LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Sunday, March 18, 2007

My Favorite Subject

It seems to me that perhaps there should come a time when, as diligent students of the Word of God, we need 'do' something with some of the more difficult and weighty texts in Scripture. I reserve the right to be wrong about this, though, since I was discussing this with my husband yesterday, and he didn't necessarily agree. I suppose it's quite possible to live one's entire Christian life and never deal with some of the tuff stuff. But then you'd have to deal with 2 Timothy 2:15,

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

See, there's really no escaping it. :)

I've been studying, like crazy, the sovereignty of God for the past two years. I just can't seem to get enough of it. I've had to earnestly pray for the Holy Spirit to illuminate to me some extremely formidable passages as well as give me the ability to bend my stubborn, self-centered will to His. So I'd like to know - how do you handle some of the texts?

My favorite: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ' What have You done?' ~Daniel 4:34-35

The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all. ~Psalm 103:19

Thus says the LORD, " Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. ~Isaiah 66:1

The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these. ~Isaiah 45:7

...for all the earth is Mine; ~Exodus 19:5

But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. ~Psalm 115:3

Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. ~Psalm 135:6

Do we 'really' believe and accept that God can do WHATEVER He pleases? Even when that which pleases Him runs contrary to what we'd like to believe about God?

Then there's Romans 8:28-30, Romans 9, and all those verses pertaining to that dreaded word...predestination. ::gasp::

How do we process this? How do we begin to formulate a right view of God Almighty? And of ourselves? Do we have a fear and a reverence for the holy and righteous God of the universe?

Believe me, these aren't just questions I'm asking you. I'm asking myself.

16 Comments:

Blogger bluecollar said...

Gayla - Grudem uses many of these same verses to illustrate that God is, well, some would say, "controlling". He says that those who would argue against that conclusion would be hard pressed to provide a solid scriptural basis for their position.

Look at John 9. A man was born blind for the purpose of having Christ be glorified in healing him later in life.

And who could forget the story of Samson?

I'm afraid the argument against God being "controlling" is based more on philosophical (read: emotional) assumptions than on scripture.

Good post!

March 19, 2007 7:40 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Gayla,
Good post....

It is amazing that open theism can exist with these verses. As Ezekiel 13:2-3 states, "Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: 'Hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!"

The Bible teaches that God has ordained everything that has ever happened or will happen. For a scary thought, think of the alternative.

March 19, 2007 8:46 AM

 
Blogger Craver Vii said...

"Controlling?" Well, somebody's gotta be in control. Better God than me!

March 19, 2007 12:22 PM

 
Blogger Gayla said...

Wayne, I saw your comment to Todd over at Rose's - where you said "you must deal with what the passage says rather than what you want it to say."

Exactly.

That's what I was really trying to get across here (well, in my long-winded way of saying things, that is!)

What are we going to DO with these texts??? We can:

1)Ignore them
2)Read what we want into them (so we can feel better about God and ourselves)
3)Properly exegete them WITH the help of the Holy Spirit

I'm quite convinced that we can have no proper understanding w/o the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit illuminating the truth to us.

Can we still be wrong? Sure. So we continue to study, to press into God, asking Him to give us understanding.

When God tells us He is sovereign, I'm inclined to take Him at His word. When I read about His character and His actions in Scripture, I can clearly see that the WHOLE COUNSEL OF SCIPTURE points to a God who is indeed sovereign, and in control.

Some of it is quite frightening, I must admit. A lot of it ain't pretty. Much of it collided with my preconceived (and taught) notions about who God is.

I'm ramblin'....

But here's my question: Why are we (people in general) so OFFENDED at the thought of a sovereign God who IS in control, who does 'violate' our 'free will,' who does orchestrate His plans a purposes? Why are we on such a high horse about ourselves?

I am GRATEFUL for a God who interrupts my life. (I'm still learning this, of course)

Now I'm done.

March 19, 2007 3:16 PM

 
Blogger Sista Cala said...

You have said it well, that we can not gain the proper understanding of scripture without the Holy Spirit.

I am glad that you have asked about what we are to do w/the weightier scriptures. I wonder that myself sometimes.

