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Spirit of the Reformation

Published by Andrew Esping under on Saturday, March 19, 2011

  Everyone has that one song that gets them all fired up and ready to dance around the room like a deranged lemur that sat on a loaded nail gun.
  Pounding on Wittenberg's Door, by Steve Camp, has that affect on me.  It's an awesome fact that God will always preserve His remnant, and will hopefully bring about another reformation when He deems it necessary.  It seems like a minor one may already be in the making, and I hope it is proceeded by a much larger one.  May God's will be done. 

  I can already hear the objections, "But Andrew, your lemurish actions are always evident, with our without hearing this song."  And although that may be true, my lemurish behavior will have to wait for another, and much longer post.


Coram Deo
Soli Deo Gloria
Semper Reformanda

I Will

Published by Andrew Esping under on Friday, January 21, 2011
These last several days I've been lost in thought.  Pondering the Arminian doctrine of Free Will, and how it relates to Scripture and the Calvinist's opposing doctrine Total Depravity.

While technically Total Depravity was written as a response to Free Will, I do not believe Total Depravity satisfactorily responds to everything that is found within Free Will.  Total Depravity responds well to the Free Will's claim that man is still capable of accepting Christ, but there is more at stake.

Free Will is an assault upon the Sovereignty of God.  Free Willianites claim that God has released His control over salvation and given man full authority to decide who will be saved and who will not (based entirely on the will and good pleasure of man, not God).  This directly defies God's Sovereignty which states that He is in control over all things simultaneously.  Of course the Arminian will never say that he denies the Sovereignty of God.  In fact he will strongly insist that he does.  I don't know how Arminianism defines the Sovereignty of God, but the definition must differ.  The most common Arminian definition that I've heard is as follows "God has the ability to be in control of all things, but He chooses not to in the area of salvation."  I call this doctrine "Potential Sovereignty" as God could potentially be in control over all things, but somehow "His power is displayed in a better sense when men freely come to Him, instead of when He un-justly forces them to come."  I've never gotten a full explanation of how the doctrine of Potential Sovereignty works, and where it is found in Scripture, and I have a feeling I never will.

But as I've been considering these things, one passage keeps coming to mind.

Isa 46:8-11
8 "Remember this and stand firm,
recall it to mind, you transgressors,
9 remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
10 declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, 'My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,'
11 calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.

It's when I see Scripture verses like these that I lament that the fact that Free Will is still a widely accepted doctrine.  I see absolutely no mention of man within in this passage, or even a note of respect for what man's will might be.  All I see is God stating that He will do exactly what He has purposed (with zero consideration with what man would prefer).  The phrase "I will" is used three times in this passage alone (referring to God of course) and is used continually throughout Scripture. And when God says "I will", He makes it clear that His will is the only will that matters, and no other will, will be able to stand before His.

Coram Deo
Soli Deo Gloria
Semper Reformanda

Matthew 23:37, a proof text for Free Will?

Published by Andrew Esping under on Wednesday, January 19, 2011
One of the most popular proof texts for the Arminian doctrine of "Free Will" is Matt 23:37

Matt 23:37

37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

Arminians love to point out Jesus' words when He says "How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under wings, and you would not!"  that Jesus deeply desired to bring the Jews to Himself, but they were not willing to come to Him.  Therefore rendering the concept of God's Sovereign power in election un Scriptural.

I will admit that for a time I was puzzled by this passage, wondering why Jesus seems to advocate man's Free Will.  But thanks to a very well written explanation of the passage by Dr. James White in his book "The Potter's Freedom" I have come to understand exactly what the passage means.  After carefully performing exegesis, and placing the passage in context, we find that Matt 23:37 does not advocate Free Will, what a shocker huh?

Arminians would almost always rather take a passage at its "face value" than perform exegesis (which is very wise of them).  After all, attempting to understand passages in their correct context and actually making an effort to explain what the passage is says would be very counter effective to the Arminian cause (Arminians who are in the habit of performing exegesis, often times end up abandoning their Theological traditions for a Theology that is based on the word of God....quite interesting).

