God Never Changes – A Source of Comfort, Encouragement (and Terror for the Unsaved)

31 10 2007

Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

Isaiah 55:11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

Proverbs 19:21Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand.”

Matthew 5:18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

Matthew 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”

Luke 16:17 “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.”

I. God’s Purpose Never Alters

B. The Christian’s Comfort in God’s Unchanging Nature

C. The Christian’s Encouragement in Prayer in God’s Fixed Decree

D. Terror for the Unsaved Person





God Never Changes (He is “Immutable”)

25 10 2007

Exodus 3:13-15

(13) Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”

(14) God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.‘”

(15) God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you ‘ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.

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Malachi 3:6

For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”

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A. W. Pink in “The Attributes of God” (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2001) discusses The Immutability of God (pp. 37-40)

God is perpetually the same: subject to no change in His being, attributes, or determinations. Therefore God is compared to a rock (Deut 32:4, etc.) which remains immovable, when the entire ocean surrounding it is continually in a fluctuating state; even so, though all creatures are subject to change, God is immutable. Because God has no beginning and no ending, He can know no change. He is everlastingly “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jas. 1:17).

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2 Timothy 2:11-13

(11) It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;

(12) If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;

(13) If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

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Hebrews 6:13-20

(13) For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,

(14) saying, “I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU.”

(15) And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.

(16) For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute.

(17) In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath,

(18) so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.

(19) This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,

(20) where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

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Reformed writer Paul Mizzi at his website “Truth for Today: Biblical Essays by Paul Mizzi” (http://www.tecmalta.org/tft.htm) addresses the issue of the immutability or unchanging nature of God (“The Unchanging Godhttp://www.tecmalta.org/tft133.htm). Following are some key points from that essay:

  • “God’s nature or character is immutable, that is, it has never worsened or bettered – it remains the same. God does not change, indeed, he cannot change, both in his being (ontologically) and in his will (decretally).”
  • “The constancy of his character, his nature or his essential being is brought out. Not only in his character but also in his design and purpose, so much so that Scripture affirms the eternal counsel of God: What God is doing in history since the creation to its consummation is according to his infallible and unchanging plan.”
  • “This constancy guarantees that He remains always one and the same true God, faithful to himself (in Trinitarian relationships), to his decrees (secret in himself but not being divulged and executed in history) and his works (in relation with angels and men).”
  • “God’s immutability defines all his other attributes: he is immutably wise, he cannot but be merciful, good, and gracious. The same may be said about his knowledge: God does not need to gain knowledge; he knows all things, eternally and immutably so.”

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A. W. Pink also makes the following points:

I. In His Essence – God is Always the Same

  • “I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal. 3:6) is His own unqualified affirmation. He cannot change for the better, for He is already perfect; and being perfect, He cannot change for the worse.
  • Altogether unaffected by anything outside Himself, improvement or deterioration is impossible. He is perpetually the same.
  • He only can say, “I am that I am” (Ex. 3:14). He is altogether uninfluenced by the flight of time. There is no wrinkle upon the brow of eternity. Therefore His power can never diminish nor His glory ever fade.”

II. God’s Attributes Never Change

“Secondly, God is immutable in His attributes. Whatever the attributes of God were before the universe was called into existence, they are precisely the same now, and will remain so forever. Necessarily so; for they are the very perfections, the essential qualities of His being. Semper idem (always the same) is written across every one of them. His power is unabated, His wisdom undiminished, His holiness unsullied. The attributes of God can no more change than Deity can cease to be.

  • His veracity is immutable, for His Word is “forever settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89).
  • His love is eternal: “I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3) and “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1).
  • His mercy ceases not, for it is “everlasting” (Ps. 100:5).”

III. God Never Changes His Mind or His Plan

  • One of two things causes a man to change his mind and reverse his plans: want of foresight to anticipate everything, or lack of power to execute them.
  • But as God is both omniscient and omnipotent there is never any need for Him to revise His decrees. No. “The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations” (Ps. 33:11). Therefore do we read of “the immutability of His counsel” (Heb. 6:17).”




The Sovereignty of God – What He Has Decreed and Permissively Allowed

21 10 2007

Psalm 93: The Majesty of the LORD.

