Effectually, who is, “the world” in John 3:16?

I know many who are opposed to the Doctrines of Grace like to quote John 3:16 at us as a, “gotcha” proof text verse.  It usually goes something like this, ” Let’s read John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.)  See there, it says, “God so loved the world.”  I have one question for our friends, “What do you do with, “whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  It is pretty obvious that the ones that are being saved are the ones who believe in Him.  If not, just look at the next few verses.

Here is a paraphrase of something Jon Owen penned, Jesus either paid for all the sins of all men, or some of the sins of all men, or all of the sins of some men, .  If He paid for all of the sins of all men, and only the unbeliever fails to make that justification effectual through the sin of unbelief, then Jesus did not pay for all the sins of all men.  If Jesus paid for some of the sins of all men, then men would still have sins that they would have to pay for.  We know this is not true as well.  The only position that harmonizes with the entirety of scripture is that Jesus paid all of the sins of some men.  He paid for the sins of the elect.

We can see in the following verses that the, “all who are being saved” are one in the same with the, “ones who the Father had given Him” and are also the, “ones who behold the Son and believe in Him.”

John 6:35-40 NASB Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. [36] “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. [37] “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. [38] “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. [39] “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. [40] “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

Romans 8:28-30 NASB And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. [29] For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; [30] and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

If just the ones who believe are being saved, that means the ones who aren’t believing are not being saved.  So He didn’t save the entire world.  He didn’t make salvation available for every person, and then leave it up to them to get saved.  They in their unbelief couldn’t and wouldn’t even try to get themselves saved.  Salvation is conditional and Christ meets the conditions of it for us.  We know that saving grace, faith, and repentance are different than there counterparts that lead to death.  Human grace, faith, and repentance are of no avail.  So the only, “whoevers” that will believe in a way that leads to eternal life are the elect of God.  So the ones who He died for are the elect.  They are the, “whoever” that the verse refers to.

To all my Family and Friends, who Think I am a Religious Fanatic,

To all of my family and friends, who think that I have become too religious, fanatical, or that I am one of those Christians who push their religion down everyone’s throat’s, please consider this; If I truly believe what the Bible says about Hell, if I believe all people who have not repented of sin and put their faith in Christ are going to spend eternity in Hell, having the wrath of God poured out on them forever, and I just live my happy little life without warning you of the Hell to come for you, how is that loving? I would be actively hating you and not obedient to God. My love for Him and you compels me to warn you! Wake up! A faith in God is fine. Everyone believes in God. Even the devil and the demons believe in God so you are in the company of demons, congratulations. The Faith that saves is more than just an intellectual affirmation that God exists and you believe in Him. You might even affirm that Jesus is God and that He died for your sins, that won’t save you either. Many people sit in Church on Sunday and say they believe, but they have not been crucified with Christ. They have not been born again as a new person. They don’t even understand what that means, because it hasn’t happened to them. They think they are, but they can’t know until God has regenerated them, and justified them, granting them true faith and repentance that leads to life. You can believe in God and live the same life you were before, because you don’t truly believe what He says, or what He has done. Truly believing in God means you will believe what He says and live life according to His truth. So what you do will seem strange to everyone who does not trust what He says in His word. If I explain to you how a parachute works and how you are to use it, but if you act as if you don’t truly believe me or trust me, or the parachute, when the airplane is in trouble, you will sit in your seat and hope for the best as you plummet to your death. If what I had told you changed your thinking towards the parachute, you will put it on and use it. Faith applied in action is true faith. It must change you. You must behave as it is true. If I were the only one who could truly see that there was a pit of fire in front of millions of people and they were all about to fall in, even if I warned them, they would insist I was crazy, but what if I wasn’t? What if they were just blind to it? Christians truly see what is actual, because God has opened their eyes. If you are not truly saved you are blind to the hell to come. We simply love you too much to not warn you. Repent, turn away from your sins, let them go, don’t hold on to any remnant of your old life, let the old man be killed and buried, be born anew as a servant of God. Believe Him and His work on the cross. Jesus is God and He has shed His precious blood to pay for your sins. Believe in and on Him for your salvation and live out the new life He has brought you into.

You Can’t Sell What’s Not Yours!

