Posted by: splat | September 23, 2011

Does the doctrine of “eternal security” promote sin?

Do those who believe in the doctrine of “eternal security” have a greater or lesser tendency to commit sin? I am hoping to have a stab at answering this question here. This is a deep question and one that I feel has a better chance of being answered from both sides on a forum rather than in chat text or on microphone. Part of the reason is that this topic can become complex and it is easy to forget the details of the argument that has been put forward by the previous speaker. At least on a forum one can re-read and re-acquaint oneself with the case put forward by the previous writer.

The case often put forward is that eternal security provides a cloak for those who wish to sin with impunity under the covering of grace. At the heart of this, I think, is the belief that fear, rather than God’s grace, is a better deterrent of sin. The assertion here is that you will fear God more if you are capable of sinning away your salvation and be more careful about your walk. The question is then as to whether this fear produces true repentance. What do the scriptures say?

Romans 2:4 NASB Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

or in the KJV

Romans 2:4 KJV Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Here it implies that its God’s mercy and kindness that leads people to repentance. This seems at odds with it being driven by fear.

Another verse is:

Luke 7:47 NASB “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Here it says that those who know they are the bigger sinners, who know they are forgiven, will love God much. Love and fear are not the same thing.

How does this pertain to “eternal security”? Well, if one believes that God will forgive all their sins, even wilful sins, then they are more secure than those who believe that God only forgives accidental sins. If they know and understand that the price has been paid for their sins then they no longer need to be “on tenterhooks” wondering if at this moment they are acceptable to God. We know that from Psalm 37 that fretting leads only to evil doing.

Psalms 37:8 NASB Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.

If they can be allowed to not fret about this will they do less evildoing? I believe so. Hence this is my reasoning why I consder that the doctrine of “eternal security” is less prone to sin rather than the assumed increase in sin.

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Posted by: splat | July 17, 2011

Where is the lake of fire?

I don’t believe the lake of fire is where people think it is. Most people, and as I used to think, was that the lake of fire is somewhere next to heaven. This is generally believed, because of the account about the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16.

Luke 16:19-26 NASB “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. (20) “And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, (21) and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. (22) “Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. (23) “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. (24) “And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ (25) “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. (26) ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’

Notice that there is this dialogue going on between Abraham and Lazarus across the chasm.  Hence, if this is literal, it is possible for those in heaven, to have a conversation with those in hell.  For those who are in heaven, listening to the screams across the chasm, I don’t imagine this would be a very nice experience for either the screamer or the ones listening to the screams.

However if this is a parable, rather than literal, then the lake of fire is not literally alongside heaven. The question then is where is the lake of fire situated?  I will deal with this by comparing Revelation 20 and 2 Peter 3.  I will show how these two sections of scripture parallel each other and in doing so will reveal the location of the lake of fire.  This should help establish a timeline and make clearer the tenses of certain words and phrases.

So lets look at the Revelations 20 passage first:

Revelation 20:4-15 NASB (4) Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (5) The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. (6) Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. (7) When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, (8) and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. (9) And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (10) And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (11) Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. (12) And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. (13) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. (14) Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (15) And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

We see in the previous passage we see a number of references to the lake of fire.  From here we see a number of points.

  • No one was thrown into the lake of fire until the 1000 years were completed
  • Fire came down from heaven before the lake of fire was mentioned
  • Heaven and earth fled away from His presence
Now compare this with 2 Peter 3

2 Peter 3:3-12 NASB Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, (4) and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” (5) For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, (6) through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. (7) But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (8) But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. (9) The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (10) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. (11) Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, (12) looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!

Now in the above passage not the following:

  • “One day is a thousand years” corresponds in the timeline with the millenium in Rev 20.
  • The earth will be destroyed by fire and that fire is reserved for the destruction of ungodly men.  Its the same fire!

In yet another verse we see again that eternal destruction is away from the Lord’s presence.  This makes sense as heaven and earth fled away.

