My carefully constructed religious edifice came under fierce attack some five years ago and suffered irreparable damage. The alarms of imminent collapse began reverberating through the dark corridors of my failing heart. Wave upon wave of relentless missile attacks crumbled the once stalwart marble pillars of my faith. The incoming warheads contained a volatile combination of sin and self-righteousness. Structural failure was inevitable. My religion had failed me; no longer could it support my overwhelming sense of failure. It could no longer assuage my feelings of guilt. I attempted to prop up the sagging ceiling with support columns of modern evangelical platitudes and aphorisms. They turned out to be hollow inside and buckled beneath the weight. The brick and mortar I had so meticulously hand-crafted disintegrated all around me in a resounding crash.
Exposed to the harsh elements of the wilderness I couldn’t help but gaze at the majesty of the heavens and contemplate my plight. Late one night in the midst of an intense spiritual malaise I raised my eyes to the stars and cried out in desperation, “Father help me, I’ve lost my way. I don’t measure up to your righteousness and I never will. I don’t know what to believe anymore. Please reveal to me the truth.” If ever I’ve been convinced that God hears and answers my prayers, that night crystallized the reality of it once and for all.
Yes, God heard me. I’m sure he had been waiting for this cry for deliverance for quite some time. After all, God is in the deliverance business. Salvation itself is defined as deliverance or rescue from danger. I have no doubt that through his sovereign power he had brought me to this fiery trial, carried me through the flames and now was in the process of treating all my grievous burns. (more…)
I just came across an informative article chronicling the recent resurgence of Calvinism. I agree with the writer’s assessment that this uprising is in response to the shallow, watered down Christianity-lite of modern Evangelicalism. Why? Well, because that’s basically how I came to embrace the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was part of a world-wide movement. I felt like I walked entirely alone for the first couple of years. I battled alienation and discouragement during that period yet I latched on to the teachings of God’s absolute sovereignty with bulldog tenacity. No one, and I mean absolutely no one, agreed my new outlook on the scriptures. I sought refuge and companionship through my blog and found a growing, enthusiastic subculture on the internet where I could work out my theological wranglings among friends, who are also my brothers and sisters in the Lord. (more…)
I think I want this.
I’m not a fan of so-called Christian apparel, including t-shirts that often feature banal pop culture references or trite aphorisms that are meant to do all the ‘witnessing’ of the gospel for us. But this struck me as funny.
Not sure why I’m amused though, because it’s absolutely true. It’s a humble reminder that the only contribution to my salvation by God’s grace is my great sin.
I can hardly believe it myself but A Peculiar Pilgrim has reached the ripe old age of three. In blog years that probably makes it eligible for retirement. Many blogs flame out after a year or two and while it certainly hasn’t been stoked into the roaring fire I’ve intended for it the last couple years, at least my flickering light hasn’t been snuffed out completely. I only posted about 30 articles in 09. That’s barely more than 1 post every two weeks. I hope to improve on that in 2010.
In the flesh and blood realm I will be teaching a class on Redemption starting the first week of January. I’ve been hard at work preparing the outlines for the course. I’m thankful to God for this opportunity and I pray it will bless those that God brings into my classroom. My plan is, if time avails, to post articles based on the outlines I’m preparing for the class. I’ll likely post the corresponding articles a week before I teach the lesson. This will also help in articulating and unifying what I’ve written in my outlines. I have about 17 lessons prepared (as of right now) so I would expect at least that many articles on the doctrine of redemption over the first quarter of the year.
As has been the tradition the last two anniversaries, I am posting links to my favorite articles of 2009. In no particular order, they are:
The Justice of God and Are we Saved by Belief or by Actions? – These two articles are responses from the comment section of my post, Will Atheists Go to Hell? by (shockingly!) a couple of atheists. The interaction was cordial and enlightening: A good read.
Grasping God – An article that explores the difficult to comprehend doctrine of God’s omnipresence and my personal struggle to grasp it.
AW Pink on Erroneous Evangelism – A quote from the esteemed theologian (with some personal thoughts added in) that pinpoints the deficiency of the modern church’s proclamation of the gospel.
