Selection and Defense!

I selected the second possibility;  the one with the comma after good.

The first possibility is out of the KJV.  Stating positively that all things work together for good to them that love God, it then goes on to add ‘to those who are called according to His purpose’.  It makes it sound as if only those who love God are called according to His purpose.  Wasn’t pharaoh called, raised up, set apart, to fulfill a purpose of God?  Did he love God? Not according to the Scriptures!  I jumped to the conclusion that called and raised up are basically synonymous in relating the idea that one is being set apart, used according to the purpose of God.  Does Strong’s bear out my conclusion?  Strong’s #2822 called, Kletos is appointment. Who makes the appointment?  Strong’s #5975 Raised, amad, is translated 15 times in Scripture as appointed.  Again, Who does the appointing?  God!  And He says all things work together for good.

The third possibility is from Holman’s and is definite:  All things work together only for the good of those who love God! And who might they be? ONLY those who are called according to His purpose!  I used pharaoh in the example above.  What about Jacob and Esau?  God said that before they were formed in the womb, before they had done anything good or bad, Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated, that the purpose of God might be fulfilled!  I submit that both were called according to His purpose, and as such this translation written so that it is to be understood that all things work together for good only to those who love God shows how biased a translation can be.  The same denomination that initiated this translation insists that God is Good, God is Love, God loves everyone, God is all-powerful, and that  it is up to us to ask forgiveness BEFORE WE CAN BE SAVED.

Second Timothy 2:15 says ‘Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.’

My studies have led me to believe that the second possibility is the most correct.  Indeed God does work all things together for Good!  That is the whole purpose of this Creation!  HIS creation!  We are HIS creatures!  In Romans 9:21 Paul asks ‘Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?’  He asks that question to force us to face the FACTS of a Creator GOD!  He planned and created this entire universe.  Should we not face the fact that it is HIS to do with as HE pleases?  Should we not face the fact that all of it is created to serve HIS purpose and is called to do so?  Should we not face the fact that every vessel is made for a purpose either to honor or dishonor?  That being the case, all things work together for good because that is the ultimate purpose of God for His Creation!  Then we can understand that all things work together for good BOTH to those who love God AND to those who are called according to His purpose!

We can believe that in spite of the perceived evil around us, because the evil in this realm was banished from the eternity we are destined to share with Jesus Christ!

And one little comma is the difference.  God uses the small things to help us know Him if we are willing to look.  It is not our job to decide who is lost and who is not.  It is our job to live according to Micah 6:8.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee,but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

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Consider Faith

What is faith?  The Bible says it is the evidence of things not seen, the substance of things hoped for.  But what is it today in what is, arguably, post-Christian America?

Faith is basically what I believe to be true but can’t directly prove; but it is subject to change if new information comes up.  Its like planned obsolescence: something newer and more believable is almost sure to come up, so my faith, my belief is always subject to change.  That’s not TRUE faith.  Sorry.

So, what IS true faith? Well first, what is the source of true faith; saving faith; faith that really counts and is not subject to change because its source is unchanging?  For by Grace are you saved, through faith, and THAT not of yourselves lest any man boast!   What does THAT mean?  By Grace, through faith and that NOT of yourselves!    

By God’s Grace alone you are given the inestimable gift of TRUE faith; the ability to believe the Truth of God, that He has revealed to us through the Scriptures of the Holy Bible.  I see the eyes rolling from here, so please let me spell it out:  

We are children of Adam and as such have nothing in us that could or would choose to believe His Truth if left to our natural selves.  Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  It is by Grace we are saved.  It is only the Regenerate heart that is capable of seeing (really accepting) the truth of the kingdom of God!  It is only the Regenerate heart that believes the evidence of the kingdom of God.  It is only the Regenerate heart that feels the substance of the kingdom of God.  The true faith of which God is speaking is not what we believe, but what we know beyond any reasonable doubt about HIS truth. It is not simply that I believe in Jesus Christ.  It is that I know He is the Only Begotten Son of the Father.  It is that the Father of Jesus Christ is the One True God of creation.  There is no other.  It is that the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us.  It is that The Father gave His Son, a willing sacrifice so that you and I could have eternal life!

