Flame On – A true story of Tragedy, and God’s provision

“Flame On” is the story of Cooper Jasper, a five year old boy who died in a dune buggy accident, and the story of a family who is fully devoted to God.

The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD.” – Job 1:21

Blessed be the name of the Lord. Can you honestly say that? In times where God gives? Or when He takes away?  In the face of real tragedy in your life, when it seems that your life is over, can you say “Blessed be the name of the Lord”?

The Jasper family had the greatest tragedy that can happen to a family. They lost their only son. The grief that they went through was beyond anything any of us can imagine. But they did not turn to depression or to alcohol or to drugs during this low point in their life like so many others would do. They fell to their knees and worshiped God, drawing on what they knew of God to get them through this tragedy.

I heard this story on the radio first, where “JJ,” Cooper’s father, was talking about how important it was in a tragedy to read your Bible every day and to pray, even though you will not feel like it. And how important having a body of believers around was to them.

JJ also talked about the sovereignty of God. God is in control of everything, all events that happen are put there by God, for whatever purpose He declares, even if we do not know the why. (Rom 8:28) Believing in this sovereignty is extremely difficult during a tragedy, but this family did it. And then they turned this story into a documentary movie.

Flame On illustrates the struggle between the sovereignty of God and human responsibility while examining how faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can take you from the very bottom of despair to victory through tragedy. This film is a “must see” for those grieving the loss of a loved one and will leave you with a peaceful knowledge that we serve a gracious, loving God who gives us light through the dark moments of life.

The movie is called Flame On, and is available to watch for free on their website FlameOn.net. Or you can order the DVD for only the cost of shipping. This is a story that you should watch, because we will all go through tragedy at some point in our life, and knowing how to stay focused on God is necessary.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:6-7

Think like a Calvinist, live like an Arminian

Leonard Ravenhill, one of my favorite pastors, had a saying he would quote often: “think like a Calvinist, live like an Armenian.”

I told this quote to a Calvinist friend of mine the other day who replied saying “If I felt the souls of everyone here was on me I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.”  It took me a few days to digest what exactly he said in relation to the quote, but really it gets to the heart of what Ravenhill meant.

See, Ravenhill was a great man of prayer. He spent countless sleepless nights praying that God would penetrate the lives of the lost and would penetrate the hearts of those already saved (a.k.a. bring Revival).

What is a Calvinist?

A Calvinist believes (for the purposes of this article) that the salvation of men is 100% up to God not decided by what man does at all. This can easily lead to a Calvinist not evangelizing and not spending time bringing the lost before the throne of God in prayer. I know because that is how I felt when I started to believe this. I would neglect praying for the lost and I would neglect witnessing to those who are lost because “it is up to God,” and I would use that to excuse the tough work of evangelism that we are called to.

Living like an Armenian

On the other hand, an Armenian believes that it is man’s decision to follow God or not, so someone who believes this spends a lot of time evangelizing and praying for the lost because the more people who hear the gospel the more people have a chance to choose God.

Obedience

With this in mind think about what Ravenhill said. “Think like a Calvinist, live like an Armenian.”  He is saying that yes, it is completely up to God who accepts and who rejects Christ, but regardless of that knowledge we are to spend our time evangelizing and praying for the lost and doing what we can to get the gospel to the lost.

Why?

Because we are told to.

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” – Romans 10:14-15

I do not know what part man plays in helping spread the gospel, if it is 100% up to God who receives the gift, then what part could we possibly play in this whole thing? And my answer is, I do not think it matters. It is not our job to understand how God works things out or why He tells us to the things He tells us to do.

Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. – Luke 10:2

You do not need to know the engineering details of how a car works in order to drive. Does your knowledge of how a carburetor works or how a spark plug works enable you to start and drive your car any more efficiently? No. In order to operate a car, you just need to know how to start the car and (safely) maneuver the vehicle.

In the same way we do not need to know how the engine of salvation works or exactly what part our prayer plays in the whole picture. All we need to know is how ot operate it. We only need to know how to follow God’s directions regardless of if we understand everything or not.

I will admit that obedience without fully understanding how it works is hard to do sometimes, but it must be done.

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. – Romans 10:1

I know in my own life I need to pray that God makes this burden real to me despite the knowledge that I have. My friend was right, this should keep us up all night with the souls of so many being lost right around us.  I have to ask myself why this burden does not rip at my conscience more than it does.  I do not have an answer for that, but I do know how to fix it – Prayer.

So yes, think like a Calvinist, but live like an Armenian.

“but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” – Acts 6:4

10 Evidences of Election

10 Evidences of Election
By Matt

Note: The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Eternal Truth Ministry.

Of the many doctrinal differences that arise throughout the modern Church, few have caused as much controversy and debate as the doctrine of election. This extremely difficult doctrine rests on the belief that believers do not choose God — God chooses them. The doctrine of election is most closely associated with the systematic theological viewpoint known as Calvinism. The doctrine of election itself, however, like many other doctrines in the church, stands alone from systematic theology. I follow the doctrine of election, but I do not follow all of Calvinistic theology. Following are ten evidences from the Bible that support the doctrine of election.

