On Free Will, by the same speaker, thinking my thoughts, but with more lucidity:
(a bit long for a YouTube, but worth the time spent in viewing it)
What should happen when one embraces the truth of Sovereign Grace is eventually an attitude of overarching humility and a destruction of prideful moralism. Without regard to the correctness of our Christian soteriology, we all still struggle with the bent of our old nature, though. I have collected all the swag, those metaphorical tee-shirts and bumper stickers, to know that such is true. I still have those struggles.
As an aside and in context to discussions that revolve around issues of free will, I really, intensely, dislike that “God does not want robots to love Him” thing. I have heard it too many times and from good people, but I know that conceit is sometimes driven by a prideful emotionalism that leads to errant, unbiblical conclusions. It ultimately leads to place where we find a needy God Who tries to make Himself attractive to us so as to woo us. We often find, too, a faux therapeutic gospel.
There is nothing attractive about the cross, that Roman torture and death machine. The foot of the cross is for rebels who hate the true God and have no place for Him, ultimately for you and me. It is only His sovereign grace and His ability to replace a heart of stone with a heart of flesh that draws us to the beauty of the Messiah. Too, that door you hear about in altar calls upon which sad, patient Jesus is always plaintively knocking, hoping that somebody might open it for Him….it is not the door to the heart of the unregenerate, an evangelical call, but was the door to the church in first century Laodicea, a damaged, complacent, body of believers.
I think about the following, and quite popular, video, one I have watched and commented on before. I know that it has ministered to many people on some level, and I do not question the authenticity of their faith.
However, and without regard to how strongly this video tugs on ones emotional strings, I think it unbibically portrays fallen humanity more as victim than rebel, than sinner. I also find egregious error in its depiction of a god who waits helplessly on the sidelines for the victim to decide, or find within themselves the ability to reach out for help to Himself.
Also, that worried, hand-wringing portrayal of god is not the sovereign, settled, in-control of everything in the created order Triune God revealed in the Biblical texts. He does not struggle to draw His people too Himself. This portrayal of God in the following skit, comforting and approachable as he may seem, stands in sharp contrast to the completely sovereign God, the one who captured my own darkened heart and sin-bound will.
I do not need a God who simply throws me a rope and then struggles to clear a path for me so as to, when I finally make my way to him, simply dust me off and dance with me. None of that is the Gospel. I need a God who breaths life into me. Again, I am not merely a victim, but a perpetrator, and I need a sovereign Savior. I love Him, albeit so weakly, so falteringly in my humanity in contrast to which He is worthy, because He sovereignty drew me to himself when I was in death-bound rebellion against Him. If you think that makes me a robot, than so be it.
One more thought: How bold must someone be to portray God in a skit? I think of Peter who deemed himself unworthy to even be crucified in the same manner as our Messiah, asking instead to be crucified upside down.
In conclusion, here is some text from the same Gospel that gave us John 3:16:
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Often I feel the need to preface a declaration with a disclaimer, and this post is no exception. I know there are many Christians, better, wiser, than me by far, who love the Messiah who will disagree with me, some perhaps vehemently, regarding the soon-to-follow thoughts. I know, too, that this is ground that has been tread by countless others, and my voice is but one of a myriad, but I want to speak to this subject. Thus it goes…
Here is a typical statement, one I have heard dozens of times, that I believe frames the perception of the nature of salvation of the vast majority of American Christendom:
“If you and I did not have free will, we would not be able to choose to love God. What kind of world would we have if everyone was programmed to love or hate without a choice? God gave us free will so we could choose to love him!”
Another common refrain is that God does not want mere robots to worship Him. If it is His choice, then our ‘choice’ is coerced and thus meaningless. I completely understand that perception, where it comes from, and I used to hold to it.
The problem with this well-intentioned human wisdom is that it does not hold up to robust Biblical scrutiny, that it perhaps does not take the fallen nature of humanity seriously enough, that it glosses over the utterly rebellious nature of the human heart and our innate inability to choose the God of scripture. Read, for one example, Romans 3:11. Let me orbit around this idea of where love for God comes from. Again and absolutely without any ambiguity whatsoever, I do not deny that there are many who disagree with or misunderstand my assertions of God’s sovereign role in salvation who love God. I do affirm, gently, that they misunderstand the perspective of someone who affirms this authentic love for God can, and in the final analysis, must be birthed by the sovereign triune God’s free will in salvation.