Is Christianity a Crutch for the Weak? – An article based on a Sunday School discussion that posed this very question.
Four Views of Salvation Throughout Church History – A helpful chart that shows how Calvinism, Arminianism, Semi-Pelagianism and Pelagianism are contrasted in regard to the roles both God and man play in redemption.
I had lunch the other day with a good Christian friend. He brought up the issue of free will, a subject that had weighed heavily on his mind recently. He confided with me that he thought he heard the voice of God speak to him one day.
This is what the Lord supposedly told him.
“Free will is the greatest gift I have given to man.” – Or something close to that.
My friend did a remarkable thing after hearing the word of the Lord, something I see very few Christians do when they supposedly hear God speak to them.
He discerned the message.
He rightly divided the word of truth. He questioned the scriptural integrity of those words. He did as Spurgeon advised; judged the right from the almost right.
See, the words ‘free will is God’s greatest gift’ may sound good, right and true on the surface, especially in the midst of a doctrinally confused generation of semi-Pelagians dominating the face of evangelicalism.
But is the notion scriptural? (more…)
WARNING! Swallow your pride before engaging these verses, for they speak to all of us without exception. You may believe this is not a very encouraging passage to think upon, but it relays an essential doctrinal truth. These scriptures are foundational to the teachings I am preparing to post concerning issues like free will and man’s ability and willingness to embrace the gospel message.
as it is written: “There is none righteous, no not one; there is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God.” “They are all gone out of the way, they have together become unprofitable, there is none that does good, no, not one.” “Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they have used deceit, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness;” “their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their way, and the way of peace they did not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Meditate on these verses throughout the day and ask yourselves the following questions:
- If no one understands spiritual matters or seeks after God, how can we be saved?
- If all man has become unprofitable (worthless) is there anything he can do of himself to become profitable (worthy)?
- Can you possibly believe that man is basically good with a few inherent flaws that cause him to make some ‘mistakes’ in life after reading this text?
- Do you agree with Paul’s assessment that man is corrupt in every part of his being; including the mind, will, emotions and spirit?
- Knowing the sorry state of man’s nature, how important do you think the ministry of the Holy Spirit is in leading us to Christ in repentance and faith?
I actually read most of the best-selling book, “The Purpose-driven Life” a couple of years ago. At the time I thought it was a refreshing blast of gospel simplicity. I was thrilled at Rick Warren’s approach because, in hindsight, it was reflective of the way my church conducted service. It was a natural synopsis of the philosophies I had been raised upon in my first decade of spiritual growth. Of course I loved it! I heartily recommended it to a friend struggling through a divorce for encouragement, without a moment’s hesitation.
However, my suspicions concerning the state of the modern evangelical church continued to grow from that time until just over a year ago. It all came to a head in a prayer I voiced to God in the cool darkness of my backyard one late autumn night. My prayer went something like this: “Lord, my spirit is troubled over the church and the way it is handling the precious gospel of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I fear that error is spreading like a plague through the churches of our land. More than anything, I desire to know the truth, and to live by that truth no matter the personal cost. Humble me that I may choose to follow you, Lord wherever it is you lead me. Open my eyes that I may perceive, unstop my ears that I may comprehend.”
For 10 years I cruised down the smooth asphalt highway of free-will theology. Gradually I began to take notice that the pristine world scrolling past my vision started to lose its luster. The rolling green hills and bright blue sky had become washed out, dull and lifeless; a barren winter landscape. It was then I noticed it wasn’t the environment that had changed, but it was the Lord removing the rose-colored spectacles perched on the end of my nose. Spectacles, that up to that point in my spiritual walk, I had been blissfully unaware I was even wearing. For the first time in my born-again life I saw the modern church from a perspective outside my own limited worldview. I began to question doctrines and church traditions I had firmly believed in for a decade. I marveled at methodologies that didn’t spring from the pages of scriptures, but were fermented in the minds of well-meaning modern evangelicals. Thump! Thump-Thump! Where did all these potholes come from! Oh my. This highway, I’ve discovered, has a toll booth. The price, I fear, is too high to pay. (more…)