(1) The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.

(2) Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.

(3) The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
The floods have lifted up their voice,
The floods lift up their pounding waves.

(4) More than the sounds of many waters,
Than the mighty breakers of the sea,
The LORD on high is mighty.

(5) Your testimonies are fully confirmed;
Holiness befits Your house, O LORD, forevermore.
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Perhaps the single most comforting truth from Scripture for me to grasp hold of in faith is that of the Sovereignty of God. We believe in God Who is capable of performing all He wills to do and Who is in control of all things. He can be trusted by us for everything in this life. Should the end of my life come before the Lord returns, I will be able to trust in Him in that moment when eventually this life will ebb away. And yet He has allowed sin and death to exist in this world – somehow it is part of His plan that it should be so. Some thoughts on these difficult issues are presented in the commentary references that follow.

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The following two study resources provide explanations of God’s sovereignty, including what He decretively or actively makes happen, and what he permissively has allowed to happen – although it is contrary to or in rebellion against his preceptive will.

The following information is referenced from the New Bible Dictionary (2nd edn.) (Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Wheaton, Illinois – 1991)

A. God Sovereignly Carries Out His Plan

“God is sovereign. That means that he makes his own plans and carries them out in his own time and way. That is simply an expression of his supreme intelligence, power and wisdom. It means that God’s will is not arbitrary, but acts in complete harmony with his character. It is the forth-putting of his power and goodness, and is thus the final goal of all existence.”

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B. God’s Decretive Will vs His Preceptive Will

“There is, however, a distinction between God’s will which prescribes what we shall do, and his will which determines what he will do. Thus theologians distinguish between the decretive will of God by which he decrees whatsoever comes to pass, and his preceptive will by which he enjoins upon his creatures the duties that belong to them. The decretive will of God is thus always accomplished, while his preceptive will is often disobeyed.”

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C. The Distinction between God’s Active & His Permissive Will

“When we conceive of the sovereign sway of the divine will as the final ground of all that happens, either actively bringing it to pass, or passively permitting it to come to pass, we recognize the distinction between the active will of God and his permissive will. Thus the entrance of sin into the world must be attributed to the permissive will of God, since sin is a contradiction of his holiness and goodness. There is thus a realm in which God’s will to act is dominant, and a realm in which man’s liberty is given permission to act. The Bible presents both in operation. ……. Nevertheless, the sovereignty of God ensures that all will be overruled to serve his eternal purpose, and that ultimately Christ’s petition: ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ shall be answered.”

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D. Our Inability to Reconcile God’s Sovereignty & Man’s Responsibility

“It is true that we are not able to reconcile God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility because we do not understand the nature of divine knowledge and comprehension of all the laws that govern human conduct. The Bible throughout teaches us that all life is lived in the sustaining will of God ‘in whom we live and move and have our being’, and that as a bird is free in the air, and a fish in the sea, so man has his true freedom in the will of God who created him for himself.”

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J.I. Packer also addresses the issue of God’s Sovereignty in Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois – 1993)…..

“The assertion of God’s absolute sovereignty in creation, providence, and grace is basic to biblical belief and biblical praise. The vision of God on the throne – that is, ruling – recurs (1 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 6:1; Ezekial 1:26; Daniel 7:9; Revelation 4:2; c.f. Psalms 11:4; 45:6:47:8-9; Hebrews 12:2; Revelations 3:21); and we are constantly told in explicit terms that the LORD (Yahweh) reigns as king, exercising dominion over great and tiny things alike (Exodus 15:18; Psalms 47; 93; 96:10; 97; 99:15; 146:10: Proverbs 16:33; 21:1; Isaiah 24:23; 52:7; Daniel 4:34-35; 5:21-28; 6:26; Matthew 10:29-31). God’s dominion is total: he wills as he chooses and caries out all that he wills, and none can stay his hand or thwart his plans.”

