Monday, July 1, 2019

5 Reasons I Stayed Out of Calvinism

After meeting at a friend’s wedding in 2009, a fiery red-headed girl and I became interested in one another and began talking on the phone almost every day. As we started to get to know each other better, I quickly discovered her view of God was radically different from mine and this began to dominate our conversations. Apparently, she was a “Calvinist” (a term I had very little if any familiarity with). Before this time, I had never considered that God didn’t want everyone to be saved. After all, I had shared the Gospel with probably hundreds of fellow students during my days at college and prayed for many fervently (without ever once considering that God didn’t want to save them). She told me that God had already decided who was and wasn’t going to be saved before they were ever born. Subsequent to pleading with people to turn to Christ for a solid four years, this didn’t sit right with me. Surely it was the Holy Spirit in me engendering such love for these people? However, I knew that if these things were true and indeed accurately reflected the word of God that I needed to submit to them whether they “sat right” or not. Thus began my search for the truth. The following five things kept me from embracing this new “Calvinism” and landed me in a more firm position than before that God indeed loved every man, woman, boy, and girl that I had shared the Gospel with over those previous four years (and beyond!)

1. The plain texts weren’t plain.

“This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time.” (1 Tim 2:3-4)

How can anyone read this particular passage without concluding that God wants every single individual to come to faith? Only in an abnormal reading of this passage would you conclude something like God wants “all kinds of men” to be saved and not every individual.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)

At face value, this passage also seems to communicate that there are countless multitudes in Jerusalem that Jesus, the express image of God’s person (Heb 1:3), wanted to be saved and he was desiring to bring them under his comforting and protective wing but because they were unwilling, he was grieved. While Calvinists have a certain argument against this (covered in #4) in short, it’s best to keep plain texts plain.

2. The Old Testament was not in view.

“And the Lord said to her: Two nations are in your womb; two peoples will come from you and be separated. One people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” (Gen 25:23)

“I have loved you,” says the Lord. Yet you ask, “How have you loved us?” “Wasn’t Esau Jacob’s brother?” This is the Lord’s declaration. “Even so, I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau. I turned his mountains into a wasteland, and gave his inheritance to the desert jackals.” Though Edom says: “We have been devastated, but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of Armies says this: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called a wicked countryand the people the Lord has cursed forever. Your own eyes will see this, and you yourselves will say, ‘The Lord is great, even beyond the borders of Israel.’” (Malachi 1:2-5)

Under what circumstances would you conclude that either of these passages are speaking with specific reference to God’s special salvific favor upon the individual Jacob or his irrevocable hatred towards Esau? In fact, in Genesis 33, Esau runs to and embraces his deceitful and treacherous brother Jacob a lot like the father graciously welcomes the prodigal son in Luke 15. Therefore, why would Paul be quoting these passages out of context in Romans 9 to talk about his plans to save Jacob and damn Esau before they were born or “done anything good or bad”. Afterall, the passage in Malachi was written some 13 centuries after the twins’ deaths! Since Romans 9 is a lynchpin passage for Calvinists in Scripture, the Old Testament passages quoted there must be kept in view and ultimately, do not support their reading of it unless we permit Paul to quote these passages out of their OT context.

3. Passages became self-centered (unwarranted individualization and personalization).

Outside of what has already been mentioned about the OT context of Romans 9, I can’t help but think we get ourselves into a lot of trouble by thinking that certain passages are talking about us.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.”
(John 15:16)

Nope that one is about the 11 disciples left over after Judas left not you (see also John 6:70 and Luke 6:13 where Judas is listed explicitly or implicitly as among those chosen)! To extrapolate this passage in a doctrinal way across all of Scripture is certainly irresponsible and misguided, though we could say that, in application, all believers are appointed to bear abiding fruit.

Romans 9 is a commonly misunderstood passage in the same vein as well. If Paul is talking about individual destinies decided from before they were born then why does he quote Genesis 25:23 and Malachi 1:2-5 to make his point?

