Friday, November 28, 2008

OSU Beavers!

Okay, normally sports don't inspire blog posts, but my alum is going to host the civil war against the evil ducks!!

The special chant from the student section for Oregon Ducks

I was there, during the 1998 civil war double overtime! I was out there with them when the crowd rushed the field because they thought it was won in the first overtime, and it took 15 minutes to get everyone off to finish the game. I was there when they rushed the second time, and everyone went down with jackknifes and tore up the football field turf for a souvenir. Where they climbed up on the field goal posts and started swinging on them so hard that they toppled over!

See the fans piled thick with players on the sidelines?

The fans kind of stumble slowly forward over the wall and onto the field. That's not because they aren't excited; no -- they've been standing in the rain and the cold for five hours and no nourishment after the sun has long been gone. The legs, the legs -- OH! Plus they just got practically beaten back by the game officials to clear the field after the first overtime.

I mean, we used to really stink. I remember going to games and we'd never win, and I'd hear the stories of how we haven't won so much for decades.

A couple of guy friends and I stumbled out there and carved their piece of turf, heavy, wet and muddy, then we all hauled it like a dead carcass several blocks off-campus where it was divvied up and hung as a mantle over the doorway.

It was a cathartic shedding. The fans knew it was the last game to be played on the stadium's turf, ever. They were going to tear it up after that and replace it with astroturf. That was the game that ended our losing streak. Ten years later, we're Rose Bowl hopefuls! (And yes, I know what that means, it's the best place to go to win a special extra-game at the end of the season.)

I think even the mascots had a little too long unscripted time before the game, they got in a fist fight too.... :O That was rather interesting....

It wouldn't be much of a stretch to say No. 17 Oregon State is preparing for the biggest game in school history as No. 18 Oregon visits Corvallis for the "Civil War." A win would send the Beavers to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1964 season. But they'll get plenty of resistance from the Ducks, who want to enhance their position in the Pac-10 pecking order.

-USA Today

OSU Oregon State fight fight fight!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A New Theme: the water's edge

Walk along an Oregon beach and you will find the sand is common when looked at closely. It is the eroded basalts (quite plain and dark grey rock) that have come from recent eruptions of the Cascade Mountain range. Here and there in the grains you can find the shimmering quarts, feldspars, and micas.

But so long as the sand is dry, it cannot reflect anything more than itself. That glimmer is its own chemical composition. It can provide no other visual to the one walking along the way. That is, unless it is wet. When water and sand mix, a force called "capillary action" binds water to the sand. The water fills the spaces in-between the irregular grains of rock.

I took this picture of the ocean. Behold the wet sand providing an unexpected visual -- a reflection of that which is gazing down upon it.... The clouds in all their majesty are held like a mirror in the rock & water mixture.

The church is like the sand, which has come to rest by the water's edge. By ourselves, we can only reflect our own composition. The occasional glitter can say no greater word than what it is. But through the continual washing through faith, our capillary spaces overflow with the Spirit of God and we reflect His glory; transformed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What manner of love is this?

There is a mix of emotions in me. I don't know what is wrong with me? I'm upset. But, even now I can't help but also rise up to encourage in sanctification, those who are the least like myself.

Somebody somewhere prayed that even by his passing, Zane Hodges would glorify Jesus Christ. Is His answer to that prayer dwelling in me?

ALL praise and glory to our Savior!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thank you for my brothers and sisters, LORD

Thanksgiving is coming, quickly. As a rule when it comes time for the holidays, it is a strain for me. As of right now I don't know who will end up in my home. The family on my side is small and broken and dysfunctional. Chances are good that something will go awry.

I know what it feels like to be forsaken. There was a time in my life when I lived in my car. I have many stories that are worse, but my preference is to refrain on most occasions from "naming names" out of respect for those who are still with me.

I bought two doses of the meal and I am eager to cook it. Last year I had the same dilemma, though in the end I opened my home to a family from my church. I'm experiencing how the church is my family in a way the human family will never be. I feel a great deal of joy and love, with them, which is the fruit of the Spirit. Sure, they weren't there from my birth, on. But, I know that we are going to heaven to spend eternity with the LORD. What's more, we relate in a way no one else from this world understands. It is sweeter and better I believe, even if there was no dysfunction in my own human relations. I marvel at the natural closeness and unity in the soul the church experiences within itself.

Though I could feel loss, I really am pleased... to see the church replace my family on an important holiday.

'Home for Thanksgiving' by Norman Rockwell

Today I feel a deep sadness over the passing of Professor Zane Hodges. He has gone "home" to God. I am affected, too much so to want to talk as usual about the gospel or about a recent passion for understanding fundamentalism. I feel that impulse from my unregenerate man, to dismiss the ones who have dismissed a fellow saint. But, I won't, because Christ is here, with us, the church. I cry tears, receiving this heart for the one of 100, all over again. There is no abandonment, any longer, though I might need to seek with devotion to find and restore.... He is with us; it is unmovable. You and I, the church, have become the family that will last forever. This family has replaced the natural one. There is no escaping it. We will share the LORD's table, "Thanksgiving," declaring in synch, thanks for grace which made us meet.

The passion remains, given by the kindness of Christ, for standing near the one who has been forsaken. I am more resolute upon this sad occasion, than ever. I will not stand by and watch my own brother, my flesh and blood in Christ, be dismissed. No matter which brother that might happen to be.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Naming Names

Below are two quotes for your consideration. Both come out of the Sharper Iron Forum, in a thread titled, "John Piper, Mark Driscoll and Harsh Language."

This first quote was written by a moderator known as Larry:

I think if we teach people the Bible, they won't need to read these things on fundamentalist blogs. They will know what the Scriptures teach. The problem with naming names is that if we don't name them, people won't know to separate from them. The good thing about teaching Scripture is that people will have the tools to know how to discern what they should listen to and what they should not. So, I have no problem naming names. I think we should name names that people would know and recognize, and I think we should spend more time talking about Scripture.

Too many people are too prone to depend on lists, just like they have done for too long. If something is on the list, we know what to think about it. But we don't know what to think about stuff that's not on the list. That leads to the old "If the Bible doesn't explicitly say it, I can do it (or I don't have to do it)," which is a farce. And it leads to people with little to no spiritual discernment about how to apply the Scripture. I don't think that is a wise way to train a new generation of fundamentalists.
(comment #45)

How about this one, made by Kevin Miller:

The only exposure I have had to Driscoll has been in this thread started by Lou, and the only way for me to now know whether Lou tells the full story about Driscoll is to listen to Driscoll myself. So Lou is really the one leading me to Driscoll here. I really am tempted to find out for myself whether the stuff told by Lou and the people Lou quotes is accurate, otherwise any wornings I might pass along about Driscoll would be second hand information.

