Author: tmart2007

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WHEN Some Calvinists Argue In Favor Of Free Will

There is a time when some, and indeed many, who are ideological-Calvinist, talk about the free will of men and women.  They are willing and able to briefly discard their Calvinistic ideology because it provides space for excusing their failure.  Suddenly the “free will” of fallen humanity comes into play.

I use the term “calvinistic-ideologues” because their Calvinistic ideology reinterprets passages that get in the way.  They are theological extremists and, therefore, will find a way around the clearest of passages that in no way can be understood as supporting their ideology.  “For God so loved the world” is now the “world of the elect.”  “Whosoever will” does not mean whosoever — et al.

However, this situation is kind of a reverse gear.  Instead of redefining words, some decide that maybe there is a place for free will in their theological manual after all!

When confronted with their own failure in the home and unable to even persuade their children of the truth of the Gospel, some suddenly call up their child’s free will!

They haven’t failed at training (Proverbs 22:6).  They are still qualified to be in the ministry even though they do not have “faithful children (Titus 1:6).  Surely, they are not like Eli, who failed in his home!

The cause of their child’s rebellion (and worse) is . . . .

 “Well, you know, children have to make their own decisions at a point in time.  In the end, you need to realize that they have a free will.  They can walk away from all that has been taught them in our home!”

How many times I have heard that from pastors who have failed to raise faithful children! [1]

Another alternative is that they have miserably failed in their most important and primary responsibility while preaching to others about godliness.

For some, children now have free will, and it was their child’s decision to walk away from the faith.

There is only one other alternative, and it isn’t very sellable — God has ordained that my child will not receive the gift of faith, (that has been given to others). Before creation, The Lord Himself determined that he/she was destined to be a child of Hell. [2]

1 – Sad to say, but John Piper is a prime example of such failure as a father.  If you would like to read his explanation of that failure, here is the link. Piper speaks as if what we do as parents influences the outcome…huh?  Piper never mentions the reality that his theology dictates….that the Lord has determine not to give them the faith too believe, as He has others.

2 – “By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.” John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion — 3.21.5

How Is “Hyper-Calvinism” Being Redefined?!

It has become all too evident in the socio-political world that if we can change, stretch, or twist the definition of words, we can control the conversation. . . . . and this is also true when it comes to theological discussions!

“Hyper” means “to go beyond. ”  Outside of “hypersonic,” “hyper-anything” is generally not meant as a compliment.
“Hyper-Calvinism” means that one has gone beyond what John Calvin taught.

  • “You are more Calvin than John Calvin!”
  • “Not even John Calvin taught or believed that!” [1]
  • “You have taken what Calvin taught and are running it off the tracks.”

“Hyper-Calvinist” is recognized as an unattractive description, and the easiest way to avoid being called a “hyper-Calvinist” is to redefine the term.

In order to dodge the charge that one is a hyper-Calvinist, the term is redefined in a way to exempt those who are, in fact, on the extreme theological fringes.

AND what is even more advantageous is that by changing the definition, there is no need to change one’s theological-ideology.

√  Change the meaning so that the definition avoids theology and focuses on some supposed after-effects!
√  Change the meaning by setting up a “strawman,” a caricature that exempts most everyone . . . .

. . . . . and the problem is solved.

Here is how “hyper-Calvinism” is being defined today . . . .

“It is a teaching that downplays evangelism, church-planting, and going to the nations, on the basis that God is sovereign.  God is in control, and God has elected his people, so he’s going to save his people whether we speak the truth or not, whether we give our money to foreign missions or not. . . . Hoax-Calvinism . . . mimics Hyper-Calvinsim by never putting the boots on the ground, never befriending unbelievers, and only begrudgingly, at best, telling people about Jesus.” [2]

Sorry  — this is not “hyper-Calvinism,” but a strawman that seeks to distract from legitimate biblical issues.  IT is the “Hoax-Definition” of hyper-Calvinsim!

Such a definition moves the focus away from the genuine theological issues that surround Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism, by repeating this well-known historical extreme parody. [3].

The author’s strawman is disingenuous and duplicitous!

What biblical ministry or local church does not . . . .

  • believe that God’s sovereignty also includes instrumentality?
  • understand that God’s Gospel program includes sharing the Word of God, praying for the souls of men, and living godly before them?
  • financially support foreign missions?
  • encourage telling others about Jesus — putting the boots on the ground?

What biblical ministry teaches or believes that . . . .

  • We should NEVER befriend unbelievers?
  • We should ONLY begrudgingly — and at best begrudgingly — talk to people about Jesus? [4]

These “strawman” definitions are merely an attempt to redefine hyper-Calvinism by calling up some fictional side-effects, without touching the real theology that underpins both Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism!

Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism are about doctrine, not these “fabricated strawman” behaviors! [5]

Hyper-Calvinism primarily revolves around doctrinal issues of “sovereignty,” “limited atonement,” “the perseverance of the saints,” and the push to make grace, along with repentance and faith, all part of God’s gift. [6]

Hyper-Calvinism is NOT “hyper” because it spawns the behaviors cited in its strawman-camouflaged definition. [7]. It is “hyper” because of doctrinal issues that revolve around what is typically called — “The Five Points Of Calvinism.”  Those “Points” are all doctrinal, not behavioral strawmen.

Extreme or “hyper-Calvinsm” results when . . . .

  • Calvinistic-ideology takes precedence over all the other doctrines and truths of Scripture.
  • There is little willingness to balance out the doctrine of God’s sovereignty with human responsibility.
  • Clear biblical passages are marginalized because they “disturb one’s doctrinal consistency & peace.”
  • The demand to be intellectual consistency refuses to allow the doctrines of God’s sovereignty AND human responsibility to co-exist  — unresolved in our minds, but divinely resolved in the mind and plan of God.
  • One downgrades passages that call on believers to pray for, witness to, and live godly lives before those who are without Christ, rather than abandon, amend, and/or temper their doctrinal positions. [8]
  • There is an unwillingness to give room for divine “mystery” – for the fact that there are unknown and unrevealed truths that are not part of God’s revelation to men, that there are truths that are unknown to us and that would resolve our lack of understanding if known.
  • Preachers and pastors are unwilling to invite people to come to Christ because their “doctrine”  holds them back from calling on all men to trust Christ for the forgiveness of their sin.
  • Words no longer mean what words mean (whosoever will, God so loved the world, not willing that any should perish, all men) because it disrupts and disturbs one’s theological ideology.

