Can I Understand God This Side of Eden?
1. Before the sin in Eden and after the sin in Eden, man and God understood each other. The sin in the Garden of Eden resulted in the loss of access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24). It did not alter the one matter essential for a return to God. That one thing is language. Language upon which reason is built. Language continued after Eden as it had before. Man continued to be capable of understanding exactly what God said and meant (Genesis chapters 1-3).
2. We believe that when God speaks to the human race that He conforms to the established rules of speaking and writing. Every WORD and every sentence is subject to all the rules of grammar of the original language.
3. Reason is the only way and means that God has given us to render us capable of Christianity. AND SO, TO LAY REASON ASIDE IN ORDER TO BECOME MORE RELIGIOUS IS RIDICULOUS!
4. The gospel is God's appeal to the reason of man. Conversion is man's reasoned response to God's appeal in the gospel.
5. If reason be so dreadfully darkened by "the fall" (so-called), that its most decisive judgments on religion are unworthy of trust, then Christianity must be abandoned; for the existence and veracity of God and the divine original of Christianity are conclusions of reason and must stand or fall with it. If revelation be at war with this faculty, it subverts itself, for the great question of its truth is left by God to be decided at the bar of reason.
6. God does not require of any man what is impossible. If He requires us to behold His glory in the firmament, it is because He has given to us both light and the powers of vision. IF HE REQUIRES US TO BELIEVE, IT IS BECAUSE HE HAS ENDOWED US WITH THE MEANS AND ABILITY TO COMPREHEND. At the same time He has provided the most reliable and trustworthy testimony.
7. It is the Bible, fully authenticated by many infallible proofs, that reveals God to man and man to himself. If God requires man to believe with sufficient evidence; Why would evidence be PROVIDED FOR BELIEF if one is incapable of examining and responding to that evidence.
Evidence appeals to our ability to reason. John stated, "these things are written that you may believe" (John 20:30). Also, "These things I have written to you...that you may know that you have eternal life" (I John 5:13).
If one can't understand what is written, what is the point of scripture?
Or Why do we use the Scriptures, that we can't understand or harmonize, to form a theology that says man is incapable of responding to the Scriptures?
If belief is the direct and unilateral work of "the Holy Spirit," why does God waste His time and ours providing evidence for that belief? Why not just let "the Holy Spirit" do it?
8. Let it be distinctly noted that the gifts had for their object, FIRST, THE REVELATION of the whole Christian doctrine; and SECONDLY, THE CONFIRMATION of it. Read carefully Hebrews 2:2-4.
Both revelation and confirmation of that revelation are designed to appeal to reason, otherwise there is no need NOR use for either!!! If we require the help of a "superior" guide or agent (such as "the Holy Spirit"), then the revelation is faulty OR the confirmation is faulty OR the doctrine that requires the superior guide is faulty and absurd.
9. REASON IS NOT THE SOURCE OF REVELATION, but rather the means and ability given to us to understand revelation.
10. Any portion of Scripture that we would go to find support for a theology that says man is incapable of understanding and responding to God's written word, in itself cannot be understood nor responded to.
11. When man reasons, he naturally reasons toward God. There is so much evidence to be reasoned from that Romans 1:20, 21 teaches that anyone who doesn't make it is without excuse before God.
In Romans 2:14 Paul teaches that there were some Gentiles who instinctively did right and in Ephesians 2:3 the same word (instinctively/nature) is used to describe the Jews who were as disobedient (v.2) to God as were the Gentiles.
THEY HAD BECOME CHILDREN OF WRATH by walking according to the course of this world.
12. WHY WERE SOME GENTILES DARKENED IN THEIR UNDERSTANDING? One of the purposes of Ephesians 4:18 is to state the REASON why they were darkened in their understanding. That is the meaning of the word "because." The reason given is that there was ignorance among them (they chose to have it that way) and that they had hardened their own hearts. In that state THEY gave THEMSELVES (it was their decision) over to sin.
13. A reference is sometimes made to Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" Human systems answer, "no one." BUT THAT ISN'T WHAT IT SAYS. The context doesn't begin in verse 9. Beginning with verse one isn't really fair either but it is a start.
Jeremiah states what he is talking about. He is talking about the sin of Judah (vs. 1). In verse 5 one man is spoken evil of (cursed) because he trusts mankind (by choice) and he TURNS his own heart away from the Lord. Here there is the deliberate act of turning. The owner of the heart has control over his heart. In verse 7 one man is spoken well of (blessed) because he trusts the Lord. A choice has been made. A good choice.
In verses 9 and 10 God judges man because man is responsible for his own deeds. Man is capable of trusting God and living right or trusting man and living in error. If man does not have that capability, justice cannot reign.
Man's heart must be kept with all diligence which he is capable of doing (Pro. 4:23) "For from it (heart) flow the springs of life."
14. The guide for reason is revelation: revelation that has been confirmed as true. NO NEED TO CONFIRM A MESSAGE AS TRUE IF THE ABILITY AND MEANS NEEDED TO ANALYZE THE PROOF IS UNABLE TO UNDERSTAND AND RESPOND TO IT ANYWAY.
15. Paul calls the Corinthians to reason (For consider) about Christ being the power and wisdom of God (I Cor. 1:24-26). This context is not addressing human capability nor human nature but IS ADDRESSING God's methods used to reach man.
That method is Christ.
All of those to whom Paul is writing had such a value system that it prompted them to evaluate and respond to the message of God. That message is Christ. WISDOM IS NOT THE SOLUTION TO MAN'S DILEMMA: One must be wise, however, to obey the solution that God provides.
