- - Endorsed
- - Indifferent
- - Contested
|The Nashville Statement
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich
His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole
[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos
Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead
There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
|I am about to step out of my normal life and go camping for the weekend. My family and I are off to Rushing River with my wife's parents. We took our van in to get the same thing looked at a few weeks back, and they couldn't find the problem, though they did find $600 worth of other problems. But this time they found what was troubling it - and another $400 or so worth of other problems I didn't even know about. I am good friends with the Christian manager of the shop, so I know I am not getting ripped off, but man - I really wish I were more mechanically inclined ;-).
So that means that I won't be babysitting the blog this weekend, and I will very shortly not be able to answer any questions until next Wednesday or so. I was quite pleased to see a post generate comments numbering in the double digits again. I was starting to think I was all old hat.
Fellowship this weekend in the Spirit!
Oh, I weighed myself this A.M. - I am down two pounds to 176. We will see how much damage a long weekend can do to that... I will change it in the side bar for now, but I may have to (gulp) move it back up come Wednesday...
Labels: announcements, camping, long weekend
posted by Daniel @
| The Heart Of Repentance.
|You are a pretty good Christian. You have given up many besetting sins, and have become morally superior to the person you were before you were a Christian. You love to read your bible, and you even pray daily.
But something is wrong.
You know that you are holding back. You know that you are not 100% for the Lord. You have given God everything that you have been willing to let go of, but there are things in your life that you are not willing to let go of.
Maybe you tell yourself that you are not able to be free from these things. Maybe you have tried to be free from them so many times, and failed every time to produce a lasting break, maybe this has convinced you that really, there is no cure for sin - you just have to put up with it, and fight it when you can, but not to get too down on yourself when you fail - besides, doesn't scripture tell us that we are all sinners anyway?
But whatever shallow platitudes you might try to comfort yourself with, fall upon deaf ears, because deep down you know they are bunk. You know that God expects more from you than you are giving him, and your failure to make the grade eats you alive.
That is a pretty complex place to be in, and I will explain why.
First, because you aren't as deceived as you would like to be. You know that you should be obedient to God, but you find yourself "unable to obey" when it counts. We may even identify who is calling the shots at this point - the old man - but where is the victory - how do we break through to the other side?
The Israelites that halted at the Jordon, and didn't want to take the promised land instruct us in this. The ones who don't enter into the promise fail to do so because they don't trust it. They don't believe. They hate where they are, but they think it is at least better than where God would bring them if they obeyed - and they believe that obeying God at this point would be worse than not obeying him.
To put it bluntly - they like their sin more than they want to obey God.
We can even shorten that to, "they like their sin".
The reason a person gets into the habit of "not repenting" is because deep down they don't really want to repent - that is, the "old man" refuses to repent. He ... cannot ... repent.
Think that through.
Your old man, in no way, can ever repent - he is irredeemable, and his song is going to be the same until the day you die - he does not want to repent.
Why do I tell you this. Because you need to -recognize- him. If Christ is in you, you will want to repent, but the old man will not want it. You have to separate yourself from, that is, set yourself apart from, the old man who refuses to repent. Identify yourself, not as the one who refuses to repent, but as the one who is at war with the one who refuses to repent. I do not use my words here carelessly - when a thing is "holy" it is separated unto God. You must be holy as your father is holy - separate yourself from the thing that refuses to repent - that ain't you Christian, that is the thing that is dwelling in your flesh, and you have been set free from it.
It isn't a mind game that you play - it is recognizing who is who. In you dwells a thing that remains no good, and this thing is alien to who you are in Christ, if indeed the Spirit of Christ dwells in you. If Christ dwells in you, you have all you need right now to overcome this old man - this thing that refuses to surrender to God.
Simply identify who is calling the shots, and stop obeying the thing that is killing you. The part of you that rejects this is condemned and powerless. It can lie to you, but that is all it can do. You -can- right now, repent, all you need to do is count on Christ's life in you - apprehend it in your thinking. Examine yourself - find the part that doesn't want to obey, and attack it with the sword of the word of God - the truth can set you free, if you are willing to take your sword out of its sheath and attack that thing that is killing you.
