Thursday, June 25, 2009

Timelessness

Your heavenly father knows what you need before you ask
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth
Why have you summoned me said samuel
Today you will be with me in paradise

How does God know everything? Because He created everything, including a Divine Plan that was laid down at the creation, or foundation, of the universe. He knows every working in His plan because it is His. This plan included sending Himself to be killed, as He predestined it.
It also included selecting a number of people to be saints who will worship Him. To say God allows us free choice as to whether His plan will be successful as He predicted it would mean that people have as much power as God. An impossibility.
Therefore God must have a hand in the outcome of all things to ensure that all things happen according to His plan. We have a God who is not silent. That we have evil people means we have the doctrine of concurrence.
God is outside of the concept of time because He created everything, space and time being part of His creation. Since He did not create Himself He is timeless. We get bogged down logically when we try to pin on Him when He created. But 'when' is a meaningless word before there is time because 'when' presupposes time.
What of humanity? We have God's Spirit in us which means timelessness, yet we are defined by time. When Samuel died he could be recalled from the grave. Continuing to exist in time after the dissolution of his body. The saints gathered around the throne asking 'how long' until God poured out judgment on Israel. They are then existing in time. Yet Jesus speaks of eternal fire, or never ending punishment.
I propose this means we are time-invincible, or eternally durable. We have the quality of creation: time, yet we have the quality of God: outside of time. Together in us that gives the quality: eternal durability.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Genesis 3

We have to be very very careful in coming to Genesis 3 at the fall of man. The Bible never uses 2 words when it could use 1, and in my opinion I could do with it using more words for clarity sake. But we don't get that, so we have to be extra careful with what we do have. Beginning in verse 1:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' " If God said this it was not recorded. We are likely to infer that Adam told Eve this statement, or Eve made it up. But here is the first warning from the text to turn our brain on or pay the price.

4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman.
5
"For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. The fruit was pleasing to her body, her soul, and her spirit. As a tripart being made in the image of God, Eve was in every way attracted to this fruit. (One proof verse of tri-part nature: 1 Thes 5:23)

Let us now summarize how it went down:
  1. the clever serpent talked to her
  2. Eve responded by saying we must not touch or eat the fruit
  3. Satan urged her to become wise like God by eating the fruit
  4. Eve was pleased by the fruit in every way
  5. Eve took it and ate it
  6. Eve gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate it.
At first glance it looks like Adam is standing there the whole time, as what Pastor Jason said, and what was the general thought tonight. Accepting that and moving on, we eventually we come to: v17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life." Don't read over this! Eve talked? When did this happen? Either God is lying or something happened in verses 1-6 that was not recorded. This does not appear in any of our 6 bullets. And if that was not recorded, was there anything else missing?
Obviously we have to temper our understanding. If Adam was there the whole time then God would have said "Because you didn't stop your wife, or correct her, but stood by, cursed is the ground.." But that is not what God said because it didn't happen that way. God cursed Adam because Eve talked him into eating. If everything in v1-6 happened one after the other with no time lapse then Adam would have been sweet talked by the serpent not by Eve. Since that is not what is recorded when God passes judgement we can infer that Adam was not present for the initial conversation. 'With her' does not mean with her the whole time, it means 'with her when she took the fruit and gave it to him'
The most natural reading is this based on v17:
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. Adam came back, Eve pitched everthing to Adam, he gave in to disobedience although he knew he shouldn't, She also (in addition to eating it herself) gave some (of the fruit) to her husband, who was with her, (during the conversation) and he ate it.
We can also infer that because God punished Adam by taking his dominion away from him, and Eve with the desire to rule Adam but being unable to, that part of the pitch was that Eve knew best and Adam should listen to her. Eve usurped Adam's role as the head, and Adam let her.

Now this might seem like a lot of writing for a very little payout, but I'm trying to make a larger point here. Namely that it is important to read the Bible very carefully. Until coming to FBC and becoming a Protestant about a year ago I have spent all of my life reading the Bible wrong, superficially, not reading for all it's worth. When you are careful you will find that sometimes the obvious meaning and the deeper meaning can be similar, different, or even complete opposites, (the deeper meaning being the correct one). Take Hebrews 6 starting at verse 1 as an example of this. If you just read over it you might come to the conclusion that if anyone makes even a single mistake they cannot repent again or be saved. But the deeper meaning is 'once saved always saved'
May God bless our reading such that the conclusions we draw are in line with His holy book and may our understanding of a few verses be aided by an understanding of many more verses. Amen.

