More John Piper on the Problem of Evil

The discussion about Greg Boyd and the problem of evil is still ongoing as I write this blog. The whole thing began with John Piper (John Piper→Greg Boyd→Denny Burk→Greg Boyd→Denny Burk), and so it’s fitting to bring him in again now.

Last week John Piper delivered a series of message at Wheaton College titled “Treasuring Christ and the Call to Suffer.” In these messages he addresses the very questions we’ve been discussing for over a week now. If Piper’s messages do anything, they show that the view I have been arguing for is not narrowly derived from the book of Job. Dr. Piper powerfully communicates the truth that God’s sovereignty over evil and Satan appears all over the Bible.

You should listen to all of these messages as well as the Q&A with students. The Desiring God website has made the messages available for free download. Here they are.

  • Treasuring Christ and the Call to Suffer, Part 1
    If you are a Christian, it is not a question of whether you will suffer, but when. And natural suffering like disease or disasters can be as much for Christ as persecution is.
  • Part 2
    Whether God is delivering us from suffering or prolonging it, one thing is most important to him—displaying the worth of Christ.
  • Part 3
    God ordains and orders the suffering of the world to show how horrific sin is.
  • Part 4
    How can we have joy amid so much suffering?
  • Q & A
    John Piper answers questions from Wheaton students.

110 Responses to More John Piper on the Problem of Evil

  1. Lucas Knisely September 10, 2007 at 6:25 am #

    Thanks Denny. I’ve been putting Piper’s sermons on my phone so I can listen to them on my break at work. I will definitely grab all of these.

  2. mlm September 10, 2007 at 7:13 am #

    From Piper’s Part 1, Piper says he’s going to lump all suffering in one pot because: “Paul seems to do this. In 2 Corinthians 12:10, Paul lists his sufferings twice and then says that “for the sake of Christ [he is] content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, calamities . . . .” And in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 he mentions imprisonment, beatings, stonings, danger from rivers, danger from robbers, toil, hardship, cold, etc. The pain that happens to you in the path of obedience to Christ is suffering with Christ.”

    Paul SEEMS to do this?? “Seems” isn’t good enough when it comes to establishing doctrine for Christians worldwide. Besides, to me, Paul SEEMS to do the very opposite of what Piper claims. He doesn’t list sickness or calamity or cancer in his litany of expected persecutions. Since when did those holding our martyrs captives for the faith put sickness and disease upon them? Is that in their power to do? No. Nor is it in God’s.

    Piper takes such a leap here and it’s one I can’t follow. Sorry.

  3. Open24Hours September 10, 2007 at 9:02 am #

    If we are focused on doing our ministry (i.e. Christ loving others through us and bringing the gospel to the world and to each other in word and deed), anything that gets in the way, including sickness, counts as suffering for the gospel:

    Philippians 2:25-30 But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker…because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him…. Hold men like him in high regard; because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.

    Praise God for teaching us to live all of life with Him and His cause in view, and to stop compartmentalizing our lives and responsibilities to the point that sickness is not suffering for Christ, and nothing to be held in high esteem for enduring faithfully through.

    Praise the Lord, and may He keep it on our hearts to boast in our weaknesses as Paul was demonstrating, those weaknesses including our thorns in the flesh (including illnesses and disabilities).

  4. Denny Burk September 10, 2007 at 9:16 am #

    MLM (in #2),

    Theologians and philosophers are careful to speak about two different kinds of “evil” in the world: (1) natural evil and (2) moral evil. Natural evil are bad things that happen that are not stemming from the actions or choices of moral agents. Moral evil does stem from the choices or actions of a moral agent.

    Thus when Hitler and the Third Reich perpetrated the Holocaust, that was a great moral evil. When the Tsunami devastated southeast Asia, that was a natural evil. Both were horrific human tragedies, but we have to distinguish them because one was the result of moral evil while the other was not.

    All John Piper is saying is that the Bible (and Paul in particular) speaks of God’s sovereignty over both moral evil and natural evil. When you look at the list of items in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 and 12:10, you can see both natural evils and moral evils in the lists:

    Moral Evils: imprisonment, beatings, thirty-nine lashes, beaten with rods, stoning, robbers, insults

    Natural Evils: shipwrecked, dangers from rivers, dangers on the sea, hunger, thirst, without food, in cold and exposure

    Piper is merely saying that God the Paul lumps all of these kinds of sufferings together, and that is indisputable.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  5. mlm September 10, 2007 at 9:41 am #

    Denny,

    Thank you for proving my point. No where in your list (of moral OR natural evils) do you name sickness, cancer, etc. Paul doesn’t either.

    If we’re going to get picky, “weakness from a beating” (or from over-exerting one’s self as in the case of Epaphroditus, who by the way, seems to have brought his illness upon himself and it was God in His mercy who RESTORED him) is not the same as sickness. Paul knew his line of work was dangerous. He chose to answer the call of Christ anyway. That’s like saying a soldier returning from war can claim that God made him weak, when it was an IRD in a war zone that the soldier freely entered that wreaked havoc on his body. We make choices. Some good, some bad—all with consequences.

    Frankly, to say God makes people sick, makes me sick. Jesus is the Healer. Period. When the Pharisees (the theologians of the day) claimed Jesus was also afflicting people in order to heal them, Jesus rebuked such false teaching. Actually, Jesus told them they got those lies from their father the devil. Then Jesus explained that He doesn’t both afflict and deliver, for a house divided against itself cannot stand.

    I don’t kid myself to think I will change the way you or Piper (or any others who choose to embrace this doctrine) believe. But I can’t sit idly by while God’s character is maligned. I can’t be quiet while Christians (of all people!) attribute evil to God (yet call it “good” in all sorts of subversive linguistic gymnastics; didn’t Paul talk about the end days when people would wrongly call evil “good”?).

    So I speak out, futily perhaps, but knowing that while God doesn’t need me to defend Him, He’s my father and I wouldn’t let you get away with saying such horrible things about my earthly father either.

  6. Carlito September 10, 2007 at 11:24 am #

    mlm,

    The irony here is that we are attempting to defend the maligning of God’s character as well – specifically His authority and power over His creation.

    God is supremely powerful over all of the world’s evils – including sickness, cancer, etc. Would you agree that God has the power to heal WHOM He wants and WHEN He wants? The issue that I take with your view is that you indirectly say that God doesn’t have ultimate control over sickness and disease and calamity. I refuse to worship a weak God who doesn’t have the power to heal. Therefore, when someone I know has a sickness or is suffering some sort of physical pain, I won’t say “Well, if God could, He would heal you. I wish He was strong enough to answer your prayer. I guess Satan got the upper hand on God in this circumstance”. I’m sorry, I just can’t buy that.

    I believe this: God is not the author of sin. Satan is the author of sin. Satan is horrible. He beats us up, he makes things hard, he causes suffering, pain, etc. HOWEVER, he ultimately has NO authority beyond what God permits. He does nothing that is outside of the sovereign purposes of God in trials and tribulation. God has a purpose and a design for each person’s life, and He will work out ALL things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

    Question: how would you interpret this passage (2 Corinthians 12)?
    —————–
    Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me–to keep me from exalting myself!
    Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.
    And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness ” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
    —————–

    Notice that God does not say “I wish I could heal you, but Satan prevents me from doing it.” On the contrary, He simply replies, “My grace is sufficient for you!”.

    We see in this passage that Paul is not a fatalist. He prays and implores THREE times that God would heal him!! So, in the same way, we’re called to pray for healing, to pray for restoration, and we ask God to do a mighty work when we are faced with disease or cancer or whatever. We know that God DOES have the power to heal!!!! But, if our prayers aren’t answered the way we would prefer, we rejoice that God has called us out of darkness into marvelous light, and that His power is glorified in our weak bodies. And we persevere! And we trust (gladly!), as Paul did. If we’re trusting in an Almighty God, we know that if He has not healed us or brought relief, He indeed has wise and purposeful designs for each circumstance. And we know that NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ – neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing.

  7. mlm September 10, 2007 at 11:46 am #

    Carlito,

    Thanks for your comment. I always sense such a genuine love and peace behind your words. Seriosly.

    As for the passage you asked my opinion on…I have several thoughts. this blog space isn’t the best place for this sort of thoughtful (or long) dialogue, but I’ll try my best to convey my opinion.

    In Bible school, that passage was handled a tad differently than the way you presented it. We know the revelations Paul is talking about is when he was with the Lord Jesus (either in the body or out of the body, he didn’t know). These revelations included the great mission God had called Paul to, and which Paul accepted. It is my understanding of this passage (coupled with church history and other biblical passages), that there was a group of Judiazers (sp?) that followed Paul from place to place with the sole intent of disrupting his ministry. Paul wasn’t asking God to heal him…He was asking God to remove this barrier/this group of troublemakers.

    These men were the thorn in the flesh Paul talks about. They made his work much harder and kept him from reaching the place of success that he wanted to reach (or so Paul thought). These men stirred up strife and trouble and persecution of Paul and the Gospel every where he went. Paul asked the Lord to remove them from his path. God answered, “My grace is enough for you.”

    To me, this is a great proof of God’s (self-imposed) “power” in our life. God does not override the will of men–good will of good men or evil will of evil men. Instead, He supplies His grace, which abounds all the more where sin abounds. And His grace is enough to cause us to succeed in His plan for our life.

    Sidenote: If you study all the times in the OT that the phrase “thorn in the flesh” was used, it doesn’t refer to sickness or calamity. Time and again, it refers to a group of people who were anti-God and busy making trouble for God’s people. We can’t pray that these people be removed from our life. This is the persecution and the tribulation that is sure to come. But we can pray that God’s grace be made perfect when our human weakness wants to give up in the face of persecution.

    As far as your comments regarding those who are sick beyond our prayers…I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I don’t have many. But I can’t reconcile what’s in my heart and what I read in the Bible with the teaching that God is the one behind sickness (however you want to spin it).

    Yes, God has the power to heal. Not once in the ministry of Jesus do we see Jesus turn someone away and tell them, “It’s not my will to heal you.” Nor did Jesus ever tell someone that He had a divine purpose in their illness. Instead, He was moved with compassion and healed the sick. (The one place he was able to do no mighty work was in the town where people doubted Him–who He was (His nature) and His authority to heal, whcih sadly reminds me of some theologians today who bind God’s hand with their doubt and unbelief in this regard.)

    Jesus was God made flesh. He only did what His Father instructed. And we see Him healing. Why should Jesus (who never changes) be any different with us today? Why should He turn believing hearts away when He never did ONCE when He walked the earth?

    Sure, some people don’t get healed. But I believe the fault lies anywhere but with the Lord. Can I pinpoint the fault? I wouldn’t even try (except sometimes in my own life). But it does help me at times–when praying for my own healing–to remember that Daniel’s prayers were heard immediately but the answer was delayed. God even immediately dispatched the answer, but evil princes of the air battled to prevent the answer from arriving. Does this still happen today? I don’t see why not? And how can it be that evil forces can hold back God’s emmisary? Well, apparently they can. But not forever. And that’s why I don’t give up even when answers are slow to come. I don’t blame God. I know He’s working on my behalf and the answer will manifest if I keep believing. After all, it’s through faith AND patience that we inherit the promises of God. What would have happened if Daniel had given up? Resigned himself to his fate as being a work of God? Who knows? But he didn’t. And the answer that took place immediately in the spirit realm eventually took shape in the natural realm. Praise God!

    First John 5:14 & 15 are of great comfort to me when I pray. Jesus proves to me that healing is God’s will. So when I pray for healing, according to God’s will, I know God hears me. And I have confidence that when God hears my prayer, I have the petitions I have asked of Him.

    If it’s God’s will for me to be sick or stay sick, why pray to get well? Why not pray to be more sick and more often? Why seek medical attention? No, healing is good and every good gift comes from God.

  8. Bryan L September 10, 2007 at 11:52 am #

    Carlito, where I become a little concerned with your response is that you appeal to what kind of God you want to worship and what kind your refuse to worship. OT’s are often accused of not being able to stomach the Calvinist’s God or of not being able to accept the hard implications of the Calvinistic view on God’s sovereignty, yet I see it on both sides.

    My question is, is it right for us to look at the God that the other side puts forth from their reading of the Bible and reject it based on our own preference of what we would like God to look like or what he must look like to us, to be God. Some people would say that a God that can experience emotion is not worthy to be worshiped yet one of the outcomes of Open Theism is that people are starting to take serious how the Bible pictures God’s empotions and not automatically writing that of as invalid.

    At the least do you think that both sides approach the biblical data with their own ideas of God and what he must be like and what he can’t be like and sometimes read that into the Biblical data or even use those preconceived notions as the lenses through which they read and interpret the Bible and do theology?

    Thanks Carlito.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  9. Bryan L September 10, 2007 at 12:00 pm #

    Carlito,
    I had another question or comment that I wanted to bring up but I didn’t want it to get lost in my last one. You said
    “I believe this: God is not the author of sin. Satan is the author of sin. Satan is horrible. He beats us up, he makes things hard, he causes suffering, pain, etc. HOWEVER, he ultimately has NO authority beyond what God permits.”

    How do you see the origin of Satan? Do you believe God created Satan with those specific purposes? If you believe that “He does nothing that is outside of the sovereign purposes of God in trials and tribulation.” then it seems like Satan was created for just that purpose by God, unless you want to say that Satan chose his own path irrespective of what God wanted.

    If Satan is the author of sin, yet only so because God purposed/destined him to be that way then it still seems sin has its origin in God. Using an analogy; if I bred a dog to just kill and maim anyone it came into contact with then I am responsible for what that dog does in fact do since I could have bred it to be a nice loving dog. That dog did not create itself with the purpose to kill and maim. I bred and trained it with that specific purpose.

    So what do you (or anyone else) think about the origin and purpose of Satan and God’s involvement in that?

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  10. Bryan L September 10, 2007 at 12:11 pm #

    MLM,
    You said, “Sidenote: If you study all the times in the OT that the phrase “thorn in the flesh” was used, it doesn’t refer to sickness or calamity. Time and again, it refers to a group of people who were anti-God and busy making trouble for God’s people.”

    Can you point to any of these verses? I was actually searching on this yesterday but was unable to find it and I didn’t know if it was the Bible translations I was using.

    Also great point when you said
    “Daniel’s prayers were heard immediately but the answer was delayed. God even immediately dispatched the answer, but evil princes of the air battled to prevent the answer from arriving.”

    I think we often don’t want to take that seriously or think through what the implications of it might be. Especially when we ask whether Daniels continued prayer and fasting were directly related to the break through.

    BTW Carlito I agree with MLM when she said “I always sense such a genuine love and peace behind your words. Seriosly.”
    Thanks for being a great dialog partner on these tough issues. You should start a blog 🙂

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  11. mlm September 10, 2007 at 12:12 pm #

    One other thought for Carlito (and whomever)…I don’t know if you are a father, but in Matthew Jesus tells us that our Heavenly Father is more giving and good than our earthly fathers.

    Therefore, if we being “evil” or “natural” will give good gifts to our children, HOW MUCH MORE will God give good gifts to those who ask Him? And please don’t start telling me that God’s definition of “good” is different than ours. First, God already contrasted Himself as being the opposite of evil, and detailed an example of what an evil father would do (give a snake instead of a fish). The Bible tells us that God’s ways are higher than our ways. This, to me, means they are better ways, not that God’s ways are more evil, devious, or perverted than our ways.

    With this in mind, tell me which would insult you more as a father: For your child to come to you in need and say, “Dad, I know you want to help me but you just don’t have the power to do so.” Or, would you be more insulted if your child came to you and said, “Dad, I really need your help. I know you have the power to help me, but I don’t know if you WANT to.”

    Don’t misunderstand me: I think God has both the power and the desire. But since you were stating the irony of our positions as my maligning God for not having power and your malinging Him for not being good and giving. If you are correct, and one of us MUST be maligning God, I would rather doubt His power than His character.

  12. mlm September 10, 2007 at 12:40 pm #

    Bryan L,

    I’m so honored that you’re asking ME for something! :o)

    Numbers 33:54-55
    54And ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families: and to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man’s inheritance shall be in the place where his lot falleth; according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit.
    55But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.
    **
    Judges 2:2-3
    2And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?
    3Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.
    **
    2 Samuel 23:6
    6But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands:
    **
    Psalm 118:11-13
    11They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
    12They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
    13Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me.
    **
    Ezekial 2:6
    6And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.

  13. mlm September 10, 2007 at 2:31 pm #

    What happened to Jeremy’s comment?

  14. Kevin Jones September 10, 2007 at 4:22 pm #

    mlm & Bryan L,

    It is terribly disappointing (but NOT surprising) to see how you both think you are defending God’s nature but you unknowingly are making man into “God” and God into a puppet that will only work if we have the self-created faith to believe in Him.

    I know you do not see this right now but it is HUMANLY IMPOSSIBLE to explain to a fish that he is wet and for him to understand what it means – when that is all he has known for his whole life. America is swimming in the arrogance of a man-centered theology. Only by God’s grace and sovereignty will He show you the glory of His sovereign Lordship (Control, Authority and Presence). I pray that He will do the same for both of you as He has done for me.

    To God be the glory!

  15. jeremy z September 10, 2007 at 4:47 pm #

    Yeah, what happen to my comment? I think it is fair to have a balanced perspective on Piper’s messages.

    I hope that my comment did not come off offensive.

    We all are trying to advance the Kingdom here. I think it only be wise to hear multiple perspectives. I am not critiquing the person, but the perspective.

    I will contact Denny to see why my post, entitled “Piper piping his own pipe” was detracted.

    In His Grip,
    Jeremy

  16. mlm September 10, 2007 at 6:11 pm #

    Kevin,

    I understand what you’re saying (you’re saying I’m a fish!), but you may be surprised to learn where my beliefs came from. I was a student of philosophy for many years, so these aren’t beliefs I’ve “had my whole life.” Bryan explains how he came to believe what he does on his own blog. (You might want to check it out.)

    But one thing you said caught my attention: You used the phrase “self-created faith.” Interesting, but wrong. The Bible clearly teaches that God has given to each of us a measure of faith. It’s not something we create. It’s something we’re given the capacity for by God. Something that comes be hearing—AND by accepting what we’ve heard as truth. (King Agrippa heard the Apostle Paul preach the Gospel, but he didn’t believe.)

    The Bible also makes it clear that it’s this faith (coupled with grace) whereby we are saved. Faith is just a fancy term for what we believe. We know the Gospel is the “POWER OF GOD” unto salvation, for those who BELIEVE. There is a definite connection between believing and the power of God being manifest.

    Jesus Himself makes is abundantly clear that His power is not enough. (I know this statement probably makes you gasp.) But what we believe (about Jesus and His power) has a part to play in what we will or will not receive from Him. How many times did Jesus heal and say “Be it done unto you *according to your faith*”? Jesus had the same power in every situation. As God, His power never waned. Yet not everyone was touched by His power. In one such instance, the throngs of people were pressing Him, yet only one lady was healed (the woman with the issue of blood). Jesus knew “virtue” or POWER had gone out of Him, but HE (JESUS) made the statement that it was HER FAITH that healed her. You see, people accessed His power by believing in it. Those who didn’t believe, didn’t receive (the town where Jesus could do no mighty work).

    If Jesus Himself makes a connection between my beliefs creating an avenue for His power (and the lack of my beliefs limiting His power), then I should give it great thought.

    And to risk being facetitious at the end of such a serious comment, if it’s true that one of us must be guilty, I’d rather be guilty of creating God in my image than creating Him in the image of the devil. Evil is as evil does.

  17. Kevin Jones September 10, 2007 at 7:25 pm #

    mlm,

    What verse are you using for the “measure of faith”? I think I have an idea but I just want to be sure.

  18. Kevin Jones September 10, 2007 at 7:46 pm #

    mlm:

    “But one thing you said caught my attention: You used the phrase “self-created faith.” Interesting, but wrong. The Bible clearly teaches that God has given to each of us a measure of faith. It’s not something we create. It’s something we’re given the capacity for by God. Something that comes be hearing—AND by accepting what we’ve heard as truth. (King Agrippa heard the Apostle Paul preach the Gospel, but he didn’t believe.)”

    So, just to make sure I understand you, you are saying that ALL people that have ever existed and ever will exist have been given a measure of faith and then God leaves it up to us whether we will believe or not believe. Am I correct in my understanding?

    If I am correct and you want, please explain how you came to that belief (verses and exposition). Thank you for understanding my confusion.

  19. jeremy z September 10, 2007 at 12:56 pm #

    Piper pipes his own pipe.

    I just listen to all of Piper’s messages. Talk about a guy who is culturally detached. Here is why Piper concerns me:
    1. He associates that God orders sin in the world to show people how bad it is. Yes, great idea. Jesus did this all the time. Jesus would usher in a storm, and then sit Peter down. Jesus would say: Peter were you afraid? Peter would say yes immediately. Then, Jesus would say: Now Peter I do not want you to sin or else this storm is going to happen again. This rationale is webbed with guilt not grace. What type of Christian ideology is: Let’s scare people into the Kingdom. That is definately not layered with love. I am sorry but Piper’s messages are not layered in love what so ever. Can you imagine a non-believer (who has had terrible up bringing, has tattoos all over himself) walking into those messages. I bet he would have been down at the alter in no time……….not!

    2. One of the questions Piper was asked was; What is the most difficult thing about being in ministry?

    Piper response his marriage. What? Your marriage should be the most beautiful thing you have going in your ministry. Your ministry to your wife is your number 1. Is is your priority. Your marriage should not be a hinderance, but a huge help!!!!

    3. Piper is too narrow. I think it is funny Piper only attends conferences, speaking engagements, and events that only pipe his own pipe. I am from minneapolis and Piper’s church consists of a bunch of grey hairs. And the reality is: Piper’s church is located right in the heart of Minneapolis where there are many many needs. The problem is his Church demographics do not match the cities demograhics; at all.
    If Piper was a huge proponent for God ordaining suffering so those can see how bad sin is, why isn’t he hanging around the sinners? The fact that he spoke at Wheaton college implies to me that this man enters safe and comfortable environments to do Kingdom work. Personally, I strongly believe Piper needs to take off his nice pressed suit along with his matching tie and do Kingdom work where it may require getting dirty. He may stand firm on “his doctrine” but how his doctrine articulating love to the outsiders of the Kingdom? The outsiders of the Kingdom of God do not want to hear how much of a sinner they are, they want to hear, feel, and experience love. And since the number one commandment is love, then maybe we should be compelled to have this as a non-essential instead of having our doctrines as non-essentials.

    4. A student asked if a person who has never heard the gospel, will he or she go to hell?
    Piper without any pause, goes yes.
    Who died and made Piper god? How gives Piper any right and leverage to make this judgement? Maybe “his doctrine”. How does he know? Has he sat up with Jesus and God on their judgement seat?
    To be frank, this is not only rude but selfish.

    5. Piper is too black and white. Seemingly Piper has an answer for everything. Apparently, “his doctrine” defines the mysterious nature of God. I would love just to hear Piper say: I do not know–that is a great question but I am not sure.

    My concern is that Piper needs to live in view of the reality of where the Kingdom of God is at here in America. I can give you a list of names of Church’s all around the US that are dying because they have been preaching the same old message day in and day out. America needs followers of Christ to live with love while allowing to get their hands dirty and that means living with the sinners. Living with sinners simply means to serve, to bless, to befriend and establish a rapport and relationship before getting on your bunhorn to preach the Gospel. One student asks how do I communicate the gospel to an un-saved elderly man who is on his death bed in the retirement home that he, the student is working at? Maybe he should….bless, befriend, serve, and love on this wonderful old man and when God gives him a window of opportunity he communicate the love and grace God gives. But first their is an established relationship before speaking to him in truth. Not the reverse.

    Thanks for reading. These are my thoughts.

    Jeremy

  20. Denny Burk September 11, 2007 at 1:01 am #

    Jeremy Z’s comment is #13.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  21. Jason September 11, 2007 at 7:34 am #

    In response to MLM

    In #7 you said, ” Nor did Jesus ever tell someone that He had a divine purpose in their illness. ”

    I pose the situation in John 9:1-3

    As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

    It sounds as if Jesus was telling that there was a divine purpose for this man’s blindness.

  22. Denny Burk September 11, 2007 at 7:58 am #

    Jason,

    Right on, bro. And that kind of talk is all over the Bible.

    Denny

  23. mlm September 11, 2007 at 8:06 am #

    Jason,

    If you keep reading and consider when commas were placed in the English text, it could very well be read that Jesus simply said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened. So that the work of God may be displayed in his life, I’m going to heal him.” And He did. Throughout the Bible, we see God getting glory AFTER someone is healed or delivered or raised from the dead. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, not to inflict them for any sort of purposes.

  24. mlm September 11, 2007 at 8:16 am #

    Kevin,

    I’m sort of confused as to what you’re saying/asking/understanding/etc. Can you clarify? Sorry.

  25. Kevin Jones September 11, 2007 at 9:01 am #

    mlm,

    I am confused about what you think that “faith” is and where it comes from. You say it is a gift…so who is the gift given to? Every person or just some people? Please back up your answer with scripture.

    Oh, and by the way, please do not change the grammar to fit your answer…please leave the grammar the way God intended. 🙂

  26. Kevin Jones September 11, 2007 at 9:06 am #

    Anyone out there that has a problem with God’s sovereignty over evil…please give your explanation of Proverbs 16:4 (and I do not even see how changing the grammar can change the meaning of this one):

    Prov. 16:4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

  27. Bryan L September 11, 2007 at 9:14 am #

    Picking up on MLM’s comment on John 9:1-3, it can be translated without “this happened” so that it reads “3“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,”said Jesus, “But so that the works of God might be displayed in him, as long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me.”

    Denny you said “And that kind of talk is all over the Bible.” Like where??

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  28. Daniel Davis September 11, 2007 at 9:30 am #

    Therefore, if we being “evil” or “natural” will give good gifts to our children, HOW MUCH MORE will God give good gifts to those who ask Him? And please don’t start telling me that God’s definition of “good” is different than ours. mlm – “First, God already contrasted Himself as being the opposite of evil, and detailed an example of what an evil father would do (give a snake instead of a fish). The Bible tells us that God’s ways are higher than our ways. This, to me, means they are better ways, not that God’s ways are more evil, devious, or perverted than our ways.”

    here is how high God’s ways are above our own

    James 1:2-4
    consider it all joy when you encounter various trials because the testing of your faith produces endurance, and endurance leads us to perfection and completeness, or lacking nothing.

    God through james is calling us to joy in the midst of trials because there is purpose in these things we encounter

    Hebrews 12:3-11
    after telling of the suffering of Christ, the author says his audience has not resisted to the point of shedding blood, yet, in their striving against sin. then he goes on to speak of the Lord disciplining His children as sons because He loves His children. the result… the author calls his audience to not grow weary and lose heart, but to stand up and endure the Lord’s discipline.

    discipline here is the persecution of Christians at the hand of sinners. through the sinful actions of others, God disciplines His children. and we are to endure because God calls us to, and we know that His discipline is for our good unto holiness. the author even goes on to identify that discipline “seems” not to be joyful for the moment, but those (Christians, God’s children) who are trained by it will yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

    trials and sufferings – these are things that God gives purpose to for His children. i can’t fathom how God takes all things and makes it work for good, but i believe the Bible teaches this very truth (Romans 8:28) – and as said above: “God’s ways are higher than my ways!”

    and on a personal side note: i would not malign God’s power OR His character!

    daniel

  29. Daniel Davis September 11, 2007 at 9:32 am #

    the first paragraph in my previous post (#28) is a quote from mlm in #11 followed by my response.

  30. Open24Hours September 11, 2007 at 9:36 am #

    Galatians 5:26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another…

    Another endless he said she said about what any particular verse really means. But what produces differences in interpretation? Different worldviews. Let’s maybe list what those differences are rather than deal with surface issues of interpretations.

    Here is one of the key worldview differences in my view: determinism vs. libertarianism.

    What are some others? Your thoughts.

    O24H

  31. Daniel Davis September 11, 2007 at 9:44 am #

    on the parental note:

    what my children may think is good, may actually be bad for them, in which case i am not going to give it to them.

    what my children may think is bad, may be good for them, in which case i will give it to them.

    will my children ever ask for discipline?? no – but it is for their good (and everyone around them) that i give it regardless.

    will my children ever ask for love?? no – because they will always have that from me.

    Hebrews 12 says i discipline as seems best to me, but God disciplines for our GOOD leading to holiness. whatever our definition of good is, it must involve holiness. God is good and holy – and we are called to holiness just the same. God will make sure we get there.

  32. mlm September 11, 2007 at 10:08 am #

    Daniel: I don’t have time right now to respond in full to all your comments and questions, but (quickly) it seems that you remove your heart when you comment about your kids. I can’t imagine if your child was sick and dying and he asked you to make him well, and healing was in your power to give, that you would withhold it from him. For any reason.

    Kevin: If faith is defined as a firm persuasion, a conviction based upon hearing, or what we believe, are you saying that some people are incapable of having faith? We all believe something. And I could give scriptures supporting what faith is, how faith comes, and even how it is released, but for some reason I don’t think you’re interested in the seeker-sense of the word. Seems more like a bait to me, and I don’t have time to bite. Sorry.

    Denny: Something just dawned on me! I don’t understand your doctrine on many fronts, but one in particular is complementarianism (sp?). Am I shooting myself in the foot by commenting on your blog? Does the fact that I’m a woman guarantee that nothing I say will be accepted as correct biblical teaching because I’m not allowed as a woman to teach a man?

  33. Wonders for Oyarsa September 11, 2007 at 10:59 am #

    I think I would split the difference between both sides. Or rather, hold both in mysterious tension.

    For, they are both right. God is radically opposed to evil, to that which would mar or corrupt his good creation. God deals with evil decisively in the cross and resurrection.

    God is also sovereign. He holds all in his hands – nothing in the world happens that he has not permitted. For evil to persist, it does so because he has chosen, for whatever reason, not to restrain it by his power.

    If you want total slam-dunk consistency, both sides will have to accept something they cannot accept – MLM that God is limited in power and control, and Denny that God is the author of evil. As Job teaches us, it is better to dance in the paradox of mystery, than to embrace a logic that calls evil good. And I would add that it is also better than following a logic that calls God weak.

  34. mlm September 11, 2007 at 11:09 am #

    Wonders:

    I certainly (pun) do live my life in mysterious tension. Thanks for your comment. I suppose in some sense it depends on how we define “weak” and “power.” We know from Scripture that God takes our strengths and shows them to be weak and vice versa. Our world system is so backward when it comes to God’s Kingdom. In this vein, let me say for the record, that I don’t believe God is weak. He is all-powerful. Also, I don’t believe that God is evil. He is all-good. To me, it takes the more powerful man to lay down his life (which many consider an act of weakness). The truly weak man is the one who tries to hold on to his life, yet has it taken away. We know that Jesus laid His life down, which was a display of power I cannot fathom. Likewise, when God limits Himself (what some would view as weakness), I see it as an awesome, incomprehensible display of His power—to allow us to choose the course of our beliefs and thus our life. Yet I know that in the end, God will have His way (my understanding of sovereignty), and we will answer for the choices we’ve made. Satan will be put under foot and Jesus will reign glorified above all forever.

  35. Daniel Davis September 11, 2007 at 11:39 am #

    mlm – nothing could be further from the truth! i would give anything to make my children well. and my heart, as “evil” as it is, is for the good of my children. but i’m not all-powerful or all-knowing (this is the question, isn’t it), am i??

    i would give anything for the well-being of my children and so would God for His! but i’m going to do what you asked not to – our idea of well and God’s idea of well are potentially two different things!

    i’m quite limited in my perception of well-being, but God is not – teaches the Bible.

    Christ in gethsemane prayed for the “cup” of crucifixion to pass from Him, but also God’s will to be done supremely. if i had been Christ’s father, i would have allowed it to pass; i would have thought that for His good to live – but such is my limited vision. God in His all-knowing vision/perception/WILL did not take the “cup” from Christ. Jesus suffered death on a cross; and that not only for our benefit, but for His own! Hebrews 12:2-3 Christ suffered the cross for the joy set before Him of resurrection and authority at the right hand of God. plus, Christ made salvation possible for those who would believe, so that many might become the children of God and have the means to endure the trials of our age and the hostility of sinners against us.

    you are mistaken – i love my children!! but God loves them more than i ever could or know how to. in my care of my children, i would make their lives as comfortable as possible and pray for their salvation; God cares for His children and works ALL things out for their good unto holiness and eternal life.

    there is more to this life than the here and now – and that is what God sees that i don’t…

  36. Kevin Jones September 11, 2007 at 11:49 am #

    mlm,

    You are correct! It was bait. But I am not sure why you think it would be bad to bite.

    The only verse that says that “every man” is given a measure of faith is in Romans 12. And there is no contextual way to interpret that “every man” in that verse means every person ever to exist. In fact, in Romans 11:7-8 we see that God has blinded the non-elect (are these people given a measure of faith?) from believing in Christ as their Messiah. This blinding has been in effect ever since Christ came to earth over 2000 years ago. Do you think there have been some of these blinded (non-elect) individuals die (and go to hell for their unbelief) since then?

    If you believe that we must (of our own volition) take the “seed” of faith that God has given us and grow it to the point of saving faith then that is no different than it being “self-created” faith. True, you say that God gave the seed but you also say it is up to our own will to believe in this “faith” and be saved. Therefore, you have turned grace in to a work of our own will. I do believe that we must believe in Christ as Saviour & Lord to be saved and that our will is involved in the process…but only by the efficaciuos work of the Holy Spirit. Noone is saved that does not “want” to be saved. In this way God gets ALL of the glory (as He intended) and our will gets NONE of the glory.

    I know this subject is not even the subject of this blog so I will stop here. But MLM, do you have a view of Proverbs 16:4 (that happens to be on the subject of this blog)?

  37. Carlito September 11, 2007 at 12:02 pm #

    mlm & Bryan L – sorry I haven’t been able to post any comments – I’ve been extremely busy. Although it looks like the discussion has progressed just fine without me :o)

    In the end, I think we can agree to disagree, knowing that this is indeed a mystery and that we are in DEEP theological waters. Paradoxes and mysteries abound in Scripture, so we shouldn’t be surprised that these types of discussions leave our heads spinning.

    And, if we were in fact able to comprehend all of the nuances of how God works and saves and governs His universe, I guess He wouldn’t be God after all. If we (being finite, limited creatures) could understand all there is to know about God’s actions, motives, etc., He wouldn’t be worthy of worship. In fact, He would be an idol. We must always be careful that we don’t package up our Almighty Lord and Savior into a nice, neat little box to fit our view of how we think He should be. May God grant us the grace to always go back to the full counsel of His Word and to the conviction of His Spirit. Let’s be diligent and attentive as we continue to fight the good fight of faith!

    In Christ,
    Carlito

  38. Kevin Jones September 11, 2007 at 9:13 pm #

    mlm,

    I am still confused…but maybe you have moved on from this discussion. Anyway, you say that the Reformed/Calvinistic view makes God out to be evil because we say that he allows/causes/permits evil in the world. I hope I understand your understanding.

    You say that you believe God is all-powerful but limits his power to allow us to make choices…good or bad. Therefore, by your own admission, God does allow evil in the world so we can be held accountable for our choices. Wouldn’t you say that God is responsible for the evil in the world if he is able to conquer it and chooses not to (at least for now)?

    I do not see how your position makes God totally innocent of all evil in this world. Maybe you can clear this up for me?

  39. Wonders for Oyarsa September 12, 2007 at 9:24 am #

    Kevin,

    MLM might say that God could intervene, but only at the cost of nullifying our choices. As such, it would uproot the wheat with the weeds.

  40. Kevin Jones September 12, 2007 at 10:09 am #

    Wonders,

    I see that is most likely not your position but what you think is MLM’s.

    My position is this:

    God ordains that evil be and thus it is allowed to exist to bring glory to God. The only way it could consistently bring God glory is that He has full control of all aspects of evil. Thus, He actually is the Author of evil…without being the “doer” of the evil. He uses satan and his army of demons to accomplish these tasks. I use the term “author” carefully and only in the sense of an author writing a story where evil exists. Is the author of the story liable for all that happens in the story? Or would the characters be liable for their actions even though the author designed their very nature? I think this should make my use the “author” clear.

    There is mystery involved in how we see God for if their were no mystery then He would not be God and us just His creatures. I do not lean toward the view that God only permits evil without actually controlling what happens. If He did this then He would not be LORD over creation and would not be the Sovereign. If you must say that this view makes God evil then you know something that the Bible does not teach. The Bible teaches that God is in control of all circumstances AND that we are resonsible for all our actions. Any belief or philosophy that attempts to defend God (which He does not do in the Bible) or to defend us (making us not responsible since God is sovereign) is a sinful belief.

    Consider the following:

    6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but£“Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call—12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

    14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh,“For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    You might say…”Pharoah hardened his own heart first” Even thought that is not biblical it does not matter. The point that Paul makes in Romans 9 is that God hardens whomever he wills…not because of something that we have done (otherwise his hardening and mercy would not be unconditional and grace would no longer be grace).

    I hope this helps…not to clear up the mystery, but to just state that it exists and we need not defend God nor humans.

  41. Bryan L September 12, 2007 at 11:20 am #

    Kevin,

    The issue I have with your position is that it seems to make evil out to not really be an enemy that needed to be defeated and Satan and his kingdom not really in rebellion against God and needing to be defeated as well. In the end if all of those evil and sinful actions in the world still bring glory to God then why stop? Why defeat Satan and his kingdom? Everything they do brings God glory anyway, right?

    Your position sounds very close to the “demonic-in-Yahweh” theory, with some tweaks here and there and a focus on God’s glory as the justification for everything that he does. I hear God’s glory brought up in this discussion over and over. Does anyone know where this view originated, that God controls everything (even causing evil) for his glory?

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  42. Kevin Jones September 12, 2007 at 11:45 am #

    Bryan L,

    I have never said evil in itself is good. God uses it for purposes beyong what our human eyes can see. I believe that God uses evil to bring about a “greater-good” than what their would be without evil (i.e. crucifixion of His Son). God is longsuffering toward the evil in the world because He is bringing about a plan that is far more glorious than we can imagine.

    If God can snuff out evil in the future why couldn’t He have done it 1 second after Lucifer rebelled (maybe not even a nanosecond). Or God could have prevented Lucifer’s rebellion altogether. To believe otherwise makes God appear to be weak and His creation to be out of control. The only other way to look at is the Biblical way:

    Rom. 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
    34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

    or

    Eph. 1:11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will

    So, the answer to your question (where do we get the idea that God works all things out after the counsel of his own will?), is the BIBLE.

    Your reply sounds a lot like what Paul said was condemable:

    Rom. 3:1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,

    “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

    5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

  43. mlm September 12, 2007 at 1:30 pm #

    Kevin,

    In my opinion, your opinion has so many holes in it that I don’t even know where to start! :o) I think I ought to quietly excuse myself from the conversation, for while discussions like these used to be my daily bread, I’ve now come to the place in life where I leave the mysteries to the Lord and have my hands quite full trying just to be a godly wife and mother. :o)

    With that said, your arguments remind me of the old baits, “Can the All-Powerful God make a rock so big He can’t lift it?” These questions (and some of yours as well) are better left unanswered (IMO), at least better left undebated. There’s so much more to talk about!

    Anyway, as a professional book editor, I disagree with your author analogy. Sorry. To me, it helps the think of God as King, since He Himself refers to His way of doing things as a “kingdom.” A King has all power in the land—it’s not a democracy (a fact some American Christians struggle to understand). Yet a King is not responsible when His subjects disobey His decrees. Yet He has the power to punish them, right? But I never see a King actually stooping from his throne, if you will, to mete out the punishment. The laws are written and the consequences clear. Others are left to carry out the wage of rebellion. And so it is, to me, with God. The Law has been given. The consequences listed. Even a plea from our King to “choose life.” Alas, we all know too well that for those of us who choose sin, death (in all its forms) is our punishment to bear.

    To call God the “Author of Evil” is quite the bold statement. I felt like whispering to God, “He didn’t mean it, Lord.” :o)

    You asked, “Wouldn’t you say that God is responsible for the evil in the world if he is able to conquer it and chooses not to (at least for now)?”

    ABSOLUTELY NOT, I WOULD NOT say God is responsible for the evil in this world. He HAS conquered it (through Christ) in the realm of spiritual eternity. And He WILL conquer it for all our human eyes to see in the fulfillment of time. As to why He hasn’t done so already, well, there’s a mystery for you. He’s God and I’m not. He has decreed some things that He won’t violate. Thankfully, He’s not a man that He should lie. AND He’s longsuffering patient for the precious fruit of the earth to come to Him.

    You say, “I do not see how your position makes God totally innocent of all evil in this world. Maybe you can clear this up for me?”

    I hold God no more responsible for man’s evil than I would hold you if your child commited murder. Sure, you had sex with your wife and she conceived and bore a son. That son grew to break the law. I wouldn’t prosecute you or condemn you to jail. Your SON made the decision and the action, even though YOU brought him into this world.

    Sure, God made Lucifer. God made all things. Lucifer/Satan has no power to create. He only takes God’s creations and subverts and perverts. Do I understand all of this? Not really. I don’t understand where God came from or how the Trinity is three-in-one or how God is both male and female and created Adam as such until He took Eve from His side and created her! I won’t even pretend to fathom these things.

    But I do know (from Scripture, yes) that God is good and Satan is evil and God does not use Satan as His errand boy.

    For the record, I DO believe we are called to endure suffering and persecution in this world. I just don’t believe that includes sickness, disease, or bridge collapses. Might there come a day when I’m required to either renounce Jesus and convert to Isalm or pay with the losing of my head? Sure, that day might come sooner than we think. Do I expect God to miracuously step in and stop the beheading? Well, I’d sure ask Him to, but I don’t expect it. What I DO expect is for God to honor His Word, which He exalts even above His Name. And I know from His Word that Christ was my Substition—for many things. While Christ is my example in suffering, He was also my substitution in suffering. Two different kinds of suffering, mind you.

    I suffer for being holy in an unholy world. I suffer for His Name’s sake. But I don’t have to suffer sickness or any attack of the devil. Does the devil attack? Sure he does. He wants to destroy me! Does he ever succeed? I would be a fool to say no. But the devil is the intruder, the interloper if you will, in my domain. I have every Christ-won right to triumph over him in the very things in which Christ triumphed over him on the Cross.

    Christ bore God’s wrath and punishment for sin. That means I don’t have to. Christ bore the curse of the Law (which was the bondage of sin, sickness, poverty, and spiritual death). That means I don’t have to. If Abraham was offered the blessing in lieu of the curse under the Old Covenant, why do you insist that I suffer the curse instead of the blessing when Christ died to ratify a better Covenant? (Sidenote: Yes, I follow the teachings of the Old Testament, unless they have been altered by teachings in the New, but have you ever considered that for us—the Christians, the Gentiles who’ve been grafted in—there’s really no such thing as an “Old” and “New” Convenant. That is for the Jews. We Gentile Christians, brought into Abraham’s blessing by faith in the Cross of Christ, have ONE Covenant.)

    Did Christ redeem me from the curse of the Fall? No. There’s still pain in childbirth (You can take my word on this!) and there are still thorns and toil that trouble a man’s work. These curses won’t end until the world is made new. But the curse of sin and the curse of the Law has been lifted, when Jesus became a curse for us and God’s wrath was satisfied in Him.

    You know, when I think about the lambs that served as atoning sacrifices for God’s people, I remember that after the sacrifice was made, the lambs were let go (the ones who were living)—and the people didn’t follow after them and afflict them with all sorts of horrible things. No, the price had been paid. How much more does the sacrfice of God’s perfect Lamb mean that the price has been paid and God no longer needs to chase after us with afflictions!

    I admit that God knows the future. I also state that He allows us to make the choices that will bring that future to pass. How that all makes sense is beyong my pay grade. But you make God out to be a puppet master, and I can’t find that in Scripture.
    Sure, you list a popular passage for these sorts of arguments. I don’t have the time or energy to go line by line and offer explanation as I understand it. But you have to remember that God deals with many different peoples (audiences) in the Bible. Jews, Gentiles, the Church, and in this passage spefically the Romans. Also, you have to remember causative language and permissive language. You also have to remember cultural context and biblical context—surrounding passages, books, testaments, etc. Importantly, you must also remember the nature and character of God.

    Many times (in Romans even) Paul says that God has “given the people over” to their own desires. Not God’s desires. The people’s. A contrast here. That God desires one thing; the people desire another, so *eventually* (after much attempted persuasion through scripture and prophets and mercifl interventions) God gives them over…He allows them to rebel and disobey. I’m sure it breaks His heart more than ours.

    And when we talk about God’s purpose of election, at least in the passage you cited, we’re talking about a nation of people, not individuals. God deals with Israel as whole differently than He deals with us as particular people. And thank God for it. I don’t understand why God picked Jacob to be the heir and not Esau. Maybe He knew that Esau wouldn’t value the calling the way Jacob hungered for it. But again, that gets into assumption and I prefer to stay in shallow waters.

    With that said, I hope I’ve made clear to all where I stand on God’s character and my understanding of the Word. As to Kevin’s question regarding my views on “faith,” if I felt you truly were searching for new answers, I’d be happy to dissect the Word. But I’ve bitten enough bait for one day. Since you referenced blindness though, let’s just say that I hope that in whatever ways I’m blinded that God will open the eyes of my understanding. For we are told that the ones who are blind but still claim to see are the ones to whom their blindness is counted as sin. Selah. :o)

    PS: Since my eyes and fingers hurt from typing so much, I’m not going to go back and proof my epic post. Please pardon any errors.

    PS2: Denny: I would like you to answer my question about women teaching men. Thanks.

  44. mlm September 12, 2007 at 1:34 pm #

    Denny:

    I just typed a novel of a comment. (I’m serious. It was super long.) It’s not showing up. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me you have it…somewhere…oh my.

    mlm

  45. mlm September 12, 2007 at 1:42 pm #

    Kevin:

    I just wrote you a book, but you’ve posted again since then, and my book seems to have vanished.

    Look, Paul was brighter and more articulate and philosophical than I dare say any of us will ever be. He is using standard philisophical techniques when speaking to the Romans (techniques he didn’t use with other people groups). And if I’m honest, sometimes Paul seem to be talking in noncoherent circles. Like I said, he’s a smart guy.

    But let’s not just read Romans okay? Let’s remember that Jesus Himself said that God isn’t judging the world. Not right now. The only thing He’s judging right now is whether or not people accept Jesus. (Read John’s Gospel.) And if you’re reading Romans, please remember to read it as a whole letter, not in bits and pieces since Paul winds his literary and socratic spell and then answers his own questions as well, mostly in telling us that Jesus Christ has set us free from all this bondage of the Law, sin, and death.

    Lastly, why do you (and others) insist on calling the Crucifixion evil? Sure, I can see it if the Jews/Romans had captured Jesus and put Him to death against His will. But Jesus made it clear that his death wasn’t murder. It was sacrifice. He could have called His angelic armies at any moment—wait! that sure sounds like Jesus had divine power that He limited Himself in using! GASP! :o) The sacrifice, not murder, was planned from the foundation of the world. It’s why Jesus as God came. Jesus as Man knew it was going to hurt like hell, and He admitted as much to His father. Jesus as Both followed through—something God does, He is bound to His Word—and we are the better for it.

    PS: I responded to yours and others’ questions in my book response that seems to have been lost in email land. I sure hope Denny finds it.

  46. Daniel Davis September 12, 2007 at 3:16 pm #

    mlm – is the crucifixion not evil because it was carried out by those who wanted to murder an innocent man? men who bore false witness in order to justify their cry for the death penalty? men who openly mocked an innocent dying man as he hung on the cross and died? – everything about that human act was evil!!!

    and yet at the same time, Christ willingly laid down His life in this sacrifice planned before time began.

    peter says in Acts 2:36 – “this Jesus whom you crucified.” he lays the act of crucifixion squarely at the feet of his audience, members of which were subsequently “pierced to the heart” because they realized they crucified the One who is both Lord and Christ.

  47. Kevin Jones September 12, 2007 at 3:24 pm #

    mlm,

    I appreciate your comment and attempt to make the sacrifice of God’s Son seem as though it was not murder. If it was not murder then why would Jesus ask His Father to “forgive them for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34)? If it was not murder but a sacrifice to God then there would be nothing to be forgiven.

    Are you saying that the betrayal of Jesus at the hand of Judas was not sin?

    Also, are you suggesting that the bible is not error free and that Romans should not be read because it is hard to understand in places? If you have this view then there is no reason to continue discussing anything about the bible. For a discussion to be glorifying to God it must be on the basis of the WHOLE counsel of God as revealed in His Holy Word.

  48. Kevin Jones September 12, 2007 at 3:26 pm #

    Daniel,

    Good word. But let’s hope mlm says that we should read Acts…or maybe not 😮

  49. Kevin Jones September 12, 2007 at 3:41 pm #

    mlm,

    One more thing…as far as reading Romans goes…I have studied thru the entire book over the last year and I am confident that I am not taking anything out of context in an improper way.

    I could quote the whole book but I do not think Denny would like that on his blog. By the way (I guess 1 more thing :), the comment that Bryan L made in #41 ACTUALLY helps me see that I am on the same track as Paul’s teachings because Bryan L’s comment was the same response that Paul was getting in his day and Romans 3:1-8 was his response (under the direction of the Holy Spirit). Which, by the way, is a GREAT picture of how God can override our so-called free will and make sure His written Word is error free. Oh my! Did God have the right to override Paul’s sinful nature to insipre His Holy Word thru Paul’s hand? I think so. As well as He has the right to do what He wants with the rest of His creatures.

  50. mlm September 12, 2007 at 3:57 pm #

    You are misreading my comment. To clarify: Let’s not read only Romans. Let’s read it along with the rest of the Bible.

  51. Kevin Jones September 12, 2007 at 4:04 pm #

    mlm,

    After I posted I realized what I did. Sorry.

    Still, you are right, He came to seek and save that which was lost (His elect) and not to condemn the world BECAUSE the world IS ALREADY condemned. (John 3:18) Sounds like it is already a done deal to me. God’s elect will believe and the non-elect are already condemned because they will not believe.

  52. mlm September 12, 2007 at 4:51 pm #

    Kevin,

    Again, I took oodles of time to craft a thoughtful responses to each of your questions listed and directed to me. For some reason, it is not showing up online. I sincerely hope Denny has some way of locating it, but if not, I’m afraid I’ll have to exit the conversation without responding in full because my fingers are just too tired to type it all again! :o)

  53. Kevin Jones September 12, 2007 at 9:04 pm #

    mlm,

    One final comment and I am done:

    I believe the root of our differences our world view. You world view is (I try to says this without offence but it is the truth) man-centered. I held your world view until about 5 months ago. I went through about 8 months of agonizing heart & bible searching before God changed my world-view…and believe me it was NOT easy. But, once it reached true conviction it has been the sweetest paradigm shift I have ever had. It has helped me with sin struggles that I have had for 30 years!

    My world-view is now God-centered. This world is not about us…it is about God and His glory. We are His creatures created in His image and He loves us with an eternal love. I am humbled by the fact that He would choose me for no reason within me but only because he elected me unconditionally. It is now a bitter pill to try to swallow to go back to man-centered world-view. In fact, you could threaten me with death if I do not renounce my God-centered world-view and I would say go ahead and kill me.

    I realize that VERY few Christians hold to the God-centered world-view and I DO understand why. I am not fooled into thinking that I can change your view but if God puts it in your heart to search it out then He can change it.

