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Hard Theology

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Reverend Anthony R. Locke May 30th, 2010 (Trinity Sunday) at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker 2 Corinthians 13:14 English Standard Version The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit    be with you all. The Trinity is one of those distinctively Christian doctrines that…

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A Place Prepared for the Devil — Revelation 20:7-10


A Place Prepared for the Devil -- Revelation 20:7-10 ARPChurch Anthony R Locke

What is the Lake of Fire? The Sea of Fire is a place so big, that there are no shores. No islands of refuge. No stable footing and no reachable surface. There is sulfur. Gunpowder is made with sulfur to increase the heat and explosive nature of the compound. Sulfuric acid has lots of sulfur. Sulfur boils at 850 degrees.

Ancient civilizations understood that volcanoes have lots of sulfur in the magma. The Old Testament tells us that God rained down brimstone, which is a synonym for sulfur, on Sodom and Gomorrah.

So God is asking for us to imagine a sea of boiling sulfur into which the Devil is cast and sinks. That’s not a comforting thought, unless you hate the Devil.

And this experience of the Devil is permanent. There’s no end to his torment. He is lost under the billowing waves of God’s wrath. He will forever feel like he is burning up. He will forever feel like he is drowning. He will be forever lost to God’s love.

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Jesus told Mary, "I am Not Yet Ascended" — Didn't He Already Go to Heaven?


Jesus makes two ascents. Take a moment to think this through. There are two events when Jesus ascends into Heaven.

First, after His death on the Cross Jesus immediately ascends into the congregation of the saints in heaven. Jesus told the thief hanging next to Him that they were both going to heaven.

This answers the question, “Where was Jesus during the three days His body was in the grave?”

The second ascent is recorded in the Bible in Acts 1:3-11. This is called the Ascension.

The difference is that in the first ascending of Jesus in Heaven He does so as a Man. He joins with the saints for three days without a resurrected body. He then goes back and forth to heaven for 40 days with a resurrected body.

The Ascension is different entirely. In the Ascension God answers Jesus prayer in John 20:5 “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”

This is why Mary couldn’t cling to Jesus and keep Him for herself. He wasn’t yet fully ascended.

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God CAN'T Leave Your Salvation to Chance


God can’t keep Himself from knowing the future and determining it’s outcome. It’s an unstoppable consequence of His sovereign power and omniscience.

And don’t begrudge God’s electing love. Don’t criticize God’s sovereign mercy which saves.

Without God we won’t come to faith. God makes the difference. We should thank Him, not criticize His choices.

Christians need to stop grumbling about election.

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Is Inerrancy A Bible Doctrine?


Inerrancy is not an intellectual construct that we build in our mind after we make a careful analysis of the data. Jesus considered the Bible to be without error. Inerrancy is a Bible doctrine.

To not embrace the doctrine of inerrancy is to pervert the Gospel and put your soul in danger.

We do not prove the Bible to be God’s word by labeling it inerrant as a matter of reason or logic. The Bible claims this for itself.

We should close the debates and refocus our collective energies.

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Presbyterian Election Explained

Sovereign Grace and the Glorious Mystery of Election by C. J.Mahaney Download this as a PDF First Impressions Author James Cantelon presents this moving and insightful remembrance of his conversion experience: “First impressions are lasting impressions.” So goes the old saying, and I suspect in most cases it is true. My first impression of God is with me to this day.…

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God Doesn’t Do Anything Random, Because He CAN'T — John 6:37-44

Election should steal from you the idea that you saved yourself with an act of faith. You don’t get the glory for being saved. God gets the glory. Your faith isn’t salvific – a good work.

Election doesn’t diminish the “Whosoever will may come!” part of the Bible. Our part is believing. We still have to confess faith in Jesus or we are not obeying the command to believe.

Election doesn’t paint God as mean by sending people to Hell. Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

Election doesn’t diminish the power of grace. God family isn’t a exclusive club of saved people. Election creates a large inclusive family like the sands in the sea and stars in the night sky.

