Month: August 2007

Red and Yellow, Black and White…

The new 9marks eJournal is now available at their website. Its all about race, ethnicity, diversity, etc. The articles look excellent! Can’t wait to devour them up.

This is a much misunderstood and neglected subject. Read on and let the nations be glad! {Psalm 67:4}

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Free Will or Free Willy?

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My friend Gunny has an excellent post over at his blog about free will: Free will. It’s like butterfly wings: once touched, they never get off the ground. I couldn’t have said it better. This is a great post and might be helpful to those of you who have been interacting on this blog about these matters. And on account that I was taught Church History to the Modern Era by Gunny, and since he understands the history of the church as it wrestled with these theological issues WAY BETTER than I ever will, I gladly defer to my rabbi…

A Reminder…

Matt Pugh, youth pastor at Country Bible Church, filled the pulpit for me last week. Matt is a student at Dallas Theological Seminary where he is working on his Masters of Theology. I’d like to recommend his sermon, “A Reminder…” from 2nd Peter 1 to you. You can find it here or search iTunes for the Learn To Live podcast to download it.

Matt’s challenge was: are you checking yourself spiritually to see that you have godly characteristics in your life so that you won’t become unfruitful and inneffective in your service to the Lord?

Take a listen…

George Mueller on the Study of the Hebrew Language

George Mueller, the infamous pastor and orphanage caretaker, said this in 1829 at the age of 24:

“I now studied much, about 12 hours a day, chiefly Hebrew…{and} committed portions of the Hebrew Old Testament to memory; and this I did with prayer, often falling on my knees…I looked up to the Lord even whilst turning over the leaves of my Hebrew dictionary.”

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For those of you who have studied Hebrew but perhaps lost your zeal for the language {not mention all working knowledge of it!}, or those who plan on or want to study Hebrew, let me point you to some resources:

Basics of Biblical Hebrew- This is a great book to start with. Most seminaries are using it now. This is what I cut my teeth on in seminary. You can find this and much more at www.basicsofbiblicalhebrew.com

Also see Introducing Biblical Hebrew by Allen Ross.

For the more adavnced, I would recommend 2 books by Robert Chisholm:

From Exegesis to Exposition: A Practical Guide to Using Biblical Hebrew

A Workbook for Intermediate Hebrew: Grammar, Exegesis, and Commentary on Jonah and Ruth

Finally, let me encourage and challenge those who are taking, will take, or have taken Hebrew: Don’t give up! Keep at it. It will pay dividends in the future and make you a more competent and faithful expositor of God’s Word! Think of the time and money that will go to waste if you let your Hebrew {or Greek!} go!

The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation by Bruce Demarest

Since we have been discussing God’s sovereignty and man’s free will, etc, especially as it pertains to salvation, I thought I’d recommend a book that discusses the matter very thoroughly: The Cross and Salvation by Bruce Demarest.

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This book covers all the bases of salvation and the various positions {Does God elect/choose people to be saved? Can people choose God? Is man capable of choosing God on his own or must he be “awakened” by God?, etc, etc.}.

Each position and the history and background of the various people and views are covered. This is a great book to get your feet wet if you’re curious about Calvinism, Pelagius, Arminianism, regeneration, grace, atonement, free will, election, predestination {or double predestination!}, etc, etc…

A Turn of Affairs

I am reading through 1st Kings right now and was struck by this phrase today:

“…for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word…” 1st Kings 12:15

Now, this struck me because of the recent discussion on this blog and many others concerning God’s sovereignty and involvement in the Minneapolis bridge collapse, particularly as it relates to John Piper and Greg Boyd’s discussion on the matter. But let me first give you the context and background of the passage before I pose a question.

Ahijah the prophet finds Jeroboam on the road out in the country {1st Kings 11:29}. Ahijah has on a new garment. And suddenly tears his new clothes into 12 pieces and gives them to the bewildered Jeroboam and says roughly for the LORD, “Take 10 pieces for yourself, Jeroboam, for I am about to tear the kingdom from Solomon’s hand and give you 10 tribes because Solomon has forsaken and worshipped other gods.” Meanwhile, Rehoboam is made king of Israel after the death of King Solomon {1st Kings 12:1}.

Then Jeroboam approaches King Rehoboam with others and basically asks him to not rule with a heavy hand like his father Solomon {12:3-5}. So Rehoboam sends them away and tells them to come back in 3 days and he’ll let them know what kind of ruler he will be. Then Rehoboam {wisely} asks the elders who helped his father for some advice. The old men basically say that if Rehoboam will rule them gently then the people will willingly serve him as king {12:6-7}.

But King Rehoboam gets a second opinion from the young bucks fresh out of seminary. They tell him to rule with an iron fist and make these people feel his power {12:11}. So Rehoboam agrees {unwisely} to the advice of the young guys. And he informs Jeroboam and the others that he will basically rule them more fiercely than his father ever did {12:12-14}.

So now we get to the phrase that struck me:

“So the king {Rehoboam} did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word, which he spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.” 1st Kings 12:15

It appears to me that the LORD not only knew that the kingdom would be divided but actually decreed it to come about. This raises the question of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. If God knew and decreed that the kingdom be divided, and King Rehoboam’s actions/response to the people were part of God’s plan {…a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word…}, then that demonstrates God’s sovereignty over even King Rehoboam’s decision! {Other passages that include this line of rationality might include Genesis 20:6 where God appears in a dream to King Abimelech and tells him that He {God} kept Abimelech from having sex with Sarah, Abraham’s wife! The text actually says, “…I kept you from sinning against me.” See also Exodus 14:4, 8 where God hardens Pharaoh’s heart}.

How do we reconcile man’s apparent free will with God’s sovereign ability to “overpower” man’s decisions? If man does have total free will and God does not intervene to overide any of man’s decisions, then how do you explain the above passages? And if these passages make you uncomfortable with a God who can and does intervene and apparently overide man’s free will, then let me ask you: Do you pray to God for family and friends to come to Christ or for God to work in people’s lives? If so, it appears that you believe in a God who can and does overide man’s free will, if not heavily influence it.

Okay, enough…my brain hurts. What say you?