Morning Mashup 04/03

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


Praying the Bible | Donald Whitney | $3.19 (Kindle)


Prayer | Timothy Keller | $7.58


A Praying Life | Paul Miller | $10.19


Praying with Paul | D.A. Carson | $13.25



Are We Victims of Sin? | Head Heart Hand

David Murray: One of the keys to the Christian life is getting the right balance between confessing personal sin and lamenting the universal consequences of sin.

4 Surprises in Bible Publishing | TGC

Trevin Wax describes the biggest surprises he encountered in his role in helping publish the Christian Standard Bible.

You Cannot Raise Snowflakes in Jesus’ Name | Prince on Preaching

Excellent article for parents as they consider raising their children in a world where we can’t protect them from pain.

FAQ on the Collected Works of John Piper | TGC

Justin TaylorOur basic criterion for selection has been to include everything that John Piper has written for publication in printed books, magazines, and journals. The result is forty-five books, sixty articles and reviews, twenty-three forewords, and forty-two chapters—totaling around three million words.

How Calvinists Miss the Key to Happiness | Desiring God

Tony Reinke:  The joy of Calvinism is a joy purchased by Christ and emerges from the ever-present Spirit within us.

Graceless Dads, Overly Spiritual Pastors, and Sticky Notes | Gospel Centered Family

Jared KennedyWhen I am disciplining one of my girls, I may even go beyond misbehavior and shepherd her heart motivations. But like an older brother in Christ, am I willing to confess my own sin and repent before my daughters as well? If not, I’m in danger of being a graceless dad.


How to Depict the Beauty of Complementarity? | TGC

Paul George vs. LeBron James in OT


Morning Mashup 08/02


A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace | Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones | $3.99


Jesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward for Those Who Are Tired of Taking Sides | Scott Sauls | $3.99



 Alabama Pastor Calls His Church to Reach out to All Races with the Gospel. Church Fires Him. | SBC Voices

And they say racism is dead. Shaken by this story.

Singleness Is Not a Problem to Be Solved | Desiring God

Stacy ReaochIn whatever season of waiting God might have you in, choose to bloom where you’re planted. Embrace the life God has called you to, whether single or married. Trust that both callings are precious gifts of grace, both with painful and overwhelming hardships.

Stop Having Quiet Times | TGC

David PowlisonGod wants to catch your ear in order to awaken your voice. When you have your “quiet” time, or as you walk outdoors, or during your commute, may the decibel level appropriately rise to joyful noise and cries of need—and may you trust that God listens to the sound of your voice.

What Are America’s Largest Seminaries? | Juicy Ecumenism

5 of the 10 largest seminaries are affiliated with the SBC. Proud to be attending SBTS.

Only 9% of America Chose Trump and Clinton as the Nominees | NY Times

Just crazy.

The Worst President Ever | Samuel James

A president with wrong ideas is not a good president. But a president with wrong motivations would be the worst president imaginable.


Kent Hughes on what pastors should ask themselves before Sunday


What Is Expository Preaching?

Morning Mashup 07/27


A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


Preaching to a Post-Everything World: Crafting Biblical Sermons That Connect with Our Culture | Zack Eswine | $2.99


Sex and the Supremacy of Christ | John Piper | $3.99



The Theology of Donald Trump | NY Times

After Mr. Trump met with hundreds of evangelical Christians a couple of weeks ago, James Dobson, who is among the most influentialleaders in the evangelical world and serves on Mr. Trump’s evangelical executive advisory board, declared that “Trump appears to be tender to things of the Spirit,” by which Dr. Dobson meant the Holy Spirit.

Of all the descriptions of Mr. Trump we’ve heard this election season, this may be the most farcical. As described by St. Paul, the “fruit of the Spirit” includes forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, hardly qualities one associates with Mr. Trump. It shows you the lengths Mr. Trump’s supporters will go to in order to rationalize their enthusiastic support of him.