Calvinism and “Hyper-Calvinism” are doctrinal issues, and there are real-life implications to those doctrinal beliefs! 

If it is biblical accurate that . . . .

  • even lost men, dead in their trespasses and sins, can see and understand that there is a Creator God (Romans 1)
  • the Good News / the Gospel is good news
  • that the Gospel is for all men
  • the “gift” is not grace or faith, but our salvation [9]
  • whosoever will” can take of the water of life freely, [10]
  • the Lord calls on all men to repent
  • God is not willing for any to perish
  • that . . . . .
  • that . . . .

. . . . then this is not about two equally tenable positions, and the souls of men and women, adults and children, are at stake. 

And that has real-life eternal repercussions! [11]

Theological-ideology matters!

1 – Interestingly, John Calvin did not teach that faith is a gift!
“Many persons restrict the word gift to faith alone. But Paul is only repeating in other words the former sentiment. His meaning is, not that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God, or, that we obtain it by the gift of God.” — John Calvin

2 – Humble Calvinism, by Medders, pg 120

3 –  “At a meeting of Baptist leaders in the late 1700s, a newly ordained minister stood to argue for the value of overseas missions. He was abruptly interrupted by an older minister who said, ‘Young man, sit down! You are an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he’ll do it without consulting you or me.'”

As the author notes, “such an attitude is inconceivable today,” and it is!

Do not let such a strawman distract from the real theological issues that surround both Calvinism and “hyper-Calvinism.”  There are legitimate and relevant theological issues that surround both, and the proof is found in the many articles that attempt to argue that Calvinism does not dampen evangelistic zeal!

4 –  Using the word “never” and “only begrudgingly” reveals the true nature of this strawman!

Sadly, “Hoax-Calvinism” is not the strawman that explains the excesses that pervade the theological world today.  “Hoax-Calvinism” is a distraction!  “Calvinism,” “Extreme Calvinism,” and “Hyper-Calvinism” are theological movements that deserve serious conversation and examination.

5 – Obviously, one could find a church or ministry that believes and/or practices such absurd positions, but that hardly makes such a strawman anything less than disingenuous!

6 – One could easily include “God’s granting of repentance,” which is also taken out of its context.  The passage is focused on those who have stubbornly, and to their own spiritual demise, hardened their hearts.   Interestingly, Paul states that it will be by our patience and demeanor that we might perhaps soften their hearts to the truths of the Gospel.

7 – It is worth noting that both Calvinism and “hyper-Calvinism” have historically, presently, and repeatedly precipitated some very real practical repercussions.  They include a general lack of evangelistic zeal, the paucity of sermons that preach a clear and direct Gospel message, the unwillingness to give public invitations to call on Christ, a portrayal of “a God of judgment” more than a God of love, grace, and reconciliation, and a general coldness towards Gospel winsomeness and persuasion.

I taught at Baptist Bible College, Clarks Summit, Pa.  I was moving from Tennessee Temple to BBC in the late 70s.  During my 2-3 hour interview at BBC, I was asked if I had any questions or reservations about joining the faculty.  I indicated that I did. . . .

“I am struggling with the reputation that BBC has about its Calvinistic / hyper-Calvinistic position, and I have had some compare BBC to an evangelistic dustbowl.”

They responded that the reputation was due to “poor press” and that they had failed to make the case that they were evangelistic.  In fact, they stated that one of the reasons they were interested in having me join the faculty was that I taught at Tennesse Temple College and Seminary.  They wanted some men and women on their faculty who had taught at such evangelistically recognized schools.

Let me assure you that it was not just “poor press.”

I recall a chapel message by the President of BBC – Mark Jackson.  He exhorted the students about the historic tradition and position of Baptists as it relates to Gospel preaching and the giving of invitations.  After that chapel service, a faculty meeting, President Jackson was challenged by the Bible faculty and others about that chapel message and, even more specifically, about giving public invitations.  I was taken back that the President had to defend that position.

8 – How absurd are these comments if both are not true — #1 – That God is sovereignly working, and #2 – that men also have some level of “free will” that can be appealed to by preaching.

“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.”

9 -The implications are significant if it is God who gives them “faith” to believe.  Making “faith” the gift is far different than making grace or salvation a gift.  As soon as you make the agent of salvation, “faith,” the gift of God, you now make God the sole person responsible for one’s salvation.  If He alone can give “faith,” and that “faith” is now a gift to whosoever He wills, you now have Him as the one responsible for whether a person does or does not believe and accept His Son as their Saviour!

10 – “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

11 – Unlike the “camouflaged strawman attempt” used to deflect from the real doctrinal issues, the real-life implications of hyper-Calvinism carry with them potentially damnable consequences. 

Fortunately, there is a lot of inconsistency in “theology” and “practicology” — between what Calvinists/hyper-Calvinist say they believe and what they actually practice and/or allow!  Those who need Christ still come to know the forgiveness of sin, even when men twist biblical truths to fit their ideology!

A pastor’s Calvinistic-ideology is often dismissed as unimportant because the church still engages in significant evangelistic endeavors.  
“Whatever our pastor believes . . . . what does it matter . . . . we support missions and engage in outreach ministries.”

At other times, a pastor’s Calvinistic-ideology is hidden from plain sight by weasel words and biblical statements that seem to imply that they are not on the extreme fringes of Calvinism.
“Our pastor talks about reaching the lost, salvation by grace through faith alone, and the need to share Christ.”

Unprincipled Calvinist: At Least Be Honest

If we are going to disagree and assume different positions as to what the Scriptures teach . . . . let’s at least be honest & trustworthy!  That should be true all the time, but surely we ought to be even more precise when it comes to the Gospel!

When someone makes a biblical argument and distorts the very words of a passage of Scripture, they have broken trustworthiness.  If a ministry and/or pastor can ignore the clear teaching of a passage of Scripture, for the sake of maintaining their position, they are no longer to be trusted in how they handle the Word.

“Well, what do you mean when you say ‘clear?'”
Your “clear” or my “clear?”

How about “It is well acknowledged that the passage cannot and does not teach that position!” [4]

There is no dispute as to what the Greek language and grammar allow when it comes to antecedents.  Unlike English grammar, the antecedent is not identified by its positioning, but by its gender.  After taking 6 years of Greek, I know that such is taught, well-acknowledged, and understood!

