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Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory

Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory

 The Best Commentary On The Bible Is The Bible Itself
Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory
 
The Reflections Newsletter

Monday, April 25, 2011

**In This Issue**

  1. Predestination vs. Free Will
  2. What Does the Bible Say About...?
     

Welcome to the Reflections Newsletter from Reflect His Glory.  RHG is a co-ministry with Creation Science Ministries.  Feel free to send this to your relatives and friends.
 


Predestination vs. Free Will

"The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever..." - Deuteronomy 29:29

From the beginning of time, thinkers great and small have been perplexed over the paradox of fate vs. free will, or predestination vs. free choice.  In theological terms, this leads to the struggle between Calvinism and Arminianism.  As we explore this paradox, we find that examining the value of each position reveals that the ‘River of Life’ seems to flow between these two extremes, and that once again, truth requires a careful balance.

At the heart of the controversies between Calvinism and Arminianism is the emphasis on the sovereignty of God by the Calvinists and the sovereignty (free will) of man, or human responsibility, by the Arminians.  Calvinism emphasizes that God is in total control of everything and that nothing can happen that He does not plan and direct, including man’s salvation. Arminianism teaches that man has free will and that God will never interrupt, or take that free will away, and that God has obligated Himself to respect the free moral agency and capacity of free choice with which He created us.

Both doctrinal positions are reasonable and both have extensive Scriptures to back them up.  The two views are, in my opinion, both partially right and partially overextended.  A man named Philip Schaff, a
Swiss-born, German-educated Protestant theologian, and a historian of the Christian church said it this way, "Calvinism emphasized divine sovereignty and free grace; Arminianism emphasized human responsibility.  Calvinism restricts the saving grace to the elect; Arminianism extends it to all men on the condition of faith.  Both are right in what they assert; both are wrong in what they deny.  If one important truth is pressed to the exclusion of another truth of equal importance, it becomes an error, and loses its hold upon the conscience. The Bible gives us a theology which is more human than Calvinism and more divine that Arminianism, and more Christian than either of them."

Certainly, the Bible does teach that God is sovereign, and that believers are predestined and elected by God to spend eternity with Him.  However, nowhere does the Bible ever associate election with damnation. Conversely, the Scriptures teach that God elects for salvation, but that unbelievers are in hell by their own choice.  Every passage of the Bible that deals with election deals with it in the context of salvation, not damnation. No one is elect for hell.  The only support for such a view is human logic, not Biblical revelation (which was taught by John Calvin).

The concept of total depravity is consistent with Scripture.  But the doctrine of limited atonement, that Jesus did not die for the sins of the whole world, is clearly contrary to Biblical teaching.  The Bible openly teaches that Jesus died for everyone’s sins, and that everyone is able to be saved if they will repent and turn to Christ.  Limited atonement is a non-Biblical doctrine.

Election and predestination are Biblical doctrines.  God knows everything and therefore He cannot be surprised by anything.  He is beyond the constraints of mass, acceleration and gravity, therefore He stands outside time.  He knows, and has known from “eternity past,” who will exercise their free will to accept Him and who will reject Him.  The former are “the elect” and the latter are the “non-elect.”  Everyone who is not saved will have only himself to blame: God will not send anyone to hell because He has chosen him from the beginning of time.  However, many people will choose to go there by exercising their free will to reject Christ.

On the other hand, no one who is saved will be able to take any of the credit.  Our salvation is entirely God’s work, and is based completely on the finished work of the Cross.  We were dead in trespasses and sins, destined for hell, when God in His grace drew us to Himself, convinced us of our sin and our need for a Savior, and gave us the authority to call Jesus Lord.  Is this grace, this wooing, this courtship, irresistible?  No, we have free will and we can (and do) resist, even to the damnation of our souls.  But, God does everything short of making us predestined in order to draw us into His forever family.

 

 


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What Does the Bible Say About...?

 

In this section of the Reflections Newsletter we answer questions that have been asked.  If you have a question that you would like ask, and do not mind having it printed in the newsletter, (your name will not be mentioned), feel free to send your question in an email to me at biblequestions@reflecthisglory.org.  Of course, you may call me anytime by phone at 801.302 -1111.

The question for this issue is, "Is it true that the plagues inflicted by God on ancient Egypt in the Book of Exodus were all related to the false gods that they worshipped?"

Yes, this is true.  As a matter of fact, later in the Pentateuch, in a summary of God’s dealings with the Egyptians, it says "upon their gods also the Lord executed judgments" (Numbers 33:4).  The following is a brief summary of how the plagues tied in with Egypt’s polytheistic religious system:

1.  Nile River turned to blood.  The Nile River was a vital "lifeline," providing water to the arid nation of Egypt.  The Egyptians actually worshipped the Nile, represented by the god Hapi, pronounced Hoppy.  Another god, Osiris, was thought to have the Nile as his bloodstream. But they were helpless in keeping the Nile pure when God sent His judgment.

2.  Frogs.  The goddess of fertility, Heket, was usually drawn with the body of a woman and the head of a frog.  There was a penalty for killing or injuring frogs, so when God sent too many, the people felt they could not destroy them.  So the frogs overran the land.

3.  Lice.  Actually, the Hebrew word used here indicates any small insect, such as lice or gnats.  God formed these insects from the dust of the Earth (Exodus 8:16), represented by the Egyptian god Geb.  Thus, it was proven that Geb did not have the control over the land that was supposed.

4. Flies.  Again, the Hebrew word is not specific, but it can refer to any large swarm of flying insects.  The Egyptians worshipped Khepher, a deity appearing like a scarab, which appeared frequently on their jewelry.  Khepher was out of control, as the flying insect population devastated Egypt.

5. Death of cattle.  The Egyptians believed cattle were under control of Apis, the bull god, and Hathor, the cow goddess.  With this plague, it was proven that these false gods could not protect what was under their supposed domain.

6. Boils.  The Egyptians worshipped Imhotep, the god of medicine, and Thoth, the god of healing.  They also believed Sekhmet was a goddess with power over diseases.  This group  of three gods was also rendered impotent, as even Pharaoh’s magicians came down with the boils (Exodus 9:11).

7. Hail.  Seth, the god who guarded the crops, and Nut, the goddess of weather, were clearly not in control, as the hail affected the Egyptians only, and not the children of Israel in Goshen.

8. Locusts.  As the crops remaining from the hail were destroyed by a plague of locusts, Seth was again proven ineffective.

9. Darkness.  The Egyptians’ chief god was Ra, the god of the sun.  But he was shown to be powerless when darkness descended upon Egypt for three days.

10. Death of firstborn.  Pharaoh himself was worshipped as a god, and was thought to be directly descended from Ra.  One of his patron deities, in turn, was Osiris, who was the god of the dead.  Obviously, they were helpless, as this last and most devastating plague affected all the land of Egypt, including the house of Pharaoh himself (Exodus 12:29).

Plainly, the plagues sent upon Egypt were not coincidental, or even haphazardly chosen by God.  By selecting these specific plagues, God was showing Egypt that their belief system was impotent, and that the God of Israel would show Himself strong on behalf of His people.

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**MEMORY VERSE OF THE MONTH**

Our Redeemer — the Lord Almighty is His name — is the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 47:4  KJV ER

Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory

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"Then Jesus said to those Jews which believed on him,
"
If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed;
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free
."

John 8:31-32

  
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Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory
Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory