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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « The Gospel of Judas | Main | "Hosannas!" and High Expectations »

    Spiritual Discernment is for the Spiritual

    "the things of the Spirit of God ... are spiritually discerned" ( 1Cor 2:14)

    "he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24"45)

    I would like to challenge each one of you to take a friend from work out to lunch; someone that you know is not a Christian. This person preferably is a someone with whom you developed some degree of a good relationship with. During the course of your meal, when it seem appropriate, you can lead the conversation toward the Gospel. Tell him or her that God Himself has truly entered into human history from the time of Israel through the time of Christ, and not only has made himself known to us in the Person of Jesus Christ but has redeemed us from our sin and rebellion against the Creator. He Himself fully endured the wrath we justly deserve for sin by His death on the cross. Living the life we should have lived and dying the death we deserve. Then, vindicating the truth of what He accomplished God raised him physically from the dead on the third day. There were over 500 witness to this historic event and different witness to the same event wrote down their testimony which now makes up the Holy Scripture.

    Then when you are done explaining the unfolding drama of redemption in history ask him or her whether they acknowledge the truth of these factual claims. If he responds that these events are something less than historical, just a myth or a fairy tale, I challenge you to consider the question of why he rejects something that should be as plain as day. it is true is it not. It is not that he lacks sufficent data so one thing you can be assured of is that he/she is spiritually blind in some way and cannot see the plain truth as put before them. Their eyes are closed to the gospel, but why? If you have also shown them great love and patience and presented these facts with warmth and a genuine spirit with great eloquence and done so till you are blue in the face, your effort, while it may leave a seed, does not convince and will be of no avail if the Holy Spirit does not remove his blindness and give him new spiritual eyes to see the truths you presented him/her. All your exegesis, proclamation and logical persuasion will have no effect unless the Spirit remove the veil of darkness, clearing the way for them to believe the truth of the message you put before Him (John 6:63-65). This means if the Lord is to use us to win souls to Christ we must pray that the Holy Spirit disarm their innate hostility, overcome their lack of faith (heal their faithlessness), remove the barricades erected in their heart and enlighten the truths we herald from the Scripture. The reason they reject is, not simply because the evidence you provide is not strong enough, but because their affection remains set on the darkness (John 3:20).

    Let no one misunderstand, I am not at all, in any way, encouraging you to forget using persuasive arguments, for these are good, and the Holy Spirit utilizes them concurrantly with His work to open eyes, but they are useless if they are alone. Like a seed is is dormant until germinated, the Spirit must also germinate the seed of the Word for it to produce its intended effect. Only the Holy Spirit can actually open and illuminate the truth of the gospel to the unbeliever's understanding because they are spiritual truths, and spiritual truths require the spectacles of the Holy Spirit to see clearly. Prayer and intercession of behalf of the spiritually dead is, therefore, absolutely essential as we engage those in the world. We must prophesy and pray over "dry bones" that God would add flesh to them. Perhaps much of our frustration to the lack of response to the message of the gospel lies simply in the fact that we have not spent time praying that God would save them. Prayer only makes sense in the context of the sovereignty of God, for we believe only He can change a hard heart and illumine a darkened mind. I often wonder why the 'free will' people pray for people's salvation for this is inconsistent with their theology if God really cannot do anything to change them aside from external persuasion (which is no more than a preacher does). Those who believe in the free will of man can really offer no explanation for prayer, for, in their view, God cannot interfere with hardened sinners in any way ... so the free will position leaves one without God the Holy Spirit in the process of salvation because the sinner, by definition, would be left to his own devises to make up their own mind through external persuasion alone. For movement of a persons' will by God, in any way, betrays their theology. On our knees, therefore, I believe they must pray like the rest of us and the fact is that most of them do pray for people's salvation. But why pray if God can do nothing more than a preacher who works to persuade? What can God do for them?

