We had a wonderful getaway last weekend and were able to take some great pics, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to post. I'm sorry to say that this is only the second time I have posted since the inception of this blog, but without internet at home, it makes it a little difficult. Anyways, we were able to go to Nellysford (near Charlottesville) to visit Rob's Aunt Gayle. She lives in a beautiful deck house on the side of a mountain. With the leaves changing in the valley, it gives you a gorgeous view. It's always so relaxing to go to their place - they like to cook, chat, show us their garden, listen to music, play games....all that stuff that makes you just forget about the hectic lifestyle back home. Anyways, we had a great time and are so thankful the Lord allowed us to get away for a little break before we hit the really busy time of the semester.
My mother tells me that a theology blog can get a little heavy at times. While we understand that our theology must drive every aspect of our lives and we love what we are learning, here is an update on what is going on in our lives.
As you can see from previous blogs, we bought a house this summer. God has been so gracious to provide for us in this purchase. He has used many friends and family members to accomplish this, and we are grateful for their help. We continue to stumble through the process of learning what it means to be homeowners, but the Lord has been graciously guiding us providing for us every step of the way while making sure to keep us dependent on Him.
Julie is working at a music school called The Music Staff. She runs the office and teaches quite a few piano students, besides teaching Kinder Music--a program designed to introduce small children to musical foundations. We have developed a good relationship with the boss/owners of The Music Staff, Maryanne and Roger Medlin, who sort of look after us like another set of their kids. They were the ones who helped us find the house we purchased (Roger works in real estate).
I am working at HSBC part time. The Lord has blessed there with a good atmosphere, a good manager, excellent benefits, and a measure of success in my position. God takes all of the credit for that. I am taking ten hours at Central Seminary right now, and I am loving my classes. I have found that my professors have gracious spirits and discipler's hearts. My greatest goal in these classes is to come to walk with God more in every aspect of my life. I am hoping to graduate in May of 2008 with a Master of Divinity Degree.
We remain members at Colonial Baptist church. The Pastors and leadership of CBC is made up of godly men who love Christ. I appreciate them, and in this area I wish to follow in their footsteps. Both of us are involved with discipleship ministries in the Colonial Youth Group. We have come to love the many families in our church, and we count it a privilege to be able to minister their children.
As to the future after graduation. Only the Lord knows. We have many desires, among them being post graduate studies. But both Julie's and my greatest desire is to know God deeply. We know that He will guide our steps in the future as we seek to enjoy His presence right now. This continues to be our pursuit; we trust God for what will follow.
Each head is set up with the doctrine explained followed by a rejection of errors associated with the doctrine. I have found that the rejection of errors is just as valuable as the explanation because it further clarifies the doctrine.
Some of these caused a spontaneous reaction in me of worship and praise to God for His sovereign work of accomplishing my redemption. May the reader be blessed as I was.
REJECTION OF ERRORS
The true doctrine concerning election and reprobation having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 1. Who teach[RH1] : That the will of God to save those who would believe and would persevere in faith and in the obedience of faith is the whole and entire decree of election, and that nothing else concerning this decree has been revealed in God's Word.
For these deceive the simple and plainly contradict the Scriptures, which declare that God will not only save those who will believe, but that He has also from eternity chosen certain particular persons to whom, above others, He will grant in time, both faith in Christ and perseverance; as it is written "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. (John 17:6). "and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)". And "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Eph 1:4)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH [RH2] 2. Who teach: That there are various kinds of election of God unto eternal life: the one general and indefinite, the other particular and definite; and that the latter in turn is either incomplete, revocable, non-decisive, and conditional, or complete, irrevocable, decisive, and absolute. Likewise: That there is one election unto faith and another unto salvation, so that election can be unto justifying faith, without being a decisive election unto salvation. For this is a fancy of men's minds, invented regardless of the Scriptures, whereby the doctrine of election is corrupted, and this golden chain of our salvation is broken: "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Rom 8:30)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH [RH3] 3. Who teach: That the good pleasure and purpose of God, of which Scripture makes mention in the doctrine of election, does not consist in this, that God chose certain persons rather than others, but in this, that He chose out of all possible conditions (among which are also the works of the law), or out of the whole order of things, that act of faith which from its very nature is undeserving, as well as it incomplete obedience, as a condition of salvation, and that He would graciously consider this in itself as a complete obedience and count it worthy of the reward of eternal life.