Also, if we warn people about Piper because he has Driscoll speak and might lead us to Driscoll, do we also have to warn everyone about the people who have had Piper speak? Then do we also have to warn about those who offer speaking engagements to those who pastor at churches where Piper has previously spoken?
(comment #46)

These are questions whose answers affect us all.

Would you ever use a name or a list, to help protect someone from error?

Have you ever done so before in your ministries?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fundamentalist vs. Fundamentalist

Is it possible that some fundamentalists cause other fundamentalists to abandon their post?

I'm no expert, but, I have always learned a lot just by observation. I listen, and watch, and see pieces at play. I want to know what it is like to think like a fundamentalist, and that takes a bit of work, but it is very interesting to me, and I want to put the knowledge I might possibly gain, to good use.

If you have read Lou Martuneac's blog in the last week, you are familiar that he has started a conversation with other fundamentalists at the Sharper Iron Forums. He began a thread at the SI Forum on the sub-par (perhaps sinful) language choices of writer/teacher Mark Driscoll, titled, "John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and Harsh Language." I provide, below, links to highlights from this thread that taught me a few things about how fundamentalists see themselves in community with one another....

Here is an account of the thread's evolution.

The thread was started by Lou, where among other things he lays a choice before his readers to choose which is more important: "cultural relevance" suggested as worthy of discussion by Kevin (in comment #6), or, is it more important to guard the flock? Lou (#12) supports his stance concluding that it is more important to protect Christians (from, in this case, sub-par language from the culture), by this [1] pivotal quote:

By failing to faithfully address sin and by continuing to extend invitations to an unrepentant sinner who professes Christ yet continues in unbroken patterns of unrepentant sin and rebellion against God’s Holy Word, John Piper is guilty of enabling sin....

Following that is a reply, by Pastor Joe Roof, who says (#13) essentially, "Yeah, but, we have problems with this sin, ourselves."

Lou interprets this (#15) as an attempt to sidestep the issue of Driscoll's sin, writing back to Joe:

You seem to ignore issues like this one with Driscoll and instead lash out at Fundamentalists fairly consistently of late; why is that?

As an aside, I have two questions about Lou's reaction:
1 -- Why does Lou ask this question?
2 -- What is the answer to his question?
Draw your own conclusions, but this I believe is representative of the communication gap between the two sides.

Next: Greg Linscott takes the thread to a new place by accosting Lou himself for his behavior as a fundamentalist (#19):

At this rate though, Lou, I probably will begin to think twice before continuing to interact with you on much of anything. While we would share concerns on many issues, your demeanor (or at least what's being evidenced online) is helping me to conclude my energies are probably better spent dealing with others than yourself.

This is the first, in a long line of comments made upon the manner and substance in which Lou's defenses of truth are being made. In his replying comment Lou asks for criticism of his self, and asks if he has earned a reputation to be avoided on behalf of his handling of the so-called "crossless gospel" debates? (#20) Many people now join in the conversation, prompted by Lou's request to be informed on where he might have gone wrong.

Here is a list of the sequential criticisms of Lou's (and those who side with him in the thread) manner and substance.

-- Bob Nutzhorn says, "Too many in fundamentalism give a pass to those in fundamentalism who are doing wrong while attacking Evangelicals for their wrong. Consistency." (#21)

-- Ellis Murphree says, "And by your own admitting, many of your 'facts' have been second-hand information - which is irresponsible and uncharitable." (#26) (This is an important clue because of the fundamentalist tendency to avoid people so as to avoid sin....)

-- Joe Griffin makes a point about responsibility of all to discern a message when he says, "You want me and others to defend a position which we (I think) do not hold. ... But maybe if you put a picture of him beside President-Elect Obama I will change my mind." (#29) (This was a more abrupt reply amongst those of the thread.)

-- N. Jones admits that the fundamentalist's approach originates its own trouble: "Lou often mentions the problematic issues with men like Driscoll, inducing some to feel they must defend him/them." (#33)

-- Larry makes a cutting criticism saying that pointing out Driscoll's unrepentant sins is not worthwhile "because [Driscoll] doesn't have a great affect on the people to whom we minister" at any rate. (#34) (This was another abrupt reply of the thread.)

-- John Brown points out that "Rather, Lou's propensity to declare it here and elsewhere multiple times does seem emblematic of what I and some of the others here are seemingly trying to enunciate; that Lou is outwardly taking on the job of having to be the voice of the Holy this case having to protect others here from me. " (#50)

-- Joseph says, "This whole thread is close to sickening: Fundamentalism true to its stereotypes. ... I'm probably going to remove my membership from SI." (#66)

-- Susan R. justifies her freedom to speak in a way comparable to Driscoll, having grown up on a farm. (#68) (While she admits that context is important, she fails to realize altogether that context is Lou's chief concern.)

Then, the comments get a teensy bit ridiculous:

-- Joe Griffin says, "I would argue that because I have heard Driscoll give a vigorous defense of the Gospel, he equals the apostle Paul. Please view the 'spot on' pictoral below." (#49) (This is significant because it illustrates the emotional/mental offense made by fundamentalism.)


And so on.

At this time, let us take a view of the evolution of Lou's comments to other posters and criticisms of Driscoll.

Lou goes on from Pastor Joe Roof's so called "side step of the issue" when Joe asserted that sins of language occur within their own group too.

-- Lou reasserts alarm over Driscoll's sins by attesting that at least within the fundamentalist's own group, sin is systematically identified and dealt with, saying, "I recall only one 'off-color' remark, not even close to the profane irreverent speech that comes from Driscoll, and that man was rebuked and never invited back." (#15)

-- Christian Markle defends the point Lou makes by drawing them back, saying "I have personally participated in what felt like a lone and lengthy debate on this site regarding gracious speech with a staunch fundamentalist brother. ... Lets stop playing games and call sin sin. Some sin is deplorable and must not be supported or ignored." (#17)

-- Bob Nutzhorn puts himself in agreement that pointing out Driscoll's sins has nothing to do with affiliations as a fundamentalist or non-fundamentalist, and should never be thus jaded. (#23)

-- Lou confirms that of course "I was not aware that we ever stopped looking at our own," in "biblically policing." (#24)

-- N. Jones makes an excellent comment, saying in summary "it is important to protect the freedom to speak of clear deviations without being labeled an 'attacker'." (#33)

-- N. Jones, again, replies to Larry in firm disagreement, saying "God's Word clearly commands us to not allow 'corrupt communication' to proceed out of our mouths." (#37)

-- Lou repeatedly asks those who only will discuss the problems with fundamentalism, to come face-to-face with Driscoll's word choices. He does so repeatedly, asking "So, since you find no wrong in it, I am asking you to transcribe here, without any editing, exactly what he said in the lecture." (#41, #65 and more) (No one does make such a transcription of those items in their posts, till the end of the conversation, and only one person does it.)

