Author: christopher fisher

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Ezekiel 28:3 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Eze 28:3 (Behold, you are wiser than Daniel! There is no secret that can be hidden from you!

Ezekiel 28:3 is a verse which is written from the perspective of God. He is lavishing praise on the Prince of Tyre. Although the text might be sarcastic, the later praises given to the parallel “guardian cherub” suggests that no sarcasms is intended. The tone of the chapter is “oh how the mighty fall”.

God tells the prince “no secret can be hidden from you”. The language matches various statements made about Yahweh (e.g. Dan 2:22, Psa 44:21). The phrase is hyperbolic. The meaning is not that that the Prince of Tyre knows everything (omniscience), but that he is very smart and capable. This is reinforced by the surrounding verses.

If this verse were to be about Yahweh, no doubt it would make its way into sermons of God’s omniscience.

Worship Sunday – Hero

He walked the dirty streets
Famous for nothing
He said, “Come follow me”
And they came
A face like all the rest
But something was different
The Son of God would lead the way
And soon they all would say
There He goes, a Hero, a Savior to the world
Here He stands with scars in His hands
With love He gave His life so we could be free
The Savior of the world
He spoke with clarity
Walked across the sea
A single word
Would calm the storm

His touch could heal the sick
But He was called a hypocrite
Laid behind the stone
His death was shortly mourned
He left the curtain torn
And there He goes, a Hero, a Savior to the world
Here He stands with scars in His hands
With love He gave His life so we could be free
The Savior of the world
He chose to take the cross
Shed tears for the lost
The broken and the needy
Forgiving those who were and will be
The angel made it clear
He told them have no fear
He’s not here, He’s not here
Photos

There He goes, a Hero, a Savior to the world
Here He stands with scars in His hands
With love He gave His life so we could be free
The Savior of the world, the Savior of the world
The Savior of the world

1 Corinthians 15:10 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

1Co 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

In 1 Corinthians 15:10, Paul uses the phrase “I am who I am” (εἰμι ὅ εἰμι). Note the similarity to the Old Testament statement of Yahweh about Himself:

Exo 3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

Exodus 3:14 is use to claim that God is “pure actuality” (see Exo 3:14). The context in Exodus is about God’s actions, specifically the liberation of Israel from Egypt. More likely, Exodus 3:14 is a claim about God’s character and power, not any concept of metaphysics. Paul also uses the phrase in the same manner. Paul is who he is.

Calvinist Redefines Free Will to Make it Work with Determinism

But now the question arises, Is the predetermination of things consistent with the free will of man? And the answer is that it certainly is not, if the freedom of the will be regarded as indifferentia (arbitrariness), but this is an unwarranted conception of the freedom of man. The will of man is not something altogether indeterminate, something hanging in the air that can be swung arbitrarily in either direction. It is rather something rooted in our very nature, connected with our deepest instincts and emotions, and determined by our intellectual considerations and by our very character. And if we conceive of our human freedom as lubentia rationalis (reasonable self-determination), then we have no sufficient warrant for saying that it is inconsistent with divine foreknowledge. Says Dr. Orr: “A solution of this problem there is, though our minds fail to grasp it. In part it probably lies, not in denying freedom, but in a revised conception of freedom. For freedom, after all, is not arbitrariness. There is in all rational action a why for acting — a reason which decides action. The truly free man is not the uncertain, incalculable man, but the man who is reliable. In short, freedom has its laws — spiritual laws — and the omniscient Mind knows what these are. But an element of mystery, it must be acknowledged, still remains.”[ Side-Lights on Chr. Doct., p. 30.]

Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (p. 56). . Kindle Edition.

NT Wright on the Legacy of Plato

That vision of a nonbodily ultimate “heaven” is a direct legacy of Plato and of those like the philosopher and biographer Plutarch, a younger contemporary of St. Paul, who interpreted Plato for his own day. It is Plutarch, not the New Testament (despite what one sometimes hears!), who suggested that humans in the present life are “exiled” from their true “home” in “heaven.” That vision of the future— an ultimate glory that has left behind the present world of space, time, and matter— sets the context for what, as we shall see, is a basically paganized vision of how one might attain such a future: a transaction in which God’s wrath was poured out against his son rather than against sinful humans.

N. T. Wright. The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion (Kindle Locations 928-932). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Immanuel

You took all my worries
You carried my shame
You lifted my burdens
You took my place

You took all my worries
You carried my shame
You lifted my burdens
You took my place

You’re with me
I will not fear
You confort me
I will not fear

You’re with me
I will not fear
You confort me
I will not fear

You’re with me
I will not fear
You confort me
I will not fear

You’re with me
I will not fear
You confort me
I will not fear

There will be no mourning
all fear cast away
You’ll wipe every tear
We’ll see your face

There will be no mourning
all fear cast away
You’ll wipe every tear
We’ll see your face

I will hide in Your shelter
find peace in the shadow of Your wing
I will hide in Your shelter
I’m found in the song that You sing

I will hide in Your shelter
find peace in the shadow of Your wing
I will hide in Your shelter
I’m found in the song that You sing

I will hide in Your shelter

I will hide in Your shelter

Worship Sunday – Beautiful Eulogy

There used to be a time when we were fine living life with
no particular religious bend. Pretending to be our own Gods
inventing our own system of belief so as to not depend on
anything other than our own self governing consent. Defending
an impending doom with no perceived need to concede
or repent. Presuming our innocence in a sense dissent. The
sting of death was only the inevitable end of everything
we could never rightly understand or comprehend. We used
to fear the unknown until God made himself known and atoned
mending the relationship between God and men. Giving his
life as a ransom for many when he died and ascended and in
that one event the certainty of eternal death was circumvented.
Making a way for the day when history stops and
time suspends. Spending eternity in fellowship that never
ends. We see the greatest expression of God’s love extended
in the moment when those who were once enemies instead became
God’s friends.
How sweet the Gospel sounds to ears like mine. Well acquainted
with pain and strained relationships. Friendships
that suffer from long distances, or even worse they get
severed from something more severe. And He still hasn’t
wiped away all my tears yet. My cheeks get wet every now
and then. Even when I give my best, I know I fall short.
I get scared when the balls in my court. Focussed on, my
performance, wretched and poor. It makes the message more
real when I preach it. I’m not there yet so I’m reaching,
reaching for a goal, to stand before my King and be speechless.
Then, never again, will I question if his grace is
sufficient to cover my sin. Cause death is gone, and all
the effects of, evil and wrong will be conquered when His
kingdom comes. So this is my hope and my prayer. The air
that I’ll breath in eternity with lungs that never fail
me. If it pleases my Lord, and only by Your grace, use my
life till it’s poured out for Your sake. Until then I’ll
remain where You have me, with joy when I feel unhappy. And
a peace that surpasses all my understanding, my life is in
the hands of Your love everlasting.

Ecclesiastes 1:14 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Ecc 1:14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.

In Ecclesiastes the writer states that he has “seen all the works that are done under the sun”. The statement is hyperbole. The claim is that he has had enough life experience to made broad generalizations. The absolute language he uses emphasizes his point as he follows this with absolute proclamations on how the world works. “All is vain” is his conclusion. There is nothing worth anything.

While the language is absolute, the reader can understand the material points. Similar statements are made about God throughout the Bible (e.g. Psa 14:2). Those engaged in Classical Theology tend to take one set of texts as Omniscience prooftexts, but the others as limited by context. Showing the double standards and the special pleading for their own prooftexts.

Apologetics Thursday – Frame’s Subtle Admission

In an article on if God changes His mind, John Frame writes:

God’s omnipresence may be one key to the problem. He is omnipresent, not only in space (Jer. 23:24, Psm. 139), but also in time: as God with us, he is both here and now. He is transcendent, the Lord of space and time, and also immanent, the Lord present in space and time.

Note what is happening. John Frame is admitting more than he thinks. For his omnipresence in space claims, he has two references (debatable, but still references). For his “omnipresence in time” claim, Frame cites no sources. Frame is admitting he has zero evidence for this claim. Frame is admitting the Bible does not support this “omnipresent in time” claim.

Monergism Resources on Repentance

Full links found on the Monergism website on Repentance:

Historical Contingencies and Biblical Predictions
PDF by Dr Richard Pratt

Scriptural Verses Listed by Topic on Open Theism
Web Page by Matthew J Slick

Does God Change His Mind?
Web Page by Dr. John Frame

God’s “Repentance” and Prayer
Web Page by John G Reisinger

Divine Repentance: A Word Study
PDF by Timothy Prussic

Does God Have Regret?
Web Page by Kevin DeYoung

Divine Repentance
Web Page by Steve Hays

The Unchanging God
Web Page by Paul Mizzi

DOES GOD “CHANGE HIS MIND”?
PDF by Robert B Chisholm

Does God Repent of Things He Has Done?
Web Page by Pastor Bob Burridge

The Repentance of God (Ex. 32:14)
Web Page by Shane Lems

Biblical “Contradictions” – Does God Repent?
Web Page by unknown

Does God Ever Change His Mind?
Web Page by Sam Storms

Does God change his mind?
Web Page by John Blanchard

God Does Not Repent Like a Man
Web Page by John Piper

Does God ‘Change His Mind?’
PDF by Robert B Chisholm

Divine Repentance
Web Page by R C Sproul

Does God Change His Mind? Divine Repentance
Web Page by R C Sproul

Does God Change His Mind?
Web Page by R C Sproul

Does God ever change His mind?
Web Page by John Samson

Does God Change His Mind?
Web Page by Rev Joseph R Nally

The Repentance of God
Web Page by John Piper

Morrell’s Prooftexts for God Not Getting What He Wants

From Morrell’s Facebook group Calvinism, Arminianism, Pelagianism, Wesleyanism, Finneyism, Lutheranism:

GOD DOES NOT ALWAYS GET WHAT HE WANTS FROM MEN BECAUSE MEN HAVE A FREE WILL

Free moral agent are under the law of liberty. More often than not God says the word and it is not done by men. Men rebel against God’s word and disobey His will. Men do not obey Jesus as the winds and the waves immediately did. While disobedience is a completely foreign and unheard of phenomenon in physical law, rebellion is a common occurrence under moral law.

This truth is known to us from our own consciousness and experience and it is seen abundantly in the scriptures:

“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6).

“And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel” (1 Samuel 15:35).

“The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psalms 14:2-3).

“Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me; There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god. I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.” Psalms 81:8-16.

“I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me” (Isaiah 1:2).

“Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?” (Isaiah 5:1-4).

“And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them” (Jeremiah 18:9-10).

“And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin” (Jeremiah 32:35; See also Jeremiah 19:5).

“But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 7:11-12).

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand… And they went out, and preached that men should repent… Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not…” (Matthew 4:17, 6:12, 11:20).

“But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him” (Luke 7:30).

“And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come” (Matt. 22:3).

“And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (Jn. 5:40).

“But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:14, 27).

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37).

“And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not” (Revelation 2:21).

And so we can see that in God’s moral government the law of cause and effect does not reign supreme. God’s will is very much resistible in the moral realm or in His moral government because of the free moral agency of His subjects. God does not always get what He wants from free moral agents. Men often disobey the will of God. God does not cause or force men, in the literal sense of the word, to do His will. Influence, as opposed to causation, is the mode of operation within moral government. God deals with men through the means of reasoning, persuading, pleading, striving, beseeching, threatening, promising, urging, commanding, teaching, enlightening, etc. These are means that are suited to govern free moral agents in perfect consistency with the moral nature God created them with.

Worship Sunday – Alive

The gates and doors were barred
And all the windows fastened down
I spent the night in sleeplessness
And rose at every sound
Half in hopeless sorrow
And half in fear the day
Would find the soldiers breakin’ through
To drag us all away

And just before the sunrise
I heard something at the wall
The gate began to rattle
And a voice began to call
I hurried to the window
Looked down into the street
Expecting swords and torches
And the sound of soldiers’ feet

But there was no one there but Mary
So I went down to let her in
John stood there beside me
As she told me where she’d been
She said they might have moved Him in the night
And none of us knows where
The stone’s been rolled away
And now His body isn’t there

We both ran toward the garden
Then John ran on ahead
We found the stone and empty tomb
Just the way that Mary said
But the winding sheet they wrapped Him in
Was just an empty shell
And how or where they’d taken Him
Was more than I could tell

Oh something strange had happened there
Just what I did not know
John believed a miracle
But I just turned to go
Circumstance and speculation
Couldn’t lift me very high
‘Cause I’d seen them crucify him
Then I saw him die

Back inside the house again
The guilt and anguish came
Everything I’d promised Him
Just added to my shame
When at last it came to choices
I denied I knew His name
And even if He was alive
It wouldn’t be the same

But suddenly the air was filled
With a strange and sweet perfume
Light that came from everywhere
Drove the shadows from the room
And Jesus stood before me
With his arms held open wide
And I fell down on my knees
And I just clung to Him and cried

Then He raised me to my feet
And as I looked into His eyes
The love was shining out from Him
Like sunlight from the skies
Guilt in my confusion
Disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I’d ever had
Just melted into peace

He’s alive yes He’s alive
Yes He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive yes He’s alive
Oh He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive yes He’s alive
Hallelujah He’s alive
He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive He’s alive He’s alive
I believe it He’s alive
Sweet Jesus

Genesis 22:12 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Gen 22:12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

In Genesis 22, God begins a test of Abraham. The purpose of this test can likely be found in verse 12 and 16: God is testing Abraham to see if he would kill his only son for God. The language found in Genesis 22:12 is God seeing the results of the test and learning how Abraham would act. “Now I know” is the language employed. This makes sense in context. Kurt Williams writes:

Putting all of our Christian presuppositions aside, if we can be comfortable with a God who does not know every detail of our future decisions, would not such an interpretation actually make sense out of this whole incident of the near sacrifice of Isaac? God tested Abraham because so that God could learn something. It was a genuine discerning on God’s part to make sure that he had selected the right person for the job of creating a family that would eventually bless the world. If Abraham ended the test with a failing grade, a new plan would need to be initiated.[2] But in fact the test is passed with flying colors and so God reiterates the covenant to him in the verses that immediately follow (Genesis 22.15-20). Abraham, for a time, helped release God from the immediate bind at hand.

Due to the context and implications, this verse has led many theologians to reconsider their adherence to exhaustive divine foreknowledge. Joel S. Kaminsky writes:

So what might we learn about God from this story? I remember the moment when that dimension of the text opened up for me. My homiletics colleague, Richard Ward, and I were doing a teaching session together, and he recited Gen 22 from memory. In the freshness of that new medium, I heard a verse I had always passed over before, although I do not recall his giving it any special emphasis. Again, the angel of the LORD is speaking: “Do not stretch out your hand to the lad and do not do a single thing to him, for now I know that you are a God-fearer, and you did not withhold your son, your only one, from me” (v. 12). If we take those words seriously—and in this narrative not a word is wasted—then we have to believe that there is something God now knows for the first time. (For all its theocentricity, the book of Genesis gives little comfort to the doctrine of divine omniscience.) What God knows now is so crucial that this most terrible “test” (v. 1) was devised, in order to show whether in fact Abraham cares for God above everything and everyone else—even above Isaac, his son and his own slender hope for fulfillment of God’s promise.