2 Thessalonians 1:9 NASB (9) These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

So we can see that the lake of fire will be on earth, at the end of time, and not adjacent to the allotment of heaven at all.  Hence the account of the rich man and lazarus must indeed be a parable as the lake of fire is not adjacent to heaven separated only by a chasm whereby the suffering can make their screams heard across the chasm.

I anticipate people will have a problem with this interpretation for the following reasons:

  • It will mess up their pre-tribulation rapture eschatology
  • Many people prefer the “special universe” theory of the location of the lake of fire. Particularly when they realize they can’t place it in an allotment, next to heaven, where the torment of those suffering can be heard.   They start with the assumption that there is eternal torment and so therefore need a specially created eternal universe, to put it.  Unfortunately, for them, there are no scriptures that talk of a specially created universe.
  • The eternal torment of those in the lake of fire, can only last to the end of time of that universe.  This is unlikely to satisfy the eternal tormentalists.

The other objection is from Ecclesiastes 1:4 which states that the earth is to remain forever. The key is to understand what this word “forever” means and how elsewhere this same Hebrew word is used in scripture. The word forever is from the Hebrew word “olam”, strongs number H5769. The Strongs reference has the following to say about it.

From H5956; properly concealed, that is, the vanishing point; generally time out of mind (past or future), that is, (practically) eternity; frequentative adverbially

So you can see it doesn’t need to mean endless. One example of a usage which is translated as “forever” but does not actually mean forever is Leviticus 7:33-34.

Leviticus 7:33-34 NASB ‘The one among the sons of Aaron who offers the blood of the peace offerings and the fat, the right thigh shall be his as his portion. (34) ‘For I have taken the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the contribution from the sons of Israel from the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons as their due forever from the sons of Israel.

You can see that this “forever” is not forever as there will be no animal sacrifices in heaven. It simply meant for the foreseeable future. Animal sacrifices were no longer needed after Jesus sacrifice.

Posted by: splat | January 2, 2016

I’d rather see a sermon…

I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way. 
The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear, 
Fine counsel is confusing but example's always clear; 
And the best of all preachers are the men who live their creeds, For to see good in action is what everybody needs. 
I soon can learn to do it if you'll let me see it done; 
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run. 
And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true, 
But I'd rather get my lessons by observing what you do; 
For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give, 
But there's no misunderstanding how you act and how you live. - Edgar A Guest
Posted by: splat | September 23, 2012

What kind of prayers does God answer?

Does God hear all prayers made by Christians?

(NASB)1 John 5:14-15
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. [15] And if we know
that He hears us in whatever
we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

There are a number of points to consider here:

* Confidence is based on understanding that God here’s every prayer accorfing to his will.

* What does it mean to ask according to his will?

* How do we get to the place where we have whatever we ask.

Most people ponder what it means to ask according to his will. Here are some examples of his will.

(ESV)1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, [17] pray without ceasing, [18] give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

(ESV)1 Peter 2:15-17
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. [16] Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. [17] Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

So according to a casual reading of that scripture one would conclude that there are only two possible outcones:

* God hears an
If God hears the prayer the answer is “yes”, not “no” or “wait”. In fact there are only two options I can see: God hears and we expect to receive or He does no hear. How else can you read that verse?

(NASB)John 9:31
“We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.

We know many of the old testament prophets who certainly weren’t perfect yet God heard them. The question is then raised about what the phrase “God does not hear sinners” might actually mean. Especially if one believes in the often

(NASB)1 John 3:21-22
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; [22] and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.

The apostle John arrived at a place where he had 100% success in prayer. I think this unlikely that he had anything to do with sinless perfection. I have not  met anyone who has stopped sinning altogether.

(NASB)James 4:3-4
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. [4] You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Therefore we see the wrong motives were to be friends with the world. To seek the favour of men is to miss the blessing of God.

(NASB)John 5:44
“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?

(NASB)John 7:18
“He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

(ESV)Proverbs 25:27
It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.

We know that without faith it is impossible to please God.