    Anyway, I DO KNOW WHERE YOU ARE COMING FROM. I was there a VERY SHORT time ago. May God bless you and your family and one day let’s meet in heaven to discuss what the truth really is! 🙂

    Kevin

  54. Bryan L September 12, 2007 at 9:18 pm #

    MLM,
    I just read your book and I thoroughly enjoyed it!:) BTW thanks for the verse the other day.

    Kevin,
    I’ve responded to you but for some reason it didn’t go through. Maybe Denny will catch it and send it through. I think his spam filter automatically trashes long comments.

    Either way your charge that we have man-centered worldviews is offensive and I wish you didn’t feel the need to resort to that and end your comments with that. If you held a view for 30 years and then only stopped believing it 5 months ago, then don’t you think it is a bit quick of you to pronounce that others you disagree with you are in the dark or deceived, and worse that they are man-centered (while you are the one who is God centered)? You’ve only been holding your views for 5 months, I think it would cause you to be a bit more humble and realize that maybe it’s you that doesn’t have it all figured out. You still got a lot of life left to have your views and beliefs shifted and changed around (as do we).

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  55. mlm September 12, 2007 at 10:23 pm #

    GLORY HALLELUJAH! If I wasn’t so exhausted from all my typing, I’d do a jig around the room! MY EPIC COMMENT was lost and now is found; ’twas trashed but now I see (it)! Bless you, Denny. And thank the Lord for raising #43 from the dead. Woo-hoo! Good night and God bless!

  56. mlm September 12, 2007 at 10:43 pm #

    Note of hope to Kevin, just in case there are still sin struggles or some in the future…I suppose if we resign ourselves to believing that God is in control of everything, then if we can’t triumph over sin in our life, we surmise that our struggle must be God’s will and we in some sense come to embrace the sin.

    However, your man Paul (in ROMANS, no less) has the cure for what ails you. After bemoaning sin’s hold on him and his failure to do the right that he so wants to do, Paul declares that JESUS CHRIST has set us free from this bondage of sin. No, we can’t free ourselves in our own strength, but in Jesus we can live free from sin—both the struggle and the consequential curse.

    We must only make the choice…those dadgum choices. Remember when Jesus asked the man at the pool of Bethesda if he wanted to be well? What person asks an invalid of 38 years if they “want” to be well?!? Uh, Jesus. Seems all-powerful Jesus was limited in His healing ability…limited by a man’s choice in the matter.

    There are other examples of course, but it’s nearly midnight and I’m sure all Denny’s readers have heard enough from moi. Thanks, Denny, for the generous space. I’ll try not to be so wordy in the future. :O

  57. Denny Burk September 12, 2007 at 10:46 pm #

    To MLM and others who lost comments,

    I found some of your comments in my SPAM folder. I don’t know why they went there, and I didn’t know that they were there until you told me they were missing. If it happens again, let me know and I’ll go set them free!

    Thanks,
    Denny

  58. Kevin Jones September 12, 2007 at 11:40 pm #

    Bryan L,

    I respect your feelings and I hate to offend but I am not saying that you are dark or deceived. Only if you actually DO see a truth in the Bible and WILLINGLY deny it are you sinning in your beliefs. We must all be careful about the information we receive from others as we will all be held accountable for truth that we willingly disobey.

    MLM,

    WOW! I feel so privileged to bring about such a lengthy comment ;-). Many things I could refute or discuss but I now realize that this is a waste of my God-given time. I know that some of you will say “Oh, he’s giving up so we must be right and he can’t fight back!” but it has to end somewhere.

    All I can say (relevant to this particular blog)is that you must believe that God is either all-powerful or He is not all-powerful. If you believe He is all-powerful and can, at His own will, snuff out sin/evil at any given time then you must agree that He allows/permits/ordains evil & sin to continue for reasons that are not always known to us. But, He does reveal SOME of the reasons to us in His written Word and we will ALL be held accountable for knowing His revealed written Word.

    Col. 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence

    I believe that ALL things includes beings/things that do evil things (satan, demons, people, bridges, etc…). Could God have held that bridge up by the power of His word? I think so. To say No would say that God is NOT all-powerful. Did that bridge have a FREE will to make a choice to fall? I don’t think so. Is it by God’s sheer mercy that all of the other bridges in this world do not crumble? YES!

    The above verses say that ALL things were created BY Him and FOR Him. Can anyone find fault with this interpretation? Of course! Will we be held accountable for our interpretation…yes – if we willingly deny it and find some way to explain it away.

    I hope none of you are actually seeing the truth and denying it willingly.

    Why do all people that hold the “other” world-view think that my held world-view rules out “free” choices of humans? I have NEVER said that we do not make choices. I DO believe that we make choices based on our strongest desire and that our desires come from God and by His grace only will my desires be directed toward Him. In this way, GOD gets ALL of the glory for our good choices and WE are held accountable for our bad choices. This makes me FEAR & TREMBLE before God and ask for His mercy & grace to give me the proper desires and make the right choices. This, I believe, is the way to live by faith. Faith is looking away from yourself to God to have mercy and grant repentance when we fail (2 Tim. 2:25)and giving God the glory when you make a good decision BECAUSE you know it is God working in you to will & do of HIS good pleasure.

    Phil. 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

    So, in my world-view, my choices to do GOOD things are GOD working in me and not produced by my own free will. Therefore, GOD gets the glory and not me.

    I Pet. 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

    Who do we thank when we make a good choice? Do you thank yourself or God? I hope that you thank God…because it is only by His grace that we do ANYTHING good! Good night all!

    Kevin

  59. jeremy z September 13, 2007 at 12:52 am #

    Kevin,

    In your last post 58, you stated:
    I believe that ALL things includes beings/things that do evil things (satan, demons, people, bridges, etc…). Could God have held that bridge up by the power of His word? I think so. To say No would say that God is NOT all-powerful.

    To say No that God is not all-powerful is a pretty big sweeping statement. How about looking at it in this way. What if we concluded that God is not the ruler of this world (Kingdom of the Earth). What if the devil in all his wicked ways is creating evil around the world. According to Luke 4 the devil tempts Jesus up on the mountain that He, Jesus, could have complete Lordship over this earth. Luke 4 greatly implies that the devil is the boss here on earth.
    This evil and wicked world is a complete train wreck in God’s eyes. Yes, it is His beautiful creation gone bad. Satan has literally hijacked God’s beautiful creation.

    The question is: Why would an all powerful and all loving God allow evil to surface in the world? That is a difficult question to handle. The simple answer of: Well to make sinners repent does not work with non-believers. The notion of an all loving God still the author of Evil is not philosophically rationale. God is not bi-polar. The real question is: Why would an all powerful and all loving God resurrect , save, love, rescue, and restore an evil infested world governed by the devil?

    Bottom line: the devil is the king of this earthly dome, while our all mighty, glorious, all powerful God is the king of eternity. God come save us now from this hijacked world. I want only want to live in one Kingdom. Being of the world, but in the world is difficult.

  60. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 8:15 am #

    Jeremy,

    We can guess and imply all we want but the truth remains from God’s Word. Do you think it is possible that satan was blinded to the fact that Jesus was truly the Son of God and he was testing Him to see if He was? I think this is a more reliable interpretation of:

    Luke 4:3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”

    Their is a BIG “IF” in verse 3. I do not believe satan knew for sure that Jesus was the Son of God at this point. HOWEVER, IT DOES NOT MATTER anyway because scripture clearly teaches that God is still in control of the earthly kingdom. Remember, Jesus is King and satan is just “Prince of the power of the air”.

  61. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 8:53 am #

    I believe the root of our differences our world view. You world view is (I try to says this without offence but it is the truth) man-centered…My world-view is now God-centered. This world is not about us…it is about God and His glory.

    I understand this criticism, I really do – but I wonder why this needs to be an either-or choice. The most truly human being that ever walked the Earth was the most divine. Man is the image, the likeness, the son of God. Man is the crowning achievement of the creator – his signature on creation. The closer we become to God, the more we are conformed into this image, the more human we become, not less. And God was never so God-like as when he hung on that cross, the king dying for his subjects, the creator pouring out his lifeblood for the life of the world.

    If we insist on looking at God through the semi-deist view that only looks at his hugeness and otherness, doubtless we will have to choose between a God-centered and Man-centered world view. But if we look at God as revealed never more gloriously or clearly than in Jesus of Nazareth, we know that to be truly God-centered is to be Man-centered, and vice versa. We serve and glorify the Son of God who is the Son of Man.

  62. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 9:32 am #

    Wonders,

    According to scripture why were all things created? For God or for man? Who is sovereign, God or man? Who is omnipotent, God or man? Who is the Creator, God or man? Who has the right to do whatever He pleases (and He does), God or man?

    So, you say that to be man-centered can be viewed as being God-centered? Sounds a little “circular” to me. But, you are right, we serve our risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and we are here to glorify Him…not us.

    You know, I said I was “done” and this is a “waste of my God-given time” but I guess I am a sucker for a good theological debate…oh well.

  63. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 10:01 am #

    According to scripture why were all things created? For God or for man?

    Yes.

    Who is sovereign, God or man?

    Yes.

    Who is omnipotent, God or man?

    Yes.

    Who is the Creator, God or man?

    Yes.

    Who has the right to do whatever He pleases (and He does), God or man?

    Yes.

    All these are “yes” in Christ Jesus.

  64. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 10:40 am #

    Wonders,

    You are saying that we are sovereign, omnipotent, creator, and we have the right to do whatever we please? Please provide scripture to back up your claims.

  65. mlm September 13, 2007 at 10:47 am #

    Wonders,

    My, my.

    I must confess something. A while back, I took your sitelink and read your piece comparing Job to the sufferings of Christ. I wasn’t particularly persuaded. 🙂

    But in #63 you have just posted one of the most profound, succinct, beautiful, articulate, eloquent, and (dare I say?) Scripturally-correct revelations I’ve ever read.

    Just goes to show me that I have much to learn AND that I can be taught from anything and anyone, if only I have ears to hear. You are a wise man—thanks for sharing your wisdom with me.

  66. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 11:04 am #

    mlm & Wonders,

    Sounds like you both would be good followers of Creflo Dollar. He says we are gods. Sounds like the same old lie the devil used with Eve.

    mlm,

    You say Wonders is scripturally correct…what scripture shows that we are omnipotent, sovereign, and creator?

  67. Bryan L September 13, 2007 at 11:28 am #

    Kevin I think you may be misunderstanding them and applying to them beliefs they don’t actually hold.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  68. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 12:17 pm #

    I thought this was more obvious, but apparently not. I’ll provide scripture:

    According to scripture why were all things created? For God or for man?

