The Conclusion of the Matter

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My Musings – Fear God? “The ‘fear of the Lord‘ is that attitude of reverence and awe that His people show to Him because they love Him and respect His power and His greatness.” (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Satisfied (p. 135). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books).

Keep His commandments?  Not out of the fear, as we understand fear.  But, as explained above, out of reverence, awe, and respect.  Why wouldn’t we?  Think of it this way.  When we were little children, we obeyed our parents out of the fear we understand.  Fear of the consequences if we did not.  As we grew older and became adults we continued to do the things we were told when we were young, because we revere and respect them, and want to please them. We want to show our gratitude.

The duty of man?  Not because it is compulsory, but because we are obliged (do as someone asks or desires in order to help or please them).

My Advice – Do your “duty.”

A Mind Full

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My Musings – Carl Sagan wrote, “There is nothing unusual about the earth. It’s an average, unassuming rock that’s spinning mindlessly around an unremarkable star in a run-of-the-mill galaxy – ‘a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.'”  Yet on this “unassuming rock” in this “great enveloping cosmic dark” God placed the crown-jewel of His creation – Man.  We know (Carl Sagan notwithstanding) this, because of all His creation only man was made in His image.

All of the other “work[s] of [His] fingers” are beyond our comprehension, because our finite minds cannot comprehend the infinite.  And yet “these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” (Job 26:14, NIV 1984).  Who indeed?  Incomprehensible to us, yet still “how faint the whisper we hear of Him!”  The infinite is still merely the “outer fringe of His works.”  Try and wrap your head around that!

Which brings us back to the Psalm above, which is attributed to King David.  In the midst of all that has just been so inadequately described, “what is man that [He] is mindful (Attentive; regarding with care; bearing in mind; heedful; observant) of Him?”  That my friend, is a mind full indeed!

My Advice – “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Revelation 7:12, NIV 1984).

Have You Heard The News?

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2 Kings 19:25 – “Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – When we think that the world is spinning out of control, we need to remember who has the ultimate control.  Nothing takes Him by surprise.  The “unexpected” cannot change what He ordained and planned in days of old.  Perhaps what seems to be things out of control are things He planned and ordained long ago.  Perhaps the time is growing short and the “labor pains” are increasing in intensity and frequency.  We do not know the day or hour (only the Father knows), but we can know when the time “is near, right at the door.”  “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Matthew 24:34, NIV 1978)  Are we the generation that will see all these things?  Maybe.  Long ago He ordained the return of His Son.  In days of old He planned it.  He will most certainly bring it to pass.

My Advice – Watch for it (see Matthew Chapter 24).  But more importantly, be ready for it.  Are you ready?

Every Knee and Every Tongue

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1 Kings 18:39The Lord – He is God! The Lord – He is God! (NIV 1978)

My Musings – The context of this verse is the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel.  Having seen the utter failure of a non-existent god, and the awesome display of God’s mighty power, the people could do nothing but exclaim “The Lord – He is God!

Today, people worship all kinds of “gods,” fame, fortune, pleasure, and science, for example, not to mention a plethora of false religions all claiming that they are the true or an alternative path to God.  Then there are those who claim that there is no God at all.

That’s today.  A time is coming, perhaps very soon, when this will change and “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10–11, NIV 1984).

My Advice – For those who have confessed Jesus Christ is Lord beforehand, this will be praise indeed.  For those who have not, it will be too late.  Why not now? “The Lord – He is God!”

In God We Trust

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2 Samuel 7:28O Sovereign Lord, you are God!  Your words are trustworthy. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Imagine if you will a sovereign that was not trustworthy.

Sovereign – Possessing supreme or ultimate power.

Trustworthy – Able to be relied on to do or provide what is needed or right.

Such a sovereign would, without fail, be able to deliver on his promises, but could not be counted on not to fail.  By definition, this person could not be considered trustworthy.

Now consider someone that you might otherwise consider as trustworthy, but may not have the power to always deliver on their promises.  By definition, this person could not be considered trustworthy (reliable).