I spoke earlier of cultivating generosity toward the text, if we are indeed to befriend it. Generosity toward the Old Testament must mean this at least: accepting the text on its own terms, literally, working seriously with the language it offers us. The advantage of this present reading is that it is directed by the words of the passage rather than by an extraneous idea—the immorality of child sacrifice, the omniscience of God—however valid that idea might be in another interpretive situation.

This reading also coheres with the larger narrative context, to which the very first words of the chapter point us: “After these things, God tested Abraham.” After what things? Where are we in the history of salvation? At this point, all God’s eggs are in Abraham’s basket, almost literally. Recall that after the tower of Babel, God gave up on working a blessing directly upon all humankind and adopted a new strategy: channeling the blessing through Abraham’s line (Gen 12:3). Our story takes account of that new divine strategy: “And all the nations of the earth will find blessing through your seed, because you heeded my voice” (22:18). God, having been badly and repeatedly burned by human sin throughout the first chapters of Genesis, yet still passionately desirous of working blessing in the world, now consents to become totally vulnerable on the point of this one man’s faithfulness. But the narrative has just cast a shadow of doubt over Abraham’s total faith in God. Remember those two episodes in which Abraham has Sarah pass herself off as his sister? In Egypt and again in Canaan he lets his beautiful wife go into a king’s harem, rather than trusting God to protect them on their sojourn (Gen 12:10-17 and 20:1-18). “After these things, God tested Abraham.” After all that, we can begin to understand why God must know for sure whether the single human thread upon which the blessing hangs will hold firm.
-Joel S. Kaminsky, Jews, Christians, and the Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures

The context is hard for even Calvinists to deny. John Calvin acknowledges the face value reading, but dismisses it as contradictory to his beliefs about God:

12. Now I know that thou fearest God. The exposition of Augustine, ‘I have caused thee to know,’ is forced. But how can any thing become known to God, to whom all things have always been present? Truly, by condescending to the manner of men, God here says that what he has proved by experiment, is now made known to himself. And he speaks thus with us, not according to his own infinite wisdom, but according to our infirmity.

Critics of Boyd Show Hypocrisy

From a review of Trinity and Process, the author, Dr. Robert Morey, sets out his principles:

1. God has revealed in Scripture propositional truths concerning His nature and attributes.

2. Our views of God and Christ must arise from a careful exegesis of Scripture and not from a priori philosophic speculations.

3. Historical, classical, traditional, confessional, orthodox theology as expressed in the great creeds of the Church for nearly two thousand years is the Biblical position set forth in confessional form.

4. Any theology that denies the historical, classical, traditional, confessional, orthodox understanding of the nature and attributes of God and the two natures of Christ is heretical.

5. We are not deceived by heretics when they use orthodox terms such as God, omniscience, Trinity, etc., but give them an unorthodox meaning. For example, the Socinians pretended that they believed in the “omniscience” of God while denying that God knew the future!

Already this logic is hypocritical. They claim that they need to disavow philosophical speculation, and then claim adherence to creeds, which are written in philosophical speculative terms and are anti-antithetical to the primary concerns of the Bible. The author moves on:

Boyd states that the “traditional view of God” found in the confessions of the Church “needed to be attacked and rejected.”

Did you understand what he is saying? The Church’s traditional view of the nature and attributes of God as found in the creeds needs to be “attacked and rejected” according to Boyd because the Christian Church has been wrong all these years’ The historic orthodox view of God is actually pagan in origin and came from Plato and Aristotle!

Can you imagine that! All the creeds, all the Fathers and all the hymns were pagan in their view of God! For two thousand years, the Church has been worshiping a pagan god!
The traditional view of an “Almighty God” is reduced to a “god” that must die to set men free.

The author attacks Boyd for Boyd’s attempt to disassociate Christianity with philosophical speculation. But, not to worry, the author explains that although it sounds nice, that cults often claim to reject philosophy for the Bible:

This is what cultists such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses have always done as well as Liberal theologians. They all dismiss historical, classical, traditional, confessional, orthodox theology as being Platonic, or Aristotelian, etc. In its place, they substitute their own views of God as being more “biblical” than the orthodox creeds!

The entire article is a rambling, have-crazed, rant. It is unprofessional and the biases it shows are reason enough to dismiss the author as emotionally compromised.

Boyd on How Fatalism is Fatalism

From Gregory Boyd’s Five Brief Philosophical Arguments for the Open View:

The distinction between possibility and actuality

P1) The fundamental distinction between possibility and actuality is that of indefiniteness and definiteness.

P2) Self-determination is the power to change possibility into actuality, thus indefiniteness into definiteness.

P3) If EDF is the case, then every event is definite before it occurs.

P4) There is no indefiniteness to the future.

Conclusion: The self has no power to change possibilities into actualities, indefiniteness into definiteness. That is, the self has no self-determination.

Comment: If the distinction between actuality and possibility is not that of definiteness and indefiniteness, then what is it? And if self-determination is not the ability to render possibilities actual, then what is it? If both P1 and P2 are granted, however, the possibility of affirming that the content of God’s foreknowledge is exhaustively definite while affirming self-determination is undermined. Unless the future is to some degree ontologically (not just epistemologically) open (viz. partly constituted by indefinite possibilities) then agents can’t turn possibilities into actualities and thus posess self-determination. Despite protests to the contrary, I do not see that classical-philosophical theism allows for real possibilities.

Worship Sunday – Garden

Won’t you take this cup from me
Because fear has stolen all my sleep
If tomorrow means my death
Pray you’ll save their souls with it
Let the songs I sing bring joy to you
Let the words I say confess my love
Let the notes I choose be your favorite tune
Father let my heart be after you
In this hour of doubt I see
Who I am is not just me
So give me strength to die myself
So love can live to tell the tale
Father let my heart be for you
For you
For you
For you

Matthew 10:29 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Mat 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.

This verse is often used to prooftext God controlling all things on Earth, no matter how minute. Calvin writes:

For God never can rest; he sustains the world by his energy, he governs everything however minute, so that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without his decree. (Matthew 10:29.)
Calvin, John. Calvin’s Complete Bible Commentaries (With Active Table of Contents in Biblical Order) (Kindle Locations 266455-266457). . Kindle Edition.

Neil Short challenges this reading:

This verse in Matthew has a parallel in Luke:

Luke 12:6 (NRSV)
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight.

The point in Luke is more clear that God is paying undivided attention. Luke also mentions an example of ravens. God cares for them.

Luke 12:24 (NRSV)
Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!

The point of the sparrows example in Matthew is that God is keenly aware when believers are being persecuted and they are never going through it alone. The old spiritual has it right: “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.”

I am motivated to put a little sharper of a point on this reading of Matthew 10:29. A very common interpretation of the verse is that sparrows die only by God’s permission. Insisting on that really alternative translation and meaning forces the passage to lose coherence. The meaning becomes something like, “None of you will suffer a violent martyr’s death without the Father’s permission and providence.” The better and more obvious meaning, especially in light of the parallel passage in Luke 12:6, is that the Father cares for sparrows even when they fall. Your souls are safe with the Father if you “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28).

The “divine control” interpretation of this verse requires such translations as the NKJ or the ESV. Other versions match the Luke parallel meaning. The New Testament for Everyone renders this verse:

Matthew 10:29 How much would you get for a couple of sparrows? A single copper coin if you’re lucky? And not one of them falls to the ground without your father knowing about it.

The contextual meaning of Matthew 10:28 could easily be about God’s eternal care. God is watching. God knows what is happening. And God will set things right.

Sanders on Abraham’s Test

God intends to test Abraham’s faith, not to have Isaac killed (Gen 22: 1). The test is genuine, not fake. Walter Brueggemann says that this test “is not a game with God; God genuinely does not know. . . . The flow of the narrative accomplishes something in the awareness of God. He did not know. Now he knows.” 48 God’s statement, “now I know,” raises serious theological problems regarding divine immutability and foreknowledge. 49 Many commentators either pass over this verse in silence or dismiss it as mere anthropomorphism. It is often suggested that the test was for Abraham’s benefit, not God’s. It should be noted, however, that the only one in the text said to learn anything from the test is God. Abraham probably learned something in his relationship with God, but that is not the point of the text. If one presupposes that God already “knew” the results of the test beforehand, then there was, in fact, no test and God put Abraham through unnecessary suffering. 50

Sanders, John. The God Who Risks: A Theology of Divine Providence (pp. 50-51). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

Kindelberger on God’s Contingencies

Without pressing the matter too far, one could look as far back as the beginning to see that God has always been a resourceful, plan B kind of Creator: “Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; . .  . But for Adam no suitable helper was found” (Gen 2: 19– 20). 12 God not only granted Adam the responsibility of choosing a helpmate but also allowed him to reject God’s numerous creative proposals. This was after God described the very situation he had brought the man into as “not good” (2: 18). Regarding this not so good situation, literary scholar Lee Humphreys remarks, “Apparently Yahweh God judges his creative effort as not yet quite right. He has second thoughts about the human condition.” 13 This is indeed a provocative statement, yet it rings true that God did say that what he himself had made was not good. 14 It seems God has accepted the necessity of his own vulnerability in his new relationship to a freethinking, foreign being, so much so that he invited this new creature’s critiques into his once independent existence. Yahweh was now experiencing what it means to bring another volitional, freethinking, wise, and even critical being into his own world.

Kindelberger, Roy D.. God’s Absence and the Charismatic Presence: Inquiries in Openness Theology (Kindle Locations 205-216). Wipf & Stock, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – How Long

Stand and I wait
And I see
See you move
Move around me
Nothing is as
It would seem to be
Stand and I pray
And I feel
Feel you move
Move around me
Is it all
Coming clear to me

How long can we wait, will we wait for You to come
And lay ourselves down before You

Stand and I wait
And I see
See you move
Move around me
Nothing is as
It would seem to be
Stand and I pray
And I feel
Feel you move
Move around me
Is it all
Coming clear to me

How long can we wait, will we wait for You to come
And lay ourselves down before You

I will wait for You

How long can we wait, will we wait for You to come
And lay ourselves down before You

1 Peter 1:20 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

1Pe 1:20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you

1 Peter 1:20 has variously been used to prooftext the idea that every detail of the crucifixion of Christ was known before the world was created. James White comments in his debate with Bob Enyart:

So we have the cross, right? And yet according to Acts chapter 2, “This Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” Well, you can’t have foreknowledge if you don’t have knowledge of the fore. And so God has a definite plan. And the cross has been a part of that plan. In fact, as Peter tells us, it speaks of Jesus, “the lamb slain for our salvation foreknown before the creation of the world.”

James White might be mixing verses. 1 Peter 1:20 seems to be conflated with Revelation 13:8. 1 Peter does not have anything in context about being “slain” or the “cross”. The context is about God having a redemption plan:

1Pe 1:17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;
1Pe 1:18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,
1Pe 1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
1Pe 1:20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you
1Pe 1:21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

What is Peter trying to communicate here? According to those who would have this be a divine determinism prooftext, this means that everything that ever happened in relation to Jesus was predestined (not “from” the foundation of the world as the text says, but predestined “timelessly”). This includes everything from the cough of a Roman soldier to the wood patterns in the cross.

But this seems like a stretch. Having a redemption plan sounds standard fair for a fallen world. And no Old Testament texts are explicit with any cross prophecy. If Jesus would have died by “execution by sword”, not one Old Testament text could be pointed out as a failed prophecy.

Additionally, the word for “foreknown” is used of human beings in the Bible (Acts 26:5) and used in the ancient world to mean “plan” or “specify”, as in Plutarch (“furnish”):

Let so much suffice for general occasions of freedom of speech. There are also particular occasions, which our friends themselves furnish, that one who really cares for his friends will not neglect, but make use of.

In any case, claiming that this word implies immutable knowledge of future facts (“you can’t have foreknowledge if you don’t have knowledge of the fore”) is not warranted by the use of this word in the Bible or in the ancient world.

Oord on God’s Synergistic Power

Thomas J Oord on how God acts. Consolidated from a Facebook thread on God is Open:

Thanks for hearing me out. I know of no story in the Bible that EXPLICITLY says God acted alone and controlled a situation to determine it unilaterally. But I know of many stories that only mention God acting. Many people have heard those stories and, because they assume God can unilaterally determine, assume that God must have caused the outcome all alone by controlling some situation. But I don’t think we need to think God determines outcomes alone. The vast majority of stories in the Bible speak of other actors. Those that don’t speak of other actors contributing to God’s mission I assume also have other actors. We often talk about someone doing something — “Brady won the Super Bowl” — when other actors also were acting to make that happen.

So the story of Philip, the multiplication of food, etc., I assume other actors or factors contributed. Of course, none of us were there to verify if my hypothesis is correct or some other one is. But my proposal view fits our experiences and the vast majority of stories in the Bible. And, of course, it helps us solve the problem of evil.

I think donkeys and other creatures can cooperate with God. And, of course, we’ve taught parrots to talk! : ) Yes, I have no problem believing the talking donkey actually happened and that in some way Philip moved from one place to another.

What does make me different from most Christians is that I’ve thought carefully about the implications of saying God is a spirit without a localized body. While we can use our bodies to do certain things, God doesn’t have a bodied to do those things. But God CAN call those with bodies to use their bodies for some project. That may mean stopping bullets, for instance.

I’d say that the conditions were right for those occurrences or creatures (e.g. donkeys and humans) cooperated. This is why Jesus often talks about the faith required of those who are healed. And also why Jesus can’t heal those in his hometown; their lack of [faith].

Fairly Handy Cross-Reference of Allusions in Revelation

From Mathew Hartke on Fifth Act Theology. A sample:

Revelation 21

21:1 echoes Isa 65:17; 66:22
21:2 echoes Isa 52:1b
21:3 echoes Ezek 43:7 and Ezek 37:26-28
21:4 alludes to Isa 25:8; 35:10; 51:11; 65:17
21:5 draws from Isa 43:19 LXX
21:6 alludes to Isa 49:10
21:7 alludes to 2 Sam 7:14 may be inspired by Isa 55:1-3
21:9-10 combines allusions to Ezek 43:5 LXX and Ezek 40:1-2 LXX
21:11 echoes Isa 58:8; 60:1-2, 19
21:12-13 echoes Ezek 40:5-6; 42:15-19; 48:31-34
21:15 alludes to Ezek 40:3-5
21:16 alludes to Ezek 45:2-3, and may also have 1 Kings 6:20 in mind
21:18-20 is based on 1 Kings 6:20-22; Exod 28:17-20; Isa 54:11-12
21:23 is based on Isa 60:19 (cf. Isa 24:23)
21:24-26 alludes to Isa 60:3, 5, 11

Predestination in the Dead Sea Scrolls

From the Manual of Discipline:

All that is and ever was comes from a God of knowledge. Before things came into existence He determined the plan of them; and when they fill their appointed roles, it is in accordance with His glorious design that they discharge their functions. Nothing can be changed. In His hand lies the government of all things. God it is that sustains them in their needs.

