Theology Corner

Addressing commonly asked questions about Christianity from the perspective of a non-theologian

Theology Corner

1.)  CAN GOD'S WILL BE THWARTED?

2.)  DID GOD ELECT ONLY A FEW FOR SALVATION WHILE CONDEMNING THE GREATER PART OF MANKIND TO HELL?

3.)  FAITH OR SALVATION: WHICH COMES FIRST?

4.)  DID GOD THE FATHER BEGET JESUS CHRIST?

5.)  WHAT ARE THE TWO NATURES OF CHRIST?

6.)  WHAT IS ANTINOMIANISM?

7.)  WHAT IS SABELLIANISM?

8.)  WHAT IS PELAGIANISM?

9.)  DOES LOVE REALLY WIN?

10.)  IS YOUR WILL REALLY YOUR WILL?

11.)  CAN TWO THEOLOGIES BE TESTED FOR COMPATIBILITY?

12.)  WHAT IS THE FRAUD OF FIDEISM?

13.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES THEOLOGY?

14.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH CHRISTIAN SCIENCE THEOLOGY?

15.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH MORMON THEOLOGY?

16.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS THEOLOGY?

17.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH SCIENTOLOGY THEOLOGY?

18.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH UNIFICATION CHURCH THEOLOGY?

19.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH THE WAY INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGY?

20.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH THE WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD THEOLOGY?

21.)  IS REPENTANCE REALLY NECESSARY?

22.)  WHAT ARE SOME MUSINGS OF A METHODIST THEOLOGIAN ON LIMITED ATONEMENT?

23.)  WHAT ARE SOME QUESTIONS FOR THOSE WHO TEACH A LIMITED ATONEMENT PROVIDED ONLY FOR THE ELECT OF GOD?

24.)  WHAT WERE CALVIN'S ACTUAL WORDS?

25.)  WHAT IS GNOSTICISM?

26.)  WHAT IS THE UNPARDONABLE SIN?

27.)  IS CLASSICAL CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY?

1.)  IS CHRISTIANITY COMPATIBLE WITH POSITIVE TOLERANCE?

2.)  CAN WE HAVE A FORM OF GODLINESS, BUT DENY THE POWER THEREOF?

3.)  WHAT IS THE GREAT WAR?

4.)  SHOULD PRESIDENT TRUMP HAVE BEEN IMPEACHED FOR IMMORALITY?

5.)  WHO SAID MOSES WAS HUMBLE?

6.)  COULD CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE BENEFIT FROM WOKE REVISION?

7.)  DID EINSTEIN BELIEVE ALL CHRISTIANS WERE CALVINISTS?

8.)  WHY IS MARXISM A MAGNET?

9.)  WHAT IS TRUE SCIENCE?

10.)  CAN YOU LOSE YOUR SALVATION?

11.)  WHAT ARE THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS?

12.)  WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS?

13.)  WAS PAUL ENTIRELY SANCTIFIED?

14.)  ARE YOU LIVING IN A WORLD AT WAR?

15.)  WHAT IS THE DIRECT METHOD FOR PROVING A CONDITIONAL PROPOSITION IS TRUE?

16.)  WHAT IS THE CONTRAPOSITIVE METHOD FOR PROVING A CONDITIONAL PROPOSITION IS TRUE?

17.)  WHAT IS THE CONTRADICTION METHOD FOR PROVING A CONDITIONAL PROPOSITION IS TRUE?

18.)  WHAT MIGHT A METHODIST THEOLOGIAN SAY ABOUT PURGATORY?

19.)  WHICH BIBLE PASSAGES ELUCIDATE CORE ASPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY?

20.)  DO SELECTED NIV VERSES ELUCIDATE CORE ASPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY?

21.)  DO SELECTED AKJV VERSES ELUCIDATE CORE ASPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY?

22.)  DO SELECTED YLT VERSES ELUCIDATE CORE ASPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY?

23.)  DO SELECTED 'VOICE' VERSES ELUCIDATE CORE ASPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY?

24.)  COULD THE CONCEPT OF 'SALVATION ONLY FOR THE ELECT' HAVE BEEN ROOTED IN THE MIND OF AUGUSTINE BEFORE HE EMBRACED CHRISTIANITY?

