Author: christopher fisher

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Does Calvin’s god Really Intervene to Prevent any Event

From anon:

From the following Calvinist statement – there is at least an *APPEARANCE* this is the case:

Calvinist Facebook post:
God, as sovereign, must FIRST DECIDE NOT TO INTERVENE TO PREVENT a particular event thereby allowing natural events to play out.

But then the TRUTH comes out.
Let us say [X] = any event.

God’s intervention produces the TRUE X, that is then known to Him as the TRUE X.

This second statement reveals the whole business – Calvin’s god preventing some [X] is actually FAKE.

What Calvin’s god *APPEARS* to be preventing is nothing more than a FALSE [X].

Here is how the logic works
1) No [X] can come to pass unless Calvin’s god at the foundation of the world RENDER-CERTAIN that [X].
2) Any [X] Calvin’s god RENDERS-CERTAIN is UNPREVENTABLE (he can’t prevent it even if he wants to). If he even thinks he can prevent this [X] then divine omniscience fails.

3) Thus the only [X] available for him to PREVENT are [X] which both he and the Calvinist know, will never come to pass anyway.
Note: This is what Calvinist Facebooker is revealing when he states this [X] is not a “TRUE” [X].

4) Per (1-2 above) any event that can be PREVENTED “so called” – will not come to pass anyway – and is thus a FALSE event.
6) Calvin’s god by omniscience, knows it as a FALSE [X]. And the Calvinist also knows its a FALSE [X] (as Calvinist Facebooker’s statement reveals).

Therefore this Calvinist statement is simply designed to masquerade a FAKE presentation of divine prevention. It is a form of prevention is logically excluded by fundamental precepts of Calvin’s doctrine.

The Calvinist is consciously aware (at least at some level) this event is a FALSE event which will never come to pass. And yet he presents it *AS-IF* it will come to pass unless Calvin’s god prevents it.
While he knows (due to 1-2 above) it will not come to pass no matter what Calvin’s god does.

Therefore when the Calvinist states Calvin’s god “INTERVENES TO PREVENT” an event – the Calvinist is simply speaking something he internally knows (at least at some level) is FALSE.

Calvinist Admits Misusing Sovereignty

Reprinted in Saving Sovereignty:

by Paul D. Miller of The Gospel Coalition

What does it mean to say that God is sovereign? The refrain has become so common, almost clichéd, in Reformed writing and preaching that it sometimes slips away from the reader or listener without lodging meaning in the mind. Worse, we typically hear the phrase to mean something it doesn’t. When Christians affirm that “God is sovereign,” they often mean “God is in control.” Paul Tripp, for example, wrote in his excellent book Lost in the Middle that “God truly is sovereign . . . there is no situation, relationship, or circumstance that is not controlled by our heavenly Father.”

The problem is that the English word sovereignty does not mean control. The U. S. government is sovereign within American territory, but that doesn’t mean the government controls everything within American borders or causes all that happens. If you look up sovereignty in the dictionary you’ll not find control in the definition—nor even as a synonym in a thesaurus.

More on Romans 9

From ROMANS 9 (R9) SIMPLY EXPLAINED by Jacques More


What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,

We are missing central and vital truth here in translation. A sentence makes a complete statement. This is always accomplished by the central use of the verb describing the action involved. Two verbs are here in 22-23. They are each connected to one or the other of the two different subjects: the vessels of wrath and the vessels of mercy. What is missing in translation is that they are not the same verbs. The vessels of wrath come first and these are “prepared” or “fitted”. The vessels of mercy are mentioned second and these are “afore prepared”.

“Afore prepared” is all one verb and is only used of the vessels of mercy; “prepared” or “fitted” is a different verb and is only used of the vessels of wrath.

The difference in these two verbs involves time. It is readily seen in “afore prepared” since being prepared in advance means ahead of the present. In contrast being “prepared” or “fitted” we can see involves much time in the lifetime of the person with the words added showing this well, where God is seen to endure “with much longsuffering”. This is not action before the lifetime of a person but during their lifetime.

Worship Sunday – Better is One Day

How lovely is Your dwelling place
O Lord Almighty
My soul longs and even faints for You
For here my heart is satisfied
Within Your presence
I sing beneath the shadow of Your wings

Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere

Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere

One thing I ask, and I would seek
To see Your beauty
To find You in the place Your glory dwells
Your glory dwells

Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere

Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere

Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere

Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere

My heart and flesh cry out
For You, the Living God
Your Spirit’s water for my soul
I’ve tasted and I’ve seen
Come once again to me
I will draw near to You
I will draw near to You
To You

Draw near to You
I will I will, I will
Draw near to You
To You

Better is one day
One day
One day
One day
One day
One day
Oh to be with you
Oh be with you
Oh to be, be with You
For here my heart is satisfied
For here my Spirit finds new life
For here I drink and I am satisfied
Within Your presence, Lord
I will draw near to You

One day
One day

Luke 7:30 Commentary

Luk 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.

In Luke 7, the Pharisees and scribes reject God’s will. God does not achieve what He wants. This is crippling to the idea that God controls everything.

The word for “will” (βουλὴ) is often used from strong purpose and linked to actions to bring about that will:

Act 2:22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—
Act 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose (βουλὴ) and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;

Act 4:27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together
Act 4:28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose (βουλὴ) determined before to be done.

Eph 1:11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose (βουλὴ) of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,

Calvinist Systematic Theologians, such as Herman Bavinck, will take the same word used in these other verses and use them to claim God’s will is the ground of all that is and happens:

His counsel and good pleasure is the ultimate ground of all that is and happens (Ps. 33: 11; Prov. 19: 21; Isa. 46: 10; Matt. 11: 26; Acts 2: 23; 4: 28; Eph. 1: 5, 9, 11).
Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2: God and Creation (p. 124). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Bavinck only ever talks about Luke 7:30 once: “But the counsel of God (βουλη του θεου) has reference mainly to the work of redemption (Luke 7: 30; Acts 13: 36; 20: 27; Heb. 6: 17).” Bavinck never acknowledges his double standards.

RE: Why I am not an Open Theist

By Joe Sabo

Re: Why I am not an Open Theist

The author, referred to from now on as “Sire”, begins his article by separating Open Theists into two categories: Philosophical Open Theists and Biblical Open Theists. While I tend to think more gets made of this distinction than is necessary, I will begin not by addressing this separation, but by addressing some of the statements made by Sire in his summary of the two modes of approaching Open Theism.

“This movement comes from the idea the propositions directed toward the future have no truth value because the proposition has no grounding and the future is pure contingency (open).”

This sentence would be a better representation of what I think Sire is trying to say if it read: “Because the future does not exist, some events that will obtain have no current truth value.” To say that “the future is pure contingency” is not exactly correct. It is the position of the Open Theist that the “future” is a mix of contingent events and settled events. I have yet to meet an Open Theist yet that would affirm that all future events are contingent, and while that person may exist, I would take issue with that claim.

That leaves humans with the ultimate choice over the future.”

The premise is false. If the future is a mix of contingent and settled events, human influence only extends into the contingent areas insofar as human influence is able to influence them.

“They also tend to think Calvinism, Arminianism, and Molinism leaves God with being the sole culpable agent for the evils the world contains. This is because God was able and fully aware that evil would occur and yet didn’t stop or intervene to prevent evil. He was able and yet unwilling to stop evil”

Of the Theologies offered, Calvin Himself made God the author of evil, so to say that in Calvinism God is responsible for evil is not a stretch. It is a feature of the theology. Arminians and Molinists are able to resolve their Theodicy individually without making God responsible for evil. The Free Will Defense offered by Alvin Plantinga for example does this. Also, not all theodicies that are not “Open” state that God is able yet unwilling to stop evil. Furthermore, there are some theodicies that do state God is able to stop evil and are still able to absolve Him of the responsibility of creating it. In all honesty, I am not sure what the point of the quote above is. It does not convey the Open View, nor the opinion of all Open Theists.

The exegetical open theist thinks the Bible clearly and in an unqualified way states that God does not know the future. Take for example this prooftext:

“And they built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-Hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin,” (Jer. 32:35, 19:5, 7:31).

The issue is that the “to enter one’s mind” or “עָלָה עַל־לֵב” is more about inclination and disposition. It is language to convey this is not what the individual thinks is morally acceptable.” 

It is commonly understood that what is being conveyed in the verse above is that Yahweh never thought to command Israel to engage in child sacrifice. The NLT gets this right:

They have built pagan shrines to Baal in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing. What an incredible evil, causing Judah to sin so greatly!”

Sire is right to correct those that would try to use this verse as a prooftext of “God not knowing the future”, however, his correction is not needed here.

 “Third, there are texts that teach God knows everything that has or will ever happen.”

Sire then goes on to list a great many verses. I will be responding to them in light of these being verses that “teach God knows everything that has or will ever happen.” Open Theists do not dispute that God has perfect knowledge of all past events, so I will be directing my comments on the “future” aspect of these verses. Since these verses are presented as prooftexts for God knowing all that will ever happen, and there is no interpretation offered by Sire of these verses, I will be restricting my comments by trying to find “God knows all that will ever be” in them.

“Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

 Since a correct definition of the Open View tells us that some events that will obtain are contingent and some events that will obtain and settled, it is within the scope of the Open View for God to disseminate to humans, with certainty, settled aspects of the future. It is even possible within the Open View for God to disseminate contingent events, though, because the events in question are contingent there is an opportunity for a prophecy to fail or go unfulfilled, as we do read about in the Bible. What this text does not say, is that God knows for certain all events that will obtain. There is a difference between saying some things about the future and saying all things about the future. Also, God stating that His purpose will stand is not a revelation of His knowledge, but a statement of His power.

“Who can fathom the Spirit of the LORD, or instruct the LORD as his counselor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13-14).

I have no idea how this is supposed to be a prooftext for God knowing everything that will ever happen.

“Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD” (Psalm 139:4).

Again, how this is a prooftext for God knowing anything other than what the Psalmist is going to say before he says it, I don’t know. However, I will address the thinking that God knowing what we will say before we say it somehow conflicts with the Open View. God has perfect present knowledge, and this includes chemical levels in the brain, firing of neurons, all past events in the chain of events that led to this present, as well as any number of factors that go into a word before it is said. Given a complete knowledge of an individual’s brain state, and the events leading up to the current brain state, it would not be difficult for God, as powerful and wise as He is, to know what someone will say before they say it.

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3).

I find it interesting that these are the verses leading up to the verse above. When read in order and in context, these verses only support my understanding of verse 4. In total, the picture is very clear.

“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you” (Psalm 139:15-16).

Again, at best this teaches God knew the days that were ordained for the Psalmist before the Psalmist was born. The verse does not say God operates this way with all humans, nor does it teach that God knows “all that will be.”

“Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since he judges even the highest?” (Job 21:22).

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit” (Psalm 147:4-5).

I am assuming that because these verses say that nobody can teach knowledge to God and that His understanding has not limit, Sire is interpreting these statements as pertaining to God’s knowledge of future events. I do not see the correlation. However, within the Open View, the future does not exist as a list of certainties to be known so it is not as if we would have some difficulty affirming that nobody can teach God knowledge or that His understanding has no limit or that accepting these truths somehow invalidates our theology.

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9).

God only need possess perfect present knowledge to be able to search every heart and understand every desire and every thought.

“From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do” (Psalm 33:13-15).

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).

This sounds like God is looking down on Earth and considers all that they do. How this is a prooftext for God knowing “all that ever will be”, again, I do not see. If anything, this shows the opposite.

“Whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20).

Of all the verses offered, this is the only one that I can understand someone interpreting and saying that God knows “all that will ever be.” However, if we use a little logic and common sense, we will see that it does not. When John says God knows “everything” he does not mean God knows the moon is made of cheese, or that He knows Adam didn’t eat of the fruit, or that all humans can breath underwater. God “knowing everything” is to be understood as God knowing the truth about reality. That is to say that God’s knowledge of reality lines up perfectly with the facts of reality. In the Open View, this is not to say that God knows “all that will ever be” because the future is not comprised of a list of settled events that will obtain, but; a mix of events that will obtain either because God has determined they will or they are causally determined and events that will or will not obtain. In short that future is made up of events that will happen and events that might happen. If this is the truth about reality then God would know it as such. Events that will obtain would be known by God as events that will obtain and events that might or might not obtain will be known by God as events that might or might not obtain. We affirm John 3:20.

Furthermore, the philosophical Open theist view only has weight if you accept agents have libertarian freedom. To that Calvinist wisely reject and that is a problem for Arminians, Pelagians, and Molinism. The Calvinist can ground the truth value of future tensed propositions in the Will of God.”

To be honest, this statement is completely incoherent to me. I understand that Sire is simply dismissing libertarian free will within it, but there is no argument against libertarian free will, no logical basis given for it’s rejection, and no alternative offered. There is however, a list of theological positions. But again, there is no explanation of their inclusion or their relevance.

Another verse contradicting Open Theism is Eph. 1:11.

11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

This verse teaches God has from eternity has purposed and worked all things according to his will. History unfolds by the sovereignty of God. This must be everything to ever exists as the two prior verses show. This is said against a pagan background where you could resist the god’s wills.”

There is much that can be said about the interpretation offered by Sire here. For the sake of brevity and succinctness, I am going to quote Greg Boyd.

“This text has frequently been used to support the view that all things happen in accordance with God’s counsel and will. But this reads too much into the text. This passage says that all that God accomplishes is “according to his counsel and will,” not that all that takes place is God’s accomplishment in accordance with his counsel and will.

Scripture is clear that much of what takes place in this world is not God’s will. God detests sin and the gratuitous suffering it produces. But in all things — including evil things — God is at work to further his sovereign purpose as much as possible. Whatever God accomplishes is consistent with “his counsel and will” which Paul specifies as centering on acquiring a people for himself who ‘have obtained an inheritance…in Christ.’”

