Archive for April 10th, 2010

On Spiritual Free Will and Spiritual Predestination

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

The biblical theological issue of Free Will or Predestination to gain salvation is one that has persisted for hundreds of years, but one that has the upmost importance to the true believer. If the context of the words is spiritual, that is if the words, in the spiritual sense are juxtaposed, both concepts can not be true. One is true doctrine and one is false doctrine. It is critical that we understand the difference between things spiritual and things physical. Salvation is spiritual in that it is everlasting life with our Heavenly Father in heaven, whereas things of the flesh are physical. Therefore salvation is meaningless in a physical sense, since in the physical world, nothing is eternal. It is the purpose of this paper to state what I believe is solidly based on Holy Scripture and clarifies the role of both free will and predestination in our lives as believers.

 WHY IS IT IMPORTANT

 The Free Will case simply stated and based on an interpretation of certain scriptural verses can range from man makes a volitionary choice to be saved  and gain their salvation to the extreme that all mankind will be saved by a merciful God and receive their salvation.

The Predestination case simply stated is that almighty God, for His own divine purposes, chose before creation, those that He elected for salvation. Thus the term the Elect. The choice was God’s, according to His own sovereignty and divine purpose, not man’s.

The difference between the two concepts is in one, man is preeminent in his ability to choose whereas in the other, God is sovereign and transcends man. In essence, man is greater than God; the created is greater than the creator. This, I believe, is a fundamental tenant of the philosophy of Humanism.

 THE DIFFERENCE

Simply stated, in one case, the choice is of man and in the other, it is of God! Theologically, that difference is tremendous. The concept that almighty God is all powerful; all present, all knowing, infinite creator of all things must be compromised in the first case. Man was a creation of God, yet, in Free Will doctrine, God accedes to man and surrenders His sovereignty to man. Free Will doctrine makes man above God because it is man’s choice, not God’s, in the matter of salvation. In its most basic form it is idolatry because it gives man, the created, a capability that God does not have and makes him above God, the Creator. The doctrine is humanism in its most fundamental form. Man will ascend on his own merits, according to his pleasure.

SPIRITUAL FREE WILL

 The basis for spiritual Free Will doctrine stems from Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609). Arminius rejected unconditional predestination and limited atonement as taught by Calvin and others. He taught that there was a “preventing grace” that was conferred upon all by the Holy Spirit and this grace is “sufficient for belief’ in spite of our sinful nature. And therefore salvation. Arminius stated that the grace ”the grace sufficient for salvation is conferred upon the Elect and the non-Elect that if they will, they may be or may not be saved”.1 Arminius’ teaching was formalized in the Remonstrance of 1610 after Arminius’ death. Its main points of theology were:

  1. The divine decree of predestination is conditional.
  2. Atonement is intended to be universal.
  3. Man cannot exercise saving faith.
  4. The Grace of God is a necessary condition of human effort but is not irresistible in man.
  5. Believers can resist sin but can fall from grace.

 The main scriptural references that are used to justify spiritual Free Will are those that use adjectives such as all, every, whomsoever etc. when referring to salvation. John 3:16 is an example implying that anyone who believes in God shall not perish. John 3:17 implies the whole world might be saved. John 3:15 says whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life. There is also a common rationalization that God uses perfect foreknowledge to know who will choose Him and therefore chose them before the foundation of the world. This is an attempt to explain the very clear and plentiful scriptural references the Elect were chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:3-4 and Matt 25:34 et al),

 HOW DO YOU RECONCILE THE DIFFERENCES

 The key to reconciling the differences, I believe, is to first pray for spiritual wisdom, knowledge and understanding of the Word by the Holy Spirit (Col 1:9). Secondly, we must remember that scripture interprets scripture and is the inspired Word of God, not the opinions or influences of the men. God chose to transcribe His Word in a manner given by inspiration of God and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness (2Tim 3:16).  Everything is given by God (John 3:27) including belief and our ability to interpret His Word.

 As we study scripture though, it is important to follow some basic steps to aid our understanding. Actually the so-called Scientific Method was developed by early church fathers to study scripture and was adapted by scientists over the years to systematically study science. The starting point is to understanding is to develop the context of the verse by establishing the frame of reference and  / or the initial conditions that God was addressing in His message. Commonly, who is He addressing when the verse was written and who is He addressing with His spiritual message for all time. The Bible is a spiritual book with a spiritual message not only for who a verse was originally written (i.e. God’s message to the Jews in Rome penned by Paul) but for all believers for all time.