As is often stated, you are welcome to your opinion, but it is an uninformed opinion if you believe that case endings do not matter in the Greek language, and in many-to-most other languages.

Those who maintain that Ephesians 2:8 teaches that “faith is a gift God grants to some and not others” well understand that the Greek grammar rejects such a translation-interpretation.

The word “that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” cannot have “grace” or “faith” as its antecedent!

To not acknowledge that fact as a Bible teacher or pastor is disingenuous — at best!




#1 – The word “‘that’ not of yourselves” is in the singular neuter case (“touto”)! [1]

No Greek speaker/writer would take a word that is in the neuter case and connect it with a word in the feminine or masculine case.

Nor would any Greek writer use the singular case to speak of something in the plural (“grace” and “faith”).  The writer would have stated . . . “and these not of yourselves.”

If, in Paul’s mind, he was thinking that faith is the gift of God, and if he wanted to convey that meaning, he could have easily used the feminine singular case “haute.” 

However, the Spirit of God, who was guiding Paul, chose not to use that word!  If the Spirit of God had used that word, then that meaning would have been clearly established.  The Spirit of God knows how to add clarity by using the established rules of Greek grammar!

“That” refers back to the whole — “For by grace are you saved, through faith.”  It is the whole salvation experience of rejecting the law and accepting the gift of grace that comes through exercising faith. [4]

Just as the whole salvation experience is “not of works” and refers back to the whole.  We come to Jesus without works, but only by exercising saving faith in His work for us.

Imposing English rules of grammar is not only improper but disingenuous.  In the English language, we determine antecedents by position.  What is the closest word, and that is the antecedent.  That is not how it works in Greek.  In Greek, word endings are vital!  In Greek, word order is often used to place emphasis.

At least be honest and state that . . . .

“The Greek text does not support my “interpretation” of “faith” being the “gift.”

Be honest and state that such a rendering is only your theologically motivated opinion, supported nowhere else in the Scriptures.


#2 – The Scriptures clearly teach that “faith” is not a work!

Faith is not a work, and that is clear because Paul contrasts faith (pistis) against works (ergon) (i.e. Gal 2:16; 3:2-5, 9-14; Rom 3:27-28; 4:1-3; 4:14-5:2; 9:30-32).

Faith is what abandons all previous attempts to work one’s way to reconciliation with God.
Faith rejects the belief that one’s works can justify him/her.
Faith accepts Who Jesus is and the work He has accomplished on Calvary.

Faith is the means by which we accept the free gift of grace — “through faith.”  No one who accepts a gift would claim that accepting a gift is doing something for the gift.  Imagine being given a gift, and then saying that your acceptance of that gift was a work that earned you the gift.

Likewise, there is no reason for glory or boasting in accepting a free gift of salvation.  Paul states that there is only glory if righteousness comes by works of the law (Romans 4:1-5).  But Abraham believed (pisteuo) God and therefore had no reason to glory because (as Paul states!) it was not by works of the law, but by faith.


#3 – The gift is not grace.

The gift of God is our salvation, the forgiveness of sin — “by grace are you saved.”
The gift of salvation was made possible because of His grace, and it is ours by faith, by believing in Who Jesus is and what He has done for us on Calvary, by trusting that He, as God, has graciously provided full payment for our debt.

The salvation experience is the foundation of all that follows.

And “grace” is the reason anyone was or can be saved (“you have been saved”).
And grace comes through faith.
And grace is the contrast to works.


That is illustrated in John 11: 25-26, as Jesus addresses Martha. . . .

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Martha responds (11:27) by saying . . .

“She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

In both the words of Jesus and Martha, there is not a hint that her faith was anything less than her own belief concerning Jesus, and that she had that belief before being asked the question.

Likewise, the question of Jesus clearly states that she could exercise or not exercise a personal belief as to who He was — “Do you believe this?”

AND her plain and clear response was . . . .

“Yes … I believe that thou art the Messiah and the Son of God that should come into the world.”


I understand that there are those who want to make faith the gift of God (which was not even John Calvin’s position!). [2][3] I also understand that there are those who can find no other passage which states that faith is a gift and this is their best attempt.  But as Charles Spurgeon stated . . . .

 My love of consistency with my own doctrinal view is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture.  I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater.


1- Word order is vital to the English language, but it is unlike Greek and most other languages.

Ephesians 2:8

τῇ    γὰρ    χάριτί      ἐστε      σεσῳσμένοι    διὰ       τῆς πίστεως·  καὶ    τοῦτο     οὐκ      ἐξ   ὑμῶν             θεοῦ      τὸ δῶρον·

the    for     by grace    are you        saved      through    the    faith      and      that        not       of     yourselves     of God   the  gift

τῇ    χάριτί   — chairs = grace
the grace — both words are singular and feminine

τῆς πίστεως — pistis = faith
the  faith — both words singular and feminine

τοῦτο – touto = that
that — singular neuter

. . 

2 – “Many persons restrict the word gift to faith alone. But Paul is only repeating in other words the former sentiment. His meaning is, not that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God, or, that we obtain it by the gift of God.” — John Calvin

3 – Likewise . . . .

God so loved the world, and the world means the world!
He would have all men to be saved, and that means all men.
He is not willing that any should perish, and any means any.


4 – A T. Robertson . . . .

Note: There are only two other places where the Greek words — “kai toutos” = “and that” appear in the same nominative case, in both a singular and plural use.  In I Corinthians 6:6 “and that” refers back to the general subject of “goeth to law.”  In I Corinthians 6: 8 “and that” is in the plural and is plural because it refers back to both “do wrong” and “defraud.”  Paul makes reference to the general subject here, as he does in Ephesians 2:8 when speaking about salvation.  Paul also knew how to use the plural to refer to both doing wrong and defrauding.

5 – I have read the works of two commentary writers who make the claim that the case agreement is “not fatal” and “not irreconcilable”  However, two points in their commentary are noteworthy — #1 – They still maintain that the best understanding is that faith is NOT a gift, and #2 – They do not cite one other instance in the Greek language where such occurs which would make it not fatal!


“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

καὶ  θέλων
and the “willing”

The same word used in Matthew (and many other places). . . . .”Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.”

For “calvinists” who claim Spurgeon as one of their own!

While Spurgeon is read and cited by many who believe him to be a “Calvinist” after their liking, most do not realize that he faced the same theological backdrop that exists today.