For by this injurious error the pleasure of God and the merits of Christ are made of none effect[RH4] , and men are drawn away by useless questions from the truth of gracious justification and from the simplicity of Scripture, and this declaration of the apostle is charged as untrue: "who has saved us and called us to a holy life, not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace[RH5] . This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time (2 Tim 1:9)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 4[RH6] . Who teach: That in the election unto faith this condition [RH7] is beforehand demanded that man should use the light of nature aright, be pious, humble, meek, and fit for eternal life, as if on these things election were in any way dependent.
For this savors of the teaching of Pelagius, and is opposed to the doctrine of the apostle when he writes: "All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph 2:3-9)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 5. Who teach: That the incomplete and non-decisive election of particular persons to salvation occurred because of a foreseen faith, conversion, holiness, godliness, which either began or continued for some time; but that the complete and decisive election occurred because of foreseen perseverance unto the end in faith, conversion, holiness, and godliness; and that this is the gracious and evangelical worthiness, for the sake of which he who is chosen is more worthy than he who is not chosen; and that therefore faith, the obedience of faith, holiness, godliness, and perseverance are not fruits of the unchangeable election unto glory, but are conditions which, being required beforehand, were foreseen as being met by those who will be fully elected, and are causes without which the unchangeable election to glory does not occur[RH8] .
This is repugnant to the entire Scripture[RH9] , which constantly inculcates this and similar declarations: Election is "not by works but by him who calls (Rom 9:12)." "And all who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48)." "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph 1:4)." "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name (John 15:16)." "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works (Rom 11:6)." "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son (1 John 4:10)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 6. Who teach: That not every election unto salvation is unchangeable, but that some of the elect, any decree of God notwithstanding, can yet perish and do indeed perish.
By this gross error[RH10] they make God be changeable, and destroy the comfort which the godly obtain out of the firmness of their election, and contradict the Holy Scripture, which teaches that the elect can not be led astray (Matt 24:24), that Christ does not lose those whom the Father gave him (John 6:39), and that God also glorified those whom he foreordained, called, and justified (Rom 8:30).
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 7. Who teach[RH11] : That there is in this life no fruit and no consciousness of the unchangeable elect to glory, nor any certainty, except that which depends on a changeable and uncertain condition.
For not only is it absurd to speak of an uncertain certainty, but also contrary to the experience of the saints, who by virtue of the consciousness of their election rejoice with the apostle and praise this favor of God (Eph 1); who according to Christ's admonition rejoice with his disciples that their names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20); who also place the consciousness of their election over against the fiery darts of the devil, asking: "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? (Rom 8:33)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 8. Who teach: That God, simply by virtue of His righteous will, did not decide either to leave anyone in the fall of Adam and in the common state sin and condemnation, or to pass anyone by in the communication of grace which is necessary for faith and conversion. For this is firmly decreed: "God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden (Rom 9:18)." And also this: "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them (Mat 13:11)." Likewise: "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes , Father, for this was your good pleasure (Mat 11:25-26[RH12] )."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 9. Who teach[RH13] : That the reason why God sends the gospel to one people rather than to another is not merely and solely the good pleasure of God, but rather the fact that one people is better and worthier than another to which the gospel is not communicated. For this Moses denies, addressing the people of Israel as follows: "To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today (Deu 10:14-15)." And Christ said: "Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes (Mat 11:21)." [RH1]Yes, there is no choice on the part of God in this teaching, there is only a human response. [RH2]Yes. [RH3]Agree. This teaching is a works salvation. If this were true, salvation would be to my own praise, because God thought I was so awesome in my act of faith that He wanted to grace me with salvation. [RH4]So true!! [RH5]Praise God!! I would be eternally lost without this, because I