Monday, July 26, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
David and I were both on the look out, but by God’s grace nothing major happened from these jihad wannabes, in fact the Muslim gang was as scarce as a pork chop in Mecca. There was no sign or Allah Akbar from them.
Now that isn’t to say the night was boring, far from it. Instead of Afghani teenage terrorists we had loud mouthed drunk atheists. While Ryan was preaching this one rough looking bloke came up and began to scream and curse. Normally hecklers like this are golden as they draw a crowd, however, this guy would yell, rant and rave but then walk away and start ranting to the crowd. So after Ryan tried to deal with him in the open air, I thought it wise to go talk to him one to one.
The drunk atheist got in my face and began yelling at me. As he yelled I found myself being covered in spit and chewed up dinner, but apart from that he wasn’t too bad. It turns out that this man had some deep hurts. His mother had died recently and his wife was tragically killed in a car accident. He wanted to know why God allowed death and suffering. When I tried to answer he just became more hostile, so I said to him, “You don’t really want an answer do you?” To which he agreed, he was just after someone to blame and God seemed like a good scapegoat. He then said Christianity didn’t have any answers and walked away calling me a coward. A title that confused me, since I was the one who came up to him and tried to answer his questions, and he is now walking away. I guess that makes one a coward…
The rest of the night was fairly tame. Ryan preached, Dave preached and Blake preached. There wasn’t much more heckling, but there were some great one to ones.
To God Be the Glory!
The Bible is a Neolithic book! It was written in the Neolithic period! You cannot trust it!
Wayne was in fine form tonight. The heckling began while Alex (not the Atheist) was preaching. I stood in back play listening to the ramblings that is Wayne. Yarran and I were discussing some of the arguments that Wayne was using, and we both found it interesting that in the Neolithic period (allegedly) there was no alphabet or writing, so we were both confused how the Bible was supposed to be written some 4000 - 5000 years before the invention of the alphabet. But let’s not let facts get in the way of a good heckle.
Alex dealt with Wayne for some time, and then Wayne must have been on repeat because once again he went back to the Neolithic argument. It was at this point I jumped in and began to deal with the heckling.
I asked Wayne for proof of the Bible being written then, and his best argument was, “Genesis says there was a talking snake and unicorns”. But then his argument changed slightly to say that the oral tradition began in the Neolithic times.
When I challenged Wayne on these points and made an apologetic showing how unicorn, doesn’t have to mean a mythical one horn horse, but rather it could be a one horned animal and that the talking snake was actually Satan talking via the snake. I concluded by saying for you to disprove the Genesis account, your main argument has to be against God, you have to disprove Him.
Well that sent us on another round of heckling. Wayne the atheist started to talk about how some things are immoral etc. So I asked him on what basis does he make a judgement on something being immoral? His reply was that society determines what is right and wrong. So I took him a step further and said, “What if one society condones child rape, is that ok?” And Wayne replied by saying that it is universally wrong. Now he had an issue, how can right and wrong be determined by individual societies and yet there still be absolutes?
This was a question Wayne was unwilling to answer. So I put to him, “To say that something is immoral requires there be a universal moral law, which is not tainted by our own society values, if that is the case then there needs to be a moral law giver, who is outside of our domain, that is the being we call God. For there to be right and wrong, there must be one who determines right and wrong. An atheist cannot have a moral basis apart from God.”
At this stage Wayne was happy to let another heckler take over, this heckler had the deep theological thought of “What happens to the souls of cars when they die?” To which I simply replied, “Well that depends if they run on LPG or Petrol”.
The rest of the heckling for the night was fairly tame. We had some good one to ones and many tracts were handed out.
Praise God for a good evening.
View photos from the outreach, here.
The following is from Ryan Hemelaar about a certain conversation he had:
Doctor S backslides from atheism?
On Saturday, I got into a conversation with "Doctor S" from the Brisbane Atheist Group. We started talking about the Ontological argument - specifically Plantinga's formulation of it. Not sure what that is? Read it below:
- It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
- If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
- If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
- If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
- If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.
- Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
A maximally great being would a necessary being, therefore if he can exist is some possible world, he must exist in every possible world (because he's necessary), including our own. Doctor S admitted that the argument is logical and he knows of no way of refuting it. So I asked whether he now believes the conclusion of the argument. He answered, "I'll have to go home and see whether anyone else has refuted the argument." I responded, "If no one has, will you then believe it?" He answered, "No, because it doesn't mean that no one has been able to refute it and just can't find it." So I said, "This shows you actually have a vested interest in not believing in God because you are unwilling to believe under any circumstances. For this argument is logical with its premises supported, so therefore it is not just a matter of the conclusion possibly or probably following from the premises, it means that the conclusion to the argument logically and necessarily follows."
After a bit of further discussion, he said, "I can admit there is a maximally great being, but that doesn't mean a 'God'." I asked, "But is not a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, and so on, 'God'?" He refused to admit this. He tried to maintain that admitting that there is a maximally great being does not mean he is no longer an Atheist. I disputed this point with him, letting him know what is the standard definition of atheism in the field of Philosophy (according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) - it doesn't mean lacking a belief in God, it rather means the belief that there is no God.
He then went on to try and deny logic to get around the predicament he was in, but I pointed out to him that logic is the basis for all rational discussion and so he cannot do that.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Monday, July 19, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Many people think that "Calvinist evangelist" is an oxymoron. What do you think? Can someone be seriously Calvinistic and at the same time seriously evangelistic? Does a belief in the absolute sovereignty of God take the wind out of the sails of evangelism?
