Saturday, February 24, 2007

Friday, February 23, 2007

Article: The Bible - A hate book

Disturbing article here. May God preserve us in the midst of such hate and bigotry against Christ.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Book: The Feminist Gospel (Part 6)

[continued from the previous posts here, here, here, here, here and here]

Feminism, since its inception in the 2nd half of the 20th century, has caused numerous devastating effects on society. Although feminists like Davis postulate an utopian society based on matriarchy, as the superior women create peaceful conditions on the earth (After all, according to the feminists, men invented rape, murder, war etc.), we have not even approached one-tenth of this utopia, despite the fact that women are "freer" and now are almost equal in every aspect, if not superior, to men. In fact, there is now discrimination against men; just marvel at the protection given to women who beat their husbands compared to the hatred and contempt poured out against men who do the same to their wives! Ditto for rape!

With the feminists and their allies now in charge, what are the effects in society? Well, no better example can be found than the disintegration of the family unit, which the feminists by the way glorify. Nevermind the consequences of their actions; "personal liberty" is pursued even when others are hurt in the process. Regarding murder, it does not need a rocket scientist to know that many babies are murdered in the womb everyday around the world, yet the feminists boast of this atrocity in a way that could perhaps rival Hitler's. Regarding morality, feminists are generally symphathetic to lesbianism, and whereas last time, men could get away with pre-merital sex and other immoral actions, now to "address the injustice", women could do so too. With all this, society starts to disintegrate, as the destructive forces of sexual immorality, moral decadence, and godlessness enters it, which characterized a society given over by God (Rom. 1:18-32), which would cause its destruction. So much for utopia! The feminists promise the sky and the only thing they could deliver is hell itself.

It is a sad thing when society imbibes on such poison and starts to self-destruct. It is much worse when feminism enters the churches and brings it to the point of utter ruin. Visible churches, especially the liberal churches, start to gravitate towards "alternative expressions of worship" as feminism enters them. First, God became a "she". As Feminism metastasized, the ancient Greek, Roman, and even Canaanite deities are revived, and paganism enters the church itself (p. 135- 157). With the entrance of pagan rituals, pantheism and the New Age movement enters in.

Not everyone decides to get out of the Christian community. Some decides to remain inside and destroy it from the inside out. Women-churches are thus born, which teaches from the viewpoint of feminist liberation theology. It still allows for a male Jesus and a male God, but they create the female counterpart of God, calling it Sophia, claiming that the word translated Wisdom in the Scriptures is actually indicative of the female part of God, which men tried to repress (p. 179-181). To support their hypothesis, feminists claimed that

Sophia's power as a divine female figure was repressed by patriarchy. ... this repression begins with Philo, who substituted a personified, masculine Logos for the feminine Sophia. Philo at first equated Logos with Sophia, then substituted Logos for Sophia, until the masculine person of Logos "had taken over most of Sophia's divine roles, including the firstborn of God, the principle of order, and the intermediary between God and humanity". Furthermore, the process of repression was continued with Christ replacing Sophia as personified Wisdom. (p. 180-181)

This bunch of nonsensical reasoning is just self-defeating! Sophia is called the firstborn of God? Principle of order? Intermediary between God and humanity? Not unless you read Sophia into what is written about Christ! A look at the usage of the words which are translated Sophia also in the LXX (Septuagint) also do not indicates what the feminists are imagining. And such reasoning may only be true if the Scriptures are not preserved at all, which is impossible. The feminists are truly straining at straws here.

To round up the madnesss known as feminism, let us look at a real-life example: Ebenezer Lutheran Church in San Francisco - ELCA, which owns the website . Let us look at one aspect: their blasphemous corruption of the Lord's prayer:

Our Mother who is within us we celebrate your many names. Your wisdom come. Your will be done, unfolding from the depths within us. Each day you give us all that we need. You remind us of our limits and we let go. You support us in our power and we act with courage. For you are the dwelling place within us the empowerment around us and the celebration among us now and for ever. Amen

To these feminists: Anathema Sit! Truly, Feminism is a heresy that is to be excised from bible-believing churches, in whatever form it may take.

The END!

Book: The Feminist Gospel (part 5)

[continued from the previous posts here, here, here, here and here]

Feminism teaches the complete equality of men and women in all areas. To prop up their view, they have even tried to use scientific findings to do so. Initially, they relied on (highly subjective) anthropological research as found in two books by Magaret Mead, Sex and Temperament (1935)[1] and Male and Female (1949)[2] which stated that differences between male and female were learned and conditioned by culture rather than set by nature, which has since then been refuted[3] (p. 31). Since then, feminists have moved on and an influential feminist, Elizabeth Gould Davis, have even tried to promote female superiority, naming women the first sex4. Davis seeks to prove this scientifically through 1) embryology, 2) the genotype of males and females in terms of the sex chromosomes X and Y (p. 101-103).

[WARNING! Technical and probably somewhat mature material below!]

The first argument for female superiority is found through embroyology, or rather Davis' interpretation of embryological data. Acording to Davis,

... all mammalian embryos, male and female, were anatomically female during the early stages of fetal life. In humans, the differentiation of the male organ from the female was accomplished by the action of a fetal hormone, androgen. ... Females structures developed autonomously without the necessity of hormonal intervention. In other words, Davis argues that the state of "femaleness" was normative, but the male genitalia only developed upon the addition of hormones. (p. 101)

However, is that really the case? NO! Fetuses do not start off as female and then undergo "sex reversal" to become male; humans are NOT zebrafish[5]! Just because the sexual organs have not developed and thus appear on the surface to be female does not mean that the fetus is female. In fact, for humans (and mammals in general), the fetus starts off with two ducts, Müllerian and Wolfian, that would form the female and male reproductive tracts respectively. During the early stages of development, the fetus have both of these ducts. If one really wanted to assign a gender to the fetus, the fetus would be bisexual, not female! Only later would the unneeded ducts atrophied (the Müllerian duct in the male and the Wolfian duct in the female) so that each gender would have only one and reproductive tract and system based on his/her genotype. With this, Davis' first point is rendered false.

With regards to Davis' second point, Davis states that the Y chromosome is a deformed and broken mutation of the female X chromosome, and from there prove that women were the first sex. Of course, such reasoning depends on the truth or falseness of the pseudo-scientific theory of Evolution, and would thus die along with the theory. However, even granting the truth of evolution, can Davis' theory hold true? Let us look at Davis' theory:

... the male Y chromosome that produces males is a deformed and broken X chromosome — the female chromoome. ... It seems very logical that this small and twisted Y chromosome is a genetic error — an accident of nature, and that genetically there was only one sex — the female[6].

... the Y chromosome was linked with many genetic disorders such as color-blindness and hemophilia. The male, who was sole possesor of the Y chromosome, was reported by Davis to be much more susceptible to genetic disorders. ... the extra X chromosome in females accounted not only for the greater freedom of girls from birth defects and congenital diseases, "but also for the superior physiological makeup and the superior intelligence of women over men" (p. 102).

A couple of problems arise if one was to accept Davis' wild conjecture. Now, if all were female then, I would like to know how reproduction occured then. Did these "superior" women then reproduce asexually? Or were they hemoprodites? But then, hemophrodites would need to have both the male and female reproductive organs to reproduce, so these hypothetical people can no longer be called female, can they? Ditto for the asexuals too! (And just to rub it in, I can't seem to think of any remotely plausible mechanism for the evolution of dioecy[7], nevermind evolution of males from females.) Feminism seem to blind its proponents to basic thinking, it seems.

With regards to the so-called superiority of women in their having two X chromosomes over 1 X chromosome in males, is that really good? Having assumed evolution, let us now supposed that to be fact and see whether the female is indeed superior according to evolution. Since the "goal" of evolution is supposed to improve on the gene pool of the species by eliminating the weak (survival of the fittest), males with defective X chromosome containing disease-causing genes would thus exhibit their defective genotype and would thus (hopefully) be eliminated. Females, on the other hand, by giving rise to the highly probable scenario whereby one of their X chromosome contains a healthy, properly functional gene while the other X chromosome contains the defective gene, will lead to the fact that such females would be phenotypically healthy (assuming the healthy gene is dominant) while carrying a defective genome. These carriers would then be in a position to pass on their defective genes to the next generation, as they are not subjected to any negative selection due to non-expression of the defective X chromosomal gene. Since such is the case, shouldn't females be termed instead the bane of the species, by preventing natural selection from removing the defective genes from the population? Davis' superiority of women position thus actually work against her, unless she disgard the theory of evolution, which she can't since her entire theory is built on that foundation.

