This was an open hangout. Several Christians joined in to discuss various aspects of apologetics and theology.
“In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is itself a question: “What are you asking God to do?” To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does” 1
Why would a loving God who loves by nature send anyone to Hell? If everyone will not be saved, then Christ died in vain and there was no victory at the Cross. Surely it is a failure if an all-powerful God cannot save all. God is a gracious and merciful God, therefore, He will save everybody. It would be unjust if God condemned some to eternal damnation. How could we saints in Heaven celebrate if someone we knew and loved was being tortured forever and ever? I cannot serve a God like that.
These objections have become a norm in today’s culture where contemporary thinking has tainted Orthodoxy, challenging God’s authority with man’s opinions. Truth can be difficult to swallow, even by committed followers of Christ. When confronted with the doctrine of eternal damnation, C.S. Lewis said, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power.” 2 Likewise John Frame states, “If I were free to invent my own religion, I can assure you that the eternal punishment would not be a part of it” 3 Eternal damnation causes even the devoted to shutter. However, shuttering and remaining faithful to the truth is one thing; modifying the truth so as to cause us less trembling is another.
What is Calvinism? Calvinism is the term that has taken on the meaning that God is sovereign in salvation. Sometimes it is referred to as Reformed Theology, the Doctrines of Grace, Augustinianism, Wyclifism, Pauline Theology, etc. Throughout the history of the Christian Church one form or another of these doctrines have been taught. There have been slight nuances between the different perspectives but the primary tenets of the doctrines have been consistent. Calvinism is named after the Geneva, Switzerland Reformer John Calvin (1509-1564). This is unfortunate as those who have read Calvin know that were he alive today he would be appose to having these doctrines named after him. He was much too humble of a man to have accepted such an honor. Most of those that impugn the character of Calvin have not read any of what he has written.
Greek: ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος
Transliteration: En arche en ho logos, kai ho logos en pros ton theon, kai theos en ho logos
Literal Translation: In beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and God was the Word
Translation: John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ESV
John 1:1 is a much attacked verse in Scripture by those that deny the deity of Christ. This can be well understood as this text clearly does proclaim the eternality and deity of the Word. The contended text is the phrase at the end of the verse “and the Word was God” (καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος, kia theos en ho logos). This is literally translated “and God was the Word”. The word “theos” in this phrase is anarthrous, meaning it has no definite article, because it is anarthrous the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim they are justified in translating this text as “and the Word was a god”.
Is faith a gift from God or is it something that comes from the heart of man? This is a question that I want to examine and answer from two different perspectives. The first perspective will be from the character and nature of God himself and his relation to his creatures and secondly we will examine the question from the direct testimony of Scripture.
The first thing we want to examine and establish is the holiness and absolute perfection of God. The Biblical usage of the word “holy” means to be sacred or set apart. God is “set apart” from His creation. He transcends and is outside of His creation. He is not corrupted by or a part of His creation. He is perfect and does not change for He is outside of time and space (Creation). He is immutable (unchanging) in His perfection. Time is the measure of change in a system. We as creatures exist in time and therefore we change. What is interesting is that the Bible commands us to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16) and commands us to be perfect as He is perfect (Matt 5:48).
Beggar or King? The modern church or Scripture? The modern church concludes Jesus is a beggar and Scripture concludes He is the Sovereign King.
The modern church asks the world, “what will you do with Jesus?” “Look and see what Jesus can do for you.” “Jesus just wants you to believe in Him.” “Jesus wants to make your life a success.” “Jesus just wants to love you.” “Jesus desires and wants to have a relationship with you.” “Jesus is waiting for you.” “Jesus wants to be all things for you if you will just let him.” “Accept Jesus into your heart.” “Jesus can’t do anything for you if you don’t allow him.” “Jesus just needs you to love Him.”
Colossians chapter 1 is a beautifully written text of Scripture that clearly demonstrates Jesus Christ as God and the Creator of all things. It is however one of the most attacked texts next to John 1 and Philippians 2 by Arian type cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Colossians 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. ESV
Let’s take a moment to break down this passage and see what Paul is trying to teach in this passage.
If it needs to be said let Charles Spurgeon say it. Spurgeon lays out the problem with those that claim revelation from the Spirit of God.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, honor the Spirit of God as you would honor Jesus Christ if He were present! If Jesus Christ not there! Do not ignore the Presence of the Holy Spirit in your soul! I beseech you, do not live as if you had not heard whether there were a Holy Spirit. To Him pay your constant adorations. Reverence the august Guest who has been pleased to make your body His sacred abode. Love Him, obey Him, worship Him! Take care never to impute the vain imaginings of your fancy to Him. I have seen the Spirit of God shamefully dishonored by persons—I hope they were insane—who have said that they have had this and that revealed to them. There has not, for some years, passed over my head a single week in which I have not been pestered with the revelations of hypocrites or maniacs. Semi-lunatics are very fond of coming with messages from the Lord to me and it may save them some trouble if I tell them once and for all that I will have none of their stupid messages. When my Lord and Master has any message to me He knows where I am and He will send it to me direct, and not by mad-caps! Never dream that events are revealed to you by Heaven, or you may come to be like those idiots who dare impute their blatant follies to the Holy Spirit. If you feel your tongue itch to talk nonsense, trace it to the devil, not to the Spirit of God! Whatever is to be revealed by the Spirit to any of us is in the Word of God already—He adds nothing to the Bible, and never will. Let persons who have revelations of this, that, and the other, go to bed and wake up in their senses. I only wish they would follow the advice and no longer insult the Holy Spirit by laying their nonsense at His door.
The modern evangelical church is plagued with a man-centered Gospel. There is no absolute truth and tolerance rules the day. They are absolutely certain there is no absolute truth and they will not tolerate the intolerant. Scripture has been reduced to “what does that verse mean for you”? They have replaced the work of the Holy Spirit with music shows and self help sermons. The Gospel has been watered down to “look what Jesus can do for you” instead of the Biblical declaration “what will Jesus do with you”. The former is more appealing to the unregenerate heart. The unregenerate heart will not entertain the idea that Christ is sovereign over them so the modern Gospel cannot preach God’s Sovereignty. They preach half truths to convince people to come to the Truth denying that Salvation is a work of God alone. The Biblical Gospel is to preach the whole Truth and the Spirit of God does the regeneration.