We also may consider whether Open theism alleviates us of philosophical difficulties. Some think the best answer to the problem of evil can be given by the open theist. They maintain God simply didn’t know what Adam and Eve would’ve done and thus aren’t to blame for any of the evils that occur.”
I don’t know any Open Theists that appeal to God not knowing Adam and Eve would sin as a basis for their theodicy. Frankly, it is not my desire here to give a list of viable theodicies, book titles with their authors, or explain the many ways that God is not responsible for evil within the world, as it would take far too much of my time to do so in this platform. I would only suggest that Sire read some Open Theist authors who have written offered a theodicy if his desire is to critique the theodicy of Open Theists. “Satan and the Problem of Evil” by Greg Boyd and “The Uncontrolling Love of God” by Thomas Jay Oord would be good places to start. It should also be stated that while the answer to the Problem of Evil will be different from one Open Theist to the other, appealing to God not knowing whether or not Adam and Eve would sin should not be one of them.
If God doesn’t know everything then he can’t be the source of objective moral norms and obligations.”

It simply does not follow that the source of objective moral norms must “know everything”.  Sire then makes some statements based upon this faulty assumption. It would take too much of my time to unpack them here.

Furthermore, Open Theism undermines the notion that God is morally perfect or is a moral agent at all. An Open theist wishes to maintain it is logically impossible for God to sin. On the other hand, it wishes to teach that without the ability to choose otherwise(even contrary to desires or characters) an agent is a robot. If a man only does good actions because it is his nature to do good, then he is merely a mechanism. But they wish to maintain that God does only good deeds because of his holy character. This means God doesn’t have the choice to choose not to do evil because it is not a logically possible state of affairs. This means the open theist thinks that God is a mechanism and not an agent or he can possibly do evil. But if it is possible for God to do evil then at any moment he could become the greatest force of evil at any moment. Thus, he isn’t morally perfect being. “

There are two objections here.

  • If God can sin He isn’t morally perfect
  • If God can’t sin He isn’t a moral agent

The answer to the first objection is to point out that it is fallacious to say that if a being has the capacity to sin, that being is morally imperfect. If a being has the capacity to sin, yet never does, that being is morally perfect. By definition. To be morally perfect is to never sin, moral perfection speaks nothing of capacity.

Regarding the second objection, there are many Open Theists that affirm God has the capacity to commit moral evil. While this may sound offensive to some, it is consistent with the theology of openness. There are two other ways that are logically consistent with Open Theism that do not affirm God currently has the capacity to commit moral evil yet maintain His moral agency.

  • It could be said that God at some point in the past had the capacity to sin, but because He has chosen to do good consistently for thousands (hundreds of thousands, millions, billions?) of years, doing good is so much a part of His character that He has grown past the capacity for sin. For clarification, in this view God has never chosen to do other than what is morally good, and because of this, He never will.
  • One could believe that all that is necessary for moral agency is for the moral agent in question to believe that they have the capacity to do otherwise. This view requires quite a bit of nuance in order to accurately articulate it and it is beyond my means to do so here.

Since God is ignorant of certain things then truth is above and higher than God.”

Truth is not something that can be higher or lower than something else. Truth is simply facts pertaining to reality.

 A personal God thus isn’t the ultimate explanation of reality. The open theist won’t appeal to another God or to some impersonal force like fate. The sole guide of the reality for an Open Theist is impersonal chance.”

I do not understand how this statement logically follows from the statement about truth being higher than God.

 “If Libertarian freedom is the case, then at any moment a creature could’ve corrupted the words of the Old and New Testament. This leaves inerrancy up to chance and not to God’s overarching providence.”

This is at least the second time in his blogpost Sire appeals to something that “could’ve happened” as an argument. It seems as if Sire must invent an alternate universe where his points would be valid. The Open Theist trusts in the power of  God, His wisdom, and His goodness to accomplish His purposes.

Rabbi Sacks on the Jewish Concept of Time

Jewish Time:

Atonement and forgiveness are the supreme expressions of human freedom – the freedom to act differently in the future than one did in the past, and the freedom not to be trapped in a cycle of vengeance and retaliation. Only those who can forgive can be free. Only a civilisation based on forgiveness can construct a future that is not an endless repetition of the past. That, surely, is why Judaism is the only civilisation whose golden age is in the future.

It was this revolutionary concept of time – based on human freedom – that Judaism contributed to the world. Many ancient cultures believed in cyclical time, in which all things return to their beginning. The Greeks developed a sense of tragic time, in which the ship of dreams is destined to founder on the hard rocks of reality. Europe of the Enlightenment introduced the idea of linear time, with its close cousin, progress. Judaism believes in covenantal time, well described by Harold Fisch: “The covenant is a condition of our existence in time . . . We cooperate with its purposes never quite knowing where it will take us, for ‘the readiness is all’.” In a lovely phrase, he speaks of the Jewish imagination as shaped by “the unappeased memory of a future still to be fulfilled”.

Worship Sunday – Face to Face

How many miles must it take to breakthrough
And how many hours must we wait through to hear the truth
How many moments did I trade in, for a fake kiss
How many chances did I forfeit, too afraid to miss

I feel Your thunder pourin’ like rain
Down on the mountains of all my mistakes
Rolling like rivers, running with grace
Into the ocean of Your embrace
Your hand on my side, leading the way
Ten thousand horses couldn’t pull me away
I hear the music heaven has made
Oh when we’re standing, standing
Face to face
Face to face

How many nights with regret do I swear through
How many lives in the rear view, do I compare to

I feel Your thunder pourin’ like rain
Down on the mountains of all my mistakes
Rolling like rivers, running with grace
Into the ocean of Your embrace
Your hand on my side, leading the way
Ten thousand horses couldn’t pull me away
I hear the music heaven has made
Oh when we’re standing, standing
Face to face
Face to face
Face to face
Face to face
Face to face
Face to face
Face to face
Face to face
Face to face
Face to face

Hand on my side, leading the way
Ten thousand horses couldn’t pull me away
I hear the music heaven has made
Oh when we’re standing, standing
Face to face
Face to face
Face to face
Face to face
Face to face

Ephesians 1:11 Commentary

Eph 1:11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will

Ephesians 1:11 is often quoted as a prooftext for divine determinism. God controls all things:

Reformed theology stresses the sovereignty of God in virtue of which He has sovereignly determined from all eternity whatsoever will come to pass, and works His sovereign will in His entire creation, both natural and spiritual, according to His pre-determined plan. It is in full agreement with Paul when he says that God “worketh all things after the counsel of His will,” Eph. 1: 11.
Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (p. 87). . Kindle Edition.

The phrase “who works all things according to the counsel of His will” is taken to mean “who decrees all events.” But this might be a stretch. Taking the phrase:

God works “all things” after the counsel of His will. To what does “all things” refer? Is this a reference to “everything that ever happens”? If so, why does Paul exhort his readers to “imitate God” (v5:1) or to walk worthy of their calling (v4:1). If God is controlling everything, why does Paul talk as if people have their own volition?

Perhaps “all things” refers to the things God does. When Paul becomes “all things to all men” (1Co 9:22), Paul is not saying he becomes a beach ball or a kitten. Instead he is saying that in all his interactions, he becomes flexible. In the same way, Ephesians 1:11 could be saying “in all things that God does, God gives thought.”

Another option is that the statement is limited to context, God gives thought to all things pertaining to the status of those who are in Christ. The context is assurance of salvation for believers. The themes are “adoption”, “redemption”, and “guarantee of inheritance”. The context seems specifically concerned with the eternal state of believers, and the phrase could meanly be a context limited affirmation of this theme.

God works all things “after the counsel of His will”. This phrase is also interesting. Why does God “work” “things” “after” the “counsel” of His will? In classical theism, God is timeless, and works all things timelessly, and why would a God who knows the future need to “counsel His will” before knowing how to act?

A better reading of this phrase is that when God decides to act, He does so not without thought. God thinks about what He will do before He does them. His actions have purpose and weight. This would fit the context of both God’s commitment to those in Christ, and Paul’s exhortation to walk in righteousness.

Clement on Destiny

From Clement of Alexandria’s EXHORTATION TO THE HEATHEN:

Whether, then, the Phrygians are shown to be the most ancient people by the goats of the fable; or, on the other hand, the Arcadians by the poets, who describe them as older than the moon; or, finally, the Egyptians by those who dream that this land first gave birth to gods and men: yet none of these at least existed before the world. But before the foundation of the world were we, who, because destined to be in Him, pre-existed in the eye of God before,–we the rational creatures of the Word of God, on whose account we date from the beginning; for “in the beginning was the Word.” Well, inasmuch as the Word was from the first, He was and is the divine source of all things; but inasmuch as He has now assumed the name Christ, consecrated of old, and worthy of power, he has been called by me the New Song.

Worship Sunday – He is Lord

Again the wind is raging
But I will not be shaken
For I know, who’s in control
The greater One within me
Is more than what’s against me
He’s in control, for I know
He’ll see me through like before
He is Lord, He is Lord
I’m not afraid anymore
He is Lord, He is Lord
The One who holds tomorrow
Is calling me to follow
Heart and soul, I will go
The Maker of the promise
Will finish what He started
Heart and soul, I will go
He’ll see me through like before
He is Lord, He is Lord
I’m not afraid anymore
He is Lord, He is Lord
And at His name the mountains bow
Lift every voice declare it now
Jesus Christ is Lord
And with a shout the walls come down
Lift every voice declare it now
Jesus Christ is Lord
And at His name the mountains bow
Lift every voice declare it now
Jesus Christ is Lord
And with a shout the walls come down
Lift every voice declare it now
Jesus Christ is Lord
He’ll see me through like before
He is Lord, He is Lord
I’m not afraid anymore
He is Lord, He is Lord
He’ll see me through like before
He is Lord, He is Lord
I’m not afraid anymore
He is Lord, He is Lord

Faber v Calvinist on Prooftexts

From a Facebook Group, which will remain unnamed.


It is God who appoints people to eternal life.

Acts 13:48 (NASB)—> 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Chooses who is to be holy and blameless.

Ephesians 1:4 (NASB)—> 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love

Calls according to His purpose.

2 Timothy 1:9 (NABS)—> 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,

Chooses us for salvation.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 (NASB)—> 13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 14 It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Grants the act of believing.

Philippians 1:29 (NASB)—> 29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

Grants repentance.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 (NASB)—> 24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Causes us to be born again.

1 Peter 1:3 (NASB)—> 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Draws people to Himself.

John 6:44 (NASB)—> 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:65 (NASB)—> 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

Predestines us to salvation.

Romans 8:29-30 (NASB)—> 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

And Adoption.

Ephesians 1:5 (NASB)—> 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,

According to His purpose.

Ephesians 1:11 (NASB)—> 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

Makes us born again not by our will but by His will.

John 1:12-13 (NASB)—> 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Works faith in the believer.

John 6:28-29 (NASB)—> 28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth.

James 1:18 (NASB)—> 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

And made us willing in the day of His power.

Psalm 110:3 (NASB)—> Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew.

He has mercy on whom He has mercy.

Romans 9:15-16 (NASB)—> 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

Who are we to argue with whom God chooses?

Romans 9:19-20 (NASB)—> 19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?

The Son gives life to whom He wishes.

John 5:21 (NASB)—> 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.

And reveals the Father to whom He wills.

Matthew 11:27 (NASB)—> 27 All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

Michael Faber

Michael Faber Nowhere in Acts 13 is God identified as the active agent in verse 48. That is an imposition on the text.

Eph 1:4 is corporate election, as seen in “us” and “in him”. Again, imposition on the text.

Same with 2 Tim 1:9

In 2 Thess 2, the “beginning” is the beginning of Paul’s ministry there, after they first believed.

Granting an action (such as Phil 1:29) refers to granting the ability to do so.

2 Tim 2:24-26 is granting repentance to saved people who got into some bad doctrine.

There is no evidence that “born again” (1 Pet 3, John 3) comes before faith.

John 6:44 only speaks of those not able to come. Same with verse 65.

Romans 8:29 speaks of being predestined to being “conformed to the image of the son”, not initial salvation, and occurs after initial faith.

Same with adoption and inheritance in Eph 1.

In John 1:12-13, receive and believe result in the right to become a son of God after which, one is born if God.

John 6:27 says that the Jews were to work for the food that endures to eternal life.

In verse 28, “works of God” k same phrase as verse 29) referrs to the works God requires.

Likewise, in verse 29. “Work of God” is the work God requires, the work Jesus spoke of in verse 27.

To say it is God’s work is to make Jesus a liar in verse 27.

Psalm 110 says, “volunteer freely.” That stands directly against the OP.

Romans 9 is about the word of God to the nation of Israel (vv1-7). Verses 15-16 are about the subgroup “children of promise” from within Israel.

Verses 19 and 20 are about the hardened Jews.

So, lots of bad exegesis in the OP.

