The following is a preamble to a blog that will posted by the middle to the end of next week.
On March 25 I posted an open question for the readers to respond to. Laughingly, in jest a friend referred to it as a “trick question.” After others had commented, I responded with my own opinion to that question on April 3.
Even though it wasn’t my intention to present any subterfuge, I am now coming to the conclusion that there was a scheme taking place, even though I was unaware of it.
The scheme being that I was unwittingly presenting a trilogy in the forms of two previous posts, with a third yet written.
If there was an intelligent design behind this, that of being orchestrated by the Holy Spirit; I can clam innocence in the scheme as a willing, but unknowing participant.
To explain, the subject matter concerning my question of March 25, and my subsequent answer; was that of “forgiveness.”
As I presented, part of the tie-in concerning the Gospels and Jesus using the word “forgiveness” in regards to healings He was doing; was the subject of faith.
A few days before introducing the post concerning forgiveness, I had delivered a long essay entitled: “Judging, Church Discipline, and Forgiveness.”
I had originally spent months on this essay when presented on the teaching website; then spent a week fine-tuning it to fit within the blog site. Now, to add to these two previous posts I have been motivated to present the next essay concerning the subject of “Faith, Salvation, and Regeneration”(I know very few believers will be interested in this subject matter, as it seems boring and dry; but it is not for readers that I write – it is for Him who is the only One in the audience – God, pragmatism be dammed, it is for the King that we do, not for the masses, or the numbers – it is for Him and Him alone we serve), while coming to see how the three posts tie together – unseen until this last post is written.
Now back the explanation of a possible scheme. What is amazing is if you would read all 3 of these long essays, you would find a consistency between these subjects which build one upon another, which I was unaware of, nor intended at the time – that of:
3. Faith, Salvation, and Regeneration
I started my last post addressing the importance of re-examining doctrines that we have already come to conclusions concerning, and know very well.
I ended by quoting Chuck Missler with the following statement:
“All of us are subject to the limitations imposed by the presumptions we bring to a topic,
and it may be essential to step back from time to time and reestablish a fresh perspective.” Because:
“The only sure barrier to truth is a presumption that we already have it.”
I have taken this expression to heart concerning this next post.
In spite of the above statement of being willing to openly set a side my beliefs, I am aware that within my presentation style I appear to maintain a great level of authority in what I teach.
In all actuality, the authority that is perceived, and that I therefore admit to conveying is not seated in myself, but in what I believe the Word of God states.
Some good friends have argued that while I believe this to be true, what I am actually doing is asserting my opinion.
And there is no getting around the fact that anything that anyone says is based upon their own of opinion, unless what they’re saying is verbatim from another source, in this case the Bible, where they are just restating what has already been presented.
Such as, presenting the 10 Commandments. The only way that one could present the 10 Commandments and avoid being accused of presenting their own opinion, would be to read aloud the Biblical text without commentary or even saying another word about them.
I have taught extensively concerning the subject of presupposition, which is based upon a person’s frame of reference, bias, prejudice; all of which make their worldview.
It is impossible for a human being to not have an opinion about everything.
They may insist that they don’t hold an opinion concerning something, yet upon further examination this is found to be incorrect, yet to them the subject matter is simply not very important, or confusing.
Example: My favorite colors are forest green and burgundy.
In my opinion these are very attractive colors, and while I may wish to insist that I have no opinion about other colors, in reality that is incorrect.
I do not own an orange car, nor have I ever. I’ve never painted the inside of my house orange.
I’ve never chosen the color orange on anything that I’ve custom ordered.
Therefore, it is easy to deduce that I am prejudiced against the color of orange, while biased towards forest green and burgundy.
There may be things that I don’t wish to voice my opinion about, but there is nothing in existence were I hold no opinion, perhaps a less noncommittal of an opinion; showing a lack of deliberation based upon a limited frame of reference, or a lack of concern; yet even in this you will find an opinion somewhere – even if the opinion is the subject matter is too confusing or complicated for me to understand – this too is an opinion.
