A Reformed Perspective on Hebrews 10:29

How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? (ESV)

Out of all passages in the Bible, this one quite possibly could give the Reformed believer the most trouble. If eternal salvation is secure, as testified to in John 6 and John 10, then how is apostasy possible? How can one be joined to Christ, sanctified by his blood, and yet profane the blood of that covenant?

Before I dive into that, I want to make clear what this verse is saying. This verse is saying it is impossible to first claim faith in Christ, then reject that faith through deliberate (willful, lifelong) sin, and then enter into salvation. This verse utterly repudiates the notion that simply raising your hand, praying a prayer, and shaking the pastor’s hand, means you’ve got your ticket to heaven punched.

Here’s what I’ve discovered, after some research and discussing with my pastor:

The phrase “by which he was sanctified” could simply be saying Jesus was the one sanctified by the blood of the covenant. The most proximate “he” is “the Son of God”, and therefore, the most likely reference. Grammatically, “he” could be either the “one who tramples” or the “Son of God”. Therefore, to find which one it is, we would need to look further into this passage.

While conversion is perceptible in appearance, the heart is deceitful. False conversion is a very real thing.

If this passage were saying that it’s possible to be joined with Christ covenantally yet be unsaved in the final analysis, that would set up a contradiction with John 6 and John 10, where Jesus says in no uncertain terms that the saved are secure in him.

In addition to John 6 and John 10, the argument of the same chapter in Hebrews, verses 10-18, is that the covenant is perfect in its sanctification (v. 14). The suggestion that one could enter into the covenant, yet fail in sanctification, is contradictory to the author of Hebrews. Therefore, the one who was sanctified by the blood of the covenant is not the apostate, but the Son of God.

The author of Hebrews is not talking about those who are actually under covenant. He is talking about those who are part of the visible church, because of their profession of faith, inclusion in the fellowship, and baptism.

The passage does indicate it’s possible to gain a true knowledge of salvation and reject salvation anyway. However, the *knowledge* of salvation does not bring salvation; only the gift of faith (of which the evidence is actions and perseverance) brings salvation. Therefore, those who have the true knowledge of salvation are commanded to be reverent and not heap greater condemnation upon themselves.

The Reformed do not believe that anyone can enter into the new covenant with Christ, and leave the same covenant. We hold that Scripture is unanimously clear: it’s a one-way trip. Apostasy is gaining a full knowledge of salvation, yet rejecting it. Apostasy is evidenced by the act of joining the visible church in such a way that true belief, obedience, and regeneration seem apparent, until the time when it all falls apart and the natural man comes through again.

Notes on Jesse Morrell’s 9 hour, 12 minute video

The following is a compilation of stuff I posted Facebook in response to Jesse Morrell’s 9:12:00 video response to Dr James White. Minor edits have been made (substituting proper names for pronouns), as this blog addresses a different audience than my comments on Facebook. Otherwise, what follows is what I wrote:

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I’m biting the bullet and listening to the whole 9 hours of Jesse Morrell today, if I can make it through.

First quote I’m going to share, from 11:39: “It was painful to watch -I’d rather have a root canal- and so this response video that you’re watching now, it was really an act of self-sacrifice for you guys. This is for the benefit of you.”

35 minutes in, and he hasn’t stopped agreeing with all the errors in the RFG theme.

An hour and 20 minutes in, and I’m questioning the merits of listening to things I’ve already heard rebutted a thousand times.

It’s just mischaracterization, combined with straw men, and a complete lack of desire to actually engage the Word of God. I think I’ve heard about 10 proof texts thrown out, but 0 exegesis.

The comparisons of Jesse Morrell with Jesus are just nauseating.

The only useful thing I’ve learned is that Jesse Morrell defines sinless perfectionism as the inability to sin, whereas he believes a saved man always *can* choose not to sin. It’s the difference between can and must.

His bit about how Calvinism is man centered is HILARIOUS and will have you laughing at him, not with him. Unfortunately, much of his argumentation can be summed up as “no u”. And it really doesn’t get any deeper than that.

2:14:25 And there’s Matthew 23:37!

2:24:12 “Calvinism is like a mental disorder.”
So… What is a 9 hour long “response” video, then?

2:23:52 “This guy rambles and rambles on rabbit trails.”
Yeah, I’m just going to leave this one here.

It should be noted that around the 3:30:00 mark, he takes a break, then comes back on and says “day two!”