Outside of his speaking and writings around what was called the “Downgrade Controversy” (near the end of his life’s ministry) [1],  Spurgeon wrote and spoke extensively against the extreme Calvinistic movement that was infecting the theological culture.

Appropriately, Iain Murray chose to devote one of his multitudinous books to make known the historical legacy of Charles Spurgeon’s battle against the Calvinism of his day. [2]  Murray’s book is just as relevant today because the same battles continue to surface and resurface.  As Murray well understands,  . . . .

“To confine our view of the church to a few short and passing years (would be ) a serious mistake.
We need to see and remember the big picture.”

While Spurgeon repeatedly identifies himself as a “Calvinist,” his definition of that term is far more “Gospel general” and is primarily in distinction to those of the Arminian camp.

“And I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified,
unless you preach what nowadays is called Calvinism.…
It is a nickname to call it Calvinism;
Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.”

If you want to understand where Spurgeon stands on this issue of his day, read Murray’s book, or even some of the extensive reviews [4] that lay out Spurgeon’s case against extreme Calvinism.  Spurgeon’s argument against and utter rejection of the position that “faith is a gift of God” is devasting!

Here is a taste of Iain Murray’s book, and Spurgeon’s refutation of the extreme Calvinism that also marked his day . . . .

“All men,” say they; “that is, some men”: as if the Holy Ghost could not have said “some men” if he had meant some men. “All men,” say they; “that is, some of all sorts of men”: as if the Lord could not have said “All sorts of men” if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written “all men,” and unquestion­ably he means all men. I know how to get rid of the force of the “alls” according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how it can be applied here with due regard to the truth. I was reading just now the exposition of a very able doctor who explains the text so as to explain it away; he applies grammatical gunpowder to it, and explodes it by way of expounding it.  I thought when I read his exposition that it would have been a very capital comment upon the text if it had read, ‘Who will not have all men to be saved, nor come to a knowledge of the truth.’  Had such been the inspirited language every remark of the learned doctor would have been exactly in keeping but as it happens to say ‘Who will have all men to be saved, his observations are more than a little out of place.  My love of consistency with my own doctrinal view is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture.  I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater.[3]

“The final conclusion has to be that when Calvinism ceases to be evangelistic, when it becomes more concerned with theory than with the salvation of men and women, when acceptance of doctrines seems to become more important than acceptance of Christ, then it is a system going to seed and it will invariably lose its attractive power.” [5]

1 –

2. Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism : the battle for gospel preaching by Iain Murray, pgs. 70-71

3 – Iain Murray — Pgs. 150-161

4 – A Three Part Review Of Murray’s Book, By Sharper Iron Links:

TGC Article Reviewing Murray’s Book Link

Stephen Unthank (MDiv, Capital Bible Seminary)  –“I don’t remember how I came across the book but I do remember the warming light of its content breaking into my immature thinking when I started reading it. I couldn’t put it down. And it seemed like after I finished each chapter I found myself repenting and praying, “Lord, help me to love those who are lost like Spurgeon did. No, help me love the lost like you do!” (Link) 

5 – Murray, pg. 120

6 – D.A. Carson Link

Imitation X 5


We live in an age of theological and ecclesiastic imitation or mimicry.
Let me point to some common examples . . .


√ Let’s Stand For The Reading Of God’s Word: Church upon church has now convinced God’s people of the need to honor God’s Word by standing during the reading (and even some preaching while reading) of the Bible. 

Apparently, the church has failed to honor the Scriptures throughout the past generations of congregants.  In fact, apparently, during many of the previous decades of the same pastor’s ministry, God’s Word has been dishonored by him. 

Having your Bible in hand, with the Scriptures on your lap, underlining, and/or taking notes is no longer a sufficient indicator that we honor and value God’s Word. 

Interestingly, while we “stand and honor the Scriptures,” many do not even carry a Bible with them to church but read it off of a screen.


√ Liturgical Statements:  They come in all forms, but the rote nature of such comments is obvious – “May the Lord add His blessing to the reading of the Word.”  “This is God’s Word.”  “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

There is nothing amiss with the words, but there is something wrong with the formulaic sound of such pietistic acclamations. 

It is much like — “We ask this in Jesus’ name” — at the end of prayers!  It is tacked on, repetitively, with the same tonal detachment from any real meaning or sincerity — shallow and vain repetition.


Small Groups: Seemingly overnight, churches are promoting the newly found significance, importance, and necessity of “Small Groups.”  It is elevated as the biblical pattern, and it is promoted as vital to the growth of God’s people and the effectiveness of the church.  

Small Groups are biblically validated by using such passages as Acts 2:46 — where house churches were the common practice of the early church.  Of course, there were small house churches during the earliest days of the church. However, these biblical examples are now prescriptive and not descriptive.  

“Small Groups” are not merely a different name for Sunday School and/or Adult Bible Study classes, but are based more on a group counseling model.  The focus is inward, and the members are encouraged to share their intimate struggles and questions publicly with other members of the church.

While the worth of small groups is now proclaimed, it is worth recalling that there was a time when small groups did not exist. In fact, some pastors failed to understand that during decades of their own ministries — at least until now!  Apparently, the biblical nature and importance of “small groups” was not understood for centuries, and only now that the local church grasps the importance of such intimate groups.  [1]


Pastoral Practices:  How many have tried to follow the actions and activities of Jim Cymbala and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church? 

That approach to ministry has been repeatedly employed by imitating other successful ministries, conference speakers, bloggers, and authors.

A ministry leader writes a book about what he/she is doing, his “deeper life,” a sought-after spiritual discipline, and/or how successful this-or-that has been in ministry, and pastors are ready to imitate and implement!  They are going to bring the thinking and/or activities into the life of their church because they believe in them and them!

The question being asked is,  “So how did you do it?  How have you been able to . . .? What is the “Secrets Sauce?” 

Some believe that what worked for another in this-or-that location, in his/her spiritual walk, at this time in the life of his/her ministry, with that group of people, is what the Lord has for them!  


“Theological Echoes:”  Someone comes out with a new interpretation, elucidation, or explanation of a passage of Scripture, and you begin to hear it repeated over and over!  Some love the novel, and others may believe it gives them some kind of intellectual credibility!

Someone preaches, teaches, or publishes a crazy theological position, and it is repeated by other ministry leaders and pastors years later —  (check out these two recent ones within reformed circles [2]).   

