Monday, October 26, 2009

Did Jesus Die for a Few or for All?

Definite Atonement? Particular Redemption? Limited Atonement?
Christ died for all, but few will appropriate His sacrifice.

Often, verses such as John 10:15 will be used to argue that Christ died for the elect only. However, the passage doesn’t say 'only.' It’s true that Christ laid down His life for His sheep, but it doesn’t say Christ laid down His life just, only, singularly, exclusively or solely for his sheep. Consider this, in Romans 10:1 Paul recorded “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” Does that mean Paul doesn’t desire non-Jews to be saved? No, Paul didn’t address non-Jews in this statement, he only mentioned Israel. In the same way in John 10:15 when Jesus said “…I lay down My life for the sheep...” He didn’t address those for whom He did not lay His life down for, but only for those whom He did lay His life down for. Some might argue it’s implied. However, there are many passages that explicitly state that Christ died for all men.
It’s true, the words and phrases ‘all,’ ‘whole world’ and ‘everyone’ don’t always refer to every single individual (e.g. Romans 1:8), thus as always context is important when interpreting meaning. Consider the following:
  • Hebrews 2:9-10 states “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Note the passage goes from referring to Christ tasting death for “everyone” to referring to only bringing “many” sons to glory. The person who says “everyone” means only “some” has the burden of proof.
  • 1 John 2:2 states “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” The only other time the phrase “holos cosmos” (English ‘whole world‘) appears in 1 John is in 1 John 5:19: “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” One common excuse some will use to explain this passage is that John was saying that Christ is the proposition not just for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles. However, 1 John continually mentions the “world,” referring to it as an evil system which opposes God and believers (1 John 2:15-17; 3:1, 13; 5:4-5). The one other time in the epistle that John uses the phrase ‘whole world’ he refers to it as being “…under the sway of the wicked one.” If John wanted to say Christ is the propitiation not just for the elect Jews, but also for the elect Gentiles, he could have just said that. Besides, I think it was likely pretty evident by the last decade of the first century (in which 1 John was likely written) that Gentiles were believers too.
  • 2 Peter 2:1 states “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.” The Lord bought even those who will reject Him. They will die in their sins because they rejected the Lord and thus the salvation which comes through Him. The word for ‘bought’(which is also translated ‘redeemed‘) is used in 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23; Revelation 5:9.
  • 1 Timothy 2:3-7 states “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”
  • Romans 5:17-19 states “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” Scripture clearly teaches that all men won’t be saved from damnation, but the offer is available to all men (Romans 10:13).
  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 states “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”
  • Isaiah 53:6 states "All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."

Objections and Answers

Did God fail when it comes to those who Christ died for that are going to hell?

First off, this would be a philosophical argument, if the Bible states that Christ died for everyone, then He did. Second, Christ did not fail, His death is sufficient, those going to hell didn’t appropriate the forgiveness through faith which is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). One could ask, did God fail with Adam and Eve, with Lucifer and his angels or with rebellious Israel? Concerning Jerusalem the Lord said “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one 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) Stephen said to the Jews “’You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.’” (Acts 7:51) Did God fail? The answer is of course no, man did, but God will be glorified even in that.

If Christ died for everyone, why will most people be going to hell?

Few find the way which leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14) Christ died for all, but few will appropriate His sacrifice by repenting and believing. Ultimately, God is in control.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Indecent Exposure, a Bar Fight with a Call to 911 and More Evangelizing

October 10-11, 2009: Phil and I met up to do some evangelizing while on Mill Avenue. To begin our night, we went to the front of the post office. Al Gordon, David Ardito and Richard were out there. Dave (who is with Jews for Jesus) and Shawn Williams also eventually appeared. Shortly after we showed up, Al and Richard went down the road a little further. Phil and David did some open airing, we handed out some tracts and had some conversations. I believe it was around 11 pm when we started heading toward the bars to do some witnessing. Shawn, David and Dave came with us. Along the way, a man pointed out to me a guy who while facing oncoming traffic was peeing in the street. I told the others. There was a police officer nearby and Shawn and David told him. He asked them if they wanted to be the victims of indecent exposure, they said no. The officer said he couldn’t do anything, but talk to the man then. Phil just figured the guy was drunk. We continued on our way. In front of Urban Outfitters, there were some people with some snakes. I gave one of them a tract and got some pictures. When we arrived near the front of the Mill Cue Club, we set up. I believe I started the open airing. Then Phil, David and Shawn took turns open airing as well. As I was talking with an atheistic man, another gentleman named Hector came over to join the conversation. A little later into the evening, he came and asked me for prayer about something specific. I asked Dave to join me and pray with him about his situation. If you are a believer, I request that you also pray for Hector. Eventually, Dave, Shawn and David took off. Not too much later while Phil was open airing, a man came up to him acting like he was ready to pummel him into the ground. Someone who was apparently with him was trying to pull him away (Luke 6:22; 1 Peter 4:14). Eventually, he did leave.