There is a section of the video, from about 3:37:30 to 4:03:00, where he tries to argue from Scripture for his idea of open theism.

At 4:50:28 and going on for about 5 minutes, he explains what he means by living sinless. That should be useful for showing how Morrell has redefined sin.

At 5:40:00, Dr White’s question about him being KJVO is answered, although Jesse accuses him of making accusations. Answer: he claims to read the NT in Greek. He says he doesn’t like the Alexandrian texts and the KJV is the only English translation he reads.

At about 6:25:00, his response to the claim that he’s ripping verses out of context is to point out that he quoted two verses in a row.

I’m not making this up.

At 6:29:16, he makes the claim that Calvinists blame the law for their sin, rather than their free will. Make sure to listen through to 6:37:00 so you can hear his proclamation of what the good news is, and how God’s grace is tacked on.

I’m nearing the 7 hour mark, and there’s a lot in here about his ideas of living sinless. I don’t have a clip I can give you which states everything concisely. However, an explanation of the role of the law, especially as explained in the book of Romans, would be a perfect response to this material.

At 7:05:00, he claims synergism is in the Greek of 1 Cor. 3:9. (He misspoke and said verse 19)

What’s interesting to me is how his beliefs destroy justification. I don’t see how he could walk through Romans 4.

While I remember it, he claims to have dealt with John 6. I believe this is the blog post he’s talking about: https://biblicaltruthresources.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/john-63744-a-calvinist-proof-text-exegetically-explained-by-jesse-morrell/

7:17:08 to 7:21:19, he quotes from church fathers to support free will.

One good reason for Dr White not to listen to the whole 9 hours: he says “Revelations” and “Psalms”.

7:29:00 to 7:30:15, very concise little snippet explaining his little variation of open theism.

7:31:54 to 7:37:10, arguments for why God is inside time.

7:43:30, “if God has free will, that means the future is open to him”

7:47:00, claims that Romans 6:13 proves man’s bondage to sin is a question of free will

7:56:20 to 7:58:40, he cuts Dr White off right before he says “but”, then claims Dr White agreed with him. He then disputes what BDAG says about lombano (SP?, Sorry, I’m not a Greek grammar).

Immediately after this, he claims Dr White should have said “participle” rather than “participial”.

And continuing through 8:06:37, he challenges Dr White on the Greek grammar of John 1:12 & 1:14.

8:32:20 to 8:35:44, he tries to deal with John 6:44-45, doesn’t touch “and I will raise him up”.

8:38:34, claims monergists cannot explain Ezekiel 24:13

8:42:33, he claims Dr White gets the order of John 6 backward. That is, it is not the case that everyone who is drawn will come. It’s saying everyone who comes is drawn.

Aaaaand there’s John 12:32.

8:52:00, twelve thrones means Judas had a throne in heaven for the judgement day. Obviously, what he’s claiming here is Judas had salvation but lost it.

8:57:17 to 8:59:59 Mentions Psalm 41:9, but says Luke 13:19 is referring to it. (And if you read Luke 13:19, you’ll say “huh?” I think Morrell is exhausted at this point and is making mistakes.) He then claims Scripture doesn’t have any prophecy about Judas.

9:08:40, he responds to “I’m tired of God being portrayed as a weak beggar” with 2 Cor 5:20, claiming the Greek word for “beseech” means to beg.

9:09:15 Tons of fun little quotes coming up.

“Looks like James White needs to learn his Greek New Testament a little bit better!”

“…he had no substance, no content, actual refutations… And if this is the best Calvinism has, I think they’re in big trouble. If he’s the best apologist for the Calvinist faith, it’s pretty pathetic. Honestly, I think he must have a huge following of idiots who can’t think for themselves, who can’t study the Scriptures for themselves. Calvinism is a Gnostic cult built on eisegesis.”

9:11:13 “So I actually think there might be some hope for James White. I think maybe I’ll be able to persuade him out of his eisegetical heresy, his logical contradictory, inconsistent theology. I genuinely believe that God might be able to use me to get him out of his heresy. So let’s all pray for that.”

And that’s the end of that video.

