Soteriology

Well, the Bible says it isn’t. It’s the well-meaning Arminian who wants to take the promises of God and apply them to “all people, in all places, for all time” but they forget that God is a God of justice and wrath against sin:

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

~ Exodus 34:6–7 (ESV)

God cannot allow people to go unpunished for their sins. Follow me through Romans 1 here:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

~ Romans 1:18–20 (ESV)

1) “The wrath of God is (Rom 2:5) revealed from heaven against *all* ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” As Jesus makes clear in his sermon on the mount (Mt 5-7), God sees all, including our thought life, and holds us accountable for all of it, treating even our secret desires as if we’ve actually physically committed the sins.

2) “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” How has God revealed it to them?

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them

~ Romans 2:14–15 (ESV)

Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”

~ Acts 14:17 (ESV)

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,

~ Acts 17:24–27 (ESV)

3) Expanding further on this, in Rom 1:20 Paul states, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” That “have been” is a damning statement. The only way it can be understood is that God, in order to justify himself and his laws before men, presses upon the hearts of mankind his law. We call that the “conscience”. The unregenerate conscience is only capable of revealing God’s standard to men but their actions against this conscience will harden them against it (Deut 2:30; 1 Sam 6:6; Ps 95:8; Mark 8:17; Heb 3:8, 15; 4:7) the same way that God hardened the heart of Pharoah and Sihon, King of Heshbon, against the Israelites (Exo 4:21; Deut 2:30). God also will harden his heart, even against his own people, if they live in rebellion against him (Isa 63:17).

4) “So they are without excuse.” There is no deeper fear that man can have than to be at enmity with God, and the unregenerate man lives in this state. But they sear their consciences through continued transgression against God’s holy standard bit-by-bit, day-by-day until it becomes routine. Eventually they battle against God, demanding that God bend to their will.

Now, a quick-witted arminian will look at Romans 1:18 and say “does ‘ALL’ mean ‘ALL”‘, but to deny that God is sovereign over all of creation means that he’s not God – merely able to create and rule over some of his creation, but a weak entity who cannot help those whom he chooses to help. And we know from scripture that God chooses people and nations for his own purpose (Gen 18:19; 1 Sam 20:30; 2 Sam 16:18; 1 Ki 8:44, 48; 11:13, 32, 36; 2 Ki 21:7; 23:27; 1 Chr 28:6; 2 Chr 7:16, 33:7; Neh 1:9; Ps 89:3, 19; Isa 41:8-9; 42:1; 43:10; 44:1-2; Hag 2:23; Mt 12:18; John 13:18).

If not, and if this applies to all people, then all people need hearts of flesh, and not of stone. Yet we don’t see that in scripture. We only see the people whom God has saved receiving the heart of flesh:

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord GOD.”

~ Ezekiel 11:19–21 (ESV)

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

~ Ezekiel 36:26–27 (ESV)

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

~ Jeremiah 31:33 (ESV)

So, do we see this “heart of flesh” in all people? No. instead we see what is shown above – that men live unrepentant lives, constantly searing their conscience against God’s law, and continually bearing the weight of their own sin debt before God. That sin debt has to be taken by someone. Either they take the punishment on their own and spend eternity in Hell, or they place their trust in Jesus, in the sufficiency of the work on the cross to pay their sin debt, in the efficacy of the work on that cross to apply to their lives, and in the promises that God has made them into a new creation (2 Cor 5:17), dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:11).

Now the offer of salvation is freely given to all men, but God prevents some from receiving it. The well-meaning Arminian and Atheist alike will look at the decrees of God that those whom God has provided the faith necessary for conversion (Jn 3:6, 6:63; Acts 5:31, 11:18, 16:14; Rom 11:36, 12:3; Eph 2:8-9; 1 Cor 4:7, 12:3; 2 Pet 1:3) and say that it’s “unfair” for God to only choose some and not all, but as Romans 9 clearly states, who are we (the created beings) to call out to him who made us and demand that he follow our desires?

What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

~ Romans 9:22–24 (ESV)

So, of the countless millions upon millions running headlong into hell, gladly searing their consciences as they pursue their unholy proclivities, God, by his own will and to his own glory, chooses some from that throng of unbelievers, invades their lives, replaces their heart so that they can hear his word, then interferes with them to change their minds. In some cases that interference is merely the word of some street preacher or evangelist, but most often it’s seen through countless minor changes in their conscience – now reawakened – which lead them to see the world a new, and eventually they see their sin as what it is before God and they can do no other than to drop to their knees in repentance and faith in the God who died in their place to save them.