(NASB)Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

(NASB)Isaiah 59:1-2
Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. [2] But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

Posted by: splat | July 8, 2012

Thoughts on omniscience

If I were to ask the question “Does anything ever surprise God?” I would generally get a negative answer. If I was to ask the question differently such as “Does anyone ever disappoint God?” or “Does God ever become angry?” then I would get quite a different answer. Does anyone get angry if everything is going according to plan or is it more likely because they are expressing their frustration at a turn of events?

Here is a for instance:
Genesis 6:5-6 NASB Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (6) The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grievedin His heart.

Here we see the Lord regretting that he had created man because of the wickedness that was in their hearts. In the beginning, when the Lord created the heaven and earth, God saw that it was good. However, in Genesis 6, it was not good, because man had pursued evil, and God decided to start again with the flood and spared only Noah and his family.

The Lord did not desire this outcome and was certainly not responsible for it. It wasn’t because “God allowed it” in some sense of permissive will but rather because the hearts of men inclined to wickedness. Some claim that God has several “wills” and they view God as nearly schizophrenic. We can see that it wasn’t His will because God regretted it and He was grieved in heart.

Many people believe that God’s omniscience doesn’t make any statement about our free will. This can only be true if He never reveals to us future events. This creates a problem for those that believe in “intractible omniscience” or that God never changes His mind when scripture clearly reveals otherwise. Detractors have no recourse but to say that the bible says that but means something completely different when it says that.

(NASB)Exodus 32:12-14
“Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ”With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth”? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. [13] “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ”I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.”” [14] So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.

See the Lord changed his mind. If the Lord, at times, can change his mind then it follows that the future is not set in concrete.

If I were God and were to say to you, as an omniscient being, I know you will stand on your right foot, would you have free will to stand on your left foot? If our free will is completely foreknown then is it not also completely predicted and therefore predetermined? The predictors, whatever they might be, would completely predetermine our actions, would they not?

Most people have a filmstrip view of omniscience. (Some, notably the Calvinists, refer to this as looking down the corridors of time.) This view is one where God sits outside of time and observes the events of earth’s history as a filmstrip. Every frame of this filmstrip denotes a particular point in time. This often leads people to conclude, I believe wrongly, that for God, that the future has already happened. Therefore anything that happens down here, according to them, is because God either caused it or allowed it from the beginning of time.

People who hold to this view make statements like “God may not have caused this disaster to happen but He knew in advance it would happen and allowed it.” I personally disagree with the filmstrip view of omniscience. It implies that all future events are already “set in concrete”. Although it may not be obvious to the casual observer, this is really just another way of talking about total predestination.

To make the point more clear I am saying that, in my opinion, free will is not predictable, or has no predictors, otherwise it would not be truly free. Some might say that only God knows all the predictors, and if these predictors force us to make certain choices, then this is still predestination rather than free will.

I believe that God knows what is in our heart before we act it out in the physical world. However to say that God “knows” what is going to be in our heart, in the future, is to assume that the future is fixed and that therefore we can make no other choice. Our choice is therefore predetermined. I believe that God knows the outcomes of all of our choices, but doesn’t limit them in any way. To this end I believe the future is currently in an indeterminate state until it comes to pass. This means that the future does not already exist yet. If we don’t make the right choice then God is not foiled. He had a backup plan that He had prepared beforehand.

Posted by: splat | July 6, 2012

Blessing and mourning

Why is it that so many Christians don’t experience blessings?  Should we be experiencing blessings today or are they just some fuzzy spiritual concept?

(KJV)Matthew 5:4
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Notice the word “are” is in italics. This means that “are” is not in the greek. It was added by the translators for readability. Sometimes they got it right and sometimes they didn’t. In this case I believe not. I explain.

Blessed means happy and to mourn is to be sad.
One is either happy or sad, not both. One might argue that although they are sad that they have  happiness imputed to them. Well, it doesn’t do us any good unless its real, not just some religious position. A better reading of that scripture would be “Blessed [will be] those who mourn for they shall be comforted”. It makes more sense to be blessed after you are comforted by the Holy Spirit.

Now also who was Matthew 5:4 written to? Let’s back up and see.