A Beginner’s Guide to ‘Free Will’ | Desiring God

My plea is that you focus on the actual teaching of the Scriptures. Try not to bring philosophical presuppositions to the text (presuppositions like: human accountability cannot coexist with God’s decisively working “all things according to the counsel of his will,” Ephesians 1:11). Let the Bible speak fully and deeply. Trust that someday we will no longer see in a mirror dimly, but face to face

Pray for the Police | Reformed African American Network

A question that Christians should be asking themselves during these troubling times is what does God’s word say is an appropriate posture toward the police or toward any institution or person who rules in authority over us? There are many different answers to this question. And, I would argue, that the answer that Christians apply from the many answers the Bible presents to us could vary based on the context and the social setting in which we find ourselves at a particular time in history. However, I think prayer is an answer that would always be applicable in any context.

Should I Correct a Foolish Person or Stay Silent? | One Degree to Another

We have all been there. Someone says something so outlandish and wrong that it must be answered. As you get ready to speak you realize they may not respond well to what you have to say. You think you have to speak up though, because this error must be answered. You feel the confusion and rage welling up within you. Any person who looked at you would know you are in the process of deciding whether you should continue to bite your tongue or not. What do you do? Do you speak or do you keep your mouth closed? And how do you decide which one is appropriate in this situation?

To Sow or to Reap: Four Theses on Social Conservatism | Mere Orthodoxy

This series was first published four years ago by Matthew Lee Anderson in the months leading up to the 2012 election. I had tentative plans to do a similar series this year, particularly after Michelle Obama’s opening-night speech at the DNC highlighted the enormous gap between the Democrats’ ability to give a positive vision of American and the GOP’s ability to do the same. But as I reviewed these posts by Matt, I decided that what he is saying here still basically applies. Indeed, if anything these posts should be read even more closely today in the aftermath of the Trump nomination. So over the next four days, we’ll be republishing Matt’s series of four theses on social conservatism. 

The Place for Children in Corporate Worship | Reformed Margins

What I intend to point out is that including children in corporate worship is immensely beneficial not only for the children, but also for the parents and for the church. In fact, unlike the common belief, this practice enhances the worship experience of the whole congregation.

Before You Post… | Reformation 21

Criticism is usually given much more freely on the internet than in person. It is one of the chief reasons why the internet seems to generate more heat than light. It is so easy to hit that “post” button when you don’t have to face that person’s reaction. In some ways, the internet can reveal our hearts better than personal interactions. This is why it is very important that we meditate on how to give and receive criticism. Proverbs tells us that the way we receive criticism marks us either as foolish or wise people.


Shame the Strong or Influence the Influencers | TGC


How Political Should a Pastor Get With His Flock? | For the Church

If God is Sovereign, Why Evangelize?





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According to the Reformed understanding of salvation, God is totally sovereign in his grace bestowed to sinners. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…And those whom he predestined, he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom. 8:29-30). “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:4b-6). It is by God’s grace alone that sinners are saved through Christ. And it is according to the infinite wisdom of God that anyone is saved.

Because of God’s sovereign grace in electing some sinners to salvation, while leaving other sinners in their sin, salvation “depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Rom. 9:16). In the words of theologian Bruce Demarest,

“On this showing, God gives to some more than they deserve, but no one gets less than they deserve. Why God chose to bless some sinners and willed to leave others in their sins has not been revealed. Yet God’s elective purpose richly displays his mercy and justice” (The Cross and Salvation, Loc. 2297).

If a Christian believes that God saves in this manner—electing some to salvation from eternity past (Eph. 1:5)—should he or she evangelize? Is it not illogical to proclaim the gospel if God has elected all those whom he will save? Its not like we can thwart the purposes of a sovereign God. So, why do evangelism? On the surface this is a valid question. It seems logical. Those who believe that God is utterly sovereign over all things certainly should just sit back and allow God to save whom he will save without moving a finger, right?

If you are in the camp of accusers or the camp of the accused with regard to this question, it is important to have a biblically grounded and theologically sound answer. In order to answer this question, let’s first look at the biblical meaning of both the sovereignty of God and evangelism.