4. It was unfalsifiable.

A common refrain among Calvinists is something like “You just don't understand Calvinism” or “If you only understood, you’d believe what we believe”. I submit that the reason so few “understand” Calvinism is that Calvinism is often unintelligible and ultimately, unfalsifiable. This is because not only does Calvinism not seem to take at face value many clear Scriptures, it makes them unintelligible and contradictory. After all, if God chose Jacob for salvation and rejected Esau before he was born (as the Calvinist believes he does so with billions more today) then, in what meaningful way, does God love the world or desire that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:3-6)? Of course, Calvinists have ways out of such conundrums by appealing to “mystery” and the “secret” vs “revealed” wills of God ("God can say one thing but actually, truly mean the opposite of the thing He said"). Ultimately, however, these things are just smoke screens for the prolific errors in logic and reason that are inherent in all forms of determinism. The only answer to my questions about Calvinism's reasonableness (or lack thereof) was that it was a “mystery” and that I should refer myself to Isaiah 55:8 or believe that Scripture is inspired. The aforementioned conversation on Calvinism ended with the following from a pastor I was put in correspondence with:
“I tried with all my heart to make the sovereignt [sic] verses fit into my Arminian framework. Rest came only after I laid down my arms of resistance and realized that I had to acknowledge "mystery" and that God is 100% sovereign and man !00% [sic] responsible. The temptation will be to lean unto human reason and move in the direction of 50 50 .Be biblical”

Allow me to translate what this communicated to me, “I know this doesn’t make sense to you and is contradictory but the sooner you throw your hands up in reverent surrender, the sooner you will accept this “mystery” and be able to move past reasoning and attempting to falsify this”. But, I must ask, if I must simply accept this and not question it, then how can I possibly know if this is true? Surely, there is a better, more cogent alternative. Since I knew God cannot plan, from all eternity, to damn some while simultaneously being grieved that they were unwilling to come to him (Matt 24:37-39), I maintained my rejection of Calvinism and “the doctrines of grace”.

5. The Good News was only "good" for some.

Since God’s kindness leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:10) rather than his holy justice or wrath, I believe it is of utmost importance to preserve the “Good” in the Good News”...for everyone. The Good News of Jesus is being able to look any person in the eye and say “God loves you, want you to be saved, and sent his Son Jesus to die for your sins so that you could be saved from the penalty of sin, which is death.” Calvinism, with its “irresistible grace” and “limited atonement” cannot affirm this previous statement. Because, if God wants to effectually saved you, he will; and if Christ did not die for you, then there can be no forgiveness of your sins (Heb 9:22). This kind of lovingkindness (Heb. “chesed”) has been present from the beginning. As Yahweh passes before Moses and declares his Name before him he says, “The Lord—the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love [“chesed” love or “lovingkindness”] and truth” (Exo 34:6) and later in the Psalms “For you, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, abounding in faithful love [chesed] to all who call on you.” (86:5). Later on, “lovingkindness” is described as part of who God is “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love [chesed].“ (145:8) If we remove the lovingkindness of God towards every man, woman, boy and girl that is contained in the Gospel (1 Cor 15:3-5) and talked about from the beginning then we lose the strength of the best news this hopeless, lost, and dying world has ever heard.

Much more could be said about how exactly I came to understand these passages and what the truth was that I landed on, but suffice it to say that these 5 reasons are reasons that I think keep many (rightly in my estimation) out of Calvinism today. And in case you were wondering, my romantic life took off years later with a different “fiery redhead” who lived even further from me than Calvin’s girl and now we are happily married, still sharing the Gospel with students together, and both believe that Christ died for all, loves all, and wants all to be saved!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

5 "Fun" Facts About Satan & His Demons

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” ~The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Every year around Halloween season, I inevitably get in a discussion with a brother or sister in Christ about whether or not Christians should celebrate Halloween. This post isn’t about that ;-). However, during this Halloween season, I would like to present a few interesting things I learned about “Satan” and his demons recently and what our role is in regard to them as Christ-followers.

[Fair warning: this will be an attempt to compress 21 pages from Grudem’s Systematic Theology and several hours of study into a “digestible” blog post. I will focus primarily on my conclusions/new things I learned rather than explain from beginning to end]

1. “Satan” doesn’t (technically) have a name.