I noticed Morrell had produced another video, titled “Funny Remix!”, so I listened to it. I didn’t make it to the 8 minute mark. It’s a childish attempt at humor. It’s just slander. He chops up tiny little quotes and rearranges so he has Dr White saying “Well, OK, …I don’t know if that’s all that bad a thing” in response to “You think pedophilia is God’s will!” (7:23 in that video, if you have to look)

John 10:30 in Context: Jesus is Sovereign in Salvation

John 10:30, “My Father and I are one.” (NKJV)

Introduction

The main point of this essay is to disprove the Oneness understanding of John 10:30 and demonstrate the truth of the Trinitarian understanding of Scripture. Oneness Pentecostals understand this statement to mean that Jesus IS the Father. However, John 10:30 is proving the unity and sovereignty of Father and Son in salvation. While non-Calvinists will have disagreements with what I have to say here, I want to be clear: I am focusing on Oneness Pentecostalism.

Thesis: The teaching of John 10:30, in context, is that Jesus and the Father are united and sovereign in salvation. Jesus gives his sheep eternal life and they cannot be taken from his hand (v. 28), nor can they be taken from the Father, who gives them to the Son (v. 29). Jesus is united with the Father (v. 30). The Biblical message is not compatible with Oneness beliefs.

Context

The immediate context of John 10:30 starts at verse 22 and ends at verse 39, but it’s important to note the reference to sheep in v. 27 calls back to Jesus’ analogy of himself as the good shepherd in verses 1-16. For this post, I’m using the NKJV, which can be found here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+10&version=NKJV

In this passage, the Jews are trying to get Jesus to proverbially hang himself. They either want their Messiah, or they want him dead. My guess is that Jesus is causing them some trouble with the Romans, and they want the trouble to end, either through deliverance from Roman rule, or through the death of the “troublemaker”.

The Jews ask Jesus if he’s the Christ (Messiah). Jesus responds that he has already told them, and they don’t believe him because they cannot. They are not his sheep. Jesus affirms that he acts as his Father acts, and states in verse 29 that the Father gives him his sheep.

Moving in Closer

Let’s follow verses 27-29 closely. They say: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”

So we have this pattern:
1. V. 26: The Jews do not believe *because* they are not Jesus’ sheep.
2. V. 27: Relationship between Jesus and his sheep; they are inseparable.
3. V. 28: Jesus gives eternal life, and no one can take it away.
4. V. 29: The Father gives Jesus the sheep, and no one can take them away.
5. V. 30: Verses 28 & 29 unified; Father and Son unified.

The Oneness understanding of John 10:30 is that it’s an ontological statement, and as far as I can tell, they stop there. “Jesus says ‘I and the Father are one,’ ” they say flatly. While I believe John 10:30 says something ontological about Father and Son, I believe the larger message is the unity of Father and Son in salvation.

One What?

When Jesus says “I and the Father are one”, we have to ask “one what?” The preceding statements are about the wills of Father and Son: to bring a given people into salvation. Therefore, when Jesus says “I and the Father are one”, he is declaring unity of will and unity of the divine nature. The idea that his statement carries oneness of person is a presupposition that must be brought in from outside the text.

At this point, a Oneness believer might object “How many hands are we in, then? And if we are in Jesus’ hand, then how does the Father snatch them from Jesus’ hand, or vice versa? Obviously, Jesus’ hand is the Father’s hand, because ‘I and the Father are one.’ ”

To which I respond: First, Jesus says right there the Father “has given them to me”, so there’s no snatching, nor are they the same hand. Second, “hand” means authority. The Son is one God with the Father, and as such, his authority is the same as the Father’s. The correct question to ask these verses is not how many hands there are in the Godhead, but “why did the Jews not hear Jesus, and who does hear Jesus?”

Jesus and the Father

To that end, verse 30 spells out what the preceding verses say indirectly: that Jesus and the Father are united and sovereign in salvation. Jesus’ sheep are those who hear his voice. The Father has given those sheep, and their salvation is secure.

In verses 28 and 29, Jesus draws a parallel and a distinction between himself and the Father. Jesus is sovereign in salvation. The Father is sovereign in salvation. The Father gives the sheep to Jesus. Giving is a relational act, and thus we see relationship within the Godhead. Since both hold sovereignty and authority over all things, they are unified. They are unified in nature and will, although not in action. The Father gives to the Son, but the Son does not give to the Father.

