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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Hard Determinism or Compatibilism - Say What???

I saw someone discussing hard determinism vs. compatibilism on social media which got me scrambling to see exactly what was meant by that, and soon after that I read about "Compatibilistic Theodicy" in the Biblical doctrine book.  
Actually, I'm pretty certain it was the very next time I read in the book.  
Side Note:
I was in chapter 3 (and finally finished it this week).  
I recommend it, although it occasionally boggles my mind.  
I don't know how well I'll remember the things I'm learning, but I hope that some of it will stick.

Here is my thinking on hard determinism:
If hard determinism means that people are not held responsible / culpable for their sinful actions, then it would not be the same as compatibilism (soft determinism) which is more like what is what we see in Scripture. 
The Bible surely makes it clear that people are still held responsible for sin (Habakkuk 1:5-11) no matter that God superintends everything for His purposes.

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
Genesis 50:20 NASB

God warns people about sin and the judgment coming to sinners, but an unbeliever's freedom to choose is limited by their nature (unbelievers are slaves to sin and under the headship of Adam and are unable to obey God). 
God hardens hard hearts (Pharoah hardened his heart and God hardened Pharoah's heart, God gives people over to sin as a judgment in Romans 1, etc.), and God has stirred up kings to attack or take people as captives (1 Chronicles 5:26; Jeremiah 28:14), and He sent His people into exile as a judgment (I'm reading Jeremiah).
So, again, I can see that God can direct wills, and He governs all the circumstances and secondary causes (even the sins of people) in the universe to bring about His purposes.
We can see from history that God brings judgment, mercy & grace, and trials.
God will one day bring about the ultimate justice.
Those who are His are covered by His blood & righteousness, and those who are not will face eternal judgment (and Hell).

What about choosing God?

We are not responsible for our first or second birth (John 3) or for God's foreknowledge and drawing of those He's chosen.  
Our wills would never choose God apart from His changing our nature and His supernaturally regenerating us according to His predetermined plan.
We also can't keep ourselves saved by our choices either, but our salvation will be evident to others by our love & obedience and fruit which is evidence of His work in us.
God will complete the good work He started in His sheep, and He will not lose any of His true children.

For those who have not heard the Gospel, please follow THIS LINK.

The following is something I got from a Steve Lawson Bible study on foreknowledge:

Foreknowledge doesn't mean that God looks down the tunnel of time to see who would choose His Son and predestine on the basis of this.
Reasons why that idea is erroneous:
1. God has never looked into the future & learned anything.
2. If this was mere foresight, all God would see is that no one would choose Christ. There is a moral inability to exercise the will towards God, and the reason don't want to. There is none who seeks for God...
3. This does not say what He says whom He foreknew. This is dealing with not event...but individuals. The true meaning of foreknowledge it to choose to love someone beforehand.

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
Romans 8:29 NASB

It's a mercy that God chooses to save people who would not be able to will toward God apart from God.

So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. Romans 9:16 NASB

Those of us who are Christians have Christ's righteousness imputed to us, but we still sin.  
We are to confess our sins to God, and He is faithful & just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Our new nature frees us to be able to do what is right, and God works in us to give us the desire and ability to obey and to glorify Him.

for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 
Philippians 2:13 NASB
We as believers should be glad that God works all things for His glory & our ultimate good despite how things may look.  Our family has been having a number of trials, and sometimes it seems there is no ending in sight.  

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 NASB

I have a long ways to go in sanctification, and the more I suffer the more I see my sinfulness (rebelliousness, anxiety, doubts, etc.).
I pray God will cause me to grow and to better reflect God's glory like the moon reflects the sun.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Remember the Prisoners

More than 100 people from a church in China were reportedly arrested a few days ago.  
I'm uncertain about their Theology in some respects, but Christians can pray for these people.

Those of us who are Christians know that Christ is the Head of His church, and no government has the authority to demand churches disobey Scripture.  
The Three Self organization is connected to the government and is not a church group and yet they can try to make decisions affecting churches.  
This means that they can try to bring liberalism into churches.  
It reportedly puts patriotism as its prime objective.

Churches in China struggle from a lack of sound Theological training.  
That is true in the U.S., but there they have a lack of good teaching and training as available as it can be in America.
I don't know the author of this article, but it is eye-opening about why it is more difficult for churches in China.

While it is very difficult to find a church that has sound Theology and practice in areas of the U.S., professing believers in China are under incredible pressure to compromise.
Their desire is to stand for what they do understand of Scripture (even if not fully informed), as the government is cracking down on them.

Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.
Hebrews 13:3 NASB

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Streaming Christmas Concert 2018 & Other Christmas Related Things

Christmas Concert Live-Streaming
Grace Community Church's Christmas Concert is scheduled to be live-streamed on December 23, 2018 at 6 PM Pacific Time (9 PM Eastern).
James Phillipps, Jubilant Sykes, Grace Chung, Philip Webb (AKA Superman in our house), Christopher Parkening, etc,. are scheduled to sing, along with choirs & orchestra.
View the streaming at that time by going HERE.

Update:  Watch the full concert

Grace Community Church Christmas Concert 2018 from Grace Community Church on Vimeo.

Articles of Note:

Christians & Christmas by John MacArthur

The Gospel According to Christmas Carols by Nathan Busenitz  

Gospel Tracts at Christmas

I'm not endorsing this particular site, but the following ideas for distributing tracts look good.