    The Scripture itself says that "the things of the Spirit" [spiritual truths] "...are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor 2:14) What does it mean that something is "spiritually discerned"? It points to the fact that the unspiritual cannot understand it, that they are completely in the dark about it. One must first be spiritual to grasp spiritual truth. As we proclaim to gospel to our friends they are either in one condition or another: spiritual or unspiritual. The Scripture does not allow anywhere for a middle ground between the two. So no matter what kind of grace is given to unspiritual people prior to salvation, if it does not actually change their heart and make them spiritual, they simply will not grasp any spiritual truths for they still lack the mind of Christ. The problem with synergism is here because they believe God's grace to unbelievers does not make spirtitual but only gives an opportunity to unspiritual men. But let's ask, an opportunity for whom? An oppotunity for an unregenerate person who, by nature, cannot understand spiritual truth (1 Cor 2:14). And unless he is regenerated (i.e. born again) then he is still unspiritual and by definition "...hostile toward God; for [he] does not subject itself to the law of God, for [he] not even able to do so."(Rom 8:7). Jesus says you do not look for figs on a briar bush. That bad trees do not bear good fruits. In other words, if something's very nature is different or bad, it does not produce the intended results. An unspiritual man does not exercise faith because he is by nature unspiritual. Jesus says the tree must first be made good for the fruit to be good.

    Again, the message of the gospel is "spiritually discerned", so only the regenerate apprehend it, only those whose minds have been illumined by the Holy Spirit can see the truth in it. But all synergists would have us believe that unspiritual men actually exercise spiritual thoughts. Again we must ask, how can the unspiritual be spiritual? The Bible does not allow for this and it is an impossible supposition. The prerequisite for being spiritual is the Holy Spirit. All spiritual acts, such as faith in Christ, require one to be illumined and changed by the Spirit. "No one, the Scripture says, can say 'Jesus is Lord' apart from the Holy Spirit." Only those who have the "mind of Christ" can think thoughts after Him ( 1 Cor 2:16).

    That is why verse 13 of 1 Cor 2 says "we have received...the Spirit who is from God that we might know the things freely given us by God" (That is, that we might know Jesus Christ and the gospel). The same text says unregenerate persons cannot know such thoughts BECAUSE they are spiritually discerned. They think of them as foolish. So no amount of persuasion on its own will make any difference.

    The work of the Holy Spirit is a prerequisite to spiritual understanding. Consider, in this world, we have two ways to obtain knowledge: general revelation and special revelation. General revelation is simply the created world and special revelation refers to the Holy Scriptures directly revealed by God. General revelation itself should be enough to know God, but due to the noetic effects of sin on the mind in the fall we do not read creation correctly, so we also need the Bible for saving knowledge. We cannot now read the world around us correctly apart from Scripture. But again salvation cannot be known merely by reading the page of Scripture either, even though it is infallible. It may have been sufficient before the fall, but now, general and special revelation are insufficient to give us life through saving knowledge of Christ. Let there be no mistake about this. it is not because either general or special revelation are defective in any way. Romans 1:20 and following says that God is clearly known to all persons through general revelation so that men are without excuse. The problem is not with revelation but with the heart of man, who "suppresses the truth in unrighteousness." (Rom 1:18)

    What humans still need above and beyond general and special revelation is the illumination of the Holy Spirit who gives man spiritual eyes to see the truth of Christ in the gospel. Only the mind of Christ will suffice to understand the things of Christ. Unless the Lord opens the heart we do not understand or "take heed" to the things of the Lord (Acts 16:14).

    People, therefore, do not reject the gospel because they are unintelligent, uneducated or simply do not have enough data. You could give them all the data in the world and they still would not believe. Romans 1:20 says that all men, in some respect, 'know the Lord', the question is, do they know him as an enemy or as a friend? By nature man is in rebellion. Only the Spirit can transform and disarm our hostility toward Jesus Christ. Only He can illumine the text in such a way that we might understand it. Man is blinded to the gospel because his affections are still fixed on this world. he loves darkness and hates the light (John 3:19, 20). Persuasion is not sufficient without the Spirit shining a light on the message.

    Important to remember in all this: the Holy Spirit is not giving any new revelation. Rather He enlightens man by doing a work of grace in his heart so that he can perceive the revelation already given. Even as believers we pray that God would open our eyes to see wonderful things from His law. The law already exists in its full clarity and He has already turned on a flashlight, as in a dark room, for us so we see some saving truths, but others still remain hidden until God shines a light on them. But unbelievers are still completely in the dark. We need to ask the the Holy Spirit to illumine their mind and remove the veil that they may see the beauty and excellency of Christ in the gospel. They may already understand the gospel to a degree intellectually but they do not see any beauty, truth or excellency in it. Only the Spirit can change our affection for Christ. And just as we cannot lift ourselves by our own bootstraps, and just as water does not rise above its source, so the unspiritual man does not see or grasp or love spiritual things. No addition to revelation is needed. Instead we need a remove of the darkness that shrouds the hearts of unbelievers that they might see what is already there ... a darkness that prevents them from seeing the goodness of Christ.