This is how a Calvinist can see the “whoever” of John 3:16 as what it is – “πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων” “All the believing”. God provides his offer of salvation “freely” to all that have ever lived, but he has no intention to save all so that his communicable attributes of wrath and justice would be revealed upon mankind. Instead, as is shown in Romans 9 above, God reveals endures through his communicable attributes of long-suffering and mercy the “vessels of wrath” (humans intended for judgement and damnation) in order that his mercy and grace would shine all the more brightly when he saves those whom he has desired to save. God has no obligation to save anyone as all have sinned against him (Ps 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Jer 17:9; Rom 3:2, 23) and violated his perfect standard:

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

~ Matthew 5:48 (ESV)

So, going back to the original point, yes, God’s offer of salvation is given to all, but only those whom he has elected for salvation are able to turn and repent.

Unless it’s your assumption that Jesus’ work on the cross has been applied to all, and is sufficient and effective for all people, in every time and place, then that means that God has doubly punished for sin – once upon Jesus and a second time upon the individual who dies in their sins. This makes God unjust as Jesus took more punishment than was necessary in his humiliation, condemnation, and suffering on the cross, then still punishing people for the sins that Jesus took on their behalf. This is heresy.

No one wants to go to heaven. This “innocent person” who just “wants to be with God” doesn’t exist. Before the conversion of a man’s heart it is only ever seeking after its own good and personal pleasure. Humbling itself before a holy and righteous God is the furthest thing from that mindset. We all want to be validated for our sins and to feel justified in our thoughts, intentions, and actions, but we don’t want an authoritarian figure to exist at all because, if one does exist, it could tell us that we’re wrong. The more you learn about scripture, the more you bathe yourself in it and allow it to teach you, the more you see that this is true.

Look at the Jews in the wilderness – the minute that the tower of fire and the tower of cloud went away, and only one generation after they were fed daily in the wilderness, that their clothes and shoes never wore out, and that all of their needs were met – once that generation of people who physically saw and experienced that were in the ground, they started following their own desires and seeking their own plans. God had literally wiped out the people who lived there before them, and they responded to this by seeking out the demonic worship of the people who lived there before and self-worship that they wanted in their hearts all along.

There’s only about 1-1.5 generations between a great act of God and rebellion. Read through Judges if you want a window into the heart of man – read the book of Judges.

When Joshua dismissed the people, the people of Israel went each to his inheritance to take possession of the land. And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110 years. And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers.

And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger. They abandoned the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.

Judges 2:6–13 (ESV)

These literally are the genetic descendants of Abraham – whose fathers and grandfathers were fed by God in the wilderness, who were the children promised to Abraham when he had only one “official” child, in the land that God had promised to Abraham, and this people turned from the faith of Abraham and sought the “gods of the land” – they went after the things that the people in the area had known, thinking that they knew better how to appease the “gods of the hills” and the “gods of the valleys” in Canaan so they could get the best crops and get peace. They forsake the God of all CREATION – who created the WORLD AND ALL THAT’S IN IT, for the “gods” of a specific set of hills. Why? Because that one would probably let them do whatever they wanted.

Look at every one of these people – God allows them to live their lives to their own worship and to their own plans for their own glory.

Each of the stages in Romans 1 were led with God allowing, or giving people up, to whatever they wanted – and why? Because they, of their own desires, refuse to acknowledge him. They won’t, but he allows them to do it on their own, and those whom God allows to do anything on their own, using their own sovereign free will, only ever end up seeking their own worship and their own desires.

Now, look at those whom God has saved – it’s clear that God interferes with their lives:

God violates the “free will” and “free heart” of man which follows after whatever it wants to its own glory, and changes that heart by inserting his Holy Spirit. He regenerates our seared consciences and turns us from our self-worship to, first, acknowledge the authority of a creator, then to understand the commands of the creator, then to bring us to the point of sorrow over our sin where we see our lives in reflection of this perfect and holy God. Once that’s taken effect in the heart / soul of a man, then it works on the mind until we can do nothing else than to ourward repent of our sins – but even this is just the capstone on a building that God has been creating in our hearts – a temple within us to our God and King, not made with hands – of our own desires and plans to worship God – but by his own actions to his glory so that he, not us, is the one to get the glory for the transformation in our hearts and minds.