First, here are some thoughts on free will:
- Does the fatherless and motherless child choose who will adopt them? Is adoption not the Biblical affirmation of a Christian’s relationship to the Father? (Romans 8:15)
- Did Lazarus choose to be called from the grave by Christ? Do the dead reanimate themselves? Are we not, in our unregenerate state, referred to in Biblical text as being spiritually dead, everyone of us? (Ephesians 2:1) (Colossians 2:13)
- Consider the Christian description and metaphor of salvation as being born again. (John 3:3) Consider this: Did I choose to be physically born? Did I have anything to do with that decision? (John 3:8) (Romans 9:16)
I think that the American church sometimes inadvertently reduces the work of regeneration to a transaction with God that depends to some degree on something we do, even if that work is described as merely making a choice. It is almost as if, in the free-will scheme, I sit in negotiation with God and God slides this offer across the table to me. I pick up the offer and look at it. It is an almost unbelievably good offer, but in the end, Christ’s ability to save is ultimately limited by my inferred ability to ‘choose’ God, to accept that offer. The offer, Christ’s ability to save, is impotent without my input. What sometimes happens is that our certainty of salvation is attached to something we do or perform, even if that work only constitutes 0.00001 percent of the work performed. The results are that we may end up wrestling with doubts about the veracity and ability of our ‘work’. Was I sincere enough? Did I believe hard enough? Is my faith great enough to save? Why am I still struggling with sin if I raised my hand or walked the aisle? Inversely, we may also place our faith in our ‘work’ in such a way that we bank so much on a fleeting, momentary response to an emotionally manipulative call to salvation that we may actually be ‘inoculated’ and hardened to the Gospel. We may also end up taking pride in our ability choose Christ when others do not choose (Ephesians 2:8-9). Think, too, about Acts 13:48.
In searching for some media to give examples of what I refer to, I find this typical example of decisional regeneration in action. I recall being in the audience:
In the end, the evangelical methods used are born out of our view of our role in salvation. If we are trying to coerce a response to an offer that depends on our inferred ability to choose, we may end up marketing the Gospel in the way the world markets products to consumers. I could say more to this, but I have spoken to it ad nausea, among other places, here, here, here, here, and here. The biblical call of repent and believe in Christ is often replaced with non-biblical rhetoric, of offers to try Christ, to accept Christ, to invite Christ. To my ears, these calls, if the language used is actually taken seriously, brings us to the conclusion that Jesus appears to be Someone who needs to be evaluated, and if He meets our needs and qualifications, we ‘accept’ Him. This may not necessarily be the language of someone driven to their knees in despair over their sin and in desperate need of a Saviour.
Here is the crux of the matter. Perhaps we may affirm that love for God is born by a growing understanding of the cost of the Cross and our inability to do anything to add to our salvation.. It is born by the realization that we are utterly and completely helpless to save ourselves, that even our ability to believe is an unmerited gift of the triune God. It is born out of the realization that God owes His creation nothing, that if He never gave us a Saviour, He would still be a holy, righteous, and just God. Indeed, one-third of the angels rebelled and God never offered them clemency, redemption. I love my Saviour, though so imperfectly, because He gave me life – when I was spiritually a walking dead man with no ability to choose God- at the price of His life, that He defeated death as evidenced by the empty tomb. There is nothing good in me that He should condescend to breath life into me.
I could speak so much more to all this, but time to bring pause to the days blogging. Perhaps more on this later….
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)
Over the months and years, I must have read this passage, Matthew 7:21-23, ten dozen times. I have thought about the horrific implications of Christ’s judgment-laden words in various contexts. I have thought about it in terms of the sad nominalism, self-focus, soft idolatry, and easy apathy that runs deep through much of the American church. I confess I have engaged such things. I have also thought about these three verses in terms of those involved in the cult manifestations and doctrinal aberrations of Christianity. And there is, I believe, obvious truth to those affirmations, truth that is not forced on the text and to which the text can speak.
Riding to work this morning, I thought about this verse from the perspective of those standing before Christ who are being commanded to depart from His presence. In my gift for sometimes missing the obvious, I note that, beyond the engagement of lawlessness, they are attempting to stand before the Messiah on the basis of their efforts, even efforts done in the name of Christ. It seems they are attempting to stand on a sorely and absolutely insufficient foundation of works righteousness before the Holy One who spoke the universe into existence from nothing.