    For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

    Who is sovereign, God or man?

    And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

    Who is omnipotent, God or man?

    Putting everything in subjection under his feet. Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control.

    Who is the Creator, God or man?

    In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

    Who has the right to do whatever He pleases (and He does), God or man?

    The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.

    All these are “yes” in Christ Jesus.

  69. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 12:20 pm #

    This is getting ridiculous. If I ask a question:

    Who is omnipotent, God or man? And you answer “Yes”. Then, whether it be “in Christ” or “in Satan”, you must believe that man and Gad are omnipotent. I do not think that is too hard to understand.

    The way I see Wonders & MLM believing is this:

    God is omnipotent
    Jesus is God
    Christians are “in” Jesus
    Christians are omnipotent

    Is this what you are saying MLM & Wonders?

  70. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 12:23 pm #

    Wonders,

    I was commenting at the same time as you. In #68 none of those verses states that WE are omnipotent, creator, or sovereign … only Jesus is.

  71. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 12:34 pm #

    You asked God or man. My argument was that being “man centered” and “God centered” need not be thought of as opposites – as man is the image of the invisible God, and Christ is the perfection of that marred image.

    But yes, logically, it does imply what the Eastern Orthodox call “theosis”. The sons of God will share his splendor and glory, being indwelt by his very Spirit. What power is given to men! A man is seated at the right hand of God the Father, and it is into his image (and thus the image of God) that we are conformed.

    On the sixth day, Pilate announces to the crowd “behold the man”. Never was a truer statement made, nor is it inconsistent with “surely this was the Son of God”.

    He who reveres man reveres God. He who scorns man scorns God.

  72. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 12:42 pm #

    We are not God. Only the God-man Jesus was God in the flesh. We will NEVER have the same attributes as God (all-knowing,all-powerful, omni-present, etc…) and to say that we will (or already do) is blasphemous and TOTALLY unscriptural.

  73. mlm September 13, 2007 at 12:43 pm #

    Just a thought to ponder…do you guys ever think about what we life was MEANT to be like? I mean, Christians always talk about Heaven being our real home and how they aren’t made for this world and how we’re strangers here…anyway, when God made Adam and Eve, His purpose was for them to live here, right? We weren’t created with a God-shaped hole in our heart. We weren’t made for Heaven. Had all gone according to plan, we’d all be living in the Garden of Eden, exercising dominion in the Earth, and having a good ol’ time walking with God in the cool of the day.

    It changes my perspective when I remember this original plan. And it helps me see that God *did* create us in His image. Sure, we’ve subsituted clothing for the lost the glory that once covered us. And we’ve been banished from our birthplace. And we’re now dethroned monarchs born into sin.

    But examining the origninal intent does shed some light on this talk of “omnipotence, creator, sovereign” thing Kevin’s got going. Of course we’re not God. Or are we? We’re join heirs with Christ, we’re children, we’re family, we’re spouses, we’re brothers to Jesus…all these terms are biblical and all imply a level of relation. I don’t understand it. But God says of His CREATION, that we are also SONS. And if SONS, then HEIRS. Go figure! The creation is now a son and receives all that the Father has bequeathed to the Son. Imagine!

    And I tend to view these things (omnipotent, creator, or sovereign) as they relate to mankind in a “mini” sense of the word. And perhaps by doing so, I’m settling for making mudpies when God would have me vacation by the sea. But I see myself omnipotent in all for which God has given me jurisidiction. I see myself as creator when it comes to choices and paths…and even art, writing, and best of all, children. And as a king (aren’t we kings and priests?) I see myself as sovereign in my own life as granted ruling power by the Lord, my King of Kings, whose will I seek to carry out because He is also my Lord.

    Yes, as we are made in God’s image, we’ve been granted powers that resemble His in many ways. I think the prohblem we run into is when we mistake God for a superhero rather than a King.

  74. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 12:54 pm #

    I am now through responding to all of this non-biblical conversation. All three of you can keep posting if you wish and if you show some biblical support that sheds some light on your belief that we will (or do) partake in His NATURE then I will join back in. Otherwise, God bless and see you here, there, or in the air.

    Kevin

  75. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 1:08 pm #

    Kevin,

    That’s what sons are. I didn’t say we are God – but we are being made into the same type of thing as Christ – by sharing in his death and resurrection. For more non-biblical insights, please refer to 1 Corinthians 15.

  76. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 1:11 pm #

    MLM –

    With regard to being made for heaven vs. earth, you might like this.

  77. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 1:17 pm #

    Kevin,

    Here’s some more blasphemous, non-scriptural language:

    Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.

    Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

    I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

  78. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 1:28 pm #

    “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

  79. Carlito September 13, 2007 at 3:05 pm #

    Just a thought pertaining to Comments #53 and #54.. I think that worldviews are HUGE when it comes to theological leanings and our understanding of God’s revelations in Scripture. This, I believe, includes personality, temperament, upbringing, education, previous church experiences, etc.

    My testimony is similar to Kevin’s.. I was reared in the “Bible belt” where everybody says they’re a Christian and nearly everyone is in church on Sundays. Unfortunately, there is rampant legalism and moralistic, self-righteous “fundamentalism” in my part of the country. Everybody looks good on the outside, but few people talk about the heart or anything “beneath the surface”. I grew up with a legalistic mindset – I was told to put a smile on your face, be good, brush your teeth, dress impeccably, make everyone think you’re an A+ person, and go to church every time the doors are open. This environment created in me the idea that I had to earn my salvation and that I had to do enough to please God and to please other people around me. Being by nature a very melancholic and introspective person, I struggled with depression for several years due to intense feelings of guilt and condemnation (and this is still a struggle). To me, God was just a grand taskmaster waiting to spank me after another mess-up.

    When I was introduced to the Doctrines of Grace (i.e. “Calvinism”), it opened me up to the glorious gospel whereby I came to realize the vastness of God’s grace and His power and His intimate care for me, in predestining me before the foundations of the world.. It humbled me and also empowered me with a new sense of joy and hope. I came to a fresh awareness that Jesus did the work for me, and that any effort of my own cheapens the work on Calvary – I was freed from trying to earn my salvation – Praise the LORD! My heart was then truly alive to embrace God for who He really is. Not only that, but I came to understand fully that in His mercy, He freely revealed Himself to me and freely saved me. It was for freedom that Christ set me free. I came to realize all this through the gospel of grace, and it was an indescribable experience.

    I think the reason I love the doctrines of grace so much is because of the way that perspective has changed my heart toward God, toward other people, and set me free from boatloads of bondage. I’m now free to live obediently under the merciful care of God rather than trying to earn His favor. I defend the doctrines of grace, not because I want to try to protect an intellectual position, but rather because my heart was transformed by them and because I believe they faithfully represent God’s character true to the full counsel of Scripture.

    That being said, as Bryan L said, I believe we should be open to other interpretations and other theological views. God is always teaching us and showing us new things as we journey through life.

    As I’ve said before, at the end of the day, we find common ground at the foot of the cross, and that is so comforting. Holy God in Love became Perfect Man to bear my blame. On the cross He took my sin. By His death, I live… again.

  80. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 3:20 pm #

    Carlito,

    I hear you, and believe me I am not arguing for the kind of fundamentalism that you left for Calvinism. One of the things to keep in mind is that there are more than two options in theology, and one can disagree with something for different reasons, and offer different alternative ways of thinking.

    So when I disagree with Kevin about the notion of “god-centered” and “man-centered”, I am not saying he was wrong to come to a perspective that focuses more on God in his journey. I am saying that, from my vantage point, one can be centered in on both, while looking at the same person.

    The response can easily be to project all sorts of nasty things in my direction, identifying me with the past experience since I have differences with the current position. I think folks should be careful not to do this – it’s easy to do – but it hinders true conversation and true charity.

  81. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 3:24 pm #

    Carlito, Amen! That is much better than trying to argue that we are little gods…which we are not.

  82. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 3:46 pm #

    What about little Christs?

  83. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 4:04 pm #

    Christ=God
    if We=litlle Christs
    We=Little gods

    We have always been and always will be a creation…not the Creator (even a little Creator). Jesus Christ was not created but is infinite…He IS the great I AM in the flesh.

    We are finite (and always will be) – not infinite
    We are potent (as far as God will allow) – not omnipotent
    We have knowledge (as much as God allows)- not omniscient
    and the list goes on…

    To say that Christ was created just like we were created is the doctrine of the Jehovah Witnesses

    To say we become little gods is the doctrine of the Mormons

    These are condemnable doctrines and MUST be avoided.

  84. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 4:07 pm #

    Creflo Dollar (and many other anti-Christs) = christ was a man that became a god thru sufferings and was the first perfect god-man.

    If you do not believe that Christ was God then you are an anti-Christ.

  85. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 4:13 pm #

    We ARE images of God. What is an image but a REFLECTION of the REAL person. We are created to REFLECT His glory. By reflecting His glory we get to partake of His glory…not become His glory. He said He will NOT give His glory to another…including mankind.

    As I have said before…if we do ANYTHING that is “good” then it is because of God the Holy Spirit giving us the desire to do it (above and beyond all our other desires)…not a product of our so-called free will.

    Again, since God IS omnipotent…could He have prevented the bridge collapse, or any other evil for that sake? Please give me a clear answer…

  86. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 4:20 pm #

    Kevin, I don’t think you are taking the doctrines of the Imago Dei or the humanity of Christ seriously enough here.

    God creates man
    Man=image/likeness of God
    Man mars image
    Man is less than fully human, becomes bestial and diabolical
    God sends Christ
    Christ=perfect image/likeness of God
    Christ is fully human
    Christ redeems man/gives Spirit
    Spirit conforms man from marred image to Christ’s image, hence God’s image

    Man does not become God in an ontological sense – I didn’t personally create the universe before all worlds. But he shares in the divine glory, holiness, and fellowship of the Trinity through Christ, who intends to be the first of many brothers, preeminent in all things.

    You can scream “blasphemy” and “anti-Christ” all you like, but this is classical Christian theology, and the teaching of many of the church Fathers. Methinks you might want to take a second look and be sure you understand what is being said before you shoot.

  87. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 4:23 pm #

    Wonders,

    Are you saying you DO NOT believe Christ was fully God as well as fully human?

  88. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 4:26 pm #

    Did I say that, Kevin? Did I say any of the horrid things you have attributed to me this past days?

  89. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 4:33 pm #

    Nothing is your logic says that Christ = God;

    You only say IMAGE of God. Do you believe He was fully God as well as fully man?