IF, therefore, in the kindness of God, he allows people to pursue that which they most want in the world – their own self-worship (today known as humanism) – no matter how they frame it, calling it Christianity, or whatever, and he knows that they are only seeking to gratify their own desires but they wrap it in this “religious” coat, but this self-gratification is what they want most in the world. So God allows them to do so, to pursue the deepest desires of their hearts. Their consciences which reflect God’s character and nature scream at them when they sin, but they don’t care because it’s merely a whisper against their real god – their own desires – and therefore when they die, none of them can say that they “didn’t know” that they shouldn’t do those things which led to death.

So, those who pass into hell are doing so because God is allowing them to go to hell. The thing they want most is validation and to be left alone, so God gives them their hearts’ desire.

But for some people, those of the elect, we don’t get that. We don’t get to experience our hearts’ desires, nor do we get God leaving us alone. He interferes with our lives – he reaches into our chests and removes our sin-hardened hearts and replaces it with a heart that can hear his commands. He transforms our thoughts so that we no longer long to seek for our own desires, but instead we desire his thoughts, and his desires. He conforms our views to his views, and reveals to us the breadth and depth of our sins against him, and the impact of that sin, then, when we can stand it no more, our mouths erupt in repentance – revealing a faith which we’ve had since God first converted our hearts, but now can no longer be hidden within us.

And eventually, our thoughts, now God’s thoughts, and our desires, now God’s desires, are revealed in new decisions and new actions from a changed heart and the rest of the world can’t ignore this change within us.

That’s the true picture of what salvation looks like, and how God handles the sin of mankind. God doesn’t play “duck duck goose” and randomly pick people to save while maliciously choosing to condemn the rest – but God, choosing to allow his creation to live life as they want to live it, will allow them to do so – even if it means that they will ultimately be condemned, but because the heart of man only wants to serve itself, he chooses to save some and does so in a way that only he can get the glory for that conversion, because if it were up to us, we’d only worship ourselves for our “decision to follow Jesus”.

I saw this statement on a Facebook group where I participate, and it made me wonder why he wouldn’t want to pursue rebaptism. Anyway, here’s my response.

Reformed Baptist church I attend Sunday mornings has a statement that lists criteria they ask for before partaking…the one we don’t meet is being baptized after conversion…me and my wife were both baptized as babies…my dad also is a pastor at a non-denomination church…there its usually taken the first Sunday of the month

What role do you see baptism playing in scripture? Was it administered before or after conversion?

Follow up question, in the great commission, given by our Lord Jesus, what is the pattern that we see there?

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
~ Matthew 28:19–20 (ESV)

The baptisms we see in scripture taking place before the conversions of the people (baptisms of John, for instance) are Jewish ceremonial washings which were common in that day. The baptism of a Christian is an uncommon baptism. Instead of it “cleansing you” of your past sins, it is a commanded act that we must engage in – one that aligns us with our King in his death (when we are placed under the waters of death) and raised anew in our new life in Christ. Also, the public act of our baptism stands witness against us, declaring our standing before God to all. This is why baptisms are public affairs for the whole church to participate in, because it is they who will watch over you, helping you on your path to sanctification, and they will lean on you as well for the same purpose. It openly declares that you are of the same family as those in the congregation, and that, as another of God’s children, you are under the same authority and expectations (that you’d seek to live a holy life, that you are bound to the Christ of scripture, that you are a sheep among sheep, and not a goat or wolf, etc).

When you were an infant, did you understand the role of Christ in salvation, who Jesus is, what his sacrifice on your behalf meant, or the full sin debt you owed to your creator? Did you understand that it was an unwritten contract with the body of believers that you were baptized into, where you hold Christ as your savior alone and that you’d seek to honor the commitment that comes with a public confession of faith in Christ? If not, then was it really a baptism of a believer into the kingdom of God or a baby getting wet to satisfy the fears of your parents, that somehow it may prophylactically apply some measure of God’s grace upon you, outside of the means we see in scripture, by their works upon you? That God would somehow break his own standard by which he holds men accountable, namely by faith, and that he would instead impart salvation (or the “seeds of salvation”) upon a child who cannot even speak or act under its own will, simply because the parents of that child got it sprinkled or dunked?

