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Posts Tagged ‘gospel project’

By clicking on Trinity Day 2 Answers you can see the answers I promised to the Bible Study on manifestation of God’s character in His trinity in God ordained social institutions. We could avoid much of the heart-ache and problems we sustain if we would follow God’s plan for how the social interactions are supposed to work. Government, for instance, is involved far beyond its God ordain sphere of influence so that it mettles in the church and family spheres. Avenging evil and defense of the citizenry is all it is supposed to do. As a result of the many other things it forces on us, we lose freedom by each one.

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Having reviewed the biblical doctrine of the Trinity I now turn to its application by God to all God-ordained social institutions. Because we have refused to understand how God’s character is expressed in what He has created and ordained we try to re-invent social institutions apart from God, effectively destroying them.  I will allow several days for study before I fill in the blanks. (Lest I be called for plagiarism, I must acknowledge the ideas of Del Tackett in “The Truth Project”. I have digested and added my own study and organization to his framework.)  Click on Outworking of the Trinity to start the study.

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About a month ago I was leading our Sunday School class in a quick discussion of what the the Bible says about the Trinity and what it doesn’t. Confusion about God’s triune nature is not merely a theological blunder. It effects how you live because theology has consequences. Misunderstandings and refusals to believe the basics of God’s character and intra-relationship of His persons result in more than difference of conviction. It results in heresy. We cannot fully understand the Trinity because it our logical ability to resolve the interplay of the three Scriptural declarations about who the triune God is. Read my attempt at clarifying the issues involved by clicking on Trinity

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In the Summer 2013 Gospel Project, Lesson 12, the following quote by Robertson McQuilkin appears:

“The more I know [Christ], the more I love Him. The more I love Him, the more I obey Him. The more I obey Him, the more I become like Him. The more I become like Him, the better I know Him. The better I know Him, I love Him the more. And the more I love Him, I reach a new level of likeness to Him.”

I think better in diagrams and so remember concepts better. Additionally, I need to know what it looks like when it is happening including what part I have in the process and what part is applied to me. I hope the following helps you as well. The row of “looks like” bubbles are only a few examples that need expanded. You can click on the diagram to enlarge it.

Becoming Like Christ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We are drawn to strength and power. Whether it incites fear because of its wildness and antagonism or security because of its protection and deterrent, we are curious and awestruck and enamored by the sight and use of power and strength. Strength is the shear magnitude of force that may be brought to bear on an object whereas power is how fast that strength may be utilized to move or deflect an object. But how do we account for all powerful, omnipotent. Is it just a hypothetical construct? Or perhaps it is a “my dad is bigger than your dad” scenario invented by Christians trying to justify their puny conception of reality. Is it necessary to God’s character and is it true? Does the Bible teach that God is omnipotent?

Having previously discussed God’s infinite character in “Omniscience”, Omnipresence”, and “To Infinity and Beyond”, I submit that omnipotence is indeed a necessary part of God’s nature in order for Him to be infinite any respect and infinite in knowledge and presence in particular. How can He know all things if He is not everywhere at once? And how can He be all places at once if He is not all powerful? Or else on the latter question He is but a background noise in the universe that influences nothing and no one. But He is active. We know that He is because we observe it in nature; we observe it in changed lives; we observe it in answers to prayer. His influence reaches throughout all of Creation and into all spheres (physical and spiritual). So if God is omnipotent, what is possible for Him to do?

God can save to the uttermost. “And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?”  And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”” (Matthew 19:23-26)  In fact, Isaiah 63:1 says that He is “mighty to save”. ‘

This power of His makes Him the only Sovereign: “Why should the nations say,“Where, now, is their God?” But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” Psalm 115:2-3  

He is so powerful that nothing He does may be changed, for it says, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89)  Having seen His power to bring down and rise up, to produce wind and lightning and storm Job declared, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:1-2)  

He spoke the Creation into existence out of nothing, for II Peter 3:5 says, “it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago”. His judgments have been and will be with great and unassailable power. He will form the new heavens and new earth to stand fast forever.