Many of you, if asked the question, ‘what is the devil’s name?’ might say something like “Satan” or “Lucifer”. However, both of these names are transliterations (such as “bautizo” meaning “to immerse” being transliterated into “baptize” in English) of words with actual meaning rather than a name like “Bob” or “Dan” (sorry Bobs and Dans). In Isaiah 14:12-15, a passage commonly understood to be referring to both “Satan” and the king of Tyre, he is referred to as “O Day Star, son of Dawn”. The KJV transliterates this as “Lucifer” from the Latin which means “bearer of light” which is where we get one of the most commonly known names. The second, “Satan”, comes from a root verb meaning “to be or act as an adversary, resist, oppose”. As far as I can tell, the first time that this word occurs in the Old Testament in reference to the Satan/Adversary is in 1 Chronicles 21:1 and is the same word that is used of him of the divine council in Job 1:6-12. It would seem that, by Jesus’ time, this Hebrew word had essentially become known as his “name” and the writers of the NT seem to transliterate this into the Greek word Σατάν (Satan). I believe that these two names speak to two of his primary roles, one as an adversary who opposes the redemptive purposes of God in the world and the other as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:13-15) who deceives people into serving him rather than the one true God.

2. When idols are worshipped, demons are present.

I’ve often wondered to myself, “Where did all these “unclean spirits” come from that Jesus was casting out in his day? I see no mention of them in the Old Testament and there are certainly no cases of them being cast out by the prophets and such.” Well, wonder no longer! In Psalm 106:36-37 and Deut 32:16-17, we see clear references to the worship of these pagan gods as worship not of lifeless idols but of demons! “They served their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons.” (Ps 106:36-27)
“They provoked his jealousy with different gods; they enraged him with detestable practices. They sacrificed to demons, not God, to gods they had not known, new gods that had just arrived, which your fathers did not fear.” (Deut. 32:16-17) This is also reiterated in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 10:20: “No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.”  This makes sense when we consider the enemy’s dual mission to deceive (into worshipping false idols for example) and destroy mentioned in John 8 and John 10:10 respectively. This brings me to my next point.

3. Where demons are influencing a person, destruction and deceit follow close behind.

When it comes to the question of tattoos, Leviticus 19:28 often comes up in conversation. And without getting into a massive rabbit trail, this was written primarily in reference to the idolatrous practices involving self-harm in worshipping false deities (i.e. demons). We see this in Elijah’s encounter with the false prophets of Baal. This is related to the enemy’s dual strategy to deceive and destroy while despite the fact that the Israelites were supposed to be a people set apart from the idolatrous practices of those around them (Deut 14:1-2).
“You are of your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44
“A thief [the devil] comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10
The Scriptures show that the enemy and his fallen angels have a mission in order to deceive either so that they can incite you to self-destroy or destroy another person (as in the case with child sacrifice to the god Molech). You see this again with the demoniac in Mark 5:5
“Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains, he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.” I’m not entirely sure why this was (if someone would like to Google it and comment, please be my guest O:-) ) but it does meet up with the Old Testament warnings against the cutting/self-harm involved in idolatry.

Another one of the primary goals of the enemy is to destroy people in hell. We can see this in the following passage:
“In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor 4:4)
The “god of this age” also known as “Satan” or, “the adversary” wants to blind people to the knowledge of the truth so that they will be condemned.

4. Demon “possession” isn’t a Biblical category but their influence is very real.

Did you know that there is no NT word that means demon “possessed”? The Scriptures consistently refer to people under demonic influence as either “demonized” (Gk. daimonizomai) or as people that “have a demon” (Matt. 11:18; Luke 7:33; 8:27; John 7:20; 8:48, 49, 52; 10:20) but there is no language to suggest that a demon actually “possesses” someone. This is an unfortunate translation and carries over into the English connotations not in the Greek. People can come under varying degrees of spiritual attack but to say that they are “demon possessed” is misleading. Wayne Grudem writes, “Since the term demon possessed is misleading one to use in all cases, especially when referring to Christians, I would prefer to avoid it altogether. It seems better to simply recognize that there can be varying degrees of demonic attack or influence on people, even on Christians, and to leave it at that.”