You’d just as well say that it has no part in the life of a believer at all.

But given that this is not what we see in scripture, that it is something that carries substance both publicly (in the eyes of those in your Christ-community (church), and commanded by our King after conversion, then why would you not follow in this example after your conversion?

(I’ll update this post if there are any further posts)

In a conversation today, I had the following question posed to me and I thought I’d share my response here.

Saints. Is there a difference in being baptized in the name of Jesus and in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

Well, one is biblical:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
~ Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV)

That said, it’s not a formula, but a statement. Baptism doesn’t guarantee or grant salvation as that would be a work that we perform to force God to do something else. If we could do something to force someone to be saved, we’d do it all the time. (insert joke about baptizing babies here)

The term “name” is exactly the same as it is used throughout scripture. The “name” of someone means their character and nature. Just as we are commanded to defend out “name” and Solomon says in Proverbs 22:1 that “a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches”, we are not to change our name to that of one that’s a “good” name – like if you like the name Balthazar and you’re named “Ted” and you’d rather to be called by this subjectively better name so you choose that.
What is meant is that your name, meaning your character and nature, should be well respected by those around you and that your name is a representation of that character and nature to other people. Like, so, I know Ian and he was a jerk back in the day but after God saved him, he is a totally new person. God has redeemed my name by transforming me into a new person with new desires.

So, to baptize in the “name” of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit means to do so following the character and nature of the Triune Godhead, not just to say verbally as you’re baptized “in the name of…”. Also, when you finish a prayer “in the name of Jesus Christ”, what you mean is, “I pray that my will and desires would be in line with yours, King Jesus, and that you would only provide to me that which accords with your character and nature”.

So, in conclusion, what you say when you baptize someone is less important than the intent with which they are baptized – in that we are trusting to God that the person who is baptized is a true Christian and not a mere false convert or a rocky ground/thorny hearer, who will fall away in the end. We are always hopeful, but know that God is the one who sees the hearts of men. We also know that those who are truly Christians will remain so until the end, even if they struggle in the way.

Last, as I said before baptism doesn’t save anyone, but the will of God upon the hearts of men. Pray for the salvation of all men, and God will inevitably save those whom he has elected to save, and trust the word of those who come to you saying that they are Christians until they show themselves to not be through their words or actions.

On Facebook I came across the following post in one of my Calvinist groups:

Spoke with my brother about my Calvinist theology and one question I struggled answering was “So you believe that there are just a set group of people that are hopeless and bound for Hell, that God won’t even give them a chance to believe?”

I also struggled a bit with the “God makes us robots” argument. Have any of you run into a situation like this, and, if so, how did you handle it?

Having encountered this myself, I’ve seen both bad and good arguments in response to the question. That said, here is what I typically aim for in that conversation:

God, in his kindness, allows all people to live on this life for their “best life now”. They can pursue that which their hearts desire to the fullest extent of that, until God directly prevents them from sinning beyond what he allows, or until he prevents their influence upon others.

That said, God has placed the conscience in the hearts of all men, and they have to overcome this conscience in order to begin pursuing this desire to sin. No one is just free to sin without the knowledge of the consequences that are at hand. You have to push past your conscience time and again before it becomes comfortable for you to just continue living in that way, and the reason most people rile against the teaching of scripture is that it reminds them that they’re living beyond the bounds of their conscience. So no one stands uncondemned before God. No one is pure from sin in the eyes of God. Also, due to our sin nature, no one lives their lives in any way that’s pleasing to God. The 10 commandments aren’t a simple rule set for a life of blessing, but it’s God’s holy standard of perfection. This is his “you must be this holy to enter My rest” marker that stands before the entrance before the gates of Heaven, and only a life spent in constant obedience to that will allow you to enter. As James 2:10 says, to violate one point of the law, you have failed in all of it.

More than that, no one, because of our self-focused, sin-sick hearts, would ever want to have a redeemer, much less would pursue this savior unless there’s a significant, personal pay off for that man. As we know from Psalm 51, the only sacrifice that God desires – the only one he acknowledges is one that comes from a contrite and humble heart. You cannot be truly contrite or humble if you’re coming to the throne of grace for how it will improve your life. If you’re looking for a salve for your conscience, or some kind of religious rite or procedure that will help you to balance out the sin you enjoy and the guilt you feel over it, then this is not the place for you. This is what the vast majority of Jews in Israel and Judah were pursuing prior to the Babylonian captivity and it led to their public humiliation and destruction.