But there are things that God cannot do, or more accurately, will not do. Anything contrary to His nature He will not do. Titus 1:2 gives to us who are trusting His promises great encouragement when Paul reports on our salvation, “the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago”. And James 1:13 proclaims, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” Since there is no evil in God, none proceeds from Him nor influences Him. Another discussion seems outside what the Bible proclaims about God. There is a hypothetical argument in Physics that pits an immovable object against an unstoppable force. But if the adjectives both hold true, then these two items have infinite inertia and strength, respectively, making them strictly speaking gods. But the Bible is clear on this point when it teaches that there is but one God (Deuteronomy 6:4). There are several ways out of this problem, but saying there is no God is not acceptable on either logical (look around you man) or biblical grounds (Romans 1:19-20). Perhaps neither of the objects exist (it is hypothetical afterall), or perhaps only one of them exists, or perhaps they describe the same object, namely God. The argument reminds me of another one that the skeptic likes to bring up to throw the believer off kilter and off subject (You need Jesus!). Can God make a boulder so big that He cannot lift it? If the boulder were that big it would be infinite. If it were infinite then it would be god. Then there would be two gods and not one as the Bible declares. And in reality there would be no gods because neither is fully sovereign, so no, God will not make a boulder too big that He cannot lift it.

For the Christian there are a number of daily applications to this concept of God’s omnipotence. We may feel secure. This security is a great gift from God, but this is not the reason we are here. How does God’s power enable us to fulfill His mission, which is our mission? His mission is glory to Himself through our spreading of the Gospel. His omnipotence enables us to defeat spiritual forces through prayer when witnessing and during spiritual opposition. His power enables us through the Holy Spirit’s work to overcome the sin and temptation in our own lives. Witnessing is the hardest thing to be involved in because of resistance from the world, the flesh, and the devil. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)  And we are speaking life to dead people who don’t even know that they are spiritually dead, separated from God. Their non-response, or conversely their antagonism, proceeds from this separation from God. We are in every sense in spiritual battle and need God’s power to overcome darkness in the form of hatred, apathy, skepticism, and our own faltering tendencies.

May God’s omnipotence be pleased to include us in His mission for His purposes and glory and our growth and joy. Amen.

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He is everywhere all the time- ubiquitous location! He doesn’t have to rush to get somewhere because He’s already there. If you can observe all situations in all locations you can know everything. We are so tied down by location. We say, “I can’t be two places at once,” but what about an infinite number of places all of the time? 

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
 Or where can I flee from Your presence?
 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
 If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
 If I take the wings of the dawn,
 If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
 Even there Your hand will lead me,
 And Your right hand will lay hold of me.”  Psalm 139:7-10

David grapples with this transcendent attribute of God in a very personal way. There is no escape from God’s presence resulting in God’s complete control of David’s path. Many find such an arrangement very confining, but David finds His presence and thoughts of him comforting, for “when I awake, I am still with You.” Psalm 139:18b  

So why do we pretend to hide actions from God?

“…she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”  He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”  And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”  Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”” Genesis 3:6-13

Adam and Eve hid in at least 3 ways. They sewed figs leaves as coverings. They hid in the garden. Adam hid by standing by passively and receiving the fruit from Eve without comment.Then they hid by casting blame on others: the woman you gave me, the serpent. But God had no difficulty finding their location or their orientation toward Him. God was gracious to give them opportunity to admit what they had done, but they just kept hiding when they began the blame game. God was present during the whole scenario, but gave them free choice to obey or disobey. 

“Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.  Then they said to him, “Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”  He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”  Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.” Jonah 1:7-10

As if he could flee from God’s presence, Jonah tries and the men think he is, or at least is trying. Our lack of understanding of God’s omnipresence is baffling. If Jonah is fleeing but the storm results from God’s pursuit then Jonah is not really getting away and they know it and fear. Our thoughts and attempts are logically inconsistent. We should cease trying to get away, but if we are tempted to attempt it, we should fear. Like the mouse between the cat’s legs, we may run but we are always firmly within His grasp. God addresses the preposterous nature of such attempts: 

““Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord,
“And not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places
So I do not see him?” declares the Lord.
“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:23-24

Though God is everywhere He is not just anywhere. We who believe in the God of the Bible are not because of this doctrine become pantheists. God is Creator, not created. He is over, around, within, and beside all created things but He is separate: 

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

He sees the wicked and knows their ways but He dwells with others:

“You felt secure in your wickedness and said, ‘No one sees me,’
Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you;
For you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’” Isaiah 47:10

“The Lord is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.” Proverbs 15:29

Besides communicating the immediacy of God’s presence the following passage points out that God is both transcendent in His presence and personal in His presence.