Also, I would want to challenge Davis and her followers to prove the statement that women have "superior physiological makeup and intelligence over men". (It wasn't so long ago that the reverse was held by some to be true.) Anyway, upon what basis can such statements be proven? With regards to "superior physiological makeup", last I knew, the strongest people in the world were men, women are in general less muscular than men, and although women are less susceptible to genetifc disorders than men, I know at least of quite a few women who are more susceptible to normal diseases than most men. Of course, no doubt this could be due to the differences in lifestyle between men and women, but the point that I was trying to put across is that Davis' point is not proven. The various indicators given by Davis (capacity for reproduction, greater resistance to disease, increased longevity, excellent metabolic efficiency), even if true, are not the only indicators of physiological makeup. Furthermore, for indicators like resistance to diseases, have expriments been done to prove such a case, and are the samples used unbiased? Are the experiments, if they are done, done is such a way such that factors such as stress level etc. are taken into account? I very much doubt so. With regards to "superior intelligence", this is even more doubtful. Definitely, not all women are smarter than all men. Collectively, women have also not been shown to be superior in intellect compared to men, as a cursory look at the intelligent people throughout history shows. If one objects that that is because of oppression of women throughout most of civilized history, then one truly wonders why is it that in the so-called "liberated" countries in the Western world, moral decadence is promoted by the "enlightened" women in the form of abortion, homosexuality, alternative lifestyles, etc. Some intelligence indeed (Rom. 1:22-23)!

I would not go into Davis' ridiculous hypothesis of how males came into being and subjugated the "superior" females, which is just plain ridiculous and distasteful , reducing women to nothing more than animals that are "incapable of controlling their sex drives" (p. 103). Readers who are interested may go and read it for themselves. Something I have noticed about these "liberated and enlightened" feminists is that they seem to be obsessed with sex. Some liberation indeed (Rom. 1:24-28)!

I would finish off this section by looking at sex determination at the genetic level, which should demolish all the nonsense of genetic pre-eminance of the female sex.

Davis made the assertion that the human genitalia will normally developed into the female reproductive organ in the fetus unless there is the presence of the male androgen hormones which is produced by the male fetus. This on the surface seems to show that femaleness is the default norm while maleness is not. However, those who make such a conclusion are basically showing their ignorance, as if sex determination was such an easy process in any fetus.

For most people who read and/or study a bit on sex determination, especially in mammales, they would have come across the term TDF (Testis Determining Factor), which is a gene locus located on the Y chromosome, upon which the gene SRY is found[8]. This particular gene is found to be the sex-determining gene, as its presence normally indicates maleness while its absence indicates femaleness. Thus, normal females, who don't have the Y chromosome, have the female phenotype, while normal males who have the Y chromosome have the male phenotype. The reason why I use the term normal is because abnormality do occus. Abnormal recombination between X and Y chromosome could result in transfer of the TDF gene locus, causing that XX individual to become a male (sex-reversal)[9].

If this is all we know of sex determination, then perhaps the feminists do have a point. However, this is not all. Another gene SOX9 (SRY-related HMG box gene 9) has been found, and this gene is NOT found on the X or Y chromosome. In fact, the human SOX9 is found on the autosome chromosome 17 of the human genome[10]. It has also been found that SOX9, like SRY, is both necessary and sufficient for testes formation, since SOX9 conditional knockouts in other mammals have reproductive organs akin to ovaries[11] while overexpressed SOX9 individuals develop as males[12]. In fact, due to this, it has been hypostasized that SRY somehow interacts with SOX9 as both of them are necessary and sufficient conditions for female-to-male sex reversals, although no one knows the exact interaction between the two gene products yet[13].

Moving on to other genes, we found an interesting gene called RSPO1, coding for a rather new protein R-spondin 1 found in 2004[14]. A rather large, consanguineous Italian family was found to have 4 XX sex-reversed brothers who were SRY-negative. It was found that these abnormal brothers have a mutation in their RSPO1 gene which codes for R-spondin 1 creating a non-functional R-spondin 1 protein, and this caused the sex change, independent of the SRY/SOX9 pair[15]. Of all the information found so far, nothing is more devastaing to feminism than this; that the production of a non-functional protein causes a female-to-male sex reversal! Therefore, the production of that functional protein is essential for femaleness! Furthermore, this gene is found on the human autosomal chromosome 1, and thus is not sex-linked.

Based on all these information, especially the last one, a case can be put forward that males are the first sex, and it is only because of a later evolution of functional R-spondin 1 in the species that females later evolve. Of course, this theory is nonsense, but such is the stupidity that feminist reasoning takes us. Also, the fact that two important sex determination genes (SOX9 and RSPO1) are not found on the sex chromosomes shows the utter nonsense of feminists who think as though maleness and femaleness comes only through the sex chromosomes, or worse still, that XX individuals are the first sex and that these XX individuals are necessarily female.

With all this said and done, it can be seen that science does not even remotely support the wild conjectures of the radical feminists of female superiority. Nor can it be used to support any egalitarian position either. Fact of the matter is, science has nothing to say about what is essentially a sociological and religious issue. In fact, I would even say that science can not prove anything with respect to absolute truth[16]. What I have just done is to beat the feminists at their own game, notwithstanding the fact that the game itself is illegitimate for the issue at hand, just to show the poverty of the Feminist position.

We will now carry on looking at the effects of Feminism, especially in Christian circles.


[1] Magaret Mead (1949), Male and Female (New York: William Morrow and Company). As cited in Kassian, The Feminist Gospel.

[2] Magaret Mead (1935), Sex and Temperament (New York: William Morrow and Company). As cited in Kassian, The Feminist Gospel.

[3] Derek Freeman (1983), Magaret and Samoa (Cambridge: Harvard University Press). As cited in Kassian, The Feminist Gospel.

[4] Elizabeth Gould Davis (1972), The First Sex (Baltimore, Penguin Books). As cited in Kassian, The Feminist Gospel.

[5] von Hofsten J & Olssen PE. (2005). Zebrafish sex determination and differentiation: involvement of FTZ-F1 genes, Reprod. Biol. Endocrinol 3: 63

[6] Davis (1972), The First Sex, p. 63

[7] Dioecy comes from the field of plant sexuality. It basically means the existence of two seperate sexes. It is often used in plants due to the wide variety of sexual reproduction systems in them. With regards to other species, it is normally used only in the field of sex evolution.

[8] Most of the stuff presented here come from compiled lecture notes from a module I have taken in my university entitled Animal Reproduction and Development. To give proper credit when due, I would try to find journal articles which do in fact provide the information that I present.

[9] Wilhelm D., Palmer S. & Koopman P. (2007). Sex Determination and Gonadal Development in Mammals, Physiol. Rev. 87: 1-28; doi:10.1152/physrev.00009.2006

[10] NCBI database's ( search results for SOX9 under 'gene' category

[11] Barrionuevo F, Bagheri-Fam S, Klattig J, Kist R, Taketo MM, Englert C, Scherer G. (2006). Homozygous inactivation of Sox9 causes complete XY sex reversal in mice. Biol Reprod 74: 195–201.

[12] Vidal V, Chaboissier M, de Rooij D, Schedl A. (2001). Sox9 induces testis development in XX transgenic mice. Nat Genet 28: 216–217.

[13] Wilhelm & Koopman (2007)

[14] Kamata T, Katsube K, Michikawa M, Yamada M, Takada S, Mizusawa H.(2004). R-spondin, a novel gene with thrombospondin type 1 domain, was expressed in the dorsal neural tube and affected in Wnts mutants, Biochim Biophys Acta. 1676(1): 51-62

[15] Parma, Pietro et. al. (2006). R-spondin 1 is essential in sex determination, skin differentiation and malignancy, Nature Genetics 38: 1304 - 1309 .