Great Book Challenge

Trinity Radio presents the Great Book Challenge:

Homer. The Iliad, The Odyssey.
Aeschylus. The Orestreia
Sophocles. Three Theban Plays.
Euripides. The Tragedies.
Aristophanes. Lysistrata and Other Plays
Herodotus The Histories.
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War.
Plato. Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo, Symposium, Phaedrus, Republic, Timaeus, Critias, and Gorgias
Aristotle, Metaphysics, Ethics, Rhetoric, De Anima
Cicero. On the Good Life.
Marcus Aurelius Meditations
Plotinus The Six Enneads
Virgil. The Aeneid.
Ovid. Metamorphoses.
Plutarch Roman Lives
Tacitus, The Annals
FIrst Clement, The Shepherd of Hermas, Epistles of Ignatius, Martyrdom of Polycarp, Didache, Epistle of Barnabas, Epistle to Diognetus
Justin Martyr. First Apology, Second Apology, Dialogue with Trypho
Irenaeus. Against Heresies, On Apostolic Preaching
Tertullian. Apology, Prescription Against Heretics
Basil of Caesarea. On the Hexaemeron.
Eusebius. History of the Christian Church.
Rule of Faith. Apostles Creed. Nicene Creed ,Athanasian Creed, Definition of Chalcedon.
Athanasius. On the Incarnation.
Gregory of Nazianzus. On God and Christ.
Cyril of Alexandria. On the Unity of Christ.
Augustine. On Christian Teaching, City of God, Confessions
Boethius. Consolation of Philosophy
Pseudo Dionysius Divine Names, Mystical Theology, and Celestial Hierarchy
Anselm. Monologion, Proslogion, Pro Insipiente (On Behalf of the Fool) by Gaunilo of Marmoutiers, Reply to Gaunilo, On Truth, On Free Will, On the Fall of the Devil, On the Incarnation of the Word, Why God Became Man, De Concordia.
Abelard Ethics Book I & II
Bernard of Clairvaux On Loving God
Aquinas. Selected Writings ISBN 0140436324
Bonaventure, The Soul’s Journey Into God; The Life of St. Francis
Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales.
Johannes Kepler Epitome of Copernican Astronomy and Harmonies of the World
Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince.
Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote
More, Thomas. Utopia.
Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan.
Montaigne, Michel de. Essays.
Shakespeare, Williiam. The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works
Luther, Martin The Ninety-Five Theses (1517); Heidelberg Disputation (1518); Lectures on Galatians (1535);
Two Kinds of Righteousness (1519); The Bondage of the Will (1525);The Babylonian Captivity of the Church—Part 1 (1520); The Small Catechism (1529); The Freedom of a Christian (1520); Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague (1527); On the Jews and their Lies (1543).
Erasmus, Desiderius. Praise of Folly.
Jean Calvin, Institutes
Jacob Arminius, Oration 1: The Object of Theology, Oration 5, Reconciling Religious Dissensions among Christians. Nine Questions, A Friendly Discussion Between James Arminius & Francis Junius, Concerning Predestination, Conducted By Means Of Letters
The Westminster Confession, The Thirty-Nine Articles, The Schleitheim Confession, The Dordrecht Confession,
Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, Creed of the Council of Trent
Gilbert, William. De Magnete.
Galileo Galilei Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences
William Harvey, Writings
Francis Bacon. The New Organon, The Advancement of Learning, New Atlantis
Descarte, Rene. Meditations on First Philosophy, The Geometry of René Descartes, Rules for the Direction of the Mind, Discourse on the method: of rightly conducting the reason, and seeking truth in the sciences
Spinoza, Ethics
Blaise Pascal. Pensees
Milton, John. The Major Works.
Blaise Pascal. Pensees, The Provincial Letters
Newton, Isaac. Selections
Ptolemy’s Almagest
Nicolaus Copernicus On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres
John Locke. Second Treatise on Government,Concerning Human Understanding
George Berekley, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
David Hume. Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
Jonathan Swift Gulliver’s Travels
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Faust
American State Papers (Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, The Constitution)
Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, The Federalist Papers
John Stuart Mills, On Liberty
Benjamin Franklin. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Adam Smth Wealth of Nations
John Woolman Journal
Frederick Douglass. Narrative of Life
Abraham Lincoln: The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions; Religious Views; The War with Mexico; Eulogy on Henry Clay; Fremont, Buchanan, and the Extension of Slavery; The Dred Scott Decision; A House Divided; Address at Cooper Institute; First Inaugural Address; Proclamation of a National Fast Day; Proclamation for Thanksgiving; Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction; Proclamation of Thanksgiving; Annual Message to Congress; Second Inaugural Address; Last Public Address.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. The Philosophy of History, Philosophy of Right
Kierkegaard, Soren. Fear and Trembling
Charles Darwin The Origin of Species
Marx and Engels Communist Manifesto
Newman, John. The Idea of a University.
Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason, Groundwork on the Metaphysics of Morals, Critique of Practical Reason, The Metaphysics of Morals
Mary Shelley Frankenstein
Jane Austen Emma
Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
Herman Melville Moby Dick
Mark Twian The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Fyodor Dostoyevsky The Brothers Karamasov
Nietzsche, Frederick. The Geneology of Morals, Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
Leo Tolstoy War and Peace
Sigmund Freud Civilization and its Discontents
Sarte, Jean-Paul. Nausea, No Exit and Three Other Plays.
T.S. Eliot Collected Poems
Lewis, C.S. The Signature Classics, The Weight of Glory, Surprised by Joy
H.G. Wells. The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World.
C.S. Lewis The Space Trilogy
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
Arthur C. Clarke Childhood’s End
Walter Miller. A Canticle for Leobwitz
George Orwell Animal Farm, 1984
William F. Nolan, Logan’s Run
Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Dafoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe.
Dickens, Charles. Bleak House.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. Treasure Island.
Dumas, Alexandre . The Three Musketeers.
J.R.R Tolkien The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, Return of the King

Theophilus of Antioch on the Popularity of Plato

Theophilus of Antioch on the Popularity of Plato in an offhand remark while pointing out the vices of philosophers:

And regarding lawless conduct, those who have blindly wandered into the choir of philosophy have, almost to a man, spoken with one voice. Certainly Plato, to mention him first who seems to have been the most respectable philosopher among them, expressly, as it were, legislates in his first book,(4) entitled The Republic, that the wives of all be common, using the precedent of the son s of Jupiter and the lawgiver of the Cretans, in order that under this pretext there might be an abundant offspring from the best persons, and that those who were worn with toil might be comforted by such intercourse

Worship Sunday – I Will Worship

I will worship (I will worship)
With all of my heart (with all of my heart)
I will praise You (I will praise You)
With all of my strength (with all of my strength)
I will seek You (I will seek You)
All of my days (all of my days)
I will follow (I will follow)
All of Your ways (all Your ways)

I will give You all my worship
I will give You all my praise
You alone I long to worship
You alone are worthy of my praise

I will bow down (I will bow down)
Hail You as King (hail You ask King)
I will serve You (I will serve You)
Give You everything (give You everything)
I will lift up (I will lift up)
My eyes to Your throne (my eyes to Your throne)
I will trust You (I will trust You)
Trust You alone (trust in You alone)

I will give You all my worship
I will give You all my praise
You alone I long to worship
You alone are worthy of my praise

I will give You all my worship
I will give You all my praise
You alone I long to worship
You alone are worthy of my praise

I will give You all my worship
I will give You all my praise
You alone I long to worship
You alone are worthy of my praise
You alone are worthy of my praise
You alone are worthy of my praise

Ephraim Urbach on Ecc 7:14

The dictum that we cite next, which was transmitted by Aher [‘Other’]—that is, Elisha b. Avuyah—in the name of R. Akiba, teaches apparently, by its formulation, the doctrine of immutable fate, but an examination of its content shows that this is not the case. Aher asked R. Me’ir the meaning of the verse Ecclesiastes vii 14: ‘God has made the one as well as the other.’ Apparently Aher wished to find an allusion in this verse to fate, which determined the righteous and the wicked in the world. R. Me’ir diverted the verse to another homily, to which Aher reacted by saying: ‘R. Akiba, your teacher, did not expound it thus, but (God) created righteous men (and) He created wicked men; He created the Garden of Eden (and) He created Gehenna. Every man has two portions, one in the Garden of Eden and one in Gehenna. The righteous man, having been found worthy [by the Heavenly Court], receives his own portion and that of his fellow in the Garden of Eden; the wicked man, having been found guilty, receives his portion and that of his fellow in Gehenna’ (T.B. Hagiga 15a). To each one a portion is allocated both in the Garden of Eden and in Gehenna, and which of these falls to a man’s lot depends purely on his actions. Were the righteous and the wicked predetermined, it would only be necessary to prepare for each one the place due to him.

Urbach, Ephraim E.. The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs . Kindle Edition.

Jesus Was not Born In a Stable and Other Christmas-Related Details

From Jason Staples Jesus Was not Born In a Stable and Other Christmas-Related Details:

In the first (recently published in NTS), he shows (in spite of the constant threat of the Spanish Inquisition) that Luke 2:7 in fact involves no “inn” (the word traditionally translated “inn” actually suggests an extra room or “place to stay”), nor does Luke suggest that Jesus was born in a stable, barn, cave, or anything of the sort. It’s an excellent article, and though it might take the fun out of nativity scenes for some folks, it is well worth the read for those interested in the biblical accounts of Jesus’ birth.

The end result is that in Luke’s account, Mary seems to have given birth in Joseph’s family’s house in Bethlehem, being forced to put Jesus in a manger, which would have been in the main room of the house, since they didn’t tend to have barns or stables for their animals like in the modern world, instead bringing the animals inside. Luke 2:7 is probably best translated something like this:

And she bore a son, her firstborn child, and they wrapped him in baby cloths and laid him in a manger, because they had no space in their accommodations [for him].

Yup, that’s right. No stable, no inn, no innkeeper. But on the plus side, it’s better exegesis of what Luke actually says. So it has that going for it. Which is nice.

Worship Sunday – Light Of The World

The world waits for a miracle
The heart longs for a little bit of hope
Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel
A child prays for peace on Earth
And she’s calling out from a sea of hurt
Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel
And can you hear the angels singing
Glory to the light of the world
Glory, the light of the world is here
The drought breaks with the tears of a mother
A baby’s cry is the sound of love
Come down, come down, Emmanuel
He is the song for the suffering
He is Messiah, the Prince of Peace has come
He has come, Emmanuel
Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
For all who wait
For all who hunger
For all who’ve prayed
For all who wonder
Behold your King
Behold Messiah
Emmanuel, Emmanuel
Glo-glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
Behold your King
Behold Messiah
Emmanuel, Emmanuel
The world waits for the miracle
The heart longs for a little bit of hope
Oh come, oh come Emmanuel

Philo on God being the First Cause

Philo, On the Cherubim 125–6

God is a cause, not a tool, and it is certain that what comes to be comes to be by means of a tool but by a cause. For many things need to come together if something is to come into being: that by which, that from which, that by means of which and that because of which. That ‘by which’ is the cause; that ‘from which’ is matter, that ‘by means of which’ is the instrument, that ‘because of which’ is the explanation. [126] So, if someone were to ask what needed to come together for the building of any house or city, we would say a craftsman, stones and timber, and tools, wouldn’t we? But what is the craftsman but the cause ‘by which’? What are stones and timber but the matter, ‘from which’ the construction comes? What are the tools but those things ‘through which’? And what is it for but shelter and safety – this being that ‘because of which’?

The Hebrew Concept of Time

From On Not-Time:

In ‘Greco-Roman-Christian’ thought time is mechanistic.33 At some undefined or semi-defined point in the past it began at some point in the future usually thought of as infinity it will (may) end and the person is at some median point-a one-dimensional vector progressing with measurable and constant velocity.34 Time is a principle part of Western Martial culture. Graves defined “’Time’ is our method of measuring the intervals between events”.35 This idea looks at the mechanism; as the end product of the enquiry system. Compare Rabbi Nahman’s view with purely mechanistic Graves’ or with that of the novelist Charles Morgan (“The Fountain”; c. 1932) who said “It is not time that passes away from them but they who recede from the constancy the immutability of time…” These are the themes concerning time in Western thought: mechanistic, constancy, immutability, vectorial. While in Hebrew language and Jewish philosophy we see ideas of control, subjectivity use of time as a tool. Indeed the difference of view of time between the two cultures is vast, but quite different from what has been described by Shirts, Thienhous et al.

Augustine’s adopted Platonic Theology


In Book 7 of the Confessions, Augustine sets out for us what was perhaps the most important shift in his understanding of God, a shift to a position that basically remained with him until his death.10 He tells us that he had originally conceived of God as an extended, and perhaps infinitely diffused, material substance. Augustine tells us that the most fundamental problem he saw with this account was that God’s materiality must imply God’s divisibility (conf. 7.1; cf. 7. 5). However, through reading some ‘books of the Platonists’ at the same time as he was returning to his Christianity, Augustine came to a new account of God. This account involved five interrelated and, for Augustine, inseparable elements.

These elements are described at Confessions 7.10.16 ff. First, Augustine realised that God was the ‘light’ of Truth itself’: immaterial, eternal and everywhere and indivisibly present. God was the immaterial source of all perfections and of all Truth. Second, Augustine understood that God was distinct from all, and yet calling to and drawing all things towards Truth through a benevolent providence. Third, Augustine saw that God was Being itself. ‘Truth itself’ was identical with the real source of all existence, and thus the incorporeality and infinity of Truth itself did not mean that God was literally nothing (nihil). Fourth, Augustine reasoned that all things that are not Being itself exist only by participation in God and through the gift of Being from God. Thus, he could say of himself, ‘unless my being remains in Him, it cannot remain in me’ (conf. 7.11.17). Fifth, Augustine discovered a paradoxical relationship between the soul and God. On the one hand, the soul was immaterial and ‘above’ the material reality of the body, and when discovered to be such served as a pointer to the nature of God. On the other hand, the soul was still mutable and served only to reveal the incomparable and infinitely surpassing reality and ‘light’ of the divine.

If we were to add one more point to this list, but a point that does not appear at Confessions 7.10.16, it would be that God was ‘simple’. At Confessions 4.16.28 Augustine describes God as ‘marvellously simple and unchangeable’ (mirabiliter simplex atque incommutabilis). This is taken to imply the foolishness of trying to think of God as subject to accidental predication: imagining God as ‘having’ greatness or beauty as qualities of a divine ‘nature’ or ‘substance’. Instead, God is inseparably and eternally greatness or beauty itself. There is no division possible between being and attributes in the God who ‘simply’ is those qualities that we want to predicate of God. Divine simplicity is treated as an essential corollary of Augustine’s conception of God as immaterial, unchangeable and as Truth itself (although it is by no means simply a ‘Neoplatonic’ idea).