You see, you need to understand that what is killing you is alien to you, and not simply "you". You need to consider it and yourself as two separate things that are both vying for control of your mind, actions, and thoughts. This thing will tell you that you do not want to repent, that you love your sin, and that you will never be free. But the truth is that you are free already in Christ, that this thing is not you, nor is it your master any longer. You must regard it as a dead thing - a thing that is already defeated not because you need to play mind games - but because that is the truth. This thing has been dealt with. The reason you obey it is because you continue to set your mind on obeying it - you haven't separated yourself from it in your own understanding. You need to come out and be separate in your own thinking so that when you set your mind on the things of the Spirit, you understand what you are doing...
Do you get that?
You need to regard this thing as alien to who you are, so that when it makes you think that it is you who love sin you can answer that deceit with the truth - no, I hate sin - it is you, my old man - you! You condemned and alien thing! You love sin, and have deceived me, but the veil is lifted in Christ - the veil is lifted. I see you for what you are, and I will not have you rule over me! Lord Father, have you not put this thing beneath Christ's feet? Haven't you?!?? Is not Christ in me? Isn't He?!! Give me spiritual sight that I might see the chariots of Israel! I know this thing is not me, and I know that I am not it - and though it howls at me to obey it, I know I am the bond slave of Christ - Him will I obey!
You see, repentance begins the moment I recognize that the part of me that wants to disobey, the part that hates God - that thing is foreign to who I am in Christ - If I obey it I am walking in the flesh, but if I regard it as a dead thing, and its lusts and desires as foreign to me, and if in doing so I instead turn myself to the life of Christ that is in me, and willingly obey that whom I am not enslaved to in the flesh - but enslaved to in my spirit - then I set my mind not on the flesh, but on the spirit, and in doing so I am freed from the lusts of the flesh.
Do this and live.
Labels: deceit, sanctification, sin, victory
posted by Daniel @
| When Did The Manna Fall?
|I start my day, alternately at anywhere between 4:00 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. depending on how late I went to bed the night before. My preference is to rise earlier. The first thing I do, even before my feet are out of bed, is pray. Then I get up and do all the morning stuff you do - go to the washroom, get dressed, etc. Then I go and pray again - this time however it is far more focused - I pray for my struggles and for my family, for my church, and for all those temporal things that change week to week. It is this prayer time that usually sets the pace for the rest of the day. If I give it short shrift, I pay for it later in the same way a runner can run a race without warming up - they just aren't as "on their game" as if they warm up.
When my prayer time is over, I begin to read through the bible - starting at Genesis, and ending at Revelation, and starting all over again when I am done. I do that usually for about half an hour, moving my bookmark at the end of it. The next hour or so I like to read more topically - either studying one section, or perhaps reading from a variety of sources - prophets, psalms, proverbs, gospels, epistles, etc. If I am not finished this by 6:30 a.m. I wrap it up, because that is the time I spend in a bible study with my two older children (aged 7 and 9). I wake them up for the study and we read one chapter of scripture together, stopping pretty much everywhere to explain what is being said. We start by rehearsing what we read the day before, so as not to lose the context of what we read today - and we ask questions along the way and answer them. That usually lasts about half an hour. When we are finished our bible study, we break out our Biblical Greek assignments and for the next hour we study biblical Greek together, memorizing NT verses in Greek, working out grammar, and working on flashcards to keep our vocabulary sharp. The last 15 minutes or so are all used up by flashcards - so I use that time to take a quick shower, and change into my cycling clothes. At 8:00 a.m., or as close to that as I can manage - I get on my bike and cycle ten urban miles into work.