Worship Sunday – Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father

Leviticus 26:27 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Lev 26:27  “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, 
Lev 26:28  then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. 

Leviticus 26:27 comes in the middle of a long promise of contingent punishments. Israel is being warned that God will punish them if they rebel. God promises punishment upon punishment, contingent on when Israel repents. If Israel repents sooner, then they avoid what might have happened. The entire section is structured as if Israel might respond to any particular punishment and then forgo the intensified punishment.

Lev 26:18  And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, 

Lev 26:21  “Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins. 

Lev 26:23  “And if by this discipline you are not turned to me but walk contrary to me, 
Lev 26:24  then I also will walk contrary to you, and I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins. 

Lev 26:27  “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, 
Lev 26:28  then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. 

Lev 26:40  “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, 
Lev 26:41  so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 
Lev 26:42  then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 
Lev 26:43  But the land shall be abandoned by them and enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them, and they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they spurned my rules and their soul abhorred my statutes. 

God does not foreknow when any repentance might come or if any rebellion would even materialize. This cascading list of contingencies, is itself a meta contingency.

Apologetics Thursday – Nebuchadnezzar’s Madness

This meme is from a Calvinist page. The reference is to Daniel 4:

Dan 4:29  At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 
Dan 4:30  and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 
Dan 4:31  While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 
Dan 4:32  and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 
Dan 4:33  Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws. 
Dan 4:34  At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; 
Dan 4:35  all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” 
Dan 4:36  At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 
Dan 4:37  Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. 

A few notes:

The punishment appears to be God reacting to pride, suggesting the free will of Nebuchadnezzar to avoid this fate. Surely the suggestion is that Nebuchadnezzar ought not to have chosen to be so prideful. Nebuchadnezzar was not fated to be prideful, and his pride is an affront to God.

The insanity is designed to teach Nebuchadnezzar. If God is removing free will, why teach? What is the point of this exercise?

The insanity is said to last for 7 years. Is this a prediction of this is when Nebuchadnezzar will become humble? Or, more likely, the time that God chooses to remove the insanity, thus allowing Nebuchadnezzar to re-evaluate his pride.

Is this fate or a rational prediction of the humility?

Is the restored fortune a response to Nebuchadnezzar’s change of heart?

In all, this account does not look much like it should if Nebuchadnezzar’s free will was being revoked. The point of the passage is an object lesson meant to teach Nebuchadnezzar some humility. The temporary insanity is more of a physical limitation than a violation of will.

Calvinists Point to Calvinists as Evidence Calvin was Best Theologian

From Ligonier’s Theologian for the Ages:

John Calvin (1509–1564) is easily the most important Protestant theologian of all time and remains one of the truly great men who have lived. A world-class theologian, a renowned teacher, an ecclesiastical statesman, and a valiant Reformer, Calvin is seen by many as the greatest influence on the church since the first century. Apart from the biblical authors themselves, Calvin stands as the most influential minister of the Word the world has ever seen. Philip Melanchthon revered him as the most able interpreter of Scripture in the church, and therefore labeled him simply “the theologian.” And Charles Spurgeon said that Calvin “propounded truth more clearly than any other man that ever breathed, knew more of Scripture, and explained it more clearly.”

On the Dialogue Between God and Satan

From David Cline’s The False Naivety in the Prologue to Job:

What is not naive about these dialogues? At the assembly of the sons of God, where they come presumably to report on their activities, it seems only natural that the sovereign should initiate the conversation. But it is also subtly meaningful that he should be the first to speak: it means not only just that he begins the dialogue but that his question has a role-establishing function, showing that in the case of Job it is indeed God (and not the Satan) who takes the significant initiatives. It is God (and not the Satan) who is the chief architect of Job’s downfall.6 The Satan’s reply, ‘From going to and fro on the earth’, is not evasive, but shaped in such a way as to throw the initiative in the conversation back upon Yahweh. The Satan has nothing to report, nothing to advise, nothing to propound; he has simply been abroad on earth with his eyes open, amassing a fund of observations that his sovereign can use as he wills. Any move in the dialogue—or in the action—is up to Yahweh.

Worship Sunday – Praise Him Moon and Stars

Sweet is the work, my God and King,
To praise your name, give thanks and sing,
To tell your love by morning light,
Your faithfulness all through the night.

How good it is to join the song,
Angels and saints around your throne,
Lift every voice, fill every lung,
Come strike the strings and beat the drum.

Praise him moon and stars,
Praise him shining lights,
Praise him in the morning,
Praise him when the sun goes down.

All that has breath join heaven’s song,
East to the West, old and the young,
And bless his works and bless his name,
Tell of his love with hearts aflame.

1 Kings 20:42 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

1Ki 20:42 And he said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.'”

The context of 1 Kings 20 is that King Ahab has just released an enemy captive, Ben-hadad. Ahab defeats Be-hadad in war, but then signs a trade agreement with him and lets him go. A prophet of God disguises himself and tells the king a fake story about himself. He says he was tasked with watching a prisoner but the prisoner escaped. The King affirms the death penalty would be warranted. The King has condemned himself.

The prophet removes his disguise as declares, as rendered in the NKJV: “Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.”

God appointed Be-hadad to destruction. Ahab let Ben-hadad go. Ahab thwarted God’s plans for Ben-hadad. As a result, Ahab is given Ben-hadad’s punishment. For God’s contingency plan, Be-hadad is later killed by Hazael after being enticed by the prophet Elijah.

This shows that God’s will is sometimes thwarted. God then uses alternative means of affecting His will.

Apologetics Thursday – Allowing and Determining

A truncated thread from Facebook:

Peter: …To allow IS to determine.

Chris Fisher: I allow my children to fight by not tying them up with ropes and leaving them in a closet all day. But that doesn’t mean I am determining it.

Peter: Chris Fisher if you allowed them to fight and one of them hurt the other, would you be responsible?

Chris Fisher: Absolutely not. I have no positive requirement to act. Not-acting is the default. That would be like saying you are responsible for people starving in Africa because you don’t dedicate all your non-subsistence income to Africa.

Nathan: No Chris Fisher, take it even further, the logic of Peter would be that not only is he responsible for people starving in Africa, but he’s determining their starvation by not acting.

Chris Fisher: Peter, decreeing and determining people to starve to death in Africa. That’s not nice of you, Peter, to determine such a thing.

Fisher on the Tower of Siloam

From Jesus was not a fatalist:

The Pharisees in the time of Jesus were fatalists (see Josephus on this). Fatalism seems to be the default human belief. We find it as far back as Job. Job’s friends try to explain to him that things just do not just happen for no reason. If Jesus was not a fatalist, we would expect there to be some sort of confrontation about this. In fact there is:

Luk 13:1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
Luk 13:2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?
Luk 13:3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
Luk 13:4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?
Luk 13:5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Because the Pharisees and many people were fatalists, they were looking for some sort of meaning in the deaths of the innocent Jews by both Pilate (volitional murder) and the tower of Siloam (accidental death). A Pharisees would have decried the dead as terrible sinners, but Jesus does not do that. Instead Jesus seems to mock that position.

In Jesus’ answer to the question, he gives a non-answer. He counters the prevailing reasoning and then uses this event to illustrate future death. Jesus was not a fatalist, sometimes things just happen. But Jesus also tells us, there will be a time when future people perish and this will be for a reason (they do not repent).

Short on God and Sparrows

From Matthew 10:29 – Does God determine when sparrows die?

The point of the sparrows example in Matthew is that God is keenly aware when believers are being persecuted and they are never going through it alone. The old spiritual has it right: “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.”

I am motivated to put a little sharper of a point on this reading of Matthew 10:29. A very common interpretation of the verse is that sparrows die only by God’s permission. Insisting on that really alternative translation and meaning forces the passage to lose coherence. The meaning becomes something like, “None of you will suffer a violent martyr’s death without the Father’s permission and providence.” The better and more obvious meaning, especially in light of the parallel passage in Luke 12:6, is that the Father cares for sparrows even when they fall. Your souls are safe with the Father if you “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28).

Worship Sunday – It is Well

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard

Through it Call, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it Call, through it all
It is well
Through it Call, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see
And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name

It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Exodus 32:14 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Exo 32:14 And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

In Exodus 32, God sees Israel’s first major rebellion against Him. While Moses is on Mount Sinai talking to God about commandments for Israel, Israel camps below and builds a false idol in the shape of a calf. God then begins plotting to destroy all of Israel. God states that He has seen Israel. God watched them rebel after a few days without Moses’ leadership. God then commands Moses to leave him alone. God says that He will destroy Israel and then use Moses’ lineage to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham. But Moses mounts a solid defense.

Exo 32:11 But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?
Exo 32:12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people.
Exo 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.'”

Moses’ argues:

1. Israel was God’s people
2. God expended great power to lead His people out of Egypt
3. If God were to destroy Israel, the Egyptians would think poorly of God
4. Israel is the offspring of notable individuals to whom God made promises
5. That promise was specifically an eternal inheritance

This leads to God “relenting” of the disaster He had promised. The better translation of this verb would be “repented”. God is showing a change of mind, and a change of mind based on a reasoned argument. Theologians convinced that God has exhaustive knowledge of the future might claim that God is placating Moses. God pretends to be angry. God pretends to want to destroy Israel. God sets up a situation for Moses to learn. But the text does not state this.

In fact, future Biblical commenters on this event follow a more Open Theistic reading. In Ezekiel, the Exodus event is depicted as God changing based on the argument that killing Israel would make Him look poor in front of the pagan nations:

Exo 32:11 But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?
Exo 32:12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people.
Exo 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.'”

Psalms 106 recounts that it is Moses’ arguments that actually affect a change in the Divine person:

Psa 106:23 Therefore He said that He would destroy them, Had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach, To turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them.

Moses turned away God’s wrath. God repented of His wrath, as explicit in Exodus. This is also recounted by Moses in Deuteronomy 9:19.

It is obvious that Exodus 32 is meant to be read as God changing His mind in light of Moses’ intercession. The text reads explicitly like this. Future Biblical commenters affirm it. There is nothing in the text mitigating the straightforward reading.

Blogger Catagorizes Calvinists

Blogger categorizes Calvinists as:
1). Total hyper-Calvinism
2). Partial hyper-Calvinism:
3). Ultra-High Calvinism
4). Regular High Calvinism
5). Moderate Calvinism
6). Lower Moderate Calvinism (may pre-date the confessions)
7). Lower Calvinism
9). Amyraldism (4 point Calvinism)

A sample:

1). Total hyper-Calvinism:

Rejects:
Duty / faith
The well-meant offer
Common grace,
Any love for the reprobate by God
Promiscuous evangelism

Affirms:
Eternal Justification
Active Reprobation
That God works ends without means
That providence and moral responsibility are incompatible
Determinism (usually ending up in fatalism in practice)
Supralapsarianism
Selective evangelism

Worship Sunday – Hosana Praise is Rising

Praise is rising
Eyes are turning to You
We turn to You
Hope is stirring
Hearts are yearning for You
We long for You

When we see You we find strength to face the day
In Your presence all our fears are washed away
Washed away

Hosanna Hosanna
You are the God who saves us
Worthy of all our praises
Hosanna Hosanna
Come have Your way among us
We welcome You here Lord Jesus

Hear the sound of hearts returning to You
We turn to You
In Your kingdom broken lives are made new
You make us new

‘Cause when we see You we find strength
To face the day
In Your presence all our fears are washed away
Washed away

Genesis 1:26 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

In Genesis 1:26, God makes man in His own image. This follows several verses describing how animals are being made “according to their kinds”. The parallelism seems to suggest that man does not have their own kind, but is God’s “kind”.

This is reinforced by the use of the word “image”. This word is the standard word for idol throughout the Old Testament. As the idols are to the false gods, man is to the true God. Men do not have their own idols to Yahweh, because man is that idol.

The implications are profound and echo throughout the Bible. Man is placed in a unique situation, being closely related with God. Man has inherent value, value derived from God’s value. Man, due to this creation, is placed in a special relationship with God.

Apologetics Thursday – Platonic Knowledge

From the article Why I Reject Open Theism:

Open theism is the belief that God does not know the future because he has given man the freedom to choose. One web site gave the following definition: Though omniscient, God does not know what we will freely do in the future.

This is not true, for the Bible is full of references of God declaring future events long before they happened and the outcome of the choices made by individuals long before those individuals were born.

The above is an example of the shoddy debate framing by modern Open Theists and their critics. Sloppy definitions of words are used, and this creates shifting definitions within statements.

Most normal people are said to “know” the future in some sense. I know Walmart will be open if I go right now, and they will accept my money in exchange for candy. This is a certainty. No one would say I do not “know” this will happen.

Queue the theologians. They tend to speak in very different ways. Although they use the same language, it is given a new definition to meet philosophical objectives. In Classical Theism, God’s know is object-based. The knowledge is of real things to be known. God cannot have non-object based knowledge, like experiential knowledge. God is only called omniscient if He has all knowledge, the knowledge cannot change, God’s total knowledge cannot be modified, and God does not receive His knowledge from outside sources (the knowledge is identical to His essence). This is a Platonic idea of knowledge and has nothing to do with the Bible.

So when Open Theists frame the debate in the same idiosyncratic and non-intuitive terms that their critics use, this creates scenarios where these definitions are imposed onto the Bible. Instead of God knowing what will happen in the way that I know Walmart would facilitate my purchase, instead they claim that when the Bible talks about God’s knowledge of the future it meets and entirely different standard. This standard is modern, and alien to the Bible. It leads to people like the author of the quoted article, rejecting Open Theism on grounds he honestly believes are Biblical.