We can now begin to see why sovereign and trustworthy results in the proclamation “you are God!”  We can also see why the motto “In God We Trust,” was not chosen lightly, and why it should not lightly be cast aside.

Not Chosen Lightly – Our National Motto – ‘In God We Trust’ – was not chosen lightly. It reflects a basic recognition that there is a divine authority in the universe to which this nation owes homage – Ronald Reagan.

Not Lightly Cast Aside – The guiding principle of this Nation has been, is now, and ever shall be IN GOD WE TRUST – John F. Kennedy.

My Advice – Take “In God We Trust” as a guiding principle.

 

 

Study 7 – Predestination Revisited

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Predestination – Literally before (pre) we arrive at our destination (heaven or hell). Our ultimate destination is determined before we are even born by God choosing us. Both Calvinism (not the Calvin above) and Arminianism agree on this.

What else did we learn?

A. God’s ElectionHe chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:4-5, NIV 1984).

Arminianism – Man cannot be saved apart from the grace of God, but rather he must cooperate with or assent to the grace (salvation not wholly dependent upon God’s grace).

Calvinism – Salvation wholly dependent upon the grace of God. Man is not even capable of cooperating or assenting to God’s grace without the intervention of God.

The issue is: what is the basis of this election – His pleasure and will or His knowledge of man’s ultimate decision?

B. God’s SovereigntyHis dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:34-35, NIV 1984)

The issue is: why do some people perish (go to hell)? Does this mean that God is not sovereign (cannot prevent people from perishing), or does it mean He is not good (chooses to allow people to perish)?  Since these are inconsistent with what we know about God, these cannot be the only choices.

God could decide to not give anyone who has fallen an opportunity for salvation. The only objection to this would be that God is being just, not that He is being unmerciful. God is not obligated to be merciful, because mercy is not an obligation. Justice can be owed but mercy is not obligatory. But God did not choose to not save anyone.

God could provide an opportunity for some or everyone to be saved. But there would be no guarantee that anyone would be saved.

God could exercise His sovereignty and ensure the salvation of some or everybody. God did not choose to ensure the salvation of everyone (universalism). This is not Biblical, because we know many will indeed perish. Some will be lost (particularism).

The issue is: Is it an injustice if God ensures the salvation of some but not all the fallen? Or, is God being more merciful by ensuring the salvation of some rather than just an opportunity that may not be taken?  The saved get mercy, the lost get justice. No one gets injustice. Mercy is not justice and it is not injustice. It is non-justice. No one has been or ever will be the object of injustice at the hands of God.

C. Man’s Free WillSo I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. (Romans 7:21, 25, NIV 1984)

Jonathan Edwards – Free moral agents always act according to the strongest inclination (desires) that they have at the moment of choice.

Calvin – If free will means that fallen man has the ability to choose what he wants, he has free will. If free will means that fallen man has the moral power and ability to choose righteousness, he lacks free will, because he cannot always do so.

Sproule – Every choice that man makes is free (self) and every choice that man makes is determined. Seems like a paradox because free and determined (caused by something outside man’s will) are generally considered to be mutually exclusive.

The issues are:  If my desires determine my choice, how can I be free?  Does fallen man retain in His heart any desire for God?

D. God’s Drawing – “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” (John 6:65, NIV 1984)

No One – Universal negative. No exceptions.

Can Come – Can has to do with ability. No one has the natural ability to come.

Unless – A necessary condition happens.

Enabled – The word is ambiguous.

This is why I told you” is a repetition of John 6:44 – “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (NIV 1984)

The issue is: What does it mean to draw?

Arminian – To draw means to entice, woo, attract. Drawing is still resistible.

Calvinism – To draw means to drag or coerce (James 2:6 and Acts 16:19). It means to compel by irresistible superiority.

Which makes more sense?

E. God’s Justice & MercyBefore the twins (Jacob and Esau) were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election [choice] might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated [rejected].” What then shall we say? Is God unjust [unrighteous]? Not at all [may it never be]! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort [exertion], but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore, God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. (Romans 9:10-18, NIV 1984)

Jacob and Esau were twins. Everything that could possibly be the same, was the same. Yet God chose one (the younger) and rejected the other (the elder), before they were even born.

