all: that is that God, after we believe in Him, trusts us to build His Kingdom. And from the relationship perspective, that God trusts us to go through trials. Most people might brush aside such a thought as a simple notion that gives no weight to what one savingly believes concerning God; or bringing it down to a practical level, how that idea affects everyday life and practice. However, I personally believe it is quite a revealing notion about the way in which many are beginning to view God’s role in bringing us to Himself and making us more like Christ.

I have a hunch I know where this idea is coming from, an idea that I believe to be quite injurious to the Church; if not immediately, maybe on down the line as people pick up on it more and more, particularly in youth groups around the nation, whose members then grow up to be adults a decade from now.

There was an article written by Dale Van Dyke a few years ago that reviews Rob Bell’s book Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith. In it, Van Dyke points out a particular quote from Bell’s book on pg. 134 where Bell states (in no uncertain terms I might add, which I find ironic at a belief system level … but I digress), “[Jesus] 1/4 left the future of the movement (the church) in [the disciples] hands. And he doesn’t stick around to make sure they don’t screw it up. He’s gone. He trusts that they can actually do it.”

Now before continuing, I would like to quote Van Dyke’s own preface to his review that I think is appropriate here as well: “I believe that Rob Bell is well intentioned. He is passionate about helping Christians break out of the drudgery of a tired, traditional religion into a vibrant, culture-transforming relationship with Christ. He earnestly desires to help people live out the commands of Christ. This is commendable and explains in large part his appeal to the largely churched Grand Rapids community.” I totally agree and have seen some of the good that Bell has done locally, through a few videos, coupled with some leaders who shared the Gospel, in (at the very least) helping a few people come to believe in Christ and are now off at college and vibrant in their faith.

However, even small ideas that may seem minute at the moment can have eventual catastrophic effects down the road, maybe not within the immediate generation (though I believe we’re already seeing the effects in some ways), but what about 10, 20, 30 years from now when our youth groups are all grown up, taking these ideas we’re giving them, that we’ll be held accountable for on judgment day?

There are several presuppositions in this quote of Bell’s that are contrary to the text of Scripture, however, that may not be obvious on first glance. Something may not sound right to you, but your not quite sure what it is. Here are a few I noticed, if it helps at all, though by no means is it exhaustive of everything Bell would have to say; in addition, he may very well not be intending it though, I believe they are unavoidable in the language he uses:

1) that implicit in this idea of God trusting Kingdom work (or trials) to His disciples (even 1/4 of it), God is not directing the course of history sovereignly for His own glory and purposes which is so clear in the Old Testament quotes of God Himself;

2) that there are things that could potentially thwart God’s purposes if the Kingdom is left in the hands of sinners and God is hands-off even a 25%, to one degree or another;

3) that man is capable in himself of carrying out God’s eternal plans;

4) Jesus is not providing the constant power, ability and will (a gift purchased and secured at the cross) to carry out the very things in His people that He wills to come to pass in His Kingdom.

This is ultimately a denial of God’s over-arching sovereignty in creating and acting in the way that He does to bring glory to Himself, from beginning of creation, to redemption, to the end, the ultimate purpose of creation and even more specifically, salvation. Now I would not say Bell himself supscribes to an outright rejection of God’s sovereignty, but those listening to his teaching sure might.

All of this adds up to what I see as a misapprehension of the theology of the Kingdom of God. Who does what in the Kingdom? What is God’s role and our role? Is it something we build for God or that is God’s to build Himself, using us as His instruments? I would argue the latter.

Now I will confess that some believers can carry around these ideas while inconsistently believing at the same time that God is sovereign over their lives. At some level, we all inconsistently believe something that is amiss from the Gospel, which always inevitably results in sin, a turning away from the glory of God, as Paul defines it in Romans and other places. But that’s not to say that these beliefs do not go without their necessary and undesired effects in our lives and even relationships with God. This point is no different. However, missing this point can result in a dramatic shift from the overarching premises of the Bible, which ultimately affects our Gospel message that we are preaching to a dying world who does not know Him. All that to say, this is very important.

Dale Van Dyke has an excellent insight on Bell’s statement above as to what is wrong with this idea that I think further drives this home: “This is a profound and poisonous reinterpretation of the relationship between God and man. When the gospel becomes the message of God coming to earth and dying on a cross to help men realize how great they really are – something is horribly amiss. A teaching that claims that God trusts his glory and sovereign purposes to the abilities of sinful man has the stench of blasphemy.”

This is ultimately the presupposition that is subtly being subverted, if not explicitly then (maybe, without knowing it) implicitly, by adopting the postmodern ethos that we live and breathe in our culture on a constant basis: that man is in such desperate need of being saved because of the depravity and blindness of his soul, that Christ had to actually set aside His glory for a time, embody Himself as a man that could die (like any one of us), and do what we could not by living a life by God’s standards, in perfect obedience, on our behalf, which He then offers as a ransom for us sinners who could in no way lift a finger to save ourselves, by turning away the wrath of God and removing all hindrances from us through His atoning blood, rising from the dead in power, and then infallibly crediting our accounts with His excellent Gospel-work by raising us from among the spiritually dead in the unfolding of time, simply because He loved us and knew we were utterly helpless in our sin.

