"Decision" verses...and the Pastors who love them

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    Surprise. Surprise! I came across an email discussion group that I started years ago and had forgotten all about. I found this post that I wrote shortly after I became one of those humourless, Greekroot-grubbing TULIPites. With a few minor revisions I thought it worth a repost. BTW, since this was written my wife and I are comfortably settled in a good Baptist church.

    "Decision" verses...and the Pastors who love them

    My wife and I visited a Baptist church here in town. It brought back memories for both of us. Not good memories. We both spent years in Baptist churches - she grew up in them. In fact, I still consider myself a Reformed Baptist.

    But what we heard yesterday were examples of much of the bad, bad theology we had both been exposed to. What he did - an older man who should have known better - he got out his eisegetical tongs and plucked out three little verselets to Ipse Dixet his points. The church is gearing up for a "revival" so, in preparation, it is high
    cherry-picking season. Three examples.

    Joel 3:14a
    "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision..."

    I honestly forget now if he even finished the verse. He certainly only thumped on this portion, however. "Many of you will find yourselves in the valley of decision....You have a decision to make, etc." The decision, of course, is whether to have a personal relation with Christ, or having had done that, to make him Lord". But the verse does not mean that at all. This decision is a judicial one, one of judgement. And - most important point of all - it is entirely God's decision. This verse is not at all about what we ought to do.

    It is about what God will do - in the Day of the Lord.

    He strengthened his decisive plea with Joshua 24:15, "Choose you this day whom you will serve...."

    The key word being "choose". Now this did have more applicability to the pastor's intention, than the previous one, yet, in all fairness to the text, there needs to have been an explanation of reason and the background for Joshua's charge to the already backsliding Israelites.

    It amazes and saddens me how, out of all the wonderful truths that can be gleaned out of this book of Joshua, mainly two texts are gingerly excised out of it to make (usually) forced applications. They will use this verse (24:15) as a flying buttress to hold up the castle-in-the-sky of decisional regenerationalism, and they will use
    (with varying degrees of applicability) Joshua 1:8's "This Book of the Law shall not depart form your mouth..." whenever the need arises to teach the importance of Bible study and memory. And I am not saying that there isn't application to that, but, once again, there should have been a proper backgrounding of the text. (But then that is what many modern churches do today - not just Baptists - they take verses out of context). But they leave out other verse from their cherry-picking sermons: In all of my years in all kinds of churches I have yet to hear a sermon from, say, Joshua 21:43- 45:

    "So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which he had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it.

    The Lord gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand.

    Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass."
    (Underlining not in the original Hebrew ; )) (BTW, this passage is further corroborated with Joshua 23:14- 15)

    So why is this verse not often preached, or often Day-Glo highlighted in many modern Bibles? Because it shoots down the whole concept of the "God is not through with Israel" Millennial Jewish Kingdom. According to this neglected passage, the Jews are getting no more real estate. What God had promised them God had given them. "Not a word failed" of that promise. The warning of Joshua (and of God), sadly, also came into effect. The very thing the Jews were warned about came true to them. Those warnings, according to Zechariah 1:6, "overtook" the Jewish people.

    Well, I am rambling away from my original purpose for writing this. The third verse (having nothing to do with decisionalism) that was taken out of context was Matthew 23:23, which was an attempt to teach tithing as a fixed principle for churches today. Yet he ignored the context again, and that Jesus was still speaking to those in the old economy, the Jewish Church (as Owen often terms it). You find nothing corresponding to this text in, say, Paul's writings.
     
  2. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    Surely, you acknowledge the fact that Christ does call everyone to make a decision, to consider the cost of being his follower, don't you?

    LK 14:25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' 31 "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

    Isn't the very point of this passage to ask those who want to follow Him to "consider the cost?" Isn't he calling them to sit down and ponder what following him is going to require? Isn't He calling them to a decision? Hasn't he been calling them to a decision for ages?

    Is 1:16 wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, 17 learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. 18 "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
     
  3. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    Yes, I do. My point was the misuse of those verses I quoted.
     
  4. Skandelon

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    good, just wanted to clarify that point. thanks
     
  5. Jerome

    Jerome
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    One just has to chuckle at such gauche tub-thumping preachers.

    Listen, then, each of you here present, who have only one thing that you lack. Will you now—may his holy Spirit make you—give up the world and all its fair prospects, give up sin and all its fascinations, give up your fleshly self, with all its peculiar inclinations, and close in with God in Christ, and give your whole heart to him? Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! There is a valley of decision to us all, when we are either left to our own wills and decide for evil, or led by the grace of God to decide for Christ. The cry is heard in this house to-night, "Divide, divide." Those who shall say "aye" within their hearts take their place with Christ; but those who are of the "noes"—those who give the negative to the command of Christ—let them, at least, know what they are doing; and if they will go the downward road, let it be with their eyes open, fully aware where they go. But, oh! say not "No!" Oh! Spirit of God, let them not say " No!" Yield thee, man, yield to the gentle impulse which now bids thee say, "I will take his yoke upon me, for it is easy; I will follow him." Yield to his love who round you now the hands of a man would cast—the cords of his love who was given for you, to his altar binding you fast. Pray this prayer: "Lord, bind the sacrifice with cords, even with cords to the horns of the altar; let me be thine now, and thine hereafter when thou comest in thy glory!" ---Charles Spurgeon, Lovely but Lacking
     
  6. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    Yes, it is wrong whoever does it. I don't know why Spurgeon is always called "the Prince of Expositors". In some cases - like this one above - his sermons are not good examples of Bible exposition.
     
  7. mparkerfd20

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    I'm still trying to see what Spurgeon said that was so wrong... Help me out here. Does he not say: "There is a valley of decision to us all, when we are either left to our own wills and decide for evil, or led by the grace of God to decide for Christ"?

    That's consistent with scripture.
     
  8. Winman

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    Spurgeon is not saying a man is compelled by the Spirit to decide for Christ.

     
  9. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    That is not consistent with that scripture. Joel 3:14 is not about that. That was my point.

    We need to always preach and teach our texts in their contexts, and not go for single scripture snippets that seem to say what we really want to talk about.
     

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