25.)  DID AUGUSTINE RECEIVE PUSHBACK FOR HIS TEACHING OF 'SALVATION ONLY FOR THE ELECT' DURING HIS LIFETIME?

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO PREACH THE NEW TESTAMENT MESSAGE?

Each person who responds to God’s grace (Titus 2:11) and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ (Rom 5:8; 1 John 2:2) by

 

  • Confession of sin (Ps 32:3-5; 1 John 1:8-10),
  • Remorse (Ps 66:18; Luke 18:13),
  • Repentance (Mat 3:8; Rom 12:2, 13:14; Eph 4:23-24; Rev 2:5, 16, 3:3, 19),
  • Faith (John 6:29, 3:16-17; Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8-10) and
  • Obedience (Mat 28:20; Luke 11:28; John 14:15; Rom 1:5, 6:16; Heb 5:9)

 

receives the great gift of salvation (Acts 4:12; Rom 1:16; 2 Cor 7:10; 1 Thes 5:9; Heb 5:9; 1 Pet 1:9, 18-19).  This gift of salvation includes but is not limited to the following:

 

  • Redemption (Rom 3:24; 8:23) - You are freed from the bondage of sin for the first time in your life.
  • Forgiveness (Mat 6:9-15; 1 John 1:8-10) - You are forgiven your sins by God.
  • Justification (Rom 3:21-26) - You are declared righteous by God; this legal declaration is valid because Christ died to pay the penalty for your sin and lived a life of perfect righteousness that can in turn be imputed to you.
  • Adoption (Rom 8:23; Gal 3:26; 1 John 3:2) - You are a joint heir with Jesus to the Kingdom of God.
  • Regeneration (John 3:1-21) - The Holy Spirit makes known to you the will of God and helps you discern truth from lie. He occupies and purifies all the rooms of your heart into which He is invited. For the first time in your life you are not a prisoner of sin. You are free to pursue the path of righteousness. This is the first day of your Christian life and you are a new creature in Christ. This is the mechanism of your redemption.
  • Sanctification (Heb 6:1; 1 Pet 1:13-16) - You are led by the Holy Spirit along the path toward holiness; this is a lifetime journey.
  • Reconciliation ( Eph 2:11-22) - You are reconciled with all other believers.
  • Unification (Eph 3:1-11) - You are united with all believers in the Church of Jesus Christ.
  • Glorification (Rom 8:30) - You will complete the journey along the path of sanctification when your mission in this life is done.

 

Salvation is an astounding, unmerited gift of God and is, therefore, an example of grace.  But how do you get to that point in time when you are ready to receive this great gift of salvation?  What would cause you to engage in confession, remorse, repentance, faith and obedience?  The answer is the grace of God that comes before salvation.

God is the overwhelmingly dominant player in the synergistic effort to save your soul.  He tosses a life preserver into the raging waters of life, pushes you to within arm’s length and urges you to stretch out your hand and take hold.  God’s part is called Prevenient Grace which means the grace that brings salvation.  The word prevenient derives from pre (before) and venio (come).  God attempts to call, awaken, draw near, convict, save and empower every person who will ever live including you.  He initiates, advances and perfects every good thing in your heart, intellect and will.  He leads you from one step to another as he finds response in your heart and disposition to obedience (See Sections 4.2, 4.8, 4.9 and 4.10 of Theology Corner).  Some men allow God to quicken, assist and nudge their free will to facilitate confession of sin, remorse, repentance, faith and obedience so they may receive the great gift of salvation (1 Pet 1:9). Other men choose to resist and reject the grace of God (2 Thes 1:8-9). 

The Prevenient Grace of God has many faces but the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all persons (Titus 2:11):

  • The requirements of the law are written by God on every heart (Rom. 2:15),
  • Jesus Christ knocks at the door of every heart (Rev. 3:20),
  • The Holy Spirit calls and convicts each person (John 16:8) and
  • God's eternal power and divine nature are evident in the world around us (Rom 1:20).

But nevertheless, many resist the grace of God (Mat 25:46; 2 Thes 1:8-9).  Only by the Prevenient Grace of God is it possible for you to receive the great gift of salvation.

