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Saved By Grace Alone

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Titus 2 Thoughts

"In all things, showing yourself [Titus] to be a pattern of good works, in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you" (Titus 2:7-8).

I have been thinking a lot about this passage as I have been studying Titus lately. The pattern of good works part was easy to understand. But it was also convicting. Paul expected Titus to show himself a pattern of good works to the younger men. It was a pattern for them to imitate which means they also should show themselves to be a pattern of good works and down the line it goes. We are all older than someone and we should be conscious of our living and deliberate in living right so others can learn to do the same and find their joy in obeying Christ.

That is convicting to me. I can be a pretty lousy pattern sometimes. The good thing is God is not finished with me yet and also that He is constantly making me aware of areas I need to improve on.

But it is the next part that has really been on my mind. We are to show doctrinal integrity. That is heavy because it means we must approach Scripture with consistency and an openness to correction. I am constantly confronted with doctrinal issues. Those who confront me are, I am sure, also constantly confronted about their stands. People ask me, or many times attack me, because I have abandoned the concept of free will in salvation. The reason I have done this is because I can find no teaching on the will that is positive in the Bible. Anytime the Bible describes our heart or will or nature, it describes it negatively and as untrustworthy. And when the Bible says I was a slave to sin, I believe I was a slave to sin. When the Bible says I was dead in sin, I believe that and when the Bible says I was blind, I carry that all the way to the conclusion that God is telling me I cannot see. What can I not see? Him...His gospel. Unless He changes me, unless He opens my eyes, unless He frees my enslaved will, Unless He makes me alive, Unless He moves me, I do not believe I could have seen Him or the gospel to be saved. Up to now, I consider the presupposition of free will to be something that lacks integrity when approaching the Bible. It is a philosophical presupposition. It is not taught in Scripture. It is read into scripture but it is not taught there.

Not all presuppositions are bad but they definitely need to be supported by Scripture and I cannot see how it is supported by the teaching on the heart and will. Someone may write and say men make choices in the Bible, but those are narratives and they do not deal with "why" people made the choices they made. When we say the will is in bondage we are not saying people cannot make choices. We are saying we will make choices and act based on our nature. And when we are lost, we make choices based on our sinful nature. A fish is free in the water to swim wherever it wants, but it is not free to come out of the water and live. In your sinful nature you will never be able to swim outside that nature unless God gives you the ability to do so. God can give you a new heart and cause you to see His goodness and grace.

But I tarried too long on that...I expect attacks on that one. But here is where I want to close. Paul told Titus that in doctrine he was to show reverence...This reminds me of Peter telling us to be ready to give a reason for the hope that we have but to do it with gentleness and respect. This is where I am struggling. I get these posts from people who disagree and then I go to their blogs or websites and find entire pages of demeaning, ridiculing, material making fun of those who contradict them. When I see it I cringe. Not because I think they are right but because I think it is arrogant and rude and irreverent. I thought we were in it to win people to Christ, not to "Prove how clever and superior" we are. I am fine with humor here and there. Especially when in dialogue with someone and it is just to make a point or something. But to see people making fun of Calvinists or any group, well, this passage has really challenged me to not do that. Believe me this is not easy on me because I am guilty of doing this. I am even hesitating posting this becasue I know I will do it again. But this is an area I will work to improve on. So in all I think this is God working Titus 2 in me.

I had to add this, I do believe there is a time for sarcasm and challenge, such as Elijah's challenge to the prophets of Baal. I am thinking all of this through. What I do know is that there is a time for it but it certainly is should not be a pattern. Gentleness and Respect are called for. Its late and I am now starting to have a fried so I am going to call it a night and if I come up with anything more I will post it. Have a great night.

Monday, April 14, 2008

James White, Steve Gregg Debate

Well, I listened to the debate between Steve Gregg and James White and came out a Calvinist still. Steve Gregg really stretched things. There was a point when he said that when someone reads the Bible for themselves they are Arminian by default. People, he said, do not become Calvinists until someone comes along and teaches them Calvinism. I had three thoughts on that.

1. When I was Arminian in my theology, which was from my childhood, I struggled with the plethora of passages that seemed to indicate God was in total control of all things, including who would be saved. But (get this) I was TAUGHT that those passages did not mean what they appear to mean. I trusted my pastors, but I was never satisfied. I wanted the right answers.

2. I wondered how many people were amen-ing Steve Gregg when he said that and when it came to discussing Romans 9 were eagerly awaiting how Steve Gregg would interpret it. But if the Bible is Arminian by default, why would they need Steve Gregg to come up with an answer for them. I mean, when you read Romans chapter 9, aren't you an Arminian by default by reading it? Steve Gregg said he never met a person who read the Bible on their own and came out a Calvinist. Well, I have never met a person who read Romans 9 and came out saying, "That totally fits my Arminian thinking." Of course it really does not matter what people are or are not "by default". What matters is the objective truth. And I will add that, it would not surprise me that man would be Arminian by default because it is natural to come to the Bible with the presupposition of man having "free will".

3. We need others to teach us the meaning of the Scriptures. Steve Gregg acts as if this is a bad thing and proves the "evil" of Calvinism. The truth is God gave us teachers to...thats right...teach. No scripture is a matter of ones own private interpretation.

There was another comment by Stever Gregg that was misrepresentative and misleading. He said Calvinism was not taught in the church until Augustine taught it. This reminds me of the Jehovah's Witness's poor claim that the Trinity was not taught until the church declared Arius a heretic. Doctrine is in the Bible. It is not formulated in the Bible. It is not given in systematic doses. For example we do not have "The Book of the Trinity" which formulates and presents for us all the details of the Trinity. It is duduced from all of Scripture. We don't have the book of "The Deity of Christ" where all teaching of Christ's godhood can be found. The church had always believed certain things, but in most cases had not formulated those beliefs until those COMMON beliefs were challenged by people like Arius and Pelagius. When serious challenges arose, councils would convene and determine if opposing views were acceptable in any way. So to use that as some sort of litmus test as to whether or not "Calvinism" was always taught is misleading and ill-informed.

This is not at all a comprehensive look at that debate. But just some thoughts. More on Calvinism is coming.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I am listening to a radio debate between James White (Calvinist) and Steve Gregg (Non-Calvinist). I am calling him a non-Calvinist because he definitely has different views from common Armininianism. Gregg is a very intelligent man. He has thought through how to make passages fit his non-Calvinistic view. What he will not think through is the consistency, I should say inconsistency of his views.

It was today that he imploded. He began asking questions that require explanational answers, and demanded a yes/no answer. That is just rude. Anyway, I am planning on getting to our study soon. And then after that brief intro...I may tackle the points of their debate. If I do, I will try to pick it apart comment by comment. But who knows.

Life is good. God has blessed us with a fourth pregnancy. We are praying He will bring this one to full term like he did with Luke. We have been pretty busy lately so I am trying to find some time to actually sit down and write some worthwhile stuff.

If you are interested in the debate between White and Gregg go to and you can find the links there.