There is much more than can be said on this kind of imitation. . . . . but that’s for another day!



1 – We called this “personal discipleship,” and it was done “one-to-one” because there were sensitive areas and discussions that were between a pastor (or mature & wise church leader) and a new believer.  There are qualifications for a deacon, but rarely for a small group Bible teacher.

2 – Two Examples:  How does John Piper link to an insane post by Curtis Chang?  Worse yet, there is no pushback when Piper writes this article biblically defending accepting vaccinations!

Or, in recent days, an even crazier book by Josh Butler has been published by TGC, with endorsements by well-known reformed teachers, leaders, and preachers!  How does this escape notice from the publishers and those who wrote a public endorsement of it?

Tom Buck/SBC: “I was just shown that John Piper linked to this video in the article he wrote to encourage people to get the Covid vaccine. The linked video teaches the Covid vaccine is like Jesus’ work of redemption. It even redeems abortion. “The vaccine may have a distant origin story in abortion” but it serves as a metaphor of Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross. “What began in death could be reworked into life.”
Link From Piper’s article:  “You have thought hard about the implications of fetal cell lines in the production and testing of the vaccines.”

The Gospel Coalition: Josh Butler’s New Book:


Two Ditches Of Calvinistic Ideologues

Some biblical truths are undisputed and held by all theologians, pastors, and/or believers.  Historic orthodox Christianity has indisputably maintained that our sin separates us from our Creator, that salvation is by grace alone, that it is through faith alone, that is through the work of Jesus alone, that Jesus was God come in the flesh, etc.   Typically, they are called the fundamentals of the faith. [1]

However, other theological beliefs, positions, or ideologies have been seriously questioned for centuries, and extreme positions have been held on both sides.  Arminism vs. Calvinism is one example where both sides have driven into the left and right ditches and sought to convince others that they are the ones who are on the main road.

In today’s circles, there are few who take the extreme Arminian position and reject the truth that God does call believers to Himself (if not at least through His foreknowledge).  In contrast, there are many who propagate an extreme Calvinism.  One of the causes is the uncritical acceptance of John Piper’s teachings which has permeated theological circles through his magazine articles, books, conferences, college, and seminary. [2]


Here are two indicators that mark the most extreme Calvinists, the ditch riders of today’s ministries and churches.

#1 – “Perseverance of the Saints”

One marker is the belief that “the perseverance of the saints” means that some “believers” might not persevere to the end and, therefore, in the end, they may be lost.  The double talk that surrounds this position is, at times, confusing and, at times, duplicitous!   While some may speak about “eternal security” in Christ, they muddle and artfully deny such in the same paragraph or pulpit! If you doubt that, decide for yourself — link!

In the end, a “works salvation” is subtly suggested because a believer may do something, or fail to do something before you die — such as repent! [3]

Their position denies that believers are, through the provision of their saving faith, overcomers in Christ, through His work for them on Calvary.  That they are overcomers because His righteousness has been placed onto their account.  We are in Christ, the finisher of our faith, who endured the cross and is set down (it’s over)  on the right hand of God the Father.


#2 – “Faith Is A Gift”

Likewise, another marker is the teaching that not only is God’s grace a gift, but the faith needed to accept that gift is also a gift!  This is how theological-ideologies work their way into a ditch.  “It’s all of Him” is how they frame it, and such framing seems innocuous because who doesn’t want to say “Amen” — that our salvation is all of Him.

However, when most say “Amen,” typically, they are confirming their belief that . . . .

  • it was Jesus who came into the world seeking mankind, and
  • our good works would never be sufficient for the forgiveness of our sins, and
  • it was His love that spoke to our hearts, and that
  • it was through the work of the Word of God and the working of the Holy Spirit that we were convicted of sin, righteousness, and judgment

They are not consciously saying “Amen” to the position that. . . .

  • they did not make a personal decision
  • their will was over-ruled by the Spirit
  • they did not choose Christ as their Saviour
  • they did not exercise saving faith,
  • they did not confess Him with their mouth as their Saviour
  • they did not believe in their hearts that God had raised Him from the dead,
  • they did not seek Him, and/or that
  • they did not willfully call upon Him as their personal Saviour.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is,
and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. [6]

They made a decision, and that decision was a choice among choices.  Why would the Lord speak about making choices if the choice was determined by Him and not the individual?

Why would anyone be held accountable for their decision or choice, if it was the Lord who gave them the will or faith to make this-or-that choice?

God has freely offered salvation to all people.  One chooses to believe by personally putting one’s faith in the person and work of Jesus. The intellect is necessary, but it is not sufficient.  It is a personal and willful commitment to the truths of the Gospel.  Even Satan knows and understands the truths of the Gospel.  Faith is a free-will, personal decision, resulting from hearing & knowing the Gospel message, intellectually believing, and a heartfelt commitment to trust in the person and work of Jesus.  It involves the mind, heart, and will.

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say,
Come. And let him that is athirst come.
And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness;
but is longsuffering to us-ward,
not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Who will have all men to be saved,
and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

No one will end up in Hell because God didn’t give them the “faith” to believe in the free grace offered through Calvary’s work!

All who perish do so only because they refuse the truth of the Gospel message, and they could have done otherwise!

God can make the rocks cry out, and therefore He could MAKE men and women cry out in saving faith, but He doesn’t because He wants genuine relationships. [7]


One’s theological-ideologies matter!  Though often buried and blended with other well-established biblical truths [5], they form a subtle and unhealthy (if not spiritually damaging) ministry environment. [8]

God’s people live with the unsettling feeling that God’s love is suspect, that they can do little-to-nothing in and of themselves that matters, and that His compassion for His people is often tentative.

If you are finding your children, and/or yourself more and more uncertain and shaken in your personal faith in the person and work of Jesus, it may be coming from a subtle propagation of extreme Calvinistic teaching that is often purposefully fogged, but practically felt.

Feeling secure in marriage, family, and God’s love is foundational to life and living!


1 – A 12-volume set called “The Fundamentals” was written in the first decade of the 1900s in response to the unorthodox liberal drift of biblical Christianity —

Ministry leaders, pastors, and Bible teachers are even willing to promote Bible teachers who hold doctrinal positions that directly contradict their ministry’s statement of faith because they support their theological-ideology.