Why does election save more people than sin damns?  Because grace is greater than sin. Sin bruises the heel, grace crushes the head. Sin brings people to hell on a wide path, like a group event, or like a city wide revolt away from God into Hell.

Going to heaven is a narrow path for the few who find it. This means that faith is a one on one encounter with Jesus. Going to Hell is a group event. This does not mean that more people are in Hell than in Heaven. I believe grace will get the upper hand numerically too. God’s magnanimous love is proven by election. There will be more people in Heaven than Hell. It is God’s doing.

Let me wrap this up. Don’t begrudge the role God plays in your salvation. Trust God to be good in the use of that mighty power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely . . . for humans, but not God.

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Can We Feel Predestination? — Romans 8:28-9:33

There is an amazing Bible topic called Predestination. It answers some pretty important questions about God and our salvation. Specifically, predestination is suppose to make us feel certain things in our heart and in our faith about God and about our salvation.

I know most people think of predestination as a painful journey in Calvinistic theology, but, God doesn’t handle it that way in the Bible. God doesn’t think this doctrine is hard. To God this doctrine is meant to be a huge blessing. We aren’t suppose to think it first; we are to feel it.

So what are we suppose to feel?

First, we are to feel wrapped up in the everlasting arms of our heavenly Father who is in complete control of everything. Romans 8:28 reminds us that the roller-coaster ride we call life never catches God by surprise. Even sad events are used by God to build our character, return us to prayer and test our submission to the will of God. Predestination means that we can be at peace with our tomorrow because God controls our yesterday, today and tomorrow. Can you feel that? It’s the steady hands of the Lord leading you forward.

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Is FAITH the Good Works Necessary for Heaven? — John 6:22-40

Everyone has an inner desire to draw near to God, but not everyone is drawn by faith. The people in our passage were drawing near to Jesus to get food for their stomachs. Like Simon the magician in Acts 8, they wanted to be a part of the spectacle. John 6:26 Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.

Why do we draw near to God? Is it because we think church attendance will magically make our life better? Many people who used to go to church can tell you that isn’t true.

Do we seek God so He will bless our business, our family, our marriage, and our life? Are we seeking the blessing or are we seeking to draw near to Jesus?

Going to church to seek a better life for yourself will leave you empty and cynical. I know this from personal experience while in college. John 6:27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.

Jesus is stamped with the Father’s own divine seal of approval. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Believing and living for Jesus constitutes doing the work of God.

This is a broad definition and very liberating. Everyone can do God’s work wherever they find themselves. We seek Jesus first, and then in faith we do our labors in this world as unto the Lord and not unto men. Our own talents and interests lead us into our hobbies and employment, but our faith in Jesus enables us to do these things for God’s glory and not our own.

My dad used to tell his three sons, “find what you love and learn to make a living at it.”

Jesus would say, “find what you love and by faith glorify and enjoy God with it.”

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Jesus Suffered, But You Are Not Allowed to See!

Jesus cried out “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?” And in those three hours of total darkness on the cross Jesus went through what we would have suffered if we had gone to Hell.

He is the only person to ever go through Hell on earth. We must believe this or we miss the message of the Gospel. If Jesus didn’t go through Hell for us then our Hell remains unpaid.

The Gospel says that there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus – for Jesus took it all. There is no wrath remaining – for Jesus drank it all.

The Apostle’s Creed includes this theological statement to explain what really happened just before Jesus dismissed His spirit. If it speaks to nothing more than His death and burial then it is redundant. This is the position of John Calvin and the church since the Reformation.

Confessing that Jesus descended into Hell tells us what really happened in the darkness. It is the real story told from God’s perspective. We will never be allowed to peer into this mystery of our salvation because Hell is not for us if we are in Christ.

In Jesus the darkness has lifted. The curse is gone. Death’s stinger broke off inside the flesh of Jesus. The grave holds no victory dance over the dead body of a saint. Hell is not for us.

For on the cross Jesus descended into Hell. Praise His name forever.

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