“Mystical” Experience

This is a difficult subject to discuss considering my Reformed leanings, I mean, really…mystical experiences? These experiences started more than 15 years ago when I was young in the faith. I would spend every spare minute pouring over the scriptures, following scripture chains, reading tracts, short Bible studies, etc. always attended with repentance and prayer, sometimes even tears of sorrow over sin, or joy for the forgiveness I have in Christ. Over the years these experiences would happen after intense periods of prayer or intense studying of the sacred scriptures and theological works, but not always, that’s enough of an introduction.

hand sun

Here goes…

I’ll jump right in by explaining the very first experience I had over 15 years ago. At the time I had a job which allowed me to read throughout the day so I brought my Bible to work every shift and spent the majority of the day reading it. At the end of each day, after family time and everyone settled in, I would set time aside for prayer. Nothing crazy, just 30 minutes to pray and meditate. The first “mystical” experience I had took place after a time of fervent prayer. I wouldn’t say I did anything different, it was just time aside, a pattern I had been using for a few months at this point. I finished praying, and took the dog for her last walk of the day, this was my usual routine. As we walked our accustomed path I noticed a warmth or radiance to my surroundings. It was a pleasant fall evening, the sky was full of stars and I felt as if I was touching or apart of all that surrounded me including the stars above. It wasn’t trace like – just an experience.

When I looked up into the night sky it was as if I was united with all of creation and I lost my sense of time or space, just a deep connected-ness to God and creation. It’s difficult to describe or place into words, but it was similar to what you experience when you swim to the bottom of a pool and feel the water surrounding you, the water touching every part of your body. That night I felt as if I was rooted to the world with God and creation touching every part of my being. Throughout the experience I was overwhelmed with thankfulness to Jesus Christ. It was as if I was standing before my Lord, that I had entered the Holy of Holies and found myself complete in Him, in union with Jesus. The unity I felt with my Lord Jesus was humbling and overpowering. It’s difficult to say with any certainty how long this experience lasted, but it was a very happy, pleasing experience that really encouraged me fall deeper in love with Christ. After a time the experience faded somewhat. I wasn’t let down or disappointed when the experience was over, but I was further convinced of my need for Jesus Christ.

The experience I had that night stayed with me for a few days, the feeling of connected-ness, unity with God and creation through Jesus Christ, it all remained with me. Being somewhat of a bookworm I started to read up on mystical experience and found some confirmation of what had taken place in the writings of the Saints, especially the strangely beautiful experiences of God’s presence revealed to us in scripture. This mystical communion with Christ happened early in my Christian walk, I didn’t try to recreate the experience or avoid them. At the time I believed it was best to just let things happen, trusting in God. My reading and prayer routine continued and the experiences would continue to take place – often taking me by surprise. It could be during my walk home from work or while performing a daily task like getting the kids ready for bed. The feeling of thankfulness to Christ and unity with my surroundings would flood in and fill my soul with a sense of love that both lifted me up spiritually and humbled me at the same time.

A few years passed by and, as any good theology nerd, I read B.B. Warfield’s work “Mysticism and Christianity.” I was already leaning in the Reformed direction due to a plain reading of Romans 9 (among other passages), so I decided to shun all things mystical, convinced by Warfield’s good logical sense. Warfield wrote that a mystic was mute because they have feelings and not concepts. Fair enough. But I can’t help believing I understand better what it means to, “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling” or to, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way…” The concept of, “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” is more real to me because of the experiential knowledge of these concepts Jesus Christ has granted me. I am convinced He supplies both head knowledge and heart knowledge!

For the past 15 or more years these mystical experiences have continue to take place and I am now thankful for them. After all, experiencing the risen Christ has deepen my love for Him, the scriptures and frequent participation in the Lord’s Supper. It sets me on my knees in a state of deeper repentance and prayer. If this makes me heterodox and I’m not convinced it does, or even that I am unique, may God have mercy upon me. May He guide me back to the narrow way. I’m not convinced I’m my experiences place me outside of the pale of Christian orthodoxy and so I’m ready to explore these experiences further. This confession may lead to more posts that many may consider heterodox, but please know that I still consider myself Reformed just not one that can walk in tight unanimity on the issue of my experiences of God.  May God forgive me where I error.

