Trump IS the Third Party

What pundits and voters are starting to realize is that Trump is the third party right now. 20,000 Democratic voters in MA just left their ranks to register as GOP for Trump. Trump is doing what no GOP candidate has done since Reagan – attract broad crossover votes.

Trump is doing what the other GOP candidates haven’t figured out yet – you have to play hardball to win against the Democrats. Second, Trump established his brand as brash and imperfect so that when something negative comes out, it doesn’t affect his brand. But the other candidates set themselves up as morally superior, kinder, gentler, etc. – the moment they go negative or something comes out about them, their brand takes a big hit.

The fact that many in the “establishment” in DC hate Trump and would float another candidate or even support Hillary in the general election just shows you how far they are from the rank and file voter.

I’m not voting for Trump. In fact, I’m not voting for anyone. I’m just analyzing the race.

But it’s clear that Trump’s phenomenon has as much to do where the electorate is at as is the candidate himself. A fact that seems to be lost on the politically elite class.

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The Grand Plan of Election in the Old Testament

So from previous posts we saw that God had this grand plan to give birth to a people that He could call His own. He chose the bloodlines through several generations to make it happen the way that He wanted.

But what happened after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? How did God continue to choose? Did He make specific choices? How did you become a “chosen” person?

God had made a number of covenants (or promises) to Israel through Abraham and Moses that applied to the nation of Israel. Anyone born as an Israelite would automatically fall under those covenant promises (or consequences for national disobedience). Through the establishment of the Old Testament Law of Moses, outsiders could also come under these covenant promises by subjecting themselves to these Laws.

After Jacob, we no longer see God making specific choices of individuals to form this nation. A plan had been out into place and God chose to work through natural events to organically develop the nation.

Throughout the rest of the Old Testament, the focus of attention is around the chosen nation of Israel. At different points in their history God chooses individuals to fulfill specific roles, both good and bad, in regards to the national posture of Israel. God chose king David and specific prophets to lead and speak to the people at critical junctions in their history. God also chose Pharaoh through whom the plagues would come and chose the Babylonians that exerted punishment on Israel for their disobedience.

But all of these individual choices that God made were not about their eternal fate but the role they played in relation to Israel.

Also of critical importance is to note that God had foreseen this nation, loved this nation, and planned for it before it ever existed. The Apostle Paul mentions that Israel was foreknown by God as a people God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. (Romans 11:2 NIV)

Moses recounts the story of Abraham , Isaac, and Jacob:Because he loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, (Deuteronomy 4:37 NIV)

The Old Testament is replete with examples of God’s love, affection, and care for the nation of Israel. Even staunch proponents of individual election to salvation in the New Testsment do not deny that in the Old Testament, God’s primary program of election was corporate and the selection of individuals were to serve a purpose in relation to His corporate people.

Choosing the bloodlines Part 2

Previously we discovered that God, in bringing about the nation of Israel made specific choices as to whom the bloodlines should flow through to create this country.

This next entry is critical to as a foundation to understanding God’s program of election in the New Testament.

We have already covered Abraham but some unique circumstances arise when it comes to choosing Isaac and Isaac’s son Jacob.

God promised Abraham and his wife Sarah an heir to fulfill His promise but nothing was happening. So when they essentially give up, Sarah takes a cue from the surrounding culture and tells Abraham to have a son through their maid. Well, a son does come but God appears to them again and tells them that this is not the one through whom God promise would be fulfilled. Eventually, Sarah gets pregnant and gives birth to Isaac even though she is long past child bearing age.

When Isaac is later married, his wife Rebekah gets pregnant with twinsthat seemed to be wrestling in her womb. The Lord appears to Rebecca and tells her:
The Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23 NIV)

Already, before either of these boys had done anything, God had already decide that they both will grow into nations and the younger of the two will be the one that He has chosen for the unique bloodline to form the nation of Israel.

The younger son turns out to be Jacob who had twelve sons. God changes Jacob’s name to Israel and each one of Jacob’s sons becomes a tribe in Israel.

So God made specific, individual choices as to who would be involved to birth a nation but these choices were not about their eternal fate but the role that they would play.

Resolving contradictions

Calvanism’s view on election is that God has chosen certain individuals for salvation, for reasons only known to Him, before the world began. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love (Ephesians 1:4 NIV)

Arminiasm claims that God chose individuals based on who He knows would become saved.
To God’s elect…who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father… (1 Peter 1:1, 2 NIV)

These verses seem to support both views because both Calvanism and Aminiasm approach election using the same assumption – that It is primarily individual. And that stance causes the apparent contradiction.

But what if that assumption is not correct? What if God established a pattern of election in the Old Testament and that was the position that the New Testament writers started with?

Would that change the nature of the debate? Absolutely!

Would it resolve these apparent contradictions? Yes.