    In light of what was just said, consider Elisha's prayer to open the eyes of his servant that he might see what was already there:

    "Alas, my master! What shall we do?"

    So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."

    17Then Elisha prayed and said, "LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see " And the LORD opened the servant's eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

    Like Elisha we need to pray for our friends that God open their eyes to see the plain truths already before them.

    Jonathan Edwards once explained that this knowledge (light) is given immediately by God and not obtained through natural means that operate by their own power. While God often makes use of natural means, yet the medium is not what causes the effect. God may teach us many things through nature and reason, and even use the words of Scripture to convey a doctrine or proposition, but only God can illumine them in such a way wherein we see their beauty and excellency. Those who are unregenerate have no capacity to love what is spiritual and so they are not partly but wholly dependent on God to translate them from darkness to light.

    Paul likewise said he knew God had chosen the Thessalonians because...

    "...this gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." (1 Thess 1:4,5)

    J.W. Hendryx

    Posted by John on April 10, 2006 03:24 PM

    Comments

    My daughter called me several months ago after church one Sunday night. She was very upset because of a person she knew who refused to accept Jesus and be saved. It went like this. An evangelist came to their church and did that thing where everyone bows their heads and closes their eyes and then those who need Jesus are supposed to raise their hands. Her friend did, but when it came time for each one who raised their hands to go forward in an invitation, he refused.

    She was broken hearted and wanted us to pray for his salvation. I said I would. However, I told her that no amount of coercion on any person's part will save anyone. Only the Holy Spirit can draw a person to believe. In fact, when He does that, people believe and are saved.

    Several weeks later, I talked to her about it again. She had read some of the material I had suggested and had actually heard some of my favorite teachers who confirmed the Reformed Theological view of salvation. She said that she understood now that we must pray for God to call lost people to believe. If they don't believe now they may later so keep praying.

    I work with many lost people. I have shared the gospel several times with some of them. It is disheartening when they scoff and laugh it off. We can start to feel like a failure when this happens over and over. However, we must pray that they will be drawn, called and given to the Lord.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

    I guess I'm one of those the Holy Spirit has not moved upon. I believe in God and know the scriptures, yet everytime I go to the Bible and read it, I come away bitter and resentful. My stumbling block is that, through out all scripture I can find no answer to the 'why' of creation. Why did I have to be in this life? I did not ask to exist, and yet here I am, existing for all eternity, whether in Heaven or Hell. What if I want neither? I did not ask to participate in this life, and I see no beauty in it. It's not as though God took me up before I was born and showed me paradise, telling me I could get it, if I could get through this physical world, but that the odds were, I'd get eternal torment. It's not like I knew what I was getting into. I simply opened my eyes to find that I'm free falling into hell. I keep asking, what crime did I commit that I was born into this life? I know the standard answer, which is, 'For God's Glory'. But that is not much of a comfort to those of us who wish we had never existed to begin with. It is hard to trust God when he gives us no answer to 'Why' he created to begin with. I don't want Hell, but life is such a dreadful thing that the idea it's eternal leaves me resenting God for having started it to begin with.

    It's intimidating sometimes to try to talk about faith with people, especially if they aren't already close friends. I often fear that I don't yet know enough to be a witness to anyone, and that if I'm asked a question I can't answer, I may end up doing more harm than good. I read much, and I've read some works on apologetics, but somehow I still don't feel like I'm "qualified" to represent the Gospel to someone who doesn't believe. Maybe I'm relying too much on my own abilities, which are lacking?

    And how do you bring it up to somebody, without becoming "that guy" who everyone avoids for fear he'll start talking about Jesus?