Yours in the Lord Jesus Christ who saves to the uttermost,

jm

PS: If you have any comments or thoughts on my post please leave them below.

PPS: No I have never done acid or any other illegal drugs. lol

PPPS: I’m hold on to some details – I’m not ready to share them yet.

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Spurgeon on Christmass

ChristsMassPosted on FM last year: “WE HAVE NO superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Saviour; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority.” – Spurgeon

Audio from John Knox, Charles Spurgeon, A. W. Pink, etc.

The Duty of Children

A. W. Pinkpink

1. The Duty Itself: “Obey Your Parents.” This means a humble subjection to their authority and control, with a ready performance of what they require. It is the same as giving “honor” to your parents (Exod. 20:12), which connotes valuing highly and revering one’s parents (Lev. 19:3, 14). The disposition of a godly child is a combination of love and fear which moves him to obedience. We may further describe four elements. The first three are active obedience, while the fourth is passive obedience.

A. Reverence. Begins with reverence for God, the Parent of us all (Acts 17:28). True reverence results in an earnest desire to behave yourselves in everything you do with a view toward pleasing your parents.

1) With respect to your speech. You should speak reverently of your parents both in their presence and absence. Give them honorable titles like “father” and “mother” and “lord” because these recognize the dignity of their office. Good examples include Isaac (Gen. 22:7), Jacob (Gen. 27:18), David (1 Sam. 24:8; 26:18), Solomon (1 Kings 2:30), Rachel (Gen. 31:35). You should speak when spoken to, wait to hear your parents speak first, and never to speak in their presence without a good reason for it. When they are not around, speak of them in such a way that all who hear conclude that you regard them highly.

2) With respect to your behavior. Rise for your parents, as for the elderly (Lev. 19:32). Although king, Solomon bowed to Bathsheba; and although a prince, Joseph to Jacob (1 Kings. 2:19; Gen. 46:29). Seek your parents’ prayers for blessing. Avoid rude and haughty looks. The eye that mocks his father and scorns obedience to his mother shall be picked out by ravens and young eagles (Prov. 30:17). Even when parents are deceased you should give them honor.

B. Obedience proper. Not only reverent speech and conduct before parents is required, but a heartfelt submission to their authority and hearty compliance with all their commands. Even Jesus submitted Himself to His mother and step-father (Luke 2:51). He who was their Creator, and to whom angels were subject, was subject to Mary and Joseph!

1) Pay close attention to their teaching. Love for your parent’s joy should move you to listen carefully to all they teach, whether spiritual or otherwise. This applies equally to both sons and daughters. A foolish child is a grief to his parents.

2) Perform their commands. Don’t talk back! This immediate and silent obedience is the main duty of the text. You should obey as the centurion’s men (Matt. 8:9). Examples include Samuel (1 Sam. 3:5-8), David (1 Sam. 16:12; 17:17, 20), Jacob and Joseph (Gen. 28:5; 37:14; 42:2-3), Isaac (Gen. 22:6); the Rechabites (Jer. 35:8-19), Abraham’s children (Gen. 18:19), and Solomon (1 Kings 2:3; 3:3; 1 Chron. 22:11). Yet this is not to be a blind obedience (Prov. 14:15), especially as you grow up to exercise some moral discernment of your own. Then your obedience should be reasonable, such as is according to God’s Word. That is, you should comply in everything that does not involve sin.

3) Depend upon their advice. Parents naturally have more experience, ability, and a right to rule their children than the children themselves. The prodigal son would not listen to his father’s advice until he had learned by experience of the bad consequences of his foolish choice and had grieved his father. Therefore, as a child you cannot spend money without your parents’ consent, you cannot choose friends disagreeable to your parents, and you must be content to dress the way your parents want.

a. In your choice of a career. Your parents should guide you in this, as the examples of David and the children of Jonadab prove (1 Sam. 16:11, 19; 17:17; Jer. 35). Generally this means following in your parents’ footsteps.

