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Yesterday our pastor was going through Hebrews 12:25-29.

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

And it really got me thinking about God’s Wrath in the coming judgement upon the earth. If you were in a room and someone ran into the room screaming that there was a fire, and they knew the only way out of the building. Wouldn’t we be foolish not to heed this advice? Or would we doubt this and risk perishing in the flames? This is what the first part of this passage is speaking about. Jesus came to warn us of the coming judgement, and to give us the way out at the same time.

Looking back at my life before Christ changed me, I can see that I was already amidst the flames and about to be consumed. The Wrath of God was something to that didn’t pertain to me. If I wasn’t a sinner then I couldn’t be under God’s Judgement. How foolish an idea this really is. Now that I am under Grace, I can understand the implications of God’s wrath. Nothing impure can or will escape God’s wrath. So much so that not even the Heaven’s or the Earth will escape the fire of God.

Revelation 6:12-17

I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

I don’t even like to think about what the world will be like when all the world are trying to hide in caves and praying for death to save them from looking upon God’s face.

God has provided an escape for us from His own wrath and judgement in Jesus Christ. One cannot think about God’s Grace of salvation through Jesus Christ and not be grateful to the point of tears. Our response to this gift of salvation must be worship. If we are saved we must worship God with gratitude and fear. We must fear God in the sense that we know what our penalty should be, had we not been graced with salvation. The more I learn about God and His grace, the more I fear Him; for I know what I have been saved from. I know what my God is capable of.

Our “God is a consuming fire” and all of creation will pass through it. Either we will be consumed by the fire of His wrath or we will be refined and purified by it through His grace and sanctification.

Zechariah 13:9

This third I will bring into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’ “

As I think about this passage I have to be gratful for God’s mercy and grace that he has given me. I also am saddened for those who are left out, who will be cut off, and endure the fires of hell for eternity. I think about how I can testify to God’s grace to those I know and care about. How can I explain to them the importance of this truth. And if I could, would they believe it and repent? Or, will they continue on in sin?

Only God knows how His holy plan will unveil. We are at His mercy. I pray that we will have the courage to walk through the doors that He opens and humility to walk away from the doors that He closes.

The First Move Is Complete

Today I brought the last few items left at the apartment and did the final cleaning. I didn’t do all that much cleaning as I know they are going to take my security deposit and will pay someone to come in and clean the place anyway. I’m also not going to do them (property manager) any favors, since they wouldn’t do me any favors let alone take care of their responsibilities.

Now I am just glad that the move is over (for a few months), and I don’t have to deal with that horrible place anymore. Now I can concentrate on getting ready to move into my new house.

Yesterday we spent half the day looking at carpet for the basement of our house. We will probably get carpet in the main, family room and up the set of stiars going to and from the basement. A small strip of vinyl for the newly repaired side entry, once we decide on what kind of vinyl we want there. Hopefully there will be enough budget with HDC to carpet the second bedroom/office downstairs as well.

I am also really looking forward to going to church this weekend. Due to our emergency move, I have missed my last off-weekend to go to church. That means I haven’t been to church service in 3 weeks so I am ready to get back to my normal schedule, which is only every other week.

A wake up call

Over the last week or so, since our sudden move began, I’ve had a sudden realization, a wake up call. I’ve had the realization that over the last 6 months since I have been in the control room at my job that I’ve gotten way out of shape. Originally when I first started there I would walk anywhere from 3 to 7 miles a day. This I know because I would wear a pedometer to work every day to see how much I was doing. Now that I’m in the control room, I’m lucky if I walk 100 yards all day, besides the walk to and from my car.

Over the last week since I started moving all this furniture, I’ve continually found myself out of breath and tired. Also added to that is the fact that I had just quit smoking about 2 years ago and the excercise I was getting when I first started was taking off most of the weight I put on after I quit smoking. Now I’ve put that back on and few more pounds.

It’s now time for me to wake up and smell the coffee and renew my YMCA membership and get back to the gym. If not just for myself but for my kids, so I can be healthy enough to see them grow up. Not that I have any real control over how long I’ll live or anything but why add another risk factor for my health.

