Two Problems With Substitutionary Atonement

Yesterday I did a post on the following quote:

A rejection of penal substitutionary atonement is a rejection of the gospel. Either you’re saved through the work of Christ on the Cross, or you’re not saved at all.

The gist of the quote is that if you don’t believe in Substitutionary Atonement (to be called SA from now on cuz it’s hard to type!) then you aren’t saved.

This is a rather silly position to take. SA is Calvinism. What the author of the quote is saying is that if you’re not Calvinist you don’t believe the Gospel and thus are not saved.

In his quote, only Calvinists are saved. These are the same people who fought against the Catholic Church for saying only Catholics are saved!

I believe it is entirely possible to not believe in SA and still believe the Gospel, because SA is not the Gospel. SA is an attempt to summarize and explain the Gospel.

It gets some things right and presses other things out of measure.

I know it is possible to not accept SA and yet still believe the Gospel, because I do.

Here are my two main reasons for rejecting SA:

1. SA says that Christ died as your substitute. He died in your place. You were supposed to die, but instead Christ did. Although this sounds good and there are a couple verses you can misinterpret to make it sound like that’s what the Bible says, this isn’t right.

If Christ specifically died in the exact place of every believer, then He did not die in the exact place of every non-believer. This leads to Limited Atonement, the L of the Calvinist TULIP. This is, by far, their weakest point. It is refuted by many Scriptures. Limited Atonement is wrong. Anyone can come to Christ for salvation. He died for the sins of the whole world.

Limited Atonement rejects that idea because Limited Atonement is not based on Scripture; it’s based on the Calvinist philosophy of SA.

2. SA says that Christ died instead of you. He was your exact substitute, doing something you don’t have to do now because He did it for you.

This obviously isn’t true because everyone dies! This is also not true from a Gospel standpoint because, according to Romans 6 and many other passages, Christ didn’t just die for you, He wasn’t just some man who did some thing a long time ago for you. By faith you were crucified with Him, buried with Him, and raised up with Him to newness of life. I am crucified with Christ. The old man is crucified with its affections and lusts.

SA is all about Christ dying, not me. The New Testament clearly shows that we die with Christ and are raised up with Christ to newness of life. By faith, anyone can identify themselves with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s not instead of or in the place of; it’s with.

SA is wrong. It ignores lots of Scripture. SA is Calvinism. Heaven contains non-Calvinists. You do not have to believe in SA to be saved. Rejecting SA is not rejecting the Gospel.

Rejecting SA is rejecting a human attempt to explain the Gospel, an attempt that fails in several ways.

Hold fast to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word; hold loosely the ideas and philosophies of people. We’re saved by faith in Jesus Christ, not by faith in John Calvin, Augustine, or anyone else. Please don’t forget that.

Doctrine and the Gospel

I saw this quote on the internet the other day:

A rejection of penal substitutionary atonement is a rejection of the gospel. Either you’re saved through the work of Christ on the Cross, or you’re not saved at all.

I fully agree that you are saved by the work of Christ on the cross or not at all (as long as the resurrection is included). No problem there.

But the idea that my belief in the Gospel equals my belief in a man-made attempt to explain what Christ did, crosses the line.

Substitutionary atonement is not the Gospel. It’s the Calvinist/Reformed understanding of the Gospel.

If this quote is true, then only Calvinist/Reformed people can be saved.

This is one example of many I have seen and heard over the years. This is not an issue with substitutionary atonement; it’s an issue with overstating your case.

The fact that you can read your doctrine into the Gospel does not mean that your doctrine IS the Gospel.

One of the main problems Jesus Christ had with the Pharisees and religious leaders of His day was the demand to adhere to their ideas rather than adhering, by faith, to God Himself.

Believing what people say is not believing the Gospel! Believing a person’s summation of the Gospel is not believing the Gospel!

You do not have to have 100% agreement in doctrine with some elite group in order to get into heaven.

Furthermore, substitutionary atonement was not codified until about 600 years ago. Are we to believe that no one was saved before the Reformers showed us what the Gospel was?

Your job is to know the Lord Jesus Christ. To grow in your love for Him and all He has done and will do for you.

All of this is based upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection. It is not based on adherence or conformity to a group’s doctrine.

The temptation to say “Only people who agree with me are saved because I’m the only one who knows what the Gospel is” ruins people, leads to self-righteousness, and divides the Church.

Stop doing that.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

That’s a direct quote from the Bible and there are other verses like it. None of these verses say “believe what some guy theorized about what Jesus did and you will be saved.”

Know Christ yourself. Know His Gospel. Pray and talk with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. People can help you understand the Gospel (Ephesians 4 makes that clear), but nowhere is salvation promised to those who agree in totality with some random group.

Deal with God. He’s your Judge. Deal with the Word of God, for by His Word you will be judged.

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
–Matthew 15:8-9

How to Not Be Freaked Out

Everyone is freaked out. Each day there is a new fear, a new conspiracy, a new dreadful something something that is going to kill us all.

Yet, here we are, not dead.

There is nothing new under the sun. Every people in every time thought terrible things would do them in. Death was lurking just around the corner.

And, let’s not fool ourselves, there have been many terrible epochs in human history where death indeed was just around the corner for many people. My head aint in the sand.

But nor is it floating among the black-lined clouds of imminent peril.

Israel had their bouts with “Oh, no! We’re all gonna die!” Here is one passage that tells them to knock that off:

Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.  But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
–Isaiah 8:12-13

If we could take all the fear we have from day to day, fear of people, fear of death around the corner, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of everything we fear, and gave that up and put the same energy into fearing God, wow. Life would be different.