Worship Sunday – Noel

Love incarnate, love divine
Star and angels gave the sign
Bow to babe on bended knee
The Savior of humanity
Unto us a Child is born
He shall reign forevermore
Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Son of God and Son of man
There before the world began
Born to suffer, born to save
Born to raise us from the grave
Christ the everlasting Lord
He shall reign forevermore
Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel, Noel

Romans 1:18-21 Commentary

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
Rom 1:19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
Rom 1:21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

This passage illustrates the interplay of concepts of God’s culpability-based justice, emotional reactions, range of response to human behavior, and God’s frustration with human kind. It is important to understand how these concepts work together to form a holistic picture of God:

1. This illustrates that guilt is based on knowledge/culpability. The people “know” better, yet they reject God. This makes them culpable for punishment.
2. God’s strong emotions are illustrated.
3. God’s strong emotions are linked to culpability. Because the people know better, God becomes angry that they did not respond appropriately.
4. God responds to human actions. There is an if-then-else flow through this passage. The people know better but reject God. This causes God to react in anger. God then “gives them up” (v24). God is not acting unilaterally or without cause, but based on unfolding events.

Worship Sunday – Born is the King

Born unto us this day a Saviour
Gifted from heaven to a manger
The hope of the world
A light for all mankind
All of the earth rejoice
It’s Christmas time

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

Goodwill to all the earth
And peace divine
All of the earth rejoice
It’s Christmas time
It’s Christmas time

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

Romans 1:9-10 Commentary

Rom 1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you
Rom 1:10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.

In Romans 1, Paul describes how he continually asks God if there is some sort of way in God’s will that he can travel to Rome. Paul is revealing his idea of how God operates. God has plans, and wants those plans accomplished. The details have leeway. Paul queries God to see if God can fit a trip to Rome into God’s overall plans. This eventually comes about when Paul is shipped to Rome to appeal to Caesar.

Excerpts from Pagan and Christian

From Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety – Dodds:

A story which begins with Philo and St Paul and ends with Augustine and Boethius is much too long to be told in four lectures, even if l were competent to tell the whole of it. I have therefore judged it best to concentrate my attention on the crucial period between the accession of Marcus Aurelius and the conversion of Constantine, the period when the material decline was steepest and the ferment of new religious feelings most intense. In calling it ‘an Age of Anxiety’ I have in mind both its material and its moral insecurity;

I am interested less in the issues which separated the combatants than in the attitudes and experiences which bound them together.

Joseph Bidez described our period as one in which ‘Men were ceasing to observe the external world and to try to understand it, utilize it or improve it. They were driven in upon themselves. … The idea of the beauty of the heavens and of the world went out of fashion and was replaced by that of the Infinite.’

And in this glittering house of many mansions the earth appeared as the meanest mansion of all: it was held to be compact of the mere dregs and sediment of the universe, the cold, heavy, impure stuff whose weight had caused it to sink to the centre.

As time went on, this traditional antithesis between the celestial world and the terrestrial was more and more heavily emphasised,’ and it was increasingly used to point a moral. In the recurrent topos of the fight of the soul through the universe-imagined as taking place in a dream, or after death, or sometimes just in waking contemplation- we can trace a growing contempt for all that may be done and suffered beneath the moon.

Much the same feeling underlies the long and splendid passage where Plotinus in his last years, drawing both on Plato and on the Stoics, interprets the grandeurs and miseries of human life in terms of a stage performance.

For him, as for the aged Plato, man’s earnest is God’s play, performed in the world-theatre by ‘fair and lovely living puppets’ – puppets who mistake themselves for men and suffer accordingly, though in truth they are but external shadows of the inner man, the only truly existent, truly substantial person.’ This is linked with Plotinus’ general doctrine that action is everywhere ‘a shadow of contemplation and an inferior substitute for it.’ When cities are sacked, their men massacred, their women raped, it is but a transitory moment in the endless drama: other and better cities will arise one day, and the children conceived in crime may prove better men than their fathers. That seems to be his final word on the tragic history of his time.

From Plotinus this attitude of contemptuous resignation was transmitted to the later Neoplatonic schools, Christian as well as pagan. To Gregory of Nyssa, for example, human affairs are but the play of children building sand castles which are promptly washed away; as Father Danielou says, his entire work is penetrated by a deep feeling of the unreality of the sensible world, which he calls goAteia, a magical illusion, echoing a phrase of Porphyry.’ And Augustine in turn declares that ‘this life is nothing but the comedy of the human race’.

But no Stoic or Aristotelian, and no orthodox Platonist, could condemn the cosmos as a whole. Where we meet such condemnation we must suspect that it derives ultimately from a source farther east, a dualism more radical than Plato’s. The visible cosmos as a whole could only be called evil in contrast with some invisible Good Place or Good Person outside and beyond the cosmos: radical dualism implies transcendence!

…Plotinus could accept the equation of Matter with evil only by reducing both to the status of marginal products, the limiting point of the outgoing from the Absolute.

To the majority of Gnostics it was unthinkable that such a world should have been created by the Supreme God: it must be the handiwork of some inferior demiurge- either, as Valentinus thought, an ignorant daemon unaware of any better possibility; or, as Marcion thought, the harsh and unintelligent God of the Old Testament; or again, as in other systems, some angel or angels in revolt against God.

Origen, however, maintained the substance of the Gnostic view; he attributed the creation to the action of certain ‘bodiless intelligences’ who became bored with contemplating God and ‘turned to the inferior’

Plotinus v the Gnostics.

The unio mystica recognized by the Church was a momentary illumination, granted only occasionally, perhaps but once in a lifetime. And whatever energies it might release and whatever assurance it might bestow, the human being who experienced it did not thereby shed his human condition; it was as an ordinary mortal that he had to live out his life on Earth. The heretical mystic, on the other hand, felt himself to be utterly transformed; he had not merely been united with God, he was identical with God and would remain so for ever. For ‘the great Catholic mystics’ read ‘Plotinus’, for ‘the heretical mystic’ read ‘certain Hermetists and Christian Gnostics’, and the distinction applies perfectly to our period. Plotinus also rejected firmly the megalomaniac claim of the Gnostics to a monopoly of the divine presence. For him God is present to all beings, and the power of becoming aware of that presence is a capacity ‘which all men possess, though few use it’ (r, vi, 8.2.4). ‘If God is not in the world’, he tells the
Gnostics, ‘then neither is he in you, and you can have nothing to say about him’ (n, ix, I6.zs).

‘belief in the possibility of an intimate and direct union of the human spirit with the fundamental principle of being, a union which constitutes at once a mode of existence and a mode of knowledge different from and superior to normal existence and knowledge’.


He is also, with his pupil Porphyry, the only person of our period who is stated in so many words to have enjoyed mystical union. Four times, according to Porphyry, in the six years that the two men worked together ‘Plotinus lifted himself to the primal and transcendent God by meditation and by the methods Plato indicated in the Symposium’; Porphyry himself had attained the same goal but once, many years later . And we have the testimony of Plotinus himself in the unique autobiographical passage where he speaks of occasions when ‘I awakened out of the body into myself and came to be external to all other things and contained within myself, when I saw a marvelous beauty and was confident, then if ever, that I belonged to the higher order, when I actively enjoyed the noblest form of life, when I had become one with the Divine and stabilized myself in the Divine.’ Elsewhere Plotinus has described in memorable prose, if not the mystical union itself, at any rate the steps which lead up to it. He tells us that when we have achieved through intellectual and moral self-training the right disposition, we must practice a discipline of negation: we must think away the corporeal opaqueness of the world, think away the spatio-temporal frame of reference, and at last think away even the inner network of relations. What is left? Nothing, it would seem, but a centre of awareness which is potentially, but not yet actually, the Absolute.

The last stage of the experience comes by no conscious act of will: ‘we must wait quietly for its appearance’, says Plotinus, ‘and prepare ourselves to contemplate it, as the eye waits for the sunrise.’ But what then happens cannot properly be described in terms of vision, or of any normal cognitive act ; for the distinction of subject and object vanishes. I quote one of Plotinus’ attempts at description:

The soul sees God suddenly appearing within it, because there is nothing between : they are no longer two, but one; while the presence lasts, you cannot distinguish them. It is that union which earthly lovers imitate when they would be one flesh. The soul is no longer conscious of being in a body, or of itself as having identity-man or living being, thing or sum of things… For who it is that sees it has no leisure to see. When in this state the soul would exchange its present condition for nothing in the world, though it were offered the kingdom of all the heavens: for this is the Good, and there is nothing better.

Ephraim Urbach on Jewish notions of Omniscience

However, several of the earliest commentators of the Mishna already did not understand the phrase ha-kol safûy in the sense of ‘Everything is revealed and known from the outset’, but in the connotation ‘All that a man does in the innermost chambers, the Holy One, blessed be He, watches and observes’,11 and as Rabbi said, ‘Know what is above you—a seeing eye’ (M. ’Avot ii, 1); this explanation accords with the use of the stem safa in the idiom of the Tannaim. This verb does not signify knowledge of the future, but seeing that which exists and is present, like the Biblical usage ‘The eyes of the Lord keep watch [ sofôt] upon the evil and the good’ (Proverbs xv 3). R. Akiba himself said: ‘I was watching [ sôfe] Rabban Gamaliel and R. Joshua, (and I saw) that whereas all the people were waving their palm-branches, they waved them only at “We beseech Thee, O Lord”’ (M. Sukka iii, 9); Rabban Gamaliel also used the verb in a similar sense: ‘I was watching [sôfe], and (I observed that) we were within the (Sabbath) limits before nightfall.’12 The use of safa in the signification of ‘to know beforehand’, ‘to see beforehand’, as, for instance, ‘He foresaw by the holy spirit [i. e. prophetic spirit] that they would. . .’, The ‘Holy One, blessed be He, foresaw that they would. . .’ I found only in Amoraic sayings.

Urbach, Ephraim E.. The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs (Kindle Locations 5776-5789). . Kindle Edition.

Talmud Sanhedrin on Destiny

From Talmud Sanhedrin 90b:

The Romans asked Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya: From where is it derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, revives the dead, and from where is it derived that He knows what is destined to be? Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya said to them: Both of those matters are derived from this verse, as it is stated: “And the Lord said to Moses, Behold, you shall lie with your fathers and arise; this people will go astray” (Deuteronomy 31:16). This indicates that Moses will die and then arise from the dead and that the Holy One, Blessed be He, knows what the children of Israel are destined to do. The Romans asked: But perhaps the verse should be divided in a different manner, and it should be read: “Behold, you shall lie with your fathers and this people will arise and go astray after the foreign gods of the land.” Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya said to them: Take at least a response to half of your question in your hands from that verse, that God knows what is destined to be.

Worship Sunday – Away in the Manger

Away in a manger
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Lay down His sweet head

The stars in the sky
Look down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes

I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side
‘Til morning is nigh

Be near me, Lord Jesus
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me, I pray

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to Heaven
To live with Thee there

Jeremiah 42:19 Commentary

Jer 42:10 If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you.

The context of Jeremiah 42:10 is that Johanan and a pro-Egyptian, anti-Babylonian contingent are headed to Egypt after defeating the forces of Ishmael (who has assassinated Gedaliah, a Babylonian appointee). Johanan is worried that Babylon will indiscriminately kill his people in retaliation although they supported Gedaliah. En route to Egypt, Johanan encounters Jeremiah. Jeremiah tells them that God commands them to stay in Israel and not go to Egypt. Jeremiah couples this with both curses and blessings, blessings if they stay and curses if they leave.

Within this speech, Jeremiah states that God is sorry for the disaster that He brought upon them. John M. Bracke writes:

1. God is “sorry” for the disaster brought upon Judah (v. 10). The same Hebrew word here translated “sorry” is used elsewhere in the book to indicate God’s changed mind (or heart: 18:8, 10; 26:3). The sense here is not that God has made a mistake in destroying Judah but regrets what has happened (even though Judah gave God no other options) and is eager for something different. God has plucked up and torn down, but, that accomplished, the Lord is ready to build and plant.

2. God will “save,” “rescue,” and have “mercy” on the remnant of Judah (vv. 1112; compare 30:8, 9 11; 31:7, 20). These assurances are all linked to Babylon. Judah is no longer to fear Babylon (v. 11) because God has a new function for Babylon in relation to Judah. God has used Babylon to express anger and judgment through the exile of 587 B.C., so there has been reason to fear Babylon (or at least how God would use Babylon). Following 587 B.C., Babylon will have a different role as the agent of God’s saving, rescue, and mercy. Verse 12 summarizes the point: ”I [God] will grant you mercy, and he [Babylon] will have mercy on you, and restore you to your native soil.”

Naturally, Johanan ignores Jeremiah and calls him a liar. The contingent flees to Egypt (bringing Jeremiah with them), ignoring God’s promises to build them in the land of Israel. God’s anger is aroused again (v44:8).

In light of this, God’s repentance in Jeremiah 42:10 was failed attempt at reconciliation. God being sorry for what He had done (or alternatively God’s renewed commitment to Israel’s prosperity) was never actualized. The recipients continued on in disbelief and soon began serving other gods, which in turn changed God from open to reconciliation to being consumed with anger (v44:11-14)

On the Character of God in Genesis

Hymphreys’ The Character of God in the Book of Genesis:

A recent popular study of Genesis by Naomi H. Rosenblatt and Joshua Horwitz, with its psychological angle of vision, its interest in “what Genesis teaches us about our spiritual identity, sexuality, and personal relationships,” seems uniquely poised to engage the characters in Genesis that emerge as readers engage the narrative. This is so for all but one. The human figures emerging from their readings are complex, multifaceted, conflicted, and capable of remarkable change and development- but God is not. Of him they say early on: “God in Genesis is without form, gender, or other explicit human attributes.”; Yet in the pages that immediately surround this statement they speak of God as leading men and women “like a wise parent,”” forgiving yet holding humans accountable, as proceeding by trial and error, wavering between disappointtnent and acceptance, failing to establish a working partnership, and reaching out to a new Adam and Eve.

