Monday, May 03, 2010

Predestination / Free Will (1a)

This summer, I'll be leading a study of the Predestination / Free Will Debate. I'll post the outline here over the next few weeks. Here's how we begin:

In Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27, Jesus said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. We will focus on loving God with all our minds by gaining a better understanding of God and His plan of salvation. God’s Sovereignty, Human Responsibility, Free Will, Human Sin Nature, Calvinism, Arminianism, Monergism, Synergism, Predestination, Election, and Foreknowledge are just a few of the topics we will discuss. We’ll cover many challenging issues in this series, but we need to remember one thing:

Our foundation for discussing these issues MUST BE God’s Word. The Bible is our authority in these matters, and we will learn to understand and be able to explain these topics by leaning on “the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). We cannot let presuppositions get in the way of our interpretation of Scripture, but we do need to understand them as best we can.

Now the Calvinism / Arminianism (Soteriology) debate is critical because it is inter-related with one’s view of God, Sin, and Salvation! So let’s first try to understand our view of God.

First, the Nature (Characteristics and Attributes) of God:

• Holy (“Other” and Pure)
• Perfect
• Loving
• Just
• Merciful (non-justice; not injustice)
• Gracious
• Self-Existent (the uncaused cause)
• Eternal
• Autonomous
• Personal
• Sovereign
• Immutable
• Incomprehensible (Infinite)
• Omnipotent
• Omniscient
• Others…

Let’s elaborate on God’s Omnipotence.

Omnipotence does NOT mean that God can do all things. There are things that God cannot do! Can God make a rock so big that He can’t move it? This is a false dilemma. The question assumes that God can do anything; but we need to understand that He cannot violate His nature (those attributes we listed above). If He were to make a rock too big for Him to move, He would cease to be Sovereign over that rock. (The rock would be too big for God.) By definition, God is Sovereign. (Nothing is too big for God!) Therefore, the answer to the question “Can God make a rock so big that He can’t move it?” is NO! What can God not do? God cannot...

• Act against His nature
• Be not-God (Change)
• Be both eternal & created
• Sin (Lie)
• Die (Cease to exist)
• Learn

God’s inability to learn leads us to consider His Omniscience.

“Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit” (Psalm 147:5). God knows all things, including the future, with certainty. It is impossible for God to know the future without the future being fixed (from our logical perspective). The future is necessarily fixed, but not coerced. Nothing is contingent for God. God “acts” in eternity. He does not “re-act” in time. His actions are revealed in time for His eternal purpose. Everything has a purpose – to bring glory to God. Nothing is arbitrary or random. God has only a “PLAN A.” There is no such thing as luck or chance or fate; it’s all Providence, which is God’s sustaining and guiding the course of the universe, and everything therein, along the specific path to His desired end or destiny. God’s Sovereign Omniscience should comfort us, but instead it often baffles us or makes us angry!

1 comment:

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