After due consideration, I have decided to simply type out what Dr. White has to say on the issue instead of attempting to explain it on my own.  Dr. White's words are far more clear and concise than anything I could write.  I'm also confident that what Dr. White has to say will be MUCH shorter than what would punch out.

So without further adieu, I present James White's explanation of Matt 23:37, taken from his book "The Potter's Freedom" Chapter 6, pg. 136-139:  One more quick note, in this book, Dr. White is responding to Norman Geisler's book "Chosen but Free,"  That is why this section starts off with a quote from CBF (which is how Dr. White refers to Chosen but Free).  The reasoning for Dr. White writing a detailed exegesis of Matt 23 is due to the continued use of the passage by Dr. Geisler, although Dr. Geisler refuses to perform any exegesis or even an explanation of the passage.  He, like many other Arminians, choose to explain the passage away with simply a "face value" exegesis (which is no exegesis at all).

"CBF offers no in depth exegesis of this passage (Matt 23).  Instead, we are given two sentences that summarize Geisler's interpretation of it:

Also, Matthew 23:37 affirms emphatically that Jesus desired to bring the Jews who rejected Him into the fold but could not because they would not.  He cried, "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing."  God's grace is not irresistible on those who are unwilling.

We first note that "irresistible grace" is a reference to God's sovereign regeneration of his elect:  any other use of the phrase is in error.  Hence, it would seem to be  that Dr. Geisler is promoting the following ideas regarding this text:  1) that Jesus wanted to save the Jews to whom (or about whom) He was speaking in this passage; 2) That though this was Christ's desire he could not fulfill His desire; 3) Christ could not bring these Jews into the fold because they "would not."  The conclusion then is, God's race is dependent upon the will of man.  If a man is willing, God's grace will prevail.  But grace cannot change the will of man.
     Of course, these are assertions that are not given with any interpretational foundations.  No exegsis is offered, just conclusions.  How Dr. Geisler arrived at these conclusions, we are not told.  Later we are informed that it is the "plain meaning" of the text, and are asked rhetorically "What could be more clear:  God wanted all of them, even the unrepentant, to be saved."
     This verse is then used in conjunction with 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9 as evidence that it is God's desire to save every single man, woman and child on the earth.  But is that what this passage is teaching?  Let's provide an exegetical interpretation of the passage and compare it with the presentation in CBF.
     The first fact to ascertain in examining any passage of Scripture is its context.  This passage comes in the midst of the proclamation of judgment upon the leaders of the Jews.  Matthew 23 contains the strongest of denunciations of the scribes and Pharisees in all of the Gospels.
     Who, then, is "Jerusalem?"  It is assumed by Arminian writers that "Jerusalem" represents individual Jews who are, therefore, capable of resisting the work and will of Christ.  But upon what warrant do we leap from "Jerusalem" to "individual Jews"?  The context would not lead us to conclude that this is to be taken in a universal sense.  Jesus is condemning the Jewish leaders, and it is to them that He refers here.  This is clearly seen in that:

1:  It is to the leaders that God sent the prophets;
2:  It was the Jewish leaders who killed the prophets and those sent to them;
3:  Jesus speaks of "your children," differentiating those to whom He is speaking fromt hose that the Lord described to gather together.
4:  The context refers to the Jewish leaders, scribes and Pharisees.