Midrash Rabbah on Genesis 18

In which Genesis 22 is read with present omniscience while denying omniscience of future events:

1 Rendering: And if not, they are not as evil now as the cry which has ascended to Me, I will know how to punish them by suffering, thus vindicating the demands of justice for their past misdeeds, yet I will not utterly destroy them. Thus they were given an opportunity of repenting. This interpretation is adopted because otherwise it would appear that God, the omniscient, did not know whether they were evil or not, which is impossible (Mah.).

Midrash Rabbah on Genesis 6

Written between 300-500 AD, quoting earlier sources:

4. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth (vi, 6). R. Judah said: [God declared:] It was a regrettable error on My part to have created him out of earthly elements, for had I created him out of heavenly elements, he would not have rebelled against Me/ R. Nehemiah interpreted it:

I am comforted (menuham) that I created him below, for had I created him above, he would have incited the celestial creatures to revolt, just as he has incited the terrestrial beings to revolt. R. Aibu interpreted: It was a regrettable error on My part to have created an evil urge (yezer ha-ra) within him, for had I not created an evil urge within him, he would not have rebelled against Me. 1 R. Levi interpreted: I am comforted that I made him from the earth.

And it grieved Him at His heart. R. Berekiah said: If a king has a palace built by an architect and when he sees it, it displeases him, against whom is he to complain? Surely against the architect! Similarly, It grieved Him at His heart.

A certain Gentile asked R. Joshua b. Karhah [mid second century]: ‘Do you not maintain that the Holy One, blessed be He, foresees the future?’ ‘Yes/ replied he. ‘But it is written, And it grieved Him at His heart?’ 4 ‘Has a son ever been born to you?’ inquired he. ‘Yes,’ was the answer. ‘And what did you do?’ — ‘I rejoiced and made all others rejoice/ he answered. ‘Yet did you not know that he would eventually die?’ ‘Gladness at the time of gladness, and mourning at the time of mourning,’ replied he. ‘Even so was it with the Holy One, blessed be He/ was his rejoinder, ‘for R, Joshua b. Levi said: Seven days the Holy One, blessed be He, mourned for His world before bringing the Flood, for it is said here, And it grieved Him, while elsewhere it says, The king grieveth for his son’ (n Sam. xix, 3). 5

1 Th.: possibly JR. Aibu translates the end of the verse thus: and it grieved Him for his (man’s) heart, i.e. the desire to evil which the heart harbours.

For it repenteth Me, etc. R. Abba b. Kahana observed: For it repenteth Me that I have made them and Noah — surely not! 6 Even Noah, however, was left not because he deserved it, but because
he found grace: hence, But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. 7

Worship Sunday – Endless

I’m on a journey, and I long to find
Something for the yearning that I feel inside
Your word is a whisper, but it shakes my heart
And Iʼm lost in the wonder of all You are
So lost in the wonder of all You are

How deep, how high, how vast, and how wide is Your love
Itʼs endless, endless

I’ve stood on the mountain of victory
And I’ve crawled through the valley on my hands and knees
One thing never falters, though the seasons change
Your arms are around me and I canʼt escape

The more and more I search for You, the more I find
That nothing else can satisfy
The more and more I come to You, just as a child
The more and more and more I find

Hamilton on Genesis 6

From Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, Victor P. Hamilton, New International Commentary on the Old Testament

6 Viewing the debacle man has fomented, God is grieved, even to the point of experiencing pain in his heart. Note again here the echo of earlier language in Genesis. Previously Eve (3:16) and Adam (3:17) were the pain bearers. Now Yahweh himself feels that stab. Eve’s and Adam’s pain, however, is imposed due to their sin. Yahweh’s is not. Rather, his pain finds its source in the depth of the regret he experiences over fallen humanity, and in the fact that he must judge such fallenness. It is easy, of course, to dismiss such allusions as anthropopathisms, and to feel that they can tell us nothing about the essential nature of God. But verses like this remind us that the God of the OT is not beyond the capability of feeling pain, chagrin, and remorse. To call him the Impassible Absolute is but part of the truth.

Yahweh regretted [yinnāḥem] that he had made man. This point is made again in v. 7b, “I regret [ʾemḥeh] that I made him.” The AV translates nḥm as “repent.” Here we are introduced to the idea of God repenting! As a matter of fact, the Niphal of the root nḥm (as here) occurs forty-eight times in the OT, and in thirty-four of these the subject (expressed or implied) is God.3

Interestingly, the LXX usually translates Heb. nāḥam with metanoéō or metamélomai, “to be sorry, repent, change one’s mind,” but here and in v. 7 it avoids either of those verbs. It reads “And God considered that he had made man” (v. 6) and “because I have become angry that I made them” (v. 7).4 Here the LXX translators hesitated to have God repenting.

The Hebrew root in question (nḥm) is related to the noun neḥāmá, “breath” (Ps. 119:50; Job 6:10), which describes the life-giving effect of God’s word in a time of oppression. The Niphal and Hithpael stems have six basic meanings: (1) suffer emotional pain (Gen. 6:6); (2) be comforted (Gen. 37:35); (3) execute wrath (Isa. 1:24); (4) retract punishment (Jer. 18:7–8); (5) retract blessing (Jer. 18:9–10); (6) retract (a life of) sin (Jer. 8:5–6).5

It should be noted that only a few passages that speak of God’s repentance refer to God repenting over something already done. The vast majority of the instances of Yahweh’s nḥm have to do with his possible change of will concerning a future plan of action.6 This is one significant difference between God’s repentance and man’s. Still, the fact that the OT affirms that God does repent, even over a fait accompli, forces us to make room in our theology for the concepts of both the unchangeability of God and his changeability.7

Talmud Sanhedrin on Genesis 6

Sanhedrin 108a:

The School of R. Ishmael taught: The doom [of destruction] was decreed against Noah too, but that he found favour in the eyes of God, as it is written, It repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.35

And the Lord was comforted that he had made man in the earth.36 When R. Dimi came37 he said: The Holy One, blessed be He, exclaimed, ‘I did well in preparing graves for them in the earth.’38 How is this signified [by the verse]? — Here is written, And the Lord was comforted;39 whilst elsewhere it is stated, And he comforted them, and spake kindly to them.40 Others say, [He exclaimed,] ‘I did not do well in establishing graves for them in the earth;’41 here it is written, And it repented the Lord; whilst elsewhere it is written, And the Lord repented of the evil which he had thought to do unto his people.42

My Interaction with William Lane Craig

By Christopher Fisher

I met William Lane Craig in passing. He was attending the same lecture as I. I introduced myself and decided to gain definitive statements on some of his positions:

Me to WLC: so, you hold that God is not simple.
WLC: That is correct.
Me: in the same token, God is not immutable.
WLC: Yes, God is changeless sans creation, but not immutable. Once God creates He changes, such as knowing what time it is.
Me: In your view, God is not timeless.
WLC: I have a weird view. He is timeless before creation, but once He creates God is in time.

William Lane Craig denies Simplicity, Immutability, and eternal timelessness.

Worship Sunday – As Children

As children we come with arms open wide
So desperate for You
So in need of Your life
May our praise fill Your ears
May our cries touch Your heart
We need Your presence
To change who we are, so we ask…

Come, Holy Spirit, come in Your power
Come inhabit our praise
Come now and reign in our lives
Come, Holy Spirit, come like the wind
Come be Lord of our hearts
Come fill Your church once again

You said if we asked for bread
That You’d give us no stone
So in all of our hearts
God, we kneel and we groan….we ask

Jeremiah 26:13 Commentary

Jer 26:13 Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the LORD your God, and the LORD will relent [repent] of the disaster that he has pronounced against you.

The setting is the reign of Jehoiakim, and the people appear to not be walking “in the law” of God (v4). Jeremiah prophesies against them, and they then wish to kill him. A similar prophet of God, Uriah, is killed in this passage. It is not clear if the people listened to Jeremiah, as the King sought to kill him.

Jeremiah 26:13 serves as a typical call and response. God calls the people to repent. If the people repent, God will then change His plans for those people. God will respond as humans respond.

Jeremiah 26:13 fits the formula Jeremiah sets out in Jeremiah 18:

Jer 18:8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent [repent] of the disaster that I intended [thought] to do to it.

Although this conditional does not seem activated by the people, Jeremiah treats it as if it is a reality. He calls on the people to change. He says God will change. Earlier, God commissions Jeremiah, wondering if perhaps the people might listen (v3). God has no set future plan and is willing to change based on changing circumstances.

Clement on the Ineffability of God

From Stromateis 5, 12:

“For both is it a difficult task to discover the Father and Maker of this universe; and having found Him, it is impossible to declare Him to all. For this is by no means capable of expression, like the other subjects of instruction,” says the truth-loving Plato. For he that had heard right well that the all-wise Moses, ascending the mount for holy contemplation, to the summit of intellectual objects, necessarily commands that the whole people do not accompany him. And when the Scripture says, “Moses entered into the thick darkness where God was,” this shows to those capable of understanding, that God is invisible and beyond expression by words. And “the darkness”—which is, in truth, the unbelief and ignorance of the multitude—obstructs the gleam of truth…

This discourse respecting God is most difficult to handle. For since the first principle of everything is difficult to find out, the absolutely first and oldest principle, which is the cause of all other things being and having been, is difficult to exhibit. For how can that be expressed which is neither genus, nor difference, nor species, nor individual, nor number; nay more, is neither an event, nor that to which an event happens? No one can rightly express Him wholly. For on account of His greatness He is ranked as the All, and is the Father of the universe. Nor are any parts to be predicated of Him. For the One is indivisible; wherefore also it is infinite, not considered with reference to inscrutability, but with reference to its being without dimensions, and not having a limit. And therefore it is without form and name. And if we name it, we do not do so properly, terming it either the One, or the Good, or Mind, or Absolute Being, or Father, or God, or Creator, or Lord. We speak not as supplying His name; but for want, we use good names, in order that the mind may have these as points of support, so as not to err in other respects. For each one by itself does not express God; but all together are indicative of the power of the Omnipotent. For predicates are expressed either from what belongs to things themselves, or from their mutual relation. But none of these are admissible in reference to God. Nor any more is He apprehended by the science of demonstration. For it depends on primary and better known principles. But there is nothing antecedent to the Unbegotten.

Worship Sunday – Take My Life

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

Aristobulus on Plato drawing from Moses

As quoted in Eusebius:

[ARISTOBULUS] ‘IT is evident that Plato closely followed our legislation, and has carefully studied the several precepts contained in it. For others before Demetrius Phalereus, and prior to the supremacy of Alexander and the Persians, have translated both the narrative of the exodus of the Hebrews our fellow countrymen from Egypt, and the fame of all that had happened to them, and the conquest of the land, and the exposition of the whole Law; so that it is manifest that many things have been borrowed by the aforesaid philosopher, for he is very learned: as also Pythagoras transferred many of our precepts and inserted them in his own system of doctrines.

‘But the entire translation of all the contents of our law was made in the time of the king surnamed Philadelphus, thy ancestor, who brought greater zeal to the work, which was managed by Demetrius Phalereus.’

Then, after interposing some remarks, he further says:

‘For we must understand the voice of God not as words spoken, but as construction of works, just as Moses in the Law has spoken of the whole creation of the world as words of God. For he constantly says of each work, “And God said, and it was so.”

‘Now it seems to me that he has been very carefully followed in all by Pythagoras, and Socrates, and Plato, who said that they heard the voice of God, when they were contemplating the arrangement of the universe so accurately made and indissolubly combined by God. Moreover, Orpheus, in verses taken from his writings in the Sacred Legend, thus sets forth the doctrine that all things are governed by divine power, and that they have had a beginning, and that God is over all. And this is what he says: 52

“I speak to those who lawfully may hear:
Depart, and close the doors, all ye profane,
Who hate the ordinances of the just,
The law divine announced to all mankind.
But thou, Musaeus, child of the bright Moon,
Lend me thine ear; for I have truths to tell.
Let not the former fancies of thy mind
Amerce thee of the dear and blessed life.
Look to the word divine, keep close to that,
And guide thereby the deep thoughts of thine heart.
Walk wisely in the way, and look to none,
Save to the immortal Framer of the world:
For thus of Him an ancient story speaks:
One, perfect in Himself, all else by Him
Made perfect: ever present in His works,
By mortal eyes unseen, by mind alone
Discerned. It is not He that out of good
Makes evil to spring up for mortal men.
Both love and hatred wait upon His steps,
And war and pestilence, and sorrow and tears:
For there is none but He. All other things
‘Twere easy to behold, could’st thou but first
Behold Himself here present upon earth.
The footsteps and the mighty hand of God
Whene’er I see, I’ll show them thee, my son:
But Him I cannot see, so dense a cloud
In tenfold darkness wraps our feeble sight.
Him in His power no mortal could behold,
Save one, a scion of Chaldaean race:
For he was skilled to mark the sun’s bright path,
And how in even circle round the earth
The starry sphere on its own axis turns,
And winds their chariot guide o’er sea and sky;
And showed where fire’s bright flame its strength displayed.
But God Himself, high above heaven unmoved,
Sits on His golden throne, and plants His feet
On the broad earth; His right hand He extends
O’er Ocean’s farthest bound; the eternal hills
Tremble in their deep heart, nor can endure
His mighty power. And still above the heavens
Alone He sits, and governs all on earth,
Himself first cause, and means, and end of all.
So men of old, so tells the Nile-born sage,
Taught by the twofold tablet of God’s law;
Nor otherwise dare I of Him to speak:
In heart and limbs I tremble at the thought,
How He from heaven all things in order rules.
Draw near in thought, my son; but guard thy tongue
With care, and store this doctrine in thine heart.”