Israel is being told not to fear false fears of non-believers, people who are living in bondage to the fear of death (Hebrews 2:15). Fear of temporal things doesn’t help anyone. Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

Non-believers fight for power, prestige, money, fame, and the preservation of temporal things. Therefore, they fear everything that threatens their temporal gain.

Believers have a new home, a new country, a new way of life, and a new mind. Believers are to set their affections on things above, putting our treasure in heaven where nothing can take it from us.

If all our hope, our life, our expectations, desires, and affections are in heaven, what can take that away?

If your life is truly hid with God in Christ Jesus and your treasure is in heaven, there is nothing down here to fear.

Faith puts fear in its right place. We fear God. Fear of God looks like listening to God regardless of what people think of what we do and regardless of temporal measures of success.

Listening to God is the right thing to do. We’ll stand before Him some day and He will reward what we’ve done for Him.

Put your treasure in heaven. Fear God. Listen to Him more than you listen to the fear mongering news and the freaked out unbelievers around you. They have only this life and they are freaking out trying to keep it.

We’ve been called to something higher. Come after that. Lay hold on eternal life. Fear God and let go of this life.

Who Fights For You?

I came across a cool verse in Exodus. God promised to bring Abraham’s family out of Egypt and all Israel had to do was believe, follow orders, wait and see the deliverance of God.

As they leave, they get nervous. Pharaoh and his army are hot on their tails. “What are we gonna do now? We’re all gonna die!” Israel freaks.

And then comes this beauty of a verse:

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
–Exodus 14:14

The New American Standard puts it

“The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”

Shush! Stand and watch. God will come through on His promises.

What a cool deal!

Unfortunately, most in the New Testament would take this verse and turn it into some kind of temporal success in your life thing.

If you just hush, God will give you a promotion. If you keep silent God will rescue your marriage.

But those promises aren’t in the New Covenant, no matter what Joel Osteen says.

Our job in the New Covenant is to show the love of Christ. God promises to reward us in the life to come, perhaps in this one but there’s no guarantee. He promises that loving as Christ loved will bring us spiritual fruit at least.

But we get nervous. Things don’t go well. Sometimes the fruit is slow in coming. Sometimes we get opposition and persecution. In this world you will have tribulation.

But be of good cheer, Christ has overcome the world!

He will fight for you. He will guarantee you will be changed into the same image from glory to glory. You will reap if you faint not.

Be still. Keep silent. Let God do the fighting. Let God do the avenging. Our job is to show the love of Christ; let God take care of the rest.

“The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”

Keep silent. Don’t go after human wisdom, programs, and philosophies. Human ingenuity will only produce human results. Let God be involved in who you are, what you do, and who you will become. Have a faith that can keep silent and wait patiently. Feed your enemy if he’s hungry, give em a drink if they are thirsty. Be at peace. Be silent. Stop arguing and defending yourself. Let God fight for you.

“The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”

Doctrine and Application

Much of modern Christianity, when it actually deals with the Bible, focuses on application.

Most popular Christian books are about managing your household budget, or saving your marriage, or raising your kids.

Most people assume a sermon is a short speech telling you how to make your life better.

  • 7 Ways to pay off your mortgage
  • 13 Ways to tame your rebellious teen
  • 27 Ways to keep your wife happy

We go home assuming we’ve heard God’s wisdom on the subject and half-heartedly apply some of the easier points and hope for the best.

If we don’t see immediate results (a payoff) we soon abandon those ideas and fall back into our flesh habits of the past and conclude that the Bible is irrelevant to modern life.

I admit this is a rather blunt caricature of the situation, but alas, I think it’s pretty close to the majority’s view of things.

Doctrine is a fancy word that means “teaching.” Doctrine is stuff that God wants you to know about Him, you, and what you and Him do in light of knowing Him and you!

The New Testament Epistles are largely doctrine rather than application. I would guess that most Epistles are about 2/3 doctrine and the last third goes into application. Some are closer to 3/4 doctrine and 1/4 application.

I believe our sermons and our Christian books should copy this same model. The Bible’s pattern shows us that right thinking is vital.

If your thinking is right; application will take care of itself.

The problem with doctrine is that it’s boring. By “boring” we mean “not relevant.” Since we can’t immediately figure out what to do with Paul’s teaching on justification and circumcision for instance, we’ll skip it as irrelevant and boring.

“That’s for Jews. What does that have to do with me?”

Then you’ll notice these same people who chalk up doctrine as irrelevant, will assume that infant baptism, adult baptism, or saying the prayer (all one-time acts) are what you do to get saved!

Since we don’t take the time to figure out Paul’s point about justification and circumcision, we fall into a similar error.

Since we don’t look at doctrine, we end up with horrible applications.

We’re filled to the brim on application in our day. So much application with so little foundation.

This leads to people who need Church Leaders to make every little decision for them, often leading people into the traps of legalism.

If the Church focused on doctrine (as the New Testament does) and getting people to think biblically, we’d be better off.

God wants you to think right. Doctrine is vital for right thinking. Don’t skip the doctrinal work and shortcut to application, unless you want to stay in a constant state of spiritual infancy.

Peter and the Suffering Messiah

Peter preaches about Jesus Christ in Acts 3. He tells the group of Jews around him that they turned Jesus over to the Gentile rulers and killed the Prince of Life.

Peter builds up this point and could have really begun hammering them, driving them into the ground, and making the guilt drip all over them until they became quivering masses of guilt-ridden goo.

But he doesn’t. He follows that up by saying:

And now, brethren, I know that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.
–Acts 3:17

Wow, well, that was gentle! Peter gives them a break. I know you didn’t do it on purpose, I know you weren’t rebelliously trying to kill the Messiah, you did this because you didn’t know any better.

I wonder where that softer tone is coming from?

