Wednesday, January 11, 2012

God, eternality, and other attributes/premises

"We do not know how an eternal God operates in time. We scarcely know what time is; it is not at all clear what eternity is (Does God know sequence?), still less how he relates to our time."
--D.A. Carson, Reflections on Assurance
Per Carson, I believe we are indeed too inclined to view God in terms of our own perception of time and creation, and fail to realize that God's eternal nature necessarily makes him independent of such created concepts as past, present, and future. If you believe as I do that time itself is a created thing then it necessarily follows that we can't tie God to the same restrictions that time imposes on us. Namely, from God's native point of view, there really is no such thing as past, present, or future -- By being the creator of time it necessarily follows that God exists (and existed) independent of time.

I submit the following premises, which I hope to elaborate on in some detail later. They are:

P1 - Omniscience -- God has perfect knowledge; Natural, Middle (Molinism), and Free.
P2 - Omnipotence -- God has the power to do anything that is consistent with his nature.
P3 - Omnibenevolence -- God will always do what is best according to his nature.
P4 - Sovereignty -- God's authority to act in accordance with his nature is not contingent upon anyone/thing other than his own said nature.
P5 - Eternality -- That God, as creator of time, is himself beyond time (meta-temporal).  He is not merely traversing time with us -- he has the freedom and even the necessary ability to exist and operate around and within all aspects of time (past, present, and future) simultaneously.

Among other things, one of the conclusions of these premises if accepted as true... 
C - It inescapably follows that, in actualizing this world in accordance with his own nature, that this is in fact the best of all possible worlds.

This is not to be confused with "the best of all conceivable worlds", which is a mis-guided apples-to-oranges criticism that fails to properly distinguish what's "actually possible" from what's "merely conceivable". The alternative is to suggest that it's actually possible for God to have "done better" by actualizing a different reality -- a view which I believe strikes against the very nature of God and so I reject it because accepting it would destroy the very God that I have come to believe all of existence is contingent upon.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Discussions -- Conscience, salvation, and grace

Had some good discussions on Sunday regarding some aspects of Rom 2. Some that stood out to me and would be willing to discuss more are the following.

#1 To what degree can you trust your conscience? (Rom 2:15)
#2 Can one be "saved" even if they've committed no offense? (Rom 2:7,10)
#3 Do we over-emphasize grace? (Rom 2:5-11)

To #1 -- My short answer on this is... see Rom 14. The biblical example of varying conscience regarding meat and special days declares pretty clearly that our conscience, even among Christians, is not objective, consistent and reliable. Not that we should ignore our conscience for that is its own sin (Rom 14:23) but we need to submit and shape our conscience to fit truth rather than fit truth to the whims of our conscience.

To #2 -- Yes, because the judgment we ultimately face is a judgment against mankind as a whole, not just us as individuals. Thus, even if we could (for sake of discussion) live an entire lifetime free of personal sin we are nevertheless 'sinners" positionally by nature and in need of salvation.

To #3 -- In the context of "getting saved" (justification) I think it's impossible to over-emphasize grace since salvation is by no other means than grace through faith. (Eph 2:8,9) It's often confusing in-fact to discuss sanctification in the context of justification because there's a tendency to blur the distinction as do John MacArthur, Ray Comfort, and others who espouse Lordship Salvation.

However, In the context of "living saved" (sanctification) grace CAN be over-emphasized to the point of fostering an antinomian attitude which is just as wrong as legalism. (Rom 6).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lordship and False Followers – Matthew 7:21-23

In a recent article about this passage, Dr Charlie Bing starts "This passage is often cited to show that many professing Christians are not actually saved..."

No doubt you have heard this passage used this way as well. I recall in particular having heard a sermon by Ray in a well-known sermon of his called Hell's Best Kept Secret. If you've heard this sermon then you should know what a travesty it is against salvation by grace through faith as taught in the Bible. In a nutshell, Ray claims this passage to support the idea that salvation is like a parachute in that it's something we can be offered, and even accept, but it's still up to us to keep holding onto it. Ray's message, and the Lordship Salvation he and others teach, remind me of Matt 23:4 (NLT) which says, "They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden."

Contrarily, Matt 7 is a precision indictment against the very Lordship Salvation he and so many popular pastors espouse today.

Read the rest of his insightful article which addresses the common misuse of this passage.