(NASB)Matthew 5:1-2
When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. [2] He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,

So we see Jesus wasn’t speaking to everybody but only his disciples. Not all who followed Jesus were disciples even back then.

(NASB)John 8:31-32
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; [32] and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Posted by: splat | July 5, 2012

Our concept of God

Our Concept of God

How do we see God?  Is He the loving Father?  Or is he the judge that stands there to keep score of all our wrongdoings?  

I started thinking about this earlier because I did a short message in front of my church from 1 John 1:5.  From my translation it reads:

1 John 1:5  This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 

The thing is that we often see darkness in God but that darkness is not in God.  Why do we see darkness in Him?  Well, often it is upbringing.  In an extreme case, if we were brought up in an abusive family, that colours our thinking about God even as we grow into adulthood.

Here is an interesting picture I found:

The picture shows a couple of researchers examining the locomotive abilities of a dolphin on land !!  They are there with their clipboards and their check sheets to put a tick or a cross in the relevant columns.  How well is the dolphin doing in the test?  Not well from the picture we observe.  It has hardly managed to move at all.  For the complete report you can read it here.

How often do we see God putting us through such a test and then we say if we fail the test that God will have to put us through that test again.  Yet if we look at the dolphin example we see how preposterous that really is.  Does God really give us impossible tasks to perform so that he can delight to tell us that we have failed the test?  Yet this is what contemporary religious tradition teaches us that God is like an unjust score keeper or to put it in biblical terminology like an unjust judge.  (cf Luke 18:2-7).  However we read in verse 7 that God is not like this unjust judge.  

The problem is our realization of God is a product of what is in our heart.  Many times Jesus ministered to received according to their faith.   Jesus showed the people what the Father was really like.  The religious people didn’t like it.  They got mad because their concept of God was a different one.  Their concept of God was that of an unjust judge.  Does our concept of God allow us to come boldly before the throne of grace to receive help in times of trouble or are we still seeing an old covenant judge?

The pharisees thought that God was just like themselves.  (cf Psalm 50:21)  Unwilling to let go of the darkness inside their own souls, their own false teachings about God, they would not repent and come into the light.  So often we confuse religious teachings with light.  So often they are not.  We have to ask does it paint a good picture of God, or a harsh overbearing one?!  The other problem is that many Christians get the concept of God from the old testament where we do have a lot harsher picture of God.   Of course, under the old covenant, the people of God were not washed by the blood of Jesus, so justice was more exacting and there was less mercy for those that failed.  However under the new covenant it is completely different.  We are no longer facing an angry God because his anger has been appeased by the blood of Jesus.

It was the pharisees (or religious leaders of the day) that loaded the people down with rules and regulations and would not lay a finger to help them.  (cf Matt 23:4).  Instead Jesus was never like that but said whoever was heavy laden to come to Him and He would give them rest.  (cf Matt 11:28-30).  The problem is we often get what the religious leaders say mixed up with our concept of God.  Another example is Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42.  It was Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus and learning from Him who was doing the one thing that is needful.  Always to come to Him and learn who God really is is the better way.

The dolphin trying to swim on land is a good example of trying to achieve things in our own strength.  It is hard work and doesn’t really get us anywhere.  To do things God’s way is akin to putting the dolphin back in the water where it can swim naturally and almost effortlessly.  That is what learning from God and leaning on Him is all about.

 So often our concept of God stops us from receiving God’s grace and moving on to greater blessings.  If we see God as our judge and as the one condemning us then we will not come to Him.  Yet there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.  (cf Romans 8:1)  Often the cause of this is wrong teachings and/or religious spirits whose aim is to confuse our minds lest we come to God in faith and receive.

Posted by: splat | July 2, 2012

Were we healed by His stripes?

Were we healed by his stripes? What do people mean by this? Why are so many Christians sick if they are supposed to be healed already? In this post I explore these and other issues.
Read More…

Posted by: splat | July 2, 2012

Should faith be based on feelings?

Should faith be based on the word of God or the way we feel about it at the time? Some base their faith on their past experiences? Are feelings or our past experiences a good test of what we should believe?