One such example is blatantly evident when it comes to promoting and endorsing present-day reformed theologians who repudiate the premillennial & pre-tribulation rapture, as does John Piper.  Regardless of their reformed positions concerning the return of Jesus for His church, such men are hailed as worthy to be followed, read, promoted, and recommended because they promote the same extreme positions — because they hold to the same theological extremes.

“I recalled how stunned I was when I was around 23 years old and I saw for the first time that the word meet — “caught up to meet the Lord in the air” — is used two other times in the New Testament: Matthew 25:6 and Acts 28:15.

In both of these places, it is a group of people going out to meet someone and accompanying them back into the place you just went out from. All my thoughts about this being a rising to meet the Lord in the air and then returning to heaven for seven years evaporated. That’s just not the intention of that verse.

It’s a rapture in that sense that we rise to meet the Lord in the air, and then like a great band of welcoming, we come back with him for his established judgment and rule.

My answer is that there is one great, glorious second coming of the Lord in our future. He will come once more to give relief to his church and judgment to his adversaries and to establish his kingdom. And I say, as I’m sure we all do with the early church, the next-to-last verse of the Bible: “Come, Lord Jesus.” — John Piper

Note how Piper confuses and blurs the issues again by making reference to a rapture before the establishment of God’s kingdom and rule while still saying that He gives “relief to his church” — rather than saying to all believers in general who are still alive on earth.

2 – Interestingly, there are those who are willing to ignore Pastor John Piper’s long-time and continued connection with the well-known liberal Baptist General Conference (also referred to as “Converge”), of which Bethel Baptist College & Seminary are part and parcel.  The General Conference is also known for holding to the teaching of “Open Theism” (circa 2000), which indicates where they are theologically.   Tellingly, Piper’s response to the GBC position on “Open Theism” is titled “WE” — .

Please note that the Baptist General Conference was liberal long before they assumed this position!   Years ago (in the 1970s), I refused a position at Bethel College because of its liberal stance on a host of issues.  Piper has been part of that liberal convention for decades with little-to-no questioning as to why he stayed in it!

3 – Some present-day pastors and ministry leaders ought to be thankful that they did not die before their immorality was revealed and their final “repenting.”
I would like to suggest that if they had died, Jesus also paid for that sinful failure!  Jesus paid for it all!

4 – Those who hold to this position are ideologically driven!  The word “that” (that not of yourselves, “it” the gift of God) – is in the neuter case.  The antecedent cannot be established since “faith” and “grace” are in the feminine case. If Scripture interprets Scripture, taking the position that even faith is not of yourself, but is the gift of God is contradictory to any and all passages which speak of resisting, seeking, deciding, man’s choosing, or God’s desire for all men to be saved.
Building a doctrine with this clearly uncertain language usage is ideologically driven.  It is not a grammatical exposition!  Those who cite this passage as support are at best duplicitous in that they fail to inform their listeners that it is their personal opinion and not supported grammatically by the passage.

The Pharaoh of the Exodus and Judas are typical examples used to support such a twisted position.  While I cannot logically or intellectually resolve all the issues, I find comfort in knowing that there are “divine mysteries” that are far above my pay grade!  I suggest that both men (and many others since) are to blame for their decisions, not God.

5 – Too often, those who hold and preach theological-ideologies are subtle in their teachings. They blend and blur various biblical truths together in a way that the audience is led to accept what is being promulgated.  They do not realize what is actually being taught.  Other pastors and teachers grasp what is actually being said and/or left unsaid!

6 – Just do a simple biblical word search for “seek.”  It is impossible to argue that the Scriptures do not speak about men and women seeking Him. Of course, the seeking was first initiated by God in Genesis 3, then throughout the years of Israel’s waywardness through the words of the prophets who called them back to seek the Lord, and ultimately through His son Jesus who sought out all mankind through the incarnation and Calvary’s sacrifice.  Nevertheless, wise men still seek Him as the Spirit of God convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

To glibly quote, “No man seeks after God, no not one,” is a simplistic statement that lacks biblical perspective and historical context!  The Fall and our sinful nature are our human condition.  Nevertheless, that does not preclude the fact that we can be and are moved by the Spirit of God, life’s events, and the words and prayers of others to seek Him.

God seeks men, and men and women are called upon to seek God.  Both are true, and at times they are difficult to grasp as they work together.

God first sought us does not preclude us from seeking Him subsequently.  God has placed eternity in our hearts, and while we may seek Him in many of the wrong places, men and women still seek and find Him!

We are called upon to seek Him — unless such verses are only addressed to believers — “Seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these other things will be added unto you.”

7 – Likewise, there are those who teach that it is God who grants repentance — II Timothy 2:25.  Such a position rends the passage out of context and stands in contradiction to the other teaching of Scripture!  They use this passage to preach and teach that men and women are granted the opportunity to repent unto eternal life.

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

In II Timothy, it is by patience, meekness, and instruction that men are persuaded.  God uses such to open the eyes of those who hold positions that are to their own detriment.  “Profane and vain babblings” subvert the hearers and make it more difficult for the Spirit of God to work in them and for them to acknowledge the truth and repent.

Nevertheless, some are ideologically driven into that extreme ditch where it is God who is the cause for their lack of repentance.

NOTE: The idea of “passive sanctification” also springs from this same ideology —  “Any sanctification is only because of His working in you, not of any willful decisions you might think you are making!”  It is all part of the same ditch!

8 – Those in ministry, who can so manipulate the Scripture to make it teach that people have no accountability for their decisions, that there is no human instrumentality that exists alongside of God’s sovereignty, are not trustworthy to handle the truths of the Word.  If they can ignore the truths of the Scriptures that are there to balance out Bible truth, they can make the Scriptures teach what they will.   As Alistair Begg states, such men are biblical conjures!

Leveraging Biblical Truths

The “Laws of Leverage” are associated with Archimedes,

He is reported to have said that “given a long enough lever and the right place to stand, he could move the earth.”

“Levers” are force multipliers.

They multiply the ability to apply force to an object, such as a large boulder.

The law of leverage trades off distance for force.

Another typical example is a multi-speed bicycle.
You pedal more (greater movement or distance) but lessen the force needed to propel you.
Or you pedal less (less movement or distance) and increase the force needed to propel you.
Gears are just another form of a lever.

When you combine “Bible truth” and “leverage,” you get some pretty interesting results!