We live in a day of gross ignorance with regard to sound theology. We should continually yearn for sound (wholesome, healthy) doctrine (1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18). As we Christians learn and respond rightly to sound doctrine, we begin to think correctly, and our lives begin to demonstrate the resulting godly fruit. So how should a belief in Calvinism affect our belief in evangelism?
What Is a Calvinist?
Well, what is a Calvinist? A Calvinist believes in sola Scriptura. That is to say, he believes that the Bible, exclusively, is God's very word. Therefore, to him the Bible alone is the final court of appeal on all matters of faith and practice.
Additionally, a Calvinist believes that fallen humans can be forgiven of sin and receive a just standing before a holy God, only through faith alone in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, alone. This saving faith comes as a gift of God's grace (Eph. 2:8-9). The Calvinist believes that since fallen humans are dead in their trespasses and sins, they will never have God's life in them unless he takes the initiative and quickens these spiritually dead persons. When God does sovereignly quicken (regenerate) an individual, he will respond to the gospel in repentance and faith and be saved (Eph. 2:1-10). A Calvinist realizes that the only thing he contributes to his salvation is his sin. Salvation is of the Lord from first to last.
These events all take place in time and space. But preceding them all is what God determined in eternity past. Ephesians 1:4 tells us that God chose (elected) certain ones in Christ before the foundation of the world.
The Calvinist believes that God's election is unconditional. That means that almighty God did not base his election upon any good thing (such as faith, good works, etc.) that he foresaw in those he chose. His election could never be based upon anything inherently attractive or good in fallen man. Every last person that the omniscient God foresaw had inherited Adam's guilt and corruption, was totally depraved, and was choosing to sin. Hence, every last one of them justly deserved God's holy wrath.
God's election is based solely upon his own grace, love, and good pleasure (Eph. 1:4-5; Matt. 11:21-27). If God chooses to show mercy to some members of the human race, all of whom justly deserve his judgment, that is grace, and that is his prerogative (Rom. 9:10-23)! Because it depends completely on God, the number of God's elect is certain, definite, and cannot be increased or decreased.
The elect are the Father's gift to Christ. Jesus himself vows that of all the Father gives to him, he will not lose any (John 6:39). Since the elect are sinners both by nature and by choice, and since God is a holy God who will not tolerate sin, but must judge it, a substitutionary atonement needed to be made in order to reconcile God to his elect. And so, the Calvinist does not believe that Jesus Christ died for all men indiscriminately, but that he laid down his life for the elect, his sheep, his church (John 10:11; 14-16; Eph. 5:25).
This explains why the Holy Spirit must do his regenerating work in a person before he is able to repent and believe in Christ. In his natural, fallen mind, man is hostile toward God (Rom. 8:7). Until the Holy Spirit sovereignly replaces a sinner's heart of stone with a heart of flesh, he will continue to be spiritually impervious to the gospel (Rom. 8:7; Eph. 2:1; Ezek. 36:24-27). The Calvinist believes that every last one of those who were chosen in Christ before time will by the end of time be brought to saving faith and a vital relationship with God through the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Does Calvinism Nullify Evangelism?
At this point, the non-Calvinist infers that the impetus and urgency to proclaim the gospel is gone, or diminished at best. After all, if God knows who is going to be saved, and if he will save his elect no matter what, why waste our time evangelizing?
But it is important to recognize that the God of the Bible ordains not only the end (salvation) but also the means to the end (the proclamation of the gospel).
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. And through evangelism, he is calling his sheep to himself. He calls his own sheep by name, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice (John 10:3-4). They know his voice because, at God's appointed time, the Holy Spirit gives the elect ears to hear and hearts to understand (Matt. 13:23).
The ordinary means by which God gathers his people is through their hearing and believing the gospel message. In Romans 1:16, Paul declares that he is not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. In Romans 10:13, he states that "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Then he adds, "How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!' " (Rom. 10:14-15 nasb).
Paul saw that it is the task of the church to proclaim the gospel. The exhortation Paul gives in Romans 10 is sandwiched between chapters 8-9 and 11. Take some time and reread those chapters. Note especially all they have to say about God's sovereign purposes in election.
Why am I, a Calvinist, so passionate about evangelism? Several reasons immediately spring to mind. First, my Lord Jesus Christ commands me to do so (Mark 16:15). Second, given that my chief duty (and delight) is to glorify God, I am moved by the fact that the Father is honored whenever the Son is honored. The supreme means of honoring the Father is preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ (John 5:22-23)! Third, I know that when the nonelect reject the gospel, as they are wont to do, preaching leaves them all the more without excuse when they receive the condemnation they justly deserve. And last, I know that God brings his elect to himself through the preaching of the gospel.
The apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:10, "Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory." It is only when we recognize God's absolute sovereignty that we can be assured of results. God blesses the faithful dissemination of his word. He promises that his word will never return to him void or empty, but will accomplish the purpose for which he sent it (Isa. 55:11).
Does Calvinism take the wind out of the sails of evangelism? Properly understood and sincerely believed, it does exactly the opposite. Believing that God has a sovereign plan to bring all his elect to himself actually encourages evangelism. It gives confidence to us, God's people, to fulfill our God-given responsibility to spread his gospel. We know that our labor in the Lord is never in vain (1 Cor. 15:58)!