The Hebrews whom God had called out of bondage in Egypt - these he provided sustenance for by way of manna. Each morning God would provide, alongside the morning dew, manna from heaven to be gathered before the dew evaporated. The manna didn't hang around all day, it disappeared shortly after the rising of the sun (when the dew was gone, so too was the manna). Such that the whole camp rose every morning, early, to take in the manna that would feed them throughout that day. Each day they collected enough for that day, and no more - with the exception of Friday mornings, where they collected enough to provide for both Friday and Saturday (the Sabbath).
I see in this a good argument for being fed spiritually in the morning (as opposed to any other time). It strikes me as wise to make God our first priority, and let the rest of the day work itself out around -that- rather than the other way around. I feel so strongly about this, that I would not hesitate to leave a job that couldn't work around my schedule.
What say you? When do you feed on the Lord? I know we, all of us, throughout the day spend time in prayer, and perhaps we read Christian literature in the evening etc. I am not talking about the stuff that we all do, I am talking about when you give God your greatest time. For me, I am a manna, er, I mean morning man.
Labels: devotionals, manna
posted by Daniel @
| Peso De Lunes - Diez!
|One hundred and seventy-eight pounds this week. That might seem like a very insignificant loss (1 pound), but I would qualify it by saying that our neighbor received a rather large slat of extremely caloric pastries from some office party - and as she lives alone she felt that they would likely go bad before she ever had a chance to eat them, which is how they found their way into our kitchen I am told. Either way, when you are walking through the kitchen, slightly peckish - a strawberry cupcake with rich, real dairy strawberry icing on it looks pretty good. In fact, it looks good enough to make you peckish when you aren't!
So there was a whole lotta cupcakes being consumed, and chocolate too. That I managed to drop a pound under such a caloric onslaught is remarkable to me - I was fully expecting to have put on a pound.
I will post later today, if I remember, about manna.
Labels: Monday weigh in
posted by Daniel @
| Don't Hate Your Sins...
|Hate that thing that is producing them - the "you" that was crucified with Christ; you "old man".
Seriously, the "you" that was crucified with Christ has done nothing -(and will continue to do nothing)- but produce death in you every single time you obey him. You see, that old man is a treasonous rebel who utterly hates God. He hates obeying God, he hates being told what to do. His mission statement is, "I shall not have you to rule over me!" - and it was he whom God dragged out and put to death in Christ. He is dead in the same sense as you are eternally alive. You haven't entered into what you are going to be yet, but one day your flesh will be redeemed and you will be changed in the twinkling of an eye - the day star will dawn in your heart, and you will forever be in your new, glorified body. You "own" that life, it is your inheritance, and it is coming to you one day if indeed the Spirit of Christ dwells in you. But in the same way that you now possess this life, so too you possess the death of the old man. Though he has been slain in Christ, yet he lives in the here and now, just as though you received eternal life, yet in the here and now you continue to live on in condemned flesh. The reality of the old man's death is just as real as the reality of your eternal life.
So that every day that you live, and until your last breath (or until Christ returns; whichever comes first) your old man is going to be there with you. He doesn't get what's coming to him in this life that you are presently living, he gets what is coming to him in eternity - and that is he is put to death in Christ.
Now this death was for a reason, as Romans 6:6 explains - so that we no longer are -his- slave. For the other name he has is "the sin". He is the "part of you" that produces sinful desires in your flesh. He is the part of you that is alien to creation - he is not subject to God's law, and he will never be subject to God's law. You cannot make the old man obedient, he will never stand for it. The bible describes only one way to deal with "the sin" (your old man) that dwells in you - and that is to know that you are no longer his slave but God's slave. To regard this thing in you that prompts you to obey its desires and thereby sin - regard it now, as it is in eternity - a dead, defeated thing that has no authority over you to make you obey it.
If you obey it, it -will- produce death in you, but if instead of regarding this thing as the "real" you, you see it for what it is, your greatest enemy, an enemy so profound and great that Christ was willing to die to free you from it - this thing must be regarded as the enemy that you go into battle with day in and day out - a foe whom you only have power over in the moments that you are entirely and utterly surrendered to God.