-- Lou takes the situation a step farther by alleging, "They interpret legitimate criticism of man’s doctrine as a personal attack because of their personal appreciation and affinity for the man whose doctrine is under scrutiny." (#42) (He mistakenly assumes that charisma of men is the only reason why people forsake a fundamentalist stance.)

-- Lou confesses when he makes mistakes, at one time saying "I agree that Driscoll is 'not a big force in Fundamentalism.'" (#43)

-- Lou never gets distracted from his fidelity to his conscience upon the Word, saying, "go ahead, but I’ll NEVER join you in it. I'll have none of it!" (#48)

As the comments become ridiculous and disattached from the matter presented, Lou evolves to rely on scripture, more:

-- Lou says after quoting many scriptures, "The best response, the right response, the biblical response to his behavior (which he will not repent of), to help restore him, would be to rise as one and walk out of the auditorium 'withdraw' from him the moment he comes to the platform." (#56, #89)

-- Lou shares his testimony and heart for God in it, by saying "I felt that I must speak to him about it and prayed for God's help and blessing. After the chapel cleared I approached and spoke to that preacher. He was very receptive...." (#58)

-- Lou depicts the false notion that wrongs are dismissed if there are other things right, saying "I would have risen walked out on him, ... rather than to wink at his lewd, corrupt communication because he writes 'good' books." (#75)

This is an education, at least for me, in substance and manner of defending the truth.

Lou amazingly describes the irony, and I see it too (#18):

The irony is that Joe G, Joe R. and Greg have remarks right here and links to other objective reports for them to interact on and they refuse. Instead, they redirect away from the public record for broadbrush attacks on Fundamentalism. Odd coming from one who is moderating SI, a site for Fundamentalists.

Who is it that carries the "fundamentalist" mantle, which was outlined by the apostle John in his first epistle; 1 john 2:7?

Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.

[1] "Would the Real John Piper Please Stand Up?" by Coram Deo

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A smallish letter to Stegall

Kevin, over at his blog asked me in comment #45 of our discussion, where I take position at this time on the "redefined gospel" (also known as the "crossless gospel"). I give some explanation in the following comment there at his site but I continue with a couple of simple points, in this blog post. (I do desire to get back over there to the "redefined" folks at some point and follow through with some more discussion.)

Here is an article I wrote out of my notes following the October Free Grace National Conference. I share a bit of the context which brought about the writing of this short, basic introductory piece of discussion. My notes begin:

"Of course as soon as it was mingle time I was drawn to the Duluth Bible Church table. I talked with [name withheld], and we slowly eased into talking about the current controversy and as we were talking about Pastor Stegall's papers, he appeared, along with Dave Anderson and Pastor Rosker. We talked for about fifteen minutes till he had to break away for dinner. Later that evening Pastor Stegall came over after Dr. Bing's presentation to continue talking with me (at this point he had recognized me, he said).

I had the greatest time in the whole world, meeting and talking with Pastor Stegall and Pastor Rosker. They were so kind, and I could see the Holy Spirit in their countenance. I can tell he cares, about the Word and people equally. And he cares about what I believe as a crossless person.

He came over and we talked about some scriptures proving a fuller gospel message necessary which I had never seen before. We talked a lot and he wanted to understand why I believe in the crossless gospel. I shared my testimony and many other things, but somehow it still came to this: perhaps my experience has priority over the scriptures.

So I went upstairs and sat down and wrote a smallish letter so that he can read it tomorrow when I see him again. I just want him to understand stuff that I wasn't saying so well about law vs. grace, in person this evening."

Pastor Stegall,

I am so grateful to have discussed the scriptures yesterday. There's one thing on my mind. You and Pastor Rosker asked, 'Isn't experience dictating interpretation?' And I didn't say why, though, I said a mess of stuff. May I tell you so that you know my mind?

"For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God." rom 2:28-29

It actually says about obedience in the verses above it,

"Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?" rom 2:26

And, I understand "keeping the righteous requirements of the law" as meaning as you said too; "obey the gospel" means "have faith."

So here is how I built the interplay between the realm of faith and its preeminence over law. It is by this framework of understanding the sufficiency of faith in Jesus Christ that I was able to repel every false gospel (and as you already know now there were many in my life).

Would we, should we dare criticize the sufficiency of faith?

"...apart from law... to all and on all who believe." rom 3:21,22

"Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." rom 10:17

"God, who gives life to the dead and calls all things which do not exist as though they did... [Abraham] who contrary to hope, in hope believed... according to what was spoken...." rom 4:17,18

I hope you can 'hear' my testimony of salvation in these verses.

This is where I am at.

Whatever is given of the Word, a combination of essentials/non-essentials, more, or less, whenever someone is persuaded with hope that cannot come otherwise (faith): how is that at fault according to the nature of faith's preeminence over all other requirements?

Thank you so much!
Have a blessed day today!


Monday, November 17, 2008

A great article by Lou Martuneac

In one of Lou Martuneac's recent posts , Lou writes upon issues of fundamentalism. At the end of his post he linked to an article he wrote back in January of this year. I greatly esteem it: Your First Step Won't Be Your Last: Avoiding the Path to Compromise. Thank-you for writing this, Lou; it was quite useful for me to understand the mind and motivations behind the issues.

It is passionate and engaging. He shares a bit of some... upsetting and difficult times of providing for his family. This means a lot, to me, to see God at work in the lives of people who share their faith. He admits that he isn't perfect in his faith in God. I can't describe how much I respect him for his reliance on Him even when it became difficult. I can see now God's obvious choice to set apart his life for ministry in such a powerful manner as He has done. Lou has walked with God through the dark places, and the LORD is pleased with his obedience. I praise God for my brother in Christ!

He echos the lessons God has for me in recent months, and I am so encouraged by these comments (see my former two posts: "advocacy" and "made to be like them").