A vitally important point to make here is that the ones the Lord desired to gather are not the ones who "were not willing"!  Jesus speaks to the leaders about their children that they, the leaders, would not allow Him to "gather." Jesus was not seeking to gather the leaders, but their children.  This one consideration alone renders the passage useless for the Arminian seeking to establish freewillism.  The "children" of the leaders would be Jews who were hindered by the Jewish leaders from hearing Christ.  The "you would not" then is referring to the same men indicated by the context:  the Jewish leaders who "were unwilling" to allow those under their authority to hear the proclamation of the Christ.  This verse, then, is speaking to the same issues raised earlier in Matthew 23:13:

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

John Gill added this insight:

     That the persons whom Christ would have gathered are not represented as being unwilling to be gathered; but their rulers were not willing that they should.  The opposition and resistance of the will of Christ, were not made by the people, but by their governors.  The common people seemed inclined to attend the ministry of Christ, as appears from the vast crowds which, at different times and places, followed him; but the chief priests and rulers did all they could to hinder the collection of them to him; and their belief in him as the Messiah, by traducing his character, miracles, and doctrines, and by passing an act that whosoever confessed him should be put out of the snyagogue; so that the obvious meaning of the text is the same with that of verse 13...and consequently is no proof of men's resisting God, but of obstructions and discouragements thrown in the way of attendance on the external ministry of the word.

So we can now plainly see that CBF has absolutely no basis for its assertion that it is the "plain meaning" of the text that God wanted "all of them, even the unrepentant, to be saved."  One of the three primary passages used in CBF is seen, then, to have no connection with the application made of it over and over again in the text." - James White, from his book "The Potter's Freedom" pg, 136-139 

Praise be to God for great defenders of the faith like James White and John Gill who valiantly have stood up the erroneous teachings that have been presented regarding God's Word.

Once again we see that the Arminian's doctrine of Free Will has no ground to stand on and is nothing more than a man made concoction that desires to de-throne God and place Him at the feet of man.  Which of course is the ultimate goal of the flesh.  It's a shame to see the desires of the flesh made manifest in the Theology of so many Christians.  Let us all search out and find the areas in our Theology where the desires of our flesh are evident.

God Bless!


Free Will Rant v 1.0

Published by Andrew Esping under on Monday, January 17, 2011
Anyone who has ever discussed Theology with me, even for a short time, will quickly find out that I have little tolerance for the doctrine known as "Free Will."

Ever since I was 12 and read R.C. Sproul's book "Chosen by God," I have been an adamant opponent of "Man's Free Will."

The definition of Free Will given by states:

"The power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate or divine will."

Which basically translates to me as "God has absolutely no say the comings and goings of mankind.  That He is forced to watch man's activities from a distance and attempt to persuade them to "do" certain things that please Him."  This is probably what I find so offensive about the doctrine.  It's hard to see it when you've been literally "indoctrinated" in Free Will, but the truth remains that Free Will directly undermines the power of God by placing man in a position of high authority than God.

Those who acknowledge Free Will often attempt to find Scriptural proof to back up their claims.  Of course, they are more likely to find  truth in the speeches given by President Obama.  One who takes time to view the list of Scripture verses that Free Willianites present will almost always find that their "Scriptural Proof" is based entirely on words such as "receive" and "accept."  Showing that men do in fact receive salvation is very weak Scriptural evidence, especially when you find out that those who oppose Free Will (those who embrace The Sovereignty of God) also believe that men "accept" or "receive" salvation.  The only difference is that Sovereignists believe that God enabled those who "received" salvation, to actually be able to "receive it."

Another favorite passage cited by Free Willianites is Matt 23.  But since time forbids me to examine Matt 23 at the moment, I shall make Matt 23 the subject of my next post.

Until then, God Bless!

Coram Deo
Soli Deo Gloria
Semper Reformanda

New Year's resolution

Published by Andrew Esping under on Sunday, January 16, 2011
Well, after many failed attempts to actually keep this pathetic excuse of a Blog going, I'm going to try once again.

And yes I know what your thinking (aside from the fact that your never supposed to begin a sentence with a conjunction) "Come on Andrew, you've tried this before man, your out of your league.  You know for a fact that you can't write, and look at your Blog Archive, you've been posting on and off since 2007!"

It's all true, but you obviously can't stop a fool from trying.

So...let's see if I can put my soul and brain together and bang it against my keyboard hard enough to come up with something interesting...only time will tell.

Of course, this post may just sit here till sometime in June when I'll post something similar....I guess that's one way to rack up the post count!