The Sovereignty of God

God’s sovereignty is not something any Christian would deny, and it is most certainly not something any Christian would truly want to deny. This can be seen in the fact that all Christians pray. If you pray, you are practically recognizing the sovereignty of God. You thank him for good gifts and graces given to you, for you know that they come from God. You ask him for things and to work in a certain situation because you know only he can fulfill what you ask (Matt. 7:7-11). This is evidence that you recognize God’s sovereignty over your life.

Indeed, there is tremendous comfort in knowing that our God who is slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love is the almighty Sovereign over our lives. We all also acknowledge God’s sovereignty in salvation. This is why we pray for God to save our loved ones. God’s sovereignty is summed up quite nicely in Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” And also with regard to God’s sovereignty in salvation, Jonah 2:9 succinctly defines the term for us: “Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

It is his! He is the one responsible for your salvation. If you have repented of your sin and trusted Christ (conversion), why have you done such a thing? Was it due to your own goodness? Of course not! Was it due to your own wisdom that you chose to trust Christ for your salvation? No! Your conversion is solely due to the goodness of God’s grace to lead your heart to crave him. It is God who saves and he does so solely by his sovereign grace. This is why we pray for God to save our loved ones, because we believe it is he that brings it to pass. This is the sovereignty of God in salvation.


Simply stated, evangelism is the delightful duty of every Christian to proclaim the gospel to our fellow man from every tongue and tribe. Taking the message of Jesus’ substitutionary atonement to the lost whom he came to save (Luke 19:10) is the mandate of the church (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). Even more than a message, it is a call—a call to repentance and faith in Christ. Theologians call it the “Gospel call.” Christians call sinners to Christ through the proclamation of the gospel. J.I. Packer writes, “The Christian is sent into the world as God’s herald and Christ’s ambassador, to broadcast this message as widely as he can” (Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, 91). This is evangelism.

The question now becomes, how can the latter be practically done with confidence in the former. How can I practically evangelize and believe in the sovereignty of God in salvation? I believe there are four reasons for doing evangelism in light of God’s sovereignty.

1. The Bible commands us to evangelize. We are commanded as Christians to proclaim the gospel message of God’s salvation of sinners through Jesus to all men to the ends of the earth (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; cf. Matt. 24:14). We see pictures of evangelism throughout the book of Acts in the early church and most notably in the apostle Paul. He took the message of Christ as Savior (1 Tim. 2:15) and Christ as substitutionary sacrifice (Gal. 3:13; Rom. 3:26) to all men. So, in light of God’s sovereignty over salvation, this does not nullify the biblical command to evangelize.


2. God uses means to save sinners. God does nothing haphazardly. He is very purposeful in all that does, which is a testament to his infinite wisdom. God saves sinners through the work of his Son on their behalf. Sinners receive this salvation by God’s grace through hearing and responding to the call of the gospel. God saves through the gospel, which is why Christians should strive to live gospel-centered lives. God is sovereign to save sinners, but he does so through the means of the gospel. So, in light of God’s sovereignty, we should evangelize because God uses the gospel to redeem fallen man. “[I]f you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved…So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:9, 17).


3. There are sheep that are not of this fold. God’s people are likened to a flock. God through Christ is the shepherd. In John 10, we are given a picture of gathered sheep and sheep that have yet to be gathered. It is for this reason that we evangelize. Though it is God who draws these sheep to himself, there are those sheep who are not of the ingathered fold (John 10:16). The purpose of evangelism is to draw the sheep into the fold by God’s grace in the call of the gospel to repent and trust Christ. God is sovereign in choosing his sheep and drawing them, but we are to go, for we do not know who will hear the shepherd’s voice and heed his call (John 10:16, 27). Only the sheep will repent and believe in Jesus for salvation, but it is through evangelism that they are gathered.


4. God’s sovereignty in salvation gives us hope in evangelism. Truly our only hope in calling rebels to trust in the one whom they willfully disobey is in God’s sovereignty and power to save them. If I bring someone drowning in a pool a message of salvation without a lifeguard who is able to save him or her, my message contains no hope. Evangelism is grounded in God’s sovereign grace to save sinners. We can gladly and confidently proclaim the gospel knowing that his sheep will hear his voice and respond in faith.