What is so hard about preaching and receiving this message?  The hard part, for the unsaved, is the very first bullet item at the top of the page: Confession of Sin!  Only by acknowledging the poverty of your own soul can you enter the kingdom of God; those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit have a sense of absolute unworthiness.  You cannot enter God’s kingdom as a good man who puffs out his chest and says, “I have made a decision for Christ over the many options available to me; I am to be admired!” 

Not only must each unsaved person confess his/her sin with remorse in his/her heart but every saved person, unless they have been entirely sanctified, must also routinely engage in confession of sin (See Sections 3.15, 3.17, 4.6 and 13.13 of Theology Corner).  All who have received the great gift of salvation are redeemed or bought back from the bondage of sin but they are not, in this life, set free from the influence of sin itself.  The idea that we can live our lives in complete accordance with the Great Commandment is a non sequitur for the overwhelming majority of men and women.  Given all the snares and pitfalls of life, the power of Satan and the weakness of the human soul, the best path for a Christian is one of daily confession and renewal.  Even the full reception of sanctifying grace does not imply that one need no longer ask forgiveness or seek the intercession of Christ.  The Christian life is precisely the daily dying to sin and living to pursue righteousness that constitutes a life of repentance, faith and obedience continually reaffirmed and renewed. 

Saved or unsaved, who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin.” especially in connection with human infirmities, sins of surprise, errors of judgment and moral misperceptions?  There are no liturgies of classical Christianity that fail to offer confession of sin.  This does not place the way of holiness out of reach for believers but puts believers constantly on the path of daily confession and renewal.

So at every Sunday morning service, each truly faithful preacher must say: confess your sins with remorse in your heart and repent (See Sections 8.14 and 8.15 of Theology Corner).  But if that happened, the greater portion of the congregation, including unsaved visitors, would be aghast!  They would say, “What do you mean by confession of my sins, I’ll have you know I am a good person!  Except for a few minor issues, I have nothing to confess.”  Surely, great evangelists of the past have figured out a clever way around this predicament.  Surely there is a way to preach the salvation message without getting entangled in the annoying issue of sin. 

How about Billy Graham, the greatest evangelist of the 20th century.  If anyone could figure out a way around the issue of personal sin, it would be Billy Graham.  In Approaching Hoofbeats, Billy Graham said:

 

“Perhaps you have never known Christ personally as your Savior and Lord, never loved Him that way.  Perhaps you have never known the wonder of seeking Christ’s forgiveness for your sins or the joy of being forgiven.  Before you go any further in reading this book, you could know all of this right now.

You may ask, “What do I have to do?”  First: Admit your need (“I am a sinner”).   Second: Be willing to turn from your sins (repent).  Third: Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross and rose from the grave.  Fourth: Through prayer, invite Jesus Christ to come in and control your life (receive Him as Savior and Lord).

You see, it’s that simple.  God loves you.  Christ died for you.  You repent of your sin.  You receive forgiveness.  And you discover the joy of that “first love.”  (Graham, p 49)

 

On the last page of this book, he said:

 

“I have led tens of thousands who have come forward to make decisions for Christ in every part of the world in this simple prayer:

 

    • God I am a sinner.
    • I’m sorry for my sins.
    • I’m willing to turn from my sins.
    • I receive Christ as Savior. I confess Him as Lord.
    • From this moment on I want to follow Him and serve Him in the fellowship of His church.”

(Graham, p 236)

 

But this is exactly the same as:

 

    • Confession of sin (Ps 32:3-5; 1 John 1:8-10),
    • Remorse (Ps 66:18; Luke 18:13),
    • Repentance (Mat 3:8; Rom 12:2, 13:14; Eph 4:23-24; Rev 2:5, 16, 3:3, 19),
    • Faith (John 6:29, 3:16-17; Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8-10) and
    • Obedience (Mat 28:20; Luke 11:28; John 14:15; Rom 1:5, 6:16; Heb 5:9)

 

It appears there is no way for a preacher to avoid preaching confession of sin if he/she truly wants to preach the cross. (See Section 10.8 of Theology Corner)