Thomas Jay Oords Uncontrolling Love Tour

From Oord’s Facebook:

September 24, Uncontrolling Love – Nampa, Idaho
Real Life Community Church hosts an Uncontrolling Love book launch event. I’ll be speaking and interviewing Cathy Beals, Cameron McCown, Angela Monroe, and Adam Watkins. Event starts at 10am, and the location is at 120 14th Ave South, Nampa, ID.
October 7-8, Uncontrolling Love – Junction City, Kansas
Dyton Owen and the Junction City First United Methodist church host this Uncontrolling Love book launch event. I’ll speak Saturday night,Oct. 7, at 7pm, and I’ll interview other book contributors. Then I’ll preach Sunday morning, Oct. 8 and speak again at 3pm Sunday afternoon.
October 13-14, Uncontrolling Love – Nashville, Tennessee
On Friday, Oct. 13, 1pm-5pm, I’ll be speaking along with Graden Kirksey and Alexis Waggoner at the Woodmont Christian Church (Drowata Hall, 3601 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville). Friday evening, I’ll be speaking at the Parnassus book store in Nashville. On Saturday, Oct. 14, 8:30am-2:30pm I’ll be speaking along with others at Andrew Price United Methodist Church (2846 Lebanon Pike, Nashville). Speakers include Rick Quinn, Alexis Waggoner, Graden Kirksey, Jeff Skinner, Donna Ward, Gloria Coffin, Lisa Michaels and me.
October 15, Creation and Uncontrolling Love – Huntsville, AL
Keith Noren, Weatherly Heights Baptist Church, and the Discovery Center is hosting me for two lectures on Sunday, Oct. 15. The afternoon lecture is a 2pm, and I’ll be speaking on the Uncontrolling Love of God. The evening lecture is at 6pm, and I’ll offer a new doctrine of original creation to replace creation from nothing. The Lectures will be at Weatherly Heights Baptist Church www.weatherly.org, 1309 Cannstatt Drive, Huntsville, AL. 35803.
October 29, Uncontrolling Love – Boise, ID
Dana Hicks, Joe Bankard, and the BSU Wesley House host me for a lecture and discussion of ideas in The Uncontrolling Love of God. 7pm, Boise State University.
November 3-4, Uncontrolling Love – Portland, Oregon
Bo Sanders hosts this Uncontrolling Love book launch November 3-5. More details on times and locations.
November 12, Uncontrolling Love – Boston, Massachusetts
Abby Henrich and Jon Paul Sydnor host this Uncontrolling Love book launch event at Grace Community Boston. I’ll be speaking Sunday morning, and I’ll interview Uncontrolling Love contributors on Sunday evening. Locations and times forthcoming.
December 1-3, Uncontrolling Love – Cleveland, Ohio
Craig Drurey, Bryan Overbaugh, and Joshua Reichard host these Uncontrolling Love events. I’ll give a lecture on Friday, Dec. 1, 7pm at Ashland Theological Seminary. My lecture title: “Why God Can’t Prevent Torture, Miscarriages, and Hurricanes: A New Model of Divine Providence.” We are working on a book launch even at Zion United Church of Christ, 2716 West 14th Street, Cleveland on December 2. I’ll speak Sunday morning, 10am at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Cleveland Heights. My title is “Tragedy and God’s Love in Light of Uncontrolling Love.”

2018
January 20-21, Uncontrolling Love – Placentia, CA
I’m leading an Uncontrolling Love book launch event at the United Methodist Church in Placentia, CA (2050 Valencia Ave). The event starts at 7pm on Saturday, Jan. 20, and I’ll be speaking and interviewing contributors to Uncontrolling Love. I’m preaching the next morning, Jan. 21, at the same location.
March 8, Uncontrolling Love – Leeds, England
Simon Hall hosts this evening event at Cafe Theologique in Leeds.

The Earliest Description of Timelessness

From Parmenides, the earliest source in the concept of timelessness:

. . . One path only
is left for us to speak of, namely, that It is. In this path are very many tokens
that what is is uncreated and indestructible;
for it is complete,[9] immovable, and without end.
Nor was it ever, nor will it be; for now it is, all at once,
a continuous one. For what kind of origin for it wilt thou look for?
In what way and from what source could it have drawn its increase? I shall not let thee say nor think
that it came from what is not; for it can neither be thought nor uttered
that anything is not. And, if it came from nothing, what need
could have made it arise later rather than sooner?
Therefore must it either be altogether or be not at all.
Nor will the force of truth suffer aught to arise
besides itself from that which is not. Wherefore,
justice doth not loose her fetters and let anything come into being or pass away,
but holds it fast. Our judgment thereon depends on this:
“Is it or is it not?” Surely it is adjudged, as it needs must be,
that we are to set aside the one way as unthinkable and nameless (for it is no true way),
and that the other path is real and true.
How, then, can what is be going to be in the future? Or how could it come into being?
If it came into being, it is not; nor is it if it is going to be in the future.
Thus is becoming extinguished and passing away not to be heard of.
Nor is it divisible, since it is all alike,
and there is no more[10] of it in one place than in another, to hinder it from holding together,
nor less of it, but everything is full of what is.
Wherefore it is wholly continuous; for what is, is in contact with what is.
Moreover, it is immovable in the bonds of mighty chains,
without beginning and without end; since coming into being and passing away
have been driven afar, and true belief has cast them away.
It is the same, and it rests in the self-same place, abiding in itself.
And thus it remaineth constant in its place; for hard necessity
keeps it in the bonds of the limit that holds it fast on every side.
Wherefore it is not permitted to what is to be infinite;
for it is in need of nothing; while, if it were infinite, it would stand in need of everything.[11]
The thing that can be thought and that for the sake of which the thought exists is the same;[12]
for you cannot find thought without something that is, as to which it is uttered.[13]
And there is not, and never shall be,
anything besides what is, since fate has chained it
so as to be whole and immovable. Wherefore all these things are but names
which mortals have given, believing them to be true—
coming into being and passing away, being and not being,
change of place and alteration of bright colour.
Since, then, it has a furthest limit, it is complete
on every side, like the mass of a rounded sphere,
equally poised from the centre in every direction; for it cannot be greater
or smaller in one place than in another.
For there is no nothing that could keep it from reaching
out equally, nor can aught that is be
more here and less there than what is, since it is all inviolable.
For the point from which it is equal in every direction tends equally to the limits

Worship Sunday – Shine on Us

Your love casts out fear
Your light shining in the dark, shining in the dark
Your rule, Your reign is here
No power can stand against us now, can stand against us now

Shine on us
Shine on us
Living God, the Risen Son (come) shine on us

Shine on us
Shine on us
Holy Ghost, come fire of love and shine on us

Just a taste of your glory
Just a glimpse of Your light is all we need
As our lives tell the story
Of the power of the cross and Your victory

Shine through us
Shine through us
Holy Ghost, come fire of love and shine through us

Psalms 55:19 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Psa 55:19  God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah because they do not change and do not fear God.

The phrasing of Psalms 55:19 mirrors that of Malachi 3:6: “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”. The “not changing” is linked to a resulting action. In Malachi, because God does not change then Israel is not destroyed. In Psalms 55, because the wicked do not change then they do not fear God.

Psalms 55 is a call of King David for justice. He calls on God to act and to save him. Like many of these Psalms, the chapter then leads into a proposed punishment of the wicked. Because the wicked have attacked David for so long, without changing, they will be punished.

The verse is not about complete metaphysical immutability of man. It is using normal language to describe man’s unwillingness to repent. Similar language is used about men who remain faithful in Psalms 15:4. The “not changing” is limited to a character statement, and not to be understood outside that scope.

Apologetics Thursday – Urbach as Used by Calvinists

Urbach

In a book against Open Theism, a chapter on the Jewish rejection of Open Theism states:

Likewise, Efraim Urbach declares, “The Gemara deduces . . . that the deeds of man that are performed with understanding and in conformity with the laws of ethics and the precepts of religion can assure the desired results only if they accord with the designs of Providence, ‘which knoweth what the future holds.’”45

Piper, John; Taylor, Justin; Helseth, Paul Kjoss. Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity (p. 32). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

The Urbach reference is cited as “45 Urbach, The Sages, 266.” Urbach’s own views of ancent Israelite conceptions of omniscience seem to mirror that of the scholar Pettazzoni:

Pettazzoni rightly stresses that actually the concept of the Lord as Judge, as a zealous and beneficent God, implies omniscience. The doctrine, which is found among so many peoples, came into being among the Israelites with a nuance specific to their conception of God (p. 108 and p. 437); see above, pp. 52ff.

Urbach, Ephraim E.. The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs (Kindle Locations 21214-21217). . Kindle Edition.

Pettazzoni

Pettazzoni describes Yahweh’s omniscience not in the classical way, in which God knows all past, present, and future. But instead, the omniscience is an active observance of the Earth:

Man is therefore the principal object of divine omniscience; man in all his doings and thoughts, in all his conduct. This omniscience is not merely passive; on the knowledge follows a sanction, especially one of a punitive kind.

To Pettazzoni, the use of omniscience within Israelite religion was divine justice. God does not observe for observation sake, but observes to judge. Yahweh is particularly focused on mankind. Here is Pettazoni’s summation of Israelite omniscience:

The omniscience of Yahweh, if we consider it, not theologically, as an abstract attribute of Deity,. i.e., as absolute omniscience, but historically in its concrete, though imperfect formulation as relative omniscience, is so organically connected with the particular and well-defined ideological complex which makes up the figure of Yahweh himself that it is difficult to suppose it has a different origin. In the conscience and the history of Israel, Yahweh is the wakeful, avenging, ”jealous” God, the wrathful God who judges and punishes. Now a God who punishes is a God who knows. Yahweh’s omniscience has for its principal object the doings of mankind, and his punitive sanction is often exercised by means of weather-phenomena. Universal vision and knowledge and punitive sanction are complementary aspects of the figure of Yahweh, and another complementary aspect is his abode in the sky ( cf. the Tower of Babel, Gen. xi. 1 /qq., Jacob’s ladder, Gen. xxviii. I2 sqq., also I Kings xxii. xg, etc.). It is from the sky that he sees what men are doing, and from the sky that he sends his chastisement.

Urbach, although quoted by the Calvinists against Open Theists, seems to take the more Open Theistic Pettazzoni position when detailing the beliefs of ancient Israel.

R. Joshua b. Hananiah

In regards to the R. Joshua quote. The source is from Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin, Folio 90a (published 400-500AD, and recounting events from around 100AD).

The Romans asked R. Joshua b. Hananiah: Whence do we know that the the Holy One, blessed he He, will resurrect the dead and knows the future? — He replied: Both are deduced from this verse, And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, and rise up again; and this people shall go a whoring etc.25 But perhaps ‘will rise up, and go a whoring’? — He replied: Then at least you have the answer to half, viz., that He knows the future. It has been stated likewise: R. Johanan said on the authority of R. Simeon b. Yohai: Whence do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, will resurrect the dead and knoweth the future? From, Behold, Thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, and … rise again etc.

Critic of Oord Resorts to Appeal to Mystery

From The Myth of “God’s Uncontrolling Love:

In fact, it is a fallacy. If we unpack Oord’s argument further, we find yet another unstated syllogism:

Premise a. God created humans in his image, with reason.

Premise b. Human reason is (at least potentially) equal to or greater than God’s wisdom.

Conclusion: Therefore humans can determine what it is reasonable, good, and just for God to do—what God should do.

On strictly logical grounds, the conclusion is incontrovertibly true. If premises a. and b. are sound, the conclusion is certain according to the rules of logic.

Premise a. is fine; fully biblical. Clearly the problem is with premise b. From near the beginning of the book, Oord assumes but makes no attempt to prove that human reason (rationality, judgment), or at least the reason of some people, is not only equal to but superior to that of God. Otherwise the claim to know what God shoulddo is absurd. Oord assumes that God created humans whose reason and ability to provide “explanatory consistency” is equal to or functionally superior to that of God.

Yamasaki on Reading the Bible like Cinematography

1. The point of view of a given shot is largely determined by the positioning of the movie camera lens that is taking the shot. In 1982, Hebrew scholar Adele Berlin proffered the analogy of a movie camera lens as a way of understanding the concept of point of view:

[I]n any film . . . the story is filtered through the perspective of the camera eye. Sometimes the camera gives long-shots, sometimes close-ups. . . . And it constantly shifts perspective, showing the action from different angles. The viewer’s perspective is both expanded and controlled by the camera; he can see the action from many directions and perspectives, but can see only what the camera shows him. Biblical narrative narrates like film. The narrator is the camera eye; we “see” the story through what he presents. The Biblical narrator is omniscient in that everything is at his disposal, but he selects carefully what he will include and what he will omit. He can survey the scene from a distance, or zoom in for a detailed look at a small part of it. He can follow one character throughout, or hop from the vantage point of one to another

Yamasaki, Gary. Insights from Filmmaking for Analyzing Biblical Narrative (Reading the Bible in the Twenty-First Century) (Kindle Locations 1249-1259). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Forever (We Sing Hallelujah)

The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Saviour of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse upon Him

One final breath He gave
As heaven looked away
The son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Forever He is glorified
Forever He is lifted high
Forever He is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Forever He is glorified
Forever He is lifted high
Forever He is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome

We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome

We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome

We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome

Forever He is glorified
Forever He is lifted high
Forever He is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

You have overcome
You have overcome
You have overcome
You have overcome

Psalms 15:4 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Psa 15:4  in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 

Psalms 15:4 is in the context of a Psalm speaking of the traits of a righteous man. He does what is right (v2). He does no evil to his neighbor (v3). He does not lend money at interest (v5). He does not take bribes (v5). In this context, David also says that the man “does not change”.

If this verse was about God, it would certainly be used in the same way that Malachi 3:6 is used. It would be used to support the metaphysical claim that God cannot change in any respect. But this verse, like Malachi 3:6, is instead a character statement. If the righteous continue to be righteous, they do not change.

Calvin on Gen 18:17

17. Shall I hide from Abraham? Seeing that God here takes counsel, as   if concerning a doubtful matter, he does it for the sake of men; for he   had already determined what he would do. But he designed, in this   manner, to render Abraham more intent upon the consideration of the   causes of Sodom’s destruction. He adduces two reasons why He wished to   manifest his design to Abraham, before he carried it into execution.   The former is, that he had already granted him a singularly honorable   privilege; the second, that it would be useful and fruitful in the   instruction of posterity. Therefore, in this expression, the scope and   use of revelation is briefly noted.

Calvin, John. Calvin’s Complete Bible Commentaries (With Active Table of Contents in Biblical Order) (Kindle Locations 10495-10500). . Kindle Edition.

Grant on the Role and Function of the Septuagint

The Septuagint had the obvious effect of bringing Jewish and pagan thought much closer together, but this proved a curiously one-way traffic. The translation was supposedly devised to persuade the Greeks of the correctness of Judaism, but its influence in this direction was negligible or non-existent – even in Alexandria itself, where so many of the two peoples lived together. Indeed, Greek readers would only have found the biblical narratives and prophesies, even after translation, a puzzling and incomprehensible affair. So the version is scarcely referred to by classical authors. But for the Alexandrian Jews it fulfilled an enormous role. It became, in fact, their Bible, in place of the Hebrew Bible which most of them could not understand.