I suggest a couple of simple tests when reading scripture:

  1. Is this a spiritual message or a physical message? Is the writer speaking of flesh or spirit?
  2. Who is it that is being addressed?

Is the attribute referred to something that the natural man has or is it a gift of God?An example of Item 1. above might be Paul’s message in the book of Romans when he says “the good that I would do I do not do, but the evil I do” Surely this passage refers to the struggle of Paul in the flesh, and not in the spirit. Paul was personally chosen by God to proclaim His Word in penning most of the New Testament, but in the flesh, Paul struggled just as we all do.

 An example of Item 2. above is recorded in John, Chapter 3, when Christ speaks to Nicodemis about believers (whoever believes in Him). But who is that?  He tells us many different ways in scripture, but they all boil down to those who He chose to believe and whom He gave the gift of belief (Jn 6:29). How does He do this? Everyone who has heard the Word and learned from the Father, will come to Christ (Jn 6:39) but hearing is the spiritual hearing referred to in “Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of Christ” (Ro 10:17). The hearing in this context is spiritual because it comes directly from Christ.An example of Item 3. above is the subject of belief. Man can not understand or believe on his own (Jn 8:43, Jn 9:47, Jn 10:26). Belief is a work of God and a gift given to those whom God chose to bestow it upon (Jo 6:29). No one can come to the Father unless it has been bestowed (given) by the Father (Jn 6:65). Careful reading of verses that on a casual look indicate that everyone will be saved invariably shows that such interpretation is simply unsupportable. How about verses that refer to God’s desires or wishes (1Tim 2:4 and 1Pet 3:9) which are interpreted by Free Will doctrine that a loving God will save all men? The answer is an emphatic Yes that God desires that all men be saved. This is evidenced by His creation of man in the Garden of Eden, but sin entered in and in the flesh, man chose not to obey God. God wanted (desired) Adam and Eve to dwell in a perfect habitat and walk with Him, but man’s sin spoiled that perfection. God says “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord, is it not that he (the sinner) should turn from his ways and live (Eze 18:23).” God wishes it were true, but it is not! 

 PREDESTINATION

 The basic premise that I present is that both Free Will and Predestination are in fact true. Although, in asserting this fundamental truth there is a crucial distinction that must be understood. That crucial distinction is the realm in which we are speaking. The realm of Free Will is flesh where as, the realm of Predestination is spiritual.

In the Beginning

 Holy Scripture tells us in Genesis 1:1 that God created the heavens and the earth (that is, all space and time) and therefore God transcended the physical universe as we know it. God is not bound by the three spatial and one time dimension in which our physical universe resides. The Creator must reside in a higher dimensional order than that created. God has reveal through modern physics the truth of Gen. 1:1 in undeniable exactitude. There was the instant of creation when all matter, space and time came into being. Paul said it explicitly in Heb.11:3 when he said the God made what was seen (the universe) out of what was unseen or according to the early church fathers, Ex Nilio. Why is this important? Because it identifies God (a spiritual being) as beyond our comprehension as physical beings (beyond our dimensional bounds).

 We cannot perceive the spiritual nature of God because He is far beyond our three physical dimensional constraints. Holy Scripture also confirms this in many places such as who can know the mind of God (Ro.11:34)? Your ways are not my ways (Is.55:8), Where I go you cannot go (Jn.8:21).

What does it mean to be in a higher dimensional order? Try this thought experiment:

  1. Think of a line with length but without height or width (the definition of a line in geometry).
  2. Now think of two lines intersecting at 900  angles with length and width but without height.  A surface of these lines is a plane, like a sheet of paper.
  3. Now think of another line intersecting at a 900 angle with the two in 2. above (orthogonal axes). A box or any three dimensional object can be defined by an arrangement of three points of these axes.
  4. Now think of another line intersecting at a 900 angle with each and all of the three in 3. above.

 Opps! 1, 2, and 3 above are easy every day occurrences but 4.) is impossible for the human mind to comprehend. The numbers represent the number of dimensions of the case, so it is impossible for us three dimensional beings to even comprehend a four dimensional figure and God may be an infinite dimensional being! The point is very simple and absolutely true that man can not comprehend God!