Others, without hesitation, would say it should be based on the word of God. However they are often unable to tell you, with any conviction, what outcome they are expecting. Often its just some vague statement like “God’s in control” but this often is just a spiritual cliche. Often, what they mean by that is that they are expecting God to do what is right but then they define what is “right” to be whatever happens. This is a kind of spiritual fatalism.

Now while our faith in God should impact our personal experience I am not convinced it should completely rely on it. Otherwise how is it faith? Some people equate faith to their devotion to God. Someone might say “see how devoted so-and-so is to doing good works”. Is that really faith? After all even the pharisees did good works. Faith to me is trusting God rather than about our good works (although good works can come out of faith).

You often hear people say “so-and-so trusted God or had faith for healing but they died instead”. To them faith shouldn’t be tied to the word of God because, as they claim, those promises in the Word, may not be for you at this time. They believe a special leading of the Holy Spirit should be felt before those promises are activated for you. Hence your faith, according to them, can only be activated by “spiritual feelings”.

Some of these attempt to backup this claim, regarding “spiritual feelings” with the statement that the english word translated “word” has two counterparts in biblical greek “logos” and “rhema” which, according to them, only “rhema” can be acted upon. In their view “rhema” is a tangible experience and revelation of the Holy Spirit whilst “logos” are simply the words on the page.

Whilst I acknowledge that greek has “logos” for written word and “rhema” for spoken word it is tenuous, in my view, to say that only “rhema” should be acted upon.

(NASB)James 1:22
But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

The word for “word” used here is “logos” showing that we can, and ought, to act on the written word also. So if we don’t have a specific “feeling” we can still do the will of God.  The exact greek is shown below:

Posted by: splat | July 1, 2012

Should Peter have gotten out of the boat?

What lessons can we learn from Peter’s attempt at walking on water? Why did Peter sink? What makes this account interesting is that Peter started in faith but nevertheless stumbled (or began to sink). Did Peter act too soon before he was spiritually ready?

I think some of these questions are not unlike those in our own lives. We often start off in faith but then the scary waves, of our circumstances, distract us and cause us to take our eyes off Christ. The account of Peter walking on the water is a classic example of starting off in faith but stumbling along the way.

Matthew 14:25-32 NAS77 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. (26) And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were frightened, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. (27) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (28) And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (29) And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. (30) But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” (31) And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (32) And when they got into the boat, the wind stopped.

We all know the outcome, that he started well, but in the end, took his eyes off Jesus, and then began to sink. The interesting thing about Peter, is that he started off acting in faith. Therefore simply starting in faith does not guarantee continued success. Why did Peter sink? Did he not sink when he became afraid? What caused Peter to fear but that he took his eyes off Jesus. We also need to keep our eyes on Jesus rather than our circumstances.

Now the big question is should Peter have gotten out of the boat? There are a number of questions that can be asked about this account of Peter.

Should Peter have gotten out of the boat knowing that the possibility of sinking existed? Was Peter ready, spiritually, to walk on water?

Was Peter predestined to sink from the foundation of the world? (Calvinistic Predestination)

Did Jesus set Peter up for a fall knowing full well that he would only get half way across and then sink? (Maybe to teach us something 2000 years later.) (Arminianism)

Should only greek or hebrew scholars get out of the boat?

These questions, which may seem a little bit academic, have a bearing on whether we will get out of own boat in faith (whatever situation in our own lives to which this might apply). We might ask ourselves if we are also predestined to sink when we get out of our own boat.

Maybe we could also play the dispensationalist card and say that the time of getting out of boats has come to an end because we are now in the age of grace. Could it be that getting out of the boat passed away with the last apostle?

All of these thoughts discourage us from getting out of the boat but what might happen if we closed our theology books and just acted on the words of Jesus, today.

Remember the wise man who built his house upon the rock:

(NASB)Matthew 7:24-27
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. [25] “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. [26] “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. [27] “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell–and great was its fall.”