Bible truths and principles can be used to leverage misconduct, wrongdoing, irresponsibility, inappropriate conduct, lovelessness, selfishness, and abusive behavior. [1]

Legitimate and genuine biblical truths and principles can be and are used to . . . .

  • . . . . explain a response 
    “We were just being honest and believed it was time to speak the truth in love.” and/or
  • . . . avoid addressing the issues at hand
    “Jesus refused to respond and “opened not His mouth.” [3]

While these truths and principles are biblical, they are now used as a strategy! 

It is a strategy, not spirituality! 

It is a way to hide and avoid an issue rather than stepping up and addressing it.
Leveraging biblical truths and principles is a method for dismissing legitimate or illegitimate questions.
It is a strategy to avoid answering questions, not a step toward accepting responsibility.
Leveraging precludes and dodges leveling.
Rather than leveling and resolving some potential questions (if not wrongdoing), an accepted Bible truth or principle is deployed to quiet God’s people. 

Some Further Thoughts:

  • The pulpit can be used to leverage Bible truths and principles.
  • When pastors have no clear and established sermonic plan, Bible passages are easily selected to leverage a current issue.
  • The pulpit is to edify, not control.
  • Typically, biblical leveraging involves responding with a “one sentence” Bible truth or principle.  That one truth should settle the issue.
  • This “one sentence strategy” prevents further questions from being asked or the issue from being addressed.  To ask another question is seen as disrespectful or challenging their authority / position.

“Biblical Leveraging” is a force multiplier that allows leadership to move people out of their way. [4]


  1. “Christianity Today” published an article on the actions of John Mac Arthur.
    When CT publishes an article on a well-known pastor like John Mac Arthur, you know it’s bad!

    An all too typical example of using Bible truths and principles as leverage is being played out today by the leadership of GCC / John Mac Arthur. The issue is not a wrongdoing that occurred years ago, but a refusal to recognize the wrongness as the facts of the situation became known. The leadership of GCC has been forced to issue a statement. That statement leverages legitimate biblical truths and principles in order to dismiss the criticisms and defend the strategy of refusing to answer questions and speak to legitimate issues genuinely.

 3.  Here are but a few examples:

Used to evade the work of planning: “The power is not in a program.”
Unless a program is just an organized way of reaching and/or meeting the needs of people.

Used to avoid doing what you ought to do: “I’m just trusting the Lord.” / “We need to just trust God.”
Doing is not the opposite of trusting God.

Used to justify unrighteous anger: “Just drove the money changers out of the Temple!”
Yes, there are things we should be angry about, but probably not when our anger involves us.

Used to stop criticism (fair or unfair criticism): “Matthew 18 states that . . . .”
What an abused passage of Scripture this has become!

Used to evade accountability: “Sowing Discord & gossipping is sinful.”
It is, but are there legitimate (or illegitimate) questions that can be and/or should be asked?
Is asking questions for the sake of clarity, or even calling someone out for wrongdoing, biblical gossip, or sowing discord?

4. Just for the record . . . .
This is the leveraging strategy and methodology that is being used to prevent legitimate and illegitimate questions concerning today’s “Asbury Revival.”  Passages in the book of Acts are being dispensed to prevent and avoid asking some serious and legitimate questions.  One question is . . . . “How is it that this “revival” again finds its locus in Wilmore, Kentucky, and at a Wesleyan-Holiness Methodist seminary?  Could it be related to the ideology of that Christian tradition?

Ideology Matters!

In response to the Biden administration appointments of judges to U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky stated . . . .

“We all know that there are many cases where the ideology of the judges makes all the difference . . . . As a lawyer, the first thing I want to know, as soon as I can find out, is who is [on] my panel.”

Chemerinsky understands that the law is not always what you think the law is, but laws are interpreted through the ideological glasses of the judge adjudicating the matter.  Just like in politics, facts do not dictate actions when an ideology prevails.  “Ideologies” is why your mind spins when trying to figure out the thinking that explains decisions and actions.  Sometimes you say, “That sounds (or is) crazy!”  It is because the decision or action is ideologically driven.  It doesn’t compute because the ideology dictates the response, not the “real world.”  “Trust the science” goes by the wayside if an ideology is the guiding rule.

That is also what happens theologically!  There are strong theological ideologies that color how one reads the Scriptures.  Those theological ideologies also color what is preached and not preached, taught and not taught, from the “pulpit,” among the staff, and in discipleship.

When ministries are driven ideologically, they emphasize verses and passages that support their ideology.  They fail to provide the counterbalance that other verses and passages provide, losing the Scriptural balance.

I have often said that when we read about “the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27; 90), “beauty” includes the idea that everything is in proper proportion.  All of us probably have something about our appearance that we wish were different.  Cosmetologists and plastic surgeons make a living off of that fact.  Maybe it is a strong chin, a large nose, big ears, skinny or heavy legs, deep-set eyes, a big mouth, wild eyebrows, long legs, short fingers, or a balding head.  A beautiful person has everything in proper proportion!

Theological ideologues lose that proportionality.  A “single” truth seems to override all other truths.  Most everything they read in the Scriptures somehow ends up revolving around that truth!  When that happens, things can get ugly!

Ideologues are prone to bypass the fact that some truths are enveloped in mystery — the inability to reconcile the fact that two truths are equally presented and cannot be harmonized except in the mind of God.  We just won’t be able to put them together without some uneasiness.

Ideology drives one into theological ditches.  The ditches may be “left” or “right,” but they are ditches.

After a period of commitment to an ideology, the ditch begins looking like the main road!

The idealogues limit their consideration of other “maps.” Their ideology is bolstered by other “theological cartographers” who support their theological-ideology.   Their study desk is replete with old and new commentaries written by those of the same ideological persuasion.  Reading a commentary or religious book that significantly challenges their ideology “is a waste of time, no less money.”

The result is a ministry or church that learns to ride the ditch — all with his map in their hands!

No matter what the realities — few saved, fewer baptized, little-to-no outreach, a slowly dwindling overall attendance, financial concerns, et al. —  the ditch is now believed to be the main road by all who are still aboard.

“Ditch managing” is the solution, as one seeks to convince other map holders that we are not where we obviously are!

Regardless of the realities that coincide with “ditch riding,” the solution is to purposefully select messages to explain away the realities that naturally come with “riding in the ditch” — “We are standing on what the Bible teaches no matter what the impact on our church or church ministries!”

Yes, theological-ideologues are a clear and present danger in law, politics, and ministry!