The Case for the Personification of Evil

Before making the case for the personification of evil, perhaps it would be best to define just what personification is:  http://www.dictionary.com has it:  the attribution of human nature or character to animals, inanimate objects, or abstract notions, especially as a rhetorical figure. | That is assigning personality traits and a name to something, in this case, evil.  i.e. Satan, Lucifer, father of lies, the serpent in the garden, Old Dragon, roaring lion, etc. so that it might be examined as another person with whom we may or may not want to associate ourselves.

Now that that is cleared up, these are questions that must be answered beyond a reasonable doubt to prove the existence of Satan as an individual spiritual being.  Unless it can be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that Satan is a person and not a personification, then our entire concept of the source of sin and death and evil in this world must be reexamined to get to the truth of its origin.

Beginning in Genesis 1:27-28:

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

God’s command to man must be defined if we are to understand his duty before God in the beginning.  Little has been done beyond the assumption that we know what being fruitful and multiplying means to God.  But do we?  (Strong’s #6509, ‘fruitful’ is  grow and #7235, ‘multiply’ is be in authority)

Next there has been some discussion of the term ‘replenish’.  (Strong’s #4390 consecrate) It has even been the basis of the idea that Satan destroyed the first creation and Adam was given the task of rebuilding it to its intended glory. But can that reasonably be?

Next is the command to ‘subdue it’. (Strong’s #3533 is conquer, subjugate which means to ‘overcome by force’)  Which (to me) utterly begs the question:

What was there in the creation God pronounced “very good” that required of Adam that he ‘overcome by force’  something in it?

The key to this answer lies in the last phrase of the verse, ‘over every living thing that moveth upon the earth’.  We assume that understanding this to mean everything outside of himself is the intent.  The problem with that assumption is that it utterly fulfills the old wisdom of what assuming anything ends up doing:  it makes an ass out of u and me!  (Ass-u-me)  How so?

Man is the only morally accountable being God revealed in the creation account.  That is what it means to be created in the image of God and bear His likeness. We are morally accountable because we were given the laws: thou shalt and thou shalt not referring to the way we are to conduct our interaction with God and with man.  God revealed no other creature that was given such law.  All other creatures listed in the creation account are subject only to the laws of nature.

The Word of God, His revelation to us, concerning that accountability is the very first thing He revealed and the very first thing we reject in our understanding of that revelation!  We reject it by assuming that subduing all the rest of the creation is what was meant when in point of fact the only thing that really mattered was that we bring ourselves into absolute submission to the will of God each and every time we are tempted to defy Him.

He created us to be at the top of the list of ‘every living thing that moveth upon the earth’!  Not absent from it!  Adam failed.  He failed willfully and willingly to obey God’s command never to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  What is that fruit?  It is the idea that Adam could decide for himself what was good and what was evil.  Could it have been an ‘apple’ that he took a bite of?  Sure!  But taking the bite proved the condition of his heart and as Jesus said in Mark 7:

18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;

19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.

21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

I know that this was given in answer to the objection to eating food sacrificed to idols.  But Jesus went beyond the physical to the spiritual truth of the matter.  That is what we are all called to do!  Eternal life is a spiritual truth!

How does this all apply to the ‘Personification of Evil’?

The answer to that does not begin with the Serpent in the Garden.  It begins with the creation of Eve!  I see the leap to conclusions and the name calling and the dismissal of everything up to this point that this fool has written!  Please, give me one more minute to make a point.

Genesis 2:

20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

We can imagine the physical activity here rather easily.  But what is the spiritual outcome?  Yes, there have been many commentaries that say Eve was taken out of the side of Adam indicating she was his equal, and all that is correct as far as it goes.  But let’s take it a step farther.

Eve was created.  But she was not created from the dust of the earth as was Adam.  She was created out of Adam.  She was a distillation of his nature and created to be his ‘help’, ‘meet’ for him.  (Strong’s #5858 for both!: aid, help)

It was Eve who saw that the fruit was good for food, pleasant to look upon, and good to make one wise.  She was deceived, Adam was not. (1st Tim. 2:14) Eve was in the transgression but it was Adam’s disobedience that brought the curse of sin upon all mankind.