Salvation belongs to the Lord (Jon. 2:9)! Our God is in the heavens and he does all that he pleases (Ps. 115:3). It pleases the Lord to shower unworthy sinners with his grace (Eph. 1:3-6). Because of these realities, we must fearlessly evangelize. I encourage you to share Christ with your neighbors, family, and coworkers today and everyday with the confidence that it is God who saves and it is under his sovereignty that all whom he seeks, he finds.

Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Morning Mashup 09/14

Don’t Let the Media Control Your Experience of Election 2016 – Trevin Wax: “When Christians fall captive to clickbait and jump from candidate to candidate depending on the polls, we abandon our responsibility as thoughtful and convictional people.”

5 Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Good Dating Relationship – Tim Challies: “Dating has become the most difficult thing in the world, probably because they’ve got a million books and web pages telling them how. They can’t just do it—they’ve got to do it by the book. And along the way they are ruining their dating relationships.”

Greetings from Heaven – A very helpful infographic detailing the recent phenomena of near-death experiences.

5 Ways to Talk to Your Children about Death – As a children’s pastor, I’m always looking for helpful advice in speaking to children about difficult issues. This is great.

On the Viral Rise of Divorce Selfies – Tragic.

Planned Failure – Jim DeMint: “The fight to end taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood will be just that: a fight. And like all the struggles to return sanity and respect for human life and decency to our government, it will be a tough one.  But conservatives should fight to win, not plan to fail.”

Keeping the Spotlight on Planned Parenthood – Stephen Heaney: “Do not be distracted by misdirection. Do not let the horror of abortion be the main issue. Stick to the pertinent facts: Planned Parenthood is profiting from the sale of fetal parts. Planned Parenthood is routinely violating federal law. Planned Parenthood does not care about women.”

A Calvinist Evangelist? – Keith Mathison: “The fact of the matter is that Calvinism is not inconsistent with evangelism; it is only inconsistent with certain evangelistic methods.”

Djokovic Clinches 2nd US Open Title – This was a great match for a couple sets. Federer lost momentum. A thing you just can’t lose against Djokovic.

NFL Scores (Week 1) – Scores from Week 1 NFL action.

Before the throne absolved we stand / Your love has met your law’s demands –Edith Margaret Clarkson

Morning Mashup 08/10

What Defunding Planned Parenthood Would Really Do – Contra Planned Parenthood, this article shows how the defunding of this abortion giant in women’s “health care” is really a sign of progress for women.

Planned Parenthood if Hopeless, But We Are Not – Owen Strachan writes, “But abortion is hopelessness made tangible. It is a sickness, a cancer that grows in our stomach, undiagnosed and untouched. It has dulled our emotions. It has seared our conscience. We have lost sight of redemption. Someone falls, and we instinctively think, There’s no use picking them up. They’re gone.”

Calvinism and the Problem of Evil – Helpful post from Derek Rishmawy.

Nothing We Cannot Do – Tim Chester: “There is nothing that God expects you to do that you cannot do. The sin that defeats you need not defeat you. The fears that consume you need not consume you. The people who terrify you need not terrify you.”

Don’t Know What a Fetus Is? – Justin Taylor quotes and summarizes philosopher Peter Kreeft’s discussion of the logical possibilities of what a fetus is.

Where Do We Go From Here? – Jarvis Williams is a rising voice on race and the gospel. When he writes on race, you would do well to read every word.

I believe many pro-abortion people know the science has turned against them & their days are numbered. Keep fighting. –Eric Metaxas

It Won’t Happen Over the Internet: Accomplishing the Great Commission in Our Generation

There has been a great resurgence of both Reformed theology and the work of missions in young people over the past couple decades. This is no coincidence. Big God theology leads to risk-taking work to reach the unreached. For those of us who are confident that Jesus has sheep that are not in the fold that he must bring in also (John 10:16), are committed to sending and going to the nations with the gospel, which draws Jesus’ flock home.

This dual resurgence of both Reformed theology and missionary zeal among young people has people looking forward to the accomplishment of the Great Commission. Could millennials really be the final push of taking the gospel of the kingdom to the ends of the earth? Oh, how I pray this to be true of my generation.