The way to deal with this thing is to start to see it for what it is - the thing that is working overtime to drag your to hell. The thing that is trying to destroy you right now - it is your untiring enemy, always working to produce death in you - to separate you from the life of God. That is what this old man is - the part of you that wants autonomy, that wishes you could live forever in your own power and strength, and flushes you with desires that would only be appropriate if you could live forever on your own dime. This is the part of you that is killing you, it has no intellect, only an appetite, and every moment you obey it is swallowed up, never to be repeated - another moment in your life where death reigned, and the life of Christ neglected.
Hating the symptoms of this thing is like hating the baseball bat of the one beating you - it isn't the bat that is doing the beating, it is the one wielding it. Jesus didn't take Satan to the cross and kill him there, because Satan is -not- your biggest enemy - your old man is, and you better stop treading water, because he is eating up your life right now.
How do we deal with this old man? He is a defeated foe, but only in Christ. We must regard as true that he is truly dead in Christ, and that we are truly alive in Christ. Christ has already put him to death on Calvary, your job is to stop taking orders from him - regard him as an utterly defeated foe, defeated expressly for this purpose - that you would be free to take your orders from God.
You who are reading this - who are you obeying in this moment - are you obeying that evil thing that is killing you and hates God, and in doing so swallowing up the most precious gift that God has given you and those around you - the moments that you are on the earth as a Christian? Or are you in the fray - sword out, and with your ear turned to the Captain of your soul. Listen: the Holy Spirit is in you if indeed you are Christ's. You really are dead to this "Sin" fellow, the old man who wants to destroy you - stop obeying him, and instead, letting the truths of Christ produce life in you - trust in them, not in some vague way - but specifically. The violent take the kingdom by force, they are not passive - no one stood on the banks of the Jordon waiting for the Canaanites to fall over dead - they crossed the Jordon on dry ground, and went in fighting because GOD HAD PROMISED THEM EVERY INCH OF LAND THAT THEY WERE WILLING TO TAKE. Force your mind to reject the desires of the old man. That old man is not your master Christian - you are God's slave, obedience to God sanctifies you - it cleans out the old habits, the ruts that you used to fall into - don't let the old man make new ruts - obey God, give God a chance to cleanse you. He --will-- sweep out the house if you let him - but you better let Him fill it, or you will be worse off for it.
Christian - today is the day. Today. Not later, now. Right now. Surrender yourself to your master, make today the day of battle - go into the fray with your mind set on the victory and not on the enemy. Don't go into Canaan as those 10 who came back with a bad report, focused on the enemy - no, focus on Christ - He is a mighty General, he has already given you the victory, he cannot be defeated - if you follow his battle plan you -- will -- be -- victorious - man, go out there and take it - run brother, run sister - don't walk, don't crawl, don't hesitate - get into the fray, and redeem this day, and every day. You are not your own, you are bought with a price - do not shame that purchase another day.
And pray for me. Man, I am preaching to myself.
Labels: holiness, sanctification, sin, victory
posted by Daniel @
| Vague Faith....
|"A Vague Faith never saved anyone from anything... ever."
No one has ever been, or ever will be, justified by a nebulous, ambiguous faith - and to go one step further, when scripture talks about how we are cleansed by faith - that cleansing is not based upon some vague and unspecific hope, as though resting on the idea that God is a nice guy and generally "good" is the way we overcome sin in our walk. We overcome sin by putting to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit - and when I say "by the Spirit" I mean by trusting that God, in the person of the Holy Spirit (whom Christ sent to be our helper and comforter) is going to see to it that every single promise God has ever made to us is kept. The faith that overcomes sin is not vague it is very specific.
First, Trust that God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, is with you and in you. Don't let that be some vague hope - ground it in the scripture that teaches it - we worship in Spirit and in Truth, get the truth in you, and use it, for doing so is an act of worship. If you are not a "memorizer" become one - you don't want to be in this battle without your sword. God is with you in the capacity of a Helper, a Comforter, and a Teacher. Do not doubt that.