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“That God’s rational creatures, angelic and human, have free agency (power of personal decision as to what they shall do) is clear in Scripture throughout; we would not be moral beings, answerable to God the judge, were it not so, nor would it then be possible to distinguish, as Scripture does, between bad purposes of human agents and the good purposes of God, who sovereignly overrules human action as a planned means to his own goals (Genesis 50:20; Acts 2:23; 13:26-39). Yet the fact of free agency confronts us with mystery, inasmuch as God’s control over our free, self-determined activities is as complete as it is over anything else, and how this can be we do not know. Regularly, however, God exercises his sovereignty by letting things take their course, rather than by miraculous intrusions of a disruptive sort.”

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Isaiah 45:5-7

(5) “I am the LORD, and there is no other;
Besides Me there is no God
I will gird you, though you have not known Me;

(6) That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun
That there is no one besides Me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other,

(7) The One forming light and creating darkness,
Causing well-being and creating calamity;
I am the LORD who does all these.”

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My hope is that this information can be useful to people struggling to understand how God’s sovereignty over all things is consistent or works together with the moral responsibility of mankind for our sin.

God bless, Churchlayman





The Supremacy of God

18 10 2007

In “The Attributes of God” (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids Michigan – 2001) (http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Attributes/attributes.htm) Arthur W. Pink discusses the Supremacy of God.

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Personal Observations:

The pace of life has been moving along pretty quickly this week, with work-related activities demanding my attention outside of Colby, Kansas from Monday morning through Thursday afternoon, and with more time to be spent away from Colby on family activities from Friday afternoon – through Saturday evening. There is much good to be accomplished through these family and work related activities – I am not complaining about them or ungrateful.

Even with all this traveling around and busy activity, I hope to keep in mind worshipful, appreciative, and trusting thoughts toward God. God is divine and supreme – He is above all and sovereignly in control of all the things. I need to remember that all the activities and paths of my life are part of God’s plan, His sovereign decree over all things. Lord, I trust You regarding the path I am on – may I carry out these tasks and responsibilities with Your zeal and strength for Your purposes. May You be honored in all things I and my family are involved in in life.

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Following are more thoughts from A. W. Pink on the Supremacy of God. Most but not all of the formatting and textual emphasis in what follows below are my efforts to highlight particular parts of Pink’s text.

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A. Our Thoughts About God are typically “too small”

  • Men imagine that the Most High is moved by sentiment, rather than actuated by principle.
  • They suppose that His omnipotency is such an idle fiction that Satan is thwarting His designs on every side.
  • They think that if He has formed any plan or purpose at all, then it must be like theirs, constantly subject to change.
  • They openly declare that whatever power He possesses must be restricted, lest He invade the citadel of man’s “free will” and reduce him to a “machine.”
  • They lower the all efficacious Atonement, which has actually redeemed everyone for whom it was made, to a mere “remedy,” which sin-sick souls may use if they feel disposed to;
  • and they enervate the invincible work of the Holy Spirit to an “offer” of the Gospel which sinners may accept or reject as they please.”

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B. God’s Absolute, Universal Supremacy is Revealed in Scripture

  • Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory and the majesty: for all in the heaven and all in the earth is Thine; Thine is the Kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as Head above all. . . .And Thou reignest over all” (1 Chron. 29:11, 12)……
  • O Lord God of our fathers, art not Thou, God in heaven? and rulest not Thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in Thine hand is there not power and might, so that none (not even the Devil himself) is able to withstand Thee?” (2 Chron. 20:6). Before Him presidents and popes, kings and emperors, are less than grasshoppers.
  • But He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (Job 23:13).

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C. God is the Supreme King of Kings and Lord of Lords

“….the God of Scripture is no make-believe monarch, no mere imaginary sovereign, but King of kings, and Lord of lords. I know that Thou canst do everything, and that no thought of Thine can be hindered” (Job 42:3, margin), or, as another translator, “no purpose of Thine can be frustrated.”

All that He has designed He does. All that He has decreed, He performs. “But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psa. 115.3); and why has He? Because “there is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord” (Prov 21:30).

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D. God is Supreme over All His Creation

  • At His pleasure the Red Sea divided and its waters stood up as walls (Ex. 14);
  • … the earth opened her mouth, and guilty rebels went down alive into the pit (Num. 14).
  • When He so ordered, the sun stood still (Josh. 10);
  • … on another occasion went backward ten degrees on the dial of Ahaz (Isa. 38:8).
  • To exemplify His supremacy, He made ravens carry food to Elijah (1 Kings 17),
  • … iron to swim on top of the waters (2 Kings 6:5),
  • … lions to be tame when Daniel was cast into their den,
  • … fire to burn not when the three Hebrews were flung into its flames.