But along with a desire for big God theology and a push for missions, millennials are more individualistic than generations before them. Much of this is due to the rise and reign of the Internet. The Internet has led many young, restless, and Reformed Christians (myself included) to take the gospel to the ends of the earth from a dorm room, office chair, or couch. We can watch Netflix and share the gospel simultaneously. And we have mastered this gospel multitasking.

Still, I fear that the Internet and our reliance on it has slowly but surely stagnated the surge of missions work. When we convince ourselves that we can proclaim the gospel to the nations from a laptop, we will be less likely to jump on a plane to move to an unreached people in the Middle East. We begin to convince ourselves that we can “Go and make disciples” without language learning or culture crossing.

I fall into the trap of individualistic thinking often. I see that hundreds from various nations read my blog and convince myself that I am reaching the nations right where I am. Now, of course we can reach the nations from home. It is not required of us to sell our homes and move to the Amazon Rainforest. But, biblical discipleship and the fulfillment of the Great Commission cannot be done from a dorm room or a study. We young, restless, and Reformed can smoke cigars, grow beards, and read Spurgeon all day long, but until we turn our hearts toward the nations, our big God theology will continue to be too small. However, when we do set our gaze on our global God, he will turn our gaze to the nations and show us that some of us must go.

For a while, I got in the habit of trying to spark gospel conversations through social media. I would either message people I noticed posting particular statuses, or I would get involved in Facebook debates. It was and still can be a great way to engage people with the gospel that live miles away. The Internet is an amazing resource for which I am truly thankful, because we are no longer limited to our geographic locations to proclaim the gospel. But I have learned through study and experience that truly impactful discipleship cannot happen through text messages or Twitter mentions. Truly impactful discipleship happens in the nitty gritty of life. Truly impactful discipleship happens face-to-face, hand-in-hand. When we go out to coffee with our lost friends rather than bash them on Facebook, we can truly impact their souls for Christ. When we cross a culture or an ocean to learn a language and live among a people, we can truly impact them with the gospel.

In his introduction to the book, Cross: Unrivaled Christ, Unstoppable Gospel, Unreached Peoples, Unending Joy, David Mathis argues that the fulfillment of the Great Commission “won’t happen over the Internet.” He captures my concerns perfectly.

[T]he computer will never replace the missionary–because the Commission doesn’t call for mere exchange of information, but for good old-fashioned disciplemaking.

Discipling the nations requires more than dropping a translated tract or piping in a recording, or even a well-produced video. Disicplemaking requires more than a low-bandwith, user-friendly website in multiple trade languages. Disciplemaking means getting your feet wet, and your whole body, in baptism, and teaching not just what Jesus commanded, but to observe all that he commanded. It means doing the long-term grunt work to entrust the gospel to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. It means older women training younger women holistically. It means being “among” the people we hope to reach with the gentleness of a nursing mother and the strength of an encouraging father. It means an eagerness to share not only the gospel, but our own selves, providing a life example to imitate, and empowering the disciples to practice what they have learned and received and heard and seen in us. Full-orbed disciplemaking cannot be accomplished remotely. It won’t happen over the Internet (Cross, p. 6).

I desperately hope my generation accomplishes the Great Commission. But if we do it, it will not be because of our clever quotes and blog posts. It will be because of our sacrificial commitment to give our lives for the sake of the joy of all peoples–peoples that we touch with our hands and love with our lives.

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church East Bernstadt. He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba.

Morning Mashup 10/24

Today’s edition of Morning Mashup features a variety of articles from around the web dealing with everything from how Christians should approach Halloween to the biblical legitimacy of multi-site churches. Also, if you find yourself saying “um” or “uh” a lot during prayer, there is an article here especially for you.

Thinking About Halloween in the Schemes – Mez McConnell tells why he and his family do not celebrate Halloween and why his church planting ministry does not participate in Halloween related events. Though McConnell lives in the UK, his perspective is interesting.