Here’s a guess.

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
–Matthew 16:21-22

Peter himself was confused on the issue. Peter himself was rejecting a suffering Messiah. Peter knows what it’s like to reject the Messiah! Peter knew his own heart, he knew he was just ignorant, so he gives them a break too.

The really interesting thing is how Jesus follows this up, we all know the first part of the follow up, “Get thee behind me Satan.” But little attention is given to the second part, which carries a massively huge point.

But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
–Matthew 16:23

Peter likes the things that men like, not the things that God likes.

Men don’t like suffering. Certainly not our own, but we also lose respect for others who suffer. We turn into Job’s friends: “Your suffering means there’s something wrong with you. Here, let me lecture you.”

No one wants to brag about a suffering Messiah. When Paul was in prison for his preaching, he told recipients of his letters, “Don’t be ashamed of me or my bonds.”

Paul knows human nature. When everything is going terribly we lose confidence. We doubt that we’re doing the right thing. Suffering and rejection are not cool.

Peter wanted to fit in with people because Peter is a person and that’s what people want to do. Peter doesn’t want to see his Messiah despised and rejected. That doesn’t look good at all.

A suffering Messiah doesn’t play well to our health and wealth obsessed world. But this is the Messiah we have. I suggest we take Him anyway and adjust ourselves accordingly!

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty
–1 Corinthians 1:25-27

The Messiah No One Really Wants

Jesus is the Messiah. The word “Christ” means the anointed one, it’s a messianic title. When you call Jesus “Christ,” you are acknowledging that He is your Messiah.

Anyone can say that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, but the true test is if we follow the Messiah.

Here’s the funny thing: humans aren’t too happy with the Messiah we got.

Many people followed Jesus while He was ministering on earth. But then He was turned over to the Romans, mocked, spit on, whipped, and eventually crucified. What’s up with that?

The two disciples on the Road to Emmaus talked with the resurrected Jesus unknowingly. Here’s what they were talking about:

the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel
–Luke 24:20-21

They thought He was the Messiah, but then crucifixion happened! They left the city. They took off. They gave up. Guess we were wrong.

Twice in Luke 24 Jesus shows them from Scripture that the Messiah had to suffer and be resurrected.

When the Apostles begin teaching in Acts, a repeated theme is pointing out from the Law and the Prophets that the Messiah had to suffer and be resurrected (Acts 3:14-19; 17:1-3; 26:19-23).

The biggest thing that made them doubt the Messiahness of Jesus was His suffering and death. Jesus and the Apostles say no, actually, His suffering and resurrection are the biggest proof that He is the Messiah!

Israel didn’t want a suffering Messiah. They wanted a triumphal Messiah. His awesomeness would make them awesome. He was supposed to overthrow the Romans and restore Israeli prominence. Instead He submits to the Roman authority and gets crucified by them on a cross.

You would think that now, after we have the completed Gospel lived out and the full Scripture revealed to us, we’d be cool with a suffering Messiah.

We are, as long as we’re talking about Jesus suffering for us. Jesus died and now I’m happy all the day!

We throw the suffering on Jesus and now Jesus makes the American Dream come true for me. I get health and wealth and my best life now! Yippee! Thank you, suffering Jesus!

We’re cool with a suffering Messiah as long as I just get the benefits. But the New Testament tells us to follow Christ, to have the mind of Christ, that only if we suffer with Him will we be glorified with Him, that we are living sacrifices, that we are to take up the cross, deny ourselves, and follow the Man of sorrows acquainted with grief.

Wait, wait, wait! I have to follow Christ in His sufferings? No thanks!

We don’t like the suffering Messiah anymore than the Jewish people of His day did.

No one likes suffering. No one likes to be around suffering people. No one wants to follow a suffering person into their very suffering so it becomes ours too.

We signed up for the good stuff and that’s it.

If you’re not suffering in following the suffering Messiah, there’s a real good chance you’re not following the suffering Messiah. You’re probably just following the Bestest, Funnest Messiah of Your Dreams.

What is the Pride of Life?

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
–1 John 2:16

We are born dying. When babies are hungry they scream their heads off because they are afraid of dying. Someone needs to give them food, they can’t get it themselves, and they will annoy you until they get their food.

This same fear of death drives our lives. Most of our ambition and motivation in life is centered in fearing death.

Now, you probably don’t actually think, “I’m going to buy me some more ice cream cuz I’m afraid to die.” Motives are rarely that obvious.

But you are wired from birth to fight for your life. To view your life as the most important life out there. You are, in your own mind, the center of the universe.

Part of the job of a parent is to teach their kid that she isn’t the only person in the universe. (I believe this is the downfall of the self-esteem movement, which actually teaches kids to view themselves even more so as the center of the universe. This will continue to have disastrous effects.)

We go through life thinking about ourselves and doing whatever we have to do to get ahead, and if that means stepping on others; so be it.

We then go about demonstrating our awesomeness with showy displays. Sometimes it’s as simple as lying about and exaggerating the stories of our life. Sometimes it’s shown with possessions and a demonstration of our wealth we attained with our skillz.

This display of our awesome we selfishly gained, is the pride of life.

Satan was a beautiful angel. He was proud of himself and determined to get his own power. This led to his downfall. Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Satan thinks what he did was pretty cool. He thinks you should follow him. Satan even tempted Christ to go his way.

Jesus Christ showed He was no normal human because He rejected Satan’s temptations. Jesus Christ was immune to the pride of life.

When Jesus Christ was ministering on this earth, He did not bother with educational degrees, letters of recommendation, signs of wealth or status, and in fact, He had no place to lay His head.

One of the signs of the Messiah is that He talked to poor people (Matthew 11:5)! Rich, famous, highly esteemed people have no time for poor people. Jesus did.