  90. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 4:37 pm #

    Wonders,

    I am not trying or even wanting to say horrid things about YOU personally. It only appears that some of your theology exalts man to the place of “god”. Maybe you do not intend for it to but it does.

  91. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 4:39 pm #

    Denny,

    Please let me know if I seem to be off-base here. Sometimes my mind does not see things like it should (as all of us fallen humans). Please see if I am way off base. Thank you.

    Kevin

  92. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 4:45 pm #

    My theology does indeed exalt man to the place of God – a human being seated at the right hand of God the Father who judges all things. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully Man, and he draws us into the fellowship and life and power of the triune God.

    The fact that a human being is the second person of the trinity is a pretty big deal for us human beings.

  93. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 4:53 pm #

    Denny,

    I know this is another BLOG but is Jesus still “human” after His resurrection? I know He still bears the flesh of His body…but is He still “human”.

    Will we still be “humans” in heaven? I guess this all depends on your use of the word “human”.

    Wonders,

    I am not talking about Jesus being exalted as God. He was God before He came in the flesh (John 1). I am talking about US…me…you…

    Your theology appears to exalt US to be “gods”. Maybe not “Gods” but “gods”.

    Still, BACK ON THE SUBJECT OF THIS BLOG:

    You obviously believe God IS omnipotent. Do you believe God could have prevented the bridge collapse (or any other evil in this world) in Minnesota?

  94. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 4:56 pm #

    Wonders, nevermind. I see your coment #33. God bless you and have a wonderful day.

  95. Denny Burk September 13, 2007 at 5:02 pm #

    Sorry guys. I have been extremely busy today and not able to follow the conversation.

    I just got a question, however, that pricked my interest. Someone asked if Jesus is “Human” after His resurrection.

    Go read the resurrection accounts of Jesus. People touch him. He eats foods. Thomas touches his scars. It’s very clear that Jesus is still human and existing in a physical body.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  96. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 5:06 pm #

    You obviously believe God IS omnipotent. Do you believe God could have prevented the bridge collapse (or any other evil in this world) in Minnesota?

    Of course God could have prevented the bridge collapse. As far as all evils simultaneously and instantaneously, I think this trivializes the problem of evil. After all, outside of Christ, we are evil, though we have an intrinsic value and dignity in bearing God’s image. God has something he wants to achieve in this creation of his, and it involves destroying evil from the inside out, using his image-bearing agents to do so (aka the body of Christ, his Church) and even the curse itself (death).

    The way in which divine sovereignty and human choice interact is a deep mystery. Scripture speaks of God as in total control, and yet it also speaks of a give and take, a dance that reacts and responds to (and even depends on) human agency. Though God is infinitely beyond us in his glory and majesty, there is a mysterious sense in which man can wrestle with him on a level playing field (Jacob, Moses, etc.)

    I certainly hesitate to say that God is the author of evil. I prefer paradox to a logic that calls good evil or evil good.

  97. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 5:16 pm #

    I’m sorry Kevin – I suppose I shouldn’t be so hard on you. You are obviously very excited about your newfound Calvinism, and I hope it continues to draw you closer to the glory and power of God. Calvinism has a lot to commend it – there is a lot that you can see with it that other Evangelicals may be blind to.

    I would, however, caution you against overzealous heresy hunting. There are a lot of different types of Christians out there, and don’t presume that they are all dupes because they aren’t Calvinists. They may even agree with you against what you left for Calvinism, and yet disagree with other things. Check out C. S. Lewis for example.

    Blessings to you.

  98. Kevin Jones September 13, 2007 at 5:23 pm #

    Denny,

    I knew that would get your attention. I believe He is human as far as the body goes. But I believe His other aspects of humanity passed away after the resurrection.

    I know He is the Son of Man seated at the right hand of God and is still 100% God. The Trinity is one mind-blower. All I have been discussing with Wonders is whether his theology appears to exalt US to be “gods”. To me his theology APPEARED that way but I may be (and probably am) wrong. At least I hope so.

    Kevin

  99. jeremy z September 13, 2007 at 9:53 pm #

    Kevin,

    Two points.

    First point is that the Word of God is the absolute truth, however, at times, there are some unclear spots. Hence many interpretations on particular passages. Why do you think there are so many churches out there? There are solely different interpretations on the text. The simple fact that John 4 and the end of Mark is missing in the earlier manuscripts causes one to wonder. You are right scripture is truth, but we all have to be very aware how one can get multiple perspectives on the same passage.

    Second point. The devil was not confused to who Jesus was. All throughout the NT demons call Jesus by His name.
    NAU Mark 1:34 And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

    Seemingly, the demons are the only ones with clarity on who exactly Jesus is. The devil darn well knew exactly what he was doing when he brought Jesus up to the mountain. In verse three the devil straight out asks Jesus if you are the son of man prove it. The devil knew his name and what he was all about, the devil just wanted to see him in action.

    Also you commented that the Bible “clearly” teaches God is in control of the earthly kingdom. Could you enlighten and direct to me to these clear passages?

    Thanks Kevin.

  100. jeremy z September 13, 2007 at 10:00 pm #

    Denny

    I am not sooo sure that it is clear Jesus is human after the tomb.

    Mark 16:19 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.
    Luke 24:51 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.
    Acts 1:9 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

    If Jesus is fully human, why does He pull a superman stunt and go back to heaven. I never seen any humans, besides superman, do that before.

  101. Denny Burk September 13, 2007 at 10:15 pm #

    Dear All,

    You need to understand the confessional implications of some of the statements that are being made about the humanity of Christ. Orthodox Christians have consistently affirmed the humanity of Christ ever since Chalcedon. When someone suggests that Christ is not human (pre or post resurrection), they are setting themselves outside of the stream of Christian orthodoxy.

    Denny

  102. Wonders for Oyarsa September 13, 2007 at 10:48 pm #

    If Jesus is fully human, why does He pull a superman stunt and go back to heaven. I never seen any humans, besides superman, do that before.

    They never had. A Son of Man is now seated at the right hand of the Father – this is a new thing, and, as I said before, very good news to us sons of men. It had been predicted in Daniel – the ancient of days took his seat, and then one like the son of man shares his throne.

    I’m rather amazed at this discussion – that the full humanity of Christ is somehow an issue for people. I guess there is a danger in too much so-called “God-centered” thought. We need to not assume that we know what “God” means, and somehow try to fit Jesus into that. No, we need to look at the human being Jesus the Messiah, not least when he is lifted up on a cross crowned with thorns, and have our conception of what God is centered around that.

  103. mlm September 14, 2007 at 6:39 am #

    Wonders: An addition for your list of Scriptures (also relates to the one you listed about our power to forgive sins): “Matthew 9:5-9) says, “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man [SON OF MAN, here not SON OF GOD] has authority on earth to forgive sins”–then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your bed and go home.” And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were struck, and glorified God [NOTICE IT’S HEALING THAT BRINGS GLORY TO GOD], who had given such authority to men. [GOD GAVE THIS AUTHORITY TO MEN!?!?!]

    Kevin/Wonders: This miraculous ascension DID happen to humans before and MERE humans at that! Enoch, Elijah are two prime examples. As for sitting at God’s right hand, well, that’s for Jesus alone. (But could that also be a figurative expression? Because when Peter and John were fighting over who could sit on Jesus’ left and right, Jesus didn’t say, “Sorry, boys, God’s already on my left.” :))

  104. Wonders for Oyarsa September 14, 2007 at 8:19 am #

    Nope – he said “do you know what you are asking?” and then proceeds to be lifted up and exalted as king on a Roman cross, with a crown of thorns on his head, with two brigands on his right and his left.

  105. mlm September 14, 2007 at 9:44 am #

    Oops. It was James and John (and their mom) not Peter and John. But Jesus’ answer also included His telling them that it was for God the Father to decide who sat on Jesus’ right and left, which seems a bit silly if God already has the left seat taken.

    To me, the “right hand” connotes authority and power. Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and earth, which He in turn delegated to His disciples and Body. So those “in Christ” are also seated with Jesus in heavenly places, at God’s right hand, full of authority and power.

  106. Wonders for Oyarsa September 14, 2007 at 10:33 am #

    Oh – I know – I’m just pointing out an extreme irony in the gospels – that the disciples are talking about the right and left sides in their quest for self-aggrandizement, while Jesus knows that, in the ushering in of his kingdom, the two on his right and his left will be nailed to crosses in total shame. And so he gives them a lecture about the first and the last, and then proceeds to bring glory and resurrection (the first) by dying in agony and humiliation (the last).

  107. jeremy z September 14, 2007 at 3:16 pm #

    Denny we are not debunking the humanity of Christ when He walked here on the earth. That is not the fundamental issue. The issue is if Jesus after He dead still still functioning as a human in heaven.

    Do not get me wrong I am not attacking that Jesus is not human. But, I think it is essential to ask the question of: Is Jesus still, today, functioning as a human?

    I believe that after he died, He died in the flesh. All the gospels and Acts affirm Jesus ascended up into heaven. Jesus conquered death and now He is fully functioning within the three-God head.

  108. Wonders for Oyarsa September 14, 2007 at 8:07 pm #

    Jeremy,

    What does the term “son of man” mean? How is it used in the old testament in particular?

  109. jeremy z September 15, 2007 at 11:29 am #

    Son of man means mankind generally, with special reference to their weakness and frailty (Job 25:6; Ps. 8:4; 144:3; 146:3; Isa. 51:12, etc.).
    2. It is a title frequently given to the prophet Ezekiel.
    3. In the New Testament it is used forty-three times as a distinctive title of the Saviour. In the Old Testament it is used only in Ps. 80:17 and Dan. 7:13 with this application. It denotes the true humanity of our Lord. He had a true body (Heb. 2:14; Luke 24:39) and a rational soul. He was perfect man.

  110. Wonders for Oyarsa September 15, 2007 at 2:27 pm #

    That’s right – A “son of man” means a human being. Literally, this can be “son of Adam”, like Lewis uses in his Narnia books. The notion of Jesus being the son of man who is exalted to heaven, to sit at the side of him who is ancient of days, means, quite literally, that the name of a human being (Josh son of Joe from Nazareth) has been exalted above all other names – in heaven or earth. A human being is the judge of all – the son of man comes on the clouds of heaven. That’s the grounds on which Paul says that we, human beings that we are, will judge angels.

    This isn’t also to say that the eternal word of God exists before all worlds. But second person of the trinity most certainly did not cease to be a son of man when he was raised from the dead or exalted to heaven. Jesus did not cease to be human.

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