[16] Gordon H. Clark (1964), The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God, 3rd Ed. (1996) John W. Robbins (The Trinity Foundation)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Recommanded resource

I just found out that I was missing a link to Pastor Bob DeWaay's excellent resource — Critical Issues Commentary, and the issue has now been remedied (on the sidebar). Do visit the site for excellent biblical commantaries on various issues.

Anyway, here is a good article from the website on Brother Lawrance and 'practicing the presence of God'.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Book: The Feminist Gospel (part 4)

[continued from the previous posts here, here, here and here]

In this installment, I would like to touch on and analyze some of the arguments put forth by the feminists themselves against biblical complementarianism, as stated in Kassian's book The Feminist Gospel.

We have seen previously that passages such as Gal. 3:28 and 1 Tim. 2:11-14 speak against the Feminist position. Other passages that feminists absolutely don't like are 1 Cor. 11:2-16 (on head coverings) and 1 Peter 3:1-7 (especially verses 5-7), which mitilate against their position. Excluding Gal. 3:28, which we have addressed before already, how do the Feminists in general approach these other texts?

Well, it seems that the Feminists just couldn't handle the texts; at least they cannot handle the texts on the basis of the texts themselves. Instead of adhering to the principle of Sola Scriptura, these 'biblical' feminists follow the same method as the secular feminists, defining everything else according to a presupposition of feminism itself. These 'biblical' feminists therefore invented an entirely novel hermenuetical matrix to interpret the Scriptures on gender issues. As stated by Kassian, they

...interpreted all questionable texts to align with their own understanding of sexual equality, which they defined as monolithic, undifferentiated role-interchangeability. (p. 208)

Kassian furthered revealed that the 'biblical' feminists choose Gal. 3:28 as "the crux around which to interpret Scripture" (p. 208), dubbing it "the Magna Carta" of humanity[1].

We have covered the proper interpretation of Gal. 3:28 previously, and we have then showed that Gal. 3:28 is talking about the equal worth and respect of all in Christ; more specifically on the basis of who could become a Christian and our equality as Christians in the sight of Christ. Nothing whatsoever of gender roles is mentioned here. A small point I would like to point out with irony here is the inconsistency of using this one verse which is written by Paul and then to attack Paul as a misogynist when one faces passages like 1 Tim. 2:11-14. If Paul was indeed a misogynist, why do you want to use a verse taken from one of his epistles (Galatians) as your key verse and "Magna Carta" of humanity?! The hypocrisy indeed!

The 'biblical' feminist, in order to substain their feminism, adopt a hermeneutical matrix which is more akin to liberalism than to true Christianity. In order for them to explain away the problematic verses such as 1 Tim. 2:11-14, they make Paul's instructions culturally relative. In other words, they say that these words of Paul are only for that culture, but not applicable now. This is of course then followed up by contextualizing the verses in such a way that Paul's commands are made to sound like some sort of problem shooting in the churches. For example, 1 Tim. 2:11-14 is said to arise because the women were unlearned and thus cannot teach and therefore such a verse arose. Nevermind that the reason given by Paul for such a command is based on the Creation account, and thus not amenable to such 'contextualization'. Another interpretation given by feminists who strive to more biblical is that this command is given as a consequence of the fall (Gen. 3:16), and now as new creatures in Christ, they are free from the effects of the Fall and therefore the verses do not apply to regenerate women. Somehow, the fact that these verses are written to the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ eludes them.

Deeper feminist thinkers have apparently seen the problems in holding such interpretations (cultural contextualization, effect of fall) while trying to hold on to the high view of Scripture as being totally inspired by God. Unlike the more evangelical feminists who maintain their inconsistencies, these deeper thinkers attempt to iron out their inconsistent position by throwing out the doctrine of Verbal, Plenary Inspiration of the Bible. Some would stop at the Neo-Orthodox position held by Karl Barth (some portions or the spirit of the text of Scripture is inspired), while others who see the inconsistency even of this position spiral downwards into greater and greater heresy and finally into apostasy. This can be seen in the lives of Mary Daly, Rosemary Radford Ruether and Virginia Mollekott (p. 227-239), which also demonstrates the slippery slope upon which feminism is on. This also demonstrates the nature of feminism as being totally antithetical to biblical Christianity, which is seen earlier on in the different epistemological foundations upon which both are placed; Christianity is based on Scripture, while feminism, like humanism, is based on (wo)Man. As Kassian says, no person can serve 'two authorities; they cannot serve a master called Scripture and a mistress called feminism. Seeking to do so creates a tension of conflicting loyalties. The infidelity will evantually force her to leave one and cleave to the other' (p. 240). Indeed! History has indeed borne out the fact that feminist leaders have drifted towards apostasy, leaving others to take their place, and the cycle starts all over again.

With this settled, I would like to just disgress a bit and analyze the scientific side of the feminist controversy, before returning and looking at the devastating effect Feminism has in the visible churches.

[to be conitnued]


[1] Paul Jewett (1975), Man as Male and Female: A Study in Sexual Relationships from a Theological Point of View, p. 75 (Grand Ripids, MI: William B. Eerdmans), as cited byMary A. Kassian, The Feminist Gospel.

Rank apostasy in the Anglican Communion

With all the news reports on the apostasy in the ECUSA, and the divide in the Anglican Communion between rank liberal heretics and conservatives, now come this. So we have the liberals destroying the Anglican churches on one side, and the conservatives destroying the churches on the other side by thinking of going back to the Romish Apostasy! The dialetic is at work again...

[HT: Christian Research Network]

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Interesting verse...

I am presently in the process of trying to memorize the book of Romans, which would take rather long to do. Anyway, I was looking at Rom. 2:12 when I say something very interesting.

For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law; and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law. (Rom. 2:12)

Firstly, we can see here that Paul mentions that people sinned WITHOUT the Law, so therefore the Scriptures affirm here that even without knowledge of the law (or the gospel) for that matter, Man do sin. Sin is sin even when nobody knows it is sin! Sinners like e.g. sodomites can try to whitewash their sins, and even make their sin legal by enacting laws to protect them from so-called 'discrimination', and criminalize the Gospel, but God still calls it sin and they will ultimately be judged based on God's laws, not the laws of Man.

Secondly, those who sin without the Law will also perish without the Law. The main thing that can be seen here is that ALL who sinned apart from the law will also PERISH. This should silence all the universalists and inclusivists everywhere, but of course those heretics do not obey the Scriptures. From the rank liberals to the 'evangelical' liberals like Brain McLaren to the spineless Joel Osteen & Rick Warren, all of them deny this important Gospel truth, the latter when being given the public spotlight.

Thirdly, there is no partiality with God (v. 11). Those who have the law will be judged based on the Law of God which is revealed to them. Those with the Law should have known better, yet they continually violate the Law(Rom. 2:23-24), blaspheming God's name because they claim to follow God. And therefore,

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23)

which sets the stage for the proclaimation of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. ...

Happy CNY!

In anticipation of the upcoming Chinese New Year, let me just wish all my readers a happy and blessed Chinese New Year. And although this year is the year of the pig, don't be a pig during this festive season. =)

Anyway, to all:

Happy Chinese New Year, and may God bless you richly during this festive season. May you be filled with the love of God, that God's grace in Christ Jesus may transform your life, and that the Holy Spirit may eternally and powerfully preserve you in Christ.

新年快乐,万事如意,心想事成, 主福洋溢。在这季节里,愿上帝的爱充满着您的心,主耶稣的恩典改造您的生命,圣灵的权能永远保存您在基督里的生命。

中国の新年はおめでとうございます。そのお祝いの季節に、彼方は神様の祝福が有りますように。... [The rest, I don't know how to translate]

Bible study notes on James (finished)

Here are parts 5, 6 and 7 of the Bible study notes on the book of James, which I have just uploaded onto my webpage. Note espeically part 6 which deals with a lot of practical applications in the Christian life (covering Jas. 4 - 5:12)

Compilation: Assurance of Salvation (AOS) series

I have compiled the posts on the blog series regarding the topic of the Assurance of Salvation here. Hope it would be useful for the edification of the saints.