I am undertaking a blogging topic of trying to learn more about my fundamentalist free grace brothers and sisters. So, I attempt to distill some distinctives from the article.

I noticed fundamentalism's values, all of which are biblically sound:

1 -- It suggests that non-mainstream or even popular Christian groups have an element of appeal, and this is true. This is thought to be a high risk for ungodliness to come into the fundamentalist.

2 -- "Listening" to others often means more than just understanding. This word is used as if done with the interest to minimize necessary differences.

3 -- It suggests that people begin to take interest in fringe or fad groups when their own ministry seems dull or unproductive on the surface, and therefore, exposure to outside influences takes the form of a temptation, and the "loser" in these cases is one's doctrines of God. Excellent observation!

4 -- Fundamentalism owns the philosophy that standing on the truths of God ought in most cases, to make one unpopular and removed from the mainstream of Christianity.

5 -- Since truth is unpopular, the more fundamental truth one has, the more he becomes a tool of influence upon the mainstream. There is a special sensitivity that those people of influence do not consequently succumb to pride, since they have so much truth.

6 -- Fundamentalism's assumed natural lack of popularity allows for confidence regardless of opinion on one's performance.

These are all my starting points in trying to build a framework of understanding; I'd like to have some dialogue but I realize that might be difficult to come by. Either way, please read the above as a work-in-progress, but I hope you will take the journey of understanding along with me.

I loved the warnings Lou gives in the conclusion of his article. The tears shed in the view of how far the self can drift away from our first love, Jesus Christ, will come in shock and pain. To remind each other to remain true to God because He has shown His Self in the Word, indeed this is a precious service.

Praise God for the grace that keeps us and brings us to Him!

"Made to be Like Them"

In the last couple of days I've become a little under the weather again, but I am sure it is a result of stress.

This week I have been called upon to submit a letter of witness in a court proceeding, and, as I struggled to write it I took a view to where I was and where I am at this time.

As I recount the case of a friend of mine, I can't help but wonder and marvel. Most likely she and I wouldn't naturally had been friends because we're very different. I remember clearly that God called me and empowered me through a tremendous love from above, to get to know her more deeply than what was on the surface. And then, one day it happened: she began to divulge her circumstance, and as she went I had a sinking feeling, realizing that it was similar to mine.

I wanted to break loose from the painful circumstances, and so did she. But as she indeed took that path of surrender and disillusion with God, somehow, someway, I found myself not giving up completely. I even still found myself with good reason to stand up for the truth of the gospel and for her sometimes even though I had a heart filled with disillusion.

Why did the LORD let that go so far? Doesn't He know what could have happened to me? But, I suppose He was there all the while....

the proverbial 'fork in the road'

I stand back and look at the place where we diverged. Why? Why did God let those circumstances come into my life? Why into hers? It seemed like I could not have been any closer to falling off the edge, like her, and yet there I hung by a string. Then, God saved me. Now, He has made he His partner in His work in an unbelievably satisfying manner.

I am not any better than her. I just have an amazing God who wants to lead the way out, one child of God at a time.

Please pray for this friend of mine, that through our intimacy and the example of God's provision in me, she too may turn back and trust God.

Jesus modeled faith for our sake, and the Father resurrected Him to life.


Who among us the most effective advocate?

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
Heb 2:14-18

As I am being prepared to minister to another, I am not following this model of our LORD? Does God use us to lead others by first leading us out? Though always without sin, He became acquainted with their suffering (condition, limitation, bondage) as a firsthand and personal experience.

Jesus was "made to be like them."

“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Friday, November 14, 2008

A bit of FGA history

As some of you are aware I have been trying to figure out the history of the free grace movement. I know there are others who are also interested to understand it.

Today I heard from a reliable witness concerning the founding days of the Free Grace Alliance. He watched the evolution of the free grace movement from the days of the Grace Evangelical Society, and he attended the meeting in Texas when the Alliance was incorporated. This person shared with me that the Alliance was formed to be the implementation of the movement, out of the leadership and vision of the Grace Evangelical Society (GES). Another words, the GES had been the theological organization and the FGA was the strategical organization, of free grace theology. This person added that at that time, there was a small number of people at the GES who were upset that there was any new organization being made distinct from the GES, but otherwise said premise of the FGA was welcomed.

I found this to be quite helpful, and it fit appropriately with what I have heard elsewhere in the realm.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Protection from Error"

Can such a thing be achieved?

Here's a thread I'm proud of that Kev and I have been having at his blog. I hope you enjoy it and if you think something's been left out between the two, share!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lordship Apologetic

Well, I haven't been around a lot in various discussions lately because I've been working, on this.


The Sovereignty of Jesus Christ

Dear leaders,

Thank you for the opportunity to learn more about the LORD in this bible study. Every week I see so much work, planning, prayer, and thoughtfulness go into what is for my benefit. I feel very well loved and accepted, and I want to thank you for that. The LORD is at work in you and in our church.

This letter I write because I wish to know your mind and I am hoping that you will give me the true honor of your time to consider mine. I appreciate this bible study but through some details you might discover that I am somewhat concerned over the theological intention of this study. These are my own apologetics I have written through the years, but some of the following is new. Either new or old, it expresses the theology I have been given by scripture, apart from the teachings or confirmations of men of any church.

Page 4 of Lesson One: "The Sovereignty of God" Lesson, asks this question at the very top of the page:

"How do you see God's sovereignty over Jesus and, in turn, Jesus' submission to the Father's sovereign authority? See Matt 26:39&42, Lk 4:43 & 22:41, John 4:34, 5:30, 8:28 & 10:18, John 12:27, 49 & 15:15, Phil 2:8-9, Col. 1:18-19, 1 Thess 4:14, Heb 1:5, 9 & 10:7."

Was God "in control over everything," for Jesus?

This can only be true in one sense; which is that Jesus made the choice to let the Father rule over Him at every moment.

Let me please establish the deity of Jesus Christ? You and I both know that Jesus is God. But how much do we meditate on Jesus' perfect and saturated sovereignty in all of heaven and earth?

Every time we see or hear God (YHWH, or "Jehovah"), it is actually Jesus Christ we are hearing or seeing in the bible. Because Jesus is the image and the word of God (John 1 and Hebrews 1:3), and no one has ever seen or heard the Father, who is invisible (john 1 and john 5:37-39). They therefore would be surprised to learn that all Old Testament scriptures, being the words of ‘Jehovah’ Himself, was actually Jesus speaking and acting in connection with humankind:

"No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." john 1:18

"And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen His form." john 5:37

"You search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life." john 5:39-40

WHO IS YHWH? IT IS JESUS CHRIST. HE is the only God we've known in revelation (that is, if it were not for Jesus' own teachings of the Father God while on earth in the gospel narratives).