The point I’m getting to in all this, is that when I teach, there is no doubt that my opinion is involved in everything that I present.
But for those that would seek to argue against what I present by inserting that it is “only my opinion,” need to consider the following.
Many people form an opinion which is not based upon knowledge, studious examination, or experience.
Their “opinions are uneducated,” as the expression goes.
Many do not want to put the effort or time to be educated about a subject, it is sometimes much more fun to speak about that which we don’t know, yet that which we have an opinion.
And there are many individuals that in examining something truly don’t do so in order to uncover truth, they are simply obtaining information to prove that their opinion is right.
I find this to be true with almost everyone, including myself (though I do try to fight it – at least sometimes); and openly admit how hard it is to critically examine our own held beliefs.
I have spent years working on this subject.
The motivation wherein I have attempted to find holes in what I was presenting came from my work as an investigator. I very rarely ever lost cases in litigation.
The reason why is I screened my clients very well, even utilizing polygraph examination in certain types of criminal, as well as civil cases (for my use only, never to be used in the investigation itself – and don’t believe the lie that polygraphs can be fooled, it’s all contingent upon the reader, you cannot fool a good reader – unless you are a total sociopath, and there are actually very few sociopaths alive, there are a lot of individuals that look like a sociopath, but they engage in the use of “Thinking Errors” to combat their own sense of morality; which may be much less than ours, but does still exist. A true sociopath has no social morals what so ever; and therefore feels no guilt or shame. Every criminal I’ve ever worked with has rationalized his criminality – which proves he is not a sociopath – simply a human being).
Part of the reason, in fact a large part of the reason why I was successful in my investigations concerning litigation; concerned one specific tool that I utilized constantly.
I would take a premise which was positive to the case, and then fight as hard as I could against it.
And as you can see from my writing, I am a tenacious person to begin with.
I have long determined that I’d much rather go through a thorough examination and determine I was incorrect up front, rather than look like a fool later, and worst yet, find out that I was fighting for the wrong side (there is nothing so terrible as to determine in retrospect than you were working for the perpetrator, and as such re-victimized the victim yet a again in litigation, or a criminal case), and feel guilt for having done so (I had one big case when I first started where this was the case – it was a good teacher).
Therefore, it’s always been profitable for me to fight against what I believe in order to attempt to comprehend if it is true or a lie.
Because of that type of mindset which I have maintained since my early investigative training over 30 years ago, I have utilized it when it comes to the Bible as well (actually everything – Yet, to know me, you would know how much I admit I mesh up still, in spite of all the effort otherwise).
I was raised in a church that was pre-trib; yet my first professor of theology, Walter Martin, was post-trib; hence I became post-trip.
There came a point where due to examination I came to the conclusion that I was wrong (many had used a “Straw-Man” type of defense/attack), after having dug into the Greek language.
Willingness to Change
In fact, this has been the case that I have changed my belief concerning many of the major doctrines (at least for the first twenty years), such as: Soteriology (the study of doctrine of salvation), Predestination (the teaching that God predetermines who will become a believer, as compared to the doctrine of the “Free-Will” of the person to become a believer), and the “Security of the Believer” (“Eternal Security” or “Once Saved, Always Saved” – The first problem is in referring to this question as Calvinism vs. Arminianism – which is named based upon two men, these two individuals came up with formulae (s) which are man-made conjectures; neither one is fully correct, nor fully wrong – it is the Bible that needs to be taught, not man’s philosophy, so please don’t allow yourself to be grouped according to either one of these individuals, because your opponents have already set up the “Straw-Man” approaches to argue against you – seek God and His Word – only), eschatology (Greek: “last things,” Pre-Millennial, Amillennial, Post-Millennial; or pre-trip, mid-trip, or post-trip), and the Pentecostal teaching concerning the Baptism of the Holy; but to mention a few.
Therefore, if I study a subject, and mystically find Scripture connected with Scripture, especially when I ascertain things that I was not taught it by anyone else, finding treasures in the Greek or Hebrew concerning meaning, this I can only conclude is a leading of the Holy Spirit.