Grant, Michael. The History of Ancient Israel (p. 203). Orion Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – God of the Redeemed

We belong to You Father
Love has come, we’re orphans no longer
Brought into Your light and freedom
By the blood and the mercy of Jesus

Its rising, its rising, the song of hope
From us set free
Its rising, its rising, its rising up

Hallelujah to You God of the redeemed
Hallelujah, You’ve opened blinded eyes to see
We will praise You
You are the everlasting light
Hallelujah to You God of the redeemed

We belong to You Father, living for
Your glory and honor
Here on Earth, just as in Heaven
We usher in, the reign of Your Kingdom

John 6:64 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Joh 6:64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.

John 6:64 is used as a prooftext for Jesus’ Omniscience. Bruce Ware is explicit:

…Jesus’ knowledge of the future is evidence that he has the knowledge of God.

In light of Jesus’ claim in John 13:19, consider a few specific examples in John of Jesus’ foreknowledge. We find Jesus telling Peter of his three denials before the rooster crows (see John 13:38 with 18:15-27); predicting the kind of death Peter would die (John 21:18 19); and predicting that Judas would be the one to betray him (John 6:64, 70-71; cf. Matt. 26:21-25). In all of these cases, Jesus’ predictions require that other humans do precisely what Jesus predicted they would do. Yet these predictions are not presented as mere guesses regarding the future. Rather, Jesus knows what other free agents will in fact choose to do, states what these future actions will be, and provides his reason for so doing: “that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.”

Ware, Bruce A.. Their God is Too Small: Open Theism and the Undermining of Confidence in God (Kindle Locations 604-607). Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition.

John 6 introduces a scene in which Jesus is speaking to a group of disciples. He proceeds to aggravate them with triggering statements such as “eating flesh”, a redefinition of food (they were hungry and asking for lunch), and an equating of his followers with the true followers of God. All of this leads to murmuring (v43, v61). The false disciples eventually leave due to frustration (v66). But this is not before Jesus calls them out for their unbelief:

Joh 6:64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.

A few questions need to be asked before entertaining Ware’s reading of this verse:

When Jesus “knew from the beginning” what beginning is being referenced? Is it the beginning of the world, or a beginning of his ministry, or the beginning of this event in Capernaum? Likely the “beginning of the world” could be ruled out as Jesus is portrayed as non-omniscient elsewhere in John. Most likely, this verse is describing the fact that Jesus had accurately pegged his audience as scammers and skeptics since first meeting them.

When the people are “betraying Jesus”, what event is this referencing? Their “betrayal” is most likely their turning aside in verse 66, and this is after Jesus insults them until they leave. This is hardly miraculous or evidence of omniscience. Rather it is a process of weeding out false followers through use of cunning and intrigue.

Ware wants this verse to be about Jesus’ omniscience and a claim of divinity. More likely, this is setting up the scene to explain why Jesus treated his audience in such a triggering fashion. He knew what they were after.

Worship Sunday – However You Want

No matter what it looks like
I just want You, want You
In every space of my life
I invite You, invite You

Like a fire
Like a flood
Come however You want
However You want
With Your power
With Your love
Come however You want
However You want

You’re breaking all the boxes
Tearing down the walls, the walls
You have no limitations
You exceed them all
You exceed them all

Faith fills the atmosphere
We know that You are here
Heaven has come to earth
Rebuild every story
Release miracles
Heaven has come to earth

Like a fire
Like a flood
Come however You want
However You want
With Your healing
With Your love
Come however You want
However You want

Proverbs 16:4 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Pro 16:4  The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. 

Calvinists tend to use this verse as a prooftext for divine determinism. Commenting on Proverbs 16:4, Reformed Answers author Joseph R. Nally writes:

This is simply the truth. Everything and everyone is created for a divine purpose – even the wicked for the day of destruction (cf. Rom 9:22-23).

Nally goes on to address criticism, but neglects the main criticism to the determinist rendering of this verse. Nelly neglects charges that the translation is biased towards determinism and ignores a better translation.

Neil Short writes:

The Hebrew verb often translated “has made” (RSV, NRSV, ESV, NASB, KJV, ASV) can also be translated as “works out” (NIV, NCV, NET). The word translated as “purpose” can also be translated as “answer.” Thus, the meaning of the verse is that God works things out so that the end of the wicked properly answers their wickedness. As a bonus, that reading appreciates Proverbs 16:4 as a proper proverb. The NIV has the best reading of this verse:

The LORD works out everything for his own ends―even the wicked for a day of disaster (NIV).

Let us not ignore the plain translation of the International Children’s Bible:

The Lord makes everything work the way he wants it. He even has a day of disaster for evil people (ICB).

Proverbs 16:3-7 follows the proverbial format of antecedent – consequence. Proverbs 16:3 says to “Commit your work to the LORD” (first/antecedent) “and your plans will be established” (second/consequence). Verse 5 says people who are arrogant (first) “are an abomination to the LORD” (consequence). Verse 6 says people who are loyal and faithful (first) find atonement for iniquity (consequence). Verse 7 says when people’s ways please the LORD (first) they have peace with their enemies (consequence). God sees to it. Verse 4, in agreement with the context, says people who are evil (first) will find disaster (consequence). God sees to it.

In short, the Proverb author is more likely exclaiming that God’s purposes ultimately come to fruition. The wicked will not escape.

Hayes on God Learning about Man

He created humans with high hopes, but as they corrupted their path, he destroyed them with a flood, saving one individual as a fresh start. But humans continue to frustrate his plans for them, seeking aggrandizement instead of filling the earth as commanded. Having promised never to destroy creation again, Yahweh responds by frustrating their plans, scattering them far and wide, and once again pinning his hopes on a single individual— Abraham. And now the children of Abraham have disappointed him with their faithlessness and corruption, and once again, as if by reflex, Yahweh’s first thought is to abandon them and start afresh with Moses. But Moses draws the line. He refuses to accept the offer and advances a line of argument that appeals primarily to Yahweh’s vanity: What will the neighbors think if you destroy them? They will think you couldn’t fulfill your promise. They will think you are not the powerful god of history.

Hayes, Christine. Introduction to the Bible (The Open Yale Courses Series) (Kindle Locations 2250-2256). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Refuge

Ani auni vevyone. Hashem yashav li. Ezrati, umafalti, atau.
As for me, I am poor and destitute. Hashem my God will think about me. My help, my rescuer, you are.

My word is like a hammer like a shattering rock,
crack through your heart and take the evil apart

From the end of the earth unto you I call, time and again I fall, back to you I crawl
You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength in the face of the enemy
Enemy, enemy lines I find I let myself get tied up too many times
You can’t have my heart I’m taking back what’s mine
I know it lie just smoke in your eye and you saved my soul from the other side

When faint grows my heart to a rock that too hard for me to climb alone lead me
For you have been a refuge

With you I smash a troop and with my God I leap over a wall
May the king answer you on the day that you call
Stand tall, battle yawl, the clouds crawl low, all stalled,
heavens lay draped over New York like a prayer shawl,
the holy one enthroned upon the praises of Israel

Pathways of my heart clogged like a traffic jam
From the start, I want to take the blockage apart

Jeremiah 26:2-3 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Jer 26:2  “Thus says the LORD: Stand in the court of the LORD’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the LORD all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word. 
Jer 26:3  It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds. 

In Jeremiah 26, the Word of the Lord comes to Jeremiah and tasks him with preaching to the people. Yahweh is talking and commands Jeremiah to tell them “all the words that [He] commands”. In this way, Yahweh suggests that if all the words are used the people just might repent. Still in Yahweh’s voice, the text reads “It may be they will listen”, and God states that in response He might repent (nacham).

In this text, God plans on repenting if the people repent. God is showing that He changes in relation to the actions of people. He states that He will repent of things He planned on doing. And all this is “if” the people repent. God does not yet know if the people will repent so tasks Jeremiah will forcible preaching. None of this language lines up with timelessness, immutability, or exhaustive knowledge of the future. Instead it is about an uncertain future and a reversal of future plans.

Two Takes on Mutability

Brian Zahnd states he cannot believe in a mutable God in Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God:

The option of a mutating God who is in the process of learning and growing. I am not comfortable with this. The immutability of God is foundational to our faith. If God is subject to change, then the very ground beneath our feet is moving and nothing is stable. If God is evolving, how do we know that somewhere down the line God won’t mutate into an omnipotent malevolent monster… or something else? The idea of a mutating God is a radical departure from what the church fathers and Christian theologians, from Gregory of Nyssa to Thomas Aquinas, from Karl Barth to David Bentley Hart, have always said about God. Christian orthodoxy has always attested to the immutability of God. I cannot accept the heterodox idea that God changes.

Roy Kindelberger argues for perfect mutability in God’s Absence and the Charismatic Presence:

Fiddes rightly comments, “When we think at all carefully about it, suffering must involve being changed by something or someone outside oneself. It means being affected, conditioned and even afflicted by another. A suffering God must be ‘vulnerable’ in the strict sense of ‘open to being wounded.’” 21 Because the human Jesus was truly open to being wounded, so was God. If God suffers, and he does, then God changes; and if God changes, then he would be less than perfect if change was not internal to him. Scripture itself lays this foundation for the perfection and changeableness of God, so it is Scripture which leads us to conclude that God’s essential nature involves perfect changeableness. Jesus, Son of God, who once existed in one nature, now exists in two. Furthermore, this human God died a physical death and then added a further addition to the triune identity, an immortalized resurrection body.

Divine self-limitation of personal power was God’s decision regarding his relationship to the world, but changeableness itself is not God’s decision because it is intrinsic to him. When God’s perfect changeableness is expressed through the decision of self-limitation, the result is vulnerability, risk, and even suffering. God suffers because he chooses to open his perfect changeableness to the free experience of humanity, both as the God-human and by sharing our pain to the degree that it becomes his own. It is internal to God to suffer with those who suffer, “for we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses” (Heb 4: 15). Yet this suffering was the experience of God even before Jesus became our high priest. Prior to the creation, we simply don’t know what suffering God might have experienced. But once God introduced free creatures into his world, we can be certain he embraced their suffering and even rebellion as the “bearing” principal of an eternal God of longsuffering love. By his very nature, he bears the sin and suffering of the many. God can never be the same again, so he should be praised for the perfect changeableness he is.

Kindelberger, Roy D.. God’s Absence and the Charismatic Presence: Inquiries in Openness Theology (Kindle Locations 280-288). Wipf & Stock, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Calvinism’s Weird Sovereignty Problems

From James White’s Response To Jerry Walls “What’s Wrong With Calvinism?”:

But to summarize Walls’ excellent exposition of the core problem with Calvinism is that if God could have determined that all men freely worship Him, and praise Him, and He chose not to, but He could have, then He did not do so because He did not WANT to do so in contrast to those He DID want to save irresistibly. Since Calvinists admit that God does whatever He wishes or desires, then it follows that all things that God determined are based upon what He desired and wanted to determine. If God then determined that others be eternally damned, then God predetermined men to be damned simply because He WANTED TO in order to get glory for Himself and prove His sovereignty. Yet who God had to prove it to is a mystery because the necessity that God needed to prove His sovereignty implies that God was somehow not content before He created anything and became sovereign over what He created. It wasn’t enough that the Father loved the Son throughout eternity, God needed and therefore depends on evil in order to vindicate Him (from who?) and thus not only is this a gross caricature of the nature and character of God, but a distortion of God’s love.

Kindelberger on Practical Open Theism

We pray to God as if he really does care about what we say and really will change his mind on matters. We minister to others and serve those in need as if God really does in some way depend on us as his hands and feet. We live as if there might not be a backup plan if we fail in our sphere of influence, that God actually accepts the risk of using imperfect people to accomplish his will. We believe in our hearts that God is vulnerable in the ways he uses us to love the world.

Kindelberger, Roy D.. God’s Absence and the Charismatic Presence: Inquiries in Openness Theology (Kindle Locations 73-76). Wipf & Stock, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

John 10:26 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Joh 10:26 but you do not believe because [γάρ] you are not among my sheep.

Calvinists think this verse is about the mechanics of belief. People believe because they are predestined into Jesus. The people believe “because” they are among the sheep. They are not sheep “because” they believe. James White says as much:

Jesus says that the reason for unbelief is really rather simple: those who are not of His sheep do not believe. The standard human-centered idea is that we believe, and hence become Christ’s sheep. The Lord reverses this: those who are His sheep believe; those who are not His sheep do not believe. The decision as to who will constitute Christ’s sheep lies in the will of the Father, not the creature, man.
http://vintage.aomin.org/Believer.html

Michael Heiser offers a word of advice for people who want to take the Bible seriously: “Never base any doctrine on a preposition because they are notoriously elastic in meaning and translation”. Indeed, White’s take on John 10:26 relies on γάρ being a mechanical cause of what precedes it. But translating that word in that manner makes all sorts of weird renderings of other verses:

Mat 5:12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, [γάρ] so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

In Matthew 5:12, the word would be better rendered as “since”. The idea is that Jesus’ hearers can be safe in their beliefs because they know that the saints have great rewards as well. It is not that the persecution of the prophets causes Jesus’ hearers to get greater rewards.

In Mark 1:16, the word is used to illustrate:

Mar 1:16 And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; [γάρ] they were fishermen.

Being a fisherman does not “cause” them to caste their nets. It is illustrating that they were both casting their nets and are fishermen. They chose to be fishermen, and part of being a fisherman is the normal activity of fishing. The γάρ is using one sentence to reinforce the other, both meaning the same thing.

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon explains that γάρ is a very versatile word:

Now since by a new affirmation not infrequently the reason and nature of something previously mentioned are set forth, it comes to pass that, by the use of this particle, either the reason and cause of a foregoing statement is added, whence arises the causal or argumentative force of the particle, for (Latinnam,enim; German denn); or some previous declaration is explained, whence γάρ takes on an explicative force: for, the fact is, namely (Latinvidelicet, German nämlich). Thus the force of the particle is either conclusive, or demonstrative, or explicative and declaratory;

One use, as already discussed is illustrative or explaining:

III. It serves to explain, make clear, illustrate, a preceding thought or word: for equivalent to that is, namely;

Using “therefore” in the translation, a valid choice as confirmed by Strong’s Greek Dictionary as well as Thayer’s, renders the sentence:

Joh 10:26 but you do not believe [therefore] you are not among my sheep.
But, in the same manner of Mar 1:16 , the sentence can be rendered:
Joh 10:26 but you do not believe [therefore] for are not among my sheep. [compare to “for they were fishermen”]

This rendering actually fits the context much better. In context, Jesus is being approached by people pretending to be his disciples but who doubt Jesus:

Joh 10:23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.
Joh 10:24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Instead of playing their game, Jesus explains that he has already answered, they did not believe him, and exposes them as not being his followers:

Joh 10:25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.
Joh 10:26 But you do not believe, [therefore] you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.
Joh 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Jesus is not teaching total depravity, irresistible grace, or predestination. Why would he do that? What is he gaining by telling people who have no hope in the world that they are eternally without hope? Is that reading better than Jesus criticizing people who reject him?