“”For thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
“I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.”” Isaiah 57:15

Since God is always present with us whether we sense it or not, we may take comfort in His powerful presence. We who have trusted Jesus and belong to God are secure. In some of His last words Jesus promised: 

“Lo,I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 

And because of His presence we should be desirous and careful to act in a way that is pleasing to Him. It is our motivation to be pleasing to Him and because He is near He sees all. He is also near in that He is coming again to take us to be with Him for eternity. 

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:4

His nearness is comfort to us and dreadful to the wicked.  We should be careful to live for Him out of thanks for all He has done. The wicked should repent of their wickedness and not pretend to be able to hide from Him or avoid His judgment. He is here. He sees. He knows. Take heed.

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He knows everything- the position and momentum of every particle (Heisenberg Principle doesn’t apply), where they have been and where they are going? He knows all thoughts and possibilities? If the idea doesn’t blow your little mind it’s just because you haven’t understood it yet.

That’s OK; David didn’t either:

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
 You understand my thought from afar.
 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
 And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
 Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
 You have enclosed me behind and before,
 And laid Your hand upon me.
 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
 It is too high, I cannot attain to it.”      Psalm 103:1-6

David points out that God knows his location, position, thoughts, intentions; direction before, during, and after moving; the words coming to his tongue. The result is entrapment, control, of which David realizes he has no comprehension beyond the fact that God does know, which was also revealed to David as a prophet in this Psalm. To state the case simply, God has intimate knowledge of us.

Do you find God’s thoughts of you, as expressed here, threatening or comforting? David was awed, acknowledging that he could not understand, but how did that make him feel? Jesus tells us the proper response to such a knowledge and power:

 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:25b-31

Do not fear; fear; do not fear. Which is it, Lord? Well, it depends on who you should fear and in what way. People can harm and even kill the body, but do not fear that because the worst it can result in is pain and the best is ushering you into the presence of God (not an excuse for humanly speaking “untimely” death by one’s own hand or someone else’s). Do fear, reverence, hold in awe God who can eternally separate you from His presence into an eternal world of hurt. But for those who know Him (not merely about Him), do not fear for His knowledge of you is intimate down to the counting of each hair and He values you.

Not only does He know us intimately, but He also knows us and all things completely:

1) in the present

“Listen to this, O Job,
 Stand and consider the wonders of God.
 “Do you know how God establishes them,
 And makes the lightning of His cloud to shine?
 Do you know about the layers of the thick clouds,
 The wonders of one perfect in knowledge…?”  Job 37:14-16 

“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.  We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.  I John 3:18-20

His knowledge is our security!

2) in the past and the future 

“Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’”  Isaiah 46:9-10

One outside of time can see “the end from the beginning”, but I can’t fathom lack of time, existing in the eternal present, or foreknowledge. I can praise Him as the one of a kind God He is and be secure in His plan, established and accomplished as it is by a His good pleasure which is good (James 1:17). Not only does He know everything actual- past, present, future- but He also knows all potential as seen by the call to repentance of Jesus:

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” Matthew 11:21

The application for our lives is powerful. Since God knows my good, bad, and ugly sides and still loves me and chose me apart from any good or bad, then my relationship with Him is totally secure. But did He really choose me apart from foreknowledge of me?  

“…there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.”  Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.””  Romans 9:10-13

What are we to say about those who do not know Jesus? Are they simply doomed to hell because they have not been chosen? We can’t know who is and who isn’t, because we are limited in knowledge. But we do have the opportunity to plead for our salvation and we know that He hears, for “it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Acts 2:21

Additionally, our security in Him is greatly increased because His plan is based on perfect knowledge so that nothing takes Him by surprise. His plan will be accomplished, period: “…You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.” Isaiah 25:1

The result of these assurances of security should be to help us interpret situations that come up in our lives in a more patient, confident, purposeful, thankful, and eternal manner. Circumstances may be hard but they are not without purpose. We can add to the glory given to God by working with His plan instead of against it. He is worthy and there is great reward. 

The thoughts expressed herein are a mixture of mine and those of Kendell Easley in the Summer 2013 Gospel Project lesson “The Omni God”.

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