b. In your choice of a spouse. Parents should “sway much” in this matter. Examples include Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 24:6-7, 63-67; 28:1-3; 29:11, 18-19), Ruth (Ruth 2:21-23; 3:1-6, 18), Ishmael and Samson (Gen. 21:21; Judg. 14:2), Tamar and Shechem (2 Sam. 13:13; Gen. 34:11-12). Parents are wiser than you, more objective than you, and should not have their children taken away without their consent. This would be a kind of stealing. To take a wife against her father’s will is a disparagement of him. This is the most important decision you will make in your life; how can you leave your parents out of it? In the case of their choosing someone for whom you have no feelings, be sure that your lack of feelings are not without reason. If after much prayer you still find yourself unwilling to marry their choice for you, then try to persuade your parents in a reverent way to seek someone else for you to marry. Surely you cannot be expected to marry someone whom you do not love. In the case of parents choosing an ungodly partner for you, you must humbly refuse. The best counselors agree that though you do not have the right to choose a partner for yourself without your parents’ consent, you do have the right to refuse one chosen for you.

4) Follow their good example. Imitate whatever is good in them. This is why the wise man charged his son to observe his ways (Prov. 23:26). Follow them as they follow Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). Do not follow them in their errors as an excuse for your sin. Mere tradition received from parents is no reason to sin against God (Ezek. 20:18-20). Solomon, Asa, and Timothy are your examples here (1 Kings 3:3; 2 Kings 22:2; 1 Kings 15:11; 2 Tim. 1:5). In other words, try to be like your dad. This is the way you pay greatest honor to him.

C. Heartfelt gratitude and endeavor to repay them. You owe much to your parents.

1) Respecting their benevolence. Show a gratefulness for their kindness and supply of your needs. Be eager to repay their provision in any way that you can. The smallest thing you can do is to acknowledge their parental love and care. Without this you are not truly spiritual but wicked. Piety must begin at home by showing your appreciation for your parents. Treasure their wise sayings, rehearse before others what they have done well, and choose their religion, if it be right. Preserve their good name.

2) Respecting their poverty. Cover or bear with their faults, do what you can to supply their needs, and defend their reputation. Noah and Lot, Isaac and Jacob had their faults as parents, and their children covered them (Gen. 9:21-23; 27:12; 28:5; 37:10). So did Jonathan, Jesus, Jacob, Ruth, Joseph have parents with faults and needs, and they moved to their aid. Philo says that old storks who cannot fly any longer are brought food by their brood, and we should imitate their example. Especially should you be concerned about your parents’ spiritual needs, so that if they are not Christians, with all humility and prudence you should use fit means to lead them to Christ. The best you can do for your parents will not be sufficient to repay them for their love. When your parents die, see that they have an honorable burial in a decent Christian manner.

D. Submission to parental discipline. As a child, you must bear your parents’ rebukes with humility. Because you were born sinful, you need them.

1) Their admonitions. Nothing should shame you more than your father’s reprimand, and you should amend in response to it. Even when they rebuke you wrongly in matter and manner, you should bear with it, as Joseph did (Gen. 37:10). Moses heeded his father-in-law’s advice (Exod. 18:13-24), but Eli’s sons slighted his (1 Sam. 2:25). Only fools will not hear rebuke (Prov. 13:1; 2:23, 34-35; 15:5). Be patient with parental restrictions on your food, drink, clothing, and recreation. Learn self-denial and patience. Isn’t it inappropriate to rage against those who love you best?

2) Their corrections. I mean real punishments inflicted upon you. Realize they do this out of love and aim for your good. There is biblical warrant for corporal discipline (Prov. 13:24; 22:15; 19:17; Heb. 12:9), and if you will not be reformed by it, your parents have a right to call in the magistrate (Deut. 21:18-21). When you are corrected, you should be too ashamed even to look into your parent’s face. Though you need not tolerate others to spank you, your parents have this right for the purpose of delivering your soul from hell. Pray that God will bless this means of grace to your good. Do not become bitter toward your parents for disciplining you. Your parents have a responsibility with God’s authority to maintain His government in your life.

