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Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Free Will



(Author: John Piper)


Before the fall of Adam sinless man was able to sin. For God said, "In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:17).


As soon as Adam fell, sinful man was not able not to sin, since we were unbelieving,and "whatever is not from faith is sin" (Romans 14:23).


When we are born again, by the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to not sin, for "sin will have no dominion over you" (Romans 6:14).


This means that what Paul calls "the natural man" or "the mind of the flesh" is not able not to sin. Paul says this in Romans 8:7-9


The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (See also 1Corinthians 2:14).


How then shall we think of free will?
It is not a saving power. In his freedom to will, fallen man cannot on his own do anything but sin. Such "free will" is a devastating reality. Without some power to overcome it's bent, our free will only damns us.


We could stop here and turn with joy to the gospel truth that God overcomes our resistance, gives us life, wakens our dead inclination for Christ, and freely and irresistibly draws us to himself (John 6:44, 65; Acts 13:48; Ephesians 2:5; 2 Timothy 2:25-26).


But it sometimes helps to answer objections. One common objection is that, if we "cannot" do what is right, and "can only" do what is sin, then we are not acting voluntarily and cannot be praised or blamed.


Here is part of John Calvin's answer to this objection:
The goodness of God is so connected with his Godhead that it is not more necessary to be God than to be good; whereas the devil, by his fall, was so estranged from goodness that he can do nothing but evil.


Should anyone give utterance to the profane jeer that little praise is due to God for a goodness to which he is forced, is it not obvious to every man to reply, "It is owing not to violent impulse, but to his boundless goodness, that he cannot do evil?"


Therefore, if the free will of God in doing good is not impeded, because he necessarily must do good; if the devil, who can do nothing but evil, nevertheless sins voluntarily; can it be said that man sins less voluntarily because he is under a necessity of sinning? (Institutes, II.3.5)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Racial Diversity in Hell



(Author: John Piper)

The difference between heaven and hell is not that heaven will be ethnically diverse and hell won't be. Both will be diverse. All races and all ethnicities and all cultures will be present in hell.

The difference between heaven and hell is that in heaven—that is, in the new heaven and new earth—there will be perfect racial and ethnic harmony, but in hell, racial and ethnic animosities will reach their fullest fury and last forever.

Paul spoke of the ethnic diversity of hell in Romans 2:9,

There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek.

"Jew and Greek" was shorthand for all ethnic groups.

We know he is talking about hell here because the opposite is eternal life:
To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. (Romans 2:7)

Therefore, everyone who loves racial diversity and racial harmony will call all ethnic groups everywhere to believe on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, because whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36)

Heaven will be all the sweeter because the ethnic diversity that God designed for the good of his creation and the glory of his grace will last forever in perfect harmony and joy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Is God's Love Unconditional?



(Author: John Piper)


There is such a thing as unconditional love in God, but it's not what most people mean by it.


*It's not a saving love that he has for everybody. Else everybody would be saved, since they would not have to meet any conditions, not even faith. But Jesus said everybody is not saved (Matthew 25:46).


*It's not the love that justifies sinners since the Bible says we are justified by faith, and faith is a condition (Romans 5:1).


*It's not the love of working all things together for our good because Paul says that happens "to those who love God" (Romans 8:28).


*It's not the love of the most intimate fellowship with the Father because Jesus said, "He who loves me will be loved by my Father" (John 14:21). And James said, "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you" (James 4:8).


*It's not the love that will admit us into heaven when we die because John says, "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10). And faithfulness is a condition.



How then does God love unconditionally? Two ways (at least):


He loves us with electing love unconditionally. "He chose us in him before the foundation of the world . . . for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:4-5). He does not base this election on foreseeing our faith. On the contrary, our faith is the result of being chosen and appointed to believe, as Acts 13:48 says, "As many as were appointed to eternal life believed."


He loves us with regenerating love before we meet any condition. The new birth is not God's response to our meeting the condition of faith. On the contrary, the new birth enables us to believe. "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been [already!] born of God," (1John 5:1). "[We] were born, not . . . of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13).


Let us pray that thousands of people who speak of the unconditional love of God would discover the biblical meaning of what they say. If that happened many would find their feet on solid ground.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Swords Are for Killing



(Author: John Piper)


In New Testament times swords were not for digging, shaving, or whittling. They were for killing. The only reason Peter cut off Malchus's ear was that he missed (John 18:10).


But Herod didn't miss: "He killed James the brother of John with the sword" (Acts 12:2).


Many saints have felt the full force of the sword: "They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword" (Hebrews 11:37). So it was and will be: "If anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain" (Revelation 13:10).


That's what swords are for. So when Paul calls the word of God the "sword of the Spirit" in Ephesians 6:17, he is serious—something must be put to death. And it is not people. Christians don't kill people to spread our faith; we die to spread our faith.


The link in Paul's mind is given in Romans 8:13.


If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
The word of God is the sword of the Spirit. The Sword is for putting to death. And by the Spirit we put to death our sinful deeds. So I conclude that the way we kill our sins is with the Spirit's sword, the word of God.


All temptations to sin have power by lying. The are "deceitful desires" (Ephesians 4:22). They tell us that the pleasure of the sin is worth it. The killing blow against these lies is the power of God's truth. Hence the sword of the Spirit, God's word, is the weapon to use.


As John Owen said, "Be killing sin, or it will be killing you." That is what swords are for, especially the Bible.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

10 Reasons to Pray the Scriptures

By: John Piper
Here are some of the reasons you should pray and meditate over biblical truth.
1. Biblical truth saves.
Take heed to yourself and to your doctrine; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)

2. Biblical truth frees from Satan.

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)

3. Biblical truth imparts grace and peace.

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2)

4. Biblical truth sanctifies.

Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth. (John 17:17)

5. Biblical truth serves love.

It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment. (Philippians 1:9)

6. Biblical truth protects from error.

Attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God...so that we may no longer be...carried to and fro by every wind of doctrine. (Ephesians 4:13-14)

7. Biblical truth is the hope of heaven.

Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

8. Biblical truth will be resisted by some.

The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings. (2 Timothy 4:3)

9. Biblical truth, rightly handled, is approved by God.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

10. Biblical truth: Continue to grow in it!

Grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)