Permit me the privilege to use the Word of God to establish the sovereignty of Jesus Christ?

Premise: “Holy holy holy is the Lord God Almighty” was addressed to Jesus (both times) by prophecy, in books Revelation and Isaiah:

“I saw Adonay seated on a throne...” “...and they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy holy is YHWH Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’” Is 6:1,3

“Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.’" rev 4:8

My comment: The NT gospels declared the Isaiah 6 passage as specifically describing Jesus Christ:

John 12:37-41:

“Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:
   "Lord, who has believed our message
      and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"
For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
  ‘He has blinded their eyes
      and deadened their hearts,
   so they can neither see with their eyes,
      nor understand with their hearts,
      nor turn—and I would heal them.’
Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him.”

and to reference, Isaiah 6:1-10:

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw Adonay seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
       ‘Holy, holy, holy is YHWH Almighty;
       the whole earth is full of his glory.’
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
  ‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, YHWH Almighty.’
  Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’
  Then I heard the voice of Adonay saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’
      And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’
  He said, ‘Go and tell this people:
       'Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
       be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'
  Make the heart of this people calloused;
       make their ears dull
       and close their eyes.
       Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
       hear with their ears,
       understand with their hearts,
       and turn and be healed.’’"

My comment: Maybe there are more indications besides just these, that this is the same vision being prophecied by Isaiah and the apostle John (who wrote the words: “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him,” and also the vision in the book of Revelation we are examining) regarding identity? (The same man who wrote Revelation 4:8 about the Lord God Almighty, also wrote, in his gospel, the name of the one Isaiah witnessed as being called the Almighty.) The creatures described are the same:

In Isaiah 6:1-3: “Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
       ‘Holy, holy, holy is YHWH Almighty;
       the whole earth is full of his glory.’”

In Rev 4:6-8: “In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.’”

A Test for godship: True god, or False god? How Does Jesus Christ Measure?

--Is 44:15 “But he also fashions a god (466) and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. He prays to it and says, ‘save me; you are my god.’”

--Is 45:20 “Ignorant are those who... pray to gods that cannot save.”

--Acts 7:59-60 “Stephen prayed, ‘Lord, Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’”

--Luke 23:46 “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.”

--Luke 23:34 “’Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’"

Q: Isn’t Stephen fashioning Jesus Christ as God, by praying to Him to save his soul in the same manner Jesus did to the Father?

--Is 41:22-23 “tell us what happened, what will happen, or act to make us dismayed or fearful. But they won’t do these things.”

--Is 41:27 “See, they are all false! Their images are but wind and confusion.”

--Is 46:9 "I am God and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me."

--Is 40:25 “’To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One.”

--Is 43:10 “Before me no god (466) was formed; nor will there be one after me.”

was formed - yasar - to form, fashion, devise, produce, create; to be formed or fashioned; to exist. The word implies initiation as well as structuring. Yasar is often used of God’s creative acts. It is also used to denote those who sculpted idols (Is 44:9, 10, 12).

--Is 44:6-10 “This is what YHWH says--Israel’s King and Redeemer, YHWH Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God (466). Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me.... You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? ... Who shapes an idol, which can profit him nothing? He and his kind will be put to shame; .... ...they will all be brought down to terror and infamy.”

Q: If false gods have images of wind and confusion, and are unable to prophesy truthfully, but Jesus Christ is the image of God and always spoke the truth, then he can not be a false god. He must be a true god. But there was never created any god at any time. Jehovah says no one is like Him, and that is how Jehovah goes on to prove that He is the only god. They cannot do what He does, YHWH complains about all others who get worshiped. Yet Jesus is His image, the first and the last, Israel’s King and Redeemer, and the owner of us, Jesus’ witnesses. And, he is also, a god. A true god. Why does Jehovah not exclude Jesus Christ as an exception when he said, “apart from me there is no god” and “there is no one like me”?

It must either be because, as the Son of Jehovah, he is so diminutive to be irrelevant; or else, so assumed in God’s camp that his kind of being doesn’t distinguish Him.

Does YHWH Share His glory with other gods??

--Is 42:8 “I am YHWH; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.”

--Is 48:11 “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.”

--Rom 1:1,2,4-5,6 “Paul, ...set apart for the gospel of God -- the gospel... regarding his Son..: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles... to belong to Jesus Christ.”

--Heb 1:3 The son is the radiance of God’s glory....

radiance- apaugasma- to emit light or splendor

glory- doxa -to think, imagine, consider, appear; glory, honor, wealth, splendor

--Is 68:18 “And I, because of their actions and their imaginations, am about to come and gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory.”

--Is 66:19 “I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations.”

--john 15:26 “the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.”

--john 17:5 “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

--John 13:31-32 “When he was gone, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.”

Q: Taking on the human-being of the Son of Man, Jesus was glorified in his death by the Father. But apparently Jesus also had glory in the presence and knowledge and approval of Jehovah in the very beginning. How can Jehovah say that He would not share his glory with other gods, that he would not surrender any of His fame to another? He clearly has done so unswervingly from the beginning.

--john 16:14-15 “He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.”

--John 12:27-28 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!"

--john 17:1-2 “"Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.”

Q: Okay, so Jesus shares glory with Jehovah. How closely do they share God’s glory? Where did Jesus come from? Where was Jesus, before and afterward being in human form?

--John 13:3 “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God...”

--John 14:20 “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

--john 14:23 “My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

--john 16:27-28 “...because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father."

--John 17:7-10 “Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.

Did YHWH give us His image? Consider Jehovah’s Question to us: “’To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One.” Is 40:25

--Hebrews 1:3 “The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”

exact representation - charakter - to carve, the impression; letter, mark, sign, character. This impression was considered as the exact representation of the object whose image it bore.

being - hypostasis - substance, nature. That which underlies what is apparent, hence, reality; that which is the basis of something, hence, assurance.

--Is 41:27 “See, they are all false! Their deeds amount to nothing; their images are but wind and confusion.”

--Is 40:18 “To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to?”

image - demut - likeness, figure, image, form. To compare. Resemblance, image, model, pattern, shape. Used as an adverb, signifying “like” or “as.”

compare - arak - to arrange in rows, put in order, be put in formation, to set a value.