Now, when I read and ponder on this verse, I will consider even more carefully and understand more dearly and rejoice more heartily in the fact that I bring nothing to the table. We in Christ have nothing of our own to offer our Redeemer than our weakness, our brokenness over sin and our brokenness by sin, a heart that, quickened by God’s sovereign work of grace, becomes more repentant over time as we grow increasingly aware of how miserably far we fall short. We embrace ever more dearly a salvation bought at so great a price by a mighty Redeemer that we may be clothed, both now and through the endless ages to come, in His righteousness. From there alone, from that grace-deposited, ever deepening understanding of the cost and soterial necessity of the Cross, springs a true heart’s growing desire to serve the Messiah, to do works out of praise, worship, and thanksgiving rather than self-exaltation.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:3-14 (ESV)
I saw a sign in someones yard today that declared: “Elect Jesus As Your Lord!” Now, I do not in any way shape or form infer anything ill about the character of the person who displayed this sign in their yard. I know nothing about the family that lives in the house that sits behind this sign, nor do I infer that nothing ‘good’ ever comes from such faddish displays of faith.
However, does not this sign, albeit without intention, portray a Jesus that seems a bit weak and needy? Is He awaiting a majority vote before He acts? Is the mighty Lion of Judah, is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords restrained by some political process? Is He not the absolute Lord of salvation, of the created order; is He not a mighty Redeemer? He elected me that all glory should go to Him; I do not elect Him that any glory should go to me.
I think of a sermon I listened to a number of months ago at a moderately sized community church wherein the well-intentioned pastor, after having two members of the church ride their large, loud motorcycles through the poorly ventilated church to park them in front of the stage to make some point, perfumed by carbon monoxide, about God’s timing, declared that Jesus is a ‘gentleman’ who would never force His will on anyone. Is that a biblical understanding of the sovereignty and power of Jesus?
I saw a tee shirt for sale at a large book retailer a few weeks ago. The front of the shirt was a ripoff of the Staples Easy Button. “Jesus” replaced the “Easy” on the button. Wasn’t easy for Jesus.
Found the following at Borrowed Breath:
“Jesus said unto them, ‘If ye seek me, let these go their way.’”
(John 18.8 KJV)
“Mark, my soul, the care which Jesus manifested even in His hour of trial, towards the sheep of His hand! The ruling passion is strong in death. He resigns Himself to the enemy, but He interposes a word of power to set His disciples free…The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep, and pleads that they must therefore go free…The thundercloud has burst over the Cross of Calvary, and the pilgrims of Zion shall never be smitten by the bolts of vengeance. Come, my heart, rejoice in the immunity which thy Redeemer has secured thee, and bless His name all the day, and every day.”
Charles H. Spurgeon
Morning and Evening (March 26)
A number of posts ago, I indicated that I would, at some point in the future, post some thoughts on altar calls in specific, on contemporary evangelical methodology in general. Now is a good time as any to begin.
I find it interesting how relatively late in church history that it became, for the most part, the de facto contemporary evangelical methodology. Here, a little knowledge of church history illuminates. As far as I have been able to determine, and I am not a scholar, seminarian, or student of church history, the altar call methodology was not widely instituted until the early and mid eighteen-hundreds. Charles Finney, with his ‘new measures’ is most directly responsible for contemporary evangelical methodology. It is somehow ironic that his legacy and influence reverberates ever so strongly and much of the laity has never heard of him.
I think an abbreviated history of Finney and his new measures is perhaps in order. Finney, a lawyer who came to faith on October 10th in the 1821 after years of unbelief, became a Presbyterian minister. Part of the process of becoming ordained involved professing adherence to the Westminster Confession of Faith. He later admitted that he was almost totally ignorant of what the document taught. [Charles Finney, The Memoirs of Charles Finney: The Complete Restored Text (Grand Rapids: Academie, 1989), 53-54]
Finney also rejects Calvinism, perhaps as a response to what may be called an errant strain of Calvinism called hyper-Calvinism that he had been exposed to and perhaps by which, ironically, he was led to a profession of faith in Christ. It, too, must be understood that the great revivals, the Great Awakening, had been through preachers and theologians such as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, staunchly Calvinists in their understanding of grace. Finney also entertained ideas errant and dangerous. Essentially, from what I gather, he denied the scope of the Fall and taught what seems to be a justification by works. He appears to constantly downplay God’s sovereign role in salvation. His theology turns the eyes of the heart from God to a focus on a seemingly ‘not-so-fallen’ humanity. Finney essentially denied the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Therein we find egregious harm and error, the seeds of which seem to be in full bloom in this age and time. While evangelicals would reject Finney’s errant theology if they were aware of it, they heartily embrace his evangelical methodology.