Friday, February 16, 2007

How deluded can Christians be?

You know the discernment and spiritual level of the Church is at a all-time low when such stupid things happen. May God have mercy on these deluded people and open their eyes despite their present service unto the devil as they seek to destroy the work of Christ. And let us continue to uphold the work of the Lord in the the various faithful churches and ministries through prayer.

Article: The Unequal Yoke - Seperation unto the glory of God

Here is an interesting article by C.H. Mackintosh linked by Paul Walker on the topic of seperation. Food for thought....

[HT: Christian Research Network]

Article: How to handle the enroachment of heresy

Here is an interesting article on the subject of how to handle the enroachment of heresy by Pastor Jon Cardwell.

[HT: Christian Research Network]

Monday, February 12, 2007

On the issue of Assurance of Salvation (Conclusion)

[continuing from previous posts here, here, here and here]

The basis of our assurance of salvation lies in our redemption by Christ in the propitiation through His blood. It is because Christ has died for us that we can be saved. Through the changes in our lives, we can know whether we are saved or not, and therefore are not deceiving ourselves. However, assurance of salvation is not only in knowing that we are saved, but also in knowing that we will never fall away, ever.

As I have stated earlier, salvation must be of God from beginning to end for there to be any possibility of assurance of salvation. Otherwise, what we have is a conditional assurance of salvation, since we must continue to keep the Christian faith in order to be saved, otherwise we are lost. Such was the error of the Judaizers as anathemized by the apostle Paul, and such is the error of the Romanists when they anathemized the Gospel in the Council of Trent. It is no secret that Arminians of all stripes and colors, including the Wesleyan holiness movement (especially after the times of the heretic Charles Finney), deny the possibility of having an assurance of salvation. After all, if there is a possibility of losing our salvation, then how can we have assurance that we would continue in the faith? Oh, how different is the situation of the true Bible believer, who takes God's Word as it is, and sees the power of God working in his salvation, through his sanctification, and onwards towards his glorification.

One reason why believers are sometimes weak in their faith and lacking in assurance of their salvation could very weel be due to their weak theology, or more specifically, their soteriology. After all, a 'God' who tries to saves, who depends on our choosing Him to save us, is really a powerless deity and can never give us assurance of our salvation. After all, how can He keep us from falling away, since we all can exercise our free will to do so? However, how blessed and wonderful it is for saints to be properly rooted in the truths of God's Word, who know that their security and assurance of salvation is in God alone, not based on their abilities and/or weaknesses, but purely based on the truth of God's personal election of each one of us to eternal life before the foundation of the world. It is because we have been personally predestined in eternity to be His children, that the Son came down and died for us as a propitiation for our sins, having paid the full price for us all, including unbelief, and that the Holy Spirit comes down and regenerates us individually, and now indwells us personally, that we have this full assurance of our salvation. This is the only consistent matrix upon which believers can have full assurance of their salvation.

I would end this entire series off with an exposition of Rom. 8:30-39, which, as I have said before, is the passage that offers the most comfort to us all true believers and assures us of God's eternal, unchanging love for us as expressed through our salvation, and in the provision of every good thing.

And those whom He predestined, he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

What then shall we say of these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justified. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the cone who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall seperate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

"For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, no heights, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to seperate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:30-39)

In verse 30, we can see that ALL who are predestined would be called and justified, and furthermore ALL who are justified will be glorified. I would like to concentrate on the latter part of the verse for this exposition, but suffice it is to note that the latter part makes no sense if the former part wasn't true, that all those whom God choses from eternity are indeed saved. The latter part of this verse makes the claim that every single person who is justified WILL indeed be glorified. Therefore, all of us can have full assurance of salvation in Christ, since we who are saved will most definitely persevere in the faith and will one day be glorified with Him.

In verses 31 and 32, we can see the arguments that the apostle Paul bring to bear on this topic. We are pressed on the issue further. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" The answer is, of course, no one. "He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" In this, we should trust God in everything. After all, after giving us His Son Jesus Christ for us, why wouldn't he give us the lesser things that we need? We can thus trust God for everything, since He has already given us the most valuable thing, His Son Jesus Christ, to die on the Cross for our sins.

In verse 33, we are pressed further by the force of Paul's logic and rhetoric. "Who shall bring any charge against God's elect?" Answer: Obviously, no one. It is God who justifies. God being God, the highest authority, absolutely no one has the right, nevermind the ability, to bring any charge against any of us believers who are of the elect of God. Since God is the one who saves us, who is in charge of our salvation from beginning to end, we cannot but be saved by him absolutely and totally. In verse 34, similarly, "Who is to condemn?". Answer: No one. Furthermore, we are here informed that Jesus Christ is ever interceding before the Father on our behalf, and thus we shall never fall away, if we are truly His true followers.

In verse 35, the question is asked, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Answer: Obviously, no one and nothing. Notice the list of things which follows: all kinds of severe hardship in this present age which could come upon us, and yet they do not have any power whatsoever to seperate us from the love of Christ. This list is followed up with the list in verse 39, of which the mention of the two extremities encompass all that is in between — "Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, no heights, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation", which covers everything, including Satan (powers). Did you read that, beloved? Nothing can seperate us from the love of Christ! Nothing! We are more than conqueror through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:38)! Our salvation is fully secured in Him; it will never fail. It is more likely for heaven and earth to pass away then for any one of us to lose our salvation! O, how we should always thank God for our so great salvation, and this full, unchanging assurance of salvation which we have in Him, and which is as unchanging as His very nature itself! Beloved, are you learning to put your full trust in Him, to surrender all to Him, and to embrace the teachings of Scripture on this topic? Then you will know and experience the full assurance of our salvation in Him, knowing that though we are weak, yet we will never fall; though we are desperately wicked and sinful, we are reckoned righteous always in the sight of God. Nothing can ever "unsave" us, and our glorification is absolutely guaranteed in the beloved, Christ Jesus our Lord, and shown forth in his resurrection from the dead (Rom. 8:34)

I would like to post the lyrics of a hymn Before the Throne of God above which captures the essence of biblical soteriology. It is my personal favorite since I know myself and need to remind myself periodically of the ground of my salvation, which is not in myself, depraved person that I am. Pay attention to the bold parts and meditate especially on them.

Before the throne of God above,
I have a strong and perfect plea
A Great High Priest whose name is Love
who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart

I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
to look on Him and pardoned me
to look on Him and pardoned me

Behold Him there, the Risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless Righteousness
The great, unchangeable I AM
the King of glory and of grace
One in Himself I cannot die
my soul is purchased by His blood
my life is hid with Christ on high
with Christ my Savior and my God,
with Christ my Savior and my God


Sunday, February 11, 2007

On the issue of Assurance of Salvation (part 4)

[continuing from previous posts here, here and here]

In order for someone to know whether one is truly saved, there are a few marks which would so indicate the person's salvation. These marks make up part of the fruit of the Spirit, indicated by passages like Mt. 7:19-20. As fruits, there are not in any way meritorious for salvation, but they are the results thereof.

So what are the marks of a true Christian? How can one be certain of his salvation? Definitely we have seen earlier that a person who is truly saved would remain forever saved, kept and preserved by Christ through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and I will return to this point later on also. The question thus now to be tackled is how does one know if s/he has faith in Jesus Christ and has believed in Him. This question is thus especially pertinent for new believers, who would especially need the assurance that God has indeed kept His word and save them from the wrath due their sins.

The Bible does give us certain practical guidelines as to how a new convert, and also those who have been Christians for some time, can know that they are truly Christians. Since regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 3: 5-8), and we know that there may be false brethren in our midst even (Acts 20:30; 1 Jn. 2:19), it is not anyone's job to give anyone assurances of their salvation, since we DO NOT know and thus CANNOT judge anyone's heart and therefore their salvation, unless the evidences are so obvious (knowing embrace of heresy, apostasy, denial of the faith, conversion to another religion etc.). Therefore, for most normal people, we are not allowed to judge their salvation, and this would definitely include judging whether they are saved or not. [What we can only do is judge their profession of faith —whether they say that they believe that Jesus if God etc., and upon this profession of faith, we are to regard them as brethren in the Lord.] Since giving false assurances of salvation has very serious consequences, what we only can do is to show them the signs of a true Christian and let their conscience either acquit them or condemn them (Rom. 2:15); to know for themselves whether they are saved or whether they are not yet saved.

