Category Archives: Sovereinty of God

Saturday Sampler: March 26 — April 1

Butterfly SamplerJohn Ellis’ piece in PJ Media, Teenage Boy Sues School Over Transgender Bathrooms is a political article rather than a specifically Christian one, but it serves as a reminder that our culture has chosen a path that degrades most of society. Christians must prepare to be marginalized as a new version of “morality” takes over.

Continuing her series on discernment at Growing 4 Life, Leslie A. writes Learn to Discern: Acknowledging the War. Find out how (and why) spiritual warfare fits into using discernment properly.

Does the Lord care how we worship Him? Rebekah Womble, blogging at Wise In His Eyes, believes He does. Her blog post, The Freedom of Worshipping God’s Way (she spelled worshiping with two p’s, not me), helps us understand why we must avoid self-styled approaches to worshiping a holy God.

Why Bargain With God?, a post that Kennedy Mathis wrote for Biblical Woman, brings back memories of my struggles as a single woman. But the principle she’s learned really applies  to any struggle Christians have.

As you can tell, I appreciate the series on cessationism that Jordan Standridge has been doing for The Cripplegate this month. His latest article, Three Reasons God is a Cessationist, employs arguments I’ve heard before, but they’re not common arguments. Please, if you have any Charismatic or continualist leanings, consider the points he makes.

Cameras Buettel, writing for the Grace To You Blog, says You Might Be A Pharisee If… This essay helps us examine ourselves (and others) more effectively to make sure we remain faithful to the Bible.

Jennifer of One Hired Late In The Day writes Same Bible, different beliefs, showing how the Lord helped her work though a perplexing question. And while you’re on her website, please check out Deconstructing Absurdity: a discernment lesson to watch her tackle a recent Tweet by Rick Warren.

R.C. Sproul posts TULIP and Reformed Theology: Unconditional Election on the Ligonier blog. Appealing to Scripture, he both explains the doctrine of election and deals with the argument that election is unjust.

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Why My Hope Is In The Lord

Hello. My name is DebbieLynne and, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, I’m a sinner.

By His grace, the Lord doesn’t see my sinfulness, however. Jesus mercifully took my sins on Himself, accepting the Father’s wrath and (incredible as it may sound) covering me with His righteousness! He, therefore, is my hope. I can’t trust in myself to gain entrance into heaven, but I rest assured of salvation because of what He’s graciously done for me.

Today’s hymn celebrates Christ’s abundant grace in saving His own. As you listen, let your heart celebrate.

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Saturday Sampler: March 19 — March 25

Flower SamplerContinuing her series in Growing 4 Life, Leslie A. writes Learn to Discern: Who Do You Follow? She raises several important points that women should seriously consider as we pray to develop our discernment .

Unbelief doesn’t need one more miracle says Jennifer at One Hired Late in the Day. I’d been considering writing a similar article, but I really couldn’t improve on hers. If you want a solid explanation of the doctrine of justification, Jennifer’s blog post certainly gives it clearly.

“Authentic” seems to be the latest buzzword among evangelicals. In Has “Be Authentic” Replaced “Be Holy”? Rebekah Womble explains what postmodern people mean by authenticity, contrasting their understanding of the characteristic with the holiness that Christ calls us to practice.

Dinitatians typically believe in the Father and the Son, but not the Holy Spirit. In his blog post, Are Cessationists Dinitatians? Eric Davis of The Cripplegate refutes the popular notion that non-Charismatics don’t believe in the Holy Spirit. I love his list of 20 things Cessationists believe about the Holy Spirit.

Do you sometimes wonder what you should pray in praying for your pastor? Steve Altroggie, blogging on The Blazing Center, enumerates 8 Prayers You Should Regularly Pray For Your Pastor to offer us good direction in the matter.

John Ellis’ article, How NOT to Argue Online in adayinhiscourt convicted me. But it also encouraged me in arguing my case in ways that honor the Lord .

Responding to one of Beth Moore’s recent Tweets, Elizabeth Prata writes How does the Holy Spirit lead us? in her blog, The End Time. Her essay is lengthy, admittedly (and perhaps could have been broken into two separate ones), but her point is so crucial to Christian women that I strongly recommend it as essential reading.