What Finney popularized in his aforementioned ‘new measures’ was the precursor and close cousin to the altar call, the ‘anxious bench’ and ‘mourner’s bench’. What Finney taught was that revival could be ‘worked up’ through psychological and emotional inducements. Revival did not need to be altogether prayed down as much as worked up.
Going back to altar calls, which are just one expression of an overarching methodology of psychological and emotional manipulation, those who have been in conservative evangelical churches, be they mega or small, be they Baptist or charismatic, be they traditional or contemporary, have often been exposed to calls to come forward to the altar. Many have responded to altar calls, sometimes more than once. Some have come to a redeeming faith in Christ through altar calls. Often, those who give altar calls present the Gospel message completely and without compromise.
What many altar calls and variants thereof do, however, is often introduce non-biblical language, non-biblical conditions, and non-biblical calls to salvation. What some altar calls do, also, is offer an easy grace, a salvation seemingly without cost, without an inferred need for repentance. What altar calls may sometimes do is give those who respond a false sense of security because they were actually never presented with the Gospel and therefor never actually came into a redeeming relationship with Christ. Also, many studies and statistics have shown that only a very small percentage, mostly in the single digits, of those who respond to altar calls during crusades and revivals actually remain actively involved in the faith for more than a year. They simply seem to drop out of sight and fall back into their ‘pre-decision’ lifestyles. We must remember that the biblical call to evangelize, the Great Commission, is to make disciples, not just converts, real or otherwise.
Following are a few examples of misleading evangelical methods. Many calls to the altar proclaim that Jesus has a wonderful plan for your life if one would just respond to the call, raise your hand, or say a prayer. Well, Jesus may not have a wonderful plan for your life as many would count wonderful. Such is never promised in the canon of Scripture. His plan for you may be quite difficult and not without cost. The Messiah’s calls to discipleship were not easy calls. What would the martyr Steven say about Christ offering you ‘your best life now?’ Would such an inducement work in the Sudan? Would such and inducement work in China? We are not called to press an ‘easy button’ for redemption. Sadly, I have actually seen, on more than one occasion and at more than one location Jesus being referred to as the ‘easy button’ to salvation.
I have heard other calls to salvation go thusly: “If you cannot remember the moment you were saved, now is the time to ‘nail it down.’” Such is not a biblical call to salvation. The only times that I recall the New Testament calling one’s salvation into question is the lack of observable growth, of spiritual fruit, over the long term in ones life. What is introduced in the context of the call to ‘nail it down’ is a false, unbiblical condition for salvation. To emotionally manipulate someone into making a decision based on doubts about the veracity of or inability to recall an earlier decision bought about by emotional manipulation is both ironic and unbiblical. If you have repented of sin and trust in the grace and redeeming work of Christ alone for salvation, you have it ‘nailed down’ and will persist in His grip whether or not you remember the point in time you first came to trust in Christ.
I have heard other calls to salvation infer that if one does not respond to this particular call, you may never get another chance to ‘decide’ for Christ, that this particular ‘move of God’ must be acted upon now for you may never get another opportunity. What is inferred in this manipulative scheme is that there is a time stamp on the grace of God. If you do not come forward now or raise your hand or say a prayer, you may never be wooed by the Holy Spirit again. At best, this is unbiblical. The call to grace and redemption through Christ only expires when one departs this tent of flesh.
I could go on with more examples of unbiblical and emotionally manipulative methods that I have personally witnessed, but my point is clear. Too, I am absolutely not inferring any ill will is intended by those who use such methods. I am not intending to cast doubt on their love and commitment to Christ. The use of such methods is more born out of perhaps ignorance and perhaps out of a denominational tradition. Without regard to intent, what is happening, though, is that the Gospel is all too often presented in an often unbiblical way, much like the hard pitch of a used car salesman. Do people sometimes come to redemption, to a saving knowledge of Christ through such methods? Sometimes, perhaps more than one would expect, this methodology produces fruit. God can and does sometimes use the one drop of truth in an ocean of error. Sometimes one may run around holding a metal rod during a thunder storm and not get struck by lightening. Does this mean that doing such is a good idea?