Since we know that the heart of men only ever seeks its own interests and comfort, and since God has provided to all men both the natural revelation around them which point to his existence and guiding hand in all of creation, and the conscience which lives in their heart, revealing their sin to them, the question about those who are clamoring for salvation and are “turned away” just doesn’t happen. Sure, there are many in the church who are there for their own benefit, but those are the ones who will be told at the last day, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Mt 7:23). God, knowing the hearts of men, and knowing that only those who enter the throne room of grace with a contrite and humble heart are those who are the ones who are there for God’s purpose and not their own, has chosen from the vast throng who are sprinting headlong into hell to interfere in the lives of his elect, to radically change the attitude of their hearts away from themselves and toward him, then to bombard them with his grace and mercy until they can do nothing but cry out in repentance and faith in the God and King of all creation who died in their place.

The kindness of God allows sinners to pursue their own desires – their own dreams, despite the fact that they’re both living in rebellion to him, but also knowing that they’re doing it to their own hurt. It is therefore the God who interferes, the God of the “but God” statements in the Bible, who steps in and violates the autonomous rule of man’s heart to turn him to Himself for the sake of the sinner, and for the glory of the King of mercy and grace.

This is something that has come up a few times on Facebook and it seems to keep coming up so I figured I’d write about it here for easy access.

The term “peccability” is from the Latin term, “peccō”, which means “to sin”, or in this case, the capability of sinning. This is where we get the term that Martin Luther used, “Simul justus et peccator”, which describes the state of man in the “already and not yet” of our sanctification – we are “simultaneously justified, yet a sinner”. The peccability, or impeccability of Christ as it’s commonly stated, is where we have this discussion. The impeccabilty stance simply stated declares that Jesus is God and therefore incapable of sinning as it would violate his nature. Therefore Jesus is merely totally incapable of committing sin and any other view is negated. I think that this is a little naive. Don’t get me wrong – Jesus IS God. As God he cannot violate his own nature and, as that nature is the one which embodies perfect justice, and as the law giver for all of his creation, it would clearly violate that nature if he committed sin. My point is that his ability to sin is necessary to our salvation. Let me explain…

Jesus contained the moral breadth to sin and the physical capability to sin but chose not to at every moment of every day. As Adam’s selfish sin (to be like God) led him to sin, breaking his ability to choose not to sin (as the only person who could do that outside of Christ), we all are lost by his sin in the inheritance of our sin nature. Jesus, born without an earthly father, is the last man in this chain who could make that decision on his own, and as God he had the moral capability to keep from sinning. This is why not only Jesus’ death on the cross matters, but also why his perfect life does as well. It’s not merely enough for Jesus, as a robot who is incapable of sinning to merely exist, but his day by day, moment by moment choice not to sin is what grants his perfect life credence. Jesus’ life of perfect obedience on my behalf is transferred to me on the cross and my life of perfect disobedience is transferred to him. So Jesus had to have the capability to sin, but because he is God and therefore of a perfect moral character, he could choose at every moment to do that which honored God the most in each situation – in exactly the way that I can’t. Therefore, the peccabilty of Jesus is what makes my salvation possible, because he is the perfect lamb, the last Adam, and the end of my striving whose sacrifice on my behalf makes it possible for God to save a man like me.

To quote Charles Hodge:

The Mediator between God and man must be sinless. Under the law the victim offered on the altar must be without blemish. Christ, who was to offer Himself unto God as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, must be Himself free from sin. The High Priest, therefore, who becomes us, He whom our necessities demand, must be holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. (Hebrews 7:26.) He was, therefore, “without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22.) A sinful Saviour from sin is an impossibility. He could not have access to God. He could not be a sacrifice for sins; and He could not be the source of holiness and eternal life to his people. This sinlessness of our Lord, however, does not amount to absolute impeccability. It was not a non potest peccare. If He was a true man He must have been capable of sinning. That He did not sin under the greatest provocation; that when He was reviled He blessed; when He suffered He threatened not; that He was dumb, as a sheep before its shearers, is held up to us as an example. Temptation implies the possibility of sin. If from the constitution of his person it was impossible for Christ to sin, then his temptation was unreal and without effect, and He cannot sympathize with his people.