Thus “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places” (Psa. 135:6).

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E. God’s Supremecy is Revealed in the New Testament

F. Resting Upon God’s Supremacy in our hearts

  • A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps” (Prov. 16:9). What assurance, what strength, what comfort should this give the real Christian!
  • My times are in Thy hand” (Ps. 31:15).
  • Then let me “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Ps. 37:7).

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Churchlayman





God’s Foreknowledge and Unconditional Election unto Salvation

12 10 2007

What we understand and believe about the nature of God’s foreknowledge directly affects whether we believe that election is “conditional” or “unconditional“.

Following are definitions of Unconditional Election and Conditional Election provided by the online Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconditional_election):

“In Protestant theology, election is considered to be one aspect of predestination in which God selects certain individuals to be saved. Those elected receive mercy, while those not elected, the reprobate, receive justice.

In Calvinism, this election is called “unconditional” because his choice to save someone does not hinge on anything inherent in the person or on any act that the person performs or belief that the person exercises. Indeed, according to the doctrine of total inability (the first of the five points of Calvinism), the influence of sin has so inhibited the individual’s volition that no one is willing or able to come to or follow God apart from God first regenerating the person’s heart to give them the ability to love him. Hence, God’s choice in election is and can only be based solely on God’s own independent and sovereign will and not upon the foreseen actions of man.

The Reformed position is frequently contrasted with the Arminian doctrine of conditional election in which God’s eternal choice to save a person is conditioned on God’s certain foreknowledge of future events, namely, that certain individuals would exercise faith and trust in response to God’s offer of salvation.”

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If two Christian brothers disagree on the doctrine of election, it is likely that the root of their disagreement is in their respective beliefs and understanding of the doctrine of God’s foreknowledge. The person who believes that God’s election of persons unto salvation is conditional on His foreknowledge of whether they will choose to have saving faith in Jesus Christ typically has a vigorous disagreement with the one who believes that God in His foreknowledge chose or elected some of all of mankind who are lost in sin to be saved (for His divine purposes and good pleasure). Generally, the former leans more toward Arminian or “free will” oriented theological positions emphasizing man’s responsibility to “choose” to believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation. The later leans toward “Calvinistic” or “predestination” oriented theological positions emphasizing God’s sovereign choice in electing people unto salvation through Jesus Christ. At the root of this difference in understanding about the nature of divine election unto salvation is a difference in our understanding of the nature and effect of God’s foreknowledge.

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Those such as myself who are Calvinistic in their beliefs emphasize the doctrines of God’s grace in regards to salvation. We believe strongly in unconditional election flowing from the sovereign decree of God over all things.

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Since it is beyond my capabilities to adequately explain this Calvinistic view of God’s foreknowledge, again I am turning to A. W. Pink’s explanation in The Attributes of God (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan – 2001). (Any bold or underlined text in what follows are my own efforts to highlight certain points for the reader.)

http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Attributes/attributes.htm

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A. Confusion and Disagreement about the Nature of God’s Foreknowledge

“When the solemn and blessed subject of Divine foreordination is expounded, when God’s eternal choice of certain ones to be conformed to the image of His Son is set forth, the Enemy sends along some man to argue that election is based upon the foreknowledge of God, and this “foreknowledge” is interpreted to mean that God foresaw certain ones would be more pliable than others, that they would respond more readily to the strivings of the Spirit, and that because God knew they would believe, He, accordingly, predestinated them unto salvation. But such a statement is radically wrong. It repudiates the truth of total depravity, for it argues that there is something good in some men. It takes away the independency of God, for it makes His decrees rest upon what He discovers in the creature. It completely turns things upside down, for in saying God foresaw certain sinners would believe in Christ, and that because of this, He predestinated them unto salvation, is the very reverse of the truth. Scripture affirms that God, in His high sovereignty, singled out certain ones to be recipients of His distinguishing favors (Acts 13:48), and therefore He determined to bestow upon them the gift of faith. False theology makes God’s foreknowledge of our believing the cause of His election to salvation; whereas, God’s election is the cause, and our believing in Christ is the effect.