More recently, perhaps in the last couple of decades, we have seen the nature of the church being inverted and redefined in some quarters of western Christendom. Rather than going out into the world to make disciples, Christ’s call to the Great Commission and the nature and constituency of the church had been turned upside down. Now, congregates are now often being instructed to bring the world into a recalibrated church so that a charismatic (not using the word in the theological and Pentecostal sense, but referring to a commanding personality) pastor can present what is hopefully a faithful call to the Gospel. Bring in your ‘unchurched’ friends and family and we’ll get them saved is the inferred contract. (Note with absolute confidence that I am definitely not saying that is wrong to invite the unsaved to church.) Inducements are introduced to the church to make it more attractive to the ‘unchurched.’ Topical and often entertaining sermons that cater to one’s felt needs replaces sound expository preaching. Give away everything from IPods to motorcycles during the service to draw people through the doors. There is actually a church that gave away an Orange County Choppers custom motorcycle to induce people to come to church. The question is this: Is the clarion call of the word of God, faithfully proclaimed, not enough? Did the apostle Paul deem it necessary to give away camels and tents to bait people to the Gospel? The apostles fished with nets.
Why is it that many advisers to church planters (and sometimes the pastors, themselves) appear, as evidenced by their websites, to be more instructors on marketing and product placement than proclaimers of the Gospel? What has happened with the best of intentions is that more and more churches, modeled more on secular business and leadership practices than on biblical mandates are becoming more and more consumer driven. If a service conflicts with the Super Bowl, then the church will reschedule so that attendance does not decline. Increasing numbers of churches are opening up coffee shops in the church to draw in the crowds. Churches put up fountains that dispense chocolate and give massages to moms on Mothers Day to draw people into church. What ends up being engaged, again with the best of intentions, is a ‘bait and switch’ evangelical methodology that plays to our self-indulgence. Can such a church survive without creative and witty video introductions to topical sermons that constantly draw on popular culture references? Can it survive with a less than professional band? Can it present a message of hope and reconciliation with God through Christ without framing everything between a pastor’s personal and often humorous anecdotes? Does such a church depend too much on human creativity and effort and perhaps not enough on the power of His word? When all that is peripheral is stripped away, what is such a church left with? I remember running across this quote from another blog: “What you draw people with is what you draw them to.” How do I reconcile Christ’s call to die to self in the face of chocolate fountains and easy buttons in church?
Perhaps I am way off base, but much of contemporary evangelical and ecclesiastical methodology, in all its applaudable zeal, seems at times, unintentionally, to treat Jesus as a means to an end rather than an altogether and absolutely wonderful end in and of Himself. It as if Jesus is a prescription being dispensed a sick world. It is as if I have a fatal, systemic infection and am given a wonder drug, an antibiotic, and I am being told that all I have to do is take this drug and I will be healed. I may not develop an all encompassing love for this drug; I may love not being sick more than I love the drug. I may become more enamored with and focused on the one who gave me this drug than the drug itself.
I have stated, perhaps ad nausea, what I believe to be wrong with much of American evangelical methodology. What then do I propose is correct? I believe it is this: In the times the Gospel is preached in the New Testament where we have details of what is said, there is not one single example where anyone is told that the circumstances of their life will necessarily improve when they become disciples of Christ. What is recorded, though, is an absolute focus on and exaltation of Christ. We see the apostles going out into the world proving Christ from scripture. We see the condemnation of sin, the call to repentance, and proclamation of the absolute falleness of humanity. Solely proclaimed is faith in the atoning work of grace through Christ to restore rebellious humanity to the Savior. Such leads to a selfless life focused on Christ.
Again, as stated in a previous post, we must remember that Christ, incomprehensibly loved by the Father and Holy Spirit and sharing an incomprehensible unity within their Trinitarian relationship, condescended to take on human flesh and then looked down both barrels of Father God’s holy and incomprehensible and righteous fury over our sin; He faced Father God’s white-hot anger that should have been directed at His redeemed ones. He, the all mighty Creator of all, was beaten and scourged by the created. He was nailed to that horrific Roman torture and death machine, the cross, naked and shamed. He then gloriously defeated death by physically rising from the tomb. Why did He do this? He did it that we, His flock, may be, through His grace alone, clothed in His righteousness, that He may be glorified forever.
