God's glory is greater than we can possibly imagine - greater than our wildest dreams. The fullness of who He is, the fundamental truth, deeper than anything in the universe, more real than all else that is or has been or will be. His greatness, His kindness, His mercy, His justice, His vengeance, His righteousness, His love, His everything.
Plenty of better thinkers than I have tackled the subject of open theism and shown its demerits at a purely Scriptural and theological level. I'd like to take a few words to demonstrate its logical inconsistencies. I hope you'll pardon the use of a slightly more formal logic than I would ordinarily use in a post.
An important definition before we begin: Libertarian free will - the view of free will held by open theists, positing that man's will is entirely continguent and therefore unknowable. That is, it cannot be known, even by God, until the choice is made.
Axiom: Scripture is true. Corollary: God knows that some will be saved (see Revelation, etc. for demonstration of His sure knowledge of the salvation of a bride for Christ). These two may be considered "fundamental" in the sense that they are agreed upon by both open theists and traditional Christians. The first is truly axiomatic; the second we take as equally foundational since it logically follows from the first.
Axiom: Scripture allows the view that man has libertarian free will.
Axiom: Scripture does not require that man has libertarian free will. Here is where the point of contention is, of course, but most open theists agree that libertarian free will is not required by Scripture. Most traditional Christians would contest the first of these premises, but we posit for the sake of argument.
Premise: Man has libertarian free will.
From the premises we argue:
1. God, not knowing the future, does not know what individual men and women will choose regarding salvation until they have chosen.
2. All men, their wills being free, may choose to go to hell or to heaven by accepting Christ's salvation and Lordship. (Clarification: this is all individuals.)
3. The general case of some persons going to heaven is contingent on the choices of individuals to go to heaven.
Therefore, since all individuals may choose to go to hell, and their choice may not be known beforehand 4. God may not have knowledge of some people's going to heaven absent knowledge of specific individuals' going to heaven. AND 5. God cannot know whether any people will go to heaven, and therefore whether Christ will have a bride, people of every tribe and tongue will be saved, and so on.
Contradiction to an axiom.
Since the axiom is not under debate, nor its necessary corollary, it falls to us to reject our premise as false. The axioms may come under consideration separately, but assuming those, we must reject the premise that man has libertarian free will.
Why is this important? Because libertarian freewill is the keystone of open theism. Open theism posits that God's lack of foreknowledge of the future is because of the indeterminacy of the future - that is, that it does not yet exist, because it is contingent on the choices of man. Specifically, the argument is that because of libertarian free will, the future may not be known. However, if man does not have libertarian free will, then the future may be known (or else another reason why it may not be known must be shown), and indeed is known by God, who (all agree) possesses all knowledge that may be known.
This relationship we have with our God is an incredible thing. I've been pondering, off and on, these last months, one of the many tensions in our faith. In this case, reverence and intimacy.
We are commanded, as I've written previously, to come before God with reverence and awe. He is a consuming fire. Looking at various passages, both in the Old and New Testaments, we see how great a problem irreverence is. It is deadly. It destroys our walk with God; and it has terrible consequences - for it is a great and terrible sin.
And, at the same time, we read that we are to pray to the Almighty God by beginning, "Our Father..." We read in Romans that we call out to Him, "Abba, Father."Abba is Aramaic - and it means "Daddy." We come before the throne of God with confidence, because we have been ransomed to be not merely His servants, but His friends, His children. Incredible. We are the children of God - His sons and daughters.
So here we have a tension unique to Christianity, a glorious mix that is all but incomprehensible. The Almighty God, who we dare not approach with anything less than the greatest of reverence, the utmost humility: He is the same God who invites us to sit at His feet, to lay our head on His chest, to be intimate with Him.
Many religions have a God who is awesome and terrible (in the original sense of the word): fearsome and majestic. Others have a God who is intimate in personal.