 NOW COMES MAN

In Gen.1:26 after making a suitable habitat for man, and after He had created all of the other animals, God did something astounding. He made man. He said “Let us make man in our image, according to Our likeness”.  Now man by nature is three dimensional and God by His nature is multidimensional (higher than three dimensions), so the likeness cannot be referring to physical attributes. Gen. 2:7 amplifies the summary statement of Gen.1:26 and gives details of man’s creation and defines the difference between man and every other living creature. It says ”Then the Lord formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”. Note the word soul is literally used in this verse, not being! Being would be commonly understood to be physical, but soul implies a spiritual nature.

 Man was physically created from the dust of the earth, as were all other creatures on earth, but God breathed the spiritual breath of life into man’s nostrils. This was done to no other creature. Man has two natures, one physical, from the dust of the ground and one spiritual breathed by his Creator. This, I believe, is the meaning of Gen.1:26. The nature of our image in the likeness of God is the spiritual breath of life that made us a living eternal soul. This makes man part physical, in which we can touch, feel, see, hear, think, do, and choose. It is this part we can perceive in the flesh. The spiritual part, which we cannot comprehend within our physical bodies is God’s domain. No other creature is said to have this spiritual essence and that precisely separates us from all other creation. We are in fact created in Gods likeness!

 Obviously, if we cannot even perceive our spiritual self, how can we make spiritual choices?  The answer is that in things spiritual, we cannot (Ro.11:33). Holy Scripture verifies this throughout the book and the key to understanding this wisdom is to understand that spiritual wisdom must come from the Holy Spirit (Eph.1:7), not our flesh. In our flesh, we cannot understand spiritual things (Ro.3:11), they must be given as a free gift of God to those He chose from the foundation of the world (Eph 1:3-5) as a gift and through no merit on their own lest they boast (Eph. 2:8-9) and take credit on their own salvation (Eph.2:8-9).

 ***** MORE TO COME ****

A Failed Political System

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

 As much as I hate to say it, the United States has lost its way. Harsh words? Yes, but clearly true!

The greatness of any endeavor can be measured by the principles upon which it was founded. In our case, those principles were framed in our Constitution by men who sacrificed all to bring about a unique form of government that recognized that liberty is a blessing of God.

Consider the Preamble: ” We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense,  promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Over the last 50 years we have experienced political decay and a reversion to a European class system that has rapidly erroded the greatness of this wonderful country.

We have seen the rise of a political class who’s only aim seems to be its perpetuation. Our politicians, for the most part, have political careers that span decades. Many merely move from one office to another. The opiate of personal power has corrupted their judgment and every decision is predicated upon furthering their political career. The largess of Government dollars and social programs that enslave their constituent’s initative are designed to buy the votes of those willing to be bought.

A labor class has long been a reality but not socially acceptable to recognize as a social class. The role of trade unions in the private sector has diminished as enlightened management grew in its understanding that labor is a valuable resource that needs to be nurtured and invested in to assure high productivity.

On the contrary. public sector labor unions have dramatically increased since President John Kennedy’s Executive Order allowed unionization of public workers in 1960. Government employee unions now represent the largest and most rapidly growing labor movement in the United States.

The seeds of run away government labor costs have begun to show their effect since the politicians saw assured re-election by pandering to government worker unions like the police, fire, correctional officers, teachers, and public service workers with outlandish pay and pension programs. Government workers now, on average make $79,500 per year as opposed to private sector worker total compensation of $48,700 per year. The interesting thing is that economically speaking, industrial workers are a productive use of labor whereas government workers are a non-productive use of labor!

The devastating effect of this political phenomena has now emerged. Vallejo, California has gone bankrupt with nearly 80% of its budget required for police and fire protection, the City of Los Angeles insolvent and within weeks of bankruptcy and the States of New York, California, and others are insolvent.

 But don’t loose track of the basic problem. Self seeking politicians will do anything to perpetuate their political power! Is there any hope to turn things around? I think so, but it will meet tremendous resistance from our politicians, political parties, and special interests who have profited by the current system, and yes, those of us common people who have their hands in the public trough.

 The revolutionary solution is simple! Eliminate political office as a career!  The rationale is obvious, if there is no possibility of a prolonged career in politics, then there is no incentive to compromise principles to gain the support of special interests. Presumably, those who would seek an office would do so to solve or address issues and then go back to a productive career in the private sector.

Are there problems with this approach? Of course, but with proper deliberation, I feel this approach will work.

Simply stated, one term only and one political office only. The strictest of term limits! One and only one term and office!

 **** MORE TO COME ****