Again, a Oneness believer might object “In verse 29, Jesus says the Father ‘is greater than all’. Is the Father greater than Jesus?” I have 3 points in response to that. One, that’s a very literal-minded understanding. Sometimes “all” is a very strong universal statement, but not an absolutely universal statement. Two, positionally, the Father *is* greater: the Father is in heaven, and the Son is on earth. Three, this verse is an important textual variant. That is, there are two different, completely plausible ideas, of what the original Greek said. The NIV has this footnote: “Many early manuscripts What my Father has given me is greater than all”, and the ESV also makes note of this variation. Here’s an article which I think explains the issue very well: https://bibledifferences.net/2017/11/26/150-greatest/

Setting aside the textual variant, this is a fine example of why Oneness is also called Modalism, because according to their belief system, Jesus is mode-switching here. In verse 28, he’s the Father: “I give them eternal life”, but in verse 29, he’s the Son: “My Father”, and verse 30 rounds out the confusion. Only Trinitarianism can explain why “Father” and “Son” are both meaningful relational terms, how both can make claims of deity, and how that all works in light of Scriptural revelation that there is one God.

End of Passage

I want to deal briefly with the following verses. The Jews try to stone Jesus because he has made claims of deity. Jesus points out in verses 34-38 that his authority is from the Father, in contrast to the Jews’ authority, they who will “die like men” (Psalm 82). Jesus then escapes their murderous intent once again.

Unity in the Trinity

Verse 30 is the conclusion of the statements of unity in the previous verses: Jesus is one with the Father. From there, we transition into the ontological issues that raises for the Jews. (We know from John 8 that their father is not God. That whole scene in 8:42-59 holds many parallels to 10:22-39, but I don’t have time to get into it.)

In context, John 10:30 is about the unity and sovereignty of Father and Son in salvation. Verses 27-29 speak of the sovereignty of Father and Son in salvation, and verse 30 draws it all together: Father and Son are unified as one. The teaching of the passage, in context, stands in clear contradiction to the Oneness teaching that the Son IS the Father, or that the Son is merely the “human” side of Jesus. Jesus is in relationship with the Father, and as the Son, Jesus makes claims of sovereignty and authority which only God can make.

Another Response to Jason Stevens

Preliminaries

Previously, I made a response to Jason Stevens. In an attempt to prove his views on the Atonement, Mr Stevens apparently did a word search for “whosoever” in the KJV, and then interspersed his own interpretation, resulting in a nearly 16,000 word blog post. My own 7 word response was not only a refutation of his hermeneutic, but also a response to his protracted repetition.

Mr Stevens has, as of November 2018, attempted to consolidate his thesis into a single 52:42 YouTube video. Mr Stevens’ attempt to be more concise is commendable, but his attempt to disprove Calvinism out of one verse was an abject failure.

Fundamental Flaws

When you read Jane Austen, you approach her using appropriate categories. You understand the form of writing (fiction), the time of writing (19th century), the time of the setting (19th century), the intended audience (Regency era English folk), and the author herself. Furthermore, you understand the conversation of the characters not through doing a word study, but through reading their words and first grasping the context. To grasp the context, you work from larger to smaller things. Roughly, they are history, culture, genre, author, book, chapter, paragraph, sentence, clause, and word.

Scripture is no different. Yet, after reading two verses, what does Stevens jump right into? The final “might” of John 3:17. And what does he use it to prove? The message of Scripture as a whole. This is quite backwards. I’m not saying Stevens has to walk us through every step of the context, but it’s something he needs to do as part of his homework.

I very strongly recommend the book “Grasping God’s Word”, which will guide the reader in properly interpreting Scripture.

Mr Stevens invited those who disagree with him to join a Facebook group filled with those who agree with him. I decline. I’ve had more than my fair share of 4 against 1, and 5 against 1 debates. Ain’t nobody got time for that; it’s Sisyphean. If Mr Stevens wants to respond to this, he is more than welcome; if not, I understand.

Since Mr Stevens’ video response to Calvinism is somewhat ad hoc, it would be difficult for me to maintain continuity. Therefore, I’m going to address 1) John 3:17, and 2) about the first 7 minutes of his video. I think the careful listener to Mr Stevens will find a common theme: Mr Stevens assumes much.

John 3:17

Let’s start with taking a look at John 3:17, in context.

Setting: Jesus is talking with Nicodemus, a religious teacher and a ruler of the 1st century Roman-occupied Israel. Nicodemus comes at night and confesses Jesus is sent from God. Jesus then speaks about being born again, and affirms his own testimony. Jesus then returns to talking about salvation.

