Daily Archives: December 29, 2013

A Wallet, A Dollar, the Existence of God (Part 1-3 – The Case For Theism)

An argument for theism based on the existence of our caused, limited universe. We take the first step toward Christian Theism by using a wallet and a dollar to illustrate the point. Can naturalism account for the sudden appearance of space, time and matter? Why must we stay inside the natural environment when the evidence here does not provide us with any answers? – See more at: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/a-wallet-a-dollar-the-existence-of-god-part-1-the-case-for-theism/

What is Man? (human ontology)

Now, many non-theists reject the logical conclusion of their metaphysical beliefs. Something within them, I believe the very image of God they deny possessing, makes them aware that this cannot be right! Humans must be more valuable than a sewer rat, and a newborn baby should not be euthanized just because he or she suffers from an abnormality.

The problem is, the non-theist cannot offer objective justification for such beliefs. Whenever I’ve asked a non-theist to explain how they justify the claim that humans have higher value than any other living thing, the usual response has been, “Well, we have to use our emotions and/or rational faculties in these situations.” So basically, we have to use our [blindly evolved] brains to determine the value hierarchy of [blindly evolved] animals and when (and if) human animals should be protected at high cost. That assertion seems arbitrary and down-right circular to me.

On the other hand, if human beings are intentionally made by God, in His image, endowed by Him with great value, and distinct in kind from all other life forms, the problem evaporates. If Christian doctrine is correct, then objectively speaking, we have high, unalterable worth–born or unborn, able or disabled.

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Has The Jewish Ark Of The Covenant Been Discovered? (Video).

Has The Jewish Ark Of The Covenant Been Discovered?

Swiss Parliament Member Has Had Enough Of Islam

“They should never integrate into our system of values. That would be treason to them and even be punishable by death.” Something that the West still does not understand is the mentality and outlook of Islam over the world. “The Islamic doctrine is intended to creep into our everyday life bit by bit,” Freysinger warned, “and make Fortress Europe crumble from within.”

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Joyce Meyer With Steven Furtick At His Elevation Church

Apprising Ministries brings you the sad details of more syncretism within evangelicalism.

STEVEN FURTICK PROMOTING JOYCE MEYER AT HIS ELEVATION CHURCH

The Four Miracles of Atheism

Richard Dawkins stated that “Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” However, even naturalistic worldviews also take some things on faith.

For the purposes of this discussion, we will define a miracle as an event which occurs outside of the natural order and cannot be repeated or explained by the scientific process. Consider the following four miracles which must be accepted by the atheist in spite of scientific evidence to the contrary:

  1. Getting Something from Nothing. There has never been an observed example where something was created from nothing. No person would attempt to build something without materials, and there is no theory outside Big Bang cosmology which reaches this conclusion without ridicule from the scientific community
  2. Getting Life from Non-Life. Even if naturalistic causes could have created the universe, it would still be necessary for non-living material to become living. This is also an unproven (and impossible) feat which must be accepted when denying the existence of God.
  3. Getting Order from Chaos. Personal observation tells us that all things tend towards disorder, not order. Left to themselves buildings crumble, gardens are taken over by weeds, and living material decays. If unguided natural causes produced the universe (from nothing) and produced life (from non-life) these processes would necessarily go against observed scientific principles in order to produce the complexity, beauty, and order that we observe in the world around us.
  4. Getting the Immaterial from Physical Matter. If nothing was able to produce everything, non-life was able to produce life, and chaos was able to produce order the atheistic worldview would still encounter an insurmountable obstacle. No matter how organized, it is impossible for physical material to produce the immaterial realities of human consciousness. Our morality, beliefs, desires and preferences all exist outside of mere physical matter.

Each of these examples go against the natural order and could be labeled as miracles. Naturalistic worldviews such as atheism, evolution, and neo-Darwinism regard this evidence for God with what Dawkins would certainly consider an unscientific approach: each item must be taken on faith.

With God it is very logical to conclude that He who created all things can work within His creation as He pleases. Scripture is replete with examples of such miraculous interactions and the Genesis account of creation certainly addresses the above four points.

Source: http://reasonabletheology.org/four-miracles-athiesm/

Questions about the Church: What Is a Bible Church?