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I’m sure you have all read a story, seen a movie, or television show, where the plot revolves around the main character selling his soul to the devil by signing some contract. Usually it is for fame, fortune, power over enemies, or to get the girl. Come to think of it, usually it is a combination of those things. Growing up in America during the 80’s, freedom was the centerpiece of what it meant to be an American. I never felt more free than when I was about 12 years old. I was old enough to go anywhere I wanted, as far as my bike could take me, and young enough to not have the responsibilities of taking care of myself or others. I would ride my bike to, “Black’s Bridge” and play by the river. I would take my BB gun and shoot dragon flies, or whatever else would sit still long enough. My cousin and I would catch snakes and keep them in a 5 gallon bucket, only to dump them in my mom’s bed while she slept. If I had to come up with a time in my life where I felt free, that would be it. If you wanted to be a patriotic little man, you needed freedom.

As I grew I started to feel the bands of oppression tighten around me. I needed a job. I had to pay my bills. I married a woman who had two small sons. I needed a better job. I had to be a good role model. I needed to teach the boys how to be good men. My wife and I had two daughters, so I had to be more tender and help my wife help them. I had to keep my marriage strong. No time for difficulties at work. Appliances wear out and break. Everything costs money. Unexpected surgeries send us into debt. Life starts choking the feeling of freedom away pretty quick.

I found out that the laws were overly restrictive as well.  I still don’t understand how property taxes can be legal.  I also don’t understand the legal requirement to have a concealed permit to carry a firearm.  Apparently we now aren’t free to practice our religion either.  Bake a cake or get shut down.  While babies are being denied their freedom by being aborted.  We really aren’t free in America.

Only when I started thinking spiritually about it did it start to make more sense. As a young man I was Arminian and slightly Pentecostal in my theology. I had no problem with thinking a person could sell their soul to the devil. It was theirs after all. Of course I thought it was wrong to do so, but theoretically, it could happen. I also had the sense that it was impossible, niggling at the recesses of my mind. Later in life, as God worked in my sanctification, He brought me into a fuller understanding of my sinfulness and His holiness. This in conjunction with learning more about soteriology lead me to understand that I am not my own. In fact, no human being owns themselves. We are all created by God for His glory.

Now the premise of selling your soul to the devil just seems ludicrous. You simply can’t sell what you have no rights to. God has the authority.  The problem here is that my pre-conversion soul is already a slave to sin nature, because of the fall. The devil doesn’t have to buy it. It is fallen from the start.  That doesn’t mean the devil owns it.  He is a fallen creature too.

Not to mention, the devil doesn’t have the means to purchase a single soul, nor does he have the authority to purchase one. He is a creature himself. He is under the same authority we are. Theoretically, his only purpose for purchasing a soul would be to rend it from the saving hands of Christ. Since it isn’t possible for God to lose even one of the elect, this is not a concern.

If souls could be bought and sold, we as fallen creatures would make a market out of it for sordid profit, to be sure. Ignoble and greedy, we would make slaves of souls. God in His sovereignty and providence has ensured that won’t happen. We do however; need to be rescued from the slavery that we are in before conversion, the bondage of the soul to sin. God in His sovereignty made man. He made him in full knowledge that he would fall when tempted. He made man, knowing who He would save from sin and who He would not. He made man, knowing that He would curse his progeny for the original sin, with death. All people born after the fall are born as slaves to sin because of the fall. We are all sinners and dead spiritually.

The Holy Spirit makes the elect alive according to the will of the Father, so that we can sense our sin and need. It becomes real to us. In this conviction, the elect seek reconciliation with God. In the newness of life they are driven, compelled, and ravenous, for relief of the condition of condemnation. The knowledge of our own personal sin is the impetus that drives us to the foot of the cross.

The same God who made us, who knew that we would be sinners, also made a way for us to glorify Him according to His sovereign decree. God in the second personage of the Trinity put on flesh at the incarnation, being born of a virgin, by the work of the Holy Spirit, according to the will of the Father, Christ Jesus, our Passover lamb became the vessel for the wrath of God that our sins warrant. He in obedience to the Father suffered the very wrath of God, that we deserve upon the cross, to justify us. The penalty being paid by the one who was innocent, paying the penalty for the guilty who justly deserve it. All of this was planned out from the very beginning.

I hope we can see that it is ludicrous to think for a moment that our souls are our own, and free to sell. The devil is just another creature and your soul is already a slave to sin. Our only hope is to recognize our need for a redeemer. Only God can fathom the depths of our debt. We cannot rightly perceive how sinful we are. He alone can justly account the measure of wrath we deserve and He alone can atone. So don’t delay. If God has convicted you of your sin, repent of it and believe upon Jesus’ work on the cross for your justification. Pray that God will redeem your soul from sin and you will be His for eternity.  Better to belong to God than be able to sell your soul for any worldly gain.