The meaning of “For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” is simple and two-fold. One, the world stands condemned and God is saving people through Jesus. Second, Jesus has a purpose for the time: it is not the time for final judgement, but for the giving of salvation. The triune God ordained purposes for both the first and second comings of the Messiah. The first coming is for salvation. (John 12:47) The second coming is for judgement. (Matt. 25:31-32, Revelation 6)

It is within the meaning of the verse that we must interpret “world”. When it comes to the definition of “world”, Mr Stevens takes a particular view of what “world” means. That’s not a problem in and of itself, but it’s something which must be defined and defended, not assumed.

Instead of looking at the verse in context, Mr Stevens isolates a clause, “the world might”, assumes “world” means each and every individual, and proceeds to hang an awful lot off the word “might”. In summary, his argument is “this is subjunctive, which means a man could or could not be saved, depending on his free will choice”. Now let me ask you, where does the text or grammar call for any of that? Where does the text bring in free will? Where does it bring in ANY particulars of salvation? Where does the grammar implicate men as actors? Nowhere. These are all presuppositions brought to the text.

“OK Mr Brilliant Britches, so just what does ‘world’ mean?” you might ask. It means what it means in the context. It’s used to speak broadly of people.

The idea that “world” is intended to convey the precise extent of the Atonement is not warranted by the text, context, or grammar. No, that is all presupposition, carried into the text by Mr Stevens. The extent of the Atonement is addressed by other passages.

The First Seven Minutes

Within the first 45 seconds of the video, Mr Stevens suggests more qualified men, men he looks up to, namely, Leighton Flowers and Mike Winger, “do not recognize the power and effectiveness of this particular verse and argument”. Mr Stevens, maybe they’ve seen this verse and recognize the argument cannot be made from the text.

The first textual claim is there’s one verse which refutes Calvinism. The only time you can say one verse proves or refutes something is on a very simple subject, such as the deity of the Son (Hebrews 1:8). Soteriology is not simple, it is compound. A valid soteriology has considerable depth and breadth.

I would take verses 16 through 18 as the immediate context of John 3, but that’s not a massive deal.

Right at the 1:10 mark, “whosoever” gets morphed into “anyone and everyone”. Can Mr Stevens support that interpretation from the Greek? Nope, he admits he doesn’t know Greek.

Mr Stevens says ” ‘Might’ means everybody has the ability.” No, “Might” refers to God’s intentions, not man’s ability. Read the context.

What lexicon is used for the definitions of kosmos? It’s not exactly clear, but it appears to come from: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g2889 If that is the case, I would simply note that not only has Mr Stevens quoted some definitions while leaving out others, but he cut off definition 6 before the final clause. Why?

Regardless, even Stevens’ selective quoting shows “world” can mean a few different things, and doesn’t automatically mean any one thing. To wit, it can mean a place. It can mean a people. It can be self inclusive or self exclusive. It can be inclusive of the Jews, or it can be used to mean Gentiles. It can mean the powers of the world– kings and rulers. It can mean the things of this world– riches, pleasures, and possessions. However, Stevens’ only working definition of world is inclusive of every individual, regardless of whether that fits the context or not.

I’m glad Mr Stevens denies universalism, but his affirmation of universal atonement has yet to be supported. It is assumed.

Mr Stevens changes “world” to “the whole world” or “all of humanity” (and does so more than once). It’s one thing to say “kosmos” means all men. It’s another thing to say it means absolutely all men. That’s a big claim, and requires big arguments, arguments that Mr Stevens can’t produce.

I would like to know the source of Mr Stevens’ description of the subjunctive mood. (Cite your sources, please.) The subjunctive can be used in different ways, but he only focuses on what helps his case. Regardless, it’s the context which determines the meaning, and the context does not support his presuppositions.

The purpose for the subjunctive is to make clear the aim of God. It explains why God did and did not send his Son into the world. The word “might” does does not declare a point of choice for men, but rather the intentions of God.

For more helpful information, check out the second question in this link: http://salvationbygrace.org/current-qa/understanding-a-hina-clause/ Also, https://www.aomin.org/aoblog/2000/08/17/tim-staples-false-assertion-regarding-galatians-216/#_edn1

My baby has the potential to swim. She cannot actually swim. Bad analogy, but hey, we all make them from time to time.

Conclusion

John 3:17 is all about what God is doing in the world through the Incarnation and first coming of Christ. Mr Stevens “refutation” of Calvinism is simply a circular argument, fueled by overstepping his understanding of grammar and Greek. His understanding of “world” is based on an assumption, and he uses that assumption to prove his understanding of “world”. He has gone nowhere.