"Therefore EVERY one who HEARS these words of Mine, and ACTS upon THEM, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock" (Ma. 7:24).
16. DOES GOD WORK THROUGH THE GOSPEL ENABLING A RESPONSE? I Corinthians 1:18. Cp. Romans 1:16; I Pet. 4:17; Rm. 10:17.
17. EPHESIANS 2:8,9. The gift of which this verse speaks is neither grace nor faith. The word "Gift" is in the neuter gender and words "grace" and "faith" are both feminine. They are not... in agreement, therefore "gift" does not refer to either word. The SOURCE OF salvation is revealed truth (faith). That truth did not originate with man but with God. Paul is here speaking specifically to the Gentiles (vs. 11). Salvation is the gift of God made possible by the blood of Christ (vs. 13). (Jude 3; Eph. 4:5; I Tim. 4:6; I Tim. 4:1).
THESE THINGS ARE WRITTEN THAT YOU MAY BELIEVE...
18. A CONSIDERATION = I Cor. 12:3. Verse one of this chapter tells us what Paul is talking about: spiritual gifts, not the nature of man. Verse two explains to us the Corinthian's background. On the basis of verses one and two a conclusion is given about the subject at hand. Now then let us look at some of the assumptions often made from this verse.
The FIRST assumption is that this verse has something to do with man's ability or lack of ability to respond to truth. WHY WOULD PAUL EVEN BE WRITING TO TELL THEM THIS INFORMATION IF AN EXTERNAL AGENT - AN ENABLING AGENT - WAS NECESSARY TO UNDERSTAND REVELATION?
WHY IS PAUL HAVING TO CORRECT WITH WORDS THE PROBLEMS RESULTING FROM THEIR VIEW OF A SPIRIT? With all of the church's gifts (they had them all) Paul still has to WRITE to the church to clear up the problems.
IT IS "THE SPIRIT" THAT ONE CANNOT UNDERSTAND APART FROM THE WORD!!!
One would not even know there was such a thing as man's ability to make his spirit holy and in tune with God's own spirit were it not for the scriptures.
The SECOND assumption is that the Greek word "_ev___" should be translated "by." "No one speaking in a spirit of God (godliness) says "Jesus is accursed;" and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except in a spirit that has been made holy. Paul is not talking about someone's ability but about their attitude.
Anyone can go around saying "Jesus is Lord." He is not talking about ability; he is talking about motive (attitude). It is pure assumption that anyone is UNABLE to say anything they want to say about anyone or about anything at anytime. The question is: Is your spirit, that was given to you by God and returns to Him at your death, holy when you say, "Jesus is Lord?"
The THIRD assumption often made from our text at hand is that God reveals additional truth today in a like manner with the Apostolic age. Even before the completion of our now perfect revelation, all that had been revealed was in harmony with all that was true.
Now we believe that Jesus is Lord because it is written and that WHAT was written was confirmed and need not be confirmed again otherwise we end up rejecting the evidence that God provided. WHEN we WILLFULLY reject His evidence we are very close to blaspheming His spirit's work and purpose and word.
If there were to be additional truth, there would also need to be additional confirmation. If there were additional truth it would need to harmonize with all that is historically true.
The FOURTH assumption is that God would ask and demand of us to accept that which doesn't make any sense or accept something that is in conflict with observable "realities." (Rom. 1:20, 21). This assumption would force us to conclude that God doesn't make sense.
19. IF man is incapable of examining, evaluating and deciding rationally upon and about God's revelation to man - which revelation God holds man responsible to and will judge him by (John 6:63; 68; 8:51; 12:48)...and IF the doctrine of "the depravity of man" is true and IF God gave revelation to man that cannot be understood and responded to by man...and IF THAT God then holds man responsible for that which he is not capable of being responsible to THAT GOD...
...THAT god ceases to be... the God of the Bible, ceases to be the God who says, "Whosoever will may come," and ought to be rejected by all - yet, if the doctrine be true, one would be unable to reject any god, true or false.
So, maybe it IS a convenient belief system. Man incapable is man unable to be responsible. No wonder it is so popular in modern times.
20. Ma. 18:3; 19:14 cp.
I Cor. 14:20;
Jas. 3:9,10; 4:5
John 11:42,48; 17:1-20; 19:30-35; 20:29-31
21. Eph. 1:3-14; Rm. 8:28-30
Take a careful look at pronouns - they, too, are inspired. Person and Number. When the number is plural it suggests, that the pronoun is corporate not singular. Or rather a singular group. When there are distinctions in the person such as "we" as opposed to "you," there are at least two separate groups involved.
In these passages it is WHERE the predetermination is effective. The subjects of the text must be where the determination is: sonship, inheritance and glorification with Christ.
1. The "election" is a group of, rather than a singular individual.
A. The Apostles as the first-fruits - 1st person plural
B. "whom" plural/corporate pronoun.
C. Christians "share" in the destiny of that to which they belong.
D. The Lord's church is predestined to glory. Are you a part of it?
2. The "election" comprises ALL men POTENTIALLY
A. Sure does! No one by birth excluded!
B. God desires for all to be where His love is. In the Body of Christ, the church.
3. The "election" includes NO man unconditionally
A. There are "strings to all of God's promises."
B. What will you do with the evidence?
4. The "election" is the Israel of God (all of the faithful) especially.
A. Are you where you ought to be?
B. All those who are where the fullness of God dwells, are the saved (Ephesians 1: 22,23).
5. You are fully capable to determine your destiny. Be a part of that which has as its destiny, the Master.