Only in Christ Himself do we find God both so infinitely glorious that the only possible response is to fall at His feet as dead, and so incredibly personal and loving that it is He who bids us stand and draw near to Him. Christ is uniquely both King and friend. He alone is both righteous judge - fearsome and imperious - and kinsman redeemer - intimate and closely tied, saving from destruction.
Christ is the very manifestation of the glory of the Father. He is Lord and He is our friend. We mingle awe and reverence with deep intimacy. We dare not become comfortable, familiar in the presence of the Almighty - for He is good, but as Lewis wrote, He is not safe (as we think of it). Yet we must approach Him with confidence, with assurance of His abiding love, of His perfect fellowship with us.
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3:16
How many times have we zoned out in the middle of a sermon, then jolted back to reality with the ever popular phrase, "Ok! Now for a few points of application." Why does James seem to the be the most often and easily studied book in the New Testament?
Lets face it. We like application! We want to hear simply and straight forward a list of things to do. Its simple; it doesn't take alot of brain power. I think we often study the word in the same way. Have you ever (like me at times) been reading a passage that you are familiar with, skimming through Paul's theological jungles until we get to the "point of application", the part that we know and understand? Lets take a look at what we're doing here.
First of all, I'm not trying to say that there is anything wrong with straight forward lists. Several books of the bible are full of them! The difficulty in the book of James is not found in comprehending what he is trying to say, but struggling through the immanent impossibility to live up to what is Required by God in his word. Similarly, there is nothing wrong with a pastor finishing his message with some clear straight forward biblical commands and ideas. It brings all the ideas together in a coherent understandable manner.
There is no problem an any of this; I love the book of James. I read through it often praying that God will cram some of it simple yet difficult commands into my thick skull. We are studying it at PURSUIT and God is showing me many things through Ryan's teaching.
But hears the question we need to ask ourselves. Is Romans 5-8 (explaining the details of Justification and the nature of our Salvation) any less applicable? Are the first 2 chapters of Ephesians explaining our calling and adoption to be less studied and emphasised? If all scripture is God breathed, his inspired word, then every word of scripture must be completely applicable. Should the only part of scripture that has a direct effect on our lives be the section that start with "do" or "don't"? Of course not!
Take Romans 5-8, study it, learn it, memorize it, pray over it, and let the awesome knowledge of God's Amazing Grace change you! Don't be afraid of theology; keep in mind that it is useless to have good theology unless it possesses you, but study who God is and let it change your life! While it is important to know what a holy God requires of us, we must also know his love and grace; it should change our lives just as much, if not more!
Bad things can happen when you get caught up in the legalism of simply abiding by written commands without the true intent in mind. Jesus shows us this in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5) what these commands really imply. I have never murdered. I have never taken another persons life. What does Jesus say? He says if I have ever hated, then I am a murder; well, that makes me a murderer. And wouldn't you know, just a few verses later, I become an adulterer. Do you see that these commands are all heart issues? We need not study the bible like a checklist of points of application. Study God's word to learn who God is and let it change your heart!
Ryan pointed out tonight at PURSUIT that we as Christians need to the the appliers. We don't need a pastor or teacher to explain to us how to integrate the truth of scripture into our hearts. We have the holy spirit! The preacher's job is to study the word of God and preach Truth! Its important, completely necessary, and in fact fundamental to growth as Christians. But with this in mind, it is OUR JOB to apply it to our lives. Every inspired word of God should be lived out.
Next time you read a passage, don't think "what is the main thing I can get out of this passage." as much as you think "how can I display the truth of these inspired words to the glory of God in the way that I live my life."
To God alone be all glory. He deserves it. We are here for it.
For someone who acts so excited about God's post-salvation grace in our lives, and our inability to change ourselves, I can be pretty bad about living like Ryan can be perfectly good and capable on his own. What I want to talk to you (but mostly myself) about, is that even a Christians, we must constantly trust in God's faithfulness to grow us in him, rather than using God as our salvation ticket and living like we have put and end to our flesh. The Power to overcome sin and temptation is in Christ. Nowhere else.