If the LDS are right about who God is, then God and His word are wrong.

If the LDS are right about who God is, then God and His word are wrong.

In the Bible we have doctrines that are expressed by Jesus Himself, The one and only God incarnate, none ever before Him and none after Him anywhere or anytime.  These doctrines are repeated and expounded upon by the Apostles in the Epistles of the New Covenant recorded in the New Testament.  These doctrines are exclusive claims to actual truths.  When someone else confesses a doctrine that asserts something other than what has already been established by the one true, immutable, and infallible God, then our only option is to reject their  assertion as heresy.

Let’s look at some of their doctrines that conflict with Biblical doctrines, and are mutually exclusive in their claims.  Christians claim there is only one true God.  There has never been any other god besides Him. He has always existed in trinity. He has never not existed.  We also claim that if you don’t believe in Him as explained here, as one being in three personages, that you can not be called part of the Church.  Because, you have put your faith in a different god.  Obviously, worshipping a different god makes you not a Christian.

Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormons) do not have one triune God.  They actually have a number of gods approaching infinity.  They choose to worship just one of the gods Joseph Smith imagined for them.  The god they choose to worship, was once a man named Elohim.  He lived on a planet orbiting a star called Kolab.  So their god is an E.T. extra terrestrial, alien from outer space.  Allegedly he was such a good follower of the mormon doctrines that he was promoted to being an exalted man.  He eventually became the god of this solar system and the Earth that we live on.  So the one god that they worship out of the billions of gods they have, was once a created man.  He was born of his father god and goddess mother.  They now call him Heavenly Father and believe he has a body of flesh and bone.  They believe that he had sex with Mary the virgin and that Jesus the spirit child was then embodied in his biological son with Mary.  Here is a quote from the Brigham Young University site,

As the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret” (TPJS, p. 345). Thus, the Father became the Father at some time before “the beginning” as humans know it, by experiencing a mortality similar to that experienced on earth. There has been speculation among some Latter-day Saints on the implications of this doctrine, but nothing has been revealed to the Church about conditions before the “beginning” as mortals know it. The important points of the doctrine for Latter-day Saints are that Gods and humans are the same species of being, but at different stages of development in a divine continuum, and that the heavenly Father and Mother are the heavenly pattern, model, and example of what mortals can become through obedience to the gospel (see Mother in Heaven). Knowing that they are the literal offspring of Heavenly Parents and that they can become like those parents through the gospel of Jesus Christ is a wellspring of religious motivation. With God as the literal Father and with humans having the capacity to become like him, the basic religious questions “Where did I come from?,” “Why am I here?,” and What is my destiny?” are fundamentally answered.

Keep in mind that our LDS friends co-opt many of our words.  They mean something completely different to them.  When we talk of God the Father or Jesus we are talking about a very different God than they are.  They might believe we are talking about the same god, but they have better and more true information than we do.  The gospel to them is not the same things we think of.  Their gospel is a bunch of laws, rules, do’s and don’ts, from their book Doctrine and Covenants.  Our understanding comes from the Biblical definition.  The word, “gospel” means, “good message or news.”  When we think of the gospel of Jesus, we understand it to mean the penal substitutionary atonement wrought by Christ God Himself for the salvation of His sovereignly elected saints to bring glory to His name. In Christianity the work has been done by Jesus.  He paid for our sins.  By repenting and believing in Him, his work is imputed to us.  It is done, done, done.  We do good works because of our new affections and desires born from a regenerated spirit as born again believers.

with this article on only of few of the many differences, I hope it is obvious that the LDS are not Christian.  They are a polytheistic Arian cult, created by the false prophet Joseph Smith.

A Review of Todd Friel’s Book, “Jesus Unmasked: The Truth Will Shock You”

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The title of this book is pretty indicative of the subject matter.  The author succeeds at explaining who Jesus was and is.  He teaches that Christ is the focus of the Bible in its entirety.  He demonstrates how Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies, shadows and types.  All of this is done with simple terms when possible.  When it is not possible Mr. Friel explains the nomenclature for the laymen.

I have to make a small disclaimer here.  I am a big fan of, “Wretched Radio.”  It is a radio show and podcast.  Todd Friel is the host/on-air personality.  I have learned a lot, a lot, a lot, from the show over the years.  My review will be from the perspective of a Reformed Baptist and a fan of the show.  So don’t expect much in the way of negativity.  I honestly agree with all of what is said in the book.  I find it to be Biblically sound and interesting to read.  It is a, “must read” for everybody.  If you’ve just been born again or if you’ve been 50 years into the sanctification process this book will edify you.