You are telling me Jesus did all of that simply to go back to heaven, leaving the future of His Kingdom in our sinfully marred, messed up hands, that without His grace, will run to shed innocent blood with the motives of our hearts every day in one way or another? I don’t think so. Rather, maybe it is that God Himself creates in us a faith that wasn’t there by the work of the cross, applied by the Spirit, who gives and then sustains that power in us to carry out all He has required and decreed from eternity (Ephesians 2:10)?

Maybe it’s not so much that God trusts us to get His work done without Him because we’re sufficient in ourselves for the task (which I thought the Christian life was all about humbly submitting ourselves to Him and relying on Him with and for our everything … well what does that actually entail?). But maybe it’s that God effectively and actively intervenes at every point in our lives, from the ground up, intimately and intricately involving Himself in all of it, in such a way that He receives all the glory, by granting us the ability, power, desire, and strength to carry out what He has sovereignly ordained would come to pass from the foundation of the world?

Bell’s statement, while I have no doubt is well-intentioned, subtly negates the all-sufficiency, omnipotence, sovereignty, and eternally effective love of Christ to build His Kingdom, something that in all reality we’re not doing really in the first place. We are merely recipients of His working and doing. It’s His work to build His Kingdom, not ours. Now we are active participants yes, only by God’s decree, yet God does the supernatural work of raising souls from the dead among us. We are merely instruments in the Redeemer’s hands, created to be used by Him in humble submission to His will, not ours and our various flawed, man-centered agendas that would surely hinder the Kingdom if left up to us.

David Well’s puts it so eloquently in His book The Courage to Be Protestant on pg. 196: “God’s inbreaking, saving, vanquishing rule is his from first to last. It has no human analogues, no duplicates, no parallels, and no surrogates. It allows of no human synergism. The inbreaking of the ‘age to come’ into our world is accomplished by God alone. This is all about the spirituality that is from ‘above’ and not at all about that which is from ‘below.’ It is about God reaching down in grace and doing for sinners what they cannot do for themselves. For if this is God’s kingdom, his rule, the sphere of his sovereignty, then it is not for us to take or to establish. We receive, we do not take; we enter, but we do not seize. We come as subjects in his kingdom, not as sovereigns in our own.”

Well’s, on the same page, also says, “We can search for the kingdom of God, pray for it, and look for it, for example, but only God can bring it about (Luke 12:31; 23:51; Matt. 6:10, 33). The kingdom is God’s to give and take away. It is ours only to enter and accept (Matt. 21:43; Luke 12:32). We can inherit it, possess it, or refuse to enter it, but it is not ours to build and we can never destroy it (Matt 25:34: Luke 10:11). We can work for the kingdom, but we can never act upon it. We can preach it, but it is God’s to establish (Matt 10:7; Luke 10:9; 12:32).”

And this right here is a case in point of why in no way can we make the Gospel more attractive to the culture by stripping certain doctrines because they are offensive. What you are left with is not the Gospel, but another religion, which again, is ironic for a movement that hates religion. Atonement, the sinfulness of man (you know, the actual doctrine, not the stripped down version), grace, predestination, the reality of hell. If you strip these from Scripture, what you wind up with is not authentic Christianity, but rather a man-made appearance of something that looks like Christianity, using the same lingo, but falls infinitely short of the Biblical Gospel and is in fact a false gospel, according to Paul.

This message of the cross is an offense to the Jew and the Greek, remember? Well, this Western postmodern culture is of Grecian philosophical descent. Greeks think the Gospel is nonsensical foolishness, based on Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2. Just ask any number of the new atheists like Hitchens or Dawkins and they will fill you in. You cannot strip the doctrines and demands for faith and repentance in the Gospel, for you will be left with no Gospel at all in the end.

In one of the particular conversations I mentioned earlier, the person had gone through some very difficult circumstances recently, none of which I am unsympathetic to by the way. In no way do I question the person seeing and experiencing God at work in it or their own personal beliefs concerning the Gospel. I would say based on that conversation they love Christ even more as a result. However, the person made the statement that it was cool to see that God would “trust us enough that He would let us go through trials.” And as I thought on that statement later, I couldn’t help but think that in no way does God trust me to go through a trial. Is that not the reason God interposed His blood for me and sustains me with His grace, namely because I couldn’t do it at all myself without Him?

Rather, God sovereignly let’s me go through trials and in the midst of it stokes and sustains my faith by His power alone, in such a way that He gets all the glory for all of the working and I get changed into the image of Christ in the process. If God trusted me with my trials, to uphold my faith, without His sustaining power in me, knowing just an inkling of the deceit of my own heart (and based on Scriptures diagnosis of my own heart in Isaiah 64:6), I would walk away from Christ for sure and betray the Kingdom. I love Him because He first loved me and it is that very reality that keeps me attached to Him and it is He that sustains that reality in me.

Bell’s assessment simply misapprehends the depravity of man, the sovereignty of God and the power of Christ’s saving work. And ultimately it eclipses the glory of God, which is the whole point of all creation and the work of salvation to start with. If this is not plain to you, I ask that you think through why God does what He does in anything, from creating, to permitting sin and evil and trials (without being complicit in it of course, a mystery indeed), to redemption. Is it because His modus operandi is to make much of us, or Himself, the most valuable One in all the universe that demands to be praised, because to do less is to dishonor Him? We would all do well to pay attention to what we have seen and heard lest we too become deceived by the working of Satan in attempting to derail the Church. What we need to see and hear more of is the Gospel. And the place we see it is in Scripture, prayer and fellowship. Error always starts out small and then grows, like a festering wound that will ultimately poison your blood and kill you off.

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