It is very common for me to wake up in the middle of night with some biblical conclusion that baffles me, and then within moments; have a Scripture come to mind which seems to explain it.
I then must get up and start reading the Word, studying, and then writing.
I’ve often heard that:
“It is not ability that God is looking for; it is availability”
Tenacity is what God needs in His children. Tenacity will drive you to discipline, and scholarship.
Tenacity will fortify commitment and drive.
However, tenacity is not enough alone, you must be right – we must always do the right thing, yet always the right way.
When all is said and done; we fight for what is right, for what God desires, and we never, ever, ever, give up.
One of the frequent casualties of the current narcissism in our culture is the self-centeredness which leads to a lack of tenacity.
The church is allowing more sin and corruption within its doors than any time in history.
These days it’s not only the mega churches with dozens of programs to make us better husbands, better wives, wiser children, emotionally more competent, arrest addictions, have fun, and attract more and more crowds; it is now a majority of churches that follow what appears to be good (that having programs in themselves are not bad, read a little further please).
One of the underpinnings of almost all major denominations, as well as many small time congregations; is church growth.
Tell me where it is in the Bible we are not told to overtly grow the church, that our concern is enlarging our congregations – it is not (in spite of our cultural mindset, bigger is not better / more is not better – “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” ~ Matthew 7:23-24, nor is newer better than older – “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” – 2 Thess. 2:15; 2 Tim. 3:14-17).
It is not the churches place to add to its number, it is the Holy Spirit; He will do it (“Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” ~ Acts 2:47).
We are told to make “disciples“, according to the literal Greek (Greek: matheteuo, same as “students”) of men (Matt. 28:19-20), not converts or members.
Believers produce believers (sheep make sheep, pastors don’t – Jesus told Peter to “feed my sheep” ~ John 21:16, which means to teach them the Word of God), the church is not for the conversion of the lost, it’s for the training of the believer to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-15).
And while all these different subjects which become groups or classes may be good, they all focus back on self, rather than God.
The Enemy of the Best
The most successful enemy of the best is not the worst; it is when the second best takes the attention from the best, that it becomes most successful enemy of the best.
This is why we must spend our time studying about God and His will for us.
Spending studying text which talks about being better people, better husbands and better wives will take place as we go through God’s Word, but when the theme of the class are these things, they have moved God over one space from the center where He alone belongs.
Self help is not what the church is to be focused on.
Tables needed to be waited upon (meaning the poor needed to be fed by the church), but is was not to be done by pastors, nor to be the first calling – taking the focus from reading, and studying; and teach the Word of God (Acts 6:2-4), so that the sheep would grow.
Training, Not Mending
The church has never been meant, nor designed to be a hospital, where believers get patched up from the toil of the previous 6 days.
The church has always been regarded and designed as a military facility, where believers are taught the Word of God in order to do “the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:12).
Notice all the military terminology which is used throughout the Bible, not just Paul, or David; but almost every writer utilizes it, even Jesus (Luke 14:31).
Why – we are to have the mindset of a warrior fighting for our God, as opposed to a victim (which our culture reinforces upon society) seeking self-healing.
There is always healing in the church, but if you train the soldier right, he will not get hurt as easily.
Yet, if a soldier ever does get wounded, he goes to a hospital, he then returns to the battle.
While not in battle he lives on base, not the hospital – hospitals are temporary. A soldier never trains inside a hospital.
Now, allow me to get off my soap box to conclude this preamble.
I have said all this in preparation for the essay which many believers seek to avoid, that of regeneration as it pertains to salvation and faith.
This subject seems dry, and hard to get into, yet the profit is faith that is strengthen – this is where faith grows, in and from God’s Word (Rom. 10:17).
Finally, I will pose a question to consider concerning the upcoming post – “Which comes first, regeneration or faith?” (it is not as easy as it seems, this study is changing my mind concerning a long-held belief – I hate when God does that, but; those who put in the time, reap the benefit).
Part 3 – “Regeneration, Salvation, and Faith” will come out, hopefully by the middle of next week.