Monday, February 23, 2009

self and spirit

When you hear something what is happening? The molecules in the air are bouncing into each other, they go into your ear and crash into your tympanium. The sound is transduced into electrical impulses which go into storage in your brain. Stimulus to electricity to feeling. There is an I that percieves the change and say's 'I like that'. When someone plays the piano the sounds are registering in your brain that this music is playing, but then... you feel it. When you touch something you sense it, but then the thought happens "that feels nice" There is a you that senses and synthesizes it. Your sense of touch, ear, taste, are not seperate personalities, they are inputs to a single person. You might call that your soul. When you say 'I' you speak of your soul. I would do a more rigerous defense, but meet me half way, you understand what I am saying.

All desires in the physical realm come from things we see and imagine and exist in this world. I eat a cinnamon roll and enjoy it. The next day I imagine having another one because I have already experienced it before. Pleasure exists, we experience, so we imagine it. With God it is the opposite He imagines, and then it exists. So everything we desire is because we imagine it and everything we imagine is something that already exists.

Now there are two parts to a person the material and immaterial. Feelings you cannot touch, emotions, desires are all immaterial. The physical world is obviously material. This is the most obvious of the three points and needs the least explination.

Now we have desires that are immaterial. Firstly, where do those come from, and secondly, why do we have them? Obviously if sound comes via the ear and touch from receptors in the skin, light from the eyes then there has to be some immaterial organ that transduces the imagination into desires. I think this might be our spirit. It is an organ in contact with something large, somethine else, something in the wide universe that it is listening to, and transmitting that to our soul. And unless it is properly tuned, all it will hear is Satan. There are transcendent beings out there that are spirits, and they can surely interact with our spirit, which passes the desires into us. We might call our spirit the 'heart' or the 'will', and it is wholly in the possession of those transcendent beings, be they God or Satan. This is why we have no free will, but free moral agency. It is also why we need a new Spirit by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
At least that's what I have for now. We will see how this theory comes into focus in the coming days.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Even the church of christ believe in Once Saved Always Saved

The church of Christ denies a personal, sovereign election, instead believeing that God predestines us based on our future forseen faith. They also do not believe in perseverance of the saints, the idea that a true Christian is eternally secure in Christ, and that's a problem, because you can't believe in both of those propositions at the same time.
If He predestines us based on our knowledge of future faith then He must be taking into consideration our perseverance in faith, for if we had faith and then fall away we would not be saved.
So if God elects us based Him seeing our perseverance in faith until the end of our lives then we will absolutely certainly make it to the end and be saved because otherwise God saw wrong. And God is never wrong.
Which means that if you start with the premise of God forseeing faith then perseverance of the saints is logically necessary. Which is a big problem for their worldview.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What happened on the cross?

It's a debate that's unfortunately called 'limited vs unlimited atonement', but I will be using the more accurate word 'reconciliation' to mean what most people mean by atonement. When a Christian makes it into heaven, they have been reconciled to God. Its the word in Romans 5:11, καταλλαγή.
I will be using the word 'propitiation' to discuss the expiation or value, or satisfaction of God's wrath. It's the same word as in 1 John 2:2, ἱλασμός.

For whom did Christ intend to save?
All men without exception?  If that were true, then all men would be saved, and since all men are not saved then Christ is not strong enough to save the people He wanted to save, then how is He strong enough to save anyone?"  If He desires what He is unable to affect then He is no longer God

desiring that mankind will be good enough to Him to say "oh I suppose you can be my God." Which is of course the worst thing you could do to the magnificant death of the one true God - to call it powerless. In this case Christ didn't come for you personally, He came to make you an offer. "Oh do accept me!" The God of the Bible is very different:

Isaiah 42:8 "I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols."

The other option is that He intended to save His people. Titus 2:14 "who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

In Isaiah 55:10-11 God shows us that when He setsout to accomplish something, He accomplishes it. Isaiah 46:10 "I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please."
So yes, Christ came for His people Matthew 1:21, His Church Eph 5:25, His disciples John 17:6-9, for our sins Romans 4:25, and God made Him sin to be sin for us 2 Cor 5:21.
With me so far? Christ came for His own, and only His own. Right off the bat we see that the scope was automatically limited. Otherwise we impugn God, make Him no bigger than us, and ignore the Bible.

-Who did Christ die for?-
Since we have established that Christ came only for the elect we must ask ourselves, did He die only for them also? The best answer is to say with Paul in 1 Tim 1:15-16 "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life." If Christ died only for the sins of the elect we would have to know if we were elect or not to know if He died for our sins. We are reborn spiritually when we hear the gospel message, but how can we hear the gospel message if it is not for us? Further, what was the state of the elect when He died? They were sinners, every one, so the conclusion we come to is that Christ died for sinners. This is the same thought we see in Romans 5:6-8.

