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Double Double, Toil & Trouble?

Rob Wilkerson

Introduction: Why I Wrote This Book I have written this work as a servant to you, the reader. I am trying not to write this as a victim of evil in the local church at the hands of people who only claim to be Christians. Whatever you do, dont think of me like this, because I deserve so much worse! I dont deserve any accolades or honor or respect for the things that Ive gone through. I am worthy of neither recognition for the choices I made, nor the path I took. Im just a servant of Jesus. And as His servant, Im just doing what my Savior did, what is required of me to serve you, my brothers and sisters in Jesus. To be sure, this service here is wonderful, delightful job! There is a massive amount of wonder and joy that exists in washing the feet of my spiritual family. But again, Im just a servant. As one pastor preached, what honor and praise is due to a pen? Thats all I am. Just a pen trying to give glory to God for His greatness and trying to humbly sit before an extremely mysterious God. So dont pity me or think about my plight while reading this book. Set your gaze on the throne of Jesus where He sits with power and authority, mercy and grace, love and hope. The glory of God is the bullseye of this book. I just want to glorify God by serving every reader pastor and church member, theologian and layman, scholar and saint. In the style of the Apostle John, I write to you pastors to strengthen your resolve to preach the glorious truth of Gods decrees with grace and truth. One of the greatest needs of our time in Christian history is for persevering men to preach boldly. That includes expositing the mysteries of the Godhead. Rest assured it will cost you everything, if it hasnt already. You among all especially need to know that there are other brothers throughout the world who are suffering for the Savior like you. I write to you, ordinary or average church member, though I very much dislike to use these ridiculous labels to describe the servanthood you display in your local churches. The beauty of the local church is only seen in the humility and servanthood which leadership shows to a congregation, and which a congregation shows to its leadership. As one of my mentors, Lou Priolo, taught me once, servanthood should be demonstrated with such devotion that believers will be tripping over one another to serve each other. Having said that, I dont want to mislead anyone reading this book. Though it involves local and state government, and despite its tale of trials and court proceedings, it is not a book about the relationship of Christians to government, nor about handling legal issues in the local
Revision: March 2012 or in wholeyet. Seriously. No part of this draft may be reproduced in part

Double Double, Toil & Trouble?

Rob Wilkerson

church. It is not a book about how to discipline unruly church members! After youre finished reading just the first chapter you will probably wish it was a book about this! And perhaps these are issues I might write on in the future. Though it happened less than a decade ago, the whole ordeal is still pretty fresh on my mind. The time away from it all, however, has given me space to breathe freely and to process it all a little more. That this book is about is a theology of Gods sovereignty. And in particular, it addresses one truth produced by and inseparably connected to Gods sovereignty. It is a small truth in relation to all the truth about Gods sovereignty. To be sure, the nature of this small truth makes it an important truth. But it is not a hill to die on! Please read that sentence again, because if you dont, you will miss the point of the book and wage a war that would very much displease the Jesus. I want to put everyone at ease here when I say that the doctrine of doublepredestination is not an essential of the faith! You do not have to believe it in order to be saved. The gospel is the most important doctrine in the world, not double-predestination. Lets keep this thing in proper perspective. Dont ever forget this truth regarding the gospel, friends. Those who do forget it become those who beat the drum of the reformation, or Calvinism, or predestination, or election as if they were a throng of tympanis, when in reality they are only cymbals! A band or orchestra can play a wonderful piece without any cymbals. The cymbals only add height, grandeur, majesty and emphasis to the climaxes of a musical piece. And in like fashion, these truths do not make up the gospel but only emphasize its grandeur and majesty. Again, the doctrine emphasized in this book is not the gospel. So I trust that you will see the importance of the gospel more than anything else in life or theology. Embrace the gospel with doggedness and dogmatism. But do not embrace the theology of this book with that attitude, I beg of you. To do so promotes division in the precious body which must remain united under the banner of the gospel of Christ. As C. J. Mahaney is famous for preaching, Keep the main thing the main thing! Theology is Life and Life is Theology When I graduated from seminary, all graduates were expected to sum up their three of four years of education into a five minute testimony to be shared during chapel. Thats a hard task for any preacher. But as I thought about the trials and tribulations Jesus walked my wife and I

Revision: March 2012 or in wholeyet. Seriously.

No part of this draft may be reproduced in part

Double Double, Toil & Trouble?

