Daily Archives: January 24, 2014

Questions about Theology: What Are the Doctrines of Grace?

 

The phrase “doctrines of grace” is used as a replacement for the term “Calvinism,” in order to remove the attention from John Calvin and instead focus on how the specific points are biblically and theologically sound. The phrase “doctrines of grace” describes the soteriological doctrines that are unique to Reformed Theology, which is Calvinistic. These doctrines are summarized with the acronym TULIP. The T in TULIP stands for Total Depravity, U for Unconditional Election, L for Limited Atonement, I for Irresistible Grace, and P for Perseverance of the Saints.

Reformed Christians believe that all five of the doctrines of grace are derived directly from the Scripture and that the acronym TULIP accurately describes the Bible’s teaching on soteriology—the doctrine of salvation. The following is a brief description of each of the letters in the acronym TULIP.

Total Depravity—As a result of Adam’s fall, the entire human race is affected; all of Adam’s descendants are spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1, 5). Calvinists are quick to point out that this does not mean that all people are as bad as they could be. Rather, this doctrine says that, as a result of man’s fall in Adam, all people are radically depraved from the inside and that their depravity affects every area of one’s life.

Unconditional Election—Because man is dead in sin, he is unable (and stubbornly unwilling) to initiate a saving response to God. In light of this, God, from eternity past, mercifully elected a particular people unto salvation (Ephesians 1:4–6). These people are comprised of men and women from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9). Election and predestination are unconditional; they are not contingent on man’s response to God’s grace (Romans 8:29–30, 9:11; Ephesians 1:11–12) because man, in his fallen state, is both unable and unwilling to respond favorably to Christ’s offer of salvation.

Limited Atonement—The purpose of Christ’s atoning death was not to merely make men savable and thus leaving the salvation of humanity contingent on man’s response to God’s grace. Rather, the purpose of the atonement was to secure the redemption of a particular people (Ephesians 1:4–6; John 17:9). All whom God has elected and Christ died for will be saved (John 6:37–40, 44). Many Reformed Christians prefer the term “particular redemption” as they feel that this phrase more accurately captures the essence of this doctrine. It is not so much that Christ’s atonement is limited as it is particular, intended for a specific people—God’s elect.

Irresistible Grace—God has elected a particular people to be the recipients of Christ’s atoning work. These people are drawn to Christ by a grace that is irresistible. When God calls, man responds (John 6:37, 44; 10:16). This teaching does not mean that God saves men against their will. Rather, God changes the heart of the rebellious unbeliever so that he now desires to repent and be saved. God’s elect will be drawn to Him, and that grace that draws them is, in fact, irresistible. God replaces the unbeliever’s heart of stone with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). In Reformed theology, regeneration precedes faith.

Perseverance of the Saints—The particular people God has elected and drawn to Himself through the Holy Spirit will persevere in faith. None of those whom God has elected will be lost; they are eternally secure in Him (John 10:27–29; Romans 8:29–30; Ephesians 1:3–14). Some Reformed theologians prefer to use the term “Preservation of the Saints” as they believe that this choice of words more accurately describes how God is directly responsible for the preservation of His elect. It is clear in Scripture that Christ continues to intercede for His people (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). This continues to provide believers with the assurance that those that belong to Christ are eternally His.

These five doctrines together form the doctrines of grace, so called because they summarize the salvation experience as the result of the grace of God, who acts independently of man’s will. No effort or act of man can add to the grace of God to bring about the redemption of the soul. For truly it is “by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Miscellaneous Bible Questions: Who Was Philo of Alexandria?

 

Philo of Alexandria, sometimes known as Philo Judaeus, was a first century philosopher who was born sometime between 15–30 BC in Alexandria, Egypt. A member of the Jewish Diaspora, he was raised with a Jewish and Greek education, giving him an impressive status in a non-Jewish city like Egypt. Biblical tradition has it that Philo’s nephew Marcus married Bernice, daughter of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 25:13, 23; 26:30).

In his work The Contemplative Life, Philo mentions being involved with a monastic Jewish sect at Lake Mareotis. In the second fragment of On Providence, Philo comments that he was at the ‘city of Syria, on the sea shore, Ascalon by name … I was there, at the time when I was on my journey towards the temple of my native land for the purpose of offering up prayers and sacrifices therein’. This occurred before another important episode in Philo’s life, encountering Roman emperor Caligula (sometimes known just as Gaius) in 39 AD (Against Flaccus and The Embassy to Gaius). This was because he was chosen by a Jewish embassy to front the emperor in the wake of Caligula’s introduction of his statues in Jewish synagogues.

In Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews (18.8.1), the well known Jewish historian notes that “Philo, the principal of the Jewish embassage, a man eminent on all accounts, brother to Alexander the alabarch, and one not unskillful in philosophy, was ready to betake himself to make his defense against those accusations; but Gaius prohibited him, and bid him begone; he was also in such a rage, that it openly appeared he was about to do them some very great mischief. So Philo being thus affronted, went out, and said to those Jews who were about him, that they should be of good courage, since Gaius’s words indeed showed anger at them, but in reality had already set God against himself”. Later rumors have Philo meeting the apostle Peter (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History Book II, Chapter XVII), while Christian commentators such as Jerome, Cassiodorus and Isidore of Seville believed that the mysterious author of the apocryphal The Wisdom of Solomon may have been Philo, but this theory is little more than speculation. Despite their being much information on his life, there appears to be no information on his death (which tradition suggests was 50 AD), so one can only speculate a natural death or death by the hands of Rome.

It is during Philo’s earlier years that his interest and knowledge of Stoic and Platonic thought grew and began to construct, what he declared, a clearer understanding of the Septuagint (being the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible). Philo believed it was a history of his people and God that demanded the reader to perform an allegorical interpretation. Philosophy was an important aspect of Philo’s train of thought, becoming a tool from which he used to establish a clearer interpretation of the theology that both he and his ancestors had been apart of for several centuries. During an allegorical reading of the Septuagint, Philo’s fundamental interpretation was that Hebraic Scriptures and Greek philosophy were not only compatible, but revealed the superiority of Jewish ethics. For Philo did not believe that all the stories in the Septuagint were literally real, but were constructed in the same manner as Greek texts such as The Iliad and The Odyssey.

Since Philo wrote several books, we can formulate several major doctrines that emerge from the body of his work. One would be the doctrine of Moses, in which it is evident that Philo regards Moses as not only a real historical figure who authored the first five books of the Old Testament, but a heavenly figure because of his role in distributing the law to the Jewish people directly from God. Philo wrote a considerable amount on Moses and interpreted him as the ultimate philosopher from which all philosophy, in particular Greek, originated from. Another would be the doctrine of Creation, in which Philo enforces biblical creationism in a Greek context. Philo planted the seeds of what would later evolve into the concept of creation ex nihilo, a concept implicitly stated in Hebrews 11:3. Then there was the doctrine would be that of the logos.

In reading the way God dictates in Genesis 1 (in particular saying ‘us’ in Genesis 1:26) and foreshadowing John 1 in which the ‘Word’ (the Greek translation being logos), Philo is adamant that creation was created by logos, which while apart of God’s being, is individualistic. Although his celebrated idea of logos was not entirely new, Philo personified the term. Philo believed that logos made God known, as cited in Questions in Exodus 25.22. The doctrine of man is also evident. Philo was not adverse to dualism and that man’s material and immaterial nature was conclusive (as also believed by Plato) and that through God this union will be both peaceful and was intentional. This also enforces the conclusion that, as the serpent in Eden corrupted the physical, mankind’s focus should be on the spiritual (and intellectual) relationship with God.

It is somewhat difficult to assess Philo’s importance in a contemporary context as today, few mainstream Christians have heard of him let alone his writings. Perhaps the greatest contribution to Christian theology Philo made, in addition to being such a prominent Jewish biblical scholar with the emerging West, is that he was one of the first to initiate a strong allegorical reading of Scripture. While not all scripture is to be read in this manner, there is clear allegory in many books from the Old and New Testament (from Daniel to Revelation) and Philo was one of the first to emphasize this approach and to be weary of reading everything literally. This technique of exegesis was unique for its time and could be declared one of the first Bible commentators ever in history. In fact, his allegorical approach to Scripture later influenced Christian theologians such as Clement, Origen and Didymus the Blind. His allegorical readings of the Old Testament set the stage for future theologians to consider non-literal readings of the texts and while Christianity today may dispute some of Philo’s interpretations, his approach did highlight the implicit nature of the biblical texts and helped pioneer biblical criticism.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

U.S. ranks behind Rwanda, Belarus, Azerbaijan in ease of creating new business, World Bank says

One of my favorite economists is Hernando de Soto who has long studied the difficulty of starting businesses in different parts of the world.

He explains that new businesses are often vehicles out of poverty for people around the world. Where competition and entrepreneurship are encouraged, where a better mousetrap is rewarded, where ideas can be developed and tried, wealth is created. Often spectacularly.