Romans 5:13 states:

12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

(The parenthetical phrase begun in verse 13 continues through verse 17.)

Why?  Why did Adam sin?  Given the source of sin described by Jesus in Mark 7, how are we to understand God’s declaration of His creation as ‘very good’?  There are only two possibilities. One is that it was a moral certification.  If that was the case, then for Adam to sin against God, he would have to change his own nature from one of absolute moral submission, to one of utter moral rebellion.  Or two, it was a declaration of fitness for purpose.  As a declaration of fitness for purpose we have to trust God to reveal to us what that purpose is.  Did He?  Did God reveal what the purpose of His creation is?  Yes!  He did!

In the end, the bride of Christ will join Him in eternity.  The bride of Christ will exhibit one overwhelming character trait that cannot be denied.   We will be holy as He is holy.  Holy means separate. It means to set one’s self apart from something.  God reveals only one trait that He holds to the superlative, His holiness, and we are to be holy as He is holy.  So, what did he set Himself apart from in eternity?  Evil!  How does He define evil?  He defines evil as the ultimate worship of self.  He defines evil as pure selfishness.  The fruit of the Spirit, each of them, are manifestations of selflessness.

Adam sinned because he sought the throne for himself.  He did not care that if he said ‘No’ to Eve, God could and would forgive the transgression.  He cared only that he decide, and he would rather die than submit and obey.

The only way for man to be willingly and willfully holy, which is the purpose of God for his creation, is for man to see for himself, individually, first hand, leaving no room for doubt that to put self before everything else, is to reject the spiritual meaning of life.  That is the life that God blew into the nostrils of man.

Adam, the man of flesh, the elder, must be subdued by the younger Adam the man of Spirit, to live in holiness.  That is what Adam the elder, rejected and by doing so brought death to the younger.  It is the younger that must then be born again in each of us.  It is the younger that must learn and exercise holiness against the strength and wiles of the elder.  In doing so the purpose of God is served in this creation.  In doing so the ultimate plan of God will come to fruition. It is in trying to understand this that the question of ‘free will’ must be addressed and the truth of it accepted.

The revelation of evil as the serpent in the garden, Satan in the book of Job, the devil tempting Jesus,  all of its manifestations in this world, form the personification used in Scripture to allow us to externalize who we are in the flesh.  Who of us wants to admit that we absolutely would have been screaming, “Crucify Him!” with wholehearted enthusiasm had we been standing in the crowd when Pilate said he could find no fault in this man?  Which of us wants to believe as Paul did that ‘I am the chiefest of sinners’?

Personification is the only reasonable way to rightly understand the evil spirit of this world.  Evil must be subdued within and shunned without.  It must begin in our own hearts and minds.  It must be given no quarter in precisely the same way Jesus gave it no quarter.  He answered His temptation the same way we must:  It Is Written…!  Holiness puts God on His throne.

Every argument for the person-hood of Satan, demons, the devil, evil, et al. can be better answered,  and its presence in Scripture understood, by seeing the idea personified. Describing them as a persons is used by God to convey spiritual truth just as using the four types of ground in the parable of the sower conveys the spiritual truth of the four types of  reception the Word gets in the hearts of men.  We do it all the time in plays and stories to make concepts of good and evil easier for children to understand.

I close with these words of Jesus so that those of you with ears to hear may begin to understand: Matthew 13:10-13

10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

Externalizing evil is always easier than facing its truth within us.  God knows that, Satan does too!

Also, you may, as you read the passages above in light of the Strong’s definitions I have inserted, come to the shocking conclusion that God’s revelation becomes much more revealing of His ultimate plan!

The question you must ask yourself at this point (if you really care) is:  Do I still believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Satan is a person?

The sequel to this is examining the truth of how regeneration must, of necessity and beyond a reasonable doubt,  precede faith!

May all who read this be blessed.