--Col 1:15 “He is the image of the invisible God...”

image - eikon - to be like, resemble, representation, likeness, figure, copy, reflection, appearance, manifestation, embodiment. It implies what is derived from an archtype, which is cast as a direct expression of something. Used of idols (rom 1:23) art (mt 22:20) OT law (heb 10:1) Christ (2 cor 4:4,6). In the book of Revelation, eikon of the beast symbolizes the idolatrous devotion shown by his followers.

--Deut 34:10 “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom YHWH knew face to face....”

--Luke 9:29-32 “As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.” (“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory...”)

--Heb 11:24-27 “By faith Moses... regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”

--2 cor 4:4-6 “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

Q: Where can we locate the glory of God? Have we been deceived or misdirected by any inappropriate amount away from our duty, because we have been blinded by the enemy from giving God’s glory to Jesus? The light that shines in Paul’s heart (qualifying him to be a proclaimer of truth) is the knowledge of... what? The knowledge of God’s glory as it dwells in Jesus. Jehovah’s good news, IS the glory of Christ. Can this be a true interpretation of the above passage? Let’s see if scripture would hopefully generously support it:

--Luke 19:35-40 “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’
      ’Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’
  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"
  ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’“

--John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

--John 2:11 “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.”

--John 8:50 “I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge.

--John 8:54 “Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.”

--John 11:4 “When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it."

--John 12:41 “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him.”

--Rom 16:27 “to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

--1 cor 2:8 “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

--Phil 2:10-11 “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father.”

--2 thess 2:14 “He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

--2 tim 4:18 “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

--Heb 13:21 “through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.”

--1 peter 4:11 “If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

--1 peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

--2 peter 1:1-3 “To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

--2 peter 3:18 “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”

--Jude 1:25 “to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

--Rev 1:6 “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”

--Rev 21:23 “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”

--john 16:14-15 “He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.”

--John 3:35 “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.”

Q: So glory is brought to Jesus by what He owns, which is everything the Father owns? What could be off-limits in Jesus’ glory, then? Can we restrain Jesus from obtaining any remnant of YHWH’s glory? Jehovah in the OT worked hard to proclaim Himself the one who would receive notoriety and service and glory and honor, but it seems that Jehovah must have surrendered all this into Jesus’ account:

--Luke 22:24-30 “Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

--John 8:54 “Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.”

Comment: I can imagine that the Father would have been the first to utter such a powerful sentence of humility to His Son: “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing.” The ultimate moment when Jesus brings glory to Jehovah will most likely be that prophecied moment when after he has judged he turns everything back over to His Father, just like the elders in Revelation who lay their crowns at the feet of the Lamb in the end.

Who is He who is the Origination of Everything?

--Is 45:5-7 “ I am the LORD, and there is no other;
       apart from me there is no God.
       I will strengthen you,
       though you have not acknowledged me,
  so that from the rising of the sun
       to the place of its setting
       men may know there is none besides me.
       I am the LORD, and there is no other.
  I form the light and create darkness,
       I bring prosperity and create disaster;
       I, the LORD, do all these things.

TO CONSIDER: Jehovah, the LORD, does all these things and... another; Jesus Christ...? “Whatever the Father does the Son also does (john 5:19).” There are two separate persons who both could be being described here; yet the scriptures claim that only YHWH is like this. Why is Jesus not mentioned here outside of mentioning YHWH? It seems plausible, at least, that it may be because Jesus is included in YHWH.

--John 5:16-27, 36 “So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.’ For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
  Jesus gave them this answer: ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
  ‘I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.’ ... ‘For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.’”

TO CONSIDER: Even the kinds of things Jesus did and taught (his work) are meant to be a testimony by themself, to indicate Jesus’ identity; that He came from the Father -- verse 36. You may also notice that it was John’s testimony that Jesus truly did relate Himself equal to God.

--Is 44:6-7 “This is what YHWH says—
       Israel's King and Redeemer, YHWH Almighty:
       I am the first and I am the last;
       apart from me there is no God.
  Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.”

TO CONSIDER: Jesus was proclaimed as the glory and image of God. Jesus is the exact representative of Jehovah. Apart from Jehovah there is one true god who we are commanded to acknowledge as our King and Redeemer and Lord, who is equal Jehovah, and who we are also commanded now to proclaim, as believers in a post-crucifixion world. How hard it is to distinguish YHWH as separate from the person of Jesus....

As I said in the opening paragraphs, in my mind Jesus is not only part of YHWH, but the only person of YHWH we really have known.

--Zech 12:1, 10 “An Oracle: This is the word of YHWH concerning Israel. YHWH, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundations of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares: ‘.... And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.’”

TO CONSIDER: Who got (into heaven?) to pierce Jehovah? Does he have a body to pierce? How are the people in Jerusalem to look upon Jehovah when no one has ever seen Jehovah at any time (john 1:18)? The grieving is over an only child or a firstborn son, which is what Jesus was characterized as. What other possibilities can there be without adjusting the words here in this passage to release us to assume something else? The scripture cannot be lying when it says that this was Jehovah speaking when he said “they will look on me”. It is nearly impossible to split this passage into two speakers, yet that is what is necessary to maintain that Jesus Christ is not YHWH.

If Jesus is not YHWH, it makes no scriptural sense that he does receive proskyneo (worship) and latreuo (service) in any portion, without consequently alarming Jehovah to distinguish himself as more glorious and godly than His Son. But as the scriptures have plainly said, Jehovah has surrendered all of his glory into the Son.

Why Jesus' Identity Matters for Wed. Morn. Bible Study

Jesus is YHWH, the great I AM, the Holy Holy Holy Lord God Almighty.

The bible study question at the beginning of this paper, asked: "How do you see God's sovereignty over Jesus and, in turn, Jesus' submission to the Father's sovereign authority?"

There is no way a sovereign God will bow down at any time, to anyone or anything. Jesus is such a sovereign God. It goes beyond His nature, it goes against His honor, for Him to serve or obey any thing in heaven or on earth. All glory and honor, praise and power ought to be ascribed to Jesus as the Almighty God. For us to find Jesus in such a spot, in submission... is absolutely unexpected! There is only one way to assume the righteousness of such an act by the One and Only Sovereign God of heaven and earth, to bend a knee to another, which is, that He might righteously do so to another Person of that Godhead, as just and kind in character and nature as He Himself also is. That Person is the Father. What drove Jesus to bend that knee? Not His own state! He properly deserves the throne! But us; Jesus' love for us. Because Jesus loved us, He came in the form of a man, to submit Himself according to the demands of the law and be that second Adam which delivered us from the curse and promised us eternal salvation and also an unburdened opportunity for fellowship.