With this said, let us look at the signs of true conversion, as seen primarily in Acts 2:37-38; 41-46, and exposited in the booklet Seven Certain Signs of True Conversion by Peter Masters1, of which I will only summarize the points here.

The first sign is a conviction of sin. True believers will always be convicted of their sins, and know that before the Lord, they are as nothing before Him. They see His holiness and feel exceedingly sinful. Their hearts are broken over their sin and they always repent of them. Thus, for new believers, are they broken and contrite over their sin? Have they repented and continue on repenting of their sins before the Lord? For Christians who may doubt their salvation, is that caused by the increasing realisation of your sinfulness? Is it because you know you have sinned, and perhaps even greviously, such that you are afraid that God would not forgive you? Despair not, for the fact of the matter is that, as you produce godly sorrow over your sin, you show that you are His. Paradoxically, those who realize their great sinfulness are the ones who should be the most assured of their salvation, because the Lord has promised, He who never changes His mind, that forgiveness of sin and eternal life will be given to all who repent of their sins (Acts 2:37). And He is the Glory of Israel will absolutely make good on His promise.

Of course, sorrow for sins are not sufficient in and of themselves. Sorrow must be godly sorrow and not worldly sorrow (2 Cor. 7:10). The difference is that godly sorrow is sorrow over disobeying God whereas wordly sorrow is only the experience of sorrow because the person does not want to go to hell.

The second sign is that the person can understand the Scriptures. Yes, the Scriptures are written in English (or whatever language your Bible is written in) and it is not esoteric, having hidden tones in them. In theological speak, the Scriptures are perspicuis. You do not need to be a professor to understand the Scriptures. What this sign is saying is not that the truly regenerated person cannot understand the Scriptures before and now he can, but that the truly regenerated person can now believe in the Scriptures. Whereas before, all unbelievers will never to able to understand the logic of Scripture (after all, how stupid is the idea of God dying like a criminal to save Man), now as believers they can understand the logic of Scripture. As it is written,

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor. 1:18)

Note especially the word 'folly'. Unbelievers are able to intellectually grasp the truth of Scripture if they so wish to, but it would be as foolishness to them, unless they repent and turn to Christ.

Therefore, for new believers, do they have a new found understanding of the Word of God? For all, are we able to grasp the reasonableness of Scripture, to see its truth as truth? If so, then you are truly of Christ.

One word of caution here: Having a new found understanding of Scripture and loving the Word of God does not necessarily mean that a true Christian will never interpret Scripture wrongly, nor that he must immediately understand everything there is to know about the Scriptures. Just because you may make certain errors in interpreting the Scripture does not make you an unbeliever!

The third sign of true conversion is the feeling of kinship with fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord. As stated in 1 Jn. 3:14 also, the presence of the feeling of kinship and love towards other Christians marks one out to be of Christ. To check whether this love is genuinely from God, do not check whether you love your friends and family who are Christians, (though if you hated them before, that could be valid), since it could be normal family and friendship phileo love. Do we love Christians whom we don't know? Do we have a strong desire to be with the people of God, even if they are strangers? Yes, we are weak, but is there some form of love for the brethren, however inperfect it may be? If you have that, it is a sign that you are truly a Christian.

The forth sign of true conversion is that of a personal discovery and delight in prayer. As we are saved, we are adopted into God's family, and we thus have this desire to talk and commune with God. As Gal. 4:6 tells us, we who are saved will have the spirit within us crying "Abba Father!" This is especially so in the early stages of our walk with Christ. Therefore, for new converts, are they having this desire to spend time with God? For older converts, they may neglect this, especially if their love grow cold. However, was there ever a time where you had such desire and delight in communing with God, such sweet communion with Him? Is there still a desire in you that loves to talk to Him, who is the joy and delight of our souls? If there is, then we are most likely saved in Him. Of course, for those who are have hearts that are cold, we must need repent and return to our first love (Rev. 2:4-5).

The fifth sign (which I think actually should be the first sign as it is the most important) is that of a new heart. Those who turn to Christ are a new creature; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). The believers, whether new or not, has been transformed. Obviously, this is not to say that suddenly, the believer becomes perfect, or is without sin, or necessarily that the believer will experience breakthrough in certain pet sins, but that the believer has new priorities in life. We have a new master and Lord, our Lord Jesus Christ and we live to serve and obey Him. Our ultimate motive is for the glory of our Lord, and whatever we do, we seek above all to please Him. Of course, believers could over time lose their first love, but the initial love for Christ must be there, and as with the forth point, they are to repent and turn back to their first love.

The sixth point is an initial measure of assurance of salvation, which Eph. 1:13 and 2 Cor. 1:22 speaks of. As Masters put it succintly:

We have no right to expect new-born babes in Christ to have enormous certainty and complete assurance, but we do expect to see the seal. ... It is God's maker of ownership impressed upon the believer In every true conversion the Holy Spirit will place His authenticating seal upon His work. (p. 13-14)

Of course, however, there may be true believers who may not have such a strong sense of certainty of their salvation, and for them they would need to seek it. In the meantime, they could check for the presence of the other signs which have been mentioned so far.

The seventh, and last, sign is the experience of attacks of Satan. Satan does not attack one of his with doubts over their salvation, because they are not saved. Allow me to quote Masters once more:

True converts, ..., are no longer in Satan's stronghold. They have been emancipated, and so for them, a great battle has begun. They now 'wrestle... against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world' (Eph. 6:12). ...

Satan's strategy will vary. One moment he will plague the young believer with doubts about the Christian faith. Another moment he will switch his attack 'O yes,' he will say, 'it is all true! The Bible is true, the faith is true; salvation is true; but you are not converted. You are deluded!' Sooner or later the believer will fall into sin and the devil will seize this opportunity to press home the accusation — 'How could you possibly be a child of God?'

The very fact that young believers may be worried about whether they are truly saved is itself an evidence of conversion. If they are genuine Christians, then the state of their souls is the most important matter in their lives. (p. 15-16. Bold added)

We can thus see that the attacks of Satan are itself an evidence of conversion. The part in bold above should be always emphasized. If someone is worried over their salvation, chances are they are truly saved. Unbelievers & reprobates DO not worry about their salvation. Yes, the more contemplative type may worry about where they would go after they die, but they will not care one bit whether they are right with God. Thus, doubts about salvation, as long as the person is worried whether s/he is right with God, is actually in itself a proof that the person is saved, and thus should stop worrying over his/her salvation, as long as s/he has done all that is commanded to do (i.e. repent of sins, receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior) and has in some measure or the full, fulfilled the other signs of true conversion.

With that said, let us return to the basis of our assurance of salvation, which is in the fact that Christ has made full 100% purchase of our salvation on our behalf.

[to be continued]


[1] Peter Masters, Seven Certain Signs of True Conversion, Sword & Trowel, Metropolitan Tabernacle, Elephant & Castle, London SE1 6SD

On the issue of Assurance of Salvation (part 3)

[continuing on from the previous posts here and here]

Now, knowing that the basis of our salvation is fully of God, and not by anything that we can or ever will do (since although we receive Christ by faith, yet we do so because he chose us first and the Holy Spirit regenerates us in order that we might have faith in Him), we cannot lose our salvation, since it is not our choice to begin with. In verses like Jn. 6:37, 40, 44 & 47, we can see that Jesus promises that whoever believes in Him will DEFINITELY have eternal life, and this promise is based on the unchangeability of God (and that is why open theism is heresy, but that's for another day). Of course, however, such promises have a condition attached, which is that of faith (which has similarly being purchased for us) and it is at this point that we come to the practical difficulties that we face in our everday lives, including all the part about bearing fruits, about not knowing if we are deceived when we claim to have faith etc. And to this we will turn to now.