Second, learn what is true with regards to your relationship with Christ, and who you are in Christ - learn it so that you can remember it at any given moment - to call upon these truths in a time of need is an act of worship. This too is achieved by memorizing the scriptures that speak to the truths of who you are.
Third, learn what God has said He would do if you do something. I listed this separately from truths, because while a truth is true right now whether you understand it or not, there are some things that God has said he would do -if- you do something to warrant it. I hesitate to call these outright promises only because I think too many people call things promises that are not really promises, and I want to keep some distance between what I am saying and how that word is tossed around. Suffice it to say that God has said in many places that he will do this if you will do that. Find out what the conditions are for these truths, and trust them.
Forth, Hold God to His word.
That might sound like a flea shaking His fist at God, but listen, we worship God in truth - if God has said he is going to do it, he will do it, and you can hold God to that. Don't demand that God works at your pace, but let your faith go beyond hoping that God might just do what he said, all the way up to, but just shy of outright demanding that God do what He said. Listen, God loves to be shown faithful. Don't get all soft and think God is pleased by your softness in not expecting anything from him. The violent take the kingdom by force. Get in the fray. God is your supply sergeant, don't be all wishy-washy when you ask for ammunition, you are His soldier, in His fight, and you are promised support from Him personally - go and get it!
Remember, you are a son or daughter of the Lord God Most High - you have a throne of grace open to you - use it... but don't go through your walk all wishy-washy, hoping on blurred hopes, and half-trusting on the unspecific goodness of God. God put 7487 promises in his word so that you wouldn't have to be vague. Learn what God has said he will do, and then take that sword out of its sheath and slay within you that would hinder the reign of Christ.
God is glorified by a Christian who grows up into a soldier.
Labels: encouragement, faith
posted by Daniel @
| When Coming Home...
|My wife and children were out this Father's Day weekend camping with her parents. (I would have been with them, but I had previously agreed to preach at a local church, and so we agreed it best for her to spend time with her Father).
As I left the office Friday evening, I realized I was in no hurry to get home whatsoever, in fact, I was sort of not looking forward to coming home to an empty house. Frankly, I hadn't really given it much thought before, but I suddenly understood that the key joy in my bike ride home was knowing that my family was there and being eager to see them.
I was thinking today that as sojourners here, we are on our way home even now, to our heavenly home, and should we allow that truth to occupy us, it can make the ride quite sweet.
We serve a good God, who is rich towards us every day. How much shall I enjoy that wedding feast, when I am finally come home!
posted by Daniel @
| Monday Weigh-In VIII
|Apparently I missed a week in my counting (um, duh!), so I am going to add that week here. Call me a dispensationalist (hehe.. that's theological humor)...
Anyway the numbers this week may be a little off. On Wednesday I was at 178.5, but yesterday I was at 179. I knew I shouldn't have had those Nacho chips. 270 calories for 19 chips??? That's just suicide. Anyway, there is no way I ate 1800 calories worth, so I don't know where the extra half pound came from - but whatever - I am going to go with 179 this week, and we will see what it looks like next week. If the number was to high or too low it'll show up in the next week or so.
On the theological front, I am working on a post that will give my opinion on whether it is biblical or not for a Christian to pull a Gideon. Look for it.
Just as an aside. In the right hand column, under the "links" heading, is a new link to our congregation's weekly messages:
There are two messages each week, one being the sermon, the other the Adult Sunday School. They cycle the old stuff out after a couple of months. I preach the Adult Sunday School (We need a different name: c.f. the acronym...).
The recording of the Adult SS for June 3rd cuts out after eight minutes or so, I will see if they can fix that. Presently we are going through Galatians, and are just at the end of Galatians chapter two where Paul is arguing against the Judaizers, showing that you are not justified through sanctification, nor are you sanctified through works...
