Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Quick Concise Explanation of John 6 and 10

Some of the favorite passages used by Calvinists to argue for unconditional election come from John 6 and 10. My purpose here is to present a very quick explanation of the correct interpretation of these verses.

John 6
Specifically in John 6:37, 39, Jesus says, "37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out...39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day."

It's made clear in the context who the "all that" Jesus is referring to is in v. 40 and 47. Believers as a whole! Furthermore it is shown that those who have truly listened to the teaching of the Father will come to Christ in v. 45.

Verse 65, which says, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father," is easily understood to show that unless someone has been enabled by the Spirit of God, they cannot come to Christ. But unconditional election does not follow from that, and is shown to be false in light of the context of not only this chapter, but the whole of the Johannine witness.

John 10
This takes us to ch. 10 and the sheep that follow Christ. The sheep that follow are the faithful Jews who truly belonged to the Father and were, in light of that, being transferred to Jesus. When Jesus came, all of the truly God-fearing Jews naturally recognized Jesus as one with the Father and went to Him. This makes it clear why the Jews who were not following Jesus were not believing; "26 you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you." They were not believing in Jesus because they did not truly believe in the Father to begin with.

"27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." Those who did follow Jesus did so naturally, because they knew Jesus was from the Father. This also makes sense with Jesus inserting the fact that He and His Father are one in v. 30. He's not just randomly stating it, He's explaining why His sheep recognize Him, because He and the Father are one!

For an extremely detailed exegesis, check out the article found here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Parables and Penal Substitution

On Rhology's blog we are debating a few Eastern Orthodox guys who bristle at the Penal Substitution view of the atonement (comment page found here). One of the issues brought up (as it commonly is in these debates) is that in several parables where Christ tells of forgiveness, a payment for the sin committed is not given. In the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector, all the tax collector had to do was cry out "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." He was immediately justified (Luke 18;9-14). The king freely forgave the servant without payment in Matthew 18:23-35. In the parable of the prodigal son, the father forgives the son without any punishment (Luke 15:11-24).

I have summarized three points that John Stott points out in his treatise The Cross of Christ in the comment section. I will repost it here.

A parable is not an exhaustive doctrinal formulation. Three problems with bringing up these parables to support your position.

  1. Christ is not mentioned in these parables. Does that mean Christ shouldn't have been given? Because these parables say so? Parables aren't allegories, and as such we shouldn't expect a point by point correlation between the story and its message.
  2. These parables only contain two actors who are directly contrasted with one another. They are shown to tell us what we must do, not directly what God has done for our forgiveness.
  3. The cross can be seen in all three parables, showing the self sacrificial nature of God.

Stott observes:
in his book The Cross and the Prodigal Dr. [Kenneth E.] Bailey...takes a fresh look at Luke 15 "through the eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants." He explains that the whole village would know that the returning prodigal was in disgrace, and that punishment of some kind was inevitable, if only to preserve the father's honor. But the father bears the punishment instead of inflicting it. Although, "a man of his age and position always walks in a slow, dignified fasion," and although "he has not run anywhere for any purpose for 40 years," he yet "races" down the road like a teenager to welcome his home-coming son. Thus risking the ridicule of the street urchins, "he takes upon himself the shame and humiliation due to the prodigal." "In this parable," Dr Bailey continues, "we have a father who leaves the comfort and security of his home and exposes himself in a humiliating fashion in the village street. The coming down and going out to his boy hints at the incarnation. The humiliating spectacle in the village street hints at the cross." Thus "the cross and the incarnation are implicitly yet dramatically present in the story," for "the suffering of the cross was not primarily the physical torture but rather the agony of rejected love." What was essential for the prodigal's reconciliation was a "physical demonstration of self-emptying love in suffering...Is this not the way of God with man on Golgotha?" (John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ p. 218-219)

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Hatians Still Need Help (and so do Other People)

Here are two wonderful organizations I recommend giving to, both for the Hatian relief effort and for charity in general.

Samaritan's Purse

Salvation Army