Let us look at the area of bearing fruits. Now, the main passages to look at here are Mt. 7:19-20; 12:35, and Jn. 15:5-6, which are as follows:

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits (Mt. 7:19-20)

The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil (Mt. 12:35)

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I am him, he it is that bears much fruit, for aprt from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the brances are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (Jn. 15:5-6)

As we can see, good trees bear good fruits and bad trees bear bad fruits, with those who are bad trees; bad branches destined for destruction. The worry for some Christians is obviously that there don't seem to be bearing fruit, or at least they don't think they are bearing fruit, and thus they worry they are bad trees/branches who may be destined for destruction. All the marvelous promises made to them who believe in Christ "loses its power" as doubt begins to be planted as to whether they are saved in the first place. Since Christians ought to bear good fruit, and they don't seem to be bearing good fruit, they reason that they couldn't possibly be Christians, or that there is something desperately wrong with their Christian life, since they are not producing fruit in conformity with the teachings of Scripture. Coupled with a realization that their hearts are desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9) doesn't exactly help things out either.

First of all, let us look at the issue of Jer. 17:9 first, followed by looking at what exactly are the fruits that Jesus is talking about, what exactly are the fruits of conversion, and thus the marks of a true Christian.

For Jer. 17:9, it is true that the heart is desperately wicked, and we do have the propensity to deceive even our ownselves. However, we do have a helper with us, even the Holy Spirit who dwells among us. Jesus promises ALL his disciples that the Holy Spirit would indwell us and guide us into all truth (Jn. 16:13), so therefore IF we are truly saved, then the Holy Spirit would be with us and would help us see through our deceitful heart, and thus we would not be deceived by it, if we follow Him. Of course, this leads us to the question that then could it be that one is not saved, without the Holy Spirit, and therefore the person could still thus be deceived into believing s/he is saved? Perhaps, but there is a test that the person would definitely fail, and even his deceitful heart would not be able to deceive him/herself. Such a test would look out for the marks of true Christians, which the false Christian could fake to a certain extent but never be able to fulfil them, seeing that such characteristics could only arise out of a regenerated nature (2 Cor. 5:17; Jn. 10:3-5).

So what are the marks of a true Christian, and how does that relate to the fruits mentioned by Jesus in the passages above?

[to be continued]

On the issue of Assurance of Salvation (part 2)

[continued on from the previous post here]

Faith is the "assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). Redemption is the process whereby a price is paid to redeem something which is yours (i.e. redeem a pawned watch). Redemption in the theological sense is thus the process whereby God paid a price to save a people for Himself. Justification is the process by which a person is deemed to be innocent. It is typically used in a legal context, and thus the picture is that of the accused being declared innocent before the court by the Judge (no Jury here) and thus is considered guiltless of the charges which are brought against him. In the biblical sense of the word, Justification is the process whereby a sinner is considered as being sinless in the sight of God the Judge. Propitiation is the means by which God declares the sinner righteous in his sight. Closely linked to this concept is the idea of substitutionary atonement, that God died for sinners as a substitute in their place, which is the means by which an all Holy God could ever justify anyone in the first place. So what is propitiation? Propitiation is the process described in 2 Cor. 5:21, where it is written:

For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21)

He (God) made Him (Jesus Christ) to be sin; that is, God imputes to His Son Jesus Christ the sins of His people. Even though Jesus "knew no sin", i.e. was sinless, He became the sin bearer, the Lamb who was slain, in order to pay the penalty for our sins, which is death. Thus, he was sentenced to death on the Cross for our sins and died on our behalf. In the words of Scripture:

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed (Is. 53:5)

He took our place. Even though we deserve to die, he died in our place, so that we do not need to die. And what's more, he gave us life in him. In 2 Cor. 5:21b, it is further stated that he died "so that we might become the righteousness of God". What, you say? Become the righteousness of God? But we are still sinful! We sin daily, and the more we try NOT to sin, the more we sin. But this is what Scripture says, that we through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ might become the righteousness of God. Not based on our own effort, but based on the righteousness of Christ alone, which theologians have termed the "active righteousness of Christ". As the Westminster Confession of Faith states:

Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God (WCF, Chapter XI — Of Justification, Sentence I)

Thus, propitiation is the process whereby our sins are imputed to Christ, and Christ's obedience and sastisfaction made on our behalf is imputed to us (Double imputation).

Finally, what is reconciliation? Reconciliation is the effect of the death of Christ, which is that those of us who were once alienated from God, are now brought near to God, the dividing wall of hostility that once stood between an holy God and depraved sinners (Rom. 5:10), and Jews and Gentiles, are torn asunder (Eph. 2:13-16). Whereas before we were enemies, God has become our friend.

Therefore, biblically, the basis for our salvation is Christ and his work on the Cross. As we shall see later, it is all of Christ, none of us. It is Christ that redeems us; it is God the Father who justifies us based upon the propitiation by the blood of Jesus, and thus saves us; it is Christ who reconciles us with God. Everything is from God and by God.

So what has all of this profound theological stuff got to do with the (simple) doctrine of Assurance of Salvation? Plenty! Tell me, upon what basis is a person saved? By works, or by faith? Based upon something on Man's part or everything on God's part? If we don't even know the basis of our salvation, then how can we even begin to understand how we can go about having assurance of salvation? If we are saved by works, then how does anyone ever be assured of their salvation? Shouldn't they be afraid that, regardless of all the good works and obedience they have done unto the Lord, they might apostasize on their death bed, thereby sending them into an eternity in hell? More pertinent to us historic Evangelicals, if the basis for our salvation depends partly on our choice, therefore one can choose Christ one day and then reject him the next, then shouldn't we be afraid that we might just deny Christ on our deathbed, and therefore spend the entire eternity in hell? After all, we ALL have free will, right?

The question regarding the basis of our salvation, and thus the foundation upon which we can have the assurance of our faith for us historic Evangelicals, is regarding the role of God and Man in salvation. Definitely, we believe in salvation by faith alone apart from works (Eph. 2:8-9). However, do we contribute anything of value to the entire process? If we do, then salvation is partly by us, and therefore, we can undo our salvation also. However, if salvation is not in any way determined by us, then we can't "undo" our salvation, so to speak, and therefore full assurance of salvation is possible.

This question is at the core of one of the most controversial debates in Church history; — the Calvinism/Arminianism debate, controversial not because the issues are difficult to resolve, but because humanism is such a strong force even within those who turn to Christ, and bring their humanism with them to the study of God's Word. It is not my wish to re-exposit the various verses to prove the Calvinist/Reformed position as the correct one (Interested readers can look at the two articles here and here), so here I would by and large assume the position as the biblical one and post some relevant verses relating to the topic.

With regards to the basis of our salvation, verses like Jn. 6:37 are a constant comfort to the saints, which would only make sense within a Reformed soteiological matrix. Here are some verses that I would like to concentrate on later:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out (Jn. 6:37)

For this is the will of the Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day (Jn. 6:40)

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day (Jn. 6:44)

Truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life (Jn. 6:47)

And those whom He predestined, he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

What then shall we say of these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justified. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the cone who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall seperate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

"For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, no heights, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to seperate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:30-39)

[to be continued]

Saturday, February 10, 2007

On the issue of Assurance of Salvation (part 1)

I will be doing a series of pertinent posts regarding the issue of Assurance of Salvation which will interrupt my posts on Feminism. This series of articles is dedicated to one of my blog readers and dear sister-in-Christ Evelyn Soon, whom I sincerely think should start a blog of her own =). (When she does, I will make sure some blog traffic goes her way ... :P)

Anyway, here goes:

One of the distinguishing features of true biblical, historic Evangelical Christianity is our belief in the doctrine of Assurance of Salvation. In other words, we believe that a person who is truly saved can be fully assured that s/he is truly saved, and that from thence on, s/he can rest in the full assurance that s/he is a child of God. Since that is so, its effect on believers would be one of comfort and joy. To put in simply, a saint who is saved by Christ is saved forever (Once saved, always saved), and will never need fear the punishment of hell anymore. In more technical and precise terms, the saints will persevere forever in their faith in Christ and will thus be saved by him and taken into glory into His presence, never again fearing the outpouring of the wrath of God against their sins but loving God who saves them from their sins and the consequences of their sins.