When confronted w/questions regarding these scriptures, I sometimes weasel out of the converstaion with the following comment: If you can live by the scriptures you understand, the rest will take care of itself.

Certainly this is the lazy way out and God has convicted me of it. I believe we must be diligent in our studies, particularly if we profess to be teachers of the Word.

Thank you for posting on this subject.

March 19, 2007 9:54 PM

 
Blogger Gayla said...

Hi Sista Cala! I'm so glad you dropped in, and thanks for weighing in on the subject.

It wasn't all that long ago that I wasn't so diligent myself in studying Scripture. And hey, it's not like I've got my nose in a book all the time, currently. But my hunger for the Word is just insatiable!

March 20, 2007 11:17 AM

 
Blogger Baptist Girl said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 20, 2007 12:54 PM

 
Blogger Baptist Girl said...

Hi Gayle,
Great post and it is so hard to understand sometimes why this or that is happening. In John Pipers book "Desiring God" He stated, that we see what is going on through a small telescope (now)where as God see through a wide telescope and see the whole picture. We may be going through some troubled times or we see the horror that is going on throughout the world and wonder why God allows it. We foget that He know the whole picture and planned it and has used that horror for His purpose. To bring Him ultimate Glory. We will never understand God fully, It's a matter of faith and knowing He will do right by us, His children. Sometimes when I try to figure out why certain events happen, I just let go and give it to God otherwise I think I would drive myself crazy *S*

Isaiah 45:7 I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.'




Cristina

March 20, 2007 12:55 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

I find tremendous comfort in those verses.

March 20, 2007 9:11 PM

 
Blogger Shiloh Guy said...

Hi guys,

I've been away from you for a few days. Just been very busy. I don't have anything really brilliant to say on this subject but I have a couple of thoughts.

My first thought is that it is very easy to lose friends over this discussion and in my early days as a Calvinist I alienated some very good friends. Now I try to speak gently and lovingly about such things because I don't think arguing brings people together.

I have found that Christian people tend to argue this point from experience. They make choices and experience what seems to them to be "free will" and then assume such a thing exists. They read that God commands people to choose to obey him and they assume that all people are "free" to do so.

I know I make choices, but that doesn't prove my will is free. I know God commands us to do things or not to do things and I disobey, but that does not mean God's will is frustrated by my actions.

I know that before I was regenerated I was free only to sin and was not free to please God at all. I agree with Luther here. See Bondage of the Will. It appears we are free to act in accordance with our nature. Having been regenerated I am now free to please God.

At the same time, when God's sovereignty and omniscience are brought to bear on human decision-making, it becomes clear (at least to me) that even the freedom to act according to our natures is controlled by the God who created and shaped our wills and desires in the first place.

These things are very difficult to love until we truly understand that NONE of this is really about us; ALL of it is about God. Of course human emotions will be brought to bear in such discussions. But again, human emotions are affected by the fall and often cloud our perspective. It's not about human emotions; it's about God!

So when God does something that affects my emotions and breaks my heart and I can't understand it, I have to put my hands over my mouth and be quiet lest, in my human foolishness, I speak against God.

Dave Moorhead

March 21, 2007 12:45 PM

 
Blogger Gayla said...

Dave, first are you and Jonathan Moorhead related? I haven't been able to find this out yet!

I seriously like everything you've said here in your comment.


I have found that Christian people tend to argue this point from experience. They make choices and experience what seems to them to be "free will" and then assume such a thing exists. They read that God commands people to choose to obey him and they assume that all people are "free" to do so.

Exactly. Well said. Couldn't agree more. :)


I know I make choices, but that doesn't prove my will is free. I know God commands us to do things or not to do things and I disobey, but that does not mean God's will is frustrated by my actions.

Exactly. Well said. Couldn't agree more.


Regarding losing friends, etc, I think you're right - arguing certainly doesn't bring people together. (But, my God Control? post at my blog is going very well! :) )

In that vein, no amount of arguing or playing Scripture verse ping pong will ever 'convince' anyone. The key lies within the supernatural illumination of Scripture by the Holy Spirit, in bringing about understanding. Don't you think?

