Why I Am A Calvinist – Part 3

A great mystery once surrounded the circumstances of my salvation experience that for a decade confounded all my attempts to unveil its secrets.

Let me start at the beginning. In the summer of 1993 I found a job at the recycling center of a local non-profit agency. They provided a training environment for people with developmental disabilities. The job humbled me, but I did enjoy working with the people. My supervisor lived his Christian faith openly, and stood boldly for his convictions. To make a long story short, he preached the gospel to me for a solid year-and-a-half, slowly chipping away at my granite hard heart. One day he quoted a scripture that flew like a steel-tipped arrow, breaching my great wall of enmity.

Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world’s rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph 6:11-12)

I remember getting into my car at the end of the day with that verse blazing through my mind. I paused in the parking lot as illumination fell on me from above. I realized at that moment good and evil were struggling for my very soul. I could not remain neutral in this war. I had to take sides. I either had to stand with God against all the powers of darkness or cast my lot with the devil and his angels. Another, more sobering thought then dawned on me. I had already spent my entire life aiding and abetting the commander-in-chief of the armies of darkness.

I stewed over those thoughts for several months. One day in late January, 1995 as I prepared to leave for the day, my boss stopped me. He launched into one of his passionate discourses on the goodness and faithfulness of God in his life. At one point he started pounding his desk speaking of the zeal he had for God, quoting from scripture. At that very moment the Spirit of God came upon me with a such a mighty rush that I could sense it in a tangible manner. A great tingling warmth spread from the top of my head to the heels of my feet. I gasped audibly, not quite understanding what had just happened. My boss did not notice my reaction, so I politely acknowledged my appreciation for his word of encouragement and drove home. Continue reading

How to Love Your Enemies

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. – Luke 6:27-28

What does it mean to love your enemies? Did Jesus command us to conjure strong feelings and affections for those who hate us and that we also hate? Is it even possible to have good feelings toward someone we despise? If we are totally honest with ourselves we must admit that we harbor strong negative emotions to those we call our enemies. Isn’t it a contradiction to say we love whom we hate? How could God make such a contradictory demand upon us? Is the command to love our enemies some kind of divine prank?

The answer lies in Christ’s words – we love by doing good to those who hate us, blessing those who curse us and praying for those who abuse us.




These principles seem straight forward enough but confusion can arise. What does it mean to bless someone? Isn’t doing good and praying for someone in fact, blessing them? Is there a difference in the meaning of these seemingly synonymous terms? Bless here in the Greek means ‘speak well of, praise’. Instead of indulging human nature’s propensity to gossip and slander our enemies (no matter how justified we feel in doing so) we should build them up and find what is praise-worthy and proclaim it. The all-encompassing love to our enemies we are commanded to fulfill is simply doing good to them, speaking well of them and asking God to care for them, despite the way we may feel. Continue reading

Evolution – The Greatest Lie Ever Told?

I’m looking at you, Charles Darwin. Or, more accurately, I’m looking at those ‘rational’ minds that have taken Darwin’s theory and ran with it unimpeded, right over the biblical account of the origin of all things. The scientific community push the ‘fact’ of slowly evolving life forms over eons of time with nary a nagging doubt – at least publicly. In light of their unshakeable rock foundation, evolution then clearly disproves the myth of an omnipotent creator forming life by merely speaking into a dark void. Conversely, Scripture plainly records that God did create the universe and all it contains. It also makes a point to repeatedly claim that all God’s creatures reproduce after their own kind. We have two diametrically opposed doctrines from two entirely different sources. One must be true and the other a lie. They cannot both be true, despite claims by some to the contrary.

The issue boils down to the doctrine of man’s creation in God’s image. Did God purposely mold man in his image, breathe into him the breath of life, distinguish him from every other life form, or was man made in the image of monkeys with a few genetic tweaks engineered by mere chance in the process of natural selection? These are not minor differences. The gulf between these two views cannot be bridged. Any Christian who wavers on this issue needs to consider the consequences of compromise. A view in which God uses evolution to accomplish his ends is fraught with peril. Of primary concern is that the creation account must be allegorized to fit this paradigm. Admittedly, God does use allegory in the bible to relate truth, but if he allegorized the first portion of the book of Genesis then why not the entire book? Where do we draw the line between fiction and historical account? Based on what authority?  Did Adam and Eve  not literally fall from God’s grace? Did the story of Abraham and the patriarchs not really happen?  Is there no real covenant, no true people of God?  Is there no original sin, no need of redemption? Don’t you see how the dominoes begin to fall with this compromised worldview? Continue reading

The Judgment of God

I recently received a comment from an atheist in response to my article Does God Send People to Hell? and decided I would post my rather lengthy reply in a post.  Here are his original responses.