    Hey ML, greetings. Do you believe in Jesus? Do you believe that He is the son of God and that He died for your sins? Do yo believe that God raised Him from the dead? Ponder these things while asking God to show you the truth. You can contact me if you wish by following my profile. In any case I would be honored to discuss this with you.

    to Mr. Ratliff, I do believe in those things. I've even defended the integrity of the Scriptures to others. I study the Bible almost daily. If I did'nt believe, I would'nt care. My despair does not come from being sick or poor or anything of the such. I simply see no good or beauty in life, nor am I looking for any. And this is not 'Oh woe is me!'. I'm loved and have a comfortable life. But my being here was beyond my control. And God has given no reason why. It's difficult to articulate my point. It's the nature of God, I suppose, that I question. His intentions. I myself, in all honesty, want nothing in this world. I never have. Being here feels like a mistake. All I have ever wanted is to 'not be'. But I know that, once I'm here, I'm eternal. My soul never dies. And it's that for which I end up resenting God. I don't want to displease God or offend him, but ( and I know this sounds blasphemous) I don't want him either. I just want to be left alone. To cease to be. That is why I search the scriptures for a Why. It would be at least some comfort to know why God created, and to hear it from him. Adam did not ask God this. No one asked Christ. And yet it is the question that has stood the test of time. I'd just like to know why.

    to ML, Do you suffer from depression? You message leads me to believe that you do. Do you understand your position before God as a "sinner" because you are descended from Adam? If you do, then do you understand that your fatalistic thesis in your statement is not necessarily set in concrete? From what I can tell, you lack hope. Why? Upon what are you basing this hopelessness?

    Have you ever read and understood the following passage? And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.' (Acts 2:21 ESV) That statement is filled with hope. Have you ever simply asked God in prayer to open His Word to your heart?

    One of the best Books I have read on this subject is Charles Spurgeon's – "All of Grace." Here is a link to an online copy. All of Grace . It is not hard to read at all. I am praying for God to open your heart and draw you into the truth.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

    ML:

    Mike has given you good pastoral counseling; take it to heart. I on the other hand shall come with what will certainly seem as harsh and uncaring words. Possibly you could think of them as an expression of tough love.

    You write, “My stumbling block is that, through out all scripture I can find no answer to the 'why' of creation.” Yet you reject the clear teaching of the Bible: for God’s glory. You refer to this as the standard answer as if it were a philosophical or psychological answer, when it is taught clearly in the Scriptures. The ultimate answer to any “why” is always going to be for God’s glory. To reject God’s answer as unsatisfactory is to imply that you know that God is hiding the real reason for His decree. Your rejection further implies that you know there must be something greater than God’s glory. In rejecting the biblical answer you know you have created a situation to which no one, including yourself, will every be able to provide a satisfactory answer to you because there isn’t any answer better than the one that comes from Scripture.

    You say, “It is hard to trust God when he gives us no answer to 'Why' he created to begin with.” But your assertion is wrong, for God has said why. Your problem continues to be that you don’t like God’s answer. You say that the question has stood the test of time, implying that it has never been answered. But God first answered it in Genesis 1:4 and continued to do so throughout his revealed holy word.

    Your idea that a person should be asked to grant their permission to be born (I assume you mean conceived.) is irrational. Before you, or any other created being, were conceived you didn’t exist. How can you which IS NOT grant permission TO BE? Bringing it to the physical level, before you were conceived where should have your parents looked for you to ask you for your permission? God in His word, through the prophet Jeremiah and Apostle Paul, has already answered your questioning of your being born without giving your permission: the pot does not question the potter.

    You ought (moral imperative) stop asking God why and start asking yourself a lot of whys. Why do “I just want to be left alone”? Why do I want “to cease to be”? Why does “being here feels like a mistake”? Why am I not satisfied that God who decreed everything that comes to pass did so for his glory?

    Here’s one last question you should ask yourself: Am I sure that my “unanswered question” is not just a smokescreen to cover and justify my rebellion to God?

    I too tend towards a despairing melancholy temperament (rather I previously did) and was also driven often to despair for lack of answers and meaning. I do not know if it will help you or not but I have since almost completely overcome these sinful tenancies after reading Desiring God by John Piper. He does a great job of explaining the meaning of existence and explaining the source of joy in life that you cannot seem to be able to find. If you email me your address I will send you a copy. [email protected]