The context makes clear that Jesus is exposing that the people have chosen not to believe in him.

Josephus on Omnipresence and Omniscience

From Josephus’ Antiquities, 6.11.8:

8. But Jonathan heard these last words with indignation, and promised to do what he desired of him, and to inform him if his father’s answers implied any thing of a melancholy nature, and any enmity against him. And that he might the more firmly depend upon him, he took him out into the open field, into the pure air, and sware that he would neglect nothing that might tend to the preservation of David; and he said, “I appeal to that God, who, as thou seest, is diffused every where, and knoweth this intention of mine, before I explain it in words, as the witness of this my covenant with thee, that I will not leave off to make frequent trims of the purpose of my father till I learn whether there be any lurking distemper in the most secret parts of his soul; and when I have learnt it, I will not conceal it from thee, but will discover it to thee, whether he be gently or peevishly disposed; for this God himself knows, that I pray he may always be with thee, for he is with thee now, and will not forsake thee, and will make thee superior to thine enemies, whether my father be one of them, or whether I myself be such. Do thou only remember what we now do; and if it fall out that I die, preserve my children alive, and requite what kindness thou hast now received to them.” When he had thus sworn, he dismissed David, bidding him go to a certain place of that plain wherein he used to perform his exercises; for that, as soon as he knew the mind of his father, he would come thither to him, with one servant only; “and if,” says he, “I shoot three darts at the mark, and then bid my servant to carry these three darts away, for they are before him, know thou that there is no mischief to be feared from my father; but if thou hearest me say the contrary, expect the contrary from the king. However, thou shalt gain security by my means, and shalt by no means suffer any harm; but see thou dost not forget what I have desired of thee in the time of thy prosperity, and be serviceable to my children.” Now David, when he had received these assurances from Jonathan, went his way to the place appointed.

From Josephus’ Antiquities, 8.8.4:

And when [Jeroboam] had called those ten tribes together over whom he ruled, he made a speech to the people in these words: “I suppose, my countrymen, that you know this, that every place hath God in it: nor is there any one determinate place in which he is: but he every where hears and sees those that worship him. On which account I do not think it right for you to go so long a journey to Jerusalem, which is an enemies city, to worship him. It was a man that built the temple: I have also made two golden heifers, dedicated to the same God; and the one of them I have consecrated in the city Bethel; and the other in Dan: to the end that those of you that dwell nearest those cities may go to them, and worship God there.

Vos on Isaiah and Omniscience

From Geerhardus Vos’ Biblical Theology:

Jehovah’s omniscience finds expression in connection with his omnipresence, and His ability to predict things. Because He is everywhere, He knows whatever occurs. He declares unto man what is his (man’s) inward thought (Am. 4:13). Hosea says, “the iniquity of Ephraim is bound up, his sin laid up in store”. Every sin committed by the people is present before God ; it cannot be lost as little as money kept carefully in a bag (Hos. 13 :12). God’s eternity comes into play here also. Being before all that happens, He has been able to foretell many things that came to pass, and now challenges the pagan gods to measure themselves with Him in further predictions (Isa. 41:22-24; 43:9-13; 44:68). This implies that His foreknowledge is intimately connected with His purpose. It is no magical divination of uncertain contingencies, but the natural concomitant of His plan. “Jehovah does nothing, but He reveals His secret unto His servants, the prophets” (Am. 3 :7). It is in vain to seek to hide one’s counsel from Jehovah, as the politicians try to do, who work in the dark and say: who sees us, and who knows us? This is in vain, because Jehovah is in reference to all plotting of man as the potter is to the clay: He fashions the very mind that conceives the thought of hiding from Him. Man’s hiding from Jehovah is an object of Jehovah’s own purpose (Isa. 29:15,16).

Worship Sunday – Love Changes Everything

I see His body breaking
I see His fingers bleed
I see the darkness tremble at the ground below His feet

In the darkest hours
There on Calvary
He was sweetly broken
Broken beautifully, broken beautifully

So come on into the waters
Come let the broken sing (hey!)
Come all you sons and daughters
His love changes everything (hey!)

Come when the fear is fighting
You finding the Risen King (hey!)
Come on and let the light in
Your love changes everything

And when the Heavens opened
I saw the sins of men
Become a crown of glory
As You died and rose again

And in the darkest hours
And in the valley low
I will fear no evil
‘cause You’ll never let me go
You’ll never let me go

So come on into the waters
Come let the broken sing (hey!)
Come all you sons and daughters
His love changes everything (hey!)

So come when the fear is fighting
You finding the Risen King (hey!)
Come on and let the light in
Your love changes everything

Your love, Your love
Your love changes everything
Your love, Your love
Your love changes everything

And none can overcome when
(Death has lost its sting)
Your love, Your love, Your love

In the darkest hours
In the valley low
I will fear no evil
You’ll never let me go
You’ll never let me go

So come on into the waters
Come let the broken sing (hey!)
Come all you sons and daughters
His love changes everything (hey!)

So come when the fear is fighting
You finding the Risen King (hey!)
Come on and let the light in
Your love changes everything

Your love, Your love
Your love changes everything
Your love, Your love
Your love changes everything

Your love, Your love
Your love changes everything
Your love, Your love, Your love

Hebrews 2:8 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Heb 2:8  putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 

This verse states that “[God] left nothing outside his control”, which could fit Calvinistic ideas of micromanaging sovereignty. In fact, it has been used this way:

f. That He would commit to Him all power in heaven and on earth for the government of the world and of His Church, Matt. 28: 18; Eph. 1: 20-22; Phil. 2: 9-11; Heb. 2: 5-9; and would finally reward Him as Mediator with the glory which He as the Son of God had with the Father before the world was, John 17: 5.

Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (Kindle Locations 6051-6052). . Kindle Edition.

But the text is not saying that God left nothing outside the control of Jesus, but contextually, this verse is saying that God left nothing outside the control of mankind. If “nothing outside his control” is micromanaging sovereignty, then mankind is sovereign per this verse. The context bears this out:

Heb 2:5  For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 
Heb 2:6  It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 
Heb 2:7  You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 
Heb 2:8  putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 
Heb 2:9  But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 

Verse 5 states that God did not subjugate the world to angels, but to lower beings. Verse 6 identifies these beings as man. Verse 8 states that God subjugated all things to man, and then states that this is not the state of the world we see. We still have death, per verse 9. Jesus is introduced in verse 9, who is coming to bridge the shortfall between what was promised and what we experience. All of this is quoting Psalms 8:6, which is explicitly about mankind’s domination over the world:

Psa 8:6  You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 

In short, a phrase which is taken to mean Calvinistic sovereignty is in relation to mankind’s sovereignty. The real meaning is that mankind just has general power over the world. This is not about micromanagement. What this shows is the very arbitrary way that sovereignty prooftexts are interpreted.

The History of Allegorizing the Bible

From Dennis R. MacDonald:

Jewish and Christian biblical interpreters inherited a long tradition of allegory from Greeks. The Iliad and Odyssey had become targets for exculpatory allegory already in the sixth century B.C.E., largely because of Homer’s depictions of Olympian gods as dishonest, violent, and lustful. In the allegorical view, Homer’s gods did not actually represent the Olympians the Greeks revered; instead, they were symbols of natural phenomena or human emotions. This practice of allegorical apologetics became so widespread that the Athenian philosopher Plato debunked it at length (Republic 376e-380c). Despite such critiques, the practice continued.

One of its more fascinating practitioners, Heraclitus, (a contemporary of the New Testament writers) defended allegory, saying that if Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey can’t be taken allegorically, then they must be totally “sacrilegious fables”—something that would have been hard for Greek readers to accept (Homeric Problems 1.1-2).

Heraclitus then resolved a long string of “Homeric problems” by allegorizing them, often based on forced etymologies of proper nouns. For example, he related the one-eyed Cyclops (Kuklopes) to hypoklopon, “one who steals,” to anger that steals one’s cognitive powers (Homeric Problems 70.5). Indeed, “Odysseus’s wanderings as a whole, if carefully studied, will be found to be allegorical. Homer has produced in Odysseus a sort of instrument of every virtue” (Homeric Problems 70.1-2). Rather than taking Odysseus’s adventures as mere titillation, they become an allegory for moral development.

In the third century B.C.E. Alexandria became the center of Homeric scholarship; the translation of Jewish Scriptures into Greek (creating the Septuagint) took place there at about the same time and was subject to the same philological and exegetical scrutiny. Just as Homer suffered at the hands of allegorists, Moses did too.

In the middle of the second century B.C.E. an Egyptian Jewish intellectual named Aristobulus, who was profoundly aware of affinities between the writings attributed to Homer and Moses, allegorized parts of the Pentateuch. For example, he said God did not literally descend to earth at Mount Sinai; after all, God is omnipresent, with no need to “descend.” Instead, Aristobulus thought that Moses wrote this account to symbolize God’s revelation of majesty.

Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of the apostle Paul, is our most important source for Egyptian Jewish allegory. Philo’s own allegories at first sight seem capricious, but they are more conservative and often quite sophisticated. Like Homeric commentators, he identified problems in the text and resolved them through word histories (etymologies) and other literary tools, either to harmonize the Pentateuch with Greek philosophy or to demonstrate Moses’s superiority to or affinities with the likes of Plato.

The Shared Platonist Beliefs of Augustine and Origen

From The Influence of Origen on the Young Augustine by Gyorgy Heidl:

Hinting at Col. 2:8, Augustine makes a distinction between the philosophers and, accordingly, between two worlds.18 The reasoning is strongly Origenian both in form and content. The two thinkers claim that there is another world (alius mundus – [Greek]) which is intelligible (intellectus intuetur – [Greek]), which cannot be reached by sensation (ab istis oculis remotissimus – [Greek]), which only those who are pure (sanorum intellectus – [Greek]) can behold (intuetur – [Greek]), which Christ speaks about in St. John’s Gospel (regnum meum non est de hoc mundo – [Greek]),19 and, finally, which is identical to divine Wisdom itself (sapientia – [Greek]).20

According to Augustine, the philosophy of the other world is not merely Platonism or Neoplatonism but also Christianity. In addition, it is only the latter which is capable of calling sinful souls back to the intelligible world.21 Therefore, Christianity is considered the “true” or “truest philosophy” (verissima philosophia)22 which teaches the unity of the Trinity and the Incarnation of the Divine Intellect.23

Short on Luke 10:22

Luk 10:22 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”

Neil Short comments:

The reference to children in verse 21 applies to the seventy missionaries. They are children in the sense of not measuring up to standards applicable to a good and righteous Jew. They were the sort of folks that gave Jesus a bad name among the scribes and Pharisees. They were commoners. Jesus said these low-life sorts had more insight into godliness than did the clergy (Luke 9:48; 18:15-17). Clergy, by comparison, tend towards pride in their theological knowledge and they are not open to learning from “children” in the faith (James 3:1, 14-18). This feature of the righteousness of the children is evidenced in their role in the dethroning of Satan (see also Luke 7:21).

Verse 22 flows topically quite nicely. Jesus did not agree with the scribes and Pharisees that he should minister to more suitable disciples. He chose to minister to people whom the Jewish leadership called “tax collectors and sinners” but whom Jesus called “infants” (see also in Luke 10:38-42 that Jesus gave personal undivided teaching attention to a woman). Jesus was told they were not worth it but Jesus ministered to them and they had a role in the overthrow of Satan.

The point of verse 22 is not that Jesus chooses to reveal the Father to some individuals and not to others. The point is that Jesus chose to reveal the Father to a certain sort of people, a kind of people that the scribes and Pharisees deemed to be religiously inferior. These disciples were working out to be very effective workers in the kingdom while the Pharisees stood by and criticized.

Worship Sunday – Enough

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

You are my supply
My breath of life
And still more awesome than I know
You are my reward
worth living for
And still more awesome than I know

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

Youre my sacrifice
Of greatest price
And still more awesome than I know
Youre the coming King
You are everything
And still more awesome than I know

More than all I want
More than all I need
You are more than enough for me
More than all I know
More than all I can say
You are more than enough for me

Psalms 37:29 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Psa 37:29 The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever.

Psalms 37:29 states that the righteous shall “dwell forever”, a phrase in Isaiah 57:15 that is translated as “inhabits eternity” when applied to God. But Psalms 37:29 is about human beings. The context shows that the verses are about God preserving His people forever alive in the material world, per the previous verse:

Psa 37:28  For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off. 

The contrast is with those who are wicked being “cut off”, a euphemism for being killed. When taken about God, the phrase is forced into awkward translations which do not fit the context. When about human beings, the phrase is unrecognizable. This show translator bias, and how presuppositions are used to translate text rather than context.

Morrell Corrects Slick on Pelagius

From Matt Slick of CARM Slanders Pelagius and Pelagianism by Jesse Morrell:

Matt Slick of CARM wrote that “Pelagianism…. taught that people had the ability to fulfill the commands of God by exercising the freedom of human will apart from the grace of God. In other words, a person’s free will is totally capable of choosing God and/or to do good or bad without the aid of Divine intervention.”[29]

This description of “Pelagianism” by Matt Slick is an example, not of Pelagian heresy, but of Pelagian hearsay.

I would suspect that Matt Slick learned about Pelagianism from its opponents, and not from actually reading the writings of the Pelagians. This is a common practice for Calvinists, but what if that is how their doctrine was treated? What if someone stated what Calvinism teaches, by stating the opponents? Augustine accused Pelagius of denying the grace of God, but this was an accusation not a fact.