Aratus also speaks of the same subject thus: 53

“From Zeus begin the song, nor ever leave
His name unsung, whose godhead fills all streets,
All thronging marts of men, the boundless sea
And all its ports: whose aid all mortals need;
For we his offspring are; and kindly he
Reveals to man good omens of success,
Stirs him to labour by the hope of food,
Tells when the land best suits the grazing ox,
Or when the plough; when favouring seasons bid
Plant the young tree, and sow the various seed.”

‘It is clearly shown, I think, that all things are pervaded by the power of God: and this I have properly represented by taking away the name of Zeus which runs through the poems; for it is to God that their thought is sent up, and for that reason I have so expressed it. These quotations, therefore, which I have brought forward are not inappropriate to the questions before us.

‘For all the philosophers agree, that we ought to hold pious opinions concerning God, and to this especially our system gives excellent exhortation; and the whole constitution of our law is arranged with reference to piety, and justice, and temperance, and all things else that are truly good.’

To this, after an interval, he adds what follows: 54

‘With this it is closely connected, that God the Creator of the whole world, has also given us the seventh day as a rest, because for all men life is full of troubles: which day indeed might naturally be called the first birth of light, whereby all things are beheld.

‘The same thought might also be metaphorically applied in the case of wisdom, for from it all light proceeds. And it has been said by some who were of the Peripatetic School that wisdom is in place of a beacon-light, for by following it constantly men will be rendered free from trouble through their whole life.

‘But more clearly and more beautifully one of our forefathers, Solomon, said that it has existed before heaven and earth;55 which indeed agrees with what has been said above. But what is clearly stated by the Law, that God rested on the seventh day, means not, as some suppose, that God henceforth ceases to do anything, but it refers to the fact that, after He has brought the arrangement of His works to completion, He has arranged them thus for all time.

‘For it points out that in six days He made the heaven and the earth and all things that are therein, to distinguish the times, and predict the order in which one thing comes before another: for after arranging their order, He keeps them so, and makes no change. He has also plainly declared that the seventh day is ordained for us by the Law, to be a sign of that which is our seventh faculty, namely reason, whereby we have knowledge of things human and divine.

‘Also the whole world of living creatures, and of all plants that grow, revolves in sevens. And its name “Sabbath” is interpreted as meaning “rest.”

‘Homer also and Hesiod declare, what they have borrowed from our books, that it is a holy day; Hesiod in the following words: 56

“The first, the fourth, the seventh a holy day.”

‘And again he says:

”And on the seventh again the sun shines bright.”

‘Homer too speaks as follows:

” And soon the seventh returned, a holy day.”

‘And again:

” It was the seventh day, and all was done.”


” And on the seventh dawn the baleful stream
Of Acheron we left.”

‘By which he means, that after the soul’s forgetfulness and vice have been left, the things it chose before are abandoned on the true seventh which is reason, and we receive the knowledge of truth, as we have said before.

‘Linus too speaks thus:

“All things are finished on the seventh dawn.”

‘And again:

“Good is the seventh day, and seventh birth.”


“Among the prime, and perfect is the seventh.”


“Seven orbs created in the starlit sky
Shine in their courses through revolving years.”‘

Such then are the statements of Aristobulus.

Worship Sunday – God of All Splendor

God of all splendor, wonder and might
Awesome creator, Author of life
Master and Savior, wholly divine
God of all splendor, wonder and might

Who is like You, oh Lord
Worthy of all praise
Who is like You, oh Lord
Let all the earth proclaim
Your kingdom forever
Love shining bright
God of all splendor
Wonder and might

God of all splendor, wonder and might
Essence of beauty and all that is right
King of all glory, heaven’s pure light
God of all splendor, wonder and might

Zephaniah 3:17 Commentary

Zep 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

The book of Zephaniah details a coming judgment on Israel. The tone is serious and sober. Israel will be judged by God.

In the later half of the last chapter, a hopeful scene is set. God states He will save those who trust in His name. He will save them from their enemies.

This remnant will be God’s holy people. God expresses the joy He will have over Israel. He will love them. He will rejoice over them. He will sing to them and about them. This is not a picture of a God who cannot gain from relationships outside Himself. Instead, His love and emotions are tied to the health of the people. He values and loves them. They give Him joy.

This relationship is one of give and take, reciprocal exchange of value. God’s value of others is set as His primary goal in this chapter.

More on Elect in the Bible

From Deleting Elect in the Bible:

So, with all 61 occasions of EKLEKTOS as within the category of “best, top quality, excellent”, a reasonable view can be seen that the LXX translators saw EKLEKTOS and thus BACHIR as about excellence: an indicator of high quality. As a result of the above observations there is no reasonable pointer to any occasion of EKLEKTOS in the LXX as meaning other than excellence. [61 + 13 = 74: 100%]

And, since we know the early Church all spoke Greek and read the LXX as their OT Scripture, let alone the Gk. NT documents for the first three centuries of its existence – the Nicea Ecumenical Council of 325AD being all recorded in Gk. an excellent pointer to that – then, we can reasonably see that the idea of (let alone the word) “elect” was never in their view, in any of the passages where it is found today in the English bibles: The “excellent” were in view.

Sanders on Conceptual Metaphors

Broadly speaking, conceptual metaphors have three characteristics. (1) They are vehicles for understanding our world— they structure the way we think about life experiences. (2) They only partially map reality, for they do not say everything that can be said, and consequently they constrain our understanding. For instance, the apostle Paul speaks about the Christian community as a body, but since this conceptual metaphor does not communicate all of his understanding, he also speaks of believers as a building and as a farmer’s field. (3) They are culturally constrained since not all cultures use the same conceptual metaphors to give meaning to our experiences of love, anger, success, failure or truth. 5 This means that the traditional way of understanding metaphors is wrongheaded. The assumptions made by the traditional theory are false because we erroneously think we are speaking literally when we are often using conceptual metaphors. Cognitive linguists have discovered a huge system of such metaphors by which we give meaning to our life experiences. In the words of George Lakoff, a preeminent proponent of conceptual metaphor theory: “It is a system of metaphor that structures our everyday conceptual system, including most abstract concepts, and that lies behind much of everyday language. The discovery of the enormous metaphor system has destroyed the traditional literal-figurative distinction, since the term ‘literal,’ as used in defining the traditional distinction, carries with it all those false assumptions.”

Sanders, John. The God Who Risks: A Theology of Divine Providence (p. 20). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – What Can I Bring

This is my song to You
A melody of thanks for You
An expression of wonder
At Your beauty and Your splendor
No other cry have I
Than to know You more and lift You high
Oh God of infinite glory
Above all You are worthy
What can I bring to You
Simply a song of love and
Boundless gratitude
My whole life for You
You’ve rescued me from death
Given me Your kingdom and blessed
Me with Your love
Countless mercies from above
This is my song to You
A melody of thanks for You
An expression of wonder
At Your beauty and Your splendor
No other cry have I
Than to know You more and lift You high
Oh God of infinite glory
Above all You are worthy
What can I bring to You
Simply a song of love and
Boundless gratitude
My whole life for You
You’ve rescued me from death
Given me Your kingdom and blessed
Me with Your love
Countless mercies from above
Had I riches, I would bring them
Had I kingdoms, I would lose them
Had I the world, too small a gift
Would it be
My love
For You
Had I riches, I would bring them
Had I kingdoms, I would lose them
Had I the world, too small a gift
Would it be for You
What can I bring to You
Simply a song of love and
Boundless gratitude
My whole life for You

1 Samuel 2:25 Commentary

By Craig Fisher

The conjunction כִּ֖י is used in the Old Testament 4481 times. It is translated in the NASB into over 60 different English words. It is very difficult to make a theological point depending on this conjunction. Although the most common use of כִּ֖י is translated “because.” This is called the causal use.

1 Samuel 2:25
Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.

This could also be translated as a concessive or emphatic use of כִּ֖י

1 Samuel 2:25
Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, therefore the LORD would slay them.

This is supported by the two commonly used references of Hebrew: Gesenius’ Hebrew grammar The Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew And English Lexicon.

The absolute certainty with which a result is to be expected is emphasized by the insertion of כִּ֖י
Gesenius, Wilhelm, E. Kautzsch, and A. E. Cowley. 1910. Gesenius’ Hebrew grammar. Oxford: Clarendon Press. P. 498

Isaiah 7:9 King James Version (KJV)
If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.
אִ֚ם לֹ֣א תַאֲמִ֔ינוּ כִּ֖י לֹ֥א תֵאָמֵ

The causal use would be translated “ye will not believe, because ye shall not be established.”

This is also referred to in the other reference.

כִ֗י is used with …advs…. To add force or distinctness to the affirmation which follow:

Brown, Francis, 1849-1916. The Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew And English Lexicon : with an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic : Coded with the Numbering System from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Peabody, Mass. :Hendrickson Publishers, 1996. p. 472

The meaning in Isaiah 7:9 is clear. It is not you believe not because you shall not established. Which is a causal meaning of כִ֗י but the meaning could be concessive which is an action that is accepted as true or conceded or making it impossible to rule out.

The Hebrew indicates a possible, and maybe better, translation of 1 Sam 2:25 as “Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, therefore the LORD would slay them.”

Short on Gen 22

From Genesis 22: God learns:

Guess what. God does not know the truth of those statements either, until we are tested. We must not pass over the critical language of God ( = The Angel of Yahweh2):

Genesis 22:12, NRSV
He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy 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.”

Note the mix of first and second person. This “angel of the LORD” is reporting what God knows and what God just learned.

The only way this passage makes sense is that God knew something after an event that he did not know before the event.

There is a little saying that goes like this: I’m not a judge of the sheep but I am a fruit inspector (Matthew 7:15-20). God is also a fruit inspector.

Basic Gnosticism

The Gnostics saw the universe as a duality between spirit and matter. They conceived of a supreme divine being who was immaterial, eternal, unreachable, and unknowable. In the Gnostic view, the spirit is a fragment of this universal being which has split off and become imprisoned in matter.

Bernard, Christian. Gnosticism: Digest (Rosicrucian Order AMORC Kindle Editions) (Kindle Locations 144-146). Rosicrucian Order AMORC. Kindle Edition.

Bavinck on the Unknowability of God

To a considerable extent we can assent to and wholeheartedly affirm this doctrine of the unknowability of God. Scripture and the church emphatically assert the unsearchable majesty and sovereign highness of God. There is no knowledge of God as he is in himself. We are human and he is the Lord our God.

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2: God and Creation (p. 21). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – You Are So Good

You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
And I will sing again
You are so good to me
You heal my broken heart
You are my father in Heaven
You are so good to me
You heal my broken heart
You are my father in Heaven
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You ride upon the clouds
You lead me to the truth
You are the Spirit inside me
You ride upon the clouds
You lead me to the truth
You are the Spirit inside me
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
And I will sing again
You are my strong melody, yeah
You are my dancing rhythm
You are my perfect rhyme
And I will sing of You forever
You poured out all Your blood
You died upon the cross
You are my Jesus who loves me
You poured out all Your blood
You died upon the cross
You are my Jesus who loves me
You are my Father in Heaven
You are the Spirit inside me
You are my Jesus who loves me

Reed Carlson on Sodom

From The Open God of the Sodom and Gomorrah Cycle:

God acts in tandem with creation towards an outcome that is neither closed nor vindictive but rather the result of genuine relationship. It will be shown that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a collaborative event wherein Abraham, Lot, the citizens of the plain, divine agents and the land itself cooperate with God in a complex web of moral responsibility. This collaboration reflects God’s desire to share power through the commissioning of agents to accomplish God’s will. Terence Fretheim explains, ‘It may be said that much, if not all, of the violence associated
with God in the Bible is due to God’s decision to use agents that are capable of violence. And God does not perfect agents before deciding to work in and through them’.

Worship Sunday – Burning Ones

Here inside Your presence
Taken by the wonder of You
Here inside Your glory
We give our lives fully to You

We cry Holy, Holy are You
We cry Holy, Holy are You

Your love it burns inside
Our hearts are satisfied by You
Your love is our reward
It’s why we ask for more of You

We cry Holy, Holy are You
Our hearts are burning, burning for You
We cry Holy, Holy are You
Our hearts are burning, burning for You

We are Your burning ones
We are consumed by You
We set our lives apart
We are consumed by You

So let this love be like a fire
Let our life be like a flame
Fill our souls with Your desire
Let our passion bring You fame

Numbers 14:11 Commentary

Num 14:11  And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? 

In Numbers 14:11 God wonders how long Israel will reject Him. God has brought Israel out of Egypt and to the border of the Promised Land. The people send in spies, but those spies return with bad news. The people long for the days when they were in Egypt.

God appears at the tent of the people of Israel and engages in a conversation with Moses. The conversation plays out much like Exodus 32. God tells Moses His plans, and informs Moses that God will make a new nation from Moses. But Moses prays for the people. Moses wins out.

No emotions are ascribed to God, except exasperation that can be seen in verse 11. God is making a calculation. God has waited for Israel to become a loyal nation, but His hopes have not materialized. He wishes to start again with a new nation to see if that will work. He tells Moses this plan. Moses prays for the people, and God repents.

But God’s change of heart is not one that will allow Israel to go unpunished, because God has been waiting for a faith that never materialized, and there is no end in site, God resolves to send Israel back into the wilderness and watch their dead bodies fall (v29). God’s exasperation is repeated in verse 27.

A Response to the Assemblies of God

Scripture and Open Theism
by Anonymous

Edgar R. Lee wrote The “Openness of God” From a Pentecostal Perspective. 1

He said:

If all the details of these texts were taken literally—without consideration of the larger biblical context—they certainly would suggest that God does not know what human beings will do until they do it. Further, they would suggest that God not only responds personally and dynamically to people but also regularly changes His plans when they do not act as He hopes.