2. The Extent of This Duty: “In All Things.” This must not be understood as universal and absolute obedience to parents, for that is our duty to God alone. God is the only One free to give whatever laws He pleases which all are absolutely bound to obey. You are to obey your parents in all things acceptable to the Lord (Eph. 6:1, 5-6; Col. 3:22-23). If parents were not sinful, absolute obedience could be rendered them, but they are fallen and fallible. This text proves that the only obedience to be rendered parents is that which is consistent with the Lord’s pleasure, and He cannot be pleased when you choose to obey them rather than Him. Yet even in wrong things they command you to do, you may show your submission by suffering the penalty with cheerfulness (1 Pet. 2:19-20). In all legitimate things, you must honor your parents as much as you can.

3. The Motive to This Duty: “For This Is Well Pleasing to the Lord.” This is the best motive possible for anything. The Lord vigorously enforces the fifth commandment here and elsewhere (Eph. 6:1-3). Our heavenly Father has supreme authority. Anything He requires is eminently reasonable and good. Those who seek His pleasure above all things are not only pleasing, but well pleasing, to Him. In pleasing the Lord you will ultimately please your parents and yourself besides. This is the way to your true happiness. In keeping God’s commandments there is exceedingly great reward (Psa. 19:11; Gen. 15:1). All parents due to their high and holy office deserve the obedience of their children. Disobedient children are unworthy of being considered Christians, and are worse than ordinary unbelievers and brute beasts. Obedience to parents is not an arbitrary thing, but a solemn divine commandment with the greatest of rewards and punishments attached. As children of Christian parents, having high privileges, you have greater responsibilities to fulfill your duty. Lack of natural affection of your parents is so monstrous that it is severely punished by God (1 Sam. 4:11; Deut. 21:20-21). The old Romans would put those who murdered their parents into a large ox-hide bag together with a live dog, a rooster, a poisonous snake, and an ape. Then they would beat them bloody, throw them into the Tiber River. That shows how abominable parricide was even to the heathen.

You mean Jesuit?

JESUIT

WIKI:

There has historically been general agreement with non-preterists that the first systematic preterist exposition of prophecy was written by the Jesuit Luis de Alcasar during the Counter Reformation. Moses Stuart noted that Alcasar’s preterist interpretation was of considerable benefit to the Roman Catholic Church during its arguments with Protestants, and preterism has been described in modern eschatological commentary as a Catholic defense against the Protestant Historicist view which identified the Roman Catholic Church as a persecuting apostasy.

Due to resistance by Protestant Historicists, the preterist view was slow to gain acceptance outside the Roman Catholic Church.

Sermons

Adoption is the “fresh act of [God’s] royal favour. An immanent act of the divine will of, what was in God from eternity; hence the elect of God were predestinated to the adoption of children and all its blessings.” – John Gill

Ever wonder what “federal headship” means and don’t want to get too bogged down in theological jargon? Brother Ron Wood has a sermon to get you going on the subject. Download it here.

Last Lord’s Day I attended a local Presbyterian church. The sermon was on the subject of adoption I wanted to recommend it here. Download the sermon on Galatians 3:21-4:7 dated May 24th, 2015.

Is “Calvinism” Biblical? (pt 12)

WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT REPROBATION:

Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 defines reprobation thusly;

REPROBA”TION, n.  [L. reprobatio.]

1.  The act of disallowing with detestation, or of expressing extreme dislike.

2.  The act of abandoning or state of being abandoned to eternal destruction.

When a sinner is so hardened as to feel no remorse or misgiving of conscience, it is considered as a sign of reprobation.

3.  A condemnatory sentence; rejection.

Set a brand of reprobation on clipped poetry and false coin.

Biblically speaking, reprobation should be understood as the justice of God toward the wicked, keeping in mind that all we are ever owed is justice. Salvation is a free gift to the undeserving sinner. The only acceptance we have with God is in Christ Jesus. Outside of Christ there is no salvation, no offering for our sin and no mediator between God and mankind. Those who God shows mercy to will be saved from their just penalty. 

God’s determination to destroy the wicked.

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. (Gen 6:5-7)

God’s justice toward wicked sinners due to their sin.

For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it. (Gen 19:13)

God raised up Pharaoh with the purpose of destroying him, God showing His power over the wicked, so that it would be “declared throughout all the earth.”