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20 Early Warning Signs That We Are Approaching A Global Economic Meltdown

Have you been paying attention to what has been happening in Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Ukraine, Turkey and China? If you are like most Americans, you have not been. Most Americans don’t seem to really care too much about what is happening in the rest of the world, but they should. In major cities all over the globe right now, there is looting, violence, shortages of basic supplies, and runs on the banks. We are not at a “global crisis” stage yet, but things are getting worse with each passing day. For a while, I have felt that 2014 would turn out to be a major “turning point” for the global economy, and so far that is exactly what it is turning out to be. The following are 20 early warning signs that we are rapidly approaching a global economic meltdown… (Read More….)

19 Numbers Which Prove That Americans Are Angrier And More Frustrated Than Ever

Have you noticed that people are becoming angrier? You can see it everywhere – in our homes, in our schools, in our workplaces, in our television shows, in our movies, and certainly in Washington. In fact, many have said that there is an “epidemic” of anger in America today. And it is undeniably true. As you will see below, a whole host of surveys and opinion polls show that America has become a seething cauldron of anger and frustration unlike anything that we have ever seen before. As a nation, we are more divided than we have been in decades, and economic conditions continue to deteriorate. People are working harder than ever and Americans get less vacation days than anyone else in the world, but median household income keeps going down every year. Americans are dissatisfied with their relationships, their jobs, their communities and their political leaders. There is this growing sense that our country is steamrolling toward disaster, and yet there is very little agreement on what the solutions to our problems are. Instead, blaming others for our problems has become a new American pastime. The very fabric of our society is coming apart at the seams and the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is beginning to disappear. What is America going to look like if we continue to go even farther down this road? (Read More…..)

Bachmann: Obama’s Legacy Is ‘Establishment of Lawlessness in United States’

Because he did not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and now unilaterally adjusts the Obamacare law as it unfolds, President Barack Obama is sending a signal to liberal federal judges to mirror him and, as a result, the president’s long-term legacy will be “the establishment of lawlessness in the United States,” said Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)…[view article]

Ted Cruz: Obama’s ‘Consistent Pattern of Lawlessness’ Is ‘Extraordinarily Dangerous’

the most dangerous is this consistent pattern of lawlessness. We have never had a president who over and over again openly aggressively defies the law. If he doesn’t like the law, he refuses to enforce it or he simply proclaims it changed and this is something that ought to bother everyone.

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Quinnipiac Poll: Majority Of Americans Say Obama Incompetent, Dishonest, Untrustworthy

A new national poll compiled by the much respected Quinnipiac University finds that a majority of Americans view the Obama administration as incompetent, while more Americans also believe the president himself is not honest or trustworthy.

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These Are the 10 Most and Least ‘Bible-Minded’ Cities in America: Did Yours Make the List?

The American Bible Society and the Barna Group are back with an updated list showing where residents in 100 U.S. cities rank when it comes to Bible-mindedness. The top contender for the city most in tune with the holy book? Chattanooga, Tenn. The least? Providence, R.I., coming in the 100th slot as America’s least Bible-minded city.

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Palestine is a Geographical Area, Not a Nationality

The Arabs invented a special national entity in the 1960s called the Palestinians, specifically for political gain. They brand Israelis as invaders and claim the geographic area called Palestine belongs exclusively to the Arabs.

The word Palestine is not even Arabic. It is a word coined by the Romans around 135 CE from the name of a seagoing Aegean people who settled on the coast of Canaan in antiquity – the Philistines. The name was chosen to replace Judea, as a sign that Jewish sovereignty had been eradicated following the Jewish revolts against Rome.

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Albert Mohler Blog: “Intellectual Discipleship? Faithful Thinking for Faithful Living”

In his latest Blog Essay, “Intellectual Discipleship? Faithful Thinking for Faithful Living,” Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. discusses the need for a robust Christian worldview.

How should Christians think about time, history, and the meaning of life? What about beauty, truth, and goodness? Law and order? Justice and equity? War and peace?

Click here to read the full post where Dr. Mohler reminds us that stewardship of Christian thinking “is not merely an intellectual challenge; it determines, to a considerable degree, whether or not Christians live and act before the world in a way that brings glory to God and credibility to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

10 Incredible Ways You Are Being Tracked, Catalogued and Controlled

America’s basic freedoms are under heavy assault on all fronts as we are being kept under round the click surveillance. The following list are just some of the ways you are being tracked in the “land of the free.” ……… Click here for full story

A Christian’s Election Is Confirmed By Spiritual Growth

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ESV)

Doctrine is a vital part of the true Church. Many of us may disagree on some things pertaining to our faith and still call one another brother or sister, but there are some things, from the sound doctrines from God, that are non-negotiable. I am constantly amazed when those who disagree with the clear exegesis from God’s Word will counter with nothing more than human philosophy or attempt to use human reason to void what the Bible actually says. Amazingly, they actually think they are making valid points. The veracity of God’s Truth is unimpeachable no matter who believes it to be so…

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