5. The adversary and his angels (demons) cannot read your mind or hear your thoughts.

After many of us has experienced spiritual attack through their whispering lies, it is easy to believe that they can somehow “get in your head” and might be reading our minds in order to tempt us and lie to us but this is not the case. The Scriptures make clear that God alone searches the hearts and knows our thoughts. (Matt 9:4; 12:25; Mark 2:8; Gen. 6:5; Psalm 139:2) Therefore, when need not be concerned that they have such strength over us in this regard but to speak aloud rebukes and the truths of Scripture to counter their activity.

In conclusion, remember 1 John 4:4’s encouragement, “You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” We know that we who have believed in Jesus have his Spirit (Romans 8:15-16; Gal 4:6) and needn’t fear the wiles of the enemy but take up the sword of the Spirit (the Word of Truth) and victoriously defend ourselves and others from his attacks!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Freedom in Slavery

Have you ever really struggled with understanding why you or someone you love continues to give into temptation and commit grievous sin only to confess, repent, and fall back into the same thing again and again? Well, the Bible has some comforting and urging for you on this matter:

“...I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” (Romans 7:15-20)

You would think that this was in reference to some “carnal Christian”, enslaved to sin speaking of his continual struggle and inability to escape temptation but this is the Apostle Paul himself! I, and many Christians like me, have often prayed something like “Oh God if I could only be free of this desire! Why oh why can’t I be free from it??” This is a kind of “slavery” (or rather “servitude”) that can be re-entered into when we make a habit of sinning. The Scriptures make this clear, “Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?” Suddenly, we can find ourselves unable to escape and the truth of Romans 6:22 becomes all too distant: “But now, since you have been set free from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification—and the outcome is eternal life!”

I believe that it is in both recognizing that we have locked ourselves away by a new choice of servitude to sin and are enslaved and YET set free from sin that we can truly experience freedom in ANY “ensnaring” area. On one hand, it is of no use to pray simply, “God take this away from me!” because this removes our responsibility to “cut off the hand that offends” (Matt. 5:30) and to “fear God and depart from evil” (Pro. 3:7). On the other hand, if we have “re-enslaved” ourselves through our sinful choices, we must ask for God’s rescue. It is both/and.

In summary, if you or someone you care about is experiencing addictive sinful behavior, here are some steps that I believe will help deliver you and put you on your way to living a fruitful (Luke 8:15) Christian life:
  1. Remove the tempting thing and be willing to make radical “amputations” in your life. Consider the severity of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:29-30 and that the “wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23; Gal. 6:7-8)
  2. Pray for strength to overcome temptation and God’s deliverance from the pattern of giving in to sin and temptation. (Matt. 6:13)
  3. Believe that you have been set free (Rom. 6:20-22) from sin and walk in it!
Remember brothers and sisters, in order to experience freedom from sin, we need to BOTH draw on God’s strength and delivering power AND take personal responsibility for our actions!

Be blessed and be Bereans!

For deeper study, on the theological ramifications of the "victim mentality" and not taking personal responsibility for sin, click here

Monday, April 4, 2016

Chosen by God (Part I): "The Choicest Servant"

First, I want to address the “Chosen One” whom we are all familiar with...Jesus Christ, whose very name means, in part, “Chosen” or “anointed” one. We can see this as early as Isaiah 42 “Here is my servant whom I uphold. My Chosen One in whom I delight” (v2). Now, let us be clear, Christ was not chosen among many men to be the Messiah. He simply was the “Elect One”. Now allow me to take an important sidebar into that word “elect” or “chosen”. Time and space don’t allow me to unpack what I’ve learned about this word (I am indebted to authors C. Gordon Olson, Norman Geisler, and Robert Wilkin for almost all that is written here) but I’ll give a few practical examples to illustrate. In Ancient Greece, there was this thing that we call a “democracy” where people “elected” others to a position (this is where we get our word which has evolved into a more simplistic “to choose”). Now, the original Greek, carried with it an idea of choosing the best or “choice” option (see Olsen’s BCAA pp.315-318 for more technical info [link above]), which is why when people held “elections” they were “choosing” the person they believed had the qualities best suited to the task at hand (before you call me a heretic remember we’re still talking about Jesus).