Published by Andrew Esping under on Wednesday, October 20, 2010
While driving home from the fantastic town of McPherson, I was thinking about the wonderful cup of coffee that awaited me at home, and going over my current memory verse, which is 2nd Peter 1.

I was pondering on verses 5-8:

2 Peter 1:5-8
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

While dwelling on the qualities mentioned here, I found that none of them aptly describe myself.  But above all, steadfastness is the quality that I lack the most. 

I'm so easily sidetracked and I have difficulty staying on course.  For instance, instead of pointing out my character flaws on my Blog, I should be studying for my history COOP.  

So, I'm going to put a stop to this right now........

My prayer is that God would withhold my fleshly tendencies and grant me grace so that I may be strengthened, through Him, in the area of steadfastness.  Knowing that if these qualities are mind, and are increasing, they shall keep me from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ.

Thoughts and Ramblings on 1 John 2:2

Published by Andrew Esping under on Tuesday, October 19, 2010
For the passed few weeks, some of my friends and I have been discussing the ever popular and controversial topic of Christ's work on the cross.

The modern day sentiment towards the atonement is that Christ has fully atoned for all the sins of all people.

Although the growth of this view shocks reformed/calvinist minded people, it should not be surprising that in today's age of anti-intellectualism that this view is so popular.

Since my interest in this topic has once again been perked, and due to some extra time on my hands, I am going to attempt to write a few posts focusing on the main verses the Arminians use as strongholds for their view of Unlimited Atonement.

The first stronghold is 1 John 2:2:

1 John 2:2
2  He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

The Arminian will immediately point out that the verse indicates that Christ has payed for the sins of the "Whole World."  And although at first glance this does seem to be the case, a closer look will reveal the truth.

Firstly, who was John's audience?  From the little research I did, it seems that most scholars agree that 1 John was written to the Church at Ephesus.  Ephesus was a town in Asia Minor (modern day turkey), we can therefore assume that most of the congregation were of Gentile descent, with perhaps a few Jews or Judiazers .
The Jews still believed the promise of salvation belonged to them and them alone, except perhaps for the occasional sojourner.  The reason we find the use of universal terms like "Whole World" and "all" used in the context of salvation is because the apostles were demonstrating to the Gentiles that salvation was for people from every tribe, tongue and nation.  They were also attempting to correct those Jews and Judiazers who still believed the promises were their's alone.

Secondly, it is important to note the use of the word propitiation.

Propitiation as defined by Webster is:  "The act of regaining goodwill or favor."  If a fallen human is to regain God's favor, his sin must first be atoned for/justly payed for in full.  And that is exactly what Christ does.  He payed the full price for the sin of His people.

But if what the Arminians says is true, and Christ has made propitiation for the "Whole World" how can any human justly go to hell?  If their sin has all been payed for, and Christ has suffered the full curse for them, what is left for them to suffer for?  Is it not unjust for God to send someone to hell whose sins have been atoned for?

The Arminian will undoubtedly respond by saying that those who go to hell do so because they rejected Christ.  But isn't rejecting Christ a sin of omission? And if Christ really did make atonement for the sin of the "Whole World" wouldn't He of atoned for the sins of omission?

These are greatly disturbing issues.  For we see that if Unlimited Atonement is true, it makes God to be an unjust Judge and therefore fallen by His own standard.

In the end we see that 1 John 2:2 does not point to an Unlimited Atonement.  On the contrary, 1 John 2:2 is some of the strongest evidence in Scripture for the doctrine of Limited Atonement.  For John clearly teaches an atonement that was perfect, and accomplished Salvation for everyone that it was intended for!


James White vs. John 3:16 Conference

Published by Andrew Esping under on Monday, September 27, 2010
In theology, when it comes to debating Arminianism and defending Calvinism, one name stands out...James White.

James White is the founder of Alpha and Omega Ministries and is the author of masterpiece The Potter's Freedom.  James White is an excellent orator and debater who jumps at each and every challenge that is presented to Biblical Orthodoxy.

