Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Responding to the responders

This is the kind of stuff I dig. Two opposing viewpoints held by folks who come together and hash it out amongst themselves in love and grace toward one another. I'm referring to my post and the response to my thoughts on open theism which was followed by another guest post responding to that response. Now I'm going to respond to the responders.  I love the heart of these brothers who have reached out to me. I have recently been immersed in the topic by several writers from their perspective. It has been edifying and encouraging to say the least. Even so, I'm still not jumping on to the open theist wagon.  I do love that we can come together in love and search for the truth together.

In order to avoid waxing long over how I differ with this school of thought, I would like to build on what has already been said previously and deal directly with the responses I have received thus far. As we continue to build on one another, more posts may be necessary. No doubt this issue touches all sorts of areas. Way too much for a handful of blog posts.  But I wanna stick with it as long as it remains edifying.

When I use terms like "in spite of" I am not trying to convey the thought of God contending against us.  No, God is much better than that.  Rather than contending against us He has determined how to use evil for His purposes.  To us it may seem more expedient to use only good things according to our definition of good, but God demonstrates His glory by using what men and the devils intend as evil for good.  These truths are evident in the life of Joseph and especially in the crucifixion of Christ. God is infinitely wiser than we are.  Therefore I don't believe that God changes the bad things to good.  I believe He means evil for good, big difference. If the greatest evil man has ever committed in crucifying our beloved Lord was known before the foundation of the world and the injustices that Joseph faced were all leading up to the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham (Acts 7:6-7 ESV) then we can face anything with the faith that God is working all things for good.

I do not believe in the free will of man that cannot be violated by a sovereign God.  Contrarily I see myself as one who's will was completely violated by God.  I was having a great time enjoying my sin before He gave me a revelation of His holiness.  I saw myself as a slave to my sin, unable to change and cried out for mercy.  Now I am free from sin but a servant of my new master.  Therefore my choices meant nothing and my faith in His character and promises are everything.  I know that the God who will give us His Son will give us everything.

I get it.  I get the strength, faith, and encouragement that comes from knowing that God answers prayer.  I understand that logic says that if God has it all laid out then our prayers change nothing.  Still, prayer itself is illogical.  We pray to a God we cannot see to change things that are impossible to change.  No matter which side of the aisle we are on, we stand on illogical ground.  Yet, as believers we do not rest in the logical, we rest on faith.  The question is not what is more believable or more logical, the question is what is our faith in?

Is our faith in our own prayers or is it in the power of God to answer prayer?  If we say it is in our God who answers prayer, how powerful is our God?  Is He needy of our petitions, or is He fully capable without us?  I submit that any god who has need of man is no god at all.  He is no more than a figment of our imagination.  A truly imaginary friend with whom we converse.  That is the description of an idol.  Our God who is, was, and will be...is the One who planned all things before setting them into place, before giving their names, before setting their boundaries, the God who declares the beginning from the end and displays no need for us and only our need for Him.  He is a God who is not only worthy of our prayers but is worthy of our worship.

You see, according to what has been written, we do our good works according to the leading of the Holy Spirit within us.  These good works include the prayers we claim as our own.  Our prayers are not our own if they are to be effectual.  They must be God's prayers pouring through us if we expect them to be answered.  It must be us agreeing with His divine will and asking that those things be brought about if we desire to be heard.  Anything less are empty words.  Anything that proceeds from the mind of man is worthless.  Only that which proceed from our new birth, our new identity in Christ, according to the Spirit, is acceptable and effectual.  How could we take credit for that?  Where is our boasting?  Do we boast in our words or our fervency?  Or do we boast in the work of Christ in us who was also with the Father before anything was made?  All things were made by Him, through Him, and to Him.  I say along with Paul, if we boast in anything let us boast in the Lord and in His work in us and through us.  That means submitting to the truth that our prayers are His, our righteous desires are His, and we are His.  We were predestined before the foundation of the world to bring about His purposes by His power and all for the praise of His glorious grace.

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As in a biblical church gathering, my word is not complete or final. Participation is allowed, encouraged and expected. Please, don't leave without adding something.