POST 1 – If God exists, then I really hope he’s a judge like you said. If that’s the case, then we’ll all be able to go to hell. And you’re wrong about nobody would choose to go to hell. I believe a lot of people in this world believe that hell is the only place for them. Me? i believe everyone(yes, including me) should go to hell.

Post 2 – If you haven’t notice from my previous post. I am an Atheist. Why am I an Atheist? Because I can only imagine God as an evil being that seeks to torture and destroy us. If this evil being exists, then we can only burn in hell. According to the bible, everything we do is evil. Whatever good we do will never atone for our sins.

So what if Jesus sacrificed himself? That only removed the original sin. We are sinful just by living our daily lives. Why do I say that? Do you know of the evils in the rest of the world? Have you actively stopped the evils? The moment we turn a blind eye to them, we’re doomed to eternal suffering in hell. He judges us based on our actions and our inactions. :

Know that we’re also judged by our thoughts and emotions. “Whose kid is that? Someone should shut that kid up.” You’re doomed to hell. You looked at a married woman and thought “She’s quite pretty.” You’re doomed to hell. You felt like killing someone for what that person did. You’re doomed to hell. You saw an item that you really wanted and thought to covert it as your own. You’re doomed to hell.

And that is why I embrace Atheism. If a being that is considered to be perfect exists, then we the imperfect ones can only burn in hell for all eternity. I am not posting this to convert you to Atheism or anything. I just want you to know that if God truly exists, then our fate is sealed. Worshipping him will not do you any good, he’s here to judge you, not to be worshipped.

Here is my reply:

Honestly, I sense from reading your posts that you’re not that far from the kingdom of God.  You appear to have a keen sense of your own sinfulness, indeed, the sinfulness of us all, that is severely lacking, even among multitudes that claim Christ. But instead of fleeing to your only hope for salvation, you’ve decided to stick your head in the proverbial sand.  You’ve convinced yourself that God won’t judge you because he is an imaginary being.  However, the sense of deep conviction that you deserve punishment isn’t imaginary.  You feel it in your heart don’t you?  You can’t shake that sense of impending doom in your breast.  Denying the existence of the Great Judge won’t spare you from his wrath.
I want to touch on a few points from your post.  You feel that God is evil because he punishes evil.  Does that really make any sense?  If God were truly evil he would reward our sin instead of punishing us for it.  But because God is good he must punish evil or he is not just.  You’re right, man gets what he deserves when he rebels against his creator.   This is the bad news but the Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news.  You seem to have a defective understanding of the cross work of Christ.  You believe that Christ isn’t an all-sufficient savior, that his death on the cross accomplished some good but not enough to actually save anyone.  This is not taught in scripture at all.  When Jesus approached death on the cross he uttered the words, “It is finished.”  What was finished?  Complete and total salvation for those who believe.  This is because of God’s sheer grace.  In other words, the salvation Jesus bought and paid for with his blood sacrifice is a gift of God’s mercy.  We don’t deserve it, we don’t earn it.  We can only receive it by faith.  Faith simply means that we look outside of ourselves and trust God completely to save us.  We cannot even lift a finger to merit God’s favor as you so aptly point out.  All of our works fall far short of God’s perfection.  We need to be rescued from ourselves and God reaches down in a divine descent and plucks us from the flames of our just punishment because of his great love.

You write that Jesus died only for our original sin but scripture doesn’t teach this. He died for all of our sins – past, present and future.  All of those transgressions were nailed to the cross and covered with his blood.  All is forgiven.  This is called Christ’s passive or suffering obedience. This brings up another problem in being made right with God.  All our sin may be blotted out but that leaves us with a blank slate.  We still lack the positive moral righteousness required by the law in order to be considered righteous in God’s eyes that we might inherit eternal life. Again, God took it upon himself to give us what we cannot hope to achieve in our own strength.  Jesus Christ obeyed the laws of God his entire life.  He was without sin and completely fulfilled the law to love God and love his neighbor.  His obedience was perfect. We call this the active obedience of Christ.  He actively fulfilled every jot and tittle of God’s moral law.  This perfect obedience has been imputed (transferred or reckoned) to us when we put our faith in Christ.  In other words,  when we stand before God at the judgment he will not see our sin because the blood of Jesus has washed it all away and he will not see our feeble attempts at righteousness, which are filthy rags to God, but only the perfect obedience of Jesus.  His works will be considered our own, and this only by the overwhelming grace God has lavished upon us.  So, it is true that we are saved by works:  Jesus Christ’s – not our own.  We have access to his work by faith alone.  You only need to trust Christ as Savior and he will not fail to save. Cry out from your heart, “Have mercy on me, a sinner!” and mercy you shall receive.