Jesus Christ lived a life completely devoid of the pride of life. It was free of living for human approval or applause. Jesus Christ did not come to keep people happy and impress them; Jesus Christ came to do the will of His Father.

As followers of Christ, the same temptation is laid out for us. Will we live for this world or for the world to come? Will we live for human approval or for God’s approval? Will we hoard the things of this world or lay up treasure in heaven? Will we follow our will or the will of our Lord and Creator? Will we live for what man esteems or for what God esteems? Will we serve ourselves or by love serve others?

The pride of life will keep you from eternal life. It, in fact, fights against everything eternal life stands for.

Set your affections on things above, not on things of this earth. The things of this earth are temporal, the things that are not seen are eternal.

Choose you this day which life is most important to you: this temporal one or the eternal one to come. All decisions are based on that simple choice.

Two Sides of Death

Satan is a murderer from the beginning. He deceived Adam and Eve into doing what would kill them. Satan wants you dead.

You are born into this world which is under Satan’s power as he is the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air. Death reins in his domain.

You are born fearing death. Fear of death makes you selfish. You will trample on anyone in order to get your way and preserve your life. Note the anger in little babies when they are hungry!

Death, and the fear of it, are Satan’s largest weapons he uses against you. This is what the “pride of life” is all about.

Here’s where the genius of God enters the picture!

Satan’s biggest weapon is death. God takes death and turns it into the biggest weapon of righteousness!

God sent His Son, made of a woman, a human-flesh person in order to die. But after Christ died, He was raised again. He conquered death.

O death, where is thy sting?
O grave, where is thy victory?
–1 Corinthians 15:55

Death is Satan’s tool to defeat us; death is God’s tool to bring us victory.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just about some nice guy who lived 2,000 years ago who died on a cross. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about identifying yourself with the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This is explained in detail in Romans 6 and briefly in Galatians 2:20,

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Our old man has been crucified with its affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24).

Satan wants to defeat you with death, even before you’re dead, he wants to terrify you about death and make you selfish, life-hoarding narcissists.

Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ you are all ready dead! You no longer fear death because you’re all ready dead!

This is a vital aspect of what the Gospel is all about and yet rarely explained.

Present your bodies a living sacrifice. We are the living dead.

This all sounds great! Freedom from fear. Victory over death. The ability to resist the devil. What’s the down side?

Did you read the words above? YOU ARE ALL READY DEAD.

Since you’re already dead, you don’t live for your selfish needs anymore. You sacrifice your body for the good of others, to show the love of Christ. Just as Christ gave up His will and died for us; His followers give up their will and die for others.

We die daily. We are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Mortify your members that are upon the earth. You are not your own.

People don’t like that part of the message. Yeah, we like the death is swallowed up in victory bit, but not how that actually gets realized.

Unless, of course, you are born again. Then this is the greatest news ever. There is nothing finer than letting go of the old life and seeing all things as new. Not living for temporal comforts, but by love serving others.

It’s a massive relief. An unburdening of the soul. A true freedom and liberty.

It’s a letting go of all earthly things to lay hold on eternal life. No fear, except fear of God. No lust, except coveting earnestly the best spiritual gifts. No worry, except a concern for doing as much good as we can for others.

The fear of death is what keeps people in bondage. You don’t have to wait until you’re dead to die! Through the Gospel you can die to this life right now, and be raised to newness of life.

It’s a beautiful thing and your flesh hates every bit of it. Walk in the Spirit and put off the stupid flesh!

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
–Hebrews 2:14-15

The Obvious Point of Following Christ Most Miss

As I’ve said many times before, Christianity is way too happy. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being happy, but how you achieve happiness is vital.

Modern notions of Christian happiness (around since the Higher Life, Victorious Living notions of 19th Century Keswick Theology) say that happiness results from one happy experience to the next. We’re happy because we trip over one happy fortuitous deal after the next. Following Jesus keeps me from all trouble and brings me into success and thrills.

This is complete hooey and will destroy your soul. Eventually, you’ll forget about the following Christ part and will just start going after one thrilling experience to the next.

Life isn’t one happy thing to the next. It’s just not how it works. The New Testament certainly does not portray life this way. “In this life you will have tribulation” are exact words from Christ.

“All creation groans and travails in pain together” says Paul. Not only all creation, but “even we ourselves who have the firstfruits of he Spirit groan within ourselves” (Romans 8:22-23).

Paul’s point is that all lifeforms on earth suffer and there is no magic exception for those with the Spirit.

Instead, the authors of the New Testament tell us that followers of Christ will have another layer of suffering on top of normal creation suffering. It’s a suffering brought about by following Christ.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15–if there is no resurrection we are of all men most miserable. In other words, if there’s no life to come, Christian life is the most miserable life a person can live!

Christians are literally little Christ’s, that’s what many think the original Greek word means. We are followers of Christ.

Jesus Christ is described as a man of sorrows acquainted with grief who had no place to lay His head. He came unto His own and His own received Him not. He was a prophet who received no honor among His people.

Remember, this is the One we follow.

Jesus Christ came in the form of a servant and became obedient even unto death on the cross. He was despised and rejected. He was spit upon, whipped, and mocked. Then He was crucified.

We follow this Man.

Not sure how we can get “following Christ leads to health and wealth” out of that.

The Bible does use the word “happy.” Notice the context of everything the Bible says we are happy about though:

Blessed are the poor in spirit. The word “blessed” means happy, prosperous, and fortunate.

Happy are those who mourn.

Happy are the meek.

Happy are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Harpy are the merciful.

Happy are the pure in heart.

Happy are the peacemakers.

Happy are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.

Happy are you when all men revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you.