March 21, 2007 2:09 PM

 
Blogger Shiloh Guy said...

Gayla,

First, I'm sure Jonathan and I are related but you will have to go back a couple hundred years to find our common ancestor. I asked him once where his people came from and when they came. It seems we both trace our ancestry to Northern Ireland and then back to Scotland. My branch of the family came here shortly after 1700 and his seems to have arrived in the mid-1800s. (Apparently, my ancestors got caught earlier than his did!) Jonathan, if I have this wrong, please correct me.

I absolutely, completely, 100% agree with you that illumination must come from the Holy Spirit alone. We must seek guidance in our study of the Bible and NEVER STOP seeking guidance. If we stop questioning our interpretations of scripture we will stop growing!

Dave

March 21, 2007 5:33 PM

 
Blogger Antonio said...

Gayla writes:

----------
Do we 'really' believe and accept that God can do WHATEVER He pleases?
----------

I see that you put great emphasis on the word "whatever".

I agree that He can do whatever He pleases, that is, what ever pleases Him.

But we must understand that any such "whatever" is tempered by His essential nature and attributes.

God is holy, rightoues, true. God is love, just, and impartial. He is a God of equity, mercy, and grace.

Nothing that He would desire could impinge on His essential nature and attributes.

Is God sovereign? You bet. Is God capricious, arbitrary, and partial? To be so in any sense would violate His essence.

Let me ask you a question. Would it impinge on God's sovereignty to create humans in His likeness and image?

Would it violate His sovereignty to give man latitude and freedom to rebel from Him or respond to His wooing and drawing?

Can you consider, rationally and logically, that if God has "ordained" all things "that has ever happened or will happen" as Wayne has suggested, this must include sin, evil, adulteries, murders, incest, rape, pedaphilia, homosexuality, brutality, matricide and patricide, genocide, etc?

Such a thought is only feasible to someone who has bought into a heavily-stacked, lop-sided, and unbalanced understanding of the bible. God forbid that He ordain pedaphilia!

To consider God ordaining that which He finds abominable may be in vogue in various theological circles, but it offends the God given conscious and Scriptural witness that God is Holy, good, righteous, and light (not to mention love!).

Any view of God's sovereignty that has God necessitating men's abominations by His "fore-ordination" and "predestination" should be obviously rejected.

But what has happened is that some theologies have become like secret societies where the initiated slowly become indoctrinated to the point that they will believe things that go against all reason. Such attitudes are taught and not formed.

Please come by and answer the question on the group blog, Unashamed of Grace:

What's the Interpretation / John 12:42, 42

Antonio da Rosa

March 21, 2007 7:53 PM

 
Blogger bluecollar said...

Antonio - Welcome!

>But we must understand that any such "whatever" is tempered by His essential nature and attributes.

God is holy, rightoues, true. God is love, just, and impartial. He is a God of equity, mercy, and grace.

Nothing that He would desire could impinge on His essential nature and attributes.<
------------
Nobody here would have a problem with that statement.
-------------

>Is God sovereign? You bet. Is God capricious, arbitrary, and partial? To be so in any sense would violate His essence.<
------------
Again, nobody here would have a problem with that statement either. At this point you are beginning to set up your straw man.
-------------

>Let me ask you a question. Would it impinge on God's sovereignty to create humans in His likeness and image?<
-------------
He did so, Adam and Eve. They chose to disobey, and in them the entire race fell into inherited guilt and inherited corruption. See Romans 5:12-21; Eph.2:1-3.
--------------

>Would it violate His sovereignty to give man latitude and freedom to rebel from Him<
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No, it would not. Again, He did so in Adam and Eve. They chose to rebel.
---------------
> or respond to His wooing and drawing?<
--------------
Here you show your seeming Pelagian tendencies. According to Eph. 2:1-3 we are by nature children of wrath. It is our nature,our inclination is to sin and rebel against God. Thanks to the fall man loves sin and hates God. See John 3:19 which is descriptive of the whole human race; not just some.
-------------