As the night continued, I noticed that a fight was going on in front of the Zuma Grill, a bar right next to the Mill Cue Club. I got out the camera and took some pictures. Then, I thought to myself, blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9) and went to see if I could do anything. I believe Phil was engaged in a conversation at this point. It seemed as if things were starting to clam down. However, it didn’t take long before the fighting started back up again. The security guy from the bar was getting involved. I decided to call 911 after realizing there wasn’t much I could really do. After I got off the phone, it looked a little like things had calmed down again. However, in actuality the guys who were fighting were just relocating to the right side of the Mill Cue Club. The police showed up and I took some pictures. The officers worked fast at neutralizing the situation and I praise God they did. Phil and I left a bit after 1:30 am.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Our trip to the University of Arizona and a Gay Pride Parade

October 9, 2009: Grace Covenant Church (a Reformed Baptist Church) planned a trip to Tucson, Arizona to do some evangelizing at the University of Arizona and 4th Ave. (a mild party street). Unbeknownst to them, there was a gay pride parade planned that day on 4th Ave. Though Grace Covenant isn’t Jennifer’s or my church (I don‘t even really have a church at the moment), we came along. Rob-roy Nelson, Steven Gonzales, Phil Ballmaier, David Ardito, Pastor John Giarrizzo, Mike (not sure of last name), Jennifer and I met at Grace Covenant at about 7:45 am., we prayed and then took off to go to Tucson. We got to U of A around 10 am and set up a table with tracts, Bibles and booklets. A little after that, Josh (not sure of his last name) arrived. Phil did some open air preaching (with and without the amp), we had a lot of conversations (some long, some short) and handed out lots of tracts and some booklets and Bibles. There were atheists, Muslims, professing Christians and many others. About 3:00 pm, we packed up and went to get some food. We went to a place called Brooklyn Pizza which was pretty good. I got to talk a lot of theology with the group, particularly with Rob-roy and his pastor. I love discussing the things of Scripture and of God. We talked about Calvinism/ Reformed theology, particularly, Limited Atonement which is the belief that Christ died merely for the sins of the elect and not for the sins of the whole world. I certainly believe that Christ died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). However, it’s clear that forgiveness will only be applied to those who believe. Josh eventually had to take off. After some more conversing and eating we headed outside to do some evangelizing on 4th Ave.

The University of Arizona

The Gay Pride Parade
There was a gay pride parade scheduled. Again we set up a table with booklets, Bibles and tracts. Rob-roy had some cases of bottled water with the gospel on them to give away (they always seem to be popular). Mike went across the street handing out tracts, so I decided to join him for a bit. I eventually saw Phil open airing without the amp, so I ran and got it from the car. Rob-roy suggested we go across the street cattycorner from where I had been with Mike. I suggested that Jennifer stay with Rob-roy and the others handing out water and tracts at the table. Phil, Dave and I headed over to open air. Phil began and within about 30 seconds, three men were surrounding him. Things remained tense for the remainder of the evening. I was filming virtually the whole time. Steven joined us as things escalated and it was great to have him there; safety in numbers. Steven also did some filming. One man came up at one point and kicked the amp, then a police officer stopped him and asked us if we wanted anything done. We said no, but asked if he could stay nearby. He did. Phil was holding a sign that Jennifer had made that said “Jesus is Lord.“ Some passersby spit on it, and later on, it got spit on again. People continued to yell and get up into the face of whoever was on the mic. A little while later, we packed up the table as well as the waters and went down the road aways. Rob-roy did an open air which I was ecstatic about. He's a great teacher. We got more hostility along the way, but the Lord blessed us with safety. I believe we started to head out at about 8 pm. This was a great time of fellowship. All glory and praise be to God!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mill Ave. and Oktoberfest with zombies, sexual perversion, lots of water bottles, and more