It is NOT about control, or acknowledging sovereignty. It is about a choice to love someone enough to choose to go where you don't naturally want to go, both for Jesus and for us as we obey One who is greater.

Consider our nature; it desires to be on the throne of our life. God made us after His own image, which I believe in part means we desire to be in control over our own affairs. But we go to that place of submission to the will of another (the Father) by the model of our Lord: "We love because Christ first loved us."

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient...." phil 2:5-8

Thank you so much for letting me speak about the reasons for obedience, and the sovereignty of Jesus Christ! What a privilege it is, and I am very, very blessed to know that you might have read this.

I have the privilege of reading a copy of the speech given I believe in week three of the bible study.

I appreciate, and I agree that God has a design and plan for my life. He is my God. I do believe that He is in control in the larger sense. While He is aware of all I do not believe that God has taken all control out of my hands; for if I had none, I could not ever love Him by the measure of my sacrifice(s). He does desire that I would want to love Him back. That's why the salvation He purchased at the cross bought my freedom. Freedom to do as I please? Absolutely. God does woo, God does call, I agree. But I am not under obligation to obey Him once I have been saved.

In her speech the speaker wrote on page two:

"Can we get a bigger picture of what He is doing, instead of being focused on our circumstance that we are currently under? ... By recognizing that He is God, that He deserves to enthrone our lives and that He has the right to allow anything He desires to come into our lives to be used for His purposes, this will help us to realize that God's sovereignty is at work in us."

What might have alternately, more scripturally been said, was "this will help us to realize that God's Spirit is at work in us."

The focus is not Lordship. The focus is that we might choose to walk in the Spirit. For if we walk in the Spirit we will not obey the will of the flesh. It is just that simple, romans 8. "'Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts." (zech 4:6) Obeying God is a simple choice, like an on/off switch; we are walking at any one time either according to the Spirit or according to the flesh.

Why remove the word "sovereign" from this bible study? I don't know what your intention is. Are you aware of the Lordship movement in evangelical Christianity? Are you apart of it? If you are not, do you realize that by using that word you are opening up a door of positive affirmation toward that movement? By that one word "sovereign," Lordship teachers carry in a whole wave of popular unbiblical doctrine through the front door. The Lordship people (NIV) have put the word "sovereign" in front of "LORD" 200-some times into the OT, where no such word in Hebrew even has been demarcated. Why? Either way, it does not belong! It is an assault to God's revelation which was already perfect!

The speaker mentioned the example of Rahab.... She said that Rahab understood God's "sovereignty." I don't think it was "sovereignty" though, that Rahab understood. What does the bible have to say? Those things she is recorded of as speaking about the LORD, is described with a different word in the NT:

"By faith the Harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace." Heb 11:31

She was saved not by acquiring appreciation of God's sovereignty, but in those fearful descriptions of God's power in her confession, Rahab is articulating her reliance (faith) in YHWH.

Even the demons understand the sovereignty of God, but they are not saved, nor sanctified by such knowledge:

"When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. And suddenly they cried out, saying, 'What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?' Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding. So the demons begged Him, saying, 'If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.' And He said to them, 'Go.' So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine." matt 8:28-32

In the case of Job, too, Satan knew who he was talking with; the Lord of heaven and earth.

Did you know that Spurgeon and Pink ascribe deeply, as most Protestants do, to the teachings of Augustine? Augustine was heretical, in part. He not only was a Christian for part of his life but also at times was a part of some pagan philosophies: determinism and fatalism. These philosophies teach that there is no place for will or choice outside of God's first will or choice, that all things have been pre-ordained according to God's selection of our destiny. This whole concept? It is not biblical, and it never was, though you can find it laced throughout church history and writings. These men are examples of such pagan influences.

See here some quotes of Spurgeon in the written copy of the speech:

"that sovereignty overrules them" (paragraph one)
"that sovereignty will sanctify them all" (paragraph one)

But not all believers are promised as a guarantee to be sanctified!

"Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." rom 8:30

Notice that "sanctified" is missing from that list?

Spurgeon continues in paragraph three:

"And we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter...."

Here is a good example of Lordship Theology teaching the character of the LORD in an unbalanced manner. It is intoxicating to the senses to think that God is in control over everything in every way -- it's rather romantic. But it's not real. God respects, God gives so much dignity to human choice, that He does not interfere with the prospect that men choose to reject Christ and go to hell as a consequence. Do you see my point? If God were as Spurgeon describes, then no one would really go to hell because God could do as He pleases and intervene beyond the responsibility of their individual choice. But He does not. What's more, God has never "done His pleasure without consulting us." He has indeed informed us, from the beginning! He preserved His Word and has caused the revelation of God to reach all the world so that they may hear the good news! He also waits, not willing to have any perish, to extend salvation as long as today is called today. The gospel is the perfect story of the perfect balance of both His justice and His love-forgiveness. God is not so hungry for justice that He disobeys His love, and is not so hungry for love that He disobeys the narrow path of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our salvation is secure. However our sanctification is not secure; it is in a state of "conditional footing" as Spurgeon's language would be used.

I hope you are familiar that there is much room, on condition of our choice, for improvement upon the righteousness we received in our salvation (hebrews 10:14, 10:10). This improvement is called "sanctification," and it is not a guarantee, it is an option. By this alone, let alone many, many more teachings of Lordship "Sovereignty" Theology, I say to you, it is unbiblical. Are you aware; what is your mind; and do you desire to have this association of inappropriate doctrine for our churchgoers?

Please consider the choice of influence you have as our leaders. I believe the very potential and power to become sanctified, as a church, lies in the choice of the doctrine you promote....

Thanks, so much from the bottom of my heart, for letting me share my mind with each of you. As I said in the opening of this paper, I am seeking to know your mind in general or detail, in speech or in writing, at your own convenience. There is no hurry.

I am not emotionally divorced from this presentation, to you, my leaders. I just was delivered from two years of believing that my sins were appointed by God. Indeed, Spurgeon even admits teaching this in the speech's copy and quotation of him!

"Yet God foresaw they would fall, nevertheless He placed them on a mutable, creature, conditional footing, and suffered them to fall, though He was not the Author of their sin."

Where did a concept of appointed sin come from? Just one point of Calvinism, leads the logic to the remaining four. "Total depravity," somewhere leaked into my theological grid. Once it was in there, I found myself fighting God, blaming Him for not rescuing me from temptation and my wanting to sin and obey my flesh. God forgive me for walking so long in such error!