>Can you consider, rationally and logically, that if God has "ordained" all things "that has ever happened or will happen" as Wayne has suggested, this must include sin, evil, adulteries, murders, incest, rape, pedaphilia, homosexuality, brutality, matricide and patricide, genocide, etc?<
-------------
God did ordain the fall, Antonio. What you mention in the above are results from the Fall. God hates all that you mention and man is responsible for his actions. Because of all that you mention above the wrath of God is coming.
-------------


>Such a thought is only feasible to someone who has bought into a heavily-stacked, lop-sided, and unbalanced understanding of the bible. God forbid that He ordain pedaphilia!<
------------
Again, this logic of yours is the product of your Pelagianism, your seeming refusal to acknowledge that the results of the Fall are seen in man's subsequent corrupt affections.
-------------

>To consider God ordaining that which He finds abominable may be in vogue in various theological circles, but it offends the God given conscious and Scriptural witness that God is Holy, good, righteous, and light (not to mention love!).<
-----------
It only offends those who, for whatever reason,choose to ignore the clear teachings of scripture of man's corruption,his hostility against God. See Romans 8:7. God went into that race that hates Him and rescued a people for Himself, having changed their affections along the way so that they no longer hate Him, but now love Him.
------------

>Any view of God's sovereignty that has God necessitating men's abominations by His "fore-ordination" and "predestination" should be obviously rejected.<
-----------
Why? He ordained the Fall. He hates sin. He judges and punishes sin. He sent His Son to pay the price for sin. Isaiah 53. Those whom He elected have their affections changed and come to the Son. See John 6:44-45,65.
----------

>But what has happened is that some theologies have become like secret societies where the initiated slowly become indoctrinated to the point that they will believe things that go against all reason. Such attitudes are taught and not formed.<
----------
Antonio, such a way with words. ALL of the Calvinists that I know personally came to Calvinism purely through the scriptures, no indoctrination, no text books. My journey began with a lost arguement in 1978. My Calvinism grew while attending churches wholly hostile to my budding Calvinism - no text books were involved, just the scriptures themselves.

We see John 12:32 as teaching that Jesus also does the drawing, as does the Father and the Spirit. If you'll notice that the NKJ says "all peoples", meaning from every tribe and language on earth. See Rev.5:9-10. We do not see this as a different drawing than that of those whom the Father has given Him.

Mark D. Pierson
-----------

March 22, 2007 8:06 AM

 
Blogger Shiloh Guy said...

Mark,

My friend, your last comment was so gracious and gentle! Very well done! Thank you! May my spirit resemble yours here.

There are so many people who reject what is obvious in scripture because it is so odious to our human sensitivities. Or, they reject it because it is too difficult for our puny minds to understand.

It is so plainly written that God ordains sin while, at the same time, holding man responsible for his sin. I was just reading again this morning about Moses, Aaron, and Pharaoh. (And this also applies to the current discussion of "free will.") God told Moses to tell Pharaoh to let his people go. God told Moses that he (God) would harden Pharaoh's heart and not let the Hebrews go. The text says that Pharaoh hardened his heart, just as the LORD had said.

Did Pharaoh sin by hardening his heart? Obviously. Did God harden Pharaoh's heart? Obviously. Would Pharaoh have felt like a "puppet" being forced to do something he did not want to do? Obviously not. Pharaoh was conscious only of doing what HE wanted to do! Nevertheless, he was doing what God had ordained for him to do!

I'll add my testimony to Mark's. I became a Calvinist while translating Ephesians 1, 2 for an MDiv thesis. I was pastoring in a denomination in which Calvinists were in a vast minority. My whole church was against me. It was the WORD, my brother, the WORD of God alone that broke my pride and humbled me. I went out onto my back porch in the middle of the night and looked up at the stars and wept, "Lord God, have mercy upon me, a sinner."

Dave Moorhead

March 22, 2007 12:04 PM

 
Blogger Gayla said...

Oh my, I hadn't checked in a while...

Thanks for your reply Antonio. :) I have to print it out, and study it a bit before answering. LOL, I always have to print and study...

Thanks Dave. I just thought you two might be related, more 'closely' related that is!

March 22, 2007 1:57 PM

 

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