Hodge, C. (1997). Systematic theology (Vol. 2, p. 457). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc

I’m not saying that Jesus would ever have sinned, nor that his nature would have allowed it, but just that it was possible from the sense that he made conscious decisions to only ever honor God first in all that he thought, said, and did. The implication here is that, as I mentioned before, his actions were real actions and not some pre-scripted process which would eliminate the depth of his compassion for mankind or his ability to relate to us in our struggles. Jesus’ active obedience hinges on his ability to disobey, and because he never sinned at all, we can reap the benefit of this, whereas in our own lives, we try to do our best and fail at every turn.

Who is responsible for my salvation? God CALLED Abraham to himself just as Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb. Both were dead in their transgressions and sin before Him and God was under no obligation to save any of them. All of mankind stands condemned before our holy and perfect Creator and God is not obligated to save any of us. WE acted in rebellion against HIM. If my daughter steals my car and drives it off a cliff, totaling it, but she herself is saved. Am I obligated to forgive her? Is there some law on the books that requires me to forgive her for this transgression of my trust? In the same way, God is not obligated to forgive anyone. He has, by His own choice and on His own terms, chosen certain people before time began to save them by sending His own Son to suffer and die in their place. Jesus willingly substituted Himself for these undeserving haters of God and God the Father accepted His sacrifice on our behalf. If God, in His mercy, has done all this work for you, then does the work necessary to bring you to true repentance and trust in Himself, imparting to you faith and love beyond measure, are you then capable of rejecting His good mercy and act of grace on your behalf? What kind of a harsh and uncaring God would allow that to happen to those whom He has forgiven for all of their sins? You are not capable of out sinning God’s grace, and you are not able to thwart the plans of a perfect, holy, and uncontrollable God who has purposed to save you from yourself to Himself.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
~ Titus 3:3-7 ESV

Remember that prayer that you prayed, or the time you raised your hand during an “altar call”? Yeah – that didn’t save you. Jesus saved you. You’re not good enough to save, you’re not smart enough to have God look at you and say, “I HAVE to have THAT GUY with me in Heaven!” There’s no amount of “good deeds” that you can do to warrant God’s saving work to be applied to your life. If anything, everything you do to “work off” your salvation or make yourself worthy is just an affront to God and mock Him for His work on your behalf. It’s not you who hold onto God, but God that holds onto you. You can’t be lost – you can’t “walk away” from your faith because it’s not “your faith” to begin with. God is the one who started the ‘good work’ of salvation within you and He will not lose a single one whom the Father has given Him. You are secure because of God’s love for you, not because of God’s love of you.

For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

~ Romans 10:10

This is not the order of salvation but a confirmation of what God has already wrought. The heart of a man is in the hands of the Lord (Exo 14:8; Deut 2:30; Ezra 7:27-28; Proverbs 21:1) and it is up to Him to direct him and his thoughts by either enlightening him to salvation through the good news of Jesus (that our sins have been paid for and our work is irrelevant) or hardening his heart to the gospel for God’s glory. Therefore the heart merely reflects that which the Lord has already produced within us through the power of the Holy Spirit and the mouth overflows with that which the heart produces.

In other news, this is my 400th post! Huzzah!

I’ve read this before and heard him speak on it numerous times. This is something that I wholly support and think that every person needs to read and consider.

Ten Reasons To Not Ask Jesus Into Your Heart by Todd Friel

The music weeps, the preacher pleads, “Give your heart to Jesus. You have a God shaped hole in your heart and only Jesus can fill it.” Dozens, hundreds or thousands of people who want to get their spiritual life on track make their way to the altar. They ask Jesus into their heart.

Cut to three months later. Nobody has seen our new convert in church. The follow up committee calls him and encourages him to attend a Bible study, but to no avail. We label him a backslider and get ready for the next outreach event.

Our beloved child lies in her snuggly warm bed and says, “Yes, Daddy. I want to ask Jesus into my heart.” You lead her in “the prayer” and hope that it sticks. You spend the next ten years questioning if she really, really meant it. Puberty hits and the answer reveals itself. She backslides. We spend the next ten years praying that she will come to her senses.

Telling someone to ask Jesus into their hearts has a very typical result, backsliding. the Bible says that a person who is soundly saved puts his hand to the plow and does not look back because he is fit for service. In other words, a true convert cannot backslide. If a person backslides, he never slid forward in the first place. “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (II Cor.5) No backsliding there.