And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. (Exo 9:16)

Without Christ the continued wickedness of sinners sparks God’s righteous anger toward them.

Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? (Deu 31:17)

God only forgives those who belong to Him through Jesus Christ our covenant head. Eli’s house was not to be forgiven even if they followed the Law.

And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever. (1Sa 3:14)

Those in Christ, the “Lamb slain before the foundation of world,” are not viewed as wicked sinners. Their sins have been forgiven because of Jesus Christ who is our surety. Surety means our “security or safety.” (Websters 1828)

God is angry with the reprobate.

God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. (Psa 7:11)

Pharaoh was created with a purpose to “to show my power” that it would be declared all over the world. We see the “wicked” were “made” for the “day of evil.”

The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. (Pro 16:4)

The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. (Psa 11:5)

God owes us nothing. That is the foundation of Gospel grace. The best we can expect is justice and for those who the “Son chooses to reveal himself” will received grace because of Jesus Christ. Those who remain in the flesh will be “destroyed.”

Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up. (Psa 28:5)

We often forget how the Gospel, not only saves, but hardens the hearts of reprobate sinners. This is the case in Isaiah 6 where the Prophet is sent to “make the heart of this people fat” to condemn them “lest they see with their eyes, and hear” and be “converted and be healed.” Isaiah is preaching to them for their continued reprobation.

And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, (Isa 6:9-11)

The Lord lead Egypt astray. This is divine reprobation.

The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit. (Isa 19)

Those Lord actively set out to close the eye of those He rejected. The “Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes.”

Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. (Isa 29:9-12)

The Lord our God does in fact reject people for salvation.

Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them. (Jer 6:30)

The Prophet gives instructions not to pray for the reprobation. This supports my interpretation of 1 Tim 2 offered in a previous post and exposes the Arminian free will understanding. We are not to pray for “all men everywhere” as if God is hoping to save them, no, we are to pray for all kinds of people including those in authority

Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee. (Jer 7:16)

Christ approves of the ministry of Isaiah and continues in the same vain, preaching the Gospel to call the elect while also reprobating and hardening the hearts of the rest of humanity.

And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. (Mat 13:14-15)

Not everyone who hears the Gospel is given the ability to understanding it. The result is a further hardening of the sinner against God.

And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. (Luk 8:10)

The reprobate will not understand the Gospel only Christ’s sheep will believe.

But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. (Joh 10:26)

God is described in the Old and New Testaments as the divine potter who does what He likes with His creation. The Bible teaches that God created “vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” That is divine reprobation.

Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: (Rom 9:21-22)

The elect will obtain salvation in Christ by the power and work of the Holy Spirit. The rest will be “blinded.” Literally this means the “rest” were literally hardened against God.

What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (Rom 11:7)

The biblical text teaches that God will “send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” Believing this lie was to make sure they were “damned.” This echoes the events that took place in Isaiah 19 where God lead Egypt astray.

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2Th 2:11-12)

 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jud 1:4) 

Divine reprobation is biblical doctrine, albeit, a difficult one. All doctrine should humble us and make us look to Jesus Christ alone for salvation bringing to light our helplessness and hopelessness without Him.

Yours it the Lord,

jm

Is “Calvinism” Biblical? (pt 4)

WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT ELECTION, IT’S NOT BASED ON FORESEEN RESPONSES:

And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. (Ma 13:20)

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (Jo 15:16)

And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)

The following video was created a few years ago to help explain Acts 13.

A very powerful example of how God choses can be found in Romans 9.

Notice;

1) it is before “having done any good or evil”

2) it is based on the purpose of God and not the create

3) not based on what we do but God who calls us

4) that Jacob was loved and Esau hated

The Arminian or free will tradition tries to avoid the plain interpretation by claiming “loved” mentioned in point 4 means “loved less” but the point still stands and that is, Jacob was loved more and elect, Esau was not. Jacob’s election was based on God’s love. Another free will argument to avoid this conclusion is to claim Jacob means the nation of Israel while Esau represents the gentile nation. The logic if faulty. Without conceding any ground, nations are made up of individuals so we are back to the main point, one was elect the other not.

