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.