In Don’t Get Your Theology from Movies, Michelle Lesley explains why even Movie Subscription Services that advertise themselves as Christian fail at helping us negotiate life’s issues. I’ve never seen anyone address this matter quite this comprehensively before, but Michelle does an excellent job.

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David, Saul’s Robe And President Trump

Pray For AmericaReading through 1 Samuel today, I noticed something in a familiar story that made me think about attitudes that people have toward President Trump. Let me begin by quoting the passage, which narrates part of David’s flight from Saul.

When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord‘s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord‘s anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way. ~~1 Samuel 24:1-7 (ESV)

From there the narrative goes on by saying that David was conscience stricken, and confessed to Saul (from a safe distance, mind you) that he’d cut a piece from Saul’s robe. His confession, however, wasn’t 100% humble, as he used it pretty much to say, “You owe me.” In response, Saul acknowledged that God would indeed give David the kingdom.

This story has several components, and in emphasizing one aspect I certainly don’t mean to neglect the greater context of God’s sovereignty in humbling Saul. But as I read it this morning, David’s insistence on regarding Saul as the Lord’s anointed fascinated me.

Saul had rebelled against the Lord on several occasions, causing God to take the kingdom from him and transfer the kingly anointing to David. David had yet to ascend the throne, and Saul had tried relentlessly to keep that from happening. In short, Saul was determined to kill David in order to remain Israel’s king. He had absolutely no regard for God’s decision to give David the kingdom.

David knew that Saul was a corrupt man. Completely aware that God had judged Saul by rejecting him as king, David still remembered that Saul remained on the throne at that moment. For that reason, David respected Saul’s office as being given by the Lord. He refused to assassinate the king, even though he had first hand experience of Saul’s wickedness.

As I read 1 Samuel 24:1-7 today, I couldn’t help thinking about attitudes that even Christians have been exhibiting toward President Trump. I understand the frustration of having a president who, in your estimation, will severely harm the country. I felt the same frustration eight years ago, and dreaded a Hillary Clinton presidency. I nevertheless prepared myself to trust that, if Clinton won, the Lord would have sovereignly given her that position (Romans 13:1).

I don’t pretend to approve wholeheartedly of Trump either, so please don’t misconstrue this blog post as a ringing endorsement of him. Some of his policies have pleasantly surprised me; others have disappointed me. Certainly, I believe he has low moral character, and therefore don’t see him as a champion of Christian values.

Furthermore, I honestly don’t know whether God placed Trump in the White House to restrain evil or as an instrument of judgment. Neither do you, incidentally. But I know from the Word of God that, precisely because God did put him there, I must respect him as David respected Saul.

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Perspectives In Titus: Paul’s Mission And God’s Plan

Bible And WorshipLadies, today we begin our weekly Bible Studies, this time exploring the letter that the apostle Paul wrote to his protege Titus. If you haven’t read Titus yet, please go to this link and read the epistle (it’s only three chapters) to get some context. Or, if you prefer, read it in your own Bible or Bible app. But please take time to read it before continuing in today’s lesson.

Rather than introducing Titus today, which would arguably give us good background in studying the book, I’m going to tell you about him when we get to verse 4. Instead, let’s spend time discussing Paul’s salutation,  which will orient us to the apostle’s mission as it fits into God’s eternal plan. These three verses will in turn lay a foundation for Titus in his ministry to the churches in Crete.

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; ~~Titus 1:11-3 (ESV)

Paul wastes no time in describing himself as God’s servant. Do not miss this very important point! As we will see when we meet Titus, Paul is writing to a young pastor, instructing him on godly ways to conduct ministry. By establishing himself as God’s servant, Paul indicates the fundamental attitude Titus needs to adopt. The authority God gives them must be regarded as a vehicle for serving Him.

Furthermore, Paul demonstrates his servant’s attitude as he states his position as an apostle, or ambassador, of Jesus Christ. The term “apostle” denotes being sent out as someone else’s representative. Therefore, Paul serves God by representing the interests of Jesus Christ.