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B. Scriptural “Foreknowledge” is in reference to Persons, not to their Actions

“The fact is that “foreknowledge” is never used in Scripture in connection with events or actions; instead, it always has reference to persons. It is persons God is said to “foreknow,” not the actions of those persons. In proof of this we shall now quote each passage where this expression is found.”

  • The first occurrence is in Acts 2:23. There we read, “Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” If careful attention is paid to the wording of this verse it will be seen that the apostle was not there speaking of God’s foreknowledge of the act of the crucifixion, but of the Person crucified: “Him (Christ) being delivered by,” etc.
  • The second occurrence is in Romans 8:29,30. “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image, of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called,” etc. Weigh well the pronoun that is used here. It is not what He did foreknow, but whom He did. It is not the surrendering of their wills nor the believing of their hearts but the persons themselves, which is here in view.
  • God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew” (Rom. 11:2). Once more the plain reference is to persons, and to persons only.
  • The last mention is in 1 Peter 1:2: “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Who are elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father? The previous verse tells us: the reference is to the “strangers scattered” i.e. the Diaspora, the Dispersion, the believing Jews. Thus, here too the reference is to persons, and not to their foreseen acts.

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C. People are the Object of God’s Foreknowledge in Scripture – Not their Actions

“Now in view of these passages (and there are no more) what scriptural ground is there for anyone saying God “foreknew” the acts of certain ones, viz., their “repenting and believing,” and that because of those acts He elected them unto salvation? The answer is, None whatever. Scripture never speaks of repentance and faith as being foreseen or foreknown by God. Truly, He did know from all eternity that certain ones would repent and believe, yet this is not what Scripture refers to as the object of God’s “foreknowledge.” The word uniformly refers to God’s foreknowing persons; …”

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D. God’s Sovereign Decree is evidenced in God’s Foreknowledge

“Another thing to which we desire to call particular attention is that the first two passages quoted (i.e. Acts 2:23 and Romans 8:29) above show plainly and teach implicitly that God’s “foreknowledge” is not causative, that instead, something else lies behind, precedes it, and that something is His own sovereign decree. Christ was “delivered by the (1) determinate counsel and (2) foreknowledge of God.” (Acts 2:23). His “counsel” or decree was the ground of His foreknowledge. So again in Romans 8:29. That verse opens with the word “for,” which tells us to look back to what immediately precedes. What, then, does the previous verse say? This, “all things work together for good to them. . . .who are the called according to His purpose.” Thus God’s foreknowledge is based upon His purpose or decree (see Ps. 2:7).”

God foreknows what will be because He has decreed what shall be. It is therefore a reversing of the order of Scripture, a putting of the cart before the horse, to affirm that God elects because He foreknows people. The truth is, He “foreknows” because He has elected. This removes the ground or cause of election from outside the creature, and places it in God’s own sovereign will. God purposed in Himself to elect a certain people, not because of anything good in them or from them, either actual or foreseen, but solely out of His own mere pleasure. As to why He chose the ones He did, we do not know, and can only say, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” The plain truth of Romans 8:29 is that God, before the foundation of the world, singled out certain sinners and appointed them unto salvation (2 Thess. 2:13). This is clear from the concluding words of the verse: “Predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son,” etc. God did not predestinate those whom He foreknew were “conformed,” but, on the contrary, those whom He “foreknew” (i.e., loved and elected) He predestinated to be conformed. Their conformity to Christ is not the cause, but the effect of God’s foreknowledge and predestination.

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E. The Final Humbling Point Regarding God’s Foreknowledge and Our Salvation

“If then the reader be a real Christian, he is so because God chose him in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), and chose not because He foresaw you would believe, but chose simply because it pleased Him to choose: chose you notwithstanding your natural unbelief.”