Another illustration helps us understand this word better. When you go to the grocery store, you “choose” your fruit and vegetables. Do you do it arbitrarily? Of course not. You choose the “choice” fruits and vegetables. This is the primary meaning of elect/choose in the Greek that we miss in the English (if you don’t believe me, consider the following verses where such usage fits much better than the simplistic/traditional “to choose”: Ex 14:7, 17:9, 18:5; Rom 16:13; Col 3:12; 1 Ti 5:21. Additionally, “elect”, as mentioned briefly before, also carries with it an idea of “appointment to service” [cf Acts 1:21, Jn 6:70, etc.] which is not discussed in detail here but fits with Christ being the “Choicest” to accomplish the task He came into the world for). So, when we say Jesus was (and is) the “Chosen One” we really mean “Choice One”...born of a virgin, sinless, fully Deity, all-loving, all-just, all-powerful, etc. That is, He was qualitatively the “Choicest One” for the task at hand (before He even entered the world). As a concluding thought to the sidebar, the banana example sums it up nicely. In the same way that your “choice” of a banana is based on its “choiceness” which has little to do with arbitrary “selection” and more to do with the quality and characteristics of the banana (again, see above for Scriptures supporting this usage).

As mentioned before, Christ in His choiceness was appointed to a task (to teach, live, die, be resurrected, and reconcile the world to Himself). We can see more how what is often translated “chosen” means “choice” in passages like 1 Peter 2:6. With its close proximity to “precious” in this verse, “chosen” (or “choice”) is also paralleled with “beloved” in other passages. We see where Jesus is referred to as “My Beloved Son” at His baptism (Lk 3:22, Mk 1:11; Mt 3:17) and then in very similar language referred to as Chosen (or “Choice”) both at His transfiguration (Lk 9:35) by God the Father and by Pharisee mockers at His crucifixion (Lk 23:35). What brings the two terms, “beloved” and “choice”, together is 1 Peter 1:6 where we see both right next to each other, each describing Christ, the “Elect” Cornerstone. The word “chosen”’s close proximity to “precious” helps us to see it as “choice” and not as a simple “choosing”. So, in conclusion, Christ’s “chosenness” has absolutely nothing to do with the verb “to choose” more than His own precious-, beloved- and choice -ness. I’m almost certain that I’ve lost a handful of you in this short explanation but I trust that the noble-minded (Acts 17:11) will find the truth as they wholeheartedly seek it.

Christ being the “Choice One” is foundational for understanding how we are “chosen” in light of Christ’s “choiceness” and how we are united to His choiceness by faith (which I will show later). In the next entry, we will start by examining an oft misunderstood parable called “The Wedding Banquet” in Matthew 22:1-14 where we will see a very clear shift in understanding what it means to be “chosen by God”. Until next time...take everything you’ve heard here and be a Berean: “Search the Scriptures daily to see if it is true”.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Fear God, Shun Evil

Fear of God is certainly one of the least favorite topics of the day both in modern Christianity and in the secular world. Many people, regard God as a good, loving, forgiving God and believe any fear [of punishment] is unmerited. This can be especially true in our Christian community circles where we [rightly] regard our standing with God as righteous, holy, and pure washed by the blood of the Lamb. However, sometimes this lack of fear can be a detriment to us as we are seeking to live lives characterized by holiness and fruit of the Holy Spirit. Several days ago, as I was in a Bible study, we contemplated some of the more stringent truths of 1st John such as, “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:6) “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” (1 John 3:9). Most of us admitted we had no idea what these passages meant, probably in large part due to the fact that they chafe against our own personal preconceived beliefs. I believe things like this may be rooted in our lack of fear of God.

So, how does a lack of fearing God relate back to believing the truth about God? In order to do this, I’d like to pair two other passages together and consider their implications for believing the truth about God. “The fear of the Lord is wisdom; and to shun evil is understanding...” (Job 28:28) “Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27-28) Think about these questions: When was the last time you grabbed some fire and held it to your chest? Or when did you decide to take your shoes off and decide to prance around in the coals of the fire you roasted your marshmallows in? Unless you’re a fool or someone paid you to (or perhaps both), you’ve probably NEVER done these things. Why? Because you understood the consequences of your actions. You, in a word, believed the fire and coals to be hot and harmful and therefore decided to stay far away (flee). Therefore, when we fear God and shun evil we demonstrate wisdom and understanding because we actually take God at His Word and trust that the sin which is so enticing is in actuality genuinely harmful (and sometimes deadly Acts 5:1-10) to us.  