Friday, November 07, 2008


This week I'm taking the course "Gaining love for the Hebrew Scriptures" taught by Dr. Ron Allen. What a delight this course is, filled with anecdotes of bridging cultural gaps of customs and language.

He talked a good deal over the law, and... it appears I've been grossly out-of-balance! Or perhaps I just couldn't understand till now, and I had been wondering this for a long time, why the Law seemed to be such a pleasant thing in the descriptions of the Old Testament writings.

I laugh. There goes the worth of my greatest obsession (law vs. grace)? Oh well.

Apparently the law was "do-able" and even gracious during the era when it was given. Only the Pharisees at the time of Jesus interpreted it in a way that left grace out of the equation. How interesting!

At least now I can answer why God gave the law in the first place, if it apparently was not "destined" to make us be so utterly broken. He did not give it that way, for that purpose, at all.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

"The Goal?"

"The goal of the gospel is to elevate faith to its proper position. Scriptural truths are not irrelevant, but faith is essential."

Is this good thinking, or misdirected thinking?
(taken from a post I wrote in June)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Cult in My Life

The front cover of Fudge's text on Oneness Pentecostalism

Last Tuesday night our family celebrated a birthday at McDonald's and I ran into a beloved neighbor of mine, again. For anonymity I will call her "Jan." I haven't seen Jan for a few months. I was so pleased. She is the mother of five grown children, the youngest being 19 and the oldest I imagine is my age, give or take. Last time Jan and I were together at the grocery store it took God bumping us in each other's presence several times before we talked, but this time she flagged me down and invited me to meet one of her daughters, "Lauren," I had thus far not met. Lauren was visiting from out of town. Apparently Jan is troubled that she has decided not to return to the church in which she was raised.

The subject of our conversation changed. The youngest daughter, 19, is the one I know best; "Cindy." I wanted to know how she was doing. So we talked for some time.

I reminisce.

Cindy has not willingly spoken to me in... maybe four years. Though, believe it or not, I see Cindy, and she me, almost every day. She was 15 when I first met her; I was 26. She came to my door because of a fundraiser and she started telling me about her beliefs, quoting scripture, telling me that she didn't believe in the Trinity. I was impressed nonetheless and told her how amazing she was! She was so excited to have me meet the rest of her family. She wanted me to come to her church with her. She was so proud having invited me, when I was so engaged with many members of her church over the truths of the scriptures.

After some time of participating with them all, I bowed out. Long story. Since then, she still walks the same path home from school every day, and every day I pass her in my car on my way to get my kids. But she wants to pretend like I don't exist.

And so we play this game of body language. It's all that's left, but I have consecrated it. Any message is, what; 70% body language anyway? Here is what she does: she recognizes me, forces herself not to be happy, lifts her face toward the sky, and looks far off in the distance, like I do not exist.

But, before her eyes are quick enough, there are days I get to smile directly with joy, and every third time or so I make sure to wave, because I know that sitting in an automobile can make it difficult to see my friendliness.

That's been the routine for years.

The term "cult" has a wide variety of uses. Not every sect is a cult. Not every legalistic church is a cult. Just because a church is not mainstream in its beliefs, that does not make it a cult.

I don't use the word "cult" hardly at all, unless I am speaking culturally amongst evangelicals. (The word is offensive outside of evangelical Christianity, and eliminates opportunities to share one's faith quite decisively.) However it remains useful to me as a description of those groups which have a significant level of suspicion of outsiders.

There are behaviors about this group which concern me for the health of Christ's body, having nothing to do with doctrine.... I know they have services three times a week if not more. The women are only allowed to wear dresses near the ankle, and are not allowed to cut their hair. Without exception every time church is held, the women arrange their hair in styles that are elaborate to compare to prom night, both young girls and the elderly. The preacher himself has testified to me that he has forsaken medical attention because of his faith in God for healing. The church property (which I pass two times every school day of my life) has a single paved spot for the pastor's car, right in front of the building. I notice that most of the people who attend church live along the adjacent street in housing that is not so well to do, but they all drive very clean, new, and high-end automobiles. The pastor's car has gotten more valuable with time, and it changes every 6-9 months. The preaching... the preaching is not often expository, and the arrangements of scriptures appeal to emotion and repentance.

The doctrine:

"Jesus Only" Oneness Pentecostalism, which believes in a transient modalism, and therefore that the Trinity is a lie from Satan.

You may notice in the above graphic, that faith in Christ is missing altogether from the plan of salvation.

Unfortunately, Cindy is not the only one who treats me this way; with the one exception of Jan, they all have adopted this same body language, and I have seen them at the grocery store or along that block where they live many times. They once wanted to treat me to bible studies and help me "become saved" when I was in their midst, but now they too apparently have nothing to say to me.

I consider how I appear to them. It seems to me that even those who have become "heretics," even those who have become candidates for exercising the tool of "disfellowshipping," ought to be sought after by the body of believers; 2 Thess. 3:14-15:

And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

I keep waiting for them to show that regard for my eternal well-being. But rather I worry that my confidence with the word of God that I took with their pastor, spread like a bad rumor. I am an enemy who deserves not to be rescued? Consequently - for the extreme reaction of abandonment which my theological interest mixed with love has wrought - I call this a "cult."

I look back on those precious moments when I was with them. I remember driving to their church and when I opened my car door, their children overtook me and wanted to know me. I remember Cindy's brother miraculously showing up on my door step, talking about how he can't go to church because of his sins, and I got to tell him about the exalted honor of the prodigal son. I remember how the pastor paid a visit to my home and brought his three daughters who listened to my presentation of the gospel of salvation. I treasure these things in my heart, as I wait for the LORD to open a door once more in their lives.

Someone somewhere told Cindy that she and her church were in control. In control of the truth, in control over me, spiritually. But I know something she has yet to learn; Romans 5:20-21 & James 4:11-12:

Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

These brief "body language exchanges" communicate my non-compromise: I am a living testimony of the sufficiency of grace, and so ought she be! "Mercy triumphs over judgment!" (james 2:13)

Jan keeps my heart encouraged. At McDonalds, she pulled out a pamphlet from her church, and showed it to me. On it was the poetry Cindy had written about her relationship with the LORD. It was talented! I lavished love that comes so natural.

We parted ways with obvious affection for one another. I said, "please tell Cindy to come by and see me some time, I'd love it... that is, if she wants to." I wonder how long I have to wait?

God's timing is part of the demonstration of grace, so, I have no intentions to see it be rushed.

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