have no light within myself to illumine my mind to Christ--apart from the Holy Spirit’s regeneration; which is God’s work first, not mine. [RH6]Paragraph 4, when read through carefully with the Scriptures open, causes spontaneous worship. I praise God for this response. Realizing the depth of my sin and the estranged and unregenerate condition my sin had placed me in, I can only glory in the cross of my Redeemer and in God’s sovereign purpose that bestows this grace on me. How I thank God for this, because it pulled me out of the depths of my sin and established my feet. God puts a new song in my mouth when I read this. [RH7]Yes, election is in no way based on the merits of the elect. God did not choose us because we were searching for him. [RH8]Yes!! We must reject this teaching. Again and again, election is based on God’s good pleasure to do so, not on my own merit. How could one believe that there is something resident within himself that causes God to smile on him? If God based election upon His foreknowledge of my choice of Him, I would never have been elect, because I never would have chosen Him. [RH9]True [RH10]A good summation of this view. If God elects, God will keep as well. Eternal security for those who are truly elect. Praise God the He perseveres us, because again, if it were up to me to maintain an election, I would lose it. Those who are elect will and must persevere because God causes them to do so. This is evidenced by love and devotion to Him, springing, not from within the elect sinner, but from the Holy Spirit who resides in the elect sinner. [RH11]If I understand this right, this is a rejection of the teaching that you cannot know you are elect. [RH12]While this one may grate against me, I cannot deny the Scriptural evidence. I do not believe, however, that a doctrine of Reprobation equals a doctrine of double election. [RH13]It is obvious why this one is incorrect.
I am working through the canons of Dort right now because I have been challenged not to reduce my theology to a flower, but to see the full field. I love the beauty of God's glory found in redemption, and I know that my walk with God will deepen as I search out these mysteries more and more.
My pastor has been very strong in exhorting me not to fall into the ditch of ascribing to something that I only partially understand. I respect and embrace his advice, and so I have committed to read through these and comment on my affirmation or denial of them.
Here are my thoughts. For those who silently read this blog, please feel free to challenge me whether in person or on the blog. I crave the mentorship and discipleship of godly men.
First Head of Doctrine. Divine Election and Reprobation
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH1] 1. As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and are deserving of eternal death, God would have done no injustice by leaving them all to perish and delivering them over to condemnation on account of sin, according to the words of the apostle: "that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God." (Rom 3:19). And: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Rom 3:23). And: "For the wages of sin is death." (Rom 6:23).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH2] 2. but in this the love of God was manifested, that He "sent his one and only Son into the world, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (1 John 4:9, John 3:16).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH3] 3. And that men may be brought to believe, God mercifully sends the messengers of these most joyful tiding to whom He will and at what time He pleases; by whose ministry men are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?" (Rom 10:14-15).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH4] 4. The wrath of God abides upon those who believe not this gospel. But such as receive it and embrace Jesus the Savior by a true and living faith are by Him delivered from the wrath of God and from destruction, and have the gift of eternal life conferred upon them.
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH5] 5. The cause or guilt of this unbelief as well as of all other sins is no wise in God, but in man himself; whereas faith in Jesus Christ and salvation through Him is the free gift of God, as it is written: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Eph 2:8). Likewise: "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him" (Phil 1:29).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH6] 6. That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive it, proceeds from God's eternal decree. "For known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18 A.V.). "who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will" (Eph 1:11). According to which decree He graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe; while He leaves the non-elect in His just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy. And herein is especially displayed the profound, the merciful, and at the same time the righteous discrimination between men equally involved in ruin[RH7] ; or that decree of election and reprobation[RH8] , revealed in the Word of God, which, though men of perverse, impure, and unstable minds wrest it to their own destruction, yet to holy and pious souls affords unspeakable consolation.
