Friday, May 07, 2010

Predestination / Free Will (2a)

We have seen God’s consistency between His nature and will. Now, we will look at that relationship within man, and how sin affects that relationship.

Augustine tackled the issue of the human nature in battle with Pelagius (early fifth century):
• Pre-Fall – agreement that Adam had both the ability to sin and the ability to not sin
• Post-Fall – disagreement
o Pelagius said there was no change in Adam’s offspring. They likewise have both
the ability to sin and the ability to not sin.
o Augustine said humanity was forever changed by the sin of Adam. Adam’s
offspring have the inability to not sin.

THE RESULT: The Doctrine of Original Sin – We sin because we are sinners; we are not sinners because we sin.

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)
“Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.” (Psalm 58:3)

Church Councils rejected Pelagius’ view and upheld Augustine’s view to conclude:

SIN in relation to the Human Will:

We have seen the correlation of God’s nature and God’s will, so we must ask: What affect does original sin (the sin nature) have on the human will? Several views of philosophy and theological soteriology will help us understand the orthodox position.

1) Fatalism
a. philosophy logically tied to atheistic evolution (chemicals and random chance)
b. no God or at best an impersonal deity
c. neither sin nor choices matter for the individual, though these matter for the species

2) Hyper-Calvinism
a. unorthodox Christian view
b. God is personal
c. sin corrupts all of man; choices do not matter (ie, evangelism, prayer, etc.)

3) Calvinism (John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Al Mohler) – GRACE ALONE
a. orthodox Christian view (usually associated with Reformed or Covenant Theology)
b. God is personal
c. sin corrupts all of man; choices matter (ie, evangelism, prayer, etc.)
d. grace is required to regenerate fallen man, to quicken the spiritually dead

4) Arminianism (Billy Graham, John Wesley, Bob Russell) – GRACE + MAN
a. orthodox Christian view
b. God is personal
c. sin corrupts all of man; choices matter
d. Prevenient grace is required to persuade fallen man to believe, to woo the sick to health

5) Semi-Pelagianism (Cassian) – MAN + GRACE
a. borders on unorthodox / orthodox Christian view
b. God is personal
c. Sin partially corrupts man, choices matter
d. grace is required to aid man spiritually after man first believes or desires to believe

6) Pelagianism (Pelagius) – MAN ALONE
a. unorthodox Christian view
b. God is personal
c. Sin does not corrupt man, choices matter
d. grace is NOT necessary to believe or even obey God. Grace makes it easier to obey

7) Open / Process Theism
a. growing in popularity, but considered by many to be an unorthodox Christian view
b. God is personal, to the point of learning and growing along with the world He made.
c. Sin affects man, but does not corrupt him, choices not only matter, but force God to react in ways which He may not have expected, because He does not know the future.
d. Two views:
i. Clark Pinnock, God’s foreknowledge is incomplete, because the future is uncertain.
ii. Greg Boyd, God’s foreknowledge is complete. He knows all of the future that is
certain. But parts of it do not exist; even God cannot know what does not exist.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Predestination / Free Will (1b)

Second, the Will of God

Does God have free-will? YES. But let’s qualify that. He is free to do anything according to His nature. God is not free to do that which is against His nature. Notice that His will:

• is perfect because His nature is perfect
• is unchanging, because His nature is unchanging (immutable)
• is restricted or limited by His nature (This is a good thing! Not a negative thing.)

God’s “free” will is ONE WILL with different aspects:

1) Will of Command (Revealed Will, Preceptive Will, Permissive Will)
- Based on His Word
- We are held accountable

2) Will of Disposition
- Attitude God displays in interaction with humanity (Consider anthropomorphisms:
God described in human terms, though He has no physical human attributes)
- What He likes and dislikes (the Lord was angry or pleased)

3) Will of Decree (Decretive Will, Secret Will, Hidden Will)
- Whatsoever comes to Pass (see: The Westminster Confession of Faith)
- We are NOT held accountable

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)

“A man’s steps are directed by the LORD. How can anyone understand his own way?” (Proverbs 20:24)

“I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23)

“Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” (Lamentations 3:37-38)

“I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity [literally good] and create disaster [literally evil]; I, the LORD, do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7)

“When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?” (Amos 3:6)

Active vs. Passive Decree, consider the intentions in the following:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)

“Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of My anger, in whose hand is the club of My wrath! I send him against a godless nation, I dispatch him against a people who anger Me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets. But this is not what he intends, this is not what he has in mind; his purpose is to destroy, to put an end to many nations.” (Isaiah 10:5-7)

“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a Man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know. This Man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross.” (Acts 2:22-24)

“Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against Your Holy servant Jesus, Whom You anointed. They did what Your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.” (Acts 4:27-28)

One act (active man / passive God) with two intentions (evil / good) = CONCURRENCE: the will of God (primary) and the will of man (secondary) working together.

R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths, pg. 67: “Even when God passively permits things to happen, He chooses to permit them in that He always has the power and right to intervene and prevent the actions and events of this world. Insofar as He lets things happen, He has willed them in this certain sense.”

Additional Scripture to understand God’s Will of Decree: Genesis 45:8; Exodus 4:21; Deuteronomy 28:63; Joshua 11:20; Judges 9:23; 1 Samuel 16:14; 1 Kings 22:20-23; Ezra 1:1; Job 1:21; Job 2:10; Job 42:1-2; Psalm 33:11,15; Psalm 115:3; Psalm 135:6; Proverbs 16:1,4,9; 19:21; 21:1; Isaiah 10:12-15; Isaiah 14:24-27; Isaiah 41:21-23; Isaiah 46:9-10; Isaiah 55:11; Ezekiel 14:9; 36:26-27; Daniel 4:34-35; Matthew 19:25-26; Luke 10:21-22; 22:22; John 9:1-3; John 12:37-40; Acts 17:24-31; Romans 9:10-24; 11:33-36; Ephesians 1:4-12; 2:10; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 6:17-18


God’s will is in accord with His nature. His will cannot violate His nature. If He could will something contrary to His nature, then we could not trust Him to fulfill His promises. Be thankful that God is consistent. His will is consistent with His nature.

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!

DC 403 - Week 10

This is our final week together, and we'll be talking about discipleship, leadership, and how the Biblical leaders mentored others to take their place for the advancement of God's Kingdom. Here's how the workload might break down:

Monday - Read Deuteronomy 16-30, and 34, and comment
Tuesday - Read Psalms 145-150, as well as the article / interview with Dallas Willard by Jan Johnson, "Apprentice to the Master," and comment
Wednesday - Memorize 2 Timothy 2:2 - And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men, who will also be qualified to teach others - and review previous memory verses, including 2 Timothy 2:15, Ephesians 2:10, and Hebrews 12:1
Thursday - Answer questions 1a-d, 2a-e, and 3a-b (11 questions) and review memory verses
Friday - Answer questions 4a-d and 5a-f (10 questions) and review memory verses