Notice anything about that list?

We think happiness comes from one thrilling, joyous activity after the next. But God knows better. God knows that one material success after another kills the soul. God knows that suffering is good for us. Suffering is what allows us to feel and have true joy!

Hope is a big word in Christianity. Hope is about the future. The life to come. Hope drives us on. It was for the joy set before Him that got Christ to endure the cross. Hope.

Hope means there’s a better time coming, which means the time right now aint that great. Life aint great, but this aint the only life!

Suffering here prepares us and increases our glory there. That is the basis of true joy even in suffering.

For God, true happiness, true prosperity lies in treasure in heaven that will last for eternity. Don’t sell your soul for temporal happy toys. Lay hold on eternal life and put your treasure in heaven. That will hurt here, but will feel awesome for eternity!

The Pitfall of Success

There’s a lot of talk about success. As my kids get older and leave the house for college, they are surrounded by success talk and how they need to take over the world and be the best.

I heard a good phrase the other day, went something like, “there should be less talk about success and more talk about excellence.”

I think that’s spot-on. Do a good job; don’t worry about definers of success.

For most, “success” means money, followers, recognition, and other physical measurements of accomplishment. None of which necessarily mean anything. One of the Kardashians has over 100 million Twitter followers.

To most, 100 million Twitter followers is success. I would not accuse any Kardashian of being successful! That’s not success in my book.

I don’t want my kids to succeed if succeed means selling your soul to get money, fame, and celebrity. That stuff ruins people.

One of the pitfalls, the inherent weaknesses, of the Old Covenant was that success would be the result of listening to God.

If Israel kept their law they would dwell in their land and defeat enemies and have material success. God knew from the outset this would be devastating to them.

For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant.
–Deuteronomy 31:20

Remember this is said before they even got in the Land! God knew what was going to happen. Sure enough Israel gets success under Solomon and he gets arrogant, disobeys God, and the nation is divided.

The New Covenant is altogether different. We’re told repeatedly in the New Testament that if we listen to God bad things will happen to us!

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
–2 Timothy 3:12

Following Christ results in Christlike results. Christ was crucified. That’s why following Christ is referred to as “taking up the cross.”

We are counted as sheep for the slaughter. We are killed all the day long. Mortify your members on the earth. Present your body a living sacrifice.

No one likes this message. The popular Christian message is “follow Christ and you’ll get health and wealth.” What’s the difference between that and the Old Covenant’s “follow the law and you’ll get health and wealth?”

The Old Covenant didn’t work. The New Covenant, which is better according to the Book of Hebrews, keeps us from the trap of material success.

The New Covenant begins with us humbly receiving the Gospel of Jesus Christ and then leads to humbly having the mind of Christ, who was a servant who laid down His life for others.

The New Covenant keeps us humble and keeps us from the trap of material success. We’re told that you can’t serve God and mammon–mammon represents material success.

Watch out for success and even for the lustful desire to accomplish material success. It destroys the soul.

Think Before Communicating

The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.
–Proverbs 15:28

What a great piece of wisdom!

The righteous “studieth” to answer. Studieth is from a Hebrew word most often translated as “meditate.”

A righteous person thinks before he speaks. He doesn’t fly off the handle and get sucked into quick back and forth where dumb things are said.

That, in fact, is what the wicked person does. He “pours out evil things.”

To “pour out” means to gush forth. When wicked people open their mouths, evil flows!

It seems that silence is a bad thing in our society. When someone pauses before they answer a question, we think they are hiding something, or stupid.

In reality, taking a little bit of time before writing that comment, or spouting your opinion, or giving your flippant answer will keep the world from a flood of stupid.

Think before you speak. Think before you write. Think before you even give off rude body language or sighing or rolling your eyes or any sort of communication.

Think before reacting. That’s what righteous people do and one more major reason why we need the constant ministry of the Holy Spirit!

Backfiring Prayers

I prayed something this morning that I rarely, if ever pray.

Recently I have heard about several people having accidents and health complications. Bad stuff. Hospital involving stuff. No fun. Gross. Yuck. Painful. I feel so bad for people who have to suffer in hospitals.

So, one of the things that made it into my morning prayer was praying for my physical health and that I wouldn’t get hurt today!

As soon as I prayed it my brain thought, “Uh-oh! You know what’s going to happen today don’t you?”

A little bit later I was out on a 4-mile run, something I do four or five times a week. Sure enough, at the mile and three-quarters mark, this unbelievable pain entered my lower back over my left hip.

It actually made me pull up and limp to a stop. It was excruciating pain! “I knew it,” my brain said. “That’s what you get for praying for physical health!”

I went off the side of the road and stretched and walked and slowly got back to a jog and then began running again. The pain mostly went away. Who knows if there will be lingering effects.

I’m sure I’m fine. It’s several hours later that I’m writing this and there’s no pain.

Well, maybe because I prayed that pain went away! Maybe that was my lesson: what would have happened if I hadn’t prayed that?! Or, maybe it was a lesson that when I pray for physical health God reminds me to pray about higher things by giving me physical pain on that very day.

Such things are open for interpretation. This is probably an area where praying Christians have more confusion than the non-praying person.

I believe that prayer changes things. I have no idea what things, nor what changes. But I know it does something.

I also think most of our prayers are on a surface level that becomes somewhat discouraging to God, or not, maybe “discouraging” isn’t the right word. He wants to hear from us; I just bet He wishes we’d ask for better things besides physical comforts.

Anyway, I have no point.

This is just one experience in one day of one believer. Thinking about prayer and life. Pray more. We should all pray more. Go pray. Just be careful what you pray for! Or not, I don’t know! Just pray!