 

Bible churches are those which profess to adhere to the Bible as their standard of faith and practice. However, they are of no particular Christian denomination (non-denominational), so there is no formal prescribed belief system to govern them. Any church in any denomination, as well as any non-denominational church, can use the words “Bible Church” in their name, and therefore, each one would need to be examined for their particular beliefs and practices. Some Bible churches originate from denominational pastors or groups who find themselves differing from the traditions within their denomination, and therefore, Bible churches may closely resemble the denomination they came from (with slight differences in emphasis and tradition).

There seems to be a common theme among many of the non-denominational Bible churches which stems from the fact that they emphasize Bible teaching. Bible churches usually believe that God is One and that He has a triune nature of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They believe and preach the God-ordained Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Bible churches usually believe the core Christian foundation doctrines of salvation by faith in Christ alone, redemption through the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, the renewing of the mind by the Word of God, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Bible churches tend to emphasize Christian service, discipleship, and fellowship as necessary for a believer’s spiritual maturity. They believe in the coming return of Jesus Christ, the Day of Judgment, the thousand-year reign of Christ, eternal life for those who believe, and eternal hell for those who do not. Bible churches usually practice the common Christian ordinances of baptism in water and communion, the singing of songs and hymns, and teaching and preaching from the Bible with the purpose of life application. They are usually interested in the great commission of the Lord Jesus Christ—the spreading of the gospel for the salvation of people’s souls with a heavy emphasis on making disciples. Thus, Bible churches are considered Evangelical.

Bible churches do not usually believe, or at least do not teach nor emphasize from the New Testament, the baptism in the Holy Spirit as modern Pentecostals describe it, with the patterned evidence of speaking in tongues as it happened in the book of Acts. Bible churches are not considered full gospel, Pentecostal, or charismatic; they do not believe in the gifts of the Spirit as being those of supernatural power for signs, wonders, and miracles through believers today. They do not usually emphasize divine healing and miracles or the laying on of hands for healing, believing that the biblical pattern of miracles and healings ceased, either at the completion of the biblical canon or with the death of the apostles.

Again, because each Bible church is unique, each one would need to be viewed distinctly. For anyone who is searching for a home church, here are four good principles for choosing the right one: 1) Choose a church where the Bible is taught rightly and thoroughly (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). 2) Choose a church where the people strive to love and serve one another. 3) Choose a church where the pastor is genuine and seems to love his people. 4) Seek God’s wisdom (James 1:5) and will in prayer for a church home, and choose the church of God’s leading.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Salvation: Is the Atonement of Christ Unlimited?

 

The Bible has much to say on the atonement of Christ. The question is whether His sacrifice provided limited or unlimited atonement. The word atonement means “satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends.” The doctrine of unlimited atonement states that Christ died for all people, whether or not they would ever believe in Him. When applied to Jesus’ finished work on the cross, atonement concerns the reconciliation of God and humankind, as accomplished through the suffering and death of Christ. Paul highlights the atoning work of Jesus when he says: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:8–10).

How this reparation of wrongs or reconciliation was accomplished, and what was involved in the act, has been debated by theologians for centuries. There are at least nine different positions on the atonement of Christ ranging anywhere from the act being merely one of moral influence (the Moral Example theory) to one that holds that Christ’s atonement was a judicial, substitutionary act (the Penal Substitution theory).

But, perhaps the most controversial debate concerning the atonement of Jesus centers around what is referred to as ‘limited’ or ‘definite’ atonement. One theological camp (comprised primarily of those holding to Arminianism and Wesleyanism) believes that Christ died on the cross for everyone who will ever live. The other theological camp—made up of Reformed thinkers, who are often called “Calvinists” after the reformer John Calvin—say that Jesus only died for those whom the Father chose from the foundation of the world to be saved. This group of redeemed individuals is often referred to as the ‘elect’ or the ‘chosen’ of God. Which position is correct? Did Jesus die for everyone in the world or only a select group of individuals?

Is Everyone Going to be Saved?
In examining this issue, the first question to ask is this: Is everyone going to be saved through the atoning work of Christ? Those holding to a position called universalism say “yes.” The universalists argue that because Christ died for everyone and all the sins of humanity were laid on/punished in Christ, everyone will spend eternity with God.