(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. (Ro 9)

The elect get it…those who are not were blinded.

What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (Ro 11:7)

Being a chosen nation or elect is based on God’s will and not ours.

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. (Ro 9:16)

If you are not a Christian it should be clear by now that I am not up to the task of changing your mind, I can’t change that which is flesh into that which is spiritual, all I can do is tell you what the Bible teaches and trust in Jesus Christ alone to accomplish His will. The Christian on the other hand must consider the copious amounts of scripture I provided, take time to reflect, pray about it and decide for or against the Doctrines of Grace. By God’s grace through Jesus Christ alone, I pray, I am one of those foolish things, used for His good purpose.

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; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. (1 Cor 1:27-29)

Belief in Christ is given to us and not something we generate within ourselves.

For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; (Phi 1:29)

The inclinations of our hearts after we are born again are God’s will working in us for His pleasure.

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Phi 2:12-13)

God is eternal. His choice in election is eternal, not based in time for God is not subject to time, or limited by anything. The eternality of God disallows the notion or prevents us from entertaining any ideas about God having a succession of thoughts since He is not affected by time itself.

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Eph 1:4)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10)

The following verse has been misused by Arminian free will traditionalists to teach that in the preaching of the word brings prevenient grace or preparing grace. It is true that we see the Holy Spirit working through the preaching of the word and sacraments, however, any ideas of prevenient grace cannot be entertained. I hope to address the idea in post at a latter date. Setting aside the Arminian notion of prevenient grace, look at the text, notice the beginning of the verse where we see it is address to “brethren” who were “elect.” The power of the Holy Spirit were given to the elect through the preaching of the word. As I have demonstrated from scripture, election is God’s choice to save and not ours. The power in the preaching of the word comes to the elect alone, those whom the Son choices to reveal Himself.

Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. (1 The 1:4-5)

God’s choice, not ours…from the beginning.

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 The 2:13-14)

We are called according to “his own purpose and grace” not because of something foreseen in us.

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (2 Tim 1:9)

Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (Jam 2:5)

Because God is not subject to time “the Lamb” was said to be “slain from the foundation of the world” meaning that in God’s mind there are no sequences of time. He knows all because He creates all and is not subject to it.

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev 13:8)

Yours in the Lord,

jm

Orthodoxy and Baptism

baptismA few years back I found an interesting audio posted on a podcast called Orthodixie. The audio is a highlight reel where an Eastern Orthodox Priest plays apart of his discussion on the Scriptures and Tradition while offering commentary in between clips. It’s not a debate but a guy asking questions of the Priest stumps him pretty good. Some of the dialogue was a little choppy but I did my best to transcribe it accurately. At times it may seem as if the sentence structures are off but I’m tried to transcribe the words from the audio exactly how it was spoken. Listen to the full audio here.

Background: The Priests name is Joseph Huneycutt and the topic was about Scripture and Tradition. To give you an idea of how it went down a bunch of people arrived to the discussion with their Bibles prepared to ask questions. The Priest seems kind, generally warmhearted but clueless as to how to answer the questions asked by the audience member though the discussion was about Scripture and Tradition the Priest didn’t bring a Bible and seemed unprepared to answer questions about the Bible. The Priest admits he made a bunch of mistakes and I commend him for his honesty and his willingness to expect it with humility. Fr. Joseph Huneycutt was a former Southern Baptist who relates how he fell in love with God and was exposed to the Bible daily, mentioning how in North Carolina where is from, they even take their Bibles camping with them. He moved from Southern Baptist to Episcopalian, eventually leaving the Episcopal church in search of “truth.” I like how Huneycutt believes the churches teachings should never change to suit the sinner, rather, the sinner must change. I’m assuming this is why he ended up becoming apart of the Eastern Orthodox church, the “Ark of Salvation” as he calls it. Someone from the audience mentions 1 Cor. 11.14 which reads, “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” and asked about the baptism of infants. Huneycutt mentions the common Baptist idea of confessors baptism, makes the claim that the person asking the question doesn’t understand baptism and admits he doesn’t understand baptism either. Since we give our children good things, baptism being good, we give it to our children. Somehow they receive Christ in baptism. It’s a mystery. They become full members in the EOC and can take part in communion. Huneycutt mentions household baptisms but quickly abandons the Bible for tradition. “Holy Tradition, I’d like to say, is basicly the Holy Spirit plus time. That’s what Tradition is. Our Lord said he would send us the Paraclete, the Comforter, who would lead us into all truth. So the Holy Spirit plus time is my poor definition of Tradition and what Holy Tradition is.” My own thoughts on that: He doesn’t understand baptism. It’s not just his problem but a problem within Eastern Orthodoxy itself, the EOC retreats to mystery far too often, and in so doing lack the ability to defend their position. The EO also assume that since they don’t understand the “mystery of baptism” no one else can. If that isn’t arrogance I don’t know what is. His definition of tradition is useful. He picks back up with 1. Cor. 11.14 “What do I make of that verse? I believe in the church. The church in various times has said hair, beard, set you apart, people know that you’re a clergyman. I’m not going to convince you” The guy in the audience tells him, “So this is just another example than of where your tradition is different from the scriptures.”