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH9] 7. Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, He has out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault from the primitive state of rectitude into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom He from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect and the foundation of salvation. This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God has decreed to give to Christ to be saved by Him, and effectually to call an draw them to His communion by His Word and Spirit; to bestow upon them true faith, justification, and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of His son, finally to glorify them for the demonstration of His mercy, and for the praise of the riches of His glorious [RH10] grace; as it is written "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." (Eph 1:4-6). And elsewhere: "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Rom 8:30).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH11] 8. There are not various decrees of election, but one and the same decree respecting all those who shall be saved, both under the Old and New Testament; since the Scripture declares the good pleasure, purpose, and counsel of the divine will to be one, according to which He has chosen us from eternity, both to grace and to glory, to salvation and to the way of salvation, which He has ordained that we should walk therein (Eph 1:4, 5; 2:10).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH12] 9. This election was not founded upon foreseen faith and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality or disposition in man, as the prerequisite, cause, or condition of which it depended; but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc. Therefore election is the fountain of every saving good, from which proceed faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its fruits and effects, according to the testimony of the apostle: "For he chose us (not because we were, but) in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." (Eph 1:4). FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH13] 10. The good pleasure of God is the sole cause of this gracious election; which does not consist herein that out of all possible qualities and actions of men God has chosen some as a condition of salvation, but that He was pleased out of the common mass of sinners to adopt some certain persons as a peculiar people to Himself, as it is written: "Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she (Rebekah) was told, 'The older will serve the younger.' Just as it is written: 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'" (Rom 9:11-13). "When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed." (Acts 13:48).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH14] 11. And as God Himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient, and omnipotent, so the election made by Him can neither be interrupted nor changed, recalled, or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor their number diminished.
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH15] 12. The elect in due time, though in various degrees and in different measures, attain the assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election, not by inquisitively prying into the secret and deep things of God, but by observing in themselves with a spiritual joy and holy pleasure the infallible fruits of election pointed out in the Word of God—such as, a true faith in Christ, filial fear, a godly sorrow for sin, a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, etc.
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH16] 13. The sense and certainty of this election afford to the children of God additional matter for daily humiliation before Him, for adoring the depth of His mercies, for cleansing themselves, and rendering grateful returns of ardent love to Him who first manifested so great love towards them. The consideration of this doctrine of election is so far from encouraging remissness in the observance of the divine commands or from sinking men in carnal security, that these, in the just judgment of God, are the usual effects of rash presumption or of idle and wanton trifling with the grace of election, in those who refuse to walk in the ways of the elect.
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH17] 14. As the doctrine of election by the most wise counsel of God was declared by the prophets, by Christ Himself, and by the apostles, and is clearly revealed in the Scriptures both of the Old and the New Testament, so it is still to be published in due time and place in the Church of God, for which it was peculiarly designed, provided it be done with reverence, in the spirit of discretion and piety, for the glory of God's most holy Name, and for enlivening and comforting His people, without vainly attempting to investigate the secret ways of the Most High (Acts 20:27; Rom 11:33f; 12:3; Heb 6:17f).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH18] 15. What peculiarly tends to illustrate and recommend to us the eternal and unmerited grace of election is the express testimony of sacred Scripture that not all, but some only, are elected, while others are passed by in the eternal decree; whom God, out of His sovereign, most just, irreprehensible, and unchangeable good pleasure, has decreed to leave in the common misery into which they have willfully plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but, permitting them in His just judgment to follow their own ways, at last, for the declaration of His justice, to condemn and punish them forever, not only on account of their unbelief, but also for all their other sins. And this is the decree of reprobation, which by no means makes God the Author of sin (the very though of which is blasphemy), but declares Him to be an awful, irreprehensible, and righteous Judge and Avenger thereof.