Scripture, however, stands in opposition to such teaching (which can be traced back to a teacher named Laelius Socinus in the 16th century). The Bible makes it abundantly clear that many people will be lost, with just a few verses highlighting this fact following:

•     “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2)

•     “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13–14)

•     “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ ” (Matthew 7:22–23)

•     “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)

•     “They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

•     “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)

This being true, there is one inescapable fact to understand: the atonement of Christ is limited. If it isn’t, then universalism must be true, and yet, Scripture clearly teaches that not everyone is going to be saved. So unless one is a universalist and can defeat the biblical evidence above, then one must hold to some form of limited atonement.

How, then, is the Atonement Limited?
The next important question to examine is this: If the atonement is limited (and it is), how is it limited? Jesus’ famous statement in John 3:16 provides the answer: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but see everlasting life.” In this passage, the necessary condition that limits the atonement is found: “whosoever believes” (literally in the Greek: “all the believing ones”). In other words, the atonement is limited to those who believe and only those who believe.

Who Limits the Atonement?
Both theological camps previously mentioned will not argue this point—the atonement of Christ is limited to those who believe. The disagreement occurs over the next question that arises: who limits the atonement—God or man? Calvinists/Reformed thinkers maintain that God limits the atonement by choosing those whom He will save and thus only placed on Christ the sins of those He had chosen for salvation. The Arminian/Wesleyan position states that God does not limit the reparation of Christ, but instead it is humanity that limits the atonement by freely choosing to accept or reject the offer that God makes to them for salvation.

A common way for the Arminian/Wesleyan theologians to state their position is that the atonement is unlimited in its invitation, but is limited in its application. God offers the invitation to all; however, only those who respond in faith to the gospel message have the work of the atonement applied to their spiritual condition.

To support the position that humanity, and not God, limits the atonement, the Arminian/Wesleyan proponent lists a number of Scripture verses, including the following:

•     “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2, emphasis added)

•     “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, emphasis added)

•     “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:51, emphasis added)

•     “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” (John 12:32, emphasis added)

•     “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” (1 Timothy 2:5–6, emphasis added)

•     “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9, emphasis added)

•     “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” (2 Peter 2:1, emphasis added)

In addition to the biblical references above, the Arminian/Wesleyan theologian also provides a number of logical arguments to support their case. The most common is that if God is all loving, how could Christ not die for everyone? Doesn’t God love each and every person (cf. John 3:16)? They see a God-limiting atonement as a denial of the omnibenevolence of God.

Furthermore, the Arminian/Wesleyan believes that a God-limiting atonement is devastating to the gospel message. How can an evangelist preach that “Christ died for you” if Christ did not indeed die for all? There is a complete lack of confidence, they say, in making the statement to any one person that Christ died for them because the evangelist has no real idea if (given a God-limiting atonement) that is really the case.

Unlimited Atonement—The Conclusion
Unless one is a universalist and believes that everyone will ultimately be saved, a Christian must hold to some form of a limited atonement. The key area of disagreement is over who limits that atonement—God or man? Those wishing to hold to a God-limited atonement must answer the biblical arguments put forth by those holding to a humanity-limiting atonement and also explain how God can be described in Scripture as being all loving and yet not have His Son die for everyone.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Topical Bible Questions: What Does the Bible Say about Necromancy?

 

Necromancy is defined as the conjuring of the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future or influencing the course of events. In the Bible, necromancy is also called “divination,” “sorcery” and “spiritism” and is forbidden many times in Scripture (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10; Galatians 5:19–20; Acts 19:19) as an abomination to God. It is something that the Lord speaks very strongly against and is to be avoided as much as any evil. The reason for this is twofold.

First, necromancy is going to involve demons and opens the one who practices it to demonic attack. Satan and his demons seek to destroy us, not to impart to us truth or wisdom. We are told that our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Second, necromancy does not rely on the Lord for information, the Lord who promises to freely give wisdom to all who ask for it (James 1:5). This is especially telling because the Lord always wants to lead us to truth and life, but demons always want to lead us to lies and serious damage.

The idea that dead people’s spirits can be contacted for information is false. Those who attempt such contact inevitably contact demonic spirits, not the spirits of dead loved ones. Those who die go immediately to heaven or hell—heaven if they believed in Jesus as Savior, and hell if they did not. There is no contact between the dead and the living. Therefore, seeking the dead is unnecessary and very dangerous.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

No One Righteous, Not Even One (Romans 3:9–11)

 

Romans 3:9–11

What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;

there is no one who understands,

no one who seeks God.”