This leaves open whether or not God changes ALL plans based on what ALL people do. It might be argued that, regardless of what people do, some of God’s plans will happen, while others may be contingent on people’s actions.

The above claims a level of ignorance for God that is beyond the state of ignorance of even many humans. Many people, for example, can and do foreknow what other people will do; they know the character, habits, motivations, needs, etc. of others, which give much information about future actions.

Lee says (bold emphasis mine): “… [future] decisions and actions do not yet exist and cannot be known or controlled—even by God.”

Many open theists disagree, and assert that God can control what people do – if God wants to and so chooses. They allow God sovereignty over this decision to control people or not, instead of deciding it for him.

For example, see the scripture about God hardening Pharaoh’s heart; this happened only after Pharaoh himself hardened his own heart multiple times.

Open Theists believe God has the power to force people to do things; even people have some power in this area. We see people raising their hands and obeying police officers on TV, we read and hear of people being manipulated in many ways in literature, etc. And this is not to mention the power of God to do much more than humans! So if people can influence other people to do things, God can do the same, but much more so.

Lee also says: “openness theologians lack adequate scriptural grounding”

We will look at scriptures given in this article, later below, and see the Open View is grounded in scripture far more strongly than the opposing view.

The article concludes with this:

Edgar R. Lee, S.T.D., is former vice president for academic affairs, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, Missouri, and chairman of the Commission on Doctrinal Purity for the Assemblies of God.

I will below examine the scriptures used by Lee to support the non-Open view.

Scriptures Against the Open View Examined
•Psalm 139:4: “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”
This can easily be interpreted as due to God’s reading a person’s heart. Before speaking, we might reasonably assume the mind knows what is going to be said. If so, then mind-reading by God in the present could explain this scripture, with no requirement of knowing the future. Then this verse would not prove knowledge of the future by God. 2

•Psalm 139:15: “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”
This again refers to God’s knowing what was happening in the past, while it was happening; when the writer was being made, God knew what was happening. This says nothing about knowing the future, and I am a bit puzzled why it is even on this list.

•Psalm 147:5: “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”
Every Open Theist will tell you God has even more understanding than Einstein, but understanding is not the same as knowing all future decisions and events. Even if this verse explicitly stated foreknowledge instead of understanding, we would need to consider that this could be a synecdoche, as in Gen 6:17 below:

And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. Gen 6:17

However, we know that all flesh that breathed was not destroyed – not Noah, not his family, not the breathing animals taken on the ark. This is a figure of speech in which the word “all” refers to a part that is a large part, known as synecdoche.

•Proverbs 15:3: “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”
If anything, this says God learns the way we do – with eyes, looking and seeing in the present. It again says nothing about future knowledge, or knowledge of the future.

•Isaiah 41:23: “. . . tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods.” [God’s challenge to pagan gods to do what He can do.]
Here, God is foretelling what He will do; this is so people will know He did it. If I claim I have the ability to influence the weather, one might be skeptical. If I were to point to the rainfall on a previous day as something I caused, this would not be very convincing. But, if a month before a rainstorm I am able to explain exactly what will happen, when the rain will start and how much rainfall will occur, then this begins to be fairly good evidence that I have some of control over the weather. Likewise with God.

This is not about knowing the future decisions of people; rather, this is about people believing in the power of God. This is power, not knowledge, that is being dealt with in this passage. Lee’s bracketed comment even agrees with this as being about power: “[… what He can do.]”

•Isaiah 46:10: “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
Even people, to some extent, do what they please. This says God will do what God pleases. This just says God knows what God plans to do; not what each sinner plans to do.

•Ezekiel 11:5: “Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and he told me to say: ‘This is what the Lord says: That is what you are saying, O house of Israel, but I know what is going through your mind.’ ”
Again, this is about the present – what Israel is thinking, the word “is” being present tense. This says nothing about the future.

•Acts 15:18: “that have been known for ages.”
The KJV translation of this verse is below:

Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Acts 15:18

Again, this says God knows what He himself plans to do, and what He has done – his works. Even people know what they have done, and what they will do, as, for example, that they will go to church on Sunday, will go to specific places for vacation, etc. without needing foreknowledge of eternity. Thus, this does not prove foreknowledge of eternity for God.

•Romans 8:29: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
God’s knowing happens when? After a person gets saved, or in eternity past? See Gal 4:8-9…

Gal 4:8-9

“4:8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. 9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?”

“Now, after that ye are known of God” implies they were not known of God before. Thus this verse implies God did not know them from all eternity past, but rather, knew them when they got saved.

•Hebrews 4:13: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
Again, this says God can see – present tense – all of creation. This says nothing about future events that have not yet happened.

Does “all creation” exist in the present? I think we must say yes. When God completed creation in Genesis, did “all creation” exist?

There is no requirement of extending “all creation” to the future. To extrapolate “all creation” to include the future seems to be going beyond what the scripture actually says, which we are warned not to do.

This also refers to God’s eyes providing information to God, which implies present tense and certainly does not imply knowledge of all future events; if anything it implies learning (via eyes), rather than total knowledge, about even the present.

Scriptures For the Open View Examined
Below are some scriptures from the article that are described as given to support Open Theism.

•Genesis 6:6: “The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.”

•Numbers 14:11: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me?’ ”

•1 Samuel 15:11: “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me.”

•Isaiah 5:4: “What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?”

•Isaiah 38:1,5: “This is what the Lord says [to Hezekiah]: ‘. . . you are going to die; you will not recover.’ Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life.” ’ ”

•Jeremiah 3:7: “I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not.”

•Jeremiah 19:5: “They have built the high places of Baal . . . something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.”

•Jonah 3:10: “When God saw what they [the Ninevites] did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”

•Matthew 26:39: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

•2 Peter 3:12: “as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”

The above indicate, hint or imply that God repents, changes his mind, regrets. Lee admits such:

If all the details of these texts were taken literally—without consideration of the larger biblical context—they certainly would suggest that God does not know what human beings will do until they do it.

Then Lee gives the scriptures in support of his view that we already have examined above and have seen fail to support the non-Open view.

To consider “the larger biblical context” in both testaments, we see that God can change his mind 3, does change his mind 4, and does even change what he has prophesied (for Nineveh 5 and Hezekiah 6, for example).

Yale professor Christine Hayes, in the video titled Christine Hayes on Platonic influence on modern notions of God, 7 tells us that “the larger biblical context” tells us the opposite about God than what the article by Lee claims. She claims the view espoused by this article is not found in the Bible. The closed view is certainly not found in the scriptures presented in the article ostensibly for the purpose of refuting Open Theism, at which they have been shown (above) to fail.

I see, not an absence of scriptural grounding in Open Theology, but an absence of scripture support for the opposing view – at least such absence in such provided scriptures from this article, as shown above. It can be argued that the above refuted scriptures are not all of the Bible, but they were chosen specifically for the express purpose of refuting Open Theism. It would seem strange to ignore the best scriptural evidence for such a purpose in such an article.

The scriptures supporting Open Theism, given in the article, seem to stand as the author noted, and do stand, as is seen by the failure of 100% of scriptures given to refute them.

2. In fact, with enough improvement in sophistication of electroencephalographic (brain wave reading) technology, it is not fantasy to imagine that man himself might one day be able to know what a person is going to say before that person says it – if the person is being examined with electroencephalography.
This is knowing the present – the idea in the mind – not the future. If it is argued that this is still knowing the future, due to knowing what the mind, in the present, is prepared to cause the tongue to say before the tongue says it, then yes; this is knowledge of the future formed by logically extrapolating from knowledge about the present, which obviously is also possessed by man, and which Open Theists would readily ascribe to God. However, this is not the kind of knowledge of the future claimed for God by those opposing the Open view.

3. Ezekiel 18:21-28, Jeremiah 18:7-10
4. 1 Sam 9:17, 1 Sam 15:23
5. Jonah 3:10
6. 2 Kings 20:1, 2 Kings 20:4-6

Worship Sunday – Nothing But The Blood

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Numbers 14:19 Commentary

Num 14:19  Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.”

Numbers 14 mirrors the situation in Exodus 32. When spies are sent into the Promise Land, they return with bad news. Israel grows weak in faith and declares that they should return to Egypt. God wonders how long they will continue to rebel (v 11). Moses then prays that God forgive the people.

God accepts this prayer and replies that “I have pardoned, according to your word.” Moses’ prayer changes the heart of God. God had declared against Israel, but then pardoned. This pardoning was not because of anything the people did, but because of one righteous prayer.

Calvin Describing Calvinist Gnostic Enlightening

From Calvin’s commentary on 1 Cor 2:14-16:

14. But the animal man. By the animal man he does not mean (as is   commonly thought) the man that is given up to gross lusts, or, as they   say, to his own sensuality, but any man that is endowed with nothing   more than the faculties of nature. This appears from the  corresponding term, for he draws a comparison between the animal man   and the spiritual As the latter denotes the man whose understanding is   regulated by the illumination of the Spirit of God, there can be no   doubt that the former denotes the man that is left in a purely natural   condition, as they speak. For the soul belongs to nature, but the   Spirit is of supernatural communication.   

He returns to what he had previously touched upon, for his object is to   remove a stumblingblock which might stand in the way of the weak —   that there were so many that despised the gospel. He shows that we   ought to make no account of a contempt of such a nature as proceeds   from ignorance, and that it ought, consequently, to be no hindrance in   the way of our going forward in the race of faith, unless perhaps we   choose to shut our eyes upon the brightness of the sun, because it is   not seen by the blind. It would, however, argue great ingratitude in   any individual, when God bestows upon him a special favor, to reject   it, on the ground of its not being common to all, whereas, on the   contrary, its very rareness ought to enhance its value.

For they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them. “The   doctrine of the gospel,” says he, “is insipid in the view of all   that are wise merely in the view of man. But whence comes this? It is   from their own blindness. In what respect, then, does this detract from   the majesty of the gospel?” In short, while ignorant persons depreciate   the gospel, because they measure its value by the estimation in which   it is held by men, Paul derives an argument from this for extolling   more highly its dignity. For he teaches that the reason why it is   contemned is that it is unknown, and that the reason why it is unknown   is that it is too profound and sublime to be apprehended by the   understanding of man. What a superior wisdom this is, which so   far transcends all human understanding, that man cannot have so much as   a taste of it! While, however, Paul here tacitly imputes it to   the pride of the flesh, that mankind dare to condemn as foolish what   they do not comprehend, he at the same time shows how great is the   weakness or rather bluntness of the human understanding, when he   declares it to be incapable of spiritual apprehension. For he teaches,   that it is not owing simply to the obstinacy of the human will, but to   the impotency, also, of the understanding, that man does not attain to   the things of the Spirit. Had he said that men are not willing to be   wise, that indeed would have been true, but he states farther that they   are not able. Hence we infer, that faith is not in one’s own power, but   is divinely conferred.

Because they are spiritually discerned That is, the Spirit of God, from   whom the doctrine of the gospel comes, is its only true interpreter, to   open it up to us. Hence in judging of it, men’s minds must of necessity   be in blindness until they are enlightened by the Spirit of God.  Hence infer, that all mankind are by nature destitute of the Spirit of   God: otherwise the argument would be inconclusive. It is from the   Spirit of God, it is true, that we have that feeble spark of reason   which we all enjoy; but at present we are speaking of that special   discovery of heavenly wisdom which God vouchsafes to his sons alone.   Hence the more insufferable the ignorance of those who imagine that the   gospel is offered to mankind in common in such a way that all   indiscriminately are free to embrace salvation by faith.

Calvin, John. Calvin’s Complete Bible Commentaries (With Active Table of Contents in Biblical Order) (Kindle Locations 446320-446324). . Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Made Alive

I once was dead in sin, alone, and hopeless
A child of wrath I walked, condemned in darkness
But your mercy brought new life, and in your love and kindness
Raised me up with Christ, and made me righteous

You have bought me back with the riches of
Your amazing grace and relentless love
I’m made alive forever with you, life forever
By your grace I’m saved

Lord, you are the light that broke the darkness
You satisfy my soul when I am heartless
If ever I forget my true identity
Show me who I am and help me to believe

My sin has been erased
I’ll never be the same!

Hebrews 10:12-13 Commentary

Heb 10:12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,
Heb 10:13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.

In this verse, Jesus is described as ascending to heaven and then “waiting” for the time his enemies will be “made his footstool” (an idiom for being defeated or subjugated). Not only does this counter the idea that God is controlling all things (his enemies are not subjugated, but rebellious to God), but it uses the language of duration. God waits.

This would be odd language if the author believed God is timeless. God would already be in that time for which He is waiting. But not Biblical hints are given for any realm of timelessness. To the authors, God experiences duration.

Brueggemann on God as a Person

From Walter Brueggemann’s An unsettling God – the heart of the Hebrew Bible:

But of course, “God” as rendered in the Bible—and most particularly in the Christian Old Testament—does not conform to either the temptation of vagueness or the temptation of settledness. In contrast to both of these interpretive alternatives, “God” as rendered in the Old Testament is a fully articulated personal agent, with all the particularities of personhood and with a full repertoire of traits and actions that belong to a fully formed and actualized person. Such a particular person cannot settle for vagueness because the particularity has a history and an identity that remain constant over time. Such a particular person cannot accept a fixity as reflected in some forms of classical tradition, because this particular person possesses all of the dimensions of freedom and possibility that rightly belong to a personal agent.

Worship Sunday – Oh God

In the valley, Oh God, you’re near
In the quiet, Oh God, you’re near
In the shadow, Oh God, you’re near
At my breaking, Oh God, you’re near

Oh God, you never leave my side
Your love will stand firm for all my life

In my searching, Oh God, you’re near
In my wandering, Oh God, you’re near
When I feel alone, Oh God, you’re near
At my lowest, Oh God, you’re near

Height nor depth nor anything else
Could pull us apart
We are joined as one by your blood
Hope will rise as we become more
Than conquerors through
The one who loved the world

Oh God, you never leave my side
Your love will stand firm for all my life

Romans 8:29 Commentary

Rom 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Romans 8:29 is often used as a prooftext of God knowing all future events from all eternity:

This knowledge is not a posteriori, obtained by observation, but a priori, present from eternity (1 Cor. 2: 7; Rom. 8: 29; Eph. 1: 4– 5; 2 Tim. 1: 9).