I have always hated English Class, but I actually do remember transitive vs. non-transitive verbs. (English people, don't freak out even though I will probably butcher this explanation) A transitive verb takes an object. For example: in the sentence "Chris Krycho sang", the verb sing is non-transitive because there's no object. He isn't singing anything....just singing. In the sentence "Chris Krycho sang a song so loudly that they heard him in West Virginia." the verb sing is transitive, because he is singing a SONG. There is an object.... Lets think about sanctification.
Christians use this word all the time. In short, it is the process of becoming holy, sandwiched by justification and glorification. What is often overlooked, is the source of the sanctification. We all do it....you know..act like we have it all together; we act like we are good enough people to overcome our sin issues by reading a helpful book, making ourselves a promise, or just simply trying harder. I find again and again that It doesn't take much for God to bring us "down on my knees back to the place I should've started from" to quote some old Audio A.
When we break this down to its roots, it is really nothing more than a pride issue. How can we have a proper view of grace and act like we have done something to merit our standing with God? It doesn't take an in-depth study of Paul's letters to see how he treated sin. I have talked about in previous posts, how understanding our sin magnifies God's grace; we should not approach God with anything but a humble contrite heart. Boy did David get it right after the biggest screw-up of his life.
"1 Have mercy on me,O God,according to your steadfast love;according to your abundant mercyblot out my transgressions.2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,and cleanse me from my sin! 3 For I know my transgressions,and my sin is ever before me.4 Against you, you only, have I sinnedand done what is evil in your sight,so that you may be justified in your wordsand blameless in your judgment.5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,and in sin did my mother conceive me.6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.8 Let me hear joy and gladness;let the bones that you have broken rejoice.9 Hide your face from my sins,and blot out all my iniquities.10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,and renew a right spirit within me.11 Cast me not away from your presence,and take not your Holy Spirit from me.12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,and sinners will return to you.14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,O God of my salvation,and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.15 O Lord, open my lips,and my mouth will declare your praise.16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;build up the walls of Jerusalem;19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;then bulls will be offered on your altar."
This is how we must live! We must do everything in total light of our depravity, and in out inability to change ourselves. Did David say "God, sorry I messed up, I will try harder, write a promise down in a book, and hope I don't do it again."? Of course not!! He was so broken and crushed by his sin before a holy God that he could do nothing but fall down on his face and wallow in the depths of Grace found only in the same holy God who's perfect law he had violated.
God Sanctifies us. It is transitive. We are the ones being sanctified, by the same God that saved us in the first place. Christians, stop living with an attitude that says "Well yes Christ saved me in the first place, but look what I can do now!" or "Look what I have done since them!" It is all in Christ! God changes us, and will finish that work which he began in us. We need to give the glory where it due.
Paul had it figured out. He captures the essence of Biblical humility in 1 Timothy when he calls himself the chief of sinners.
This is a major problem! So many books, many that I have read, are full of self help tips and ways that we can change our life and grow closer to God, while completely ignoring the fact that it is God who draws us to him. When we are able to conquer sin and temptation, is when we fall on our face before our loving father and cry"Abba! I can't do this. I NEED you to change my heart. Wash it white as snow."
God is faithful, and James promises us that those who ask in faith for wisdom will receive it. Perfect, good wisdom comes only from God, our salvation (though we are new creations) doesn't change that.
We need Christ everyday. We need grace everyday.
Abba Father, You are holy and perfect. I am nothing and you are everything. Father I am completely overwhelmed by my inability to conquer sin. change my heart! Renew me and let my contrite heart rejoice in the rich stores of grace and mercy found only in your arms. You alone are God, and we need you everyday.
Four men with one purpose: making Christ known to the world. We are college-aged guys striving to make Christ's glory our one purpose, and to live a life truly dedicated to Him. These thoughts are a reflection of our growth (and sometimes struggles) in our pursuit of a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. We are flawed, failing, and limited: but by the power of the Holy Spirit, we hope the words we write will nonetheless bring the Father glory and you encouragement.