The issue is: On what is God’s election based?

Foreknowledge View (Arminian) – God’s election before anyone is born (from the foundation of the world) is based upon His foreknowledge of what man will ultimately do after they are born. Based on this prior knowledge God makes His choice (election), knowing what man will choose. Final decision is based upon a human choice, not upon a divine action.

Awkward Silence View (Calvinism) – While the text says God chooses before man is born, and thus before man can do anything good or evil, it does not explicitly state that His choice is based on His foreknowledge. The text does say, however, that it does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort [exertion], but on God’s mercy. Calvinist view is that this statement contradicts Arminian view (depends on man’s choice, which God has foreknowledge of).

Once gain, the issue is:  Is God being unfair?

Divine Prerogative – “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” Some receive a measure of mercy that others do not. No one receives injustice. If God only gave justice no one would be saved. God is not being unfair. He is being unequal. We must be careful to not claim that God is not being merciful or gracious enough because He does not choose to show it to all equally. This implies God is not doing what He should (obligated to) do (sinful). God is not obligated to be merciful. Mercy is not an obligation.

F. Man’s Evangelistic EffortsAs for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings (lusts, passions) of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive (quickened us) with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:1-5, NIV 1984)

Divine initiative – But God (not but man) made us alive even though we were dead (not sick, not dying) because of our sins. The 1st step is accomplished (initiated) by God (divine) not man.

Once made alive, man can choose, believe and repent because we are alive to God. Before we are made alive one cannot do any of this. Dead men don’t choose. Dead men cannot choose.

The issue is:  If some are chosen (pre-destined) from the creation of the world, and some are not, with or without anyone bearing witness why do evangelism?

Because Jesus commands it (Great Commission)!  Why command something that is not necessary?

God has not only sovereignly decreed the end (elected), but He has also sovereignly decreed the means (evangelism) of bringing man to salvation. He did not need us to accomplish His unconditional election, but He chose to include us as the means.

Notes from: Chosen by God, R.C. Sproul

Study 4 – All Christians Believe In God’s Drawing?

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John 6:65“This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled [granted, given] him.” (NIV 1984)

No One – Universal (absolute) negative. All inclusive, without exception.

Can – Often erroneously mistaken to mean the same as may. Can has to do with ability. No one (without exception) has the natural ability.

Come – Man, in and of Himself does not have the ability to come to Jesus. No exception.

Unless – Exceptive clause. Points to a necessary condition (prerequisite). Something that must happen first. It does not guarantee that it will happen. A sufficient condition would guarantee a result (suffices), but this verse is a only a necessary condition (not a sufficient condition).

Given, Granted, Enabled – The word itself is ambiguous. But what is clear is that it is something that God does that is a necessary condition (that must happen first).

The question is: what is the real meaning of this necessary condition?

This is why I told you” is a repetition of John 6:44 – “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (NIV 1984)

Draw – One cannot come to Jesus unless drawn by the Father. Both Calvinists and Arminians agree that this is a necessary condition. What they disagree on is what “draws” means.

Arminian – To draw means to entice, woo, attract. Through prevenient grace (divine enabling) God must entice before a human can make a decision to come to Jesus. This is a grace that exists prior to and without reference to anything humans may have done. But in the end, the “drawing” is still resistible.

Calvinist – To draw means to drag or coerce. Taken from other verses with same Greek word that is interpreted here as “draw.” It means to compel by irresistible superiority.

James 2:6Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? (NIV 1984)
Acts 16:19They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. (NIV 1984)

The question is: Why did translators use draw (resistible attraction) in the John 6:44 instead of drag (irresistibly compel)?

We do not know for sure. Maybe they felt it might be offensive to the reader (isn’t the Gospel offensive?). Greeks elsewhere used the word to man draw water out of a well. Water is still subjected to an irresistible (not enticed) force, not on its own.

Thus, the question becomes: which makes more sense?

Arminian – “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me [entices] him.

Calvinist – “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me [irresistibly compels] him.

Notes from: Chosen by God, R.C. Sproul