September 5, 2014

The Osteens and the Purpose of Life

Okay, I know that I am a little late on the party to criticize Victoria Osteen, but after reading her response today, I wanted to respond – if for no other reason, than to clarify my own thoughts.

The original message that Mrs. Osteen gave was as follows:
“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God we’re not doing it for God — I mean that’s one way to look at it,” she said from the pulpit. “We’re doing it for yourself, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives him the greatest joy this morning … just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy.”

She added, “When you come to church when you worship him, you’re not doing it for God, really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy.”

After much criticism from the evangelical community this week, she clarified her statements :
“While I admit that I could have been more articulate in my remarks, I stand by my point that when we worship God and are obedient to Him we will be better for it,” she said. “I did not mean to imply that we don’t worship God; that’s ridiculous, and only the critics and cynics are interpreting my remarks that way.”
Frankly, I think that she just does not get why people were criticizing her.  In some sense, she was so close to stating something good and true - that our obedience to God does benefit us.  However, the way that she said this made it sound as though that is the ultimate reason for our worship, which is an abominable lie.

The bible states that in whatever we do, we are to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31).  In other words, God's glory is to be our highest aim and ultimate goal - our primary purpose in life.  When we act in obedience to God, we should be doing it because we love Him and wish to bring glory to Him.  The fact that it does ultimately benefit us, is just a sort of happy accident and to do it for this reason, as Mrs. Osteen suggests, puts us in the place of God.  She is encouraging the people that her and her husband lead to commit idolatry.

All Christians are sinners saved by the grace of God.  As long as we are in this life we are not going to be perfect, but the purpose of this life is to grow in sanctification - to grow ever more Christ-like.  We should be turning from an attitude of self-centeredness and moving toward Christ-centeredness.  Remember, our primary purpose is to glorify God, not ourselves.

Soli Deo Gloria

March 8, 2012

Book Review - The Expository Genius of John Calvin

NOTE: I received a complementary copy of this book, The Expository Genius of JohnCalvin, from the Publisher, Reformation Trust, in exchange for a review.

This is the first volume in the “A Long Line of Godly Men Profile” series put out by Reformation Trust, but it is the second volume that I have read.  Both of these were both informative and challenging.  So, whether you are a pastor who needs to be challenged in the preaching of the Word, or you are a lay person who hungers to hear something more from the pulpit than the typical moralistic fare common in evangelicalism today, I highly recommend this book.
This volume, as the title implies, is about John Calvin and his preaching ministry in Geneva.  After a brief biographical chapter, Lawson moves to a discussion of the 32 distinctives that marked John Calvin’s preaching.  In each chapter he goes through these distinctives, explaining them, showing how they appeared in his life, ministry, and preaching; and then challenging modern preachers to following his example.
What I Liked
One thing that I liked about this book is the fact that it is small.  I am a slow reader (painfully slow at time), yet I was still able to make it through this book in the course of a few days worth of reading.  So, if I could do this, so could the busy Pastor or fellow lay person.
Another thing that I loved about this book was that it was in many ways a homiletics text.  In showing the things that marked Calvin’s preaching, it lays out for the modern preacher how he should in turn prepare for his duty to expound the Word of God.
What I Didn’t Like
Nothing to report here.
My Rating
5 out of 5 stars

December 8, 2011

What is Calvinism

The term Calvinism comes from a pastor and teacher in the 1600's name John Calvin. He lived at the time of the Protestant Reformation, was in the second wave of reformers (Martin Luther being in the first), and is considered to be one of the greatest theologians that ever lived. Calvinists are called such, not because we worship him or follow him or anything like that, we are called that because we agree with what he taught about God from the Bible. In fact, most people who are considered Calvinists don't like to be called that, just because it can lead to all sorts of confusion. They prefer the term “Reformed” - meaning that they follow in the tradition of the Protestant Reformers.
When it comes to what Calvinists believe there are a couple of things you have to know to begin with. The first is that they take the authority of the Bible very seriously. They believe that the Bible is the infallible (incapable of making mistakes or being wrong), inerrant (without error)Word of God. The second is that they believe very strongly in the sovereignty of God, that is His right and ability as the creator of the world to rule over it in every aspect. Those two beliefs are at the core of Calvinism.
Now, on to the things that Calvinists are most known for believing. Their beliefs can be summed up with the acronym T. U. L. I. P.
The “T” in T. U. L. I. P. stands for Total Depravity. Depravity isn't a word that most people use on a regular basis, so let me define it for you – it means “moral corruption.” They believe that after Adam and Eve's sin the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), sin effected them to their very core so that even when they wanted to do good, they cannot do it in such a way as to please God (Rom. 7). That is why most Calvinists prefer the term Radical Depravity at this point. Radical meaning that depravity has effected the radix(Latin for root) of peoples beings. This change was then passed on to all Adam and Eve's descendants so that all people naturally, that is apart from Christ, are under God's wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3).
The “U” in T. U. L. I. P. stands for Unconditional Election. Election means God choosing who will be saved. All Christians believe this in one form or another. The common form of this is something along the lines of we choose God in faith then he agrees with that and in turn chooses us. This is known as conditional election – God's choosing us is in turn based on us first choosing Him. Calvinist believe in UNconditional – that is God does not choose us based on any prior conditions, but solely because of His grace and mercy. They believe that God chose who would be saved before the foundations of the world (Eph. 1:3-14) and not based on any future action, for good or bad (Romans 9).
The “L” in T. U. L. I. P. stands for Limited Atonement . Calvinists at this prefer the term Definite Atonement , meaning that Christ died, not to make salvation possible for all people, but certain for God's elect. Calvinists derive this believe from passages such as Matthew 1:21 where it says “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins (ESV).” Also, since Jesus is the Good Shepherd, He lays down his life for His sheep (John 10:11, 15). He then goes on to define who His sheep are in verses 26-27 of that same chapter: “ ... but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” In other words those that come to faith in Christ do so because they are amongst Jesus' sheep, while those that don't, don't because they aren't one of Jesus' sheep.
The “I” in T. U. L. I. P. stands for Irresistible Grace . Irresistable Grace is the belief that for those whom God the Father has chosen for salvation and for whom Jesus has died, the Holy Spirit will actually bring to saving faith, in God's own timing. The derive this belief from such passages as found in the sixth chapter of John. “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out … [a]nd this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day (John 6:37, 39 ESV). “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me (John 6:44-45 ESV).” “... no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father (John 6:65).”
The “P” in T. U. L. I. P. stands for Perseverance of the Saints . Perseverance of the Saints means that those that God has chosen for salvation, for whom Christ died, and who the Holy Spirit has called to salvation, will ultimately persevere in the faith to the end, despite periods of back-sliding or faithlessness. A classic proof-text for this belief is Romans 8:28-30, which contains what some have called the “Golden Chain of Salvation.” “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” In this passages we see a definite chain of events, especially in in verse 30. God predestines certain people → God calls those people → God justifies (declares them to be innocent based on Christ's atoning sacrifice) those people → God glorifies (the final stage of salvation that takes place in heaven) those people.