Is Multi-Site a Biblically Sound Model? – Pastor J.D. Greear is in the middle of a series of posts on the legitimacy of the multi-site model for churches. I have enjoyed considering his position and his response to recent criticism from guys like Jonathan Leeman. Greear is convincing, yet I am still not convinced.

Pray Without Filler – Don Whitney on the problem with filling prayers with “um” and “uh.”

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Reformed Theology – Important post on a much-maligned theological system. If you find yourself criticizing Calvinists and Calvinism, check this out.

Leading and Submitting Like Jesus – In marriage, the roles of both husband and wife are to be carried out as the two follow Jesus. Erik Raymond writes, “Jesus is the model and motivation for both leadership and submission.”

Sin is Worse than Hell – “We should not marvel that God burns with wrath against his enemies. Let us marvel, instead, that while we were still enemies, Christ died for us.”

The Danger of an Atheistic Ministry – Casey McCall asks, “What does a ministry look like that submits to the conditions at hand in humble reverence before the all-wise Creator?”

Christ has purchased in his blood that repenting sinners shall be saved. –Thomas Watson

Morning Mashup 10/17

With an incredibly busy day on Wednesday, I was unable to put a Morning Mashup together. This turned out to be a real shame because there were many great articles floating around the web on Wednesday. Ah, c’est la vie! Nevertheless, I have a smorgasbord of articles dealing with the religious liberty violation in Houston, Mark Driscoll’s resignation, the Catholic Church and gay “marriage,” Ebola, the MLB playoffs, preaching, and much, much more.

Houston, We Have a Constitution – Russell Moore: “The separation of church and state means that we will render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and we will. But the preaching of the church of God does not belong to Caesar, and we will not hand it over to him. Not now. Not ever.”

Why Not Just Hand the Sermons Over? – Russell Moore: “Religious liberty isn’t ours to give away to Caesar, and soul freedom isn’t subject to subpoena from City Hall.”

Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill Church – With all of the hoopla in Houston, this story seemed to creep between the cracks. Driscoll’s demise is deeply saddening. However, I pray repentance would result from his fall.

Did the Roman Catholic Church Just Change Its Position on Divorce and Gay Marriage – Denny Burk says, based on news headlines, the answer is clearly, “Yes.”

American Evangelicals Should Expect Persecution – As one who will, Lord willing, be studying at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, these words from Albert Mohler are quite sobering: “Maybe the mission of this school is actually to train up a generation of preachers, missionaries, and evangelists who will be martyrs.”

What Happened to the Young, Restless, and Reformed in the SBC? – Blogger Tim Brister reflects on his journey in ministry as a Calvinist in the SBC and describes where many of his friends are. In my circle of friends in ministry who are Reformed, I see a similar trend. I pray this will be the trajectory of my life in ministry.

20 Ways to Be Refreshing in the Local Church – “It has been my pleasure to serve in the local church with some individuals that are truly “refreshing” to the saints. When you meet them, you know it! They are like an oasis in the midst of a desert. I walk away feeling encouraged, joyful, and spiritually stimulated. Unfortunately, they are an endangered species and much harder to find than should be the case.”

What Christians Should Know About the Ebola Crisis – Ebola is causing widespread fear in the United States and around the world. How should Christians respond to this deadly virus?

Making Sense of the MLB Playoffs – Chicks may dig the long ball, but small ball is king this postseason. Here are few surprising things this year’s MLB playoffs have taught us.

Best Trade in the History in the NFL? – This may surprise you.

Four Reasons Why Some Preachers Get Better and Others Don’t – Tremendous wisdom from a wonderful preacher and professor, Hershael York. He humorously writes, “Being a preaching professor is like getting paid to tell a mother that her baby is ugly. It might be the truth, but it’s not a truth anyone wants to hear.”

Ebola Fear – Marvin Olasky: “I had a heavy burden of fears and, unlike Pilgrim in John Bunyan’s wonderful tale, I can’t entirely shake that legacy.”

Preaching is War – David Prince: “As we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ today, we would do well to keep the protoevangelium (first gospel) in Genesis 3:15 always in mind. It reminds us that preaching is warfare.”