Orthodox Christians affirm the omniscience of God. We are told in New Testament canon that the hairs on our head are numbered. In our finiteness, we can we only begin to barely apprehend the periphery of God’s omniscience. In thinking recently about this attribute of our Father God, His ‘all-knowingness’, I dwell on the following observations of the created order that reflect His glory and majesty:
- The universe is at least 156 billion light-years wide. As a reference point, a light-year is, well, the distance light travels in one year; light travels at over 186,000 miles per second which translates to 5,876,000,000,000 miles per year.
- There are approximately 200 billion stars in the Milky Way, our galaxy.
- There are approximately 70 sextillion stars in the visible universe.
- The number of subatomic particles of electron size in the universe is approximately:
……..—.30,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, ——–.--000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 – or 3 followed by 79 digits.
- The age of the universe is somewhere between 11.2 and 20 billion years old (with all respect to my YEC brothers and sisters).
- The universe had a discreet starting point and is winding down.
God, who created the universe ex nihilo, from nothing, knows both the position and momentum of all sub-atomic particles. He knows immediately all there is to possibly know about every subatomic particle in the universe at any point in time of the age of the universe. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle does not apply to our Creator God.
Not only does He immediately know all there is to know about each sub-atomic particle in each discreet moment over the age of the universe, He also knows all contingencies about all of His creation. He knows that if He had created the universe such that if any one factor was different, He knows immediately all that can be know about any alternative universe of any number of altered factors.
God is not contingent, is not dependent, upon the universe. The universe is contingent, is dependent, upon Him. Indeed, it is in Christ Jesus, who spoke the worlds into existence from nothing, through whom all things hold together. In reflecting on creation, I affirm the following:
The true God is not a false pagan god of polytheism or henotheism, gods of idolatry who are only reflections and projections in large of flawed and limited humanity.
The true God is not the false god of pantheism where god is all and all is god. At it’s essence, this theology deifies mankind, hardly an object, given our nature and history, of worship. We need no further impetus for self-indulgence.
The true God is not the impotent, false god of panentheism, the dipolar god of process theology, wherein that which is material may be considered the ‘body’ of god and the non-material spirit of god is the ‘soul’ of the universe, as it were. The god of panentheism is not the immutable sovereign God of all creation.
Father God is not the false god of open theism, a deity not privy to or in complete control of future events though he, according to this errant theology, may forecast them with a measure of accuracy. Again, the true God is absolutely sovereign over creation. He knew all our thoughts before the beginning of time. There is nothing hidden from Him. Further, God is not a risk taker, as some open theists would affirm, for He is sovereign over creation. He is not a needy God. He is utterly and completely sufficient unto Himself. He is not a lonely God in a desperate search for someone to love Him. He is utterly fulfilled in His trinitarian nature. He simply loves us, His adopted children, His redeemed ones, because He loves us
Abba God is not the false impersonal God of deism. He is a personal, knowable God. He condescended to reveal Himself to humanity, to a world in rebellion, through the Bible and ultimately through the incarnation of Christ Jesus.
Anything less than the absolutely righteous, absolutely holy, absolutely just, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, merciful, immutable, and personal triune sovereign God of the inspired, infallible, and authoritative canon of the Old and New Testament is less than worthy of worship, less than worthy of complete confidence and trust, less than worthy of adoration.
What follows is an excerpt from a post I authored a few weeks ago on the incarnation of Christ that seem to be an appropriate conclusion to this post:
- As profound and foundational are the doctrines of the trinity and the physical resurrection of the Messiah, and absolutely in no means do I intend to diminish their import, it is the incarnation of our Savior that leaves me most breathtakingly at a loss for words. That Christ, fully almighty God, immutable and fully in transcendence over creation, Who spoke into existence, ex nihilo, the natural order, should step out of eternity and condescend to take on flesh, a sinless human nature, and, out of love, subject Himself to a fallen creation, leaves me wanting for words. Christ, God almighty, His incarnation realized by His conception and virgin birth to Mary, was obedient to Father God to the point of death on the cross to provide propitiation for sin and, after defeating death, will for eternity forward, walk with us as we behold His cross-scarred body. Here we find incomprehensible truths that followers of the Messiah will feast on for eons.
He offered up His Son as a perfect sacrifice for our sin so that through our repentance and faith in the redeeming work of sovereign grace in Christ’s death on the cross and physical resurrection, we have forgiveness and eternal life. How can we neglect so great a salvation.