Brace yourself for this one: with very few if any exceptions, anyone who asked Jesus into their hearts to be saved…is not. If you asked Jesus into your heart because you were told that is what you have to do to become a Christian, you were mis-informed.

If you have ever told someone to ask Jesus into their heart (like I have), you produced a false convert. Here is why.

1. It is not in the Bible. There is not a single verse that even hints we should say a prayer inviting Jesus into our hearts. Some use Rev. 3:20. To tell us that Jesus is standing at the door of our hearts begging to come in.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” There are two reasons that interpretation is wrong.

The context tells us that the door Jesus is knocking on is the door of the church, not the human heart. Jesus is not knocking to enter someone’s heart but to have fellowship with His church.

Even if the context didn’t tell us this, we would be forcing a meaning into the text (eisegesis). How do we know it is our heart he is knocking at? Why not our car door? How do we know he isn’t knocking on our foot? To suggest that he is knocking on the door of our heart is superimposing a meaning on the text that simply does not exist.

The Bible does not instruct us to ask Jesus into our heart. This alone should resolve the issue, nevertheless, here are nine more reasons.

2. Asking Jesus into your heart is a saying that makes no sense. What does it mean to ask Jesus into your heart? If I say the right incantation will He somehow enter my heart? Is it literal? Does He reside in the upper or lower ventricle? Is this a metaphysical experience? Is it figurative? If it is, what exactly does it mean? While I am certain that most adults cannot articulate its meaning, I am certain that no child can explain it. Pastor Dennis Rokser reminds us that little children think literally and can easily be confused (or frightened) at the prospect of asking Jesus into their heart.

3. In order to be saved, a man must repent (Acts 2:38). Asking Jesus into your heart leaves out the requirement of repentance.

4. In order to be saved, a man must trust in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31).

Asking Jesus into your heart leaves out the requirement of faith.

5. The person who wrongly believes they are saved will have a false sense of security. Millions of people who sincerely, but wrongly, asked Jesus into their hearts think they are saved but struggle to feel secure. They live in doubt and fear because they do not have the Holy Spirit giving them assurance of salvation.

6. The person who asks Jesus into his heart will likely end up inoculated, bitter and backslidden. Because he did not get saved by reciting a formulaic prayer, he will grow disillusioned with Jesus, the Bible, church and fellow believers. His latter end will be worse than the first.

7. It presents God as a beggar just hoping you will let Him into your busy life. This presentation of God robs Him of His sovereignty.

8. The cause of Christ is ridiculed. Visit an atheist web-site and read the pagans who scoff, “How dare those Christians tell us how to live when they get divorced more than we do? Who are they to say homosexuals shouldn’t adopt kids when tens of thousands of orphans don’t get adopted by Christians?” Born again believers adopt kids and don’t get divorced.

People who ask Jesus into their hearts do. Jesus gets mocked when false converts give Him a bad name.

9. The cause of evangelism is hindered. While it is certainly easier to get church members by telling them to ask Jesus into their hearts, try pleading with someone to make today the day of their salvation. Get ready for a painful response. “Why should I become a Christian when I have seen so called Christians act worse than a pagan?” People who ask Jesus into their hearts give pagans an excuse for not repenting.

10. Here is the scary one. People who ask Jesus into their hearts are not saved and they will perish on the Day of Judgment. How tragic that millions of people think they are right with God when they are not. How many people who will cry out, “Lord, Lord” on judgment day will be “Christians” who asked Jesus into their hearts?

So, what must one do to be saved? Repent and trust. (Heb.6:1) The Bible makes it clear that all men must repent and place their trust in Jesus Christ. Every man does have a “God shaped hole in their hearts,” but that hole is not contentment, fulfillment and peace. Every man’s heart problem is righteousness. Instead of preaching that Jesus fulfills, we must preach that God judges and Jesus satisfies God’s judgment…if a man will repent and place his trust in Him.

If you are reading this and you asked Jesus into your heart, chances are good you had a spiritual buzz for a while, but now you struggle to read your Bible, tithe, attend church and pray. Perhaps you were told you would have contentment, purpose and a better life if you just ask Jesus into your heart. I am sorry, that was a lie.

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(e.g., John 1 or God's love)