Labels: Monday weigh in
posted by Daniel @
| Give Advice For Wannabe Pastors!
|I thought it might be useful to collect advice for young men who desire the office of pastor; I will offer some myself, but I hope that if you have some food for thought to share on this important subject, you will not hesitate to share it in the meta.
I have a few pieces of advice - the first is that if you have a spouse she must be united with you in desiring this ministry. If your spouse is not going to be your help mate in this ministry, she is going to regard your ministry as a rival in her marriage - the thing that takes you away from her and the family. You must have her full support - not that she is willingly ignored by you, but that she is utterly supportive of all the demands your ministry will place on you personally. If your spouse isn't on the same page as you, you should deal with that before you enter into ministry. This is true of all married couples by the way, it isn't limited to pastors - if you and your spouse are not a team in all that you do, there will be resentment, rivalry, and vying for your time. If you are married, you are part of a team - and all team players have to be on the same page for the team to work.
Another piece of advice is to count the cost. Pastoring is going to consume your life like nothing else. Do you have children? Pastoring is like having a whole lot of children - you are spiritually responsible for them - you will answer to God for them. Do not take this lightly - the work is hard, but the rewards are great, but the cost to you in a pastoral ministry is that your life is no longer you own in the way it used to be - you sort of become the property of the church, and that kind of commitment, openness, and responsibility ought to be anticipated and weighed when one considers the office.
I could go on, but I want to leave some room in the meta. The last piece of advice I would offer is that you are already walking in the Spirit day by day before you even think of accepting this role. Let me tell you, if you cannot walk in the Spirit moment by moment in your secular job and in your normal home life - don't imagine that going into full time ministry is going to make you suddenly more spiritual - what will happen if you are not walking in the Spirit, is you will begin working in the flesh trying to approximate the sort of effort that God wants to do in and through you. You will know what it looks like, and try and do exactly that - but it will wear you out brother - it will wear you out. If you are not in the Spirit, you may as well accept that you are never going to pastor more than two or three years at a time - because that is about how long it takes most people to wear themselves out ministering in the flesh. Walking in the Spirit means living in obedience consistently. If there are currently large areas in your life where Christ isn't reigning, places of continual defeat - you are not ready for this ministry. You may be a gifted preacher, or teacher, and you can minister in your congregation thus - but you are not ready for a pastoral role.
That is my advice at least. Share your wisdom here, and be as generous as you can. I wouldn't mind keeping a link to this one open in my sidebar if I can get enough advice to make it a worthwhile document. So please share.
Labels: Advice for pastors
posted by Daniel @
| Monday Weigh In IX
Well, that isn't exactly true, I did shave my head last week - and that might account for six or eight ounces - but last week was my youngest daughter's birthday, a Sunday School picnic, and some other feasting event I can't put my finger on at the moment. Suffice to say, there was a lot of sugar in my diet this past week, not to mention less riding on account of torrential rain. The end result was that I likely put on as much as I lost.
On another note, here is a verse that I really liked this morning. It is taken from Numbers were the Lord is giving first instruction in how to deal with unintentional sin - and then, as here, with bold-faced, intentional sin:
But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt will be on him. - Numbers 15:30-31 [NASB] I particularly like the NASB rendering since it translates it as "blasphemes" rather than something more pleasant sounding like "reviles" or "reproaches".
It gives us the baseline for our understanding of what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. God will forgive every disobedience but one - the one who obstinately stands in defiance of the Holy Spirit - not turning to receive the "Promise" - for this one there is no hope.
Labels: blasphemies, Monday weigh in
posted by Daniel @
| Dictators and Governors.
|God is sovereign right? Right.
No matter what sort of theology you like, you will at least pay lip service to the notion that God is sovereign. We may not all agree on what sovereignty entails, but we can all agree that whatever it is, God -is- it.
