Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Rejected Silver

While I am driving, I hear radio advertisers talking about the value of investing in silver. No matter what day it is, it is the best time to invest because "silver may double in value this year!" There is no doubt that pure silver has value once it has been refined. But what if the impurities could not be removed from the metal? It would be rejected as unusable.

Jeremiah 6:29 (NKJV)

The bellows blow fiercely,
The lead is consumed by the fire;
The smelter refines in vain,
For the wicked are not drawn off.
People will call them rejected silver,
Because the LORD has rejected them.”

During Jeremiah's ministry, the Jewish people who lived in Jerusalem were known for their impure lives. God described Jerusalem as a place of oppression (6), a well full of wickedness (7), people who could not heed or delight in God's words (10), covetous (13), unable to blush (15), unwilling to listen (17), and stubborn rebels (28).

Despite God's great patience and warnings from prophets, the people of Jerusalem would not turn from their sins and obey the God who loved them. Because of their habitual sin-filled lifestyle, they got to a place where they were too wicked to change their ways. Every attempt to refine them was unsuccessful because they were not interested.

There comes a time when even God gives up on certain people. Just as a metal worker rejects impure silver after multiple attempts, so God rejected the wicked people of Jerusalem. It is a sober warning that God's warnings must be taken seriously because his mercy will last for only so long. Judgment came to Jerusalem in the form of a violent defeat by another nation. For those who reject God's ways today the final judgment will be even worse (Rev. 20:11-15). Take heed to God's warnings and turn to Him before it is too late.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Prince of Peace and Family Conflicts

Those of us who have experienced the new birth know very well that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Through his death in our place, we have been forgiven for all our sins. And as a result, we are no longer enemies but have peace with God. This peace is a wonderful thing to experience. But it is readily apparent that not all people know this peace--even some who are very close to us.

This conflict is explained by Jesus in Matthew 10:34-36.*

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN's ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD"
Jesus came to reconcile man to God. But that peace, provided by the Prince of Peace, is not given to all indiscriminately. Those who continue in their sin and choose to rebel against God will never acquire it. This causes a problem for those of us who are on God's side. We often experience the brunt of the rebellion's anger against us because of our allegiance to Jesus. Our new life is a constant conflict with their lifestyle and goals.

This conflict can affect even the closest family relationships. Jesus said that following Him would bring division between father and son, daughter and mother, and many other relationships. We hate the division and if we could change things we would! We would love to share God's peace with those closest to us. But this deep seated hatred for God and his ways often wins leaving believing family members with great sadness.

But amidst this great sadness, there is one who can give peace despite the great conflict. That person is Jesus, the Prince of Peace. While at times the conflict worsens and our hearts are troubled, he promises to "keep him in perfect peace who trusts in Him." He also calls believers to "cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you." And when we take these difficulties to the Lord in prayer, with thanksgiving, Jesus promises "the peace of God that passes all understanding."

It would be easy for a believer facing family opposition to lose hope and become discouraged. Perhaps this describes you today. Please take some time today to not only understand the conflict but also to seek the peace that Jesus offers to you. He cares for you!

*Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Is that what you want?

This Tuesday, Ohio voters will make their voices heard at the polls. Some have suggested that conservatives should vote for Ohio Governor Kasich so that Donald Trump does not win Ohio's 66 delegates. The strategy is interesting because it might work. But is that what you want?

1. First of all, recognize that these ideas are based on flawed political polls. While we do rely on the media for information, these polls have often been wrong. Relying on the media and pollsters and voting for someone other than a true conservative in effect eliminates our voice in the discussion. Is that what you want?

2. If conservatives tried to beat Trump by voting for Kasich, there may be other consequences. For instance, Kasich might win Ohio and be convinced to continue running. That would most certainly continue the division amongst the Republican candidates. Is that what you want?

3. Think of another consequence. If none of the candidates have the required 1237 delegates at the end, it would lead to a contested convention. Instead of having a candidate who best reflects the will of the people, we would be turning the vote over to the party which has disappointed us with their most recent decisions. Is that what you want?

This Tuesday, I will not use the suggested strategy. Instead, I will vote for the candidate I believe will do the best job as president. That candidate is Ted Cruz. He is a conservative that has a proven record. If that is what you want, then vote accordingly.

The Arch of Kerguelen

This blog is named after the French territory, Isles de Kerguelen, in the South Indian Ocean. About 15 years ago, I came across the island on a map and read up on its history. You can read about it here. That also led to me writing two fictional children's stories about Kerguelen's voyage to the Desolation Islands. Interesting stuff ... at least to me.