 

 

 

Objections to Commentary w/Answers

I appreciate your response!  But you start off saying, “Your way believes that God can use evil tactics and deeds and hold humans accountable for them and not be blamed Himself.”  What evil tactics and deeds am I saying God uses?  He eradicated all mankind from earth save 8!  Because every intention of their heart was only evil continually!  Is that one of the evil tactics I am saying He uses?  Is that where you go when considering the power of the potter over the clay of the same lump to make one vessel to honor and another to dishonor?  That if God makes a vessel to dishonor it makes Him the ultimate Author of evil?  No.  That is why one must seek to understand His ultimate Purpose for us! SO,
Let me ask this:  What is the ultimate purpose God has in The Creation, given that man is indeed the acme of it? To me, our purpose is to be holy as He is holy, because we cannot live in His eternal kingdom unless we are. I am certainly not there yet and when Paul said in 1st Tim 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.   There are two parts of the saying, one Christ came to save sinners, and two, every sinner should consider himself chief among them.  That leaves no room for me to claim I am better than anyone else.  Off the subject!

You said, “Second, scripture no where says or teaches that we are free in the sense of being outside of God’s control, we live on the earth and are subject to all of its laws and sciences including death and have no control over those matters, but we are indeed free to make willing choices that have real effects. Sin is a choice and you are free to do so, including rejecting Jesus as Lord,. If we don’t have a choice, then we are basically fatalists and that our decisions and choices do not matter.” 
Is God’s control absolute?  Yes or No.  I do not claim God forces me to do evil.  Jeremiah 17:9 and Mark 7:18-21 speak very clearly of the condition of the unregenerate heart.  But throughout Scriptures It is made very clear that what man means for evil God can and does use to produce ultimate good.  We can’t outsmart God, we can’t outguess God, we can’t outmaneuver God.  Either He is in absolute control of man’s eternal destiny, or He has ceded control of that eternal destiny to a creature that has all the inate holiness of the serpent in the garden!  Since our relationship with Jesus is personal my eternal destiny is between me and Him.  It is not a corporate endeavor.  Unless of course you believe one must be a member of a church to be saved.  I do not, nor do I believe Scripture teaches that.

“Third, Why pray? God’s Word says to do so but if all is predetermined by God then what’s the use?
We are commanded to pray by a Sovereign God.  That should be enough of a reason.  But we are told in no uncertain terms that mostly we pray for the wrong stuff.  So what should we pray for? It isn’t as much what we should pray for as how we are to pray: in the spirit.  It is only then that we are in full accord with the will of God in what we are seeking.  It says those are groanings of the spirit that cannot be uttered.  That means they most likely do not have a vocal component.  I’m by no means an expert in prayer and I’m sure people are comforted by prayers offered up for them. Does God answer prayer that is contrary to His Will? No. Well, yes, but the answer is NO!

“Fourth, you quote Jeremiah 18:4-6 as a basis for the making of a man, the the true text is about the nation Israel. God sent him there to give him an object lesson for what was going to happen to them as a nation, not individuals.
I was not referring to Jer. 18:4-6 at all.  I was referring to Romans 9:20-22
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?  22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

Just Who fit those vessels of wrath for destruction?  When you worked construction, didn’t you use ‘expendables’?  Those were tools and bits and files and stuff that were good for their purposes, but were meant to be used up or destroyed so the ultimate plan could be completed.  Indeed the end result could not be achieved without them.  Do you believe God, in order to achieve His ultimate goal would not have need of anything like that?  It is not up to us to decide which is which.  Our job is to carry out the Great Commission.  In John chapter 6 it says hundreds turned away and followed Him no more.  But of all those He was given by the Father, He would lose none. So I did not give myself to Him until after the Father gave me to Him.  That decision was made before the foundation of the world!!
I think there is little doubt this passage is precisely about someone who questions the Sovereignty of God in His absolute right to use any part or piece of His creation according to the good pleasure of His will alone re:Judas and Pharaoh, re Jacob and Esau.  And it is no different for one to question the right of God in how He uses someone else.   i.e. It would not be fair of Him to decide if John Doe is saved or not without John Doe having a voice in it before He does either.  The problem with that line of thinking is it is refuted in the choice of Jacob over Esau: before they had done anything god or bad God chose re Romans 9:11.  If God can sovereignly choose in their cases, why can He not sovereignly choose in mine?  
My response to the call proves His choice. My choice does not force His response.
‘My response proves His choice. My choice does not force His response.’ also answers your fifth statement.  “It is the responsibility of man to repent and trust Jesus as Savior and Lord, God’s Word places the responsibility on the person in numerous places.  Ezekiel 18:23, 32, John 3:16 – 18, 2, Acts 16:31, Romans10:9-10, 13, 2 Thess. 2: 10 – 12, Rev. 22:17”
Regeneration precedes faith!
And it is only in faith one comes to Christ.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
By faith He IS Lord and Savior to us as we walk this sod!
The Book of Romans is our theological primer concerning the power of God over man and many other topics. It seeks to teach the proper use of reason in understanding God; an extremely lofty goal considering the depths to which its readership has fallen,