Which leads me to discuss two ways that God's sovereignty might be understood. There are (no doubt) many ways that God's sovereignty could be understood, but I am only going to consider two ways, and these but briefly.
he first way is to regard the sovereignty of God in this way - He is an omnipotent Dictator. If our understanding of God's sovereignty is thus, we regard God as making everything that happens, happen. He is sovereign in that everything that happens in all of creation does so because God directly and divinely wills it to happen in precisely the way it eventually happens. Every "action" that takes place throughout all of creation looks to God Almighty for its direct and immediate cause. Free will, in this system is an illusion, for every thought, motive, or action is actually controlled by the sovereignty of God. In other words, this understanding of sovereignty emphasizes God's control over creation.
Notwithstanding, should we understand God's sovereignty as being primarily a matter of His being in direct and constant control of all that happens in creation, we should have an easy answer for questions about predestination and election. Surely we reason, if God's sovereignty is defined according to an universal automatonic presumption - that is, if God's sovereignty can be described in terms of God determining every action in creation, such that every action is caused directly by God Himself - then we need understand the doctrines of election and predestination as being the natural result of God's sovereignty - since God causes everything.
The most significant problem with that model is perhaps philosophical.
If God causes me to follow Christ, can I (by any means) take credit for being drawn thus? If my drawing was not according to my own choice or merit, but according to God's sovereignty (as defined by his controlling all things) then my election is the result of God sovereign control over me, since I can in no way resist God's will.
But if we are going to premise our election on this kind of sovereignty, we ought to be consistent, because if the sovereignty of God means that God causes all things, then every time I disobey God, it is only because God has willed that I do so, and I cannot resist God's will.
That is where the philosophy comes in.
How can I be held guilty for obeying God's sovereign decree that I disobey Him? The best answer to this philosophical conundrum is that God can do whatever He wants, because He is God after all, and that no matter how unjust it appears on the surface, we ultimately lack a sufficient moral perspective to judge God for doing it this way. I consider that particular defense on par with the playground defense of "I say it works this way, nyah, nyah!"
he other take I want to mention understands God's sovereignty in this way: That while God was certainly the first, direct cause of everything in creation, He nevertheless gave authority to Adam over the earth and over created, and in so doing allowance was made in God's sovereignty for His will to be be done indirect through man - and through providential causality. God was still perfectly sovereign, nothing in all of creation could happen unless the Lord allowed it to happen - but God unlike the first six days, where God was dictating everything that happened in all of creation, on the seventh day God rested - His sovereign control over all of creation was no longer characterized primarily by direct intervention, but now was carried out through Adam, the primary mediator between God and creation.
Only Adam fell.
We want to be fair here too. In our first scenario we were basically saying that Adam sinned as a result of God determining beforehand to impose upon Adam's will in some way so as to directly cause Adam to perform a sinful deed which was by definition, quite contrary to the perfect nature God had created Adam with. In our second scenario, we are saying that God providentially ordained that Adam would sin and when Adam did, it God was not behind him pulling the strings.
The difference is not as simple as saying "directly" for one and "indirectly/providentially" for the other - though that might seem to be all we are doing. So in all fairness we ought to distinguish with greater clarity what we are saying.
In the second scenario, God designed Adam with a built in vulnerability - he was not impervious to temptation and sin. This was not a corruption, or a design flaw, it was by perfectly in accord with God's sovereign will and his express design. Adam would fall.
We pause at this point to remind the reader that even though God created Adam as being susceptible to sin - yet God did not force Adam to sin. We might argue that it was wrong for God to make Adam this way - but that is the argument of the pot makes with the potter, "Why have you made me thus?" Setting aside the image of the pot and the potter, we reason could just as easily word it this way, "How can God hold a man accountable for doing something that God could have prevented by designing Adam to be impervious to temptation and sin?"
I hope when we state it that way, it is a little more clear. God is not to be blamed for Adam's sin, even if God designed Adam in such a way that Adam would sin. Adam was given authority on earth by God, and he used that authority (freedom) to rebel against God, and God cannot be blamed for Adam's abuse of authority just because God gave Adam the authority.
