Footnotes to the Apostles

Alfred North Whitehead famously said:

The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.

Likewise, we can say

The safest general characterization of two thousand years of Christian theology is that it consists of a series of footnotes to the Apostles.

When I say “the apostles” I mean, of course, the New Testament.

 

(Source: philosophy quote – series of footnotes to Plato – Whitehead.)

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
― Abraham Kuyper

Source:  GoodReads

The fuller quote is:

“Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'”

Source:  Wikipedia article on Abraham Kuyper

Miscellaneous Notes for December 14, 2014

All the news about Bill Cosby and the accusations against him during recent weeks have served to remind me of how righteousness has become a spectator sport in modern secular society.  Here’s how it works:  someone famous is accused of something, and then everyone races to take sides for or against – whether there’s sufficient evidence to make a judgment or not.

Righteousness ought to be something we do before God, not something we just talk about with other people about other people still.

Better to be the observed than the observer.

Better to be the judged than the judge.

Let Jesus observe me and let Jesus judge me.

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Response to Chris Niarchos

This post is a response to a comment from Chris Niarchos to my post  An Open Letter to Mick Mooney.  His comment had so much content, I needed a little more room to answer it adequately.

Mike,
I Loved the response and felt it was very well written and explained. I also agree with everything you said in it. Spot on, and yet said with love. I didn’t feel there was condemnation, but confrontation. You didn’t spout your “knowledge” (opinions) but let Scripture speak. I enjoyed it so much after reading the original post by Mick, and thinking much of what you said in my mind. I usually simply avoid these “internet arguments because they often “go nowhere” in my mind, but I felt like this was absolutely helpful and hope the Lord uses it to lead some towards Him.

I do however have a question about the above statement in this response:
“I am convinced from the Scripture that everyone is going to heaven, but to say that this means sins don’t matter, or that there is no judgment for them, is to completely misunderstand the mercy of God.”

Where in Scripture does it say that everyone is going to heaven?

Chris, I answer this at length in the book The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.  I provide this book for free at the link.  You will also find there an audio player to listen to me read it, or you can download the audio as a podcast to a smartphone.  I take great pains to be true to the Scripture.  I also wrote a sequel book titled The Implications of Everyone Going to Heavenand it is available in all the same formats.

I read your post even and am more concerned because for whatever reason you have also bought into the above mentioned lie (“Creating a Jesus of their own imaginings instead of accepting Jesus as the Scriptures present Him.”).

I’m sure it seems this way to you, Chris, but I assure you that I never imagined that Jesus would take everyone to heaven.  Like all other evangelicals, I was taught and believed that some had to go to eternal conscious torment in hell.  But God told me “great and mighty things which I did not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).  He showed me from the Scriptures that “He is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).  Who was I to tell Him He was wrong?

Believe what you would like, even use the original languages, but Scripture states:

1. Everyone Needs Salvation in order to go to Heaven

Absolutely!

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

Absolutely!

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

Absolutely!

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

Note that this verse is not talking about the place of heaven but rather the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven was something we should seek and that was in our midst (Matthew 6:33; Luke 17:20-21).  The place of heaven is where we go when we die and, of course, we won’t have to seek it because we’ll be taken there.

2. Jesus Died For Our Salvation – This is the “Good News”

Yes, indeed!

But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Yes.

And would it really be considered “Good News” if God just LET EVERYONE into heaven in the end?

Yes.  If I consider it to be good news that I’m going to heaven, wouldn’t it be even better news to learn that everyone I love is going to heaven?  And if Jesus teaches me to love even my enemies, shouldn’t I consider it good news if they get to go to heaven, too?

Wouldn’t it simply be NO News.

How could it be “no news”?  The good news of Jesus Christ is that death is not the end of existence.  No one need be afraid of death (Hebrews 2:14-15).  Now if some are going to eternal conscious torment in hell when they die, that is not “good news” at all.  Rather, that would make the proclamation of Jesus Christ a good/bad news scenario.  In fact, the bad news is so bad that people were better off when they thought death was the end of everything.

Because weather you know it or not matters little. In the end we all get to be in heaven so lets not worry about it.

But this was just my point to Mick: righteousness matters!  Just because everyone is going to heaven, doesn’t mean that we should “insult the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29) or “turn the grace of our God into licentiousness.”  On the contrary, we who formerly lived for ourselves should now live entirely for Him who so loved us (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).  Let “everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness” (2 Timothy 2:19).

3. Salvation Is A Gift
The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Yes, salvation is a free gift!  Why then would we want to deny it to anyone?

4. We Are Saved By Grace And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. (Romans 11:6)

Yes.  And if you can see that “it is no more of works” then why do you want to attach conditions to who gets to receive it?

5. Salvation Comes Through Faith To him that … believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (Romans 4:5)

Yes, but once people die, the blinders come off and there are no more obstacles to their believing.  Their flesh can no longer tempt them to disbelieve.