Had Matt Slick actually read some of the few writings that still exist today from the original Pelagians, he would have read in the Pelagian Statement of Faith submitted to the Pope: “We [Pelagians] maintain that men are the work of God, and that no one is forced unwillingly by His power either into evil or good, but that man does either good or ill of his own will; but that in a good work he is always assisted by God’s grace, while in evil he is incited by the suggestions of the devil.”[30]

Pelagius himself said, “I anathematize the man who either thinks or says that the grace of God, whereby ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,’ is not necessary not only for ever hour and for every moment, but also for every act of our lives: and those who endeavor to dis-annul it deserve everlasting punishment.”[31]

Pelagius said, “This grace we do not allow to consist only in the law but also in the help of God. God helps us through His teaching and revelation by opening the eyes of our heart, by pointing out to us the future so that we may not be preoccupied with the present, by uncovering the snares of the devil, by enlightening us with the manifold and ineffable gift of heavenly grace.”[32]

Pelagius said, “God always aids by the help of his grace. God aids us by his doctrine and revelation, while he opens the eyes of our heart; while he shows us the future, that we may not be engrossed with the present; while he discloses the snares of the devil; while he illuminates us by the multiform and ineffable gift of heavenly grace. Does he who says this, appear to you to deny grace? Or does he appear to confess both divine grace and the freewill of man?”[33]

Pelagius said in a letter to Innocent, “Behold, before your blessedness, this epistle clears me, in which we directly and simply say, that we have entire freewill to sin and not to sin, which, in all good works, is always assisted by divine aid. Let them read the letter which we wrote to that holy man, bishop Paulinus, nearly twelve years ago, which perhaps in three hundred lines supports nothing else but the grace and aid of God, and that we can do nothing at all of good without God. Let them also read the one we wrote to that sacred virgin of Christ, Demetrias, in the east, and they will find us so praising the nature of man, as that we may always add the aid of God’s grace. Let them likewise read my recent tract which we were lately compelled to put forth on freewill, and they will see how unjustly they glory in defaming us for denial of grace, who, through nearly the whole text of that work, perfectly and entirely profess both free will and grace.”[34]

Pelagius taught that the freedom of the human will was not lost by the original sin of Adam, but that grace was necessary for man to rightly use his free will. He also taught that free will itself was a gracious gift given to us at Creation. He did not deny grace as necessary or as an aid for free will. The only grace he denied was Augustinian grace, which said that free will was lost by original sin and therefore man’s ability to obey needed to be restored by grace. However, one of the best Greek-English Lexicons, Thayer’s, defined grace as “divine influence upon the heart” which is precisely how Pelagius viewed grace in contradiction to Augustine.

Olsen’s Thoughts on Thomas Oden

From the post:

During his plenary address Oden harshly criticized open theism which was then a matter of controversy among evangelicals. Bubbling up toward the surface then was serious talk about expelling open theists from the Evangelical Theological Society. Oden labeled open theism “heresy” and identified it as “just process theology.” During the Q&A I stood at the microphone and challenged Oden’s identification of open theism as “just process theology” attempting to point out the differences. From the podium in the Beeson Divinity School chapel with hundreds listening Oden said to me “Olson, sit down. We will never agree about this.” I did sit down and was not so much embarrassed for myself as for him! Nobody else at the conference was treated so rudely. I was also embarrassed for Oden, in that situation, because anyone who knows much about both process theology and open theism knows they are very different.

I was also disappointed in Oden’s rude rebuff and seeming ignorance about both process theology and open theism because I considered him a luminary of what he himself had called “postmodern orthodoxy” and because I thought he would at least be open to reconsidering his labeling of a significant party of evangelicals heretics based on a misunderstanding.

Worship Sunday – Home

This world is not what it was meant to be
All this pain, all this suffering
There’s a better place
Waiting for me
In Heaven

Every tear will be wiped away
Every sorrow and sin erased
We’ll dance on seas of amazing grace
In Heaven
In Heaven

I’m goin’ home
Where the streets are golden
Every chain is broken
Oh I wanna go
Oh I wanna go
Home
Where every fear is gone
I’m in your open arms
Where I belong
Home

Lay down my burdens, I lay down my past
I run to Jesus, no turning back
Thank God Almighty, I’ll be free at last
In Heaven
In Heaven

I’m goin’ home
Where the streets are golden
Every chain is broken
Oh I wanna go
Oh I wanna go
Home
Where every fear is gone
I’m in your open arms
Where I belong

Blinded eyes
Will finally see
The dead will rise
On the shores of eternity
The trump will sound
The angels will sing
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I am
Goin’ home
Where the streets are golden
Every chain is broken
Oh I wanna go
Oh I wanna go
Home
Where every fear is gone
I’m in your open arms
Where I belong
Where I belong

I’m goin’ home
I’m goin’ home
I’m on my way home
I’m goin’ home

Isaiah 57:15 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Isa 57:15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Isaiah 57:15 is often used to claim that God inhabits an eternal now. Eric Johnson writes:

God is beyond time and unchanging, and yet he also participates fully in history, interacting genuinely with humans.30

Footnote 30:
Gen. 6:6; Ex. 3:14; 32:14; 1 Sam. 15:29; Job 2:3; Ps. 102:26–27; Isa. 40:28; 57:15; Mal. 3:6;. 57:15; Mal. 3:6; Rom. 1:23, 25; 9:5; 2 Cor. 11:31; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16; Heb. 1:11–12. A true contradictory here would be “God is in every sense an eternal being beyond time” and “God is in no sense beyond time and is solely a temporal being.”

Johnson, Eric. God Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents God (Kindle Locations 2003-2004). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

But this verse does not seem to mean this. This verse is about God’s everlastingness (eternity), not being non-temporal. The phrase (inhabits (shâkan) eternity (‛ad)) is similarly used of man:

Psa 37:29 The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell (shâkan) upon it forever (‛ad).

Similarly, variations of the phrase are commonly associated with human beings:

Isa 33:16 he will dwell (shâkan) on the heights (mârôm); his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.

Psa 37:27 Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell (shâkan) forever (‛ôlâm).

Translating Isaiah 57:15 as “inhabits eternity” is a very unfortunate translation. The NIV better renders the phrase “he who lives forever”, mirroring the NASB. The NET version renders it “who rules forever”, adding this note:

Heb “the one who dwells forever.” שֹׁכֵן עַד (shokhen ’ad) is sometimes translated “the one who lives forever,” and understood as a reference to God’s eternal existence. However, the immediately preceding and following descriptions (“high and exalted” and “holy”) emphasize his sovereign rule. In the next line, he declares, “I dwell in an exalted and holy [place],” which refers to the place from which he rules. Therefore it is more likely that שֹׁכֵן עַד (shokhen ’ad) means “I dwell [in my lofty palace] forever” and refers to God’s eternal kingship.

The immediate context is about Yahweh’s rulership, but furthermore, it is about He frustration with mankind:

Isa 57:16 For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would grow faint before me, and the breath of life that I made.

Yahweh is projecting that there will be a time when His anger subsides, when He is no longer in conflict with people. This does not sound like timeless eternity, but that He is experiencing relationships in real time. He states that dispite Israel’s continued rebellion, Yahweh will heal Israel and cause them to worship Him through healing. He goes on to give one last warning to those who remain determined to rebel: There is no rest for the wicked.

Taking Isaiah 57:15 as a prooftext for timeless eternity is not warranted. The context seems to be about God’s eternal inhabitation of His courtroom. The phrase is used of human beings. The immediate context is about God’s emotional changes in time. There is nothing to suggest God is non-temporal in the context.

Apologetics Thrusday – The Case of the Missing Greek Discussion on a Calvinist Blog

Jack Lee likely deleted a thread on his blogpost The Bible Verse That Made Me a Calvinist, because it definitely undermined his entire take on this verse. This would be more evidence of Calvinist intellectual dishonesty if true.

Recovered from Google cache:

http://realityisnotoptional.com Christopher Fisher
There is actually a good case that this is a mistranslation. The verb very well can be reflexive. “As many as appointed themselves to eternal life believed”. It makes better sense in the context of what is being said.

Thank you.

as many as were ordained to eternal life believed

axisoflogos
…which means Acts 22:10 should be translated “you will be told of all that you have appointed yourself to do.”

http://realityisnotoptional.com Christopher Fisher
Here is a Greek lesson for you.

When translating Greek middle/passive forms of transitive verbs you may need to try both middle and passive translations to see which makes best sense in the context.

Does that make sense? Turning to other parts of the Bible wont help much, because immediate context is the determining factor.

In fact, two verses earlier, a middle/passive was translated as a middle. Are you going to argue it should be passive?

Act 13:46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.

The case for Acts 22:10 being a Calvinistic verse falls apart with basic knowledge of the Greek language. In fact, this verse potentially destroys Calvinism.

http://www.chorusinthechaos.com Jack Lee
Christopher, thank you for reading and commenting. I am aware of this understanding/translation but it does not hold up when comparing the same word in other places in scripture, specifically the same book. Consider Acts 15:2, 22:10, and 28:23. This understanding of the word is consistent with Acts and the rest of scripture.

For quick reference, Acts 22:10 “And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.”

http://realityisnotoptional.com Christopher Fisher
Sir,

That is just not what this is about. If my argument is that a middle/passive determination can only be made based on context, then turning to other parts of the Bible for similar usage is useless and dangerous. That would be like trying to determine the meaning of “bat” in an English story by turning to a completely different part of a story, whereas the context tells you more about if it is a flying bat or a wooden bat. Just that this is about verb voices!

When translating Greek middle/passive forms of transitive verbs you may need to try both middle and passive translations to see which makes best sense in the context. In the context, other middle/passives have been translated passive:

Act 13:46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.

Does that make sense?

Adam
The word used in the Greek translation is τεταγμενοι (tetagmenoi) which is from τασσω (tasso) which means I appoint.

http://realityisnotoptional.com Christopher Fisher
Do you understand parsing of a verb? In Greek, after you parse a verb you can see who is the actor of the verb. Does that make sense to you? The verb supports a reflexive translation, meaning the people could be appointing themselves. And because the context uses other reflective verbs, it is also the most likely rendering.

If people appoint themselves, doesn’t Calvinism fail?

http://www.chorusinthechaos.com Jack Lee
Christopher, I think you are fighting against what scripture plainly says.

http://realityisnotoptional.com Christopher Fisher
Well actually, I have given an objectively better interpretation of the verse in question. If you would like a really good example of fighting against the scripture, I would like to see your take on this verse spoken by Yahweh:

Jer 18:8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.

Does God say He thought He was going to do something but did not do it?

http://www.chorusinthechaos.com Jack Lee
Christopher,

Thanks for the dialog. Every major bible translation (save the message) does agree with our interpretation of Acts 13:48. That includes most bible scholars and much of church history.

Ben
“dialog”
That is a laugh, I mean maybe my opinion here is unwarranted or unneeded but that was not a “dialog” that was dismissive… You simply dismissed the discourse that was presented to you without actually intelligently engaging within it, even if you have no knowledge of the Greek discourse, it would have been good to see you acknowledge such things and at least validate the opinion and translation that was set before you from someone who, most probably from their shown understanding of Greek, has more knowledge than you…

“bible scholars”

Who? Reformed Scholars? Arminian Scholars? This is a very audacious claim to make without any qualification at all of who you are actually talking about. You cant expect people to believe that Arminian Scholars simply roll over at this verse and have no response to such a translation…

Wiley Writes about Going Against the Current

From a letter from I. W. WILEY to PROFESSOR L. D. M’CABE (1881):

It is not easy to convince men of a truth that differs from commonly-received doctrine, and even when convinced of the new truth, the world is still slow to give up the old. That you advocate a view of the Divine foreknowledge essentially different from that which has been most widely held by all schools, of course you know, and that the onus probandi rests upon you. A belief in a certain mode of statement of these recondite elements in the divine nature, however old or however nearly unanimous, does not of itself determine the truth of such statement, but it creates so strong a presumption in its favor, and gives it such intrenchment in the accepted knowledge and faith of the world, that he who would change it challenges a great battle which will long and earnestly wage about him, even if the truth is on his side.

Worship Sunday – Even if

They say sometimes you win some
Sometimes you lose some
And right now, right now I’m losing bad
I’ve stood on this stage night after night
Reminding the broken it’ll be alright
But right now, oh right now I just can’t
It’s easy to sing
When there’s nothing to bring me down
But what will I say
When I’m held to the flame
Like I am right now
I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul
I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
You’ve been faithful, You’ve been good
All of my days
Jesus, I will cling to You
Come what may
‘Cause I know You’re able
I know You can
I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Deuteronomy 29:29 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Deu 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

This verse is often used for transcendence, often as a way to claim God has two wills in opposition to each-other. Michael S. Horton writes:

The second corollary is the “hidden-revealed” distinction. “Truly, you are a God who hides yourself . . .” (Isa. 45:15, ESV). We are reminded in Deuteronomy, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29, ESV). God has his own independent intra-Trinitarian life apart from the creation, and this life is hidden from view and unknowable to creatures. Yet God has condescended not only to create and enter into a personal relationship with creatures, but to reveal his character insofar as it pleases him and benefits us. It does not benefit us to know the secret essence of God or to probe the hiddenness of his Trinitarian life, but it does benefit us to know that God the Creator is also our Redeemer in Jesus Christ.

Piper, John; Taylor, Justin; Helseth, Paul Kjoss. Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity (p. 207). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

To Horton, this verse is about God’s private life, but contextually this verse is found in the midst of punishment texts. Timothy Mcmahon writes (in a private conversation):

As for the meaning of the verse, most Christians take this as addressing theological truths (God reveals some truths and conceals others). But the rabbis believe that this verse, as it concludes the section on blessings and curses, refers to overt and private sins. It is Israel’s collective responsibility to punish overt violations of the Torah, but God will punish sins committed in private. Thus, God will hold Israel collectively responsible for public sins that go unpunished, but the nation collectively will not be held responsible for sins committed without the community’s knowledge. All of this is to enable Israel to “perform all the matters of this Torah” without fear of being held liable for what they don’t know.

This understanding would fit the context much better. Isaiah is to be punished. The secret sins will be punished by God. The public sins are to be punished by Israel.

Furthermore, the use of this verse to prop up contradictory theology fails for other reasons. The use of the verse in this manner does not tell us Calvinism is right and everyone else is wrong. Instead, the verse show prompt individuals to consentrate on what is revealed. <a href="https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/calvinism-and-deuteronomy-2929/

“>Ben (under username kangaroodort) writes:

Calvinists often appeal to Deut. 29:29 when caught in a theological dilemma. Ask a Calvinist how God can exhaustively determine all things and yet not be the author of sin and you might get an appeal to mystery and a quick reference to Deut. 29:29. Ask a Calvinist how God’s unconditional election doesn’t make His choice of some over others for salvation arbitrary and you will likely get more of the same. Yes, Calvinists love Deut 29:29 as it provides such a convenient theological escape hatch when they are called on to explain aspects of their doctrinal system which appear to be hopelessly contradictory. But have they carefully thought about the teaching of Deut. 29:29 and the problem it poses for their peculiar hermeneutic?

Doesn’t the passage teach us that the “secret things” belong to the Lord? Doesn’t this suggest that the secret things do not belong to us? If they do not belong to us then doesn’t that suggest that we should certainly not attempt to build our entire theology on those things which are “secret?” But isn’t that exactly what Calvinism does? Isn’t their entire theological system built on the foundation of eternal “secret decrees” which are nowhere to be found in the pages of Scripture?