Huneycutt: “Where our Tradition is different than the scripture…(slight hesitation) We take the scripture as a whole, we don’t pull verses out, we don’t pull verses out and build our church around it. The church gives us the scriptures, and the same church that gives us the scriptures had a bunch of hairy men that voted which books went into the canon of scripture.”

My own thoughts: The questioner did seem to pull the verse out of context and used it incorrectly. Huneycutt explains in his commentary portion of the audio that Paul was speaking to elaborately adorned hair. I think that makes sense. What is more important is how he answered, not the question itself, but that the EOC doesn’t feel it is bound to scripture in any sense. The scriptures find their authority in the government of the EOC and not the other way around. They are bound by nothing but their Traditions…whatever they may be. cropped-baptism.jpg

Questioner: “Yes sir, thank you for the opportunity to ask you a question. I would like to revisit the subject of infant baptism. It just seems to me that the statement about households being baptized Acts 16 and other places like that, you’re assuming what is to be proven. You’re assuming infants in those households when you would not find that in scripture. When Jesus taught the disciplines to go forth He taught them to teach and baptize. You teach people (a big disgruntled breath, maybe a yawn into the mic, I’m assuming it’s the Priest lol) then you baptize the people you’re teaching. Jesus also said in Mark 16.16 ‘he who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” In Acts the 8th chapter v. 35 a man confessed Christ and was baptized. In Acts 2.38 the Apostle Peter said “repent and be baptized.” Repentance involves a forsaking of sin, first of all there is no proof that the infant has any sin and if he does how can he forsake it. My point is, how can all of these things; teaching, belief, repentance, confession of Christ all precede baptism in the Bible examples. Now I know you can find things outside the Bible but, is the Bible going to be our standard or not, and I think what you’re doing is ‘saying we’ll set aside the Bible standard and tradition will be our standard’ if that’s not what you’ve taught tonight than I’ve misunderstood and I’m ready to hear clarification.”

Huneycutt jumps right in: “As I’ve said tonight at the beginning, I don’t know if you were here, I’m not a Bible scholar. I’m just a sinner. But I will say this, what I just said was that for 500 years before, these were universally accepted by the church, the church was baptizing infants. From the very beginning and those same people baptizing infants saw no problem with the codifying the scriptures that you are quoting from.”

Questioner: “Sir, this is the beginning right here in the book of Acts, this is the beginning of the church and there’s no infant baptism. You know that and so do I. And my question is…

Huneycutt cuts him off: “No I don’t, no, no, no, please.” (Laughter from the audience.)

Questioner: “Ok, I’m sorry.”

Huneycutt: “I don’t know what you know what I know. Ok. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything I’m saying the same church that gave you that Bible was baptizing infants and you say ‘well I don’t find it written here.’ St. Basil the Great said, ‘Just because you don’t find it in the Bible doesn’t mean that it isn’t an equal part of our Tradition.'”