God's sovereignty in the second model therefore, is primarily described by (but not limited to) direct intervention - that is, God was the cause of all things prior to giving Adam authority over creation, and from that time on, at least with respect to the visible creation, God's sovereignty was primarily providential and indirect - all things that happened were "allowed" to happen by God, but God was sovereign in his providential rule as opposed to by directly intervening on behalf of every action in the universe.
This second model answers the question of election and predestination by saying that God calls His children to himself providentially, in exactly the same way God providentially allowed Adam to fall, that is, God ordained it before hand, and creation responded in exact accordance with that ordination, providentially. God in this model allows the authority given to Adam to run its course, but God's will is not thwarted by this corrupted authority, in fact God uses it as a potter uses clay, to bring about his will no matter what. All things, in this model, work together in bringing about God's will, in spite of the corruption. The grandest difference between the two models, I suppose is that the latter doesn't make God the direct cause of sin, but makes man and only man, responsible for sin.
The second model does not suggest that God doesn't or cannot directly intervene in a thing - but rather it doesn't require God to do so with regards to election, predestination, and sin.
The former method, I suppose, more closely resembles the doctrine known as double predestination. Double predestination simply means that God not only predestined some people to go to heaven, but he simultaneously predestines the rest to go to hell. The rational behind this, I believe boils down to a false dichotomy, but those who buy into it typically exalt God's sovereignty one notch too far.
The latter method, I suppose, would lead one to conclude that while God ordained Adam's fall (and by extension: the whole human race) yet it was not done in such a way as to make God culpable for Adam's sin, and consequently, Adam's damnation. We reason that if God created an innocent race, even if he created them prone to fall, that whatever condemnation they themselves earn is fitting - and that God would not be unjust even if created a billion universes, and in each such universe He allowed the whole of the human race therein to perish in its sin - yet God could not be held to blame for even one soul that finds itself condemned - because each one who rebels does so to the damning of their own free will, to the damning of their own soul. Given therefore that in this scenario God doesn't ordain men to hell, but rather allows men to sin, and by their sin purchase hell - in this model we have more of a single predestination - where by God saves some sinners from His own wrath which they themselves have earned by their own rebellion - yet in spite of their rebellion God elects beforehand to be merciful to some and draws them to Himself and saves them.
The former I suppose has God as more of a Dictator, directing every action, and being thereby culpable for all actions in all creation, while the latter paints God as more of a Governor who allows everything that happens to happen, and disallows everything that does not come to pass according to his own sovereign will - but has given freedom/authority to mankind over creation, such that God is no longer culpable for the decisions a man makes, although God (being sovereign) is not thwarted in achieving the purchase of the church - in spite of the fall, and in spite of sin, and rebellion, and corruption - God works in spite of all those things to save those whom He has determined to show mercy to.
Anyway, nothing terribly profound I suppose, but I was reading over at my friend Bryan's blog something about it, and thought I could comment on it here as well.
Labels: Bryan's blog, predestination, Theology, Unconditional Election
posted by Daniel @
| Monday Weigh-In -VI-
|I notice that the of the last 10 posts I wrote, eight of them are still in draft form. That happens when I feel I either haven't the time to finish a post, or I can't seem to articulate a thought with some brevity or clarity. Hmph?
Anyway, the numbers are in: One Eighty One., for a net loss so far of eight pounds.
I was afraid to look at the scale this morning because we went out for a feast yesterday, and feasting and weight loss typically do not go well together... That brings me to within 16 pounds of my goal, or about 1/3 of the way there. It has been almost two months now, meaning that I won't hit my target until September if I don't step up the pace a little. (I have to be more disciplined about eating fast food for lunch during the week).
I hope to bring one or more of those unfinished drafts to fruition soon, but until then it is going to be doulogos "lite" for a while (hehe - get it, I am trying to lose weight you see... oh, never mind!)
Labels: Monday weigh in
posted by Daniel @