The Last Straw

We are about two months away from closing on our new (wonderful) first home. Meanwhile we are living in our apartment that is falling apart at the seams. From the first month we moved into this apartment we have asked the landlord/property management company to fix our front door. Sometime before we moved in the door was kicked in, and instead of replacing the door jam as they should have done, they just placed some screws to hold it in place. The door is still not fixed after two years of repeated requests to repair it. Not only is the door in serious disrepair but, it is so weakened that a child could easily kick the door in even with the deadbolt engaged. Also the door is so damaged that it leaks cold outside air in very badly. The last straw came the other day when we had a small blizzard with winds around 30-40mph with some heavy snow. We noticed that not only was there massive amounts of air coming in through the door jam but there was now snow blowing in as well.

The other things that our landlord refuses to fix: Our electric stove is about 15+ years old and the burners are shot, and only work occassionally/sporadically, the carpet is at least 10 years old and there is absolutely no padding whatsoever. The landlord refuses to de ice the sidewalk in front of our apartment or any other for that matter. To top that all off, our landlord raised our rent by $15 two months ago.

Our close friend offered to let us live in her basement for the next two months while we wait to close on our house. So, now we are in the process of moving our things once again and probably will be living out of boxes for the next couple months.

We have been wanting to get out of this apartment for a number of months now, and we were hoping to be able to close on our new house sooner; however this is a blessing in disguise. It will be a pain to live out of boxes for two months, and I don’t want to have to move twice, but it beats living in that horrendous apartment.

A defense of Calvinism

I recently came upon a narrated audio of CH Spurgeon’s “A Defense Of Calvinism” on youtube. I thought that I would share the videos here as I always am inspired and moved whenever I read Spurgeon. He always has great insight into the deep truths of God’s Word, and inspires me to dig deeper in His Word myself.

I’ll begin by quoting one of my favorite portions of the text that follows:

The late lamented Mr. Denham has put, at the foot of his portrait, a most admirable text, “Salvation is of the Lord.” That is just an epitome of Calvinism; it is the sum and substance of it. If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, “He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord.” I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. “He only is my rock and my salvation.” Tell me anything contrary to this truth, and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rock-truth, “God is my rock and my salvation.” What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ—the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here.

For more on the videos creator visit LaneChaplin.com

For the text of “A Defense Of Calvinism” visit HERE

For further Spurgeon text visit Spurgeon.org

Over the past 6 months to a year or so, I’ve been struggling with Calvinism vs. Semi-Pelagianism and where my beliefs fit in. At first I didn’t even know the difference between the two, and didn’t even know what Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism were. All I knew was what I was taught, and what other believers around me believed (Semi-Pelagianism).

At some point I was involved in a discussion/debate about Calvinism. I don’t even remember who that debate was with or really all what was said, I just remember wanting to know more about what Calvinism was, and it’s opposite Arminianism. I was also getting more curious about church history and what the early church founders believed about these issues. I decided at this point it was time to do some research of my own.

Over the next few months I started digging into the doctrine of Calvinism and it’s five points. And this is where I started running into some serious stumbling blocks, or issues that I had to come to terms with before I really could determine where I stood.

The Five Points of Calvinism:

In the beginning of my studies of Calvinism/Monergism I completely agreed with Total Depravity, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. I had some serious issues with Unconditional Election and Limited Atonement. At this point I considered myself a 3 point Calvinist. I was determined however to come to terms with these other two points no matter what it took.

My first stumbling block to tackle was Unconditional Election or Predestination. At this point I had some serious issues with this belief according to all that I was taught, and also my own personal conceptions on God’s calling or predestination. As I started really digging into scripture that talked about predestination, I had to come to terms with several issues that were raised if several pieces of scripture were true. My biggest issues were with Romans 8:28-30, and with almost all of Romans 9.

(Romans 8:28-30) 28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

One of the questions I had was: “How could man have ‘Free Will’ and be predestined/called at the same time?”. I made the assumption that if someone was predestined then their ‘free will’ didn’t really exist. I thought that if predestination were true then all mankind were just robots just marching around doing what “destiny” had predetermined us to do. Previously I had come up with a compromise to this issue. I essentially believed in conditional election at that point. That God Foreknew the choices we would make, and predestined us according to those choices. Scripturally this is completely inaccurate, and I had to come to that realization in order to understand predestination. The other issue I had to understand before I could fully grasp predestination was the concept of man’s “free will”. Do we have a “free will” and can that “free will” trump God’s will? The way I understand it now is this: we do not have “free will”. Man has a will, as God created us in His image. However; our will was damaged and corrupted when Adam sinned. When Adam sinned all parts of humanity were stained and marred by this corruption, not excluding man’s will. What does this mean? It means that everything that we “will” is corrupted by our sinful natures. Once I understood this basic concept about man’s will, the rest of predestination made sense. What it meant was that man does have a will, however man’s will cannot trump God’s perfect and all powerful will, and plan for humanity. Now I will admit that I don’t have a total and complet understanding of this concept of man’s will versus God’s will, and maybe I never will. I do understand that if God is all powerful then nothing man will’s can trump God’s authority no matter what our pride tells us. I think the whole idea of man’s so called “free will” is a prideful, and self-glorifying concept. We want to feel that we have control over our lives, that we can control our destiny. If we feel we have control of our own lives then we are essentially glorifying ourselves over God. In reality what do we really have complete control of? If we really sit down and think hard about that, unless we completely dilute ourselves we cannot deny that our lives are for the most part completely out of our control.