1. The Sin of Mankind
Since Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s Word for the first time, sin has corrupted mankind. This corruption is caused by the sin that all people have inherited from Adam (Romans 5:18). God is holy and righteous– we’re unholy and unrighteous. In Romans 3:10-11, we find this: “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.'” Nobody is righteous; nobody, on their own, understands the things of God. And finally, nobody seeks after God. Therefore, if nobody seeks after God, then nobody chooses Him.

2. The Sovereignty of God
We know from the Bible that God is absolutely sovereign– that He is high and exalted over all. Psalm 47:9 says this: “The princes of the people have gathered together, the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; He is greatly exalted.” This is further affirmed in Isaiah 46:9-10, when God says: “‘Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.”‘” If God is sovereign over all, would He not also be sovereign in salvation?

3. The Straying of Man
Isaiah 56:6 tells us: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way…” Mankind has strayed away from the Lord throughout history. Like sheep, we have no sense of direction on our own. Sheep will not return to the shepherd unless the shepherd goes looking for them– praise be to God that Jesus is our Good Shepherd (John 10:11). How could we find our way back on our own unless Someone were to guide us? We couldn’t find our way back to God– He found us.

4. The Future Sight of the Lord
We now address a common viewpoint– many people believe that the sovereignty of God is only limited to His foreknowledge. Indeed, He foresaw all things that would happen, because God is over all. He is all-knowing and all-seeing. Many believe that, because God is omniscient, He simply looked down the corridors of time and saw those who would accept Him and those who would reject Him. But, however, if this were the case, then God would see nobody accepting Him, because Romans 3:11 says that nobody seeks after God.

5. The Salvation of the Lord
Exodus 33:19 tells us this: “Then He said, ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.'” In Romans 9:15-16, along with a quote of Exodus 33:19, Paul writes: “For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” We see here that God has sovereignly chosen those upon whom He would have mercy and compassion. It says that it is not of him who wills– that means that it is not based on human choice. We do not initially choose to be saved.

6. The Son’s Receipt
When Jesus spoke in John 6, two verses come to mind in relation to our topic. The first is John 6:37: “‘All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.'” God has given us to His Son, Jesus Christ. The Father has chosen us to be given to His Son.

7. Sent By God
Jesus was sent by God to die on the cross for our sins and to reconcile us to Him. The second verse that comes to mind is John 6:44, when Jesus said, “‘No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.'” The Greek word for “draw” here is “helko”, meaning literally “to drag.” We can’t draw near to Jesus of our own accord, because we naturally draw away from Him. He has to draw us.

8. The Switching of the Redeemed
When we belong to Jesus, we switch from following sin to following the Savior. But who initiates this switch? Us? Another human? The answer is, no. The switching is started by God. Acts 3:26 says this: “‘To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away everyone one of you from your iniquities.'” In this address to the crowd, Peter told them that God turns away believers from their iniquities. The Greek word for “turning” is “apostrepho,” meaning “to turn away” or “to turn back.” God turns us away from our sins, and He turns us back to Him. We can’t go back to Him on our own.

9. The Selection to Conformity
“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”– Romans 8:29-30
Going once again to the original language, we see that the Greek word for “predestined” is “proorizo,” meaning “to determine before.” “To determine before”: there’s only one conclusion from this, that God predetermined those who would be conformed to the image of His Son.

10. Predestined to Be Sons
Finally, one more Scripture. Ephesians 1:3-6 says this: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Going back to the Greek language, the original word for “chosen” is “eklegomai,” meaning “to select,” “make a choice,” or “choose out.” The Greek word for “predestined” here is the same Greek word used in Romans 8:29-30, “proorizo.”

Arguments Against the Doctrine of Election
“God chose those whom He would save? That doesn’t sound like a fair God to me.”
Answer: Remember, this is all based on God’s sovereignty. Once again, going back to Exodus 33:19, we find that God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. It is entirely His choice. Nothing influences the Lord, and nothing can sway His decision. As for the accusation that God is unfair, let us turn over to Romans 9:19-21, which says, “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?’ But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” What right do we have to reply against God, or to say that God is unfair? Again, He is sovereign over all. He has the final word in everything. In our human logic, election seems unfair. But the Lord doesn’t operate on human understanding. Isaiah 55:8-9 says this: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'” God’s ways are not our ways– His thoughts are not our thoughts.
“If God chose those whom He would save, and I’m not elect, then that means I can’t be saved.”
This statement, while understandable, is irrational. Election is a piece of doctrine– it has no interference with man’s responsibility to the Lord. We should not use the question, “Am I elect?” to determine our salvation. Rather, we should use the question, “Do I want to know the Lord? Do I want to go to heaven, or to hell?” What matters in your relationship with the Lord is the here and now, with the basic question, “Do I love the Lord?”.

Again, election is an extremely difficult doctrine to comprehend. But we don’t always comprehend God’s Word. Nor are we called to comprehend everything about God. But we are called to believe the Word of God.