In the third chapter of Romans, beginning with verse 9, the apostle summarizes the condition of every human being apart from the grace of God in Jesus Christ. It is not a pretty picture. According to Paul, Jews are not better than Gentiles, and neither are Gentiles better than Jews. Instead, all are alike under sin, and all are thus subject to the wrath and final judgment of Almighty God. Quoting from Psalm 14:1–3, Psalm 53:1–3, and Ecclesiastes 7:20, Paul declares: “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.’ ”

This is a serious charge, indeed a devastating picture of the race, because it portrays human beings as unable to do even a single thing either to please, understand, or seek after God. It is an expression of what theologians rightly call man’s “total depravity.”

The doctrine of total depravity is hard for the human race to accept, of course, for one of the results of our being sinners is that we tend to treat sin lightly. Most people are willing to admit that they are not perfect. It takes an extraordinary supply of arrogance for any mere human being to pretend that he or she has no flaws. Generally we do not do that. But this is far different from admitting that we are utterly depraved so far as our having any natural ability to please God is concerned. We are willing to admit that we are not perfect, but not that we are not righteous. We are willing to admit that there are things not known to us, but not that we are devoid of all spiritual understanding. We are willing to admit that we wander off the true path at times, but not that we are not even on the right path. Instead of admitting that we are running away from God, we pretend that we are seeking him.

It is vitally important that we come to terms with this bad tendency to run from the truth about ourselves. Without an accurate knowledge of our sin, we will never come to know the meaning of God’s grace. Without an awareness of our pride, we will never appreciate God’s greatness, nor will we come to God for the healing we so desperately need. The situation is a bit like being sick and needing a doctor. As long as we are convinced we are well (or at least almost well), we will not seek medical care. But if we know we are spiritually sick, we will turn to the Great Physician, Jesus Christ, who alone is able to heal us.

How Bad is It?

In making the previous point—that we need to recognize how desperate the situation is so we will turn to God for help—I have used the analogy of being sick and needing a physician. But now I want to say, as I have already suggested, that according to Romans 3:9–11 the situation is even worse than that. As long as someone is merely sick, the situation is not hopeless. He or she may get better and survive. But, according to these verses and others, apart from the grace of God a person is not only spiritually sick but dead. The sinner is moribund.

The uniqueness of the Bible’s teaching can be seen by noting that in the long history of the human race there have been only three basic views of human nature: (1) that man is well; (2) that man is sick; and (3) that man is dead. There are variations in these views, of course. Optimists will say that man is well, but they may disagree on exactly how well he is; perhaps he might not be as well as he possibly could be. Or again, although more pessimistic observers will agree that man is sick—that there is something wrong with him—they will differ over how serious the illness is. Man may be acutely sick, critically sick, mortally sick, and so on. In spite of these variations, there are nevertheless only three basic views.

The first view—that man is essentially well—is the view of Liberalism and, for that matter, of most persons today. If people admit that anything at all is wrong with man, generally it is only that he is not as fully healthy as he could perhaps be. This view holds that, morally and spiritually speaking, all people need is a little exercise, spiritual vitamins, perhaps a psychological checkup once a year, and so on. Many would say that the human race is even getting better and better. This is the view of all optimists.

The second view—that man is sick—is the view of the pessimist, which is to say: anyone who has reflected seriously on the true facts of human nature. Those who believe that man is sick have looked at the general optimism of the last hundred years and have found it wanting. In those earlier days, flushed with the heady success of the industrial revolution, encouraged by technological and medical advances, and goaded by the beguiling doctrine of universal and inevitable evolution, people began to believe that the human race was ascending like a rocket and that within a reasonable time all human problems would be solved. Wars would cease. Starvation would be eliminated. Disease would be conquered. Indeed, people would learn to live and work together in a spirit of universal brotherhood and cooperation. But those who look at this blithe optimism today are rightly critical: If human nature is only “slightly flawed,” as the optimists believe, how come the world has not been perfected by now? Why are there still wars? Why hasn’t starvation or disease been eliminated? Why can’t people get along with one another? The pessimist looks at this and concludes wisely that the situation is not good. In fact, it is terrible. Pessimists believe that man is very sick indeed.

But not dead!