But Paul represents Jesus Christ for the sake of God’s chosen people. That’s an added layer. So he serves the Lord essentially by serving others. Yet he serves those others by exercising his authority to teach them. He ministers to develop their knowledge of the truth, as he will explain momentarily.

Before Paul tells us how he delivers the knowledge of the truth to the elect, however, he explains that this knowledge accords with godliness. The Greek word translated in the ESV as “accords with” has, in this context, the meaning of having an end result. Thus, Paul regards doctrine as a gateway to holy living. He elaborates on this point in Chapters 2 and 3, especially in Titus 2:11-14.  God calls His elect to understand right doctrine so that we can live in holiness.

This godliness, he says in verse 2, leads to hope of eternal life. Here, the word for hope, in contrast to the anemic wishful thinking that we commonly call hope in our culture, actually means assurance. Paul wants his ministry to assure Christians of eternal life. He emphasizes this assurance with an appeal to God’s promise.

Notice that God’s promise is predicated on two points, neither of which we can discuss in detail right now. First, Paul asserts that God doesn’t lie. We can expect eternal life because God has promised it. Second, God made this promise before time began. He didn’t make it on the spur of the moment, in other words. This promise has always been firmly established in God’s will.

Verse 3 continues Paul’s thought by adding that God brought His promise about at the time He decreed. Apparently, Paul just can’t pass up an opportunity to celebrate God’s sovereignty!

Finally, Paul returns to his point that he serves God by bringing the knowledge of the truth to the elect. He accomplishes this task by preaching God’s Word. Those of you who read The Outspoken TULIP  often know that I’d love to write an entire blog post on this one clause! So tune in  next Monday, and we’ll talk about just that.

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Saturday Sampler: January 29– February 4

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As an introduction to a new series in his blog, Tim Challies writes False Teachers and Deadly Doctrine to demonstrate the necessity for distinguishing between good and bad teaching.  We live in a time of Biblical illiteracy, and it’s imperative that we inoculate ourselves against deception.

Elizabeth Prata’s essay, Discernment lesson: how secular writers of Biblical material manipulate your emotions in The End Time, sharpens our reasoning skills a little more. She encourages us to compare everything we read,  hear or watch to Scripture.

Going on Facebook and Twitter hasn’t been fun lately, especially for people who support some of President Trump’s Executive Orders. I know I’ve struggled with self-control as I’ve wanted to weigh in on various news stories. So I greatly appreciate Pastor Scott Slayton, who writes at One Degree to Another, for his counsel in 7 Questions to Ask Before Posting about Politics on Social Media.

In her post, Meme Theology Discernment Lesson: How Does God Choose Us?, Jennifer of One Hired Late In The Day analyzes a popular meme that isn’t quite as Biblical as it appears.

Women in Scripture: Lydia, which Persis writes in Out of the Ordinary, takes us through Acts 16:11-15 to affirm God’s sovereignty in bringing people to salvation. Persis brings out details to this account that I’d never been taught before, adding to my awe of how the Lord orchestrates circumstances to accomplish His purposes.

It’s right and proper to encourage women to read and study the Bible daily. But sometimes we simply can’t. Rachel of danielthree18, as a homeschooling mom of a six-year-old with a sleep disorder, understands the dilemma. Her article, How I’m Studying the Bible in 2017, offers helpful suggestions and a healthy dose of grace to those of us who occasionally get interrupted by the demands of life.

Catholics typically defend doctrines like Purgatory and praying for the dead by appealing to the Apocrypha, accusing Protestants of “throwing out” those books. Glen Chatfield of The Watchman’s Bagpipes helps us counter Catholic claims on this matter in his blog post, What About the Apocrypha? Some of his points may surprise you!

Can we apologize to LBGT people for our actual sins against them (and yes, Christians have committed sins against them that require us to repent) without going to the other extreme of condoning their sin? The Apology to the LBGT Community That Needs An Apology by Tim Barnett of Stand To Reason makes an excellent case for showing love by telling the truth about homosexual sin.