Again thanks for your response. Iron sharpens iron. 

The Trinity Considered

We have tried to decipher the Trinity from what the Bible says about God.  In one place it says He is One God.  In another Jesus says He is God and in another the Holy Spirit is God and in another we have God the Father  and in Genesis He uses the plural when referring to Himself.

We have been through several ways to explain the One and the Three, but I’ve not seen any effort to describe the revelation of God from God’s point of view.

Consider this:  God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit exist in Eternity.  Their cooperation in the Creation is absolute.  There is not one particle of difference in the Plan of God between them.  The only difference is the role and purpose each assumes in fulfilling the plan.  Every detail from one subatomic particle to the absolute ends of the universe is agreed upon.  Every being, rock and tree, is here for a purpose in that plan.  In the outworking of that purpose and in the unity of that purpose They are ONE!  In their moral code and perfection of coordination of their revealed individual persons They are AS One.  As Jesus said you have seen Me, you have seen My Father also.

The revelation of God to us in terms of absolute unity of final purpose for Creation teaches He is One.  In terms of accomplishing those individual goals as revealed of His plan in time the Three Persons each have individual actions and activities.

We have ruled out modalism but cannot seem to wrap our heads around how three persons can be One God.  If we conceive of God’s unity of purpose as binding the three persons together so perfectly that from our point of view He IS One in Three, what have we lost?  What violence have we done to our understanding of the Trinity as three persons, One God?  Need there be factionalism and discord over accepting such a simple understanding?  After all, aren’t we dealing with a God who is capable of such perfect alignment of purpose between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that they are One?

The 500 Year Old Question!

 

Arminianism vs Calvinism…

  Cut to the chase!

Calvinists say Its God’s choice and I can live with it.

Arminians say Its my choice and I can’t live without it.

Either God IS all-Powerful or He is not.  If my choice over-rules His it is obvious He is not!

Where does Scripture say we have free will?  Indeed it says we are captives to sin until the Lord sets us free and those whom He sets free are free indeed!

Comment on the Hypostatic Union

There is a premise that I took up fairly early on.  It is that Holy Scripture is God’s revelation to His people.  Jesus taught in parables so that seeing they would not perceive and hearing they would not understand.  Who is ‘they’?  I believe that ‘they’ includes everyone who is either chosen but too lazy to really work to understand what He is telling us, or not chosen and thus completely blind to Him.  Harsh maybe, but to me that is what reason dictates.

I abhor mystery in what is supposed to be a revelation!  If God reveals all we can know about Jesus Christ, which I believe he does, then His nature as our Redeemer must be understandable to those willing to accept what is revealed about it.  Is the nature of Jesus Christ any more of a mystery than the nature of any other man, really?  Or do we make it that way in some effort at artificial humility?

In the sin of Adam all are fallen. Therefore in God’s economy, the moral ability and holiness of the child is inherited of the father.

The Father of Jesus Christ is God.  His moral ability and holiness is inherited of the Father.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and [a]dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of [b]the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Is it necessary to shoehorn two distinct natures in the same person to explain Him?  I grant that those who came before us and passed on their best understanding to us should be respected but not blindly followed to the end of their journey and no farther!  The KISS principle applies.

God created Adam, but the only Begotten of the Father IS the Son, Jesus Christ!

So do we really need the mystery of the hyostatic union when a simpler and far easier to understand (to me) explanation is at hand?  Or am I a heretic for having the temerity to even think about such a deep and holy topic?