6. God Saves All Who Call Upon Him Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)

Yes, and if someone hasn’t called upon Him by the time of death they will certainly call on Him then.  In fact, even if there were a hell of eternal conscious torment, the second people started calling upon the Lord from that place He would set about delivering them.

I have stopped because after reading further into your “discussion” on your other article I have realized you aren’t seeking truth and you are not open to it.

I seek truth from the time I wake up in the morning until the time I go to bed at night.  His truth is my nourishment and I always have more to learn.

You have made up your mind and those who read your writings and fall away because of it I fear for.

When I came to the Lord at age 28 (which was about 35 years ago) I embraced the standard evangelical position.  I even obtained two degrees from respected evangelical seminaries.  However, through my study of the Bible I came to see that there was some “leaven in the bread” of evangelicalism.  Those who taught me to be an evangelical taught me to regard Scripture more highly than tradition.  Therefore, when I saw a place where evangelical tradition departed from Scripture I had to cling to Scripture.

I pray that the Lord can change your mind because it will have to be Him.

But don’t you see that He has changed my mind!  For I would never have believed that everyone was going to heaven unless He taught me that this was so.

You cannot avoid what Scripture says.

I don’t want to avoid what Scripture says.  I want my life conformed to it, or, more specifically, to the Lord Jesus about whom Scripture testifies.

You cannot simply apply Scripture the way you want it.

You and I are in complete agreement on this.  The Spirit of God is our guide to Scripture.  None of it is subject to private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20 KJV).

There is a heaven and there is a Hell. “Good” people go to both. Sinners go to both.

You are right that there is a heaven and a hell, but you are confused about their location.  Read the Bible and see that Sheol (Hades) was the place below where everyone went after death – everyone.  Evangelical tradition pretty much ignores this.  What Jesus spoke of as hell is on this earth in this life.  It is the judgment of God against our sins.

Why would Christ have come to die if everyone goes to Heaven?

Because if Jesus had not come and died, no one would be going to heaven.  Everyone would still be below in Sheol (Hades).

I would love to believe what you say here, but its not what Scripture says. It would be nice to believe that everyone around me will end up in heaven, but that’s not what Christ says.

If Christ hadn’t said it to me, you would never have heard me say it.  But if Christ does say it, and the Scriptures support it, how can I not believe it?

I hope you take this response to heart.

I did.  The sincerity and substance of my response was intended to match the sincerity and substance of your comment.

Don’t simply seek to refute it, but think about it and allow the Spirit to work.

I can only hope that you’re one of those people who practice what they preach.

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Relationships in America: A New Study

Like most reports on marriage these days, this one has some bad news.  Nevertheless, Mark Regnerus, associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and senior fellow at the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture (which produced the study), finds positive news in it.

As for me, I just want to comment briefly on two alarming stats that jumped out as I quickly scanned the text.

Americans today consume plenty of pornography: 43 percent of men have in the past week.

What?!  No wonder family life and society in general are deteriorating at such a rapid rate.  No Christian man has any excuse for being a participant in this.  If you can refrain from looking at pornography in front of your mother or your wife, then you have the power to refrain from looking at it in front of your Lord – who sees you at all times and in all places.

Here’s another alarming stat:

Twenty percent of married women, and thirteen percent of married men, report having thought about leaving their spouse within the past year… (from linked portion)

Societal attitudes have come to regard marriage as impermanent.  This encourages troubled spouses to think more about leaving a marriage than about how to fix it.  As if to prove the point, that sentence I quoted above goes on to say:

…(compared to 41 percent of cohabiting women and 26 percent of cohabiting men).

Thus the context of impermanence becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Sad.  Conversely, the more convinced you are that  marriage should be lifelong, the more energized you’ll be to improve it when it struggles.  A properly-executed marriage is an untold comfort to the husband and wife alike.

(6 min read; 1,571 words)

Good News About Relationships in America: Findings from a New, Large, Nationwide Survey | Public Discourse.

Barnabas Piper on the Self-Delusion of Ardent Skepticism

There’s a fine line, though, between being someone who questions and being someone who refuses to believe any answers-a true skeptic. In fact, I don’t think many skeptics actually question anything. They may phrase their challenges as questions, but their heart is set on rejection and disproving, not asking. To truly question something is to query it and to ask about it for the sake of greater and deeper understanding. This may lead to evidence that disproves or to propositions worthy of rejecting, but the heart behind it is to learn, to know. And in this sense, we ought to question everything. And I do mean everything…

— Barnabas Piper (from, “The Unskeptical Questioner”)

The confirmed skeptic usually prides himself on his critical thinking skills.  Yet he is actually thinking very little.  He is rather rejecting thoughts that require him to open his mind.

(Source:  Greg West at The Poached Egg by Ratio Christi)