Once I understood that concept about man’s will, my perceptions of our Total Depravity became much clearer as well. I also started to realize that what I had believed about how we come to salvation in Jesus Christ was skewed as well. I could no longer accept the idea that somehow man could choose Christ in any way, because every choice, thought, will man makes is marred completely by sin.

The following two videos I think explain this view quite well.

The other concept that I had to come to terms with or gain a proper understanding of, was the concept of the atonement of Jesus Christ death on the cross. Was that atonement granted to all people that ever lived as I had originally thought/ or been taught? Or was Jesus death only for those who believed. A little more study into the NT greek language lent some more understanding on this issue as well as a little bit of Logical deduction. Logically one could surmise that Jesus Christ’s death was not for all people. If Jesus died to atone for the sins of the world, then all people would be saved, meaning none would go to Hell. Now we know scripturally that some will go to Hell so this would mean that Jesus failed in some fashion. This is a biblical fallacy. I discovered some interesting information while researching the passages used to promote the idea that Jesus death was for “all” or “the whole world” (as some people come to understand the translation). I found that the greek word pas (pa=v) which translates to all among other words, was almost entirely dependant on the context in use. In most cases the context of all would lead one to surmise a specific group of people or things.

These are just some of the things that I have struggled with during my studies. I have not included a very inclusive list of references as this is mainly just a summary. I can however list the many references/scripture passages I have studied to come to these conclusions if so asked.

First off I would like to apologize to all those who have faithfully read my blog and have wondered where I have been these last few months and what I’ve been doing.

I took a break from the blog to deal with some issues that have arisen. God has been working in my life on certain issues. One of these issues has been what to believe in regarding the Calvinist viewpoint versus the Arminianist view and where do my beliefs fit in the spectrum. I have been struggling with this issue for the last 6 months to a year. Just a few months ago however after much study, meditation and discussion with my wife, I decided that I cannot let my pride, or self-centered nature prohibit me from knowing God’s true nature and His will. I could no longer deny the truth about God’s grace and my depravity, nor could I deny His electon of me into The Kingdom of Heaven.

This has been the hardest thing to come to terms with that I have encountered since being changed forever by Christ. For the longest time I held fast to the belief that somehow my “free will” either stood on equal grounds with God’s will or that somehow I could choose God. I had to come to a realization that we do have a will of our own however that will was tainted when Adam fell into sin. I also had to come to a realization that God foreknew me and predestined me to be one of His children, not based upon anything I did or didn’t do. Since then I have had an amazingly clear perspective on my life, on God, and His word, and His sovereign will in my life and the world in general. I’ve also had an even more amazing sense of gratitude since this realization than when I first believed. Everyday I wake up feeling so blessed that He chose me.

I will post more shortly on this subject specifically and go into much more detail then.

Some other things that have been happening in my life:

  • God has blessed us with a beautiful healthy baby boy on August 4, 2008, Ezekiel James. He is now 5 months old and just learning to roll over and eating his first solid foods.
  • God has blessed us with our first home. We are due to close on the house when all the renovations are done in/around mid March.
  • After much research, trial, and experimenting we have found out what our 2 year old son’s digestive problem has been. Originally we thought it to be Gluten intolerance or Celliac’s Disease; however after further research and some dietary experimentation, we’ve discovered that he’s Fructose intolerant.
  • We have a major trip planned to visit my family in California in February of 2009. My parents have payed for all of us to come visit, and we have a huge itinerary scheduled for the whole week.

Anyway this is what has been going on in my life over the last 6 months. I will be back to blogging at least on a more regular basis.