Just a Thought About Election and Man’s Will.

If God, being completely transcendent, says two things, that to us, being limited, finite, creatures, whose reason is corrupted by sin, seem to be mutually exclusive, isn’t it possible that those two things are true, despite our inability to perceive the greater truth?  Of course it is possible.  It is necessary that we don’t exclude one truth, at the expense of another, simply due to our limited faculties. 

That is why, some Christians who affirm God’s sovereignty, and man’s ability to exercise his volition within his nature, are not affirming something wrong.  It is merely a more mature understanding of God’s sovereignty, the centrality of Christ, the transcendent holiness of God, the utterly created, finite, and sinful nature of man. 

Predestination, and election are not doctrines that are arbitrarily arrived at through implicit inference.  They are arrived at from exposition of the explicit teachings of scripture.  Contrast the resulting theologies derived from a man centered, (anthropocentric) decisional regeneration, with the more comprehensive God centered (theocentric) sovereign election. 

We don’t deny, as some might say, that man makes choices.  We just understand that in a compatible, and transcendent way, the sovereign God, ordained those choices in eternity, for His ultimate glory, and our good.  The people who ask, “Does God ordain the murdering of a man?”  We should reply, “Was that man born without sin?  As a sinner, what does he deserve?”  The matter of theodicy is all but ignored in this modern age of mediocrity, and ignorance. 

We can study the past, and stand on the shoulders of giants, or we can crawl, blindly in the muck, and mire, searching for a morsel of truth, trying to rediscover what was once common knowledge amongst Protestants, while sinners descend to the pit, temporally, and eternally, all around us.

Sovereign Election, and Man’s Volition.

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God is omniscient. He knows everything. He cannot learn. He has always known who He would save, and who He would not. He did not have to look down the corridors of time to see who would choose Him. He knew before He made them. It is not evil for God to save only the elect. We cannot judge God. He is the infinite, transcendent Creator. We are small, finite, creatures, with limited faculties as creatures, then add on to that the noetic effect of our sin natures inherited from the fall of original sin. In Adam all die. The wages of sin is death. All of us, even the newborn, deserve death and Hell, but God in His mercy saves some. If there are two doctrines that are seemingly at odds, in your understanding, it is not the truth of God that is wrong. If the Bible says we have a volition, make choices, and suffer the consequence, or reap the rewards of those choices, then it is true. If it says that God has determined, or ordained all things to come to pass according to His will, then that is also true. Just because someone can’t justify the two ideas in their small, finite, creaturely, sin sick minds doesn’t negate the truth of God.

We are limited to an existence in space/time. We only experience life in a linear progression through unfolding time, in space. We see our lives as a series of instances, and of choices, and outcomes. Eternity is not like that. God is bigger than space/time. He transcends His creation. He sees all things, perfectly, as the actually are, forever. God made the construct of this material world for us to live in, and for His story to be experienced in. He made it for His glory.

The Bible, the Gospel of Christ, are theocentric, not anthropocentric. In Eternity, God sovereignly chose who would respond to their sin, and the gospel, with repentance and faith. He grants repentance and faith, to those whom He chose. This does not negate our culpability. He says as much in Romans. It doesn’t mean that we don’t experience choices and the outcomes of those choices. Let God be true.

You can read that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, Israel was chosen, Aaron, and Moses were chosen, Hosea, and Gomer were chosen, even the pagans were chosen to work God’s will in their wickedness they were used to punish Israel when they strayed. Christ chose His Apostles. Paul was chosen, and we see that on the road to Damascus. Romans 9, Ephesians 1, God’s sovereign choices are all over the old and new Testaments. We can’t ignore it, or interpret in a way that makes it anthropocentric. Our purpose is to glorify God, not man.