One of the most interesting aspects of the island is the Arch of Kerguelen in Christmas Harbor. The 300 foot arch once proudly marked the harbor but has since fallen. On occasion, I will peruse Google for new pictures of the island or see what is happening there in the news. This afternoon, I found this artist's rendition of what the arch must have looked like when the island was discovered many years ago. Beautiful!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Who are the Sons of God in Genesis 6:1-4?

Both Peter and Jude mention angels who sinned and were judged by God. In both cases, the angel incident is coupled with another sinful situation mentioned in the book of Genesis. Peter mentions the Flood and Sodom and Gomorrah. Jude also mentions the immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah. Because of that, some have linked these sinful angels to an immoral event which happened just before the Flood (Gen. 6:1-4).

"Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown."

Here is a synopsis of what happened:
  1. Daughters were born and the sons of God noticed their beauty.
  2. The sons of God had marital relations with whomever they chose.
  3. God was not pleased with what happened.
  4. God gave them only 120 years until the judgment of The Flood.
  5. Nephilim existed at this time.
  6. The offspring became powerful men.

You now can understand why this passage has been difficult to interpret. But don’t be dismayed. Good men have differed as to how they have interpreted this passage. And some have changed their position back and forth. It is a difficult passage but one that God placed in the Book of Genesis for us to learn from. So, let’s take some time to learn God’s lesson from it.

Question: Who were the sons of God?

The sons of God were fallen angels. 1

The first interpretation says that fallen angels left their God-given role in heaven and chose to have relations with human women. The off-spring of these relationships were the Nephilim, a super-human race of people. What evidence is there for this interpretation?

a. The title “sons of God” refers to angels in other Old Testament books (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Dan 3:25).

While we are used to being called sons of God in the New Testament, “in the Old Testament the phrase ‘sons of God’ always refers to angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7).” 2 So, it would be natural to assume that angels are being talked about in Genesis 6.

b. It fits with New Testament usage (2 Pet. 2:4, Jude 6).

It would seem that Peter and Jude had this passage in mind since they both referred to sinful situations recorded in the book of Genesis. “We are told in these epistles, ‘angels when they sinned’ (Peter), and ‘angels who did not keep their domain’ (Jude) were judged by God. In Jude especially, the comparison is drawn between the angels’ improper activity and the gross immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah when they ‘went after strange flesh.’” 3

c. Holy angels do not marry but fallen ones might.

One of the biggest obstacles to this view is that angels are spirits who only occasionally take human form. And consider “that Matthew 22:30 declares, ‘At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.’ However, the text does not say ‘angels are not able to marry.’ Rather, it indicates only that angels do not marry. Second, Matthew 22:30 is referring to the ‘angels in heaven.’ It is not referring to fallen angels, who do not care about God’s created order and actively seek ways to disrupt God’s plan. The fact that God’s holy angels do not marry or engage in sexual relations does not mean the same is true of Satan and his demons.” 2 Satan and his demons seem to actively push humans toward immorality and sexual sins.

“However, while angels are spiritual beings (Hebrews 1:14), they can appear in human, physical form (Mark 16:5). The men of Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to have sex with the two angels who were with Lot (Genesis 19:1-5). It is plausible that angels are capable of taking on human form, even to the point of replicating human sexuality and possibly even reproduction.”2

d. Early Hebrew commentators favored this view.

Commentators say that “earlier Hebrew interpreters and apocryphal and pseudopigraphal writings are unanimous in holding to the view that fallen angels are the 'sons of God' mentioned in Genesis 6:1-4.” 2 This doesn’t guarantee that this is the correct interpretation but does say something.

The sons of God were the descendants of Seth.

This interpretation says that “the sons of God” were descendants of the godly line of Seth and that “the daughters of men” refers to the ungodly descendants of Cain. But what evidence is there to support this interpretation?

a. The previous chapters differentiate the ungodly line of Cain and godly line of Seth.

Genesis 4 records the downward spiral of Cain and his descendants. Genesis 5, however, records the godly line of Adam’s other son, Seth. Since these two groups were just differentiated, it seems that they could be the two groups referred to in Genesis 6. “Moses, having enumerated in order, ten patriarchs, with whom the worship of God remained pure, now relates, that their families also were corrupted.” 5

b. They took wives (normal marriage union).

The Hebrew word for “took wives” is the normal word for the marriage relationship and not an immoral relationship. This would fit better with the normal idea of a human man and woman being in a normal relationship.

c. There is no other reference to angels in the context.

Nowhere else in this passage is there any reference to angels. It seems strange that angels pop up all of a sudden with no other reference to them.

d. The angels in heaven “neither marry or are given in marriage” (Matt. 22:30).