Good Conformity and Bad Conformity

“Be not conformed to the world” is Paul’s command in Romans 12:2. Believers have no business acting like worldly people. Come out from among them and be separate.

This is done by presenting your bodies as a living sacrifice to carry out God’s will. This is all highly reasonable, according to Paul.

Conformity means “to fashion yourself to another’s pattern.” To change into the same thing with someone else.

The world has a specific way of acting, living, and thinking. Don’t act, live, or think like them!

Peter’s version of Romans 12:1-2 is in 1 Peter 1:14-15:

As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation

“Fashioning” is the same Greek word translated “conform” in Romans 12:2.

But Christianity is not just a list of things not to do; it’s also a new way of life. Since you are not spending all your resources on sin anymore, what should you be doing with those resources?

The answer is: live like Christ. Give yourself for the benefit of others. Instead of being conformed to the world (bad conformity), be conformed to the image of Christ, fashion yourself after His pattern (good conformity).

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son
–Romans 8:29a

Perhaps a more fascinating way of putting it, or more troubling, depending on how you look at it, is what Paul says in Philippians 3:10:

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death

Being conformed to Christ’s death is a devastating teaching to your selfish flesh that wants its way all the time.

This is what Christ talks about when He tells His followers to deny themselves, take up the cross, and follow Him. It’s what Paul means by being a living sacrifice.

Our old man is crucified with its affections and lusts. There is a real death to who we were before. Live like you’re dead. Live as though your life is not the main focus. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Conform yourself to His thinking and His death and His life.

There is much in here. A lifetime of discovery as you find out what areas of your flesh are still kicking, what deeds of the body need to be mortified, and how the new life in Christ needs to emerge.

This is all part of believing the Gospel and being set free from sin. It’s a beautiful thing. Don’t let your flesh convince you otherwise!

Small God Leads to a Small Life

Our service for our Lord is consistent with our view of Him.

If God is not that big, not that powerful, not that authoritative, then we won’t do much for Him.

If God is massively big, powerful, and authoritative, then we will do much for Him.

Your view of God is not measured by your thoughts or words. Your view of God is measured by your actions.

If you believe God is who He says He is, your life will change direction into going His way and not your own.

Psalm 29 is a short psalm about the glory, power, and awe of God and His word.

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters.
 The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars; yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.
–Psalm 29:3-5

In case you don’t get the point yet, the Psalmist continues:

The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire.
 The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.
 The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.
 The Lord sitteth upon the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever.
–Psalm 29:7-10

God’s word should make you tremble. You should really stop fearing other people, see God for who He is, and adjust accordingly.

Here’s the Psalmist’s application for the truths he just expressed:

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
–Psalm 29:2

“Beauty” there means “to decorate.” Adorn yourself with holiness. Have your life be decorated with holy living. This is how you show glory and honor to your Great God.

He’s not interested in lofty words, sentimental songs, rote ritual, or mindless repetition. He wants you. Your life. Your all.

He deserves that, by the way, because He’s the one who gave you your life and your all.

If you understand who God is, your life will reflect that knowledge. If your God is small, a half-senile old grandpa, then you’ll go do all your stuff.

But if your God’s voice shakes creation and He sits in heaven with the earth as His footstool, your little desires will fade into nothing as you realize with whom you have to do.

You will stand before this great God some day. Now is the day to wake up! Cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Go serve Him in the beauty of holiness.

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

Here’s another quote I saw that rankled me:

I don’t wanna hear ‘well done good and faithful servant.’

I just wanna hear, “yup, you’re in.”

This one bothers me on several levels.

First, who in their right mind would say they don’t want to hear God say to them, “well done, good and faithful servant?” I mean, why would you not want to hear that?

Second, the context of this biblical phrase is instructive here (imagine that).

His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
–Matthew 25:21,23

What do you notice about both passages?

Here’s what I noticed:

Every one he said “well done good and faithful servant” to, he then told them to “enter in!”

In other words, the only ones God says are “in,” are ones who were good and faithful servants!

I mean, I don’t know. There are days I wonder.

But this is typical Christianity today. People don’t think what they do matters. That salvation and subsequent living have nothing to do with each other.

There’s a sanctimony here as well. I’m too good for doing good. As long as I’m in is all that matters; I don’t need praise, and certainly not reward.

That is asinine.

I’ve heard many people talk about the selfishness and materialism of serving God for reward. That’s just dumb. The Bible says many times God wants to and will reward service. It’s not wrong to want God’s praise and reward.

Again, this is another effort to make what I do a minor issue, and yet the Bible is so consistent and repetitive on this: what we do matters.

The only ones who get in are the ones who do what God has created them to do. This isn’t rocket science. Not is it legalism, nor works righteousness, nor telling people to work themselves into salvation.

It’s the power of the Gospel to transform sinners into saints!

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
–1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Substitution and Transformation

“The foundation and focus of the Christian faith is Christ’s substitution not our transformation. In other words, the language of Christianity is primarily substitutional not transformational.”
–Tullian Tchividian

When I read this quote, my brain went “Wait, what?”

Tullian is a hip pastor with a large church in his past. He was fired from said church due to an extramarital affair. He says things like this quote above that get a lot of applause, but probably also lead to extramarital affairs.

I really don’t get the statement. I have no larger context to judge his words by. All I have is this quote. So, I’ll examine the quote.

He seems to be saying that The Gospel is all about Christ. What happens to me is at least distant second, if not almost irrelevant.

I’ll grant some truth here. Christ’s Gospel is the foundation of everything. Me changing does not save people. So, if that’s all he means, then fine.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s all he means.

I think what he means is that transformation should hardly be talked about. That any talk of transformation is probably detracting from any talk of Christ’s substitution.