Sanctification is about being conformed to the Word of God and His likeness. A Christian would love for His sinful will in the unredeemed flesh to be gone. It is one of the things we look forward to in eternity, is being in a glorified body, that no longer desires to sin, but entirely desires to do God’s will only. People make the accusation that God wouldn’t make a bunch of mindless robots, but I would love it if I no longer sinned or were tempted to sin. It doesn’t mean that I would be mindless. Election, and man’s volition are both true. Before a man is saved, his will is enslaved to his sinful nature. After he is saved, it is enslaved to the Christ Jesus His Lord and Savior, who died for his sins.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible With The Apocrypha, Expanded Edition, in Revised Standard Version, (RSV) Covered in Genuine Black Leather. 8914A

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Today on Snyder’s Soapbox we are going to take a look at a Bible for all the RSV and Apocrypha fans.  The Apocrypha isn’t my cup of tea, but I recognize there are some folks out there who would like to buy a well built Bible in this translation with the Apocrypha.  This Bible from Oxford, is very well built.  I wouldn’t look at it as a premium Bible, but more as a work horse.  The thing is built like a tank.  That’s not to say it isn’t an attractive looking Bible, it is.  I would categorize this Bible as a daily use Study Bible.  If you want to read the Apocrypha, and the notes that go along with this edition, this is probably the best option.  I’ll stick to my own flavor of commentaries.  As a Reformed Baptist much of the notes in this edition are generalized for broader appeal.

It is covered in black genuine leather with a moderate grain and a perimeter groove.  The leather is harder, and high gloss, leading me to think that it is pig skin leather.  Pig skin leather holds up well, but is not as supple as other choices.  It is also less expensive to use.  It is case bound, and has a gold colored, hot-stamped, perimeter line around the inside cover.  It has two yellow/gold ribbon markers, black and gold bands.  The spine has the words, “The New Oxford Annotated Bible” at the top, “With the Apocrypha Expanded Edition” under that, then, “Revised Standard Version” and, “Oxford” at the bottom.  The page edges are also hot stamped with gold colored foil.
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I really like the ribbons.  Their color and material, are nice for a Bible with this low price.

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The spine is smyth sewn, flexible, and durable.  I can’t think of any reason why this Bible wouldn’t hold up for a long time.  The paper is thick, opaque, and the 10 pt. font of the main text, is sharp and clear.  The notes are in 8 pt. font.  This Bible is printed, and bound in South Korea.  It is a quality edition at a good value price.

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It is laid out in a double column, paragraph format, with notes at the bottom.  Each book has an introduction.  It seems to be more of a study Bible, than a reference Bible, with all the helps that are in it.  At the end of the day, if you are in the market for an RSV, with the Apocrypha, this is the only choice.  It is well built, and priced to sell.  It should last a long time, and serve you well.  Make sure to check out all of the pictures I took of this edition for a better look at the features on my flickr page.

 

This is the product information section from Christianbook.com’s product page for this edition.

 

Product Description

This classic resource is the only RSV study Bible available today. It features extensive annotations to the biblical text, book introductions, eight supplementary charts and essays, and authoritative, full color Oxford Bible Maps.

  • 10 point type
  • 8 point type notes
  • Double column format
  • Book Introductions
  • The Pentateuch
  • Modern Approaches to Biblical Study
  • Characteristics of Hebrew Poetry
  • Literary Forms in the Gospels
  • Survey of the Geography, History and Archaeology of the Bible Lands
  • Measures and Weights in the Bible
  • Chronological Tables of Rulers
  • Index to the Annotations
  • 27 Full-color maps
  • Index to Maps
  • Blank note pages in back
  • Gold gilded edges
  • 2 Ribbon Markers
  • Genuine leather black
  • 6″ x 9 1/4″ x 1 3/4″

Product Information

Format: Genuine Leather
Number of Pages: 1984
Vendor: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 1962
Dimensions: 9.25 X 6.5 X 1.75 (inches)
ISBN: 019528335X
ISBN-13: 9780195283358
Text Layout: Double Column
Text Color: Black Letter
Text Size: 10 Point
Note Size: 8 Point
Thumb Index: No
Ribbon Marker: Yes
Spine: Sewn
Page Gilding: Gold

Here is a link to the products page on the publisher’s site.  Here is a link to it on Amazon’s site.  You can also purchase it from Christianbook.com

In the Midst of This Tragedy.

We see at work in the world, both good and evil. This last weekend, I was reminded of the battle that is being waged in the spiritual realm, and its ramifications in the material world. After a wonderful service at Church, I checked my Facebook account, only to find out about the Church shooting in Texas. I was frustrated at my response. I was not outraged