This is probably the strongest argument against them being angels. Jesus told his questioners that in the resurrection, people will be like the angels in heaven who do not marry. Angels in heaven do not get married, so why would we think that fallen angels would do this either? It would seem odd for fallen angels to take human form (which they can) and then be able to father human children.

e. This describes the indiscriminate marriage of godly and ungodly people.

“It is also consistent with and forms the foundation for a principle taught throughout God’s Word, the extreme importance of marrying only within the family of God (Exo 34:11-16; 2nd Cor 6:14-18). The Bible relates many tragic lessons from the lives of those who did not heed God’s prohibition of ‘spiritual intermarriage,’ eg. Esau, Samson, Solomon. ... As God’s people observed the ways of the world, they tragically were lured away from a relationship with God by the riches and beauty of the women of the world, and all that the world offered. And so, equipped with the blessings of a Godly heritage combined with the skillful application of worldly methods—for a while—the unholy alliance of the ‘sons of God’ and ‘the daughters of men’ resulted in greatness for the offspring.” 3

f. Men are punished in this passage not angels.

God’s response to the situation is to point out that man is flash in a negative way. But there is no mention of angels being judged for their part in the problem. This seems to point to both groups being human.


I honestly don’t know which interpretation is correct. There are compelling arguments on either side. The first involving fallen angels seem a bit too fantastical for me. But with how wicked Satan and demons in their opposition to anything godly, it wouldn’t surprise me. The second idea seems to fit the context but doesn’t explain what sin of the angels referred to in 2 Peter and Jude.

In either case, “children of these marriages, despite pagan ideas, were not god-kings. Though heroes and ‘men of renown,’ they were flesh; and they died, in due course, like all members of the human race. When God judges the world—as He was about to—no giant, no deity, no human has any power against Him. God simply allots one's days and brings his end.” 4

This is the main point in both 2 Peter and Jude. God will judge sin and nobody can get away with it no matter how powerful or what his background – even angels can’t get away with sin. God will judge all men and angels one day and we can count on that. So…

Don’t think that wicked men will get away with their sins.

Do you realize that every wicked man of Noah’s day was destroyed by God in the Great Flood? Do you also realize that all of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone? Why then do we think that God is oblivious to what sinful man is doing? Trust God to be who He is -- both compassionate and patient but also fully aware and doing what He deems best for the situation.

Don’t think that you will get away with your sins.

Secondly, consider your own sin. It is easy to think that this is all about someone else. But for those of you who have not repented of your sin and received Jesus, the precedent has been set. You cannot escape God’s judgement no matter how powerful you are or how great your background. The only way you can escape is by repenting of your sin and believing what Jesus has accomplished for you. He, though perfect, took your sins upon himself and died in your place, so that God could justly forgive you for your sins. Your only hope of escaping judgment is to repent of your sin and cry out to God for mercy because of what Jesus has done for you. Don’t wait until your time comes because then it will be too late.

1 The basic outline was taken from a sermon by Gil Rugh, “Wickedness, Flood, and Covenant,” found at http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=21605112327 on 2/18/2016.

2 “Who were the sons of God and daughters of men in Genesis 6:1-4?” as viewed at http://www.gotquestions.org/sons-of-God.html on 2/18/2016.

3 “Sons of God in Genesis 6” as viewed at http://www.scriptureoncreation.org/#/bible-question-answer/sons-of-god-in-gen-6 on 2/18/2016.

4 "Genesis" in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament (PocketBible edition)

5 Calvin, John, "Genesis" in Classic Bible Commentary (PocketBible edition)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

You won't get away with that!

As the victim watched the thief run away with his wallet, there was nothing he could do but yell those famous words. "You won't get away with this!" But is that really true? Criminals get away with burglary, abuse, and murder on a daily basis. If they are never caught, how can you say such a thing? You can say it because the Bible says so.

In 2 Peter 2:9 we read that God is able to "keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment." How does he do this? The word “keep” means “to keep under guard.” It gives the idea that God has the wicked on a short leash throughout life and will not let them escape their just reward for their rebellion against Him. Scripture tells us that all of the wicked will one day be judged by the Lord Jesus at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). But Peter is not just speaking about the future. God currently keeps the unrighteous under punishment. But how does He do that?