The pessimist believes that man is sick—very sick, even mortally ill—but adds, “As long as there’s life there’s hope.” Sure, man may be ready to blow himself off the face of the earth and even destroy the planet while he is doing it. But the situation is still not hopeless, says the pessimist. We must work hard, tackle our ills and defeat them. There is no need to call the mortician yet.

The third view, the one the Bible presents, is that we humans are not well, nor even sick. We are dead so far as our being able to do anything to please, understand, or find God is concerned. That is, we are as God declared we would be when he warned Adam and Eve against eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said, “… you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Our first parents did eat of it, and they did die. Thus it is true of us, as Paul said in writing to the Ephesians, that we are “dead in [our] transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2:1). Of ourselves we are as unable to respond to God as any corpse would be if someone, believing it alive, told it to do anything.

The Moral Nature: None Righteous

In the first part of his summary of the hopeless condition of man, the apostle speaks of man’s moral nature and concludes that the human race is unrighteous. This does not mean merely that man is a bit less righteous than he needs to be to please God and somehow get to heaven. We cannot have understood the first chapter of Romans and think in those terms. Actually, when Paul says that “there is no one righteous,” he means that from God’s point of view human beings have no righteousness at all.

I emphasize “from God’s point of view,” not to suggest that any view other than God’s is ever ultimately valid but merely to make clear that it is from this viewpoint that we need to assess the situation. This is because, if we assess the human condition from man’s perspective, we will always conclude that at least some people are good—simply because they are better than what we think we observe in others.

Our problem at this point is that we think of the good we do (or can do), our righteousness, as being the same thing as God’s righteousness, when it is actually quite different. We assume that by simply accumulating human goodness we can please God.

Let me give an illustration. Suppose that during the Vietnam War a platoon of American soldiers was captured and interred by the North Vietnamese. Imagine further that at some point in their captivity a Red Cross package arrived at the camp and that it contained, among other things, a game of Monopoly. The donor simply thought the soldiers would like to while away the long hours of their imprisonment playing it. The soldiers were glad to get the Monopoly game, but not for the reason the folks back home sent it to them. They were glad to have it because it gave them “money” with which to do camp business. Before this, if someone wanted to get something from another soldier—a cigarette, for example—he had to beg, borrow, or steal it. Now he could buy it with the Monopoly money. So the soldiers distributed the gold, yellow, blue, green, and white money and went into business.

It seems always the case among a group of Americans that one person is a naturally gifted capitalist, and this platoon was no exception. Because one man was a genius at buying low and selling high, in time he accumulated almost all the money in the camp.

Suppose further that eventually there was a prisoner-of-war exchange, and a group of North Vietnamese were exchanged for this platoon of Americans. A helicopter comes, picks them up, flies them to Da Nang, and from there it is only a matter of hours before they are back in the States on the California coast. Almost immediately the successful capitalist/soldier enters the First National Bank of San Francisco and steps up to the counter. The teller is pleased to open an account for him. “We are glad to help our veterans,” she says. “How much do you want to deposit?”

“About half a million,” the ex-prisoner answers, as he pushes $500,382 in Monopoly money over the counter and through the teller’s window. Of course, the teller reaches down, not for a deposit slip but for the alarm button that will call someone to take this poor deranged man away.

That is the difference between human righteousness, on the one hand, and the righteousness God requires of us, on the other. Human righteousness is like Monopoly money. It has its uses in the game we call life. But it is not real currency, and it does not work in God’s domain. God requires divine righteousness, just as in America only United States dollars are legal tender. We are going to find a little bit further along in Romans that Paul will write of Israel’s failure to find God, using this very distinction: “Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Rom. 10:3). That is, Israel wanted God to accept their own currency rather than come to Christ for the genuine currency he alone can provide.

So the first thing Paul says about the human race in his summary of its lost condition is that it has no righteousness. Verse 12 adds, “ ‘All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.’ ”

The Sinful Mind: None Understands

The second pronouncement Paul makes about human beings in their sinful condition is that no one understands spiritual things. Again, we need to view this as a lack of spiritual perception and not merely a lack of human knowledge. If we think on the human level, comparing the “understanding” of one person with that of another, we will observe rightly that some people obviously understand a great deal about our world. And since we are impressed by that, we will be misled. We need to see that in spiritual matters the important thing is that no one truly understands God or seeks to know him.