Now, maybe the foolish man said to himself “I’m not a theologian or a greek/hebrew scholar so I should not act on the word” or maybe “my church doesn’t believe in acting on the word”. Do any of these excuses make anyone wise? Or is trusting God even for today?

(NASB)Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.

So the question is “can anything God reveals about himself, perhaps at a future date, cause us to wish we had trusted him less”? If so then we should not trust God with all our heart but should have leaned to our own intellect (or some other humans). Could it be that, at times, faith really does take a leap of faith?

Food for thought?

Posted by: splat | June 20, 2012

Should Peter have gotten out of the boat?

I was thinking about one of those things that is so common in my own life.  We often start off in faith and then the scary waves distract us and cause us to take our eyes off Christ.  The account of Peter walking on the water is a classic example of starting off in faith but stumbling along the way.

Matthew 14:25-32 NAS77 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. (26) And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were frightened, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. (27) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (28) And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (29) And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. (30) But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” (31) And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (32) And when they got into the boat, the wind stopped.

We all know the outcome, that he started well, but in the end, took his eyes off Jesus, and then began to sink.  The interesting thing about Peter, is that this is an example of someone starting off in faith, but not finishing off in faith.  Is it possible for us also to start in faith but to stumble along the way?

Now the big question is should Peter have gotten out of the boat?  There are a number of questions that can be asked about this account of Peter.

  • Should Peter have gotten out of the boat knowing that the possibility of sinking existed? Was Peter ready, spiritually, to walk on water?
  • Was Peter predestined to sink from the foundation of the world?  (Calvinistic Predestination)
  • Did Jesus set Peter up for a fall knowing full well that he would only get half way across and then sink? (Maybe to teach us something 2000 years later.)  (Arminianism)
  • Should only greek or hebrew scholars get out of the boat?

These questions, which may seem a little bit academic, have a bearing on whether we will get out of own boat in faith (whatever situation in our own lives to which this might apply).  We might ask ourselves if we are also predestined to sink when we get out of our own boat.

Maybe we could also play the dispensationalist card and say that the time of getting out of boats has come to an end because we are now in the age of grace. Could it be that getting out of the boat passed away with the last apostle?

All of these thoughts discourage us from getting out of the boat but what might happen if we closed our theology books and just acted on the words of Jesus, today.

Remember the wise man who built his house upon the rock:

(NASB)Matthew 7:24-27
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. [25] “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. [26] “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. [27] “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell–and great was its fall.”

Now, maybe the foolish man said to himself “I’m not a theologian or a greek/hebrew scholar so I should not act on the word” or maybe “my church doesn’t believe in acting on the word”. Do any of these excuses make anyone wise? Or is trusting God even for today?

(NASB)Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.

So the question is “can anything God reveals about himself, perhaps at a future date, cause us to wish we had trusted him less”? If so then we should not trust God with all our heart but should have leaned to our own intellect (or some other humans). Could it be that, at times, faith really does take a leap of faith?

Food for thought?

Posted by: splat | June 20, 2012

Should faith be based on feelings?

Whilst most would say that faith should be based on the word of God it has become evident that many, perhaps most, base it on personal experience. Now while our faith in God should impact our personal experience I don’t believe it should define it orherwise someone might say “God did (or did not) come through for me in this situation” and it becomes the rule and a new theology. We often don’t know everything thats going on in someone elses life and without an “inquisition” it may be impossible to find out what they believed going into that situation.

Also, with personal growth we should be able to get to the place where we can trust God in greater measure than before. If now we end up limiting God by our experience.

Another common statement is when someone claims they are spiritually powerful (annointed) based on their “spiritual” feelings. I have even heard preachers say you can’t trust God’s word unless the Holy Spirit personally quickens it to you. They claim that the english word for “word” has two counterparts in biblical greek “logos” and “rhema” which, according to them, only “rhema” can be acted upon. Whilst I can see that greek has “logos” for written word and “rhema” for spoken word I fail to see how that is significant when obeying the sayings of Jesus. If the Holy Spirit is our guide then where is the problem or do we have to go to the counsel of men today?

(NASB)John 14:26
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

(NASB)1 John 2:27
As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

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