Transformation is a biblical concept. It is mention a number of times. Romans 12:2 would be the primary passage no doubt–be not conformed to the world bu transformed by the renewing of your mind.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says we will be changed into the same image of Christ from glory to glory. “Changed” is the same Greek word as “transformed” in Romans 12:2. The Greek word is metamorphoo from which we get our word metamorphosis.

Galatians 4:19 says that Paul labors until Christ be formed in them. “Formed” is the Greek word morph.

Transformation is a thing. It is also implied in many passages–we are now servants of righteousness not unrighteousness, we are new creations in Christ, old things are passed away and all things are new, put off the old and put on the new, raised up to newness of life, etc.

Meanwhile, substitution is mentioned zero times in the New Testament. It is mentioned twice in Leviticus concerning animal sacrifice.

In all honesty, I don’t see the substitution of Christ mentioned much at all. Substitution means in the place of.

Yes, Christ died for us, but nowhere does it say He died in the place of us, or instead of us. What it does say is that He died for us, and by faith we were crucified, bruised, and raised up with Him. “With” is different than “instead of.”

Tullian is emphasizing what Christ did to the exclusion of anything we do. Paul doesn’t put it that way. Transformation is the only way to know you are part of what Christ did.

Granted, my transformation is not as earthly significant as what Christ did for the sins of the world, but it’s pretty big for me! It lets me know if I’m in or not.

Tullian is not alone in this emphasis. Everyone wants everything to be about Christ, with no responsibility, transformation, or anything about me. But read the New Testament! It’s talking about what you do quite frequently!

Don’t make a false dichotomy where there is none. Everything Christ did, He did for our transformation. It’s the reason there is a Gospel.

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
–Titus 2:14

Grace To All

Calvinism is Greek philosophy read into a handful of Scriptures. If Calvinism is true, then a massive amount of verses in the Bible are not.

Here’s one:

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
–Titus 2:11

The King James Version above is not the best. It gives the idea that God’s grace that brings salvation has appeared to all men. That all men saw its appearance.

The correct translation of the Greek is better expressed in the New American Standard:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,

or the English Standard Version:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,

I mean, even the NIV gets this one right!

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.

The grace of God, which brings salvation to all men, has appeared. All men can receive God’s grace. It hasn’t just appeared to them; it can actually save them. Not just some of them, but ALL of them.

It is not saying that all men will be saved, but that all men can be saved by God’s grace, and His gracious salvation has appeared–referring to Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. Everyone can approach the Father through the Son.


Not just a chosen few only.

Grace is there for everyone to be saved.

The offer of salvation is legitimately made to all people. Not just by us with God ordained means, but legitimately by God who desires all men to be saved.

Titus 2:11 rejects Limited Atonement forcefully.

I like Titus 2:11 way more than I like sticking with some guys theories.

Materialism and Free Will

It’s interesting to ponder why so many intellectuals are so intent (with their own free will) on proving that they have no free will. As the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead pointed out ironically, “scientists animated by the purpose of proving themselves purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study.” In my view, this is connected to the general nihilism of our culture, the collapse of values which has followed from materialistic science. Such absurd views could only arise – and make any kind of sense – amidst the climate of meaninglessness and confusion that scientific materialism has given rise to.

This is from an article in Psychology Today, not even a remotely Christian publication.

The premise of the article is why a flawed, yet oft repeated, psychological study is used to support the notion that we have no free will.

The author speculates that the false study is used because materialism (the view that only physical things are real, there is no spiritual component to life) desperately needs there to be no free will in order to justify sin.

OK, they didn’t exactly put it like that!

The reason why the experiment has been so enthusiastically embraced is surely because its apparent findings fit so well with the principles of materialism. It seems to prove what materialism implies: that human beings are automatons.

If we are automatons, doing what we’re programmed to do with no choice of our own, there can be no sin, accountability, judgment, or other such higher things. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die and none of it was your fault!

A denial of free will is nothing but an embrace of antinomianism. There should be nothing outlawed, as we can’t help what we’re doing anyway.

The Bible, in my opinion, flies directly in the face of such teaching. It’s one of the reasons why people don’t like the Bible and the Gospel.

Denying free will, responsibility, and judgment may make you feel better while living on earth, but what will you do in the end?

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
–Galatians 6:7-8

Sin and Living Documents

President Trump is about to appoint a new justice to the Supreme Court. Depending on what side of the aisle you sit on, this is either great news or devastatingly evil news.

The fact that there is so much emotion about a new justice in the Supreme Court should, if nothing else, let you know that the legislative branch has taken upon itself way too much power.

One of the fundamental issues about deciding who a new justice will be, is their take on the Constitution. The Constitution of the United States is our founding document. All law is supposed to be reviewed to see if it is consistent with the guidelines established by the Constitution.

No surprise to anyone, people fight over this issue.

Some are literalists and try to interpret the Constitution in a manner consistent with the authors of it. By reading their writings, like The Federalist Papers, and reading the Constitution, you can get a good idea where they would stand on most issues. Literalists believe that the authors literally wrote what they literally meant.

Opposite of Literalists are the Living Constitution people, or Loose Constructionists. These people think the Constitution can change with the times and should be adjusted to contemporary ideas. Therefore, it does not matter what the Founders literally meant; instead what matters is if the Founders lived today, what would they say today?

These two views are not compatible and have served to exacerbate the political rancor in our nation.

This argument is very similar to how people interpret the Bible. Some believe the Bible is inspired, inerrant, and is to be taken simply and literally, that the authors meant exactly what they said.

Others think the Bible is shifting, that there are societal things in there that can shift with the shifting development of culture. The authors were not inspired, they just did the best they could with what they knew. Our job is to interpret what they would have meant if they lived with us.