The best commentary upon this phrase is found in the first two chapters of 1 Corinthians. The people in the church at Corinth were mostly Greeks. They prized the wisdom of the Greek philosophers, as virtually all Greeks did. Paul writes that when he was with them he did not attempt to impress them with such wisdom, but rather that he determined to know nothing while among them “except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Why? He explains his decision in two ways.

First, human wisdom has shown itself bankrupt so far as coming to know God is concerned. Paul says that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:18–21). In making this indictment, Paul was only echoing what the best of the Greeks had themselves concluded. The philosophers already knew they had been unable to discover God through human reasoning or scholarship.

The second way Paul explains his decision to know nothing while among the Greeks but Christ crucified is the statement that spiritual matters can only be known by God’s Spirit: “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

This does not mean that a person cannot have a rational understanding of Christianity or what the Bible teaches apart from the illumination of his or her mind by the Holy Spirit. In one sense, a scholar can understand and explain theological principles as well as any other area of human knowledge. An unbelieving philosopher can lecture accurately on the Christian idea of God. An unbelieving historian can analyze to near perfection the nature of the Reformation and describe the meaning of justification by faith. When I was at Harvard University there were non-Christian professors who could present the doctrines of Christianity so brilliantly that Christians would marvel at their lectures and be edified by them. and even unbelieving students would rise to their feet and applaud. But these professors did not believe what they were teaching. If they had been asked their opinion of what they were so accurately presenting, they would have said that it was all utter nonsense. It is in this sense that they, not being “spiritual,” were unable to understand Christianity.

If we return to Romans 1, we are reminded of the cause of this ignorance. It is not that the doctrine of God (or any other doctrine of the Christian faith) is difficult to comprehend. It is rather that we do not want to move in the direction these doctrines lead us. So we suppress the truth about God, refusing to glorify or give thanks to him, and as a result our thinking becomes “futile” and our foolish hearts are “darkened” (v. 21).

The Captive Will: None Seeks God

Having spoken of our moral and intellectual failures, Paul moves at last to the area of the corrupt human will and concludes rightly that no one “seeks God.”

Here again we must not think in merely human terms. If we do, we will conclude, contrary to Paul’s teaching, that “seeking after God” has actually been the history of our race. I have already dealt with the academic expression of this view in our analysis of Romans 1:21–23, referring to Robert Brow’s Religion: Origins and Ideas. Brow maintains that study of primitive peoples suggests, not that the human race has moved from primitive conceptions of God to higher conceptions of him—thus seeking after “God” constantly—but rather that the human race has been consistently running away from ideas of a high and holy God. He argues that primitive peoples generally have a truer picture of God than we do, though they do not worship him. They believe in a great and true God who stands behind their pantheon of animistic deities or lesser gods, but they do not worship this God, because they do not fear him as much as they do the immediate and hostile powers.

F. Godet saw this and wrote, “At the root of all pagan religions and mythologies, there lies an original Monotheism, which is the historical starting-point in religion for all mankind.”

But here I want to focus on the way this negative principle works in our lives and society. Consider a man who believes himself to be the perfect refutation of Paul’s statement that there is no one who seeks God. “But I do seek him,” this man argues. “In fact, I have been seeking him all my life. I was born into a Baptist family; but I could not find God in my Baptist home or church. So, when I grew old enough to select a church on my own, I joined a Presbyterian church. Unfortunately, that was a bad church. No one could find God there. So I joined an Episcopalian church. Over the years I have attended almost every kind of church there is. I have been to Lutheran churches, Pentecostal churches, Methodist churches, Bible churches, independent churches. I have been seeking God all my life, but I haven’t found him.”

The answer to this man’s argument is that he has not been seeking God. He has been running away from him. When God got close to him in his Baptist home and church, he left that church and joined a Presbyterian congregation. And when things got hot for him there—God can work in Presbyterian churches—he joined an Episcopal church. When God got too close to him there, he left it for a succession of other denominations. If he gets to the end of this circle, he will probably look around carefully to see if anyone is looking and then jump back in at the beginning.

This man is not seeking God. He is merely using religious trappings to disguise his intention of running away from the Almighty and everything true commitment and faith would entail.

Pursued by God

I come back to where I was at the beginning of this study and say that according to the Bible no one unaided by the Spirit of God (1) has any righteousness by which to lay a claim upon God; (2) has any true understanding of God; or (3) seeks God. But what we do not have and cannot do and have not done, God has done for those who are being saved.