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Another source of grace-oriented teaching in regards to God’s Foreknowledge can be found at the Grace To You website authored by Pastor John MacArthur, Jr. (http://www.gty.org/). The following references address the issue in a direct manner.

http://www.gty.org/Resources/Transcripts/90-181

http://www.gty.org/Resources/Transcripts/90-273

http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/9692

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Pastor Bob DeWaay addresses the critical theological issue of open theism and the foreknowledge of God in one of his “Critical Issue Commentaries”: http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue58.htm

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Our understanding of theological issues such as God’s foreknowledge, election, predestination, the person of Christ, the attributes of God, etc., etc. are not just arcane exercises in intellectual gymnastics. What we believe about unconditional election affects our approach to telling others about the gospel of Christ. If we believe in unconditional election and predestination, we should preach the gospel message faithfully – trusting that God will bring all His elect to salvation through the preaching of God’s word by ourselves and/or others. If we instead believe in conditional election without reliance on God’s independent predestination of His chosen ones unto salvation, then the responsibility for saving people is upon ourselves. They are lost in sin and we as Christians are inadequate  to fulfill our responsibilities in this view of God’s workings. With careful thought a person can figure out the impact these two divergent beliefs have upon church ministries and how the Christian life is lived. Those believing in conditional election will tend more and more toward the use of every “gospel-marketing approach” they can possibly construe of (biblical or not) to “fulfill their responsibility”as they see it to bring others to Christ.  Much more can be said on this, but it will wait for another time.

God is much more reliable than we are in bringing His elect unto saving faith in Jesus Christ! I will cast my lot in reliance on God’s abilities and sovereignty in the matter of people’s (including my own) salvation rather than on any abilities I may have in this area. Calvinist or not, we as Christians are called in obedience to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8), and to carry out the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:21). Evangelism for someone who is Calvinistic in their theological understanding is an issue of obedience and loving service to God, trusting Him for the ultimate results and fruit.

Churchlayman





God is Omniscient – “He Sees and Knows” Everything

9 10 2007

God is honored when we “set our minds on things above” and seek to worship and appreciate Him. A key to avoiding sin and listless worldliness in our lives is to focus our thoughts on what God has revealed of Himself to us of His nature and attributes. We are very, very, very, very limited in our knowledge and understanding of God. Thank God for what He has revealed of Himself to us through the Scriptures and nature!

In Concise Theology – A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois – 1993) Reformed Theologian J. I. Packer discusses God’s Omniscience (p. 31-32):

Omniscient is a word that means “knowing everything.” Scripture declares that God’s eyes run everywhere (Job 24:23; Psalms 33:13-15, 139:13-16; Proverbs 15:3; Jeremiah 16:17; Hebrews 4:13). He searches all hearts and observes everyone’s ways (1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalms 139:1-6, 23; Jeremiah 17:10; Luke 16:15; Romans 8:27; Revelations 2:23) — in other words, he knows everything about everything and everybody all the time. Also, he knows the future no less than the past and the present, and possible events that never happen no less than the actual events that do (1 Samuel 23:9-13; 2 Kings 13:19; Psalm 81:14-15; Isaiah 48:18). Nor does he have to “access” information about things, as a computer might retrieve a file; all his knowledge is always immediately and directly before his mind. Bible writers stand in awe of the capacity of God’s mind in this regard (Psalms 139:1-6: 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14, 28; cf. Romans 11:33-36).”

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Psalm 139:1-6

(1) O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
(2) You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar.
(3) You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
(4) Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
(5) You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.
(6) Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

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Packer goes on to state:

“God’s knowledge is linked to his sovereignty: he knows each thing, both in itself and in relation to all other things, because he created it, sustains it, and now makes it function every moment according to his plan for it (Ephesians 1:11). The idea that God could know, and foreknow, everything without controlling everything seems not only unscriptural but nonsensical.”