Rob Wilkerson

through while in seminary, there was only one phrase that could possibly sum up my experience: theology is life and life is theology. Theology is about the glory of God manifested in the thoughts and actions and feelings of life. In short, whatever I believe about God does not really become genuine theology until it is lived out and tested in the battles of life. Thats the one tough aspect of doing theology. For me, it isnt theology until youve lived it out. Its just theory. If at the end of a battle, I have not lived to the glory of God in what I say, think or feel, then my theology is really useless and meaningless, and Ive just theorized. Those battles help test and morph my theology so that it moves from the surreal to the real. Without them, they are ivory tower concepts and theories formulated in a vacuum with no connection to reality. For that reason, I can say that this is in every sense a theology book. The stuff I think and write about in this book may have been developed and argued in ivory towers. But the meaning and application has been processed and worked through in real life. What this means is that if the theology Ive formed in the tower doesnt work in the fields and cubicles, it is of little if any value. So if this book only serves as fresh meat for ravenous theological disputations, then I feel I will have failed. I want to see Christianity impacting the world in such a way that we form generation-sized, culture-changing craters with our cross-centered lives and not our cross-eyed theological discussions. So even in the very least if this book sets your heart ablaze with fresh affections for Jesus, urgent impulses of humility, and voracious cravings for lost souls then I know God will be glorified through it. I desperately long for more God-centeredness in my own life as well as the life of the local church. This is just my first public literary stride in that direction. Taking this first stride has caused a pulling of my spiritual tendons and hamstrings like nothing Ive experienced before. The result has been life-sized cramps! This book records one particular cramp that was so bad, I thought it would take me out of vocational ministry, at least for a while. And to be honest, it may yet do this very thing. God is sovereign...all the time. So why try to figure out His ways. What I went through is nothing more than the cramp that many pastors have felt before, some of whom have in fact stepped out of vocational ministry for good. Its a life-sized cramp because it is emotionally and mentally like a crushing pain that just seems to keep contracting, causing immense tension in the family. Pray for me as you read this book. Gods frowning providence is quite amazing sometimes amazingly painful! But it is also amazingly good,
Revision: March 2012 or in wholeyet. Seriously. No part of this draft may be reproduced in part

Double Double, Toil & Trouble?

Rob Wilkerson

for He is undoubtedly working all of these things together for my good and His glory because I love Him and because He has called me to Himself to be conformed to Jesus. Jesus life and ministry was humanly perfect and sealed with suffering. All who desire to follow after Him must take up the cross. And Jesus calls it his cross because the cross each person carries has been assigned and designed specifically for them by the heavenly Father. Though that cross may put you in the grave for three or more days (i.e. taking you out of vocational ministry for a season), you will rise again and conquer victoriously. Carry your crosses, be willing to be removed, sit quietly under the heavy hand of God for a season, and trust in God to raise you up in due time. The Form and Substance of This Book There are six parts to this book to it and it has been designed this way for a purpose. In Part One my purpose was to walk you through the trouble God had in store for me, for His glory, because of one particular, mysterious doctrine relating to His sovereignty. It is truly a non-fiction story, though it will sound much like fiction. I can bear witness, my conscience is clear, that every detail of the story in chapter one is true. Believe it or not. In Part Two I desired to deal with some introductory matters which will be helpful to reading the rest of the book. The issues may seem a bit choppy with little if any transition between them. But they are all vitally essential not just to reading this book, but to reading and studying any theology. In chapters three and four we make the transition from my story to the point of the book, and identify some beginning points for our study, such as what theological camps, the definition of key terms, and some exhortations on how youve got to handle a theological subject like this one. Perhaps the heart of this book is the examination of key passages in the Scriptures that deal with the subject of double-predestination. The heartbeat of any theological book ought always to be the text of Gods Word. This is the goal of Part Three. In chapters five through ten, I examine in detail the five texts that are considered to provide the theological basis for double-predestination. In between chapters five and six I have provided a brief excurses which will help transition between the chapters by providing some important Old Testament background material. The next section, Part Four, moves from the textual to the theological. Theology is the practice of piecing together the biblical texts on a given subject and working them out to a conclusion in real life. The efforts
Revision: March 2012 or in wholeyet. Seriously. No part of this draft may be reproduced in part

Double Double, Toil & Trouble?

Rob Wilkerson

and attempts made in this section are merely my frail, human, finite attempts to piece together the biblical data and come to some sort of conclusion. As you will see, attempting to form a conclusion on a subject like this is daunting, yet always bumping into unexplainable mystery. Inevitably, theology produces more questions than it can sometimes answer. This will certainly be the case when you are done reading this book. Thats just the nature of the beast, so I would plead with you not to get irritated or frustrated with these attempts. Thats just the way it goes! Thus, in Part Five I have listed the key objections often raised to the doctrine taught in this book, and I attempt to answer them accordingly. I am certain that most of my readers will be taken by surprise by my answers. But I believe they are not only biblical answers, but are also the most important answers to such questions. The final section of this book, Part Six, will focus on how to stay out of theological messes, as well as how to handle them if you find yourself in the middle of one. The Bible teaches that as far as it depends on you, you are to be at peace with everybody. Sometimes youll be unable to avoid trouble, as in my case. But I thank God that such trouble like this does not characterize my life and ministry overall. Even if it did, God would still be on His throne and accomplishing His purposes through me. This is primarily because I learned some important lessons early on in ministry from key mentors and experience. The truth I teach in this book causes conflict with other believers. It will naturally produce a certain level of conflict, but that kind of conflict must never progress to the point where you no longer enjoy intimate fellowship with them. Chapters nineteen and twenty are written to teach you how not to handle a theological conflict, and how to handle such a conflict. Finally, among the multiplied pounds of books, articles, papers, journals, and magazines I have used to study and research this subject, there are several key works which have been of great assistance to me in applying the doctrine. I have reproduced these for you in the appendices. Zanchius, Turettin, Bunyan, and Luther have all given me their permission! That will be evident in the pieces I included by them. Matthew Perman and Brian Mattson have graciously allowed for their articles to be included in this book, as I think they will be of much value to you in thinking through this topic and attempting to try to find somewhere to put it in your heart and mind.

Revision: March 2012 or in wholeyet. Seriously.

No part of this draft may be reproduced in part

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