Questioner: “Well I would agree that it may be apart of the tradition because it’s not found in the Bible, (Huneycutt chuckles into the mic) but my point is that in the book of Acts, which was authoritative long before there was any council, this was written by Luke by 63 / 64ad at the latest. This is early (can’t make it out, Huneycutt jumps in with)

Huneycutt: “How did they get it? Did they download it? Who all had it?”

Questioner: “It was written by Luke…” (cut off again)

Huneycutt: “I know Luke had it how did he get it disseminated?”

Questioner: “In the book of Colossians chapter 4 the Apostle Paul told the church of Colossi to disseminate his letters among the other churches…” (cut off again)

Huneycutt: “How did Luke get his Gospel out to people?”

Questioner: “Well Luke wrote it and then it was copied, and copies were distributed throughout the churches.”

Huneycutt: “Ok.”

Questioner: “I think, I think you and I would agree on that.”

Huneycutt: “Ok.”

Questioner: “But my point is this, that the book of Acts is early church practice, and maybe you were unaware and I’m sorry for putting words in your mouth, but, when I read the book of Acts I can find no indication of infant baptism. I find that people before they were baptized were taught, they believed, they repented of their sins and confessed Christ. None of which infants can do and why do we then have tradition that runs contrary to those things we find in the book of Acts [that] preceded baptism”

Huneycutt: “I think the way I read, just to go back to your earlier point, we’re commanded, the Apostles are commanded, to go and make disciples of all nations. And my children were all baptized, and believe me they have been disciplined in a Christian home from the beginning. We teach by our living example, you know there’s nothing stirring within me that says, ‘you know he might be right’ because I believe the church is the authority…the same church that gave us the scripture, the same church that’s been baptizing, at least the way the church believes, from the beginning.” (Questioner cuts in)

Questioner: “But sir, this, the book of Acts wasn’t given by the church it was given by the Holy Spirit through Luke. And, and I know you believe that, I believe that, it didn’t take a church 400 years latter to make it authoritative, this was authoritative from the time it was written. That’s, that’s the nature of inspiration and the writings of the Holy Spirit.” The audio is interrupted by Huneycutt’s commentary on the back and forth. He states, “…I knew this was not going anywhere. In fact arguing, verse by verse, with someone not (emphasis added to not) of the Orthodox faith, is usually fruitless.” Audio picks back up.

Honeycutt: “Well then we’ll just have to disagree. I’m not trying to make a convert of you, and you (emphasis on you) will not make one of me.”

Questioner: “Well I’d like to.” (laughter from the audience)

Honeycutt: “I know you would.” A quick commentary by the Priest. When the audio picks back up he is relating his own journey toward the EOC. Another break for a quick comment from Honeycutt and then…

Questioner: “‘For laying aside the commandment of God you hold the tradition of men. As the washing of pots and cups and many other such things you do and he said to them full well you reject the commandment of God that you may keep your own tradition making the word of God of none effect through your tradition.’ So in those cases where your tradition differs Jesus condemned people in the past.”

Huneycutt: “I don’t think that taking one verse out and comparing it to the witness of 2,000 years of the church, it doesn’t enter my mind to do that. I can understand it, but we just don’t do that in Orthodoxy. Ah, Jesus did not condemn the Pharisees merely for having traditions he rejected the false traditions that the Pharisees practiced. And condemned them for making the observance of certain legitimate traditions more important than following the teachings of God’s word. The Pharisees were obsessed with observing external observances and meticulous detail, while at the same time negating God’s commandments. Jesus taught his disciples to keep legitimate traditions but to avoid being hypocritical as the Pharisees were. This is exactly the position of the Orthodox church. The Orthodox church rejects traditions that are at variance with the scripture, the way we understand it (placed emphasis on ‘the way we understand it’), and practices only those which are proper expressions of the Christian faith. The Orthodox faithful are warned in the services of the church not to fall into same errors as the Pharisees did.” The last few minutes were spent with the Priest claiming he wasn’t trying to convert anyone or make any religious arguments. The Questioner is confused because he thought the Priest was a religious teacher and the audience was instructed to ask challenging questions of he speaking. I get the impression Honeycutt was in over his head and tried to get out of further discussion with the

Questioner: “That’s just my opinion have a listen for yourself.”

Yours in the Lord,

jm