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH22] 17. Since we are to judge of the will of God from His Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they together with the parents are comprehended, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom it pleases God to call out of this life in their infancy (Gen 17:7; Acts 2:39; 1 Cor 7:14).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH23] 18. To those who murmur at the free grace of election and the just severity of reprobation we answer with the apostle "But who are you, O man, to talk back to God?" (Rom 9:20), and quote the language of our Savior: "Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own?" (Matt 20:15). And therefore, with holy adoration of these mysteries, we exclaim in the words of the apostle: "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 'Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?' 'Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?' For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory [RH24] forever! Amen." (Rom 11:33-36). [RH1]Agree – this is total depravity, the total inability, the lack of desire for God upon the depraved individual. [RH2]Yes – God shows his love in giving His son. [RH3]Yes – Secondary causation. God uses men to accomplish His purposes. This is evangelism. God sends messengers to share the news. No room for a non-evangelistic Calvinism here. [RH4]Yes – responsibility of men. There is a conscious choice on the part of the believer. However, his choice of God follows God’s gracious, effectual call (logically speaking). [RH5]Yes, God is able to hold men responsible for sin, yet only God is held responsible for salvation. [RH7]There is nothing special about the elect that causes God to chose them, He does it of His own good pleasure. [RH8]Reprobation is for those who are passed over, it is not a double election, but a wholly separate decree. [RH9]Yes!!!! [RH10]Salvation is for the purpose of bringing glory to God. Therefore if you feel that the Word of God is the story of His salvation, it is also the story of His glory. God loves His own glory before He loves us. [RH11]Yes, although I don’t really understand the need for this statement. [RH12]Yes, foreknowledge is cognitive, not causative. [RH14]Yes, a logical conclusion based on the decree of God, His Sovereign ability to preserve those whom He chooses, and His unchanging nature. [RH15]Yes, the true faith in Christ being the first evidence. [RH16]Yes, perseverance. This is our goal [RH17]Yes, although I wonder what is meant by the “secret ways of the most High.” Why are they not to be investigated? [RH18]Not a double predestination, but a decree of reprobation. [RH20]I agree with this. Basically, those who have not obtained perfect holiness, but have a desire to be right with God, should not worry about being reprobate just because they are not holy, because sanctification is a process. [RH22]I don’t think that I fully agree with this. I do think that we should not worry about those who die in their infancy. However, I do not believe that they are saved just because their parents were. This is where I would differ with something like the covenant of grace, which would include the children of the elect. There does not seem to be any support for inclusion of the children because they have not come to a personal faith in Christ – which God says is necessary for salvation. Sola Fide. This is something I choose to leave in that realm of the mystery of God. [RH23]Yes!!! [RH24]To emphasize redemption is to emphasize God’s glory.
Sorry about the long wait on these. We have finally gotten around to taking some post renovation pictures. I have provided before and after photos so you can see the difference. Sorry that some of them are so dark...the house really isn't that dark. I guess if you really want to see what it looks like you can come and visit.
Our bedroom (notice the flashlight down next to the bed on the right side; that was our light in the room for a while) before:
an angle of the living room coming from the hallway before:
again the living room before:
Now this is my favorite. This is probably the most drastic change; we have the kitchen before:
This is also the kitchen looking from the living room in towards the sink before:
You can see how we totally changed the layout of the kitchen. We are thankful for God's provision to get these project done.
Up to this point we have knocked out the wall between the kitchen and living room to create a feeling of more space (with the help of Eric Lee); changed some of the wiring (thanks Jared); moved the washer dryer hookups; re-plastered the walls/ceilings; painted the walls/ceilings; installed new ceiling fans; installed new light fixtures; gutted the kitchen; and put new sink/faucet, cabinets, countertops and bar (high counter) in the kitchen (besides miscellaneous projects around the yard). Our next project will be the floors - we plan to tile the kitchen, and refinish the oak floors in the living room and dining room. In the hopefully not so distant future we would like to paint the exterior, redo the bathroom, and add central AC. Along the way, our plan has been to invest money in these projects, thereby increasing the value of the house for resale when we leave.
Thanks to all of the friends who have helped with this so far.