Martin Luther’s 95 Theses – Part 3

  • Christians should be taught that they purchase indulgences voluntarily, and are not under obligation to do so.
  • Christians should be taught that, in granting indulgences, the pope has more need, and more desire, for devout prayer on his own behalf than for ready money.
  • Christians should be taught that the pope’s indulgences are useful only if one does not rely on them, but most harmful if one loses the fear of God through them.
  • Christians should be taught that, if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence-preachers, he would rather the church of St. Peter were reduced to ashes than be built with the skin, flesh, and bones of the sheep.
  • Christians should be taught that the pope would be willing, as he ought if necessity should arise, to sell the church of St. Peter, and give, too, his own money to many of those from whom the pardon-merchants conjure money.
  • It is vain to rely on salvation by letters of indulgence, even if the commissary, or indeed the pope himself, were to pledge his own soul for their validity.
  • Those are enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid the word of God to be preached at all in some churches, in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
  • The word of God suffers injury if, in the same sermon, an equal or longer time is devoted to indulgences than to that word.
  • The pope cannot help taking the view that if indulgences (very small matters) are celebrated by one bell, one pageant, or one ceremony, the gospel (a very great matter) should be preached to the accompaniment of a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
  • The treasures of the church, out of which the pope dispenses indulgences, are not sufficiently spoken of or known among the people of Christ.
  • That these treasures are not temporal are clear from the fact that many of the merchants do not grant them freely, but only collect them.
  • Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, because, even apart from the pope, these merits are always working grace in the inner man, and working the cross, death, and hell in the outer man.
  • St. Laurence said that the poor were the treasures of the church, but he used the term in accordance with the custom of his own time.
  • We do not speak rashly in saying that the treasures of the church are the keys of the church, and are bestowed by the merits of Christ.
  • For it is clear that the power of the pope suffices, by itself, for the remission of penalties and reserved cases.
  • The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
  • It is right to regard this treasure as most odious, for it makes the first to be the last.
  • On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is most acceptable, for it makes the last to be the first.
  • Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets which, in former times, they used to fish for men of wealth.
  • The treasures of the indulgences are the nets which to-day they use to fish for the wealth of men.
  • The indulgences, which the merchants extol as the greatest of favours, are seen to be, in fact, a favourite means for money-getting.
  • Nevertheless, they are not to be compared with the grace of God and the compassion shown in the Cross.
  • Bishops and curates, in duty bound, must receive the commissaries of the papal indulgences with all reverence.
  • But they are under a much greater obligation to watch closely and attend carefully lest these men preach their own fancies instead of what the pope commissioned.

When Sheep Attack!

False teachers are a reality of the Christian church.  Jesus Christ himself warned of their coming, as did the apostles throughout the New Testament epistles.  False teachers and prophets have plagued the church since its inception.  Scripture shows us that they will endure until the end of this present world system.  False teachers are not simply a New Testament phenomenon.  They plagued Israel  throughout her troubled history.

The fact remains, false teachers walk among us, very likely within our own congregations.  False professors, teachers and prophets will leach themselves to Christ’s visible church until the day he comes to gather his elect from every corner of the earth.  If this is incontrovertible truth why do so many Christians pretend all is well in Zion?  Why do we refuse to discern every message purporting to be gospel truth to determine if it is of God or not?  Why are we not acting as good Bereans, searching out the scriptures to discern if that charismatic guest teacher flying through town this week is injecting poison into our spirits?  Why do we not question his doctrine and theology before we ever grant him audience to our congregations?  No, he usually gets a free pass, because he’s so likable and popular. Next thing you know he grabs a thick wad of greenbacks he just collected for a sermon well preached and bails for the next church down the road gullible enough to swing open its gates to the sheepfold. Continue reading

Classics from the Comment Section

I discovered this gem of a remark from an atheist buried in the middle of the comment section of the post referenced in my last article, entitled ‘Does God Send People to hell?’  It may well be the best comment I’ve ever received on this blog.

Here it is:

I was just randomly surfing the web and ran across this blog. I totally disagree with about everything you said, but thanks for saying it honestly. I get so fed up with the patronizing tone of Christians who say “God wouldn’t send people to hell, people choose to go to hell”. What complete and utterly patonizing BS. Christians believe God will send people to eternal and neverending torment. And God made the rules. I think it’s totally absurd and barbaric, and I don’t believe a word of it. But thanks, at least, for sparing me the BS.

-an atheist

My response:

You’re welcome.  We here at ‘A Peculiar Pilgrim’ strive to provide a 100% BS-free environment for all our visitors. Any BS you may encounter will quickly be scoured away by the glorious truth of God’s word.

I’m sorry that you think God’s decrees are barbaric and absurd, but I do understand your dismay.  I pray that God will reveal to you the depths of his love and mercy and that you would reconsider your position.

Thanks for your honest input.

A Peculiar Pilgrim