The classic proof-text normally used to prove the reality of believers being able to have an Assurance of Salvation is the familiar passage of 1 John 5:13, which is shown below:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you eternal life. (1 John. 5:13)

In a normal bible study studying this particular subject, emphasis is placed on the phrase "that you may know", indicating that Scripture is here telling us that we are able to know that we are saved, and thus we should have the assurance of our salvation. Questions are typically asked of the person who may be doubting whether they believe in the name of the Son of God, i.e. the Gospel message of our Lord Jesus Christ, and upon the basis of an answer in the affirmative, assurance of their salvation is said to be attainable and has thus been attained, since they profess belief in 'the name of the Son of God'.

Now, for such a bible study, the usage of the proof-text of 1 Jn. 5:13 is definitely correct, insofar as the text in question does say that we can know that we are truly saved. However, by just leaving it as this level, it is no wonder that oftentimes our assurance of salvation is just so shallow, and we can thus begin to question and doubt our salvation even. Why is that so? Well, as we begin to grow in Christ, we come to see our own sins and know our own failings more and more. The more we know about God and about ourselves, the more we hate our sins and even ourselves. We may start to question whether we are truly saved, especially if we do not have the victory over sin that we have been taught to expect. So, does God really love us? When we see ourselves in the light of Scripture, we see the barreness in ourselves, and our fruitlessness in ministry, and we wonder why that is so. Since Jesus says that by their fruits you shall know them (Mt. 7:19-20; 12:35), and that every branch that does not bear good fruit would be thrown into the fire and burned (Jn. 15:5-6), we start to worry as we see our barreness. Are we actually false believers, we may start to ask ourselves. We then return to the verse which had seemed so familiar at that time: 1 Jn. 5:13. OK, yes, it does say that we can have assurance of salvation, but now I am not so sure about the believing part. Am I truly believing in Christ, or just paying lip service to Him? After all, I may well be deceiving myself, since the heart is deceitfully wicked and cannot be understood. (Jer. 17:9). So the believer's assurance starts to falter, and his/her walk with God may suffer as a result, nevermind about ministry.

It is my opinion that such a thing should never need to occur, if we come to know and understand, and to take to heart the deeper things of the Lord in Scripture concerning the subject. As we grow deeper in our walk with God, to stop at the surface level exposition of 1 John 5:13 is to invite the shipwreck of our faith, as the flesh, the world and the devil conspire to destroy our effectiveness for our Lord and if possible, to destroy our faith in Him also. To such believers who are truly shaken and tossed to and fro due to various reasons, I emphatize with all of you and my heart breaks for the many people who may be at this stage, and others also who may even be contemplating quitting the Christian faith altogether. To all of you, I submit this. But first, we must set the background first; the entire basis for the doctrine of the Assurance of Salvation, which is the Gospel work of our Lord Jesus Christ by His death on the cross of Calgary. So what is the Gospel?

The Bible consistently proclaims the sinfulness and depravity of Man, who though knowing the things which God commands and the penalty of death attached to disobedience, nevertheless violate God's laws and furthermore give approval to those who do the same (Rom. 1:32). It proclaims the sinfulness of Man (Rom. 3:10-18), destroying Man's pride by showing his total depravity in the eyes of an all Holy God who burns with wrath against them and their sins (Rom. 2:5). It furthermore declares that NO ONE seeks God, that there is no fear of God in their eyes (Rom. 3:18), and that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). In other words, the situation of Man as stated in the Scriptures is one of utter despair and without hope. Man, despite his intellect, acheivements, wealth, etc, is utterly lost, condemned to hell by his own sins, and that willingly too; he willingly chooses to go to hell and would not have things any other way. Such is the plight of Man, who can control almost anything but his own eternal destiny.

Into this hopeless situation, we see the precious and marvelous words in verse 21 of Romans chapter 3: "But now". But now what? "... the righteousness of God has been manifested... " (Rom. 3:21) For what purpose? "[for all] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith" (Rom. 3:24-25a) To what end? That we might be "saved by him from the wrath of God" (Rom. 5:9) and received reconciliation through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:11). Faith, redemption, justification, propitiation, reconciliation. What do all these words mean? And what do they have to do with us having assurance of salvation?

[to be continued]

Friday, February 09, 2007

Article: Descendent of Muhammad receives Jesus Christ

Here is the article, on the topic as stated above. Praise God for His wondrous grace in saving that family from darkness into His glorious light! Do pray for him and his family also that the secular, hostile German authorities would not deport him back to Turkey to be killed.

[HT: Christian Research Network]

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Article: Wanted: Ministers who preach not themselves but Christ

Good article by Dr. Michael Horton of Modern Reformation here, on the contrast between the qualifications asked for in today's ministers compared to those set forth in Scripture.

[HT: Christian Research Network]

Monday, February 05, 2007

Millennial-Reaching groups in our churches...

Here is an interesting program by Ingrid Schlueter on reaching the younger generation — the millennial generation (those born after 1981, like me)

More on Benny...

Here is an interesting video showing the false miracles of Benny Hinn and his unspiritual handling of finances.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Book: The Feminist Gospel (part 3)

[continuing on from my previous post here]

As secular feminism grew in society, it started to also infiltrate the Church. Soon, feminist voices begin to sound from within the churches themselves, as calls for equality between men and women in the Church were made. Traditionally, women are not allowed to be ordained as pastors, neither are they allowed to be elders or deacons either. This exclusion of women from the leadership of the churches lead to accusations of discimination in the churches against women, with R.A. Schmidt writing in a 1971 article in Christianity Today (Astray) that women possessed "second-class citizenship in the Kingdom of God". (Kassian, p. 26-27)

With regards to this push for egalitarianism, there are a few things we would like to consider: whether the charge of inequality is valid, what the Bible says about the role of pastors, elders and deacons within the church, and addressing the proof-texts of the 'biblical feminists'. Definitely, arguments of liberal religious feminist and secular feminists would be thrown out, since we have already established the principle of Sola Scriptura, and therefore anything not found in Scripture is not Christian at all.

With regards to the charge of inequality, if by inequality they refer to inherent worth and dignity, then we affirm that orthodox Christianity is on their side, as the 'biblical feminists' have aptly taken Scriptures such as Gal. 3:28, the example of Mary learning at the feet of Jesus etc. to prove their case. In fact, the entire doctrine of sin and salvation; that ALL have sinned and that the only way to God is through repentance and belief in our Lord Jesus Christ who died for all His sheep, BOTH male and female, holds forth the truth of equality between men and women. To the extent that the churches have treated women with less respect, worth and dignity than men, the churches and men in general need to repent of such discrimination against women. If, however, by inquality they are referring with respect to the role of men and women play in their walk and service before God, then I would deny that Scripture supports their view. Most 'biblical feminists', I would suspect, do not distinguish between the two, or they may see no difference between the two forms of inequalities, to their own loss, I would add.

Before looking at what the Bible says about the role of men and women in their walk and service before God, let us look at the whole idea of service unto God.

First of all, of course, we must first recognize that service unto God must be done in a way glorifying to Him, and thus in obedience. If by doing something, you are disobeying God's command, then you are not serving God but your own carnal desires. Therefore, regardless of how pure your motive and how well your service is rendered unto the Lord, the Lord will not accept it unless it is done in obedience. Truly, to obey is better than to sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22ff). In this case, if women are invovled in ministry such as being pastors while God has explicitly denied them to taking on such an office, then they are in rebellion against God and no ministry they do will be acceptable to Him even though they may 'do all the right things' out of a motive of wanting to honor God. Since that is the case, the core issue is whether God has permitted women to fill such offices, which we shall cover later.