    to Mr. Ratliff, Thanks for the prayers. I'm a novice at posting comments, so my ability to articulate is lacking. I don't believe I'm depressed. I'm 30, and have felt the same for as long as I can remember. What I was trying to get across is that I've no desire for anything, no 'God shaped hole', so to speak. When I stand before Him on judgement day, i want to plead my case with Him, to simply let me go into oblivion. I know that sounds dramatic, but I don't know how else to say it. I'll be as obediaint as I can to God, I just want nothing in return from Him other that to find peace in nothingness. And I do understand that I'm a sinner because I descend from Adam. That's where the bitterness come in. I look at Genesis and can't help but to think that God intended for Adam to fall. God said it 'is not good that man should be alone.' Why? Adam never complained. And being alone is not the same as being lonely. A person can be alone and be happy. God's soloution to Adam's aloneness, Eve, was the very thing which facilitated the Fall. Adam was alone in the garden for a relevant period of time (first to garden, then to name animals.) Where was Satan during that time? Adam was the intended target of the Devil ( Romans 5:12), so what was he waiting for. It's as though he was waiting for the woman. And that's where the 'Why' keeps coming up. I've read Spurgeon and A.W. Pink and Edwards among others. You spoke of hope and I understand that. But what if you don't want hope? Like I said, I have no desire or longing for anything. And what I do have, 'Life', is the very thing that plagues me. The idea of eternity, even in Paradise, feels me with a dread I can't even begin to describe.

    ML:

    Thanks for all of your thoughts... True saving faith is a grace of God which generates an affection for Christ, not indifference or hatred. Your post sounds more like you may believe a set or list of facts, but may have no affection for the Chrsit they point to. That is not the faith the Scriptures speak of. We believe in Christ BECAUSE we have a God-given affection for him. Those who love darkness and hate the light will not come into the light because of the dark affections of their heart (john 3:19, 20; Rom 8:7).

    True religion involves affection for Christ, something He has stirred up within. If all your life you have not cared one way or another, but just believe the facts of the Bible it seems problematic when weighed against Scripture. Romans 1 teaches that all men believe the facts of the Bible. It says "Although they knew God..." Yes they know God but how, as an anemy or a friend? The quesiton is, do they love God or are they hostile of indifferent?. Indifference, especially one that is adopted as a long term lifestyle, is not love and cannot be the faith that God produces in the heart. So you might pray that the Lord would stir up your affections for Christ, if indeed Christ dwells in you. If not then pray He would come and make Himself known to you, turning your heart of indiffernce to one that deeply love Christ and His word.

    Your post also sounds familiarly like buddhist literature whose goal is to escape all desire believing that all desire itself if the cause of suffering. But this is a false view of the world. The faith of the Bible cannot possibly be without emotion or affection for the object of its desire. God created desire and a faith that does not desire Christ is an inconsistency which needs to be addresed. You have my prayers.


    to Gordon, I did'nt find your post harsh or uncaring at all. I explained to Mr. Ratliff, that I'm not very good at articulation. I understand what you are saying. I spend a lot of time off to myself studying and debating these things in my mind. I have for most of my life. It's not that I reject the teaching of 'God's Glory', it's just that to me that is more about 'what we are here for' not 'Why'. I know the two seem close, but their not. For example, Pharoah, by hardening his heart, allowed for God's Glory to manifest by Divine Intervention. There are other scriptures, which I can't locate right now, that speak of God having created some for Heaven, others for hell. What I mean is that, what we do may Glorify God, but our actions may have brought it about, not by doing right, but by doing wrong. Like Adam, who disobeyed God. But had he not, Christ would not have needed to come. God was glorified because of Adam's sin ( I hope I explained that clearly). I understand, biologicaly, why I am here. But God is the author of all things, and all things began with him. My soul is not biological, and will exist forever, whether in Heaven or Hell. So, this is why I ask Why. I have what I regret that I have 'Life'. And it seems it's something I can't return. My soul is eternal. The gravity of that concept is beyond words. I try to do the best I can before God. maybe what I want is rebellion. What I want, is to one day stand before God and hear him say, 'well done my son, now you can sleep forever.' And yes I've prayed. I've pleaded.

    Dear ML,

    I have one question for you; why don't you want life in paradise with the father. What is it about that life, the life to come, that you despise so much. I can clearly understand your hate for this worldly life and the confusion of "why" and how you feel like being born is such an injustice, I just wonder why you despise life with the father. Hopefully i will be able to answer your questions.