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2: God and Creation (p. 166). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

A few items of note about Romans 8:29:

1. This does not indicate when God “foreknew” individuals, not less does this indicate this knowledge was present from eternity.
2. This does not indicate how God “foreknew” individuals, not less does this indicate this knowledge is “a priori”.
3. This does not indicate in what way God “foreknew” individuals. The word is used for relationships, not a conceptual knowledge, but a relational knowledge formed by interaction. Paul uses the word for people who foreknew him:

Act 26:4 “My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know.
Act 26:5 They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

Paul is not talking about knowledge that pre-exists the object of the knowledge. Instead he is using the word to indicate that these people, in the past, had familiarity with Paul.

A few points about Paul use of “foreknowledge”:

1. The knowledge is obtained as events happen in the past.
2. The knowledge is obtained through interaction, or observation.
3. The knowledge is not eternal, but generated knowledge.

Romans 8, being used as a prooftext for knowledge which “a priori, present from eternity” is a stretch.

Shedd on Communicable and Incommunicable Attributes

The Divine attributes have been classified as incommunicable and communicable; natural and moral; immanent or intransitive, and emanent or transitive; positive and negative; absolute and relative; active and passive. The incommunicable attributes are those that belong to God exclusively, so that there is nothing resembling them in a created spirit. They admit of no degrees, but are Divine by their very nature. Such are self-existence, simplicity, infinity, eternity, immutability. The communicable attributes are those which are possessed in a finite degree, more or less, by men and angels. Such are wisdom, benevolence, holiness, justice, compassion, truth.

William G. T. Shedd. Dogmatic Theology (Kindle Locations 4613-4618). Monergism Books. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – A Rising Fire

I see the sun, a rising fire
Bursting through the morning haze
Warming every stone and river
Turning every leaf to gaze

I see the flowers o’er the field
Lo they neither toil nor spin
Effortlessly clothed in splendor
Ever glorious for their King

O I sing
For my King
Hear this cry
Lord, to You I lift my eyes
You alone are my desire

O I sing
For my King
Hear this cry
Lord, to You I lift my eyes
You alone are my desire

Isaiah 42:9 Commentary

Isa 42:9  Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” 

Isaiah is often claimed as evidence for God’s omniscience of all future events. God declares the things that will happen before they happen. Barnes writes:

The phrase literally means, ‘before they begin to germinate,’ that is, before there are any indications of life, or growth in the plant. The sense is, that God predicted the future events before there was anything by which it might be inferred that such occurrences would take place. It was not done by mere sagacity – as men like Burke and Canning may sometimes predict future events with great probability by marking certain political indications or developments. God did this when there were no such indications, and when it must have been done by mere omniscience. In this respect, all his predictions differ from the conjectures of man, and from all the reasonings which are founded on mere sagacity.

In Barnes’ mind, Isaiah is about God predicting events that God could not possibly know because no current evidence exists for predicting that events. But this is not at all what the verses is about. The verse in Isaiah 42 is specific. God has told Israel a specific thing that He will do in the future:

Isa 42:6  “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 
Isa 42:7  to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 

Barnes takes a straightforward verse about God telling His plans and turns it into a prooftext on Omniscience. That is just not what the text is about.

Bavinck on Omniscience

Knowledge In addition God is conscious of and knows all that exists outside his being. Scripture nowhere even hints that anything could be unknown to him. True, the manner in which he obtains knowledge is sometimes stated in striking anthropomorphic language (Gen. 3: 9ff.; 11: 5; 18: 21; etc.), but he nevertheless knows everything. The notion that something should be unknown to him is dismissed as absurd. Would he who plants the ear not hear, and would he who forms the eye not see? (Ps. 94: 9). Over and over mention is made of his wisdom, might, counsel, understanding, and knowledge: תּבוּנָה, עֵצָה, גְּבוּרה, חָכְמָה, γνωσις, σοϕια (Job 12: 13; 28: 12– 27; Prov. 8: 12ff.; Ps. 147: 5; Rom. 11: 33; 16: 27; Eph. 3: 10; etc.). All creatures fall within the compass of his knowledge. It extends to everything and is therefore omniscience in the strict sense. His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth (2 Chron. 16: 9). Before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to his eyes (Heb. 4: 13). The most minor and insignificant details (Matt. 6: 8, 32; 10: 30); the most deeply concealed things: the human heart and mind (Jer. 11: 20; 17: 9– 10; 20: 12; Ps. 7: 10; 1 Kings 8: 39; Luke 16: 15; Acts 1: 24; Rom. 8: 27); thoughts and reflections (Ps. 139: 2; Ezek. 11: 5; 1 Cor. 3: 20; 1 Thess. 2: 4; Rev. 2: 23); human origin, nature, and all human action (Ps. 139); night and darkness (Ps. 139: 11– 12); hell and perdition (Prov. 15: 11); wickedness and sin (Ps. 69: 5; Jer. 16: 17; 18: 23; 32: 19); the conditional (1 Sam. 23: 10– 13; 2 Sam. 12: 8; 2 Kings 13: 19; Ps. 81: 14– 15; Jer. 26: 2– 3; 38: 17– 20; Ezek. 3: 6; Matt. 11: 21); and the things of the future (Isa. 41: 22f.; 42: 9; 43: 9– 12; 44: 7; 46: 10), particularly the end of a person’s life (Ps. 31: 16; 39: 6; 139: 6, 16; Job 14: 5; Acts 17: 26; etc.)— all are known to God. He knows everything (1 John 3: 20). This knowledge is not a posteriori, obtained by observation, but a priori, present from eternity (1 Cor. 2: 7; Rom. 8: 29; Eph. 1: 4– 5; 2 Tim. 1: 9). His knowledge is not susceptible of increase (Isa. 40: 13f.; Rom. 11: 34); it is certain and specific (Ps. 139: 1– 3; Heb. 4: 13), so that God’s revelations are all true (John 8: 26; 17: 17; Titus 1: 2). All his works make known to us his wisdom (Ps. 104: 24; 136: 5; Eph. 3: 10; Rom. 11: 33) and prompt us to worship and adore him (Ps. 139: 17ff.; Isa. 40: 28; John 11: 7ff.; Rom. 11: 33; 1 Cor. 2: 11).

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2: God and Creation (p. 166). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Jesus Revolution on God’s Nature

From The Jesus Revolution, Resignation or Revolt?

As my view of God improved, my interest in scripture increased as well. I found that if you read the Bible after having locked in the idea that God looks like Jesus and that the scriptures are a story leading up to him, it breathes new life into the process. What I noticed is that instead of revealing a God that simply has everything planned out, the Bible reveals a God who reacts to events in time. We see God disappointed and angry, and even regretful. You see this clearly all through scripture. If that is the case, then why do we consistently attribute everything that happens to God’s will, God’s perfect plan? Is this how the Biblical authors thought of it?

Theologians have long thought about how a sovereign God would love, and they have theories on how that works. But isn’t that the wrong question? Perhaps we need to be asking instead how would a loving God show His sovereignty. Which attribute is the most emphasized? God is love. Love is the very essence of His nature. God is also sovereign, but God is not sovereignty. Sovereignty is not the essence of God’s nature.

God is love. Love requires true, authentic, actual choice. Just like God “can’t” create a round triangle, God “can’t” create a person with a choice and also not give them choice. You can try to say that God can do that, but you aren’t really saying anything at all about God…instead, you are saying something about yourself and your ability to speak nonsense and then add the words “God can” at the end of the sentence. It is also clear that God made more than just humans with choices. Angels were also created with true authentic choice. What can free will mean if it doesn’t mean the possibility to choose wrongly? So God created a world where love is possible. This also means evil is possible. CS Lewis says that the most amazing thing God did was to create beings that can say no to him. I agree. Far from making God less amazing or powerful, this makes him infinitely more beautiful, powerful, and awesome.

Berkhof on Immutability

The Immutability of God is a necessary concomitant of His aseity. It is that perfection of God by which He is devoid of all change, not only in His Being, but also in His perfections, and in His purposes and promises. In virtue of this attribute He is exalted above all becoming, and is free from all accession or diminution and from all growth or decay in His Being or perfections. His knowledge and plans, His moral principles and volitions remain forever the same. Even reason teaches us that no change is possible in God, since a change is either for better or for worse. But in God, as the absolute Perfection, improvement and deterioration are both equally impossible. This immutability of God is clearly taught in such passages of Scripture as Ex. 3: 14; Ps. 102: 26-28; Isa. 41: 4; 48: 12; Mal. 3: 6; Rom. 1: 23; Heb. 1: 11,12; Jas. 1: 17.

Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (p. 46). . Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Everlasting God

When you put that in this atmosphere
The Lord’s my light and salvation
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I be afraid?

Real simple the song, I wanna teach it to you tonight
The Lord’s my light and salvation
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I be afraid? [x2]

I will wait on you, I will wait on you
I will trust in you, I will trust in you

Ya’ll help me, The Lord is my light, everybody sing

The Lord is my light and salvation
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I be afraid? [x2]

I will wait on you, I will wait on you
I will trust in you, I will trust in you

I will remain confident in this I will see the goodness of the Lord

I will remain confident in this I will see the goodness of the Lord
The Lord’s my light and salvation Whom shall I fear? Whom shall I be afraid [x2]
I will wait on you, I will wait on you [x2]
I will trust in you, I will trust in you [x2]
I will remain confident in this I will see the goodness of the Lord [x2]

We set our hope on You
We set our hope on Your love
We set our hope on the One who is the Everlasting God
You are the Everlasting God, You are the Everlasting

We set our hope on You
We set our hope on Your love
We set our hope on the One who is the Everlasting God
You are the Everlasting God, You are the Everlasting [x5]

I will remain confident in this I will see the goodness of the Lord
I will remain confident in this I will see the goodness of the Lord [x2]

I will wait on you, I will wait on you
I will trust in you, I will trust in you

I will trust in the Lord, I will trust in the Lord
I don’t know about you, I don’t know about you
But I am goin to trust in the Lord
Till I I die
I will trust
In, In the Lord
Hey, Hey
I’m Gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna
Trust in the Lord
I will trust in the Lord
OH yes I will
I’ll trust in the lord
Till I
Till I die

Dolezal on Immutability of Ethics

James Dolezal argues that if God is immutable in ethics, then this requires a metaphysical explanation:

Divine immutability enjoys more explicit biblical affirmation than doctrines such as divine aseity and infinity.44 Many of the supporting passages tend to focus on the constancy and faithfulness of God to do what he has promised to do, that is, upon his ethical immutability. Nevertheless, even ethical immutability requires an ontological explanation rooted in the very being and essence of God.

Dolezal, James E.. God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness (pp. 81-82). Pickwick Publications, An Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

But immutability of ethics can be its own consideration. God is consistent in character. Just because a human being has the ability to murder another human being, we do not require a metaphysical explanation as to why he doesn’t.

Worship Sunday – A Rising Sun

I see the sun, a rising fire
Bursting through the morning haze
Warming every stone and river
Turning every leaf to gaze

I see the flowers o’er the field
Lo they neither toil nor spin
Effortlessly clothed in splendor
Ever glorious for their King

O I sing
For my King
Hear this cry
Lord, to You I lift my eyes
You alone are my desire

O I sing
For my King
Hear this cry
Lord, to You I lift my eyes
You alone are my desire

Isaiah 41:4 commentary

Isa 41:4  Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he. 

Louis Berkhof stats that Isaiah 41:4 is “clearly” about “immutability”.

The Immutability of God is a necessary concomitant of His aseity. It is that perfection of God by which He is devoid of all change, not only in His Being, but also in His perfections, and in His purposes and promises. In virtue of this attribute He is exalted above all becoming, and is free from all accession or diminution and from all growth or decay in His Being or perfections. His knowledge and plans, His moral principles and volitions remain forever the same. Even reason teaches us that no change is possible in God, since a change is either for better or for worse. But in God, as the absolute Perfection, improvement and deterioration are both equally impossible. This immutability of God is clearly taught in such passages of Scripture as Ex. 3: 14; Ps. 102: 26-28; Isa. 41: 4; 48: 12; Mal. 3: 6; Rom. 1: 23; Heb. 1: 11,12; Jas. 1: 17.
Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (p. 46). . Kindle Edition.

On face value, Berkhof is wrong. The first sentence is about God performing. What does God perform? Answer: calling generations from the beginning. This is in the context of “trampling kings”.

The next phrase is about being a “first” and the “last”, a phrase often used for “timelessness” prooftexts, but just doesn’t fit in the case for immutability. If someone is “first” and “last” they are claiming to be “devoid of all change, not only in being, but also in perfections”. This is not obvious, and would not make much sense in context. “I, God, trample nations, and I don’t change in any metaphysical sense”? The verse is better read that God says what He will do, then He does it, then it happens. In this respect, God is the first and the last.

Middleton on Prayer

From Pentecost 19 – The Courage to Pray: Learning from the Boldness of Moses in Exodus 32:

Is God really open to hear about our needs? Wouldn’t that be trivial to God? Doesn’t he know anyway? After all, God is . . . omniscient—all knowing. And maybe . . . God is angry; and it’s difficult to speak to someone who is angry. Of course, these days we often think that anger is too . . . anthropomorphic—too human-like —to think of God that way. But if not angry, then maybe God is too . . . stern, too distant, too . . . transcendent. So much beyond us. How can he care about what we are doing? Often, our image of God, our feeling and sense about what God must be, impedes our prayer, renders us . . . speechless.