Now how does this change the way we live out our faith? I believe it starts with identifying blind spots in our walks with the Lord, areas in which we know we are either outright disobedient or genuinely struggle to achieve victory. Then, we find what God’s Word has to say about these things, no matter how stringent.  Do you struggle with lust? Memorize and meditate on passages like Proverbs 5. Do you wrestle with anger? Consider Matthew 5. Does gossip come a little too naturally? Meditate on proverbs about the tongue and wholesome speech. Now I’m also not advocating for spiritual sado-masochism through beating yourself up with the Scriptures. I’m simply saying that you should fill your mind with the truth...all of it, including the sins and flesh struggles that are specific to you. I hope this helps you in your walk with the Lord and encourages you to know that His will for you is your sanctification. (1 Thess 4:3)

Questions for Reflection, Discussion, and Application:
  1. Can we believe the truth about sin and still be ensared by it?
  2. How do we reconcile fearing God and loving God at the same time? Is it possible?
  3. What are some good passages to meditate on so that we fear God rightly?

*Next up on "Good & Noble"...What exactly is "repentance" and how does it relate to believing the Truth? Does it mean turning from evil and doing good as popularly heard or something else entirely?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Good & Noble Hearts: An Introduction

It has been said that Man’s chief end (sole purpose) is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. According to John 15:8, God is glorified in our bearing fruit; it reads, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Additionally, as we abide in His love (John 15:9) and bear fruit, we are able to enjoy this fruit of the Spirit that is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). We are responsible to “bear” this fruit; ultimately, however, this fruit comes from the Holy Spirit. In Luke 8, Jesus tells the parable of the four soils. Only one of which He relates as fruitful soil. In this important parable, the key difference between the fruitless, immature, thorny soil and the good soil is one heart (“soil”) is overgrown by worries, pleasures, and riches (Luke 8:14) and the other heart is described as “good and noble”. As you can discern from the title, that is what this blog is about.

More specifically, It’s purpose is three-fold: pursuing the Truth [of God’s Word] as the noble-minded Bereans did (Acts 17:11-12), using the Truth to battle the deception of the enemy (Eph 6:10-20), and protecting ourselves against the self-deception of being only “hearers” of the Word and not “doers” (James 1:22) and, thereby, being fruit-bearing believers.

Or, more simply:

  1. bearing the fruit of the Spirit (being “doers” and not merely “hearers”)
  2. speaking the Truth (in love) in order to defend against the lies the enemy uses to keep us in bondage
  3. being open and noble-minded (as the Bereans were), searching for the Truth no matter where it leads us

All of this can be boiled down into one simple statement: "obeying and believing the Truth of God for our lives," which includes all three of these elements.

I look forward to this journey with you and I pray that it will challenge you to bear fruit in your lives, transform and conform your present beliefs to the Truth of God’s Word, thereby setting you free from the lies of the enemy. Please comment and discuss below each post to enrich study but remember to love one another (as that’s how Jesus said the world would know we are His disciples, John 13:35), even if you vehemently disagree. Remember, we’re all on this journey of Truth together; and while there is only one Truth, everyone has a different, unique perspective to bring to the table. I am very grateful for my brothers and sisters that have come from differing Christian traditions and have brought fresh perspective to the Text. In fact, the reason why this blog is called “Good & Noble HeartS” (plural) and not “Good & Noble Heart” (singular) is because I want you to feel like you are part of this blog and what it represents.

May God bless you all with a spirit of knowledge and revelation so that you may know Him better! (Eph 1:17)

Questions for Reflection, Discussion, and Application:

  1. What does it mean to have a "good and noble" heart?
  2. How can we seek to be "modern day Bereans"?
  3. How might believing things that aren't true affect us?
*Next up on "Good & Noble"... How fearing God and shunning evil (Job 28:28) relates to believing the Truth about God and ourselves...