    May the Lord be your guide and may He show you His great love.

    to John W., thanks for your post. I've never read any Buddhist literature actually. I would'nt say I'm indifferent to Christ. It occurred to me a few years ago that that my own evidence for God's existence is that no matter how much at times I may want to, I can't just walk away from him. I'm under an almost daily conviciton towards him. I would say it's more like the facts getting in the way. The current article on here is an exceprt from John Piper. And it's good, I believe what it says. But all things were made by Christ (John 1:3), which means all this mess is a result of his creation. I know this sounds blasphemous, but I don't know how else to say it. It's like someone throwing you into a pit, then extending a hand to help you back out of it. God gave his only begotten son for our sins. But had God not created to begin with, none of this misery and pain would exist. That's my stumbling block. I keep thinking that if I could just understand why, then maybe it would all make sense. I know that is problematic. It's just where I find myself.

    to Chris, thanks for your post. To answer your question, it's consciousness itself I don't want forever. The Bible speaks of all men as wanting to live forever. I don't. I'm just tired. I'm weary of being. It's not that I hate this world, I actually rather pity it. It seems like it's falling to pieces right before our eyes every day. Life is just a neverending expectiation of hurt. This morning I awoke to the news that an uncle had come up missing while scouting for turkey at his hunting camp a few counties away. Me and my dad and some others were going to go help look, when we got the call that he had been found dead in the woods. He died of a heart attack. I wasn't real close to him, but it was a punch in the face none the less. My dad's about the same age and has black lung. A year and a half ago another uncle died of cancer. He was eat up with it from head to toe. My oldest brother had a tumor removed from his brain last year, which was not cancerous, but it's back now. He's slowly loosing his sight and his hearing. So yes I'm angry and resentful. And I did'nt tell you that for pity's sake. It seems like everyone you talk to is going through the same thing in their families. It seems like everyone is either sick or knows someone who is, so I know my family is no exception. Yet I'm perfectly healthy. Not a thing in the world wrong. But it's hard to have hope or want hope when you got to bed and get up everyday with a sickening fear in your stomach for what those closest to you might have to go through. I don't mean to rant. And again I did'nt tell you those thing because I feel sorry for myself, i beleive very much that a man has to 'carry his own water' so to speak.But you asked why I don't want Paradise with God. It's because I'd just rather not know anything. To just simply not be. That would be peace.

    Dear ML

    From what I have read of your comments you do not seem to understand that you have sinned willfully and that as a result of this sin, you deserve death and eternal condemnation as all people rightly deserve. What you seem to say is that God is wholly responsible for your sin and is therefore unjust, but that is not the case because it is we who sin and bring condemnation on our heads. AND yes i understand that life is almost unbearable because of all the horrible things and all the sad things, but this is all a result of sin. Now one might say it is God who has planned it this way--it is because of God that we suffer, but it is most certainly not! Sure God planned it this way and nothing happens outside of His eternal plan, but man still brought this condemnation on himself and deserves death in hell for eternity. What a great injustice it would be to make God accountable for our actions. Now here comes the good part: Christ came and died for the sins of those who have and those who will believe on Him that they may have eternal life--the good life the way it was meant to be: with God! Now, i really hope I do not sound prideful because I know that the only thing that seperates me from eternal condemnation is God's loving mercy because I too, like everyone else in this world, deserved death and i would even say more so than most. Now, my hope lies in leaving this world of pain and death to come to God and to live the perfect life of joy and peace with my Lord and Savior forever.

    Soli Deo Gloria
    Chris

    Always remember that man is accountable for his actions.

    Ephesians 2:1-10

    1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
    4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

    I really hope this helps!

    to Chris, thanks for the posts. I'll consider what you've wrote.

    A lot of the charismatic movement uses the word discernment meaning to sniff out evil spirits and such. I find nothing in the Bible to suggest this is true. For example, say someone is walking down the street and they pass a house and get a weird feeling about it. They may say "I discerned that an evil spirit was in that house." Any thoughts on that?

    I'm currently studying discernment in order to write about my findings over at The New Puritans blog. Thanks!

    No matter how insightfull and cleaver the rebuttal,the question proves unanswerable. Our first parents choice to sin conscientiously involved us all federally resulting in humanities vulnerable estate. Semenal desendents have no say period! Which makes it fine for the elect and not so pretty for the non elect. From a exhausted fallible perspective it seems God's glory is dependent upon mans fall so that the elects resulting humility and glory can serve at a level effective enough to satisfy His standard. This also demonstrates God's willing a state of affairs in one sense that he dissapproves in another sense.(The mother of all parodoxical conundrums! Mans only authorized choice is not to procreate. (How much water does that carry under His soveregnty)?This is reassuring of scripture, we truly are the pots!

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