Posts for May 2010
5 Posts found

Proverbs 20.24, 21.1 & Ephesians 1.3-6
Predestination
Posted: 31 May 2010 in Ephesians, Proverbs

“Man’s goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?”

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will”

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”

The above are, of course, just three of the many allusions to predestination/preordination to be found in the Bible. It is easy enough to understand why people have difficulty with this doctrine, and the God revealed in the Bible is probably not one we would invent for ourselves. Nevertheless, God does not leave things to chance, and least of all did he leave the death and resurrection of Jesus to chance. Which means the treachery of Judas must have been preordained.

And yet Judas is not thereby relieved of moral responsibility for his actions. Matthew 25.31-46 makes it clear that we will similarly be held accountable for our actions, even though we too are subject to God’s predestination. It is very difficult to see how those two themes can be reconciled, but the fact that they are both to be found in the Bible requires us to embrace both of them – holding them in a creative tension. It is not open to us, as it is to atheists, to say that we can’t understand it, and therefore it can’t be true. We are the ones who must live with Mystery (capital ‘M’).

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Tags: human responsibility, predestination, preordination

Luke 12.22-31 – Relying upon God
Posted: 30 May 2010 in Luke

And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Here is another of those scriptural psssages exhorting us to trust in God, and not to rely upon ourselves. Clearly it would be easier to serve God if we did not have to worry about every day necessities, but that is nevertheless a very difficult lesson to take on board. Not the least reason for the difficulty is being unsure whether we would really be obeying Jesus’ injunction to rely upon God for our needs, or whether we would simply be displaying an ill advised imprudence.

Immediately preceding this passage is another one warning us not to idolse material well being. That is perhaps easier to take on board, but no easier to put into practice.

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Tags: trusting in god

Nehemiah 9.6-8 – God as Creator and Lord
Posted: 29 May 2010 in Nehemiah

Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee. Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham; And foundest his heart faithful before thee, and madest a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Jebusites, and the Girgashites, to give it, I say, to his seed, and hast performed thy words; for thou art righteous:

The best known hymns to God as Creator are, of course, to be found in the opening chapters of Genesis. Here, however, is a reminder that creation is not just a one off event, which occurred in the immeasurably distant past, but is, rather, an ongoing process by which God seeks to guide creation towards its ultimate destiny.

This creative activity of God was, obviously, preeminently to be seen in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Nevertheless, just as creation wasn’t a one off event, it wasn’t a twofold event either, and God is still at work in the world today. Even in those areas where mankind has had a share in God’s creative activity, those accomplishments were only possible because God had gifted the individuals concerned with the necessary skills. Our responsibility is to cooperate with God, and to use our skills in the manner desired by him.

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Tags: creation, purposes of god

Genesis 3.1-6 & Luke 10.21 – Pride and Salvation
Posted: 28 May 2010 in Genesis, Luke
And he [the serpent] said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may [not] eat….. of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die….. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat….

 

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.

This episode in Genesis, commonly known as the fall, is a story of human pride and rebellion against God. In idiomatic Hebrew the phrase “knowledge of good and evil” referred to the wide sweep of knowledge in general, and not just to a knowledge of morality.

We, in common with the rest of our species, do not want to live in dependence upon God. Instead we would much prefer to arrange things for ourselves, and that requires that we eat at the tree of knowledge. This project has had mixed results. It has brought us (for instance) the benefits of medical science, but it has also brought us the H bomb, and, with it, the likelihood that we will wipe ourselves off the face of the planet sometime in the next two or three centuries. Perhaps even this one.

In his prayer to the Father Jesus makes it clear that there is no point in us trying to engineer our own salvation. Salvation is something which can only be wrought by God, and for that reason it is only available to those who are prepared to live in dependence upon him. Being wise in our own eyes will serve us ill here. Instead we can only embrace the wisdom of God in trust and obedience. It is a wisdom which is scarcely comprehensible to us, but it is the only one which can lead to our salvation.

This is a theme widely echoed in Paul’s epistles (cf 1 Cor 1.26).

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Tags: obedience, original sin, pride, salvation, the fall, trusting in god

2 Timothy 3.16 – Authority of Scripture
Posted: 27 May 2010 in 2 Timothy

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

There is much in the Bible that is inimical to the spirit of the age. Whilst it must be recognised that the Bible was written between two and three thousand years ago, and some of what is in it is culturally conditioned, there is much within it that isn’t. Doctrines such as Predestination, the limited scope of salvation, and the uniqueness of Christ, are ones which the modern mind is likely to have problems with. For liberals, amongst whom I would include myself, there is the constant danger of deciding that a doctrine is hard to swallow, and that the Bible therefore cannot mean what it says.

Nevertheless, the Bible, is meant to be authoritative – especially amongst Protestants, but also amongst Catholics. There is nothing to suggest that any of these doctrines are time conditioned, so they, as well as others like them, must be accepted as revealed by God. To do otherwise is to sit in judgment upon the scriptures inspired by him, and therefore to sit in judgment upon God himself.

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Tags: authority of scripture, bible, inspiration of scripture