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Does Suffering Provide Intimacy With Jesus

Over the last forty plus years, I’ve had a lot of exposure to Joni Eareckson Tada. I’ve read her books (well, some of them), listened to her radio show and have met her personally four times. In many respects, I admire the woman, and I applaud much of the work that her ministry, Joni and Friends, does to bring the Gospel to people afflicted by disability. To my disappointment, my cassette tapes of her singing wore out, and I can’t find her albums on mp3 format (if any of you know where I could get them, please put a link in the comments section or on The Outspoken TULIP’s Facebook page).

Although I’m still a fan of Joni’s singing, during the past six or seven years little things about her theology have sort of nagged at me. Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not saying Joni’s a false teacher on the level of Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer or Ann Voskamp. The bulk of her teaching lies well within the boundaries of orthodox Christianity. All of us have blind spots, and perhaps my quibbles with Joni reflect blind spots in me. So I beg you not to misinterpret this essay as a denunciation of this woman.

At the same time, a few unrelated things about her have made me more cautious about her ministry than I used to be. I’ve been praying about my concerns for several months, knowing that things simply weren’t right.  The other day, however, I watched a YouTube video that made me think seriously about her teaching and its influence on me. As a result, I believe I need to address an element of her teaching that troubles me.

Here’s the hour-long  video, for those who would like to see it:

Whether you watch it or not, I want to explain why it bothers me.

In her talk, Joni began with a statement that I’d heard her make many times over the last forty years. In essence, she said that she wouldn’t trade her quadriplegia for anything because of the intimacy it has given her with Jesus. From there, she proceeded to describe various instances in which the Lord has comforted her in her suffering, encouraging those in her audience to likewise find His comfort during their times of hardship.

This type of thinking inspires people, most assuredly. I’ve found it inspiring on more than one occasion. But as I mulled it over the other day, it occurred to me that Joni had taken a by-product of suffering and was presenting it as suffering’s main purpose. While she frequently inched close to the truth that God allows and uses suffering with the primary purpose of glorifying Himself, she’d always revert back to the benefits of suffering to her. As a result, she (I believe unintentionally) communicated a self-centered view of Christianity rather than a Christ-centered one.

On one level, I understand how she would put such an emphasis on self. Those of us with severe physical disabilities live in worlds where large networks of people provide various services to us, ranging from intimacies like bathroom routines to impersonal acts like driving paratransit vehicles. In all these situations, our needs necessarily take priority. Understandably, we become accustomed to being the center of attention. Not surprisingly, therefore, we see the Lord as the ultimate Person Who takes care of us.

And the Lord indeed does take care of us. Our disabilities render us wonderfully dependent on Him in ways that most able-bodied Christians don’t get to enjoy.

But.

As much as disability (or any suffering) facilitates intimate dependence on Jesus, and as wonderful as that intimate dependence may be, it’s really not the point. Later in her talk, Joni imagines a conversation she’ll have with Jesus in heaven. As she walks hand-in-hand with Him, He points to her wheelchair and tells her all the ways He’s used her because of it.

That’s not how I picture heaven.  I imagine being before Him, overwhelmed by His glory and greatness. When I see Him face-to-face, I seriously doubt I’ll think about myself at all, unless it’s to grieve over the many ways I will have failed to honor Him. Frankly, I won’t be thinking about my disability in heaven. I’ll be too fascinated with Jesus and His magnificence to think about myself!

Does my disability give me an intimacy with Jesus that I wouldn’t have enjoyed otherwise? I have absolutely no idea. Furthermore, if it does, that’s an added benefit. He’s sovereignly blessed me with Cerebral Palsy for purposes that glorify Him, and any intimacy that I have with Him because of it comes a a bonus. I tremble at the thought of teaching young women to regard suffering as something God allows in their lives for their sake.

Joni Eareckson Tada is not a false teacher, but I do believe her emphasis on self could reinforce the narcissism that plagues evangelical communities today. In a time when professing Christians need to turn attention away from self in order to proclaim the excellencies of the Lord Jesus Christ, we don’t need teachings that encourage self-focus…even as a means of coping with suffering.

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