Typically, just as in judicial appointments and politics, someone new will come along and assume the leadership after enough damage is done.

How does it all end? Most ministries survive such theological-ideologues.  After a period of time of slow erosion, a new ministry leader will assume leadership, and he will try to re-map God’s people out of the ditch that they have come to believe was the road.

Is It Really Biblical Stoicism When . . .

The personal testimony of April Farmer was stirring and heart-wrenching!

It was well worth the listen and reminded me about what life is really like for many who live life outside of our awareness.

As I listened, I was moved by her aspirations to reach the place of “forgiveness.”

Nevertheless, I left her testimony with great ambivalence as to whether or not her view on forgiveness was actually biblical — once again!

The word “forgiveness” faces the same defining headwinds as other biblical words.  Like the word “love,” there are those who grossly misuse that word.  “Forgiveness,” like “love,” may be far removed from its biblical meaning.

Let me offer a series of 4 questions that reflect my ambivalence.


#1 – Does the word “forgiveness” have different biblical meanings?

Is it one size fits all?

The answer is obviously, “no,” and the reason is equally obvious.  While Jesus was being crucified, He uttered these words — “Father, forgive (“aphiemi”) them for they know not what they do.”  If the prayer of Jesus was answered, forgiveness was granted!

Does that mean all those who crucified Jesus that day had their sin of rejection and crucifixion canceled?  Not according to Peter in Acts 2:23, as Peter calls on them to repent!

The word “forgive” (aphiemi)is the same word used in Matthew 6:14, 15 (“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”), Matthew 9:2, 6, 12:31, 32; 18:21, 27, 32, 35; et al! [1]

The word is legitimately, properly, and most often translated “suffer.”  Permit it to be, suffer it to be.  The words of Jesus to His Father were a call to suffer it to be.  Had not Jesus prayed that, all involved might well have been struck down straightway.

The word “forgive” (in the sense that we popularly use the word) can mean that, but it does not always mean, nor should it be translated as such!


#2 – Is there “forgiveness of sin” (in the sense that we popularly use the word) without confession or repentance?

Does God “forgive” or “cancel the debt” without any confession that what was done was wrong.  Does God expect a repentant heart that seeks to make it right?

The Scriptures state that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”  What if we do not confess them?  Are they forgiven by God? “Biblical forgiveness” requires confession.

In fact, it requires confrontation.  How do you even know if someone actually sinned against you if you do not confront them?  What if, in confronting them, they indicate that this-or-that is not even true!  It never happened.  That is why we are instructed to go to someone who sins against us. [2]


#3 – What is a biblical response to wrongdoing?

If confession took place, forgive!
And if it happens again, and confession is made, forgive — 70X7.
The only requirement is a confession of wrongdoing.

Without confession that any wrong was done, there is no biblical forgiveness.  [3]  Nevertheless, there is the requirement of love, and that showing “love” may look very much like forgiveness.  I Corinthians 13 says you are to . . . . .

  • suffer it
  • show humility as an equal wrong-doer in life
  • not act unseemly — inappropriately
  • find no pleasure in one’s calamity
  • bear it
  • believe the best
  • hope that one day it will be made right
  • endure it

Are we to carry a grudge / offense?  Are we to go through life requiring that the “debt be paid.”


We are to suffer it to be for now and maybe for all of our lives.

But there is no biblical forgiveness without confession/repentance.

Wrongdoers will have to deal with unforgiven sin in eternity, because it was never confessed to man and to God!


4 – “What does it matter? Just forgive them!”

After listening to the testimony of April Farmer (and others before her), I am primarily concerned that we are being taught to be “spiritual stoics.” [4]  That we are to smother our sense of wrong and wrong-doing, to douse wrong-doing with the word “forgiveness” and “act like” it no longer affects us.

If you doubt me, listen to the testimony (and that of others) as April shares how she has forgiven him yet betrays that she still has those feelings of anger and hurt.  Because you cannot wave the “forgiveness wand” over veritable wrongdoing. [5]  That betrayal of one who was your friend and even closest friend (Psalm 41:9), abandonment (or worse) by your covenantal spouse (II Samuel 11:3), seeing another unfairly mistreated (and worse) (I Samuel 20:34), friends who fail to stand in the hard days (Matthew 26:40,71) hurts and hurts deeply.

While one can suffer all things, one still suffers – bears -endures it!

To deny such hurt and pain is to deny the reality of who we are, and not sinful reality, but human reality!

We have been created as social-relational-emotional beings that feel hurt, anger, betrayal, insult, exploitation, injury, and more!

That does not mean we carry it around for life, but that over time, as we suffer all things and bear all things, we work our way through it.  Sometimes, working out way through it happens very slowly — and that is okay as long as we are on a path to that end.

“Just bear with me, I am trying to get there!” is real life and living, not the fake words of some kind of stoic “arrival.” Those words are the Christian’s reality in life and living in a fallen world and broken people.  It is the reality that I think even April Farmer states — though unwittingly.


1 – Matt 6:9-15; 18:21-35; Luke 7:36-50; 11:1-4; Eph 4:31-32; Col 3:12-13
Two other words are translated “forgive.”

  • “charizomai” – which most realize comes from the word translated “grace”
  • “apoluo” – only two times translated “forgive” in one verse Luke 6:37

“charizomai” and “aphiemi” are used interchangeably in Luke 7:42, 43, 47, 48


2 – “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.”

Let me assure you that one day what is going to be judged and condemned by God —  is not the sins of a man, but the man for his unconfessed sins!


3 – There is a lot of self-righteous forgiveness when one states that they have forgiven another(s), or repeatedly forgiven so-in-so, when they do not even know if they have been sinned against.


4 – John Dryden:

And none can boast sincere felicity,
With equal mind, what happens, let us bear,
Nor joy, nor grieve too much for things beyond our care.
Like pilgrims to the appointed place we tend

“Accept it and take it as from the hand of God for your life.  He brought this into your life, and you are to praise Him and rejoice in that He has allowed this!” — is just another one of those theological ditches that lacks the balance of Scripture!


5 – Yes, there is real/veritable wrong-doing, and there is perceived wrong-doing.  All of us have been wronged — real or imagined.  But when there is veritable wrong, confession is necessary for biblical forgiveness.  Nevertheless, we are commanded to still love — and to biblically love even our enemies!


Audio Link: Her personal testimony