What exactly has God done? First, God has sought us. We had run from him, but like “The Hound of Heaven” God pursued us relentlessly. Some of us ran from God for a long time and can recall the days of our waywardness well. If God had not pursued us, we would have been lost eternally. We would never have come to God by ourselves. Now we know that no one is ever saved who has not first been pursued by God and been found by him. Second, God has given us understanding. He has done this by making us alive in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, as a result of which our eyes have been opened to see things spiritually. This does not mean that we perfectly comprehend all things about God and his ways, but we now truly “understand” in the sense that we believe these things and respond accordingly. Last of all, God has given us a righteousness that we did not have in ourselves and, in fact, could never have had—his righteousness, which is the righteousness of Jesus Christ and is the ground of our salvation.[1]

 


[1] Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: Justification by Faith (Vol. 1, pp. 289–296). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Theology: GOD IS INCOMPREHENSIBLE

 

 

The word according to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary means, “…..impossible to comprehend…..unintelligible…..” (By permission. From Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1991 by Merriam- Webster Inc., publisher of the Merriam-Webster (registered) Dictionaries.)

 

“…existential phenominology seeks to elucidate the existential nature of social structures by uncovering the surface institutional phenomena of the everyday, accepted world; by probing the subterranean, noninstitutional social depths concealed from public gaze, by interpreting the dialectic between the institutional and the noninstitutional…” (Sociology Of The Ubsurd. page 71)

 

Did you get that? Was it intelligible to you? That was a quote from a text book in a sociology class I took years ago. As time goes on and I reread this quote as an illustration, I find that I understand what it is saying — Scarrryy.

 

 

Tozer introduces his chapter on incomprehensibility with the thought that we cannot answer the question “What is God like?” “This book is an attempt to answer that question. Yet at the outset I must acknowledge that it cannot be answered, except to say that God is not like anything; that is, He is not exactly like anything or anybody.” (Tozer, A.W.; “THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY”; Lincoln, NE: Back to the Bible, 1961, p 31)

 

A man named Spenser stated “God is the great unknowable.” (The old song, “Getting To Know You” does not compute with God.) Someone reading Spenser said, “Spenser knows a lot about the unknowable.”

 

He, being an infinite Being Cannot be comprehended by finite beings. We mentioned Webster’s definition. It contains a term which does not apply to God. “unintelligible.” This implies something that can’t be understood because you can’t make sense of it. For example, the sound of computer data being transferred is unintelligible to the ear but with a computer you can understand it easily.

 

God is completely understandable when He communicates with us. The term incomprehensible has the idea that we can never comprehend all He is. Though we have been studying Him and His attributes we are doing so in our finite minds and we aren’t even smearing the surface of what there is to know about Him. We can never in our finite minds comprehend His being.

 

He is however knowable. Matthew 11:27,

 

All things are delivered unto me by my Father, and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, except the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.”

 

Through the Lord Jesus, we can know God in our limited capacity. (See also John 17:3, Philippians 3:10, 1 John 4:7.)

 

His greatness is unsearchable Psalm 145:3, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: and his greatness is unsearchable.” We will take about one hundred pages, looking at God and we will only begin to study Him. If you studied God for the rest of your days, I am sure that you would never feel that you had studied God. You would not have totally searched out all the data concerning God.

 

His understanding cannot be searched Isaiah 40:28,

 

“Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding.”

 

He can understand all things; He understands all things. We in our finite minds struggle with many things because we cannot understand all things.

 

His works are great and unsearchable.

 

Job 5:9, “Who doeth great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number;”

 

His judgments are unsearchable Romans 11:33,

 

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out.”

 

I suspect that as the Lord begins judgment, we will stand confused as to why He does things as He will. He has perfect knowledge, perfect justice, and perfect understanding. We will falter before His use of such attributes. I trust that He will take time to help us understand things.

 

APPLICATION

 

1. If he is incomprehensible then we can have an eternal theology proper class and never run out of information to study. Would anyone care to sign up for it? I think that I will, because the Lord teaches it.

 

2. We should never become proud of how much we know of God, for even one that has studied God all his life is only beginning.

 

3. If He is unsearchable, and we now know that He is, then how can we ever think that we have nothing to study in our quiet times. Indeed, how can we be satisfied with only a few minutes of quiet time a day?[1]

 


[1] Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.