Just as these two views lead to widely divergent views of the Constitution, they also lead to divergent interpretations of Scripture.

If you know me at all, you know I am a literalist. I would be when it comes to the Bible and also in regards to the Constitution. Words mean things. We should find out what they mean as they were intended and adjust accordingly.

It is no surprise to me that loose views of the Bible and loose views of the Constitution lead to liberal takes on life. This looseness is a desire to justify sin and make sin a shifting thing for the purpose of making sin something different that what I do!

Keeping yourself bound to an unchanging standard limits your fleshly desires, which is the point of both the Bible and the Constitution. To assume that your fleshly desires trump standards is to eventually destroy yourself.

The Church and America are currently destroying themselves and this interpretation issue is one of the destroying factors.

I do not much care about the downfall of America, it is inevitable. Yes, it is sad, but it’s what happens to human institutions.

I do care about the destruction of the Church and the trampling under foot of God’s word to accommodate our sin. This is not, and will not, work out well.

Words mean things. We should endeavor to keep those meanings and adjust accordingly. This is especially true of God’s inspired words.

He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
–John 12:48

The Purpose of Salvation

Salvation was not intended to just benefit you after death. Salvation is intended to benefit you from the moment of salvation all the way through eternity.

God from the very beginning, wanted creation to listen to His words, to use His stuff the way He intended His stuff to be used. We didn’t. Man rebelled. Creation fell. God became flesh and became the only human who ever fully listened to God. We killed Him; yet through this death He demonstrated His power by resurrecting.

When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, who died and rose again, by faith we identify ourselves with His death, burial, and resurrection. We are raised up to newness of life, born again, made partakers of the divine nature, and other awesome ways of saying it!

In our new, spiritual creation self, we can actually obey God! We can do good! This is, in fact, the one way to know you are saved–good works show up.

God created us in Christ Jesus for the purpose of doing good works (Ephesians 2:10). The grace of God that brings salvation also teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts so we would live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11,12). He redeemed unto Himself a peculiar people zealous of good works (Titus 2:14).

Here’s another way Paul put it:

For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
–1 Thessalonians 4:7

Once again we see that the point of salvation is so we would be changed to do different stuff. In the flesh we were doing all manner of unclean things. But now, after we are saved, we are to practice holiness.

Holy living is what you were called to do! Holiness is what salvation is for!

There is no other reason for salvation than being new creations who do God’s will.

Paul follows up with 1 Thessalonians 4:8:

He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

Whoever despises this holy calling despises God Himself and the HOLY Spirit He can put in us to enable us to do holy things.

There are a lot of people teaching Christians that what they do doesn’t matter. That sin is ok, God loves you so don’t worry about it. There is a lot of false teaching on this issue.

Anyone who teaches that salvation does not lead to holy living is despising God Himself and the work of the Holy Spirit.

The idea that Christ died so we can sin the rest of our lives and then go to heaven seems rather silly. Why would we want to live in the stuff that Christ died for? If we are dead to sin, why live any longer therein?

The Gospel re-creates us, sets us free from the power and bondage of sin, and equips us to every good work. You know you are saved when there is ample evidence that you’ve been created in Christ Jesus. Your whole life is different. Old things are passed away, behold, all things have become new!

There’s a new mindset. New priorities. New rules and new behavior. This is not optional; this is what happens when you are born again and placed into the Body of Christ. Happens every time.

God has called you for the purpose of being holy. Be holy for He is holy. The Gospel equips you for this. You’ve got everything you need; go use it!

Who Does God Show Mercy To?

I recently saw this quote on the internet from R C Sproul, recently deceased Calvinist extraordinaire:

If God only exercised justice to a fallen race everyone would perish. But God chooses to grant mercy to some.

I cringe at the way he says this. According to Calvinism, God only extends mercy to the elect.

A verse that popped into my head immediately upon seeing this quote was Romans 11:32

For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

God has done, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, what was necessary to provide mercy to every single living soul ever on this planet. Jesus Christ was the propitiation for the sins of the world. In fact, that’s an important verse:

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
–1 John 2:2

Christ provided a way for every sinner in the world to receive mercy. This was no disingenuous offer either. Nor was it some semantic thing where it was offered to “all” but “all” means “the elect.” There is no way “the world” here can mean the elect, otherwise who is the “our” in 1 John 2:2?

God extends mercy to all. Sproul, an adamant Calvinist, does not believe this is true. God only genuinely extends mercy to some.

God’s extending of mercy to all does not mean all are saved; it just means all could be saved.

Why are all not saved? Because not all take God’s mercy. This is not God’s choice to damn them (God desires all men to be saved), but a sinners’ refusal to submit to God’s mercy.

God doesn’t choose to grant mercy to some. God chose to show mercy to all, but not all take it.

Sproul is choosing his words carefully. Calvinism is a heartless doctrine. Calvinism cannot legitimately offer salvation to all. They can’t tell everyone that God will be merciful to them.

I know the defense: we don’t know who is saved, so we offer it to all. True, but you’re still lying when you say ALL can be saved when you believe SOME can’t be.

To grant means to formally bestow. Grant is a word that is emphasizing what God does. He either chooses to grant it to you or He doesn’t. It’s up to Him. Therefore, He doesn’t grant it to all.

The Bible is very clear that God offers mercy to all. The Bible is also clear that most don’t take it because they deem it unnecessary, they believe they’re doing just fine on their own.

But to those humble few who are tired of sin and see the light of the Gospel shining in the darkness, they come with desperation to receive the refreshing waters of life to quench their soul’s thirst.

That is the Gospel and how it works. Don’t fall for the Calvinist philosophy that blasphemes the character of God and contradicts Scripture.

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