Religious matters are to be separated from the state…because they are too high and holy and thus are beyond the competence of the state. –Isaac Backus

Election, Free Will, and Apostasy: Logical Dilemmas in Arminianism

56e1d019-58f9-474d-878d-62d0c5c59cbfOne huge practical and pastoral issue that comes up and is of great concern among many if not all believers is that of apostasy. The question, “Can I lose my salvation?” comes up quite often in all theological circles and all denominations. Different theological systems answer this question differently and all of their answers will tell you something about their view of election. The theological system of Arminianism runs into a logical dilemma when they articulate their view of apostasy. I will unpack this dilemma briefly here.
**Before I begin, I want to assert something I have recently learned from a reader of this blog; that some Arminians actually affirm perseverance of the saints. What follows should not be applied to all who identify themselves as Arminians. Even Arminius himself was undecided on apostasy and perseverance, maybe as a result of some of these dilemmas. The last thing I wish to do is to paint Arminians with such a broad brush that I inaccurately represent them. So, when I mention Arminians or Arminianism in this post, I am referring to those who believe in conditional election, libertarian free will, and true apostasy.**

The practical issue at hand can be summed up in this situation: A man professes to have faith in Christ and then decades later ultimately denies Christ. Arminians understand election to be conditional as God elects those individuals who positively respond to prevenient grace by freely choosing Christ. On the condition of faith, God elects. Man therefore has the freedom to “get in” salvation or “get in” Christ. Logically, man must retain his freedom once he is in Christ and therefore he or she can “get out” just as easily as he or she “got in.”

But how does this work with election? This is where the dilemma comes into play. When an individual places faith in Christ, God then elects him or her. He or she is then given saving grace and is effectually saved, so it seems. Due to the Arminian emphasis of free will, an individual can then decide to not be saved and “get out.” So, the question becomes, “How can they not be saved if they were elect?” A greater question is “How can someone who has received saving grace perish in hell if they do not choose positively again?” It is scary to think that God gives a saving grace that doesn’t save. This places too much emphasis on the actions of humans in salvation. In this understanding, humans hold the determining factor of their salvation.

Returning to the dilemma between Arminian election and apostasy, it is difficult to understand election in the way that it is stated in light of their belief in apostasy. If an individual who has placed faith in Christ, then decided to not believe in Christ, only to return later in life to believe in Christ has an Arminian understanding of election, then which time of belief were they elected?

Logically, they are elected when they believe in Christ. Well, they have done this anew twice. Were they elected twice? The first time only? The second time only? If they were only elect the second time when they would presumably persevere, then were they really saved the first time? According to Arminianism, they were. So many logical issues come up when you stand the Arminian view of election and apostasy up against one another. The emphasis of free will leads to logical dilemmas within the doctrine of election and affirmation of true apostasy.

The most frightening scenario in Arminian theology is that of an individual who has genuinely placed saving faith in Christ and is in fact genuinely saved who later in life leaves the faith and ends up in hell. This would be the case of an individual who had genuinely been elected, predestined, and saved only to perish eternally. This would be a person who would break the golden chain of salvation found in Romans 8:29-30. How did God “in love predestine” this individual (Eph. 1:5)?

This Arminian theological possibility is appalling and unthinkable. The issue here is that God had predestined and elected this individual to be saved based on their faith before the foundation of the world. How can God make such an election only to not achieve the salvation of the one whom he elected? If this Arminian assertion is true, then we must claim that part of God’s elect is in hell.

The Arminian view of election vis-à-vis apostasy raises many logical questions that are worth discussing and thinking over due to their direct contradiction to Scripture when viewed together. Arminians can only defend by saying that the elect are those who freely choose Christ and persevere, but this is not the way most Arminians present the doctrine of election and furthermore, in saying this they are equating election to perseverance since election is not election without perseverance.

Simply stated, Arminians struggle making sense of election, free will, and apostasy. In this theological system an apostate either was never saved or never part of the elect, but not both. Upholding the free will of man seems to lead to many logical issues in salvation and the Arminian system does not provide an adequate solution to this issue.

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.