It may seem that the wicked get away with their sins, but He, in fact, gives them over to their sin and allows them to get the results which come from practicing evil. In Romans 1:26-32, Paul describes the results given to those who reject God to pursue evil. He makes it very clear that God does not let them get away with their sins. They progressively get worse.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption.” –Galatians 6:7-8 NASB

Perhaps you have known someone who was unfaithful to his wife. While the momentary pleasure may have been enjoyable and unknown to anyone else, an adulterer never gets away with his sin. As he continues down that path, God's judgment causes him to have a sense of mistrust, a lack of self-control, an addiction to what he can never fulfill. And this wickedness often leads to divorce, multiple marriages, and even medical problems. God will not allow sinful man to get away with his sin now or in the future.

Are you someone who thinks he can get away with sin? Are you under the impression that nobody knows and so you have gotten away with it? Stop deceiving yourself! God will never let you get away with your sin now or in the future. Before you are crushed by the consequences of your sin and face the future consequences, fall on your face before God, repent of your sin, and plead with him for mercy through Jesus Christ the Lord! He is your only hope. Without Him, you will face the just punishment for your sin against God.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Whole World in 1 John 2:2

With a strong belief in God’s sovereignty and man’s hopelessness without Him, I was somewhat surprised when I came across 1 John 2:2. The verse states that Jesus accomplished propitiation for not only believers but for the whole world. The plain understanding of this verse is that Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished propitiation for the sins of all people. This brings up several questions.

How does 1 John 2:2 affect the doctrine of limited atonement?

According to various 5-point Calvinists, 1 John 2:2 teaches limited atonement, if understood in its proper context. But before we look at that, what exactly is limited atonement.

What does limited atonement teach?

“It maintains that God's design and intent in sending Christ to die on the cross was to pay for the sins and secure the redemption of those whom God has predetermined to save, namely the elect. Therefore, the primary benefits of his death (especially as an atonement) were designed for and accrue only to believers.”1

In other words, Jesus only died for the elect. His death accomplished nothing for the sins of the world. This makes perfect sense when coupled with the other four points of Calvinism. If God’s plan of redemption is all about the elect, then how could Jesus’ death have anything to do with those who are lost?

What verses support this teaching?

Mathew 1:21 -- When explaining Mary’s pregnancy to Joseph, the angel clearly stated the purpose of the baby’s life: “He will save His people from their sins.” At this point, salvation was limited to the Jewish people. Only they would be saved.

John 10:15 -- Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. He also prophesied that other sheep (Gentile believers) would be added to the flock under His care. He was not referring to the whole Jewish nation nor to all Gentiles as is evidenced by the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31-46. In this context, He died specifically for the sheep.

Ephesians 5:25 -- In his admonition to Christian husbands, Paul said that Christ “loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Both his love and death were exclusively directed toward those who make up the church. His goal was to sanctify, cleanse, and present the church to Himself as holy and blameless. In this context, his love and death are exclusive to the church.

How does limited atonement explain 1 John 2:2?

“It also appears as if he [John] was writing to Jewish Christians in particular, those who had been ‘anointed by the Holy One’ (1 John 2:20) and knew the truth (1 John 2:21). John was writing to those who had the ‘old commandment … from the beginning’ (1 John 2:7), most likely referring to Jewish converts (the Gentiles did not have the old commandment from the beginning). So when John tells us that Christ ‘is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only’, he is using the pronoun ‘ours’ to refer to Jewish Christians.”2

If this is the context (and not all agree about this), then John was differentiating between Jewish and Gentile believers. For the 5-point Calvinist, this interpretation removes the possibility of universal atonement. For, if Christ died for the sins of the whole world, what further need would they have to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:19)? This is a good question but there is another viewpoint to consider.

“Those who believe in limited atonement insist that if one believes in the other four essential points of Calvinism—total depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints—he should also believe in limited atonement. It is true that many who reject limited atonement also reject the other four points. However, there are many who find scriptural support for the four points named above but believe support is lacking for the doctrine of limited atonement. These might be called four-point Calvinists or moderate Calvinists.”3

How does 1 John 2:2 affect the doctrine of unlimited atonement?

What does unlimited atonement teach?

“This point of view … teaches that the intention of Christ's death was to provide redemption for everyone in the same way without exception; but the efficacy of his redemptive act is limited in its power to ensure everyone's final salvation. Christ's death, in other words, provided everything necessary for anyone's salvation besides the one conditional element of faith; but this faith was not provided by his death for anyone at all.”4

According to a 4-point Calvinist, Jesus died for the whole world. However, without God-given faith, his death does not provide salvation for unbelievers. As someone has said, Christ’s death is sufficient for all but only efficient for the elect. In other words, Jesus died for all but not all will be saved. This is different from universalism which teaches that all will eventually be saved.

What verses support this teaching?

