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Women’s Thursday: A Majority of the Human Race is Never Born

28 Feb

A Majority of the Human Race is Never Born

 

Writing about abortion, I have been running into statistics like those expressed in this chart about the miscarriage rate.  As you can see, it is estimated that 75% of pregnancies spontaneously abort before the mother knows she is pregnant.

Beyond that, be careful with interpretation.  The next statistic means that 10% of the 25% of pregnancies that survive the first few days will then go on to spontaneously abort in the next period.  Then 5% of the pregnancies that have survived the first two periods will spontaneously abort in the next one . . . and so on.

If we read that incorrectly and assume that 10% of the original pregnancies will spontaneously abort in the next period, then 5% of the original pregnancies in the next period after that, we end up with a chart that seems to imply that almost 100% of all pregnancies spontaneously abort.  Added to our 20-25% intentional abortion rate, that would make a birth rate of, say, 0%!!!

Now, for those of us who regard a fertilized egg as possessing an eternal soul from the moment of conception, there is a staggering thought here.

Take just a moment to contemplate that far more than half of the human race never gets to the birth process.

We pretty universally agree that those who have a soul and never reach the age of accountability go to heaven automatically.

So over half the human race will be in heaven without having ever taken one breath on this planet.  Without having made a choice to follow the God of the Bible.  In fact, He chose for them.

Now, I want us to dare consider another thought.  In the matter of election that can be so controversial, is it possible that God chose for the rest of us, too?

I know some Arminian folks are aghast at this idea.  Choice is very important to them.  They call it “free will.”

But is it as important to God as it sometimes is to us?  We love our choices, but does He see them the same way we do?

Especially the choice to be saved.

We willingly acknowledge that He knows who will be saved in the end.

Could He also have chosen them, chosen for them to come to the part of their life where they get saved?

It’s just a thought . . .

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Passage on Eternal Security

25 Nov

I Timothy 1:18-20, “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;  Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:  Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

I rediscovered the above gem this morning in my devotions.  I was not looking for any particular proof texts from the Bible, just letting it speak to me.

I was drawn to think about Hymenaeus and Alexander.  It seems like they had pretty completely fallen away from their church.  They were described by the Holy Scriptures as having “made shipwreck” of their faith.

Some would go on to say that these men were saved and had lost their salvation.  And that Paul had delivered them unto Satan as a result.

But wait!

Why did he deliver them to Satan?  That they might learn not to blaspheme.  If they were lost and headed to hell, why would he do that?  Probably everyone in hell blasphemes.

Why would he take the time and effort to teach them not to blaspheme  if they are only going to learn to do it all over again when they depart this earth?

There is more, isn’t there?  There always is, with God.

These men are not lost at all.  They are saved people whom Paul is attempting to draw back to Christ.

He is using an extreme measure for an extreme situation.  (If you doubt that God can use Satan in His chastening process with us, search out and read my old post “Fresh, Floppy Fish).

Yes, just as God will wait for the prodigal for long periods of time, just as God will pursue some prodigals as “The Hound of Heaven” (google the Francis Thompson poem), here Paul is showing his heart is for restoration of  the sinner.

And that is very good news.  God is always for us.  God is the God of second chances, and third chances, and fourth chances . . .

He will never give up on us until that last breath is taken.  And, if we are truly in Him, we are eternally secure.

Amen and amen!

Strawman Monday: If Not Total Depravity, then What?

5 Nov

Strawman Monday: If Not Total Depravity, then What?

Romans 7:19, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”

Last week I wrote about my belief in total depravity, as put forth as the “T” in the Calvinist “TULIP” acronym.

This week, I thought to see what the contrasting part of Arminianism is.  Interestingly, the five points of Arminianism (down below and in the link) don’t deny total depravity head on. As their argument against total depravity, they insert the doctrine of “free will” which says that man is not so fallen that he cannot choose God of his own volition.

In future weeks (when I get back from a two week business trip), I plan to look at Ephesians 2 in both ways, the Calvinist one and the Arminian one.  Calvinists believe that the Holy Spirit not only makes a person aware of his need for salvation (through common grace) but actually provides the special grace needed to get him across the finish line to salvation before the person plays a role in the process at all, while Arminians believe common grace, available to all, draws the person to choose Christ, at which time the Holy Spirit begins working in his life via special grace.

Since I am still studying up on the contrasts here, I am going to leave the topic for now.

But what is interesting to me about the total depravity doctrine is that it provides us (at least me) with much less despair about the fact that, as Paul said in Romans 7, “the good I would do, I do not do.”  While fully intending to serve God and man, I fall so miserably short sometimes that, if I believed that all kinds of good was inherent to human nature, I would have a hard time not giving up on myself as a lost cause.

I would also have a hard time explaining why saved people around me can be so callous to other saved people around me.

If we didn’t have a pretty strong sin nature, how would we explain the strength of our self-interest, even after salvation?

You know what I mean, don’ t you?  You have seen this as often as I have.  The way that Christians pick on other blood bought Christians, separating themselves into groups of “us vs. them” over very minor issues that often have nothing to do with the Bible.  And then defend that behavior, from a very self-defensive posture, when they would not be able to defend it from the Word at all.