Two years ago James White came out with two youtube videos commenting on a conference that had happened earlier in the year, known as the John 3:16 conference.

I'm sure Dr. White could of spent hours commenting on the entire conference. However, he chose to wield his sword against two specific instances (which I will post below).

I found these videos to be both instructive and humorous, so without further adieu, Dr. James White:

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

Published by Andrew Esping under on Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Of all the hymns that I love so dearly, William Cowper's "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" is my favorite.

Whenever I feel vexed, stressed or depressed, this song is one of the first places I go.

This hymn brings me great comfort for two reasons:

1:  It clearly demonstrates God's Almighty sovereignty and control over all things.

2:  It also displays the deep love and compassion our Lord shows His children in all that He does.

This is one of the few hymns I can play by memory on the piano, and I've spent a lot of time just sitting there....playing it over and over again.

Anyways, I posted the song below, enjoy!

Thoughts and Ramblings on "Infant Salvation"

Published by Andrew Esping under on Thursday, January 28, 2010
Earlier this week I had a chance to discuss the issue of infant salvation with some of my friends from college.

Although opinions differed greatly we did come to a general agreement that Scripture has not spoken much on the issue and therefore we must trust in God to do what is good and just in His eyes.

Although we somewhat resolved the issue, I would like to ramble on for a bit and give some thoughts that I have had on the issue.

The ordeal of Infant salvation is a though one to discuss in todays culture.  In America alone we are surrounded by the murder of thousands of babies each year in abortion clinics, not to mention the ever present sad occasion of a still born child or other sad mis happenings.

Most humans have a tender spot in their hearts for new born babies, infants and toddlers, and I am no exception.  I think those feelings probably comes from the beauty we see in God's creation of the newness of life, that's what makes this specific issue of infant salvation so hard to discuss, especially for the Calvinist.

As a Calvinist, I believe Scripture teaches that when Adam fell, as our Covenant representative, we all fell IN him.  Therefore, all descendants of Adam are born with his corrupt nature which they receive at conception.

That being said, I do not believe it possible (or in line with Scripture) to state that all human children that die at birth or infancy are immediately ushered into heaven.

However, we look around today at the modern day church, or even to those church's who claim to be "reformed" or "Calvinistic," we see that many people today hold strongly to this doctrine.  People state different reasons for why they believe this, some of the more popular reasons are that "They are Innocent!"  This idea that children are born sinless and therefore cannot be held accountable for doing any evil.  Another popular statement is that "God is to merciful to send a child to hell."

Although both these reasons are appealing to our flesh, I believe that neither of them are in line with Scripture.

The first argument made (that human children are born innocent) I believe is in error due to the simple fact that all children are born with Adam's radically corrupt nature, and therefore all humans from birth justly deserve eternal punishment away from the face of God.

5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
   and in sin did my mother conceive me.

-Psalm 51:5

The second argument made (God is to merciful to send a child to hell) I also must must frown upon from Scripture's view point.  As sad as it may seem, a child is still a human and still possesses a radically corrupt nature, therefore from the beginning of life they deserve what every other human deserves, separation from God.

So does this leave all those who die an infant to certain doom?  I believe this is not the case.  Due to by reformed beliefs, I acknowledge that since salvation requires no cooperation from the human, no prior learning is necessary to be regenerated and receive salvation.  How this happens, I don't understand, however I believe we get a clear snapshot of this from within Scripture:

   And the LORD afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. 16David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, "Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm." 19But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, "Is the child dead?" They said, "He is dead." 20Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21Then his servants said to him, "What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food." 22He said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, 'Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?' 23But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me."
2 Sam 12:15-23

David seems to be very clear in his speech that he will soon be reunited with His son in paradise.

This is really the only  Scripture we have that touches on the subject, and even this passage isn't real direct with it's message.

All in all, it really boils down to God will do what pleases Him and He will bring total glory and honor to His name in all that He does.  

And you can be 100% sure, that every single last thing that He has done, does and will do, is entirely Just in every aspect.