It seems to me that Calvinists have put the “secret things” that do not belong to them before the “things revealed.” This is exactly the opposite of the message of Deut. 29:29…

Calvinists, of course, believe that they have gained insight into these secret eternal decrees by what the Bible reveals in passages which discuss depravity, election, and predestination. The obvious problem is that their understanding of these passages leads them to embrace a theology that makes “secret decrees” and “hidden” contrary intentions lurk behind so much that God has revealed (as in Jer. 13:15-17 above). Wouldn’t it be wise for them to carefully re-evaluate whether the secret should determine the revealed or whether the revealed should determine and control their theology? If we take the Lord’s words in Deut. 29:29 seriously the answer should be obvious. But perhaps there is some “secret” meaning hidden behind that passage as well. If that is the case we will need to wait until Calvinists reveal the secret to us, for it would seem that the “secret things” belong not only to “the LORD our God”, but to Calvinists as well.

kangaroodort Points Out Problems with Secret Decree Prooftexting

Deu 29:29  “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. 

Ben writes:

Calvinists often appeal to Deut. 29:29 when caught in a theological dilemma. Ask a Calvinist how God can exhaustively determine all things and yet not be the author of sin and you might get an appeal to mystery and a quick reference to Deut. 29:29. Ask a Calvinist how God’s unconditional election doesn’t make His choice of some over others for salvation arbitrary and you will likely get more of the same. Yes, Calvinists love Deut 29:29 as it provides such a convenient theological escape hatch when they are called on to explain aspects of their doctrinal system which appear to be hopelessly contradictory. But have they carefully thought about the teaching of Deut. 29:29 and the problem it poses for their peculiar hermeneutic?

Doesn’t the passage teach us that the “secret things” belong to the Lord? Doesn’t this suggest that the secret things do not belong to us? If they do not belong to us then doesn’t that suggest that we should certainly not attempt to build our entire theology on those things which are “secret?” But isn’t that exactly what Calvinism does? Isn’t their entire theological system built on the foundation of eternal “secret decrees” which are nowhere to be found in the pages of Scripture?

It seems to me that Calvinists have put the “secret things” that do not belong to them before the “things revealed.” This is exactly the opposite of the message of Deut. 29:29…

Calvinists, of course, believe that they have gained insight into these secret eternal decrees by what the Bible reveals in passages which discuss depravity, election, and predestination. The obvious problem is that their understanding of these passages leads them to embrace a theology that makes “secret decrees” and “hidden” contrary intentions lurk behind so much that God has revealed (as in Jer. 13:15-17 above). Wouldn’t it be wise for them to carefully re-evaluate whether the secret should determine the revealed or whether the revealed should determine and control their theology? If we take the Lord’s words in Deut. 29:29 seriously the answer should be obvious. But perhaps there is some “secret” meaning hidden behind that passage as well. If that is the case we will need to wait until Calvinists reveal the secret to us, for it would seem that the “secret things” belong not only to “the LORD our God”, but to Calvinists as well.

Short on Proverbs 16:4

From Neil Short’s Does God create the wicked for trouble:

What does Proverbs 16:4 actually say?

The Hebrew verb often translated “has made” (RSV, NRSV, ESV, NASB, KJV, ASV) can also be translated as “works out” (NIV, NCV, NET). The word translated as “purpose” can also be translated as “answer.” Thus, the meaning of the verse is that God works things out so that the end of the wicked properly answers their wickedness. As a bonus, that reading appreciates Proverbs 16:4 as a proper proverb. The NIV has the best reading of this verse:

The LORD works out everything for his own ends―even the wicked for a day of disaster (NIV).

Let us not ignore the plain translation of the International Children’s Bible:

The Lord makes everything work the way he wants it. He even has a day of disaster for evil people (ICB).

Worship Sunday – Thank You for Everything

Thank you for the world that awakes
In the dawning light that breaks
And for the sunlight kissin’ my face
Thank You
And for the stars out on parade
At the ending of each day
So even in the dark I’m sayin’
Thank you

When I look at the world around me
And breathe in the breathe You gave
Every beat of my heart is singing
Thank You for everything
If You lead me to still waters
If I’m caught in the hurricane
Wherever You lead I’m singing
Thank You for everything

(Thank You, thank You)

Thank You for the gift of friends
Who know everywhere I’ve been
And love me back home again
Thank You
And for the ones who let me down
And taught me what I know know
Of forgiveness and the freedom I’ve found
Thank you

When I look at the world around me
And breathe in the breathe You gave
Every beat of my heart is singing
Thank You for everything
If You lead me to still waters
If I’m caught in the hurricane
Wherever you lead I’m singing
Thank You for everything
Thank You for everything

Every second I live
Is a moment You give
So I welcome them in
I welcome them in
The day after day
The joy and the pain
I welcome them in
I welcome them in

Thank You for the hardest parts
And the beauty of these scars
Even though it broke my heart
Thank You
Thank You
Thank You

When I look at the world around me
And breathe in the breathe You gave
Every beat of my heart is singing
Thank You for everything
If you lead me to still waters
If I’m caught in the hurricane
Wherever You lead I’m singing
Thank You for everything

Genesis 11:6 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Gen 11:6 And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.

The context of this verse is that the flood waters have subsided, humanity begins to multiply, and the people begin to defy God. God sees this happen and declares that “nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them”. This is a criticism, and God then acts to confuse the languages to thwart the people’s actions.

The phrase “nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them” applies to human beings. But if this statement were to be made in relation to Yahweh, all sorts of metaphysics would be imposed on it. For example, CARM uses a similar verse for omnipotence in God:

Psa 115:3 But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.

CARM writes:

Omnipotence is an attribute of God alone. It is the quality of having all power (Psalm 115:3). He can do all things that do not conflict with His holy nature. God has the power to do anything He wants to do. However, God cannot do that which is contrary to His nature. For example, God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

This is an example of too much being made of too little.

Apologetics Thursday – Challies and His Concerns

Tim Challies lists three “chief concerns with open theism”:

1. A Denial of Omniscience. While men like Greg Boyd deny that open theism denies God’s omniscience, this is simply not true. Even if it is true that the future exists only as possibilities, something that is not adequately proven by open theists, we are still putting a limit on God’s knowledge when we state that He cannot know these possibilities. This view of God’s knowledge of the future is unique in that it is at odds with every other Judeo-Christian tradition.

Denial of omniscience is a false claim. Tim Challies falls for the fallacy of equivocation. He predefines Omniscience to mean his own definition, which mirrors Platonistic “active knowledge”. He ignores historical worldwide definitions of omniscience. He ignores just about every Open Theist being on record as believing in Omniscience. Tim Challies is being intellectually dishonest with this claim.

2. God’s goodness, greatness and glory are at stake. The God of the Open Theists is, in the words of Bruce Ware, too small. He is not the all-knowing, all-powerful God revealed so clearly in the pages of the Bible. Christians need to always be concerned that both they and God are making poor decisions based on inadequate information. Thus we cannot always count on God to do what is best, because even He does not always know what this is.

If God is depicted as “all-knowing” in the Bible (by which Tim Challies means that God has active, innate knowledge that originates in Himself and extends over all space and time) then the debate probably would never have surfaced. But Tim Challies’ weird Platonistic omniscience is not found anywhere in the Bible, nor are general claims of exhaustive knowledge of all the future.

Challies then relies on the moralistic fallacy to criticize Open Theism. He does not use intellectual generosity when he says Open Theism believes God makes “poor decisions based on inadequate information”. This is all ignoring the wide Biblical literature in which God repents, regrets past decisions, accepts input of prayer to change His plans, and otherwise engages in activities that Challies would label as “poor decisions”.

3. The Christian’s confidence in God is at stake. If open theism is true, the Christian cannot put his full trust and confidence in God. “The God of open theism will always want our best, but since he may not in fact know what is best, it becomes impossible to give him our unreserved and unquestioning trust” (Bruce Ware, Their God is Too Small, page 20. When hardships arise we will have to ask if God anticipated these, or if He is as shocked and distressed as we are.

Again, Challies relies on the moralistic fallacy. Challies’ idea is that he can form the perfect god in his own head, and that god will conform to reality. This is not a serious claim.

Furthermore, as will all moralistic fallacies, the knife cuts both ways. Maybe people will reject a stone, static, unchanging, and Platonically omniscient god as being evil, weak, and altogether meaningless. Far from being able to trust this static god, Ware’s claim (and by extension, Challies’ claim) is that all sorts of evil is God’s plan for maximum ultimate glory. What trust do we have in a God that hurts all sorts of people, without any volition, in order to glorify Himself. We trust this “god” to save us? Why? He has already shown that hurting people glorifies him. As the originator and father of all lies, the Calvinist god could easily just be lying to everyone.

Sanders on Ineffability

John Sanders posts to Facebook:

To begin, let’s distinguish between two forms of ineffability: strong and modest. The strong version says we have no knowledge of what God is like. God is completely different or wholly other because God is totally outside the bounds creaturely existence. This was the common view in NeoPlatonism and became very influential the Christian tradition. On the desk in my office is a trophy base given to me by a student. The base reads: “Image of the Ineffable God.” On top of the base, where the trophy would be, is nothing. This image wonderfully captures the concept of strong ineffability. (see the photo of the plaque below)

Modest ineffability says that we can know something about God but we never understand God exhaustively since there is always more to know. To hijack a phrase from the apostle Paul, “We know in part” but we do know something. Those who affirm strong ineffability are motivated by a desire to safeguard the divine majesty and worry that modest ineffability undermines this by “bringing God down” to the level of creatures. However, it seems to me that a key part of the gospel is that God comes to us in the person of Jesus. To paraphrase Jesus, “the one who knows me knows what God is like” (Jn. 14:9) and the author of Hebrews says Jesus is “the exact imprint of God’s very being” (1:3). In other words, God comes to us on our level and meets us where we are at—within the boundaries of creaturely existence.

Worship Sunday – Broken Things

If grace was a kingdom
I stopped at the gate
Thinking I don’t deserve to pass through after all the mistakes I’ve made
Oh but I heard a whisper
As Heaven bent down
Said, “Child, don’t you know that the first will be last and the last get a crown”

Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I am all Yours

The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use
It’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
All the misfit heroes You chose
Tell me there’s hope for sinners like me

Grace is a kingdom
With gates open wide
There’s seat at the table just waiting for you
So, come on inside

Joshua 1:3-6 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Jos 1:3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.
Jos 1:4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory.
Jos 1:5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.
Jos 1:6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.

In Joshua 1, God renews to Joshua the promises that were given to Moses. In Moses’ time, God had promised that generation the Promised Land, but that promise was revoked as Israel died in unbelief in the wilderness. Instead, that promise was postponed to a new generation, one of Joshua.

God promises Joshua that he will be with Israel and will drive out all of Israel’s enemies. The language is bold and confident. No man will stand before Israel. God will not leave nor forsake. Every place they set foot will be theirs. God will give the land He swore He would give to the previous generation (note the admittance that the original promise was subverted).

There is a condition placed on this very strong promise. Israel needs to keep the

Mosaic Covenant:

Jos 1:7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.

Needless to say, Israel only ever partially conquered the Promised Land. The pagan peoples were not driven out. Israel never conquered certain territories. They spent their time in the book of Judges skirmishing with neighboring peoples.

God’s prophecies were subverted. God had promised very bold things, things said with confidence. But Israel failed to deliver, and as a result, all of God claims of the future fell flat.

Is this passage depicting God as eternally omniscient of all future events? Or is God bold and confident, warning Israel that they too need to be bold and confident? The picture of God in this passage is not one in which He expects failure. The picture is one of God directing and warning about future possibilities. The picture is of God predicting sweeping victory, a victory that never comes.

Apologetics Thursday – Infinite Grain and Double Standards

From the Calvinist run Facebook group Open Theism Debate:

Peter Zacharoff BIBLE VERSES PROVING OPEN THEISM ERROR
Psalm 147:5 ESV
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. …

Gene William Steele Thanks for posting those scriptures. Would you like to discuss one of them?

Peter Zacharoff Any

Gene William Steele Great. Let’s start with the first one. Psalm 147:5 ESV
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.

I think that Open Theists would concur that we cannot measure God’s understanding, so how would this be a proof text against Open Theism?

Peter Zacharoff Future knowledge is limited in Open THEISM, by definition. This limitation cannot be put on God’s understanding of future events.

Gene William Steele Yeah but how do you get that from the verse?

Peter Zacharoff It is plainly advanced in the Word “understanding” coupled with “beyond measure,” the obvious conclusion is that God has limitless knowledge of future events since all understanding, including knowledge of future events, is unlimited. Thus, foreknowledge is unconditional in His omniscience.

Gene William Steele So the phrase ‘beyond measure’ means limitless, is that what you are saying?

Peter Zacharoff Yes

Gene William Steele Ok thanks

Peter Zacharoff Intrinsically, His foreknowledge is unconditional, but the content is conditional based on human choice. He knows the choices we will make.

Gene William Steele So in Psalm 147 the Hebrew words are ‘ayin micpar’, and you seem to be implying that they, when used together mean limitless, as in ‘no limit’, or dare I say ‘infinite’? Am I understanding you correctly?

Peter Zacharoff Not only does God know the choices we will make but He understands WHY we make the choices we do. This is because His understanding is limitless, beyond measure.
Peter Zacharoff In the Hebrew, Ayin means “no,” and micpar means “measure, number, for account” (W.E. Vine).

Gene William Steele So then it sort of means infinite? And we should take that pretty literally then?
Peter Zacharoff A paraphrase would say that “since His understanding is limitless, He knows everything.”

Gene William Steele So if when we find ‘ayin micpar’ in other places in the bible it means infinite, or just in this one verse in Psalms?

Gene William Steele In Genesis 41:49 the exact same words are used. Are you willing to state that they have the exact same meaning there also? Are we to say that the grain stored up was also ‘limitless’, or ‘infinite’?

Peter Zacharoff Grain has a physical property and is limited. The context here is an infinite God, not grain. The context determines the interpretation of any descriptor.

Gene William Steele So you already defined God, and then used your definition to tell you what the word means?

Peter Zacharoff Yes. To define God, we must systematically organize verses and produce a coherent ‘Theology Proper’ that is biblically consistent.

Gene William Steele But didn’t you just say that we can only understand this verse if we already have a certain theology in mind? Doesn’t that make this verse useless as an example of God knowledge if we have to have it defined before we even read it?

Peter Zacharoff In the case of the grain, the scope of measure might be humanly impractical to measure… unable to measure. So there is no contradiction as God is immeasurable, with no limit, infinite for our minds to understand. But His understanding is without “ayin” (no) measure.

Gene William Steele So you have one phrase, used in 2 different places, and you attribute different meanings because you have a preconceived idea of what God is like?

Peter Zacharoff This verse stands alone as to the infinite knowledge of God until it is challenged. Just as you used Genesis 41:49, other scriptures, focused on God, not grain, will corroborate Theology Proper regarding omniscience.

Peter Zacharoff Preconceived ideas about God are derived from a consistent systematic approach to Theology Proper.

Gene William Steele I gotta hit the hay. Nice talkin. Maybe we will do it again later.

Peter Zacharoff Our understanding is limited, so it is likely that we are not completely accurate when we try to place limits on God. (Job 11:7) “Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty?” No!