What is that all about?  Why are so many of us intent on holding ourselves up as paragons of virtue to other people instead of holding up Christ and His glory over us all?

To me, it is becoming natural to think, “If something glorifies Christ, I don’t mind if it diminishes me.”  It has been a long time coming, this attitude, but by God’s grace I am getting there.  I am starting to see things more in terms of me being created to bring Him glory and less in terms of me saving face before other human beings  Praise God for that–I am sure it is entirely His work in me.

I have told you all that I believe God has given us immense freedom and many choices in this world.  This is certainly the case after salvation takes place.  Before that, I had choices, too, but I was more enslaved to sin as well.

I am just not certain at the interplay of my choice with God’s grace in the salvation process.  It is indeed a great mystery.  It is a mystery I will look at more in future days.

Five Points of Arminianism

The five points of Arminianism (from Jacobus Arminius 1559-1609) are in contrast to the five points of Calvinism.  The Arminian five points are

  • Human Free Will – This states that though man is fallen, he is not incapacitated by the sinful nature and can freely choose God.  His will is not restricted and enslaved by his sinful nature.
  • Conditional Election – God chose people for salvation based on his foreknowledge where God looks into the future to see who would respond to the gospel message.
  • Universal Atonement – The position that Jesus bore the sin of everyone who ever lived.
  • Resistable Grace – The teaching that the grace of God can be resisted and finally beaten so as to reject salvation in Christ.
  • Fall from Grace – The Teaching that a person can fall from grace and lose his salvation.

Which Way the Wind Blows (or Human Choice in Salvation)

28 Oct

John 3:8, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

Yesterday, I left my usual form of discourse and addressed an issue directly and sharply, probably leaving little room for argument (at least I hoped so).

Today’s post will also be different in that it involves a series of questions I can’t answer.  Some of the questions may not be answerable in this world.  I am not sure.

The discussion might be fruitful, however, as we strive to know God and discover His ways in the world He created.

In the above verse, Jesus challenged Nicodemus about not understanding earthly things.  He said if Nico couldn’t understand earthly things, he should not expect to understand heavenly things.

Sometimes I think we are in a similar bind when we try to explain how God’s election/choice interacts with our choice in the process of salvation.

I know there are two extremes in belief, the extreme Arminian belief (now usually referred to as “open theism” in which it is taught that God Himself doesn’t know the outcome of all events) and Hypercalvinism, in which man is drawn to God by irresistible grace without seemingly having any choice at all in the process.

There are many shades of belief in between the two extremes, usually clustered around five points called either the Five Points of Calvinism or the Five Points of Arminianism.

Smarter people than me have studied and debated these ideas for centuries.  Some of these debates have been, and remain, rancorous.  My aim is to take apart these ideas and present them in a way that the layperson can understand.  Sometimes important issues are at stake.  I try to identify those.

Talking with a friend of about my same age today, we remarked how much the world has changed in our lifetime.  We mentioned my career as a female naval officer and her husband’s career as a nurse.  When we were young, it was rare to have a female naval officer or a male nurse.  There were centuries when such people would have been non-existent.

The question became, “Did God change His will as the human race changed?  Was He not calling any women to be naval officers or men to be nurses in the 1800’s?  Or did He have such a calling upon people all along, but it took a while for the human race to catch up to His will?”

You see, that may seem like an exercise in semantics to some, but the question truly encapsulates God’s movement in this world.

People have wills, too, and groups of people have collective wills and, somehow, whole societies willed for centuries that there would not be female naval officers or male nurses, though both of those roles exist now and people are doing wonderfully at them.  How do we explain that?

Hmmm!  I can’t even explain God’s will in earthly things.  How can I explain it in heavenly things (in the process of salvation)?

Another thing I have noted is that almost no one says “yes” to God the first time he hears the plan of salvation.  So right there the idea of “irresistible grace” has to be modified.  If it were truly irresistible in the sense the Hypercalvinists use, no one would be able to withstand it at all, even for five minutes or a couple of weeks.

So, it can take a while for an individual to understand what salvation is, and to accept it.  Doesn’t it seem then like it might be a bit hard for we humans on earth, caught in time as we are, to see the overall view of how salvation looks from eternity?  I fear we get caught up on facets of it and argue those, in the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debates.  The entire product probably can’t be comprehended nor explained completely while we are still in earthly bodies.

And that is why I maintain a holy awe toward such things.  I know Jesus came to save me and I am a saved woman.  I also know there are many parts of my salvation which I can’t explain but just accept by faith.  And for me, right now, that is enough.

And while we are on the topic of Arminianism and Arminius . . .

24 Oct

http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1601-1700/who-is-elect-arminius-differed-from-calvin-11630050.html

Seems like Romans 7 is one of the keys.  Do you think that the passage about “the good that I would do, I do not” was written by Paul as a believer, as Calvin thought, or as an unbeliever (or later looking back to when he was an unbeliever), as Jacob Arminius thought?  Some interesting history of how we got to where we are today!

 

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