John 1:29 -- John, who preached to common Jews, Pharisees, and Roman soldiers, announced that Jesus was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Although his audience was mostly Jewish, he was not limiting the atonement to just the Jewish people. It was for the entire world.

2 Corinthians 5:19 -- Paul states clearly that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” Christ’s death on the cross was God’s means of reconciling the whole sinful world to Himself. This reconciliation has been accomplished but is not procured by man until received by faith as seen in verse 20 where Paul begs his readers to be reconciled to God through what Christ accomplished on our behalf.

“By the death of Christ on its behalf, the whole world is thoroughly changed in its relation to God. But God is never said to be reconciled to man. The world is so altered in its position respecting the holy judgments of God through the cross of Christ that God is not now imputing their sin unto them. The world is thus rendered savable.”5

1 John 4:14 -- The goal of Jesus being sent to this earth was that He might be the Savior of the world. This is seen not only here but also in Matthew 1:21. It does not imply that he would save the entire earth but that His purpose was to be the world’s Savior. As he mentions in the next verse, only those who confess Him as the Son of God will abide with God (1 John 1:15).

How does unlimited atonement explain 1 John 2:2?

While writing to believers about confession and cleansing from sin, John showed them that Jesus is their Advocate with the Father. He is the propitiation for their sins and for those of the whole world. Propitiation “is a sacrificial term and denotes the means whereby sins are covered or remitted and the offense removed.”6 This contrast between believers and the rest of the world serves to show the extent of Christ’s work on the cross.

“So adequate is Jesus Christ as God’s atoning Sacrifice that the efficacy of His work extends not merely to the sins of Christians themselves, but also to the sins of the whole world. … The Cross has indeed propitiated (satisfied) God and has met His righteous demands so thoroughly that His grace and mercy are abundantly available to both saved and unsaved alike.”7

It was not John’s intent to offer universal salvation to all, but to show the extent of God’s love for sinful people. If God loved the world enough to send Jesus to die for even those who would reject Him, how could He not forgive those of His children who sin after their new birth. Because of the extent of His mercy, believers can find forgiveness and cleansing through Jesus, who died for the sins of the world.


Since the fall, every man has shown his sinful nature by willfully rebelling against God. Because the penalty for sin is death, each individual deserves eternal torment in the lake of fire. But God loved the whole world and gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross to pay for their sins. As wonderful as that is, the Bible also reveals that man is spiritually dead because of his sins and has no desire or ability to be reconciled to God on his own. There would be no hope for humanity except for the fact that God lovingly chose to rescue certain individuals (the elect) from destruction. He did this not because they deserved it, or because He knew they would love Him in the future, but simply to show His great love toward undeserving humanity.

The Scriptures teach clearly that Jesus died for the sins of the world. The Bible does not say that all will be saved, but that Christ’s atonement is ultimately only applied to those who believe. This doctrine does not fit logically into the five points of Calvinism, and so attempts have been made to reinterpret the “problem passages” we have discussed above. But is this appropriate?

“When we are dealing with passages that could be interpreted in multiple ways, we are not free to choose whatever interpretation appeals to us. We are free only to choose those interpretations that do not contradict other Scriptures. When a text could mean either A or B, but a second text allows only B, we must not use the first text to justify a continuing belief in A.”8

I conclude that the general ideas of both A (limited atonement) and B (unlimited atonement) are found in the Bible when properly understood. Jesus made atonement for all the world; therefore, reconciliation with God is possible for all. However, not all will repent of their sins and believe what has been accomplished for them. While the atonement has been made for all, it is limited to only the elect whom God has chosen to give new life, repentance, and faith. Only when understood in this way, can both limited and unlimited atonement be true.

1 “Definite atonement” as viewed at www.theopedia.com/limited-atonement on 1/9/2016.

2 “1 John 2:2 and Limited Atonement” as viewed at http://covenant-theology.blogspot.com/2008/01/1-john-22-and-limited-atonement.html on 1/9/2016.

3 Lightner, Robert P., Sin, the Savior, and Salvation, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 123.

4 “What does the term ‘limited atonement’ mean, and does the Bible teach it?” as viewed at www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/qna/limitedatonement.html on 1/9/2016.

5 Chafer, Lewis Sperry, Systematic Theology Volume VII: Doctrinal Summarization, (Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948), 262.

6 Hiebert, D. Edmond, The Epistles of John, (Greenville: Bob Jones University Press, 1991), 75.

7 Hodges, Zane C., “1 John” in Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, (USA: SP Publications, 1983), 887.

8 Bauder, Kevin, Baptist Distinctives and New Testament Church Order, (Schaumberg: Regular Baptist Press, 2012), 15.