-When was His death effective?-
This dovetails with the point above. If Christ dies for the sins of the elect, and He died in power, then the sins of the elect are forever banished. In other words, if Christ accomplished His work on the cross and finished it on the cross and we are saved from the cross then we need nothing apart from the cross, for from the cross flows both atonement and reconciliation. A position which just boxes out the Holy Spirit. In this case we are saved from the cross by the cross regardless of our belief, which is the problem with Owens famous Trilemma. If we are both atoned and reconciled at the cross then there is now no condemnation ever for any of the elect. But what do we find in Scripture? Ephesians 2: 3-5 "All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings 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 with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved."
We are saved when we are regenerated, at the moment The Holy Spirit gives us the gifts of faith and repentence. Look at Galatians 4:8 "Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods."
Rather, we are saved when we have faith. From just one such passage, Romans 10:9 "if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved"
The result is that satisfaction is NOT pecunial, it is judicial. We are reconciled by grace through faith, and not a moment until.

-The reason for unlimited atonement (or propitiation)-
Here is the perfect man, dying as a man, for men so now any man can come and drink the water of life should he will it freely. (of course since man's spirit is dead and he hates God he never will come to faith, but there is nothing stopping him but his greedy heart). There is now no lock on the door of heaven, any can by simple faith, sieze eternal paradise, because Christ took away SIN, not just my sin or yours, but He bore the sin of the world.
1 Timothy 4:10 "(and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe."
John says in 1 John 2:2 "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that whomeever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life" His death has an unlimited value to it. The expiation is infinite, boundless, limitless. The sacrifice of Christ upon the cross shattered the realationship of the God-head itself. When He atoned, it was utterly beyond all comprehension.
In the same way the high priest offers a sacrifice for the sins of the people, as in, the people at large, the nation, everyone. This is the imagry in Hebrews esp chapters 8 and 9. The propitiation on the cross is not like a bag where once the last of the elect get their cleansing the bag is empty and there is no room for more, the propitiation is so vast, so unlimited, so amazingly large that it is enough to swallow all the pain in the universe and have room for more.
Whomever has faith will have life. It so happens that only the elect will have faith, but God is not the one keeping people from hell, it is their own hunger for hell. He has made a way for anyone who wants it to have it, as 1 John 2:2 makes clear.

So lets summarize:
Christ came for: His elect.
He died: for sinners.
He bore: the sins of the world
His intent: to reconcile His sheep to God by bearing their sins upon the cross
The satisfaction: Judicial, on condition of faith.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

human spirit

Faith comes from the spirit, and the spirit of a man is normally dead, unless God raises it up to new life.
And with birth comes growth. The born again believer will be sanctified by the Spirit who justified him, which means a life that bears fruit- good works.
The man is not saved BY good works, or BECAUSE of good works, or WITH good works. Indeed mankind is dreadfully lost, and the gift of faith preceeds repentence, so works cannot be a factor in salvtion. We are not saved or lost by what we do, we are saved by grace, a pronouncement, unmerited favor, sovereign kindness. If it were by works then grace would not be grace.

But we know a man has been regenerated when we see good works. As james says faith without works is dead. This does not mean that unless a christian be working in the soup kitchen they dont believe in Christ, what it does mean is that if there are no good fruit then there is no good tree. Either make the tree good and the fruit will be good, or make the tree bad and get bad fruit out of it. A spirit not pleasing the Lord and hating sin is obviously still unregenerated, not born again, and therefore a dead spirit. An unsanctified man is obviously unregenerated, and anyone unregenerated is spiritually dead. Therefore no sanctification means no live spirit. You might well say that faith apart from works is dead.

A more clear defense of once saved always saved

Once Saved Always Saved (or perhaps more popularly called Perseverance of the Saints, but I like the baptist terminology, even though it's perhaps more misleading) falls out naturally from the concept of radical corruption (or total depravity) and predestination.  If both can be shown to be Biblical and true then the conclusion is a given. 
Since man is incapable of saving himself it must be God alone who saves us. 1 Cor2:14, Romans 3:10-11.
God never changes, not His mind, not His person, not ever.  Numbers 23:19, 1 Sam 15:29
Therefore, if we didn't have the power to say no to Him in the first place, we cannot at a later time say no.
It's that straightforward. 
If God is immutable, and man is weak, then once saved always saved is the only option.
 
Or, if it can be shown that God is in sovereign control over every aspect of our lives, including our coming to Him in faith, then He has obviously determined to save us, and will certainly save us, and once saved always saved must be true.  If God gives us the Spirit who regenerates us, justifies us, and sanctifies us, 1 Cor 6:11 if He has adopted us as His very own Rom 8:15, if He has made it all possible and sealed us up with the Holy Spirit Eph 4:30 then salvation belongs to God alone Jonah 2:9, Psalms 3:8.