October 3-4, 2009: Jennifer (my sister) and I got to Mill Ave. a bit after 9 p.m. Rob-Roy had a table set up where he and other believers were handing out free water bottles with the gospel on them, pizza and tracts. On his table, he had free Bibles and booklets. Rob Tewart, Zoey (Rob’s daughter) Nathan Johnson, Steven and Kelly Gonzales and a few other believers were out there. There was supposedly an ASU football game and Oktoberfest event going on. There were a lot more people out there than I had expected. At one point, a horde of people dressed like zombies ran by. I did get some pictures. They were acting a bit crazy. At about 10:30, Jennifer and I decided to headed up the road toward Tempe Beach Park where there were a lot of people. As we were walking, a man stopped us and asked what church we were from. We talked to him about salvation and the perseverance of the saints. Unfortunately, He believed that a Christian could go on sinning after he got saved. I asked he how he reconciled that belief with the Bible and places like 1 John specifically 1 John 3:9; 5:18. I asked him to search the Scriptures and I encouraged him to examine his life in light on 1 John as I’ve done with other professing Christians. People who reject the perseverance of the believer, often unintentionally make works a requirement to keep one’s salvation, thus teach a false works righteousness Gospel (Galatians 1:8-9). After we walked further along, we stopped and did some preaching. There were larger crowds of people and sadly many of them hated the Gospel so much. While preaching, one woman asked me if she could touch my butt, another asked if she could hug me and later tried to pull my shirt up. I told her that the police were nearby, but she said she didn’t care. Later on into the night, a man claiming to be a homosexual kept saying perverse and just plan disgusting things to me. He then kept attempting to unplug the amplifier. This was yet another night in which the Lord blessed us with mercy and protection. We ended up leaving at about 1:00 a.m.. Praise be to God eternally!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

First Friday and then Mill Avenue

October 2-3, 2009: Phil, Jennifer and I went to evangelize at First Friday and Mill Ave. again last night. First Friday is kind of like an art festival in Phoenix of which thousands of people visit. We got out to FF a little after 8:00 P.M.. As we were walking to Garfield and 5th street where we usually set up, we were preaching along the way. We passed by the Atheist group (I’m not certain all of them are Atheistic) and four or so of them began following us with their amplifier as we walked and preached. As usual, it was packed on Garfield and 5th street and we had a crowd quite quickly. Jonathan Myers was out there and he talked with the Atheists to give us a chance to focus on the crowds. About a half hour or so into being there, a woman claiming to be associated with the event approached us and said we were not allowed to set up as we had unless we paid a vendor fee. We had gone to this event for about the past six months and hadn’t been stopped by police. We were skeptical and told her that we would stop only if the police asked us to. Shortly after that, two officers came by and told us we couldn’t set up at one place for more than 5 or 10 minutes. We filmed and asked them more information and eventually agreed to move. They came directly to us and not the Atheists, which I think was a little telling. We went to the end of the street and did some more preaching. We did have a few more brief interactions with the police. At about 10 p.m., we are usually told we have to stop preaching with the amp, so that was about the time we headed out.

First Friday

We went to Mill Ave. next. We pretty much went directly to the front of the Mill Cue Club to preach. We had many of the normal reactions. Many times during the night, Phil quoted Proverbs 23:29-35 while preaching, which is a great passage for the bars. We had few conversations, some positive and some negative. Somebody actually thanked me for calling 911 last week. There had been a man passed out in front of the bar and the people in line were shouting things like heal him. Somebody threw a lit cigarette at him, others were acting just as unruly toward this man who was just lying there. I called 911 and they quickly came and took him away in an ambulance. Near the end of our night, I spoke to a young man named Shawn who says he was raised a Christian, used to fear God and sin, but just lives for the sake of living now. He did admitted that he been drinking. I went over the Gospel as well as the justice of God with him among other things. I think it was a positive encounter. He even hugged me at the end. Saints, please pray for Shawn. We headed out a bit after 1:00 a.m.. The fight goes on. To God be all the Glory!

Mill Ave.