In the first chapter the author deals with world views, specifically post-modernism.  This was a great place to start as a philosophy class on epistemology would not be beneficial for the target audience.  This is a short chapter that sets the tone for the rest of the book.  You get a look at the serious subject matter and a look at some of Todd’s humor that makes him such an interesting fellow to listen to.  It is obvious that he has a level of mastery of the subject matter without coming off as an aloof overlord.

The following chapters flesh out some basics of Christian theology in simple terms.  Then he gets down to the bulk of the work, which is highlighting Christ from the beginning of the Bible to the end.  Vary rarely in Christian books of around 200 pages do we get such a complete and profound picture of Jesus.  Most of the books I’ve reviewed in the recent past have been theological fluff, Christian cotton candy, hardly worth reading at all.  You know how you feel after eating junk for a month?  Yep! That’s how most “Christian books” leave me feeling after reading them.  They were time killers with not nutritional value.  I probably would have got more out of them if I’d eaten them.  Well, that is not so of this work.  I would rank it up there with, “The Holiness of God” by R. C. Sproul, or maybe, “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan.

The main way that the author highlights Christ throughout the entire Bible is by expounding on the prophecies, shadows, and types, that Jesus fulfills.  This can be a bit tricky.  I’ve seen some pretty bad attempts that only make the Bible look disjunct.  When done correctly, as in this case, the Bible comes alive.  The harmony of scripture sings to the heart and mind of the believer who sees the richness and majesty of the true faith established once and for all by God.  Being able to see the ark Noah built and understand that it is a look forward to Jesus.  Seeing the rock that sprang forth lifesaving water in the desert for the Israelites, and how Jesus is the better fount.  Seeing the Sabbath, from our perspective, looking back to recognize rest in Christ’s work.  These and many more examples fill the pages of this book.  The gospel is fleshed out fully and explicitly.  You won’t find a list of, “do’s” to check off, and you won’t find some silly, formulaic, “pray this prayer.”  You will understand who Jesus is, what you are, what He has done, and how you should respond.  If you have loved ones who aren’t saved, get them this book.  If you have friends or family who are young in their faith, get them this book.  If you have become a crusty old codger, get yourself this book.  It will blow the carbon out of the old exhaust and get you fired up again.

You can buy this book from the wretched store.

You can pick up a copy at Christianbook.com

You can purchase it from the publisher Newleaf

or you can get it on Amazon in different formats including audio.

The gospel of Jesus

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The gospel of Jesus. We are a sinners who deserve death and hell. He is God incarnate. He is righteous and holy. He deserves all of the majesty of Heaven and our praise. In His longsuffering He endures our hatred of Him and His law. He condescends to save us from the condemnation of hell. He is raised upon a cross, thereupon crucified. He takes our punishment upon Himself, thus satisfying the justice of God. The wrath of God is assuaged by His atoning work. We hear about what He has done for us and either believe it or not. If not, then the flames of hell are waiting for us, and rightly so, for we are fully culpable for our transgressions. If we believe, then repentance is our faith revealed and testimony to the dying world. We hate our sins and turn to Christ our redeemer, who purchased us with His sacrifice upon the cross. He becomes our Lord and Master. Sin no longer rules us. Our minds are being renewed by the reading of His word. Our hearts are transformed into new living hearts with God honoring desires. He sanctifies us as we grow in faith and knowledge of Him. We are born again. Not to live as slaves to sin and death, but to live as bondservants of Christ and holiness. Love Jesus with all of your heart, for He is the Savior!

Pitch and atonement

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Someone told me that the Hebrew word for, “pitch” in the book of Genesis is the same as the word for atonement. I was curious about this so I grabbed a concordance and looked it up. This is what I found; the Hebrew word for, “pitchH3724” is “kâphar transliterated as kaw-far’ ” The word means, “A primitive root; to cover (specifically with bitumen); figuratively to expiateor condone, to placate or cancel: – appease, make (an) atonement, cleanse, disannul, forgive, be merciful, pacify, pardon, to pitch, purge (away), put off, (make) reconcile (-liation).” I found it interesting that this word was used in conjunction with Noah’s ark from Genesis. Here is the verse I was using, “(Genesis 6:14 NASB)

“Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch.” So get this, mankind was saved by God within a wooden vessel covered with atonement. Mankind was saved from God’s wrath within atonement… Kind of cool hu?