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

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Similarly, here are some quotes about God’s Knowledge from Chapter 3 of A. W. Pink’s book, The Attributes of God (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan – 2001):

http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Attributes/attributes.htm

  • “His knowledge is perfect. He never errs, never changes, never overlooks anything. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13).”
  • “But to the believer, the fact of God’s omniscience is a truth fraught with much comfort. In times of perplexity he says with Job, “But He knoweth the way that I take.” (Job 23:10). It may be profoundly mysterious to me, quite incomprehensible to my friends, but “He knoweth!” In times of weariness and weakness believers assure themselves “He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). In times of doubt and suspicion they appeal to this very attribute saying, “Search me, 0 God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23,24). In time of sad failure, when our actions have belied our hearts, when our deeds have repudiated our devotion, and the searching question comes to us, “Lovest thou Me?;” we say, as Peter did, “Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee” (John 21:17).
  • “Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5). God not only knows whatsoever has happened in the past in every part of His vast domains, and He is not only thoroughly acquainted with everything that is now transpiring throughout the entire universe, but He is also perfectly cognizant with every event, from the least to the greatest, that ever will happen in the ages to come. God’s knowledge of the future is as complete as is His knowledge of the past and the present, and that, because the future depends entirely upon Himself. Were it in anywise possible for something to occur apart from either the direct agency or permission of God, then that something would be independent of Him, and He would at once cease to be Supreme.”
  • “The infinite knowledge of God should fill us with amazement. How far exalted above the wisest man is the Lord! None of us knows what a day may bring forth, but all futurity is open to His omniscient gaze. The infinite knowledge of God ought to fill us with holy awe. Nothing we do, say, or even think, escapes the cognizance of Him with whom we have to do: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). What a curb this would be unto us, did we but meditate upon it more frequently! Instead of acting recklessly, we should say with Hagar, “Thou God seest me” (Genesis 16:13). The apprehension of God’s infinite knowledge should fill the Christian with adoration. The whole of my life stood open to His view from the beginning. He foresaw my every fall, my every sin, my every backsliding; yet, nevertheless, fixed His heart upon me. Oh, how the realization of this should bow me in wonder and worship before Him!”

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Romans 11:33-36

(33) Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

(34) For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?

(35) Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN?

(36) For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

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So, here in Colby, Kansas we strive to do well for our families, our jobs, our churches, and in every other aspect of our lives. God is omniscent – He knows everything! And since He is sovereign and is carrying out His eternal decree / purposes in a manner consistent with His Holy character – we can trust Him for everything. Lord God, I pray to remember this in all aspects of my life. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.





God’s Sovereign Decree of All Things Past, Present and Future

5 10 2007

God is Sovereign!!!

God rules over all created things, all time, all history – past, present and future. No purpose or plan or action of mankind or of any created being can thwart His divine purpose. He carries out all that He has planned or decreed for His glory. He is God, and we are not. We people are part of His creation, and we need to worship and serve the Sovereign God and Creator. To Him be the glory in all things forever and ever. Amen!

God’s sovereign decree over all creation, time and powers is a source of great peace and comfort for Christians. However, even those who hold this belief in God’s sovereignty will likely have to deal with challenging questions and issues in their lives. When injustice, suffering, illness, unexpected lose of life, dire circumstances, catastrophy and calamity, and the seeming triumph of evil people occur, those of us who believe in God’s sovereignty have difficulty in providing palatable apologetic explanations to other people or even to ourselves regarding the question – “Why did God allow this to happen?

We have to continue to cling steadfastly to and trust in the Lord God by faith through whatever challenges life may bring. We may eventually understand the whys and wherefores of the evils and disappointments of this life, but it may be in heaven in many cases rather than on this side of eternity. We have the assurance that God’s sovereign decree is being worked out, and that His plan is the best plan of all the plans that could possibly have been.

God, please help me in saying this and in trusting You and Your sovereignty throughout the days of my life.

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Christians have the promises of His word the Bible to trust in. As Scripture states, God has a purpose and a plan for our lives…..

Romans 8:28-32

“(28) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (29) For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; (30) and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (31) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (32) He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”

In humble acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty we need to agree with the Scriptures in saying…

Isaiah 55:8-9 “(8) For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. (9) For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

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In the book The Attributes of God (2001, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan), Scottish Pastor/Teacher A. W. Pink addresses the subject of The Decrees of God (Chapter 2): http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Attributes/attrib_02.htm

Following are some exerpts (with editorial comments and section headings added by myself):

A. God made One Sovereign Decree for All Time and Eternity

B. God’s Decree in Regards to Good and Evil

C. God Decreed Every Detail – Nothing has been left to random chance

D. God’s Decrees are “Absolute and Unconditional”

E. Both God’s Decrees and Mankind’s Responsibility Hold True