I use the term Extensivism to encapsulate my soteriological (salvational) understanding. I gave considerable thought in choosing the term. Although only used by me (hence, the need to continuously define for others), it does seem to be free of negative connotations and appears to me to be a suitable parallel for discussing soteriology within this Calvinist/non-Calvinist theological milieu in which I live. That is, consistent Calvinism is soteriologically exclusive (limited salvific love, limited unconditional election, limited efficacious call, limited atonement, etc.); whereas, we who disagree with that exclusive approach do so because we believe the Scripture teaches an extensive soteriology. The term also permits me to avoid spending time defending the nuances of other non-Calvinist perspectives with whom I agree on many points. Continue reading →
Apologetics, which is intellectually stimulating as well as hard work, is critical to engaging our culture. It is a fallacious juxtaposition to ask should we seek to engage people with only the simple gospel, apologetics, or a loving life because it is not either/or but all of the above working in concert. Truly loving people must include telling them the truth about Christianity in a clear and convincing way. Continue reading →
If many will not serve Christ in obscurity, we can never present Him to the world with clarity.
There are many in the annals of Christian history who are studied, celebrated, and extolled as role models to be followed. These exemplaries of Christianity are rightly known for their labors, sacrifices, and surrender to God’s will and ways. There is no shame in extolling the heroes and heroines of the faith.
This as long as Christians remain ever so aware and thankful for the untold, unnamed, and faceless Christians who paved the way for the mighty warriors of the faith to be used of God, at the appropriate time, in extraordinary ways.
“He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
We can see the cooperation between human wisdom and divine wisdom in the need to build and maintain the physical church building with primarily human wisdom, and the spiritual church building with exclusively divine wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:1–21). Blurring this distinction results in being in opposition to God. We build the temple according to God’s blueprint alone, which is both lucid and sufficient. When man’s wisdom is in play, elevated, sought, and depended on, teaching the Scripture will be marginalized. Continue reading →
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
It is only when we realize that our human wisdom is foolishness in pleasing God, bringing men to Christ, maturing men and women in the faith, living right, and building the church that we come and bow, desperately seeking the wisdom that comes from God alone. Only then will we truly listen to what He says and gladly and obediently obey, regardless the immediate impact or what is the latest fashion in ‘doing church.’
God looks to those who follow His Word. “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).
We are not to be searching for novelty, new ideas, what the lost deem righteous, or a reinfusion of the divine into the old, but knowledge of our Lord Jesus as revealed in the Scripture. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
The carnal mind will accept the command to love and simultaneously reject God’s definition of what love really involves. For example, a husband may say a hearty “amen” when the preacher quotes “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). However, he does not want to explore deeply what it means to love like Christ because then he will have to die to self, mature, and sacrifice, and that is what deliberate carnality abhors. The carnal mind wants to define divine love according to very personal human standards.
Shallow teaching nurtures and rewards carnal thinking. Only delving deeply into the Scripture will reveal one’s carnality, which provides opportunity for repentance and true spiritual growth.
I was a Calvinist for over thirty-three years and was unabashedly so for the first twenty. I spent the last thirteen years questioning and evaluating the harmony between Calvinism and Scripture and only doffed the label Calvinist in the final months of that journey.
A respondent to one of my blogs on SBC Today commented on this journey, and I thought I would share my reply here in order to briefly touch upon my departure from Calvinism.
The blogger said, “Your personal testimony is that, a study of Sola Scriptura is what lead you out of the Calvinism to which you held for decades.” Continue reading →
There are a number of ideas regarding what constitutes “wood, hay, straw,” and “gold silver precious stone” in 1Corinthians 3:12. I suggest that Gold, silver, and precious stones refer to God’s wisdom (as revealed in His Word), and wood, hay, and straw refer to man’s wisdom. The key to understanding the Corinthian problem is Paul’s use of the word sophos which appears 26 times in the Greek within the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians, and is translated wise or wisdom in the NASB. Paul only uses the word 18 other times in all of his epistles.[i] Continue reading →
We desire to be thought of as a good example of how people should think about other people. A quite noble desire; however, if we desire to be such an example, we must be slow to think the worst of others because eagerness to think unkindly of others is more often than not symptomatic of one’s indifference to his own weaknesses.
Impatience with the frailty of others, or their inability to measure up, or leaping to attribute the unkindest of motives reflects a troubling sense of one’s imperceptiveness of his own failings. We are seldom as quick to welcome the eagerness of others to think ill of us, so why should we be so inclined when considering the actions of other people?
Adopting a humble attitude does not imply that we never approach someone about a problem, but rather it simply means that when we do so, it will be because of an undeniable reality rather than an unwise and ungracious perception.
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
While many don the designation Calvinist because they have endeavored to learn all the aspects of Calvinism and are thereby convinced that it provides the most cogent, comprehensive, and consistent grid through which to understand Scripture, others readily adopt the appellation less nobly.
Of this latter variety, it seems to me that many assume the title “Calvinist” because they like certain components of Calvinism, which they are led to believe are unique to Calvinism. Such conclusions may arise from their exposure to the claims of some Calvinists to that effect, the inadequacy of explanations or responses of those who reject Calvinism, or even from their own subjective assumptions. Such beliefs are exampled by God’s sovereignty, the preeminence of God’s glory, or the total depravity of fallen man. Continue reading →