Secondly, the whole idea of discimination against women in the Church by only having male clergy while women can only be part of the laity carries with it the assumption that somehow the clergy group is of a higher class and status than the laity. This semblance of inequality in the service status between men and women could be easily solved by destroying the clergy/laity status divide, and reemphasizing the doctrine of the priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2:9). It seems that the Christians churches at that time had an unbiblical view of office bearers in the church (By office bearers, I am referring to those who are ordained to function in an authoritative serving capacity in the church), and feminism had identified the problem correctly but gave a wrong solution. As Kassian puts it:

The examination of the Church by Christian feminists revealed gross inequalities in the role of male and female. Serious consideration needed to be given to the problem. Willaim Douglas perceptively pointed out two possible courses of action in dealing with the dilemna. First the Church could ... go back to its roots, reestablish the priesthood of all believers and dissolve the vast distinction between the clergy and laity, opening up ministry to all. Or alternatively, the Church could retain its current structure and simply open up the avenues of ordained ministry to women as well as men. Changing the way Church bureaucracies were structured, and changing ingrained perceptions regarding the pattern and function of Church leadership, would have been a formidible task. Furthermore, most believers did not associate the problem of women's involvement in the Church with a deeper problem of incorrect structure and function. The latter course of dealing with women's role inequality was thus chosen. (p. 27)

As such, we can see the tragedy unfolds within the churches, as instead of reemphasizing the priesthood of believers and dissolving the clergy/laity divide which exists in many denominational structures e.g. Anglicanism, Methodism (and other churches as long as there is a ruling party which sets the office bearers as being superior status above normal believers), they retain the unbiblical structure and allow women to join their exclusive 'club', thus giving us women pastors, women elders etc. Before looking into the Word of God to see what does the Bible say about the marks of office bearers (pastors, elders, deacons etc.) with regards to this issue, let is be said here that a biblical emphasis on the doctrine of the priesthood of believers would allow women to participate in ministry and serve the Lord, instead of being passive pew-warmers like most of the laity.

With this settled, let us look at the marks of office bearers in the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ which is prescribed to us in the Bible, especially with regards to this issue.

The apostle Paul, in these two passages from the pastoral epistles, 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9, sets forth the qualifications of office bearers in the church. With regards to the egalitarian position, perhaps the most important things that can be derived from the text is that these office bearers are required to be husbands of one wife (1 Tim. 3:2; 12; Titus 1:6), and to be able to teach and rebuke others (1 Tim. 3:2; 9; Titus 1:9). For the former qualification, definitely women don't have wives so it stands to reason that no women is allowed in Scripture to be an office bearer. Now, it has often been said that the reason why this is so is because of the culture of the 1st century world, and thus this verse is only saying that office bearers are to have one spouse. To this, we answer that the truths in the Bible transcend time and is not limited by and mouldable by cultural standards of any age. Furthermore, the entire cultural argument is nonsense! In the Greek culture, and Roman culture, women often could hold high positions in society, and cults the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses do have priestess and prophetess in their services, so therefore, to say that the culture demands an adaptation of the church of that time is plainly ridiculous. In fact, any adaptation to the pagan culture would more likely favor the inclusion of women and their placement in prominent positions of authority rather than the biblical position set forth by Paul.

To the argument that Paul was a misogynist, one has only to look at the actions of Paul as stated in Acts and other places in Scripture to see how wrong this false accusation is. In Acts 16:14, in the city of Philippi, Paul's earliest convert was a woman by the name of Lydia and she in that sense was the first member of the church in Philippi there, together with her household. In Acts 18, Priscilla was a co-worker together with her husband Aquila and Paul in spreading the Gospel. In Phil. 4:2-3, Paul states that the women Euodia & Syntyche were contending at his side for the sake of the Gospel, and he pleaded with them to agree with each other in the Lord. From all of these examples, it can be said that Paul treated women well, and thus the charge of being a misogynist does not stick.

Another thing which Paul states in those passages from the pastoral epistles is the necessity that office bearers must be able to teach and to hold fast apostolic doctrine. To these, another passage from the pastoral epistle is added to show forth the fact that women are not allowed to be office bearers, 1 Tim. 2:11-14.

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

We will discuss this pasage further when we analyze the biblical argument of the 'biblical feminists' later. At the moment, suffice it is to say that since women are not allowed 'to teach or exercise authority over a man', and office bearers are to teach (with the exception of deacons) and definitely to exercise authority in the Church, therefore women are not allowed to be office bearers.

With this established, let us analyze the arguments from bible passages put forward by 'biblical feminists'.

[to be continued]

Another satirical article - this time on Rick Warren

Here is an interesting satirical take on Rick Warren's "new book, entitled 'Rick Warren's New Book Addresses Christian Animal Rights' ".

The Dawkin Delusion ...

Eh... well, after reading this article, and hearing this audio file (Transcript here), I guess that Richard Dawkins does not exist. Oh, and btw, here is the video:

On a serious note, this just shows that Richard Dawkins' arguments against theism in general is self-defeating and if believed, would of necessity lead to the conclusion that Richard Dawkins does not exists (and in fact nothing had, has and will ever exist)

Benny Hinn... Let the bodies hit the floor

On Benny Hinn: No comment is needed for this.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Article: Where are the elders who guard the flock?

This is an excellent article by Pastor Bob DeWaay regarding the role of the elders and the total disregard of the biblical duties of the elders in many of today's churches. I especially like this part:

Most evangelical churches have elders; these elders are responsible for the Lord’s flock. My interviews with people who have witnessed their churches being infiltrated by unbiblical teachings and practices have opened my eyes to a serious problem in our evangelical movement: elders who do not think that what is being taught and practiced in their church is important enough to judge biblically. This is serious. In many cases, these elders consider their primary job to be — support the senior pastor and his reputation at all costs. Their secondary job—watch over the financial well being of the church as a corporation. Their tertiary job — make sure no one rocks the boat. Thus, in these elders’ interpretation of their job description, the problem in the church becomes those concerned members who care about the integrity of the gospel message.

Many elders are successful businessmen, but being a successful businessman neither qualifies nor disqualifies a man from being an elder. Churches seem to lean toward selecting such people because churches want to be successful businesses. But did Paul tell Titus to select businessmen-elders when he said: “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9)? No. If a man has no willingness to study and learn sound doctrine, is content to have only a superficial knowledge of the Bible, and is unwilling to correct false doctrine—that person is NOT QUALIFIED to be an elder. So a remedy for many of our church ills would be for our churches to select biblically qualified elders who are truly ‘apt to teach’ (1 Timothy 3:2; 2 Timothy 2:24 KJV). If we required this of all elders, we would not have all the false doctrine coming into the church that we see today. We would have elders with backbone who would even stand against the senior pastor if necessary should that pastor depart from the truth. A pastor who loves the truth and desires integrity in the church would earnestly desire to have elders like that around him, not merely people who are committed to whatever program he wants to promote.

Looking at the ruins of the Evangelical church today, I think that we as Evangelicals truly need to repent and return to God for our compromise apostasy in allowing heresy to enter the church. Anyway, for these compromising elders (and church leaders), here is a word for you from God Himself:

Thus says the LORD GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! Your prophets have been like jackals among ruins, O Israel. You have not gone up into the breaches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of the LORD. ... Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, 'Peace', when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash, say to those who smear it with whitewash that is shall fall! There will be a deluge of rain, and you, O great hailstones, will fall, and a stormy wind break out. And when the wall falls, will it not be said to you, 'Where is the coating which you smeared it?' Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD: I will make a stormy wind break out in my wrath, and there shall be a great deluge of rain in my anger, and great hailstones in wrath to make a full end. And I will break down the wall that you have smeared with whitewash, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you shall perish in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the LORD. Thus will I spend my wrath upon the wall and upon those who have smeared it with whitewash, and I will say to you, The wall is no more, nor those who smeared it, the prophets of Israel who prophesized concerning Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her, when there was no peace, declares the Lord GOD. (Ez. 13: 3-5; 10-16)

"...who say, 'The time is not near to build hourses. This city is the cauldron, and we are the meat.' Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man."

And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and he said to me, "Say, Thus says the LORD: So you think, O house of Israel. For I know the things that come into your mind. You have multiplied your slain in this city and have filled its streets with the slain. Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD: You slain whom you have laid in the midst of it, they are the meat, and this city is the cauldron, but you shall be brought out of the midst of it. You have feared the sword, and I will bring the sword upon you, declared the Lord GOD (Ez. 11:3-8)