Do I have proof? Keep reading.

A different view on election

Starting any conversation on this subject of who and how God chooses people for salvation can be fraught with peril as it has been fought over, debated, and separated Christians through the ages. Unfortunately, most people think that they have only two camps to choose from and that’s where the topic starts and ends.

But what if there was another option? What if there was an option that didn’t try to compromise between the two camps? What if there was an alternative Biblical view that has a striking parallel between the Old and New Testaments?

And what if this position eliminated some of the unintended paradoxes and uneasy tension that as a Calvanist you struggle with God being the author of sin or as an Arminian you never quite have the assurance of faith.

If you’re brave and willing to take a walk with me you might discover a very liberating yet solidly Biblical approach to election.

How do people respond to the gospel?

I was picking up my son from work and a commentator was speaking on the parable of the sower and the seed on the radio. That parable got us talking about how people respond to the gospel.

The light went on for me as my son said that Jesus didn’t explain their lack of response based on the fact that they weren’t given the faith to believe. Rather, Jesus clearly explained that people’s hearts and mind are at different places when the seed of good news reaches them. Because of where their hearts and lives are at – they will respond differently.

That’s how Jesus answers that question of why some people respond and some don’t. It may because of where their minds are at or what outside influences impact their decision.

This makes a lot of sense as Paul, in describing the gospel, declares that it is “the power of God unto salvation.” The power is in the message. The Holy Spirit convicts men of sin so that the full power of the message can have its effect.

Thus, the sower and the seed is a powerful refutation of the idea that the reason why people respond to the gospel is whether or not God chose them. Jesus made it very clear that God provides the means and the power to salvation, but it is up to the individual to respond.

If it was true that people respond based on God’s prior choice, then Jesus should have just come right out and say it rather than giving a totally different answer that places the burden on individuals rather than God’s Sovereign choice. Why not just tell the disciples that the reason why some respond is that God has chosen them and not others?

As I have studied the Bible, I have learned that it’s best to start with what is clearly said to frame or shape difficult passages rather than the other way around. Otherwise, you end up having to re-interpret what is clearly said to fit the notions of a narrow passage where the interpretation can be very subjective.

The question of sovereignty

Is God sovereign? That’s a no brainer to answer but the difficulty comes in when we define the nature and extent of it. Some believe that if God is not in direct control of every aspect of life that he is not sovereign at all. Others believe that God’s sovereignty doesn’t need to control every aspect of life to achieve its ends.

How you view God’s ultimate purpose in creating mankind will likely color your answer. If you believe that God created the world and humans to bring glory to himself, then it’s easy to see why he would want to control every aspect of our lives and leave nothing to chance.

If you see God’s ultimate purpose was to give himself to human kind so as to enter into a relationship with him, then you are more likely to see God as providing some room for true freedom to make choices.

Without getting into the philosophical nature of choices if they are free if God knows what we will do beforehand, let’s look at a couple of examples in the Bible if we can see some clues as to the answer.

The first clue comes in creation. God creates this wonderful world and garden and then creates man without a woman. Then God remarks that it is not good for man to be alone which is unusual. With all the rest of creation God puts into place methods of procreation but not man.

The first thing that God says about himself is that he is plural. There is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that exists in a beautiful, uniquely harmonious relationship that they have been enjoying for eternity. God does not exist outside this relationship. Thus in making man alone, man realizes that he is alone and needs a counterpart. The most beautiful garden and easiest life is nothing if not shared. So God makes woman by taking a part of man.

Even in giving life to man, God breathes life into Adam which is unique from what he did to the other living things. God gives something of himself to be in relationship with man. Man gives something of himself to be in relationship to the woman and his first words upon seeing Eve reflect that:

Genesis 3:23
The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”

Next we see that daily, God would walk with man during the cooler hours. We don’t know what this was actually like but it reflects a growing, loving relationship where man got to know God not as an source of information but as a friend.

Did Adam glorify God by acknowledging his greatness? There is not doubt as God unfolded things to Adam and Eve that they would have done so. Worship flows naturally from those who know God.

But God’s desire wasn’t for Adam to hold worship services but to know God and spend time with him. Even God’s command to them did not include worship or a demand for glory. In fact, God told them to be fruitful and multiply. He wanted more people to enter into a relationship with.

When God created the tree of knowledge of both good and evil, God gave man a choice because no relationship is valid unless freely entered.

Thus God’s sovereign purpose in creating mankind was to have a relationship with him and give God an opportunity to give of himself to us. That is the pleasure of God. The 100% giving of self is also reflected in the trinity.

Since God must always act in accordance with his nature and character, the freedom to choose and enter into relationships flows from who God is. Thus God’s sovereignty makes room for us to freely make decisions so that his sovereign purposes can be accomplished.