Since Mr Stevens made some strong pleas toward Calvinists, I’m going to leave him with some strong words. Read Mark 7, and think about what Jesus said about bringing your traditions to the words of a thrice holy God.

Questions for Oneness Pentecostals

Please read the introduction to my previous blog post before responding to this one.

While this list should be perfectly serviceable in dialog with the classic sequential modalist, my questions have been tailored to deal with the far more common simultaneous modalist. The difference between the two is that the sequential modalist does not believe that God is Father and Holy Spirit at the same time, whereas the simultaneous modalist does.

  1. What is the Trinitarian view of God?
  2. Can you explain the distinction I make between one’s Being and one’s Person?
  3. God does not share glory. (Isaiah 42:8) Jesus had glory with the Father before the world ever was. (John 17:5) Trinitarians can harmonize these two passages because we believe that the Son and the Father are two persons of the one God. How can Oneness theology make sense of these Biblical claims?
  4. What Scripture says God is uni-personal? (Note: I am not asking for Scripture that says God is one; on that point, we agree. I am asking for Scripture that says God is one in Person.)
  5. Is Jesus the same Person (in deity) as the Father, or can we draw a distinction between Jesus and the Father?
  6. Is Jesus affirmed as the Son of God in Scripture?
  7. Is the Son deity?
  8. Who does Jesus pray to?
  9. Who is the second witness for Jesus’ testimony about himself, according to John 5 & 8?
  10. Can manifestations of God be in relationship with one another?
  11. Why does Jesus use plural language when referring to himself and the Father? (John 10:30, 14:23)
  12. “Father” and “Son” are relational terms. If they do not point to two distinct Persons, then what is the purpose of their use in Scripture?

A Trinitarian Responds to “Why I’m Not A Trinitarian”

The following is a response to http://www.apostolicallyspeaking.com/why-im-not-a-trinitarian/

What is the Trinity?

Within the one Being which is God,
There exist three co-eternal, co-equal Persons,
Eternally in relationship with one another,
Who are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

These three Persons are each fully God. There is neither division nor separation within the Godhead.

The Trinity is monotheistic. There is one God and only one God. It is important to draw out the distinction between Being and Person, though. Being is what you are. Person is who you are. For example, a rock has being. It exists. However, it has no person. You have both being and person. Your being is human. Your person is everything that makes you, you.

It should be noted that “nature” and “essence” are interchangeable with “Being”, and you’ll run into those terms here and elsewhere.

Now that a definition for Trinitarianism has been laid, let’s examine the opposition.

Continue reading

On profanity

I’ve noticed swearing has become quite the trend among many Christians.
Most bothersome are usage of “damn” and “hell”. Out of all foul language, this should pierce the heart of the mindful Christian the most. All other language is culturally offensive. These terms are blasphemy.
If you want to say “The way he treated me was really shitty”, that’s on you. I don’t like it, I don’t talk that way, but I’ll give you some leeway on letting you express yourself. However, if I look deep into this term, I find it is first and foremost culturally offensive; it is from the cultural offense the moral offense is found.
I’m really not sure how to convey the weight and seriousness of these terms, without launching into a “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” type sermon. Please, though, let me try. Damnation unto hell (lake of fire, actually, but that’s for another time) is the final, absolute judgement of a most holy God. It is separation from everything good, everything worthwhile, everything holy. It is the culmination of every evil desire of man. It is like intensely desiring to find somebody, calling into a pitch black darkness, and they never come.
Hell is really a very serious thing. It is what it is; I can do nothing about it. Please, think about what I’ve said here and consider your words and works carefully.

How Do We Deal With Homosexuality? Part 1

A few days ago, I posed a question to my good friend and pastor Rob Harrison. Rob is a master of teasing out the truth when it requires precision and subtlety. My question is one I have long felt is met with a steamroller approach. The question is, simply, “What should a same-sex attracted Christian do?”

For those of you not familiar with me, let me lay out my understanding. To wit, the Bible is the true Word of God, a God who does not change. Within the Bible, God says homosexuality is sin.

Rob turned it over to Ron Belgau of the blog Spiritual Friendship, quoting Belgau’s post “Spiritual Friendship in 300 Words”.

Now, I need to tread carefully here, because I’m talking about this from the outside. I am a happily married man, with a wife and 18 month old. I’m more concerned about the issue because of two former friends who are bisexual. (They are former friends not because of their sexuality, but because I told them, perhaps too bluntly, to pay their rent.) Also, I see a need in our culture at large, of a compassionate and righteous response, to a people whose desires would take them away from God.

To that end, if you’re a Christian struggling with homosexual desires, you may or may not wish to read this with the intent of getting help. However, I would be interested in getting feedback. I might get something wrong. Instead, I’m going to try to target this more at the man or woman in my situation, asking the same question.

I’m not going to pull any punches. There is no single, simple, satisfying answer. The answer can be complex, multi-faceted, incomplete, and, at times, deeply challenging. But I feel like I’ve pulled back a layer or two of the answer which, ultimately, lies within God himself. And it is those discoveries which I wish to share with you.

First, love is greater than sexuality. Belgau, in his study of St. Aelred, points out that our culture has too intertwined love and sexuality. If friendship is defined by love, then we can see that just as there are different kinds of friendships, there are different kinds of loves. Steve Cudworth & Rich Mullins parsed the difference between carnal and worldly friendship, and created space for spiritual friendship, when they wrote “There’s a love that is fiercer/Than the love between friends/More gentle than a mother’s/When her baby’s at her side”.

Second, friendship is greater than sexuality. “Well duh”, you may say. But think about it for a second. It’s common -for us conservative, straight Christians- to try to make our closest friendships (spouses excluded) same-sex. But why? Is that based on a fear of falling for another woman? Or maybe a fear of appearance of impropriety? In either case, I have to say, fear is a dangerous response. I do not say it is incorrect; but I can confidently say it is dangerous.

I am able to form powerful friendships with women, married or not, and learn from them. I have female friends who are more learned, more logical, more giving, or more passionate, than I. Perhaps this situation is helped by the fact I am married; but it is certainly not prohibited by singleness.

Third, there are celibate gay Christians out there, trying to figure things out as best they can. One of the things they point out is that we are culturally indoctrinated to see celibacy as a “fall back” position, a second (distasteful) choice. However, this is not how the Bible puts it! In fact, if anything, the Apostle Paul says celibacy is better than marriage, because there are fewer distractions, and the potential for a greater focus on ministry.

One last thing I will bring out. I don’t recall the mental connection I made, but I was listening to a sermon from Timothy Keller on missions. Although he doesn’t mention homosexuality directly, this sermon is what prompted me to ask Rob the question in the first place: http://www.gospelinlife.com/missions-5778

Flipping Books

I have a new hobby. And a new second job. They’re one and the same.

I picked up a second job in March 2014, to make ends meet, and to pay off loans faster. It was a fine job, and I like and respect the company I worked for. I would go back and work that job if I felt I needed to.

In September 2015, I started reading Caleb Roth’s blog on flipping books. After reading a few posts, I sent him a message:

“I’ve been skimming your blog and wanted to ask you a question. I currently work a second job about 10 hours a week and net about 5-6k yearly. Based on what you know of the market in the Warsaw area, do you think it would be possible to match or beat that in the same hours per week?”

His response was “Definitely.” We met up in October, and he showed me that not only could I match my second job’s salary in the first year, but in the second year, I would significantly surpass it.

I’m now officially 3 months into flipping books. as a little side business, and I’m happy with how it’s going. I consider attending a book sale to be a bit of an adventure. The very first sale I hit, I got 2 sets of books worth $250, and I got several books worth $60-$80.

Now, these numbers are teasers, I’ll admit to that. My average sale price is right about $20, and I only get about $5-7 on a $20 book. However, considering I usually pay 50 cents to 2 dollars per book, that’s a pretty good return!

If you want to get into book flipping, I’ll leave it up to Caleb to teach you. However, before you hop over to his blog, let me try to scare you off first:

-Be prepared to spend several hundred in “startup money”, just to get the business off the ground. I think, as far as buy-in, that’s not bad at all. A scanner runs $100-$300, and is a very good first buy. An app for your smartphone runs $10/month.
-With that in mind, it takes a few months for the business to make a return on the investment.
-You should have a decent back. My back is merely OK, and I feel it after 4 hours scanning books at a library sale.
-You must have a mentor. Caleb is guiding me through this process, and without him, I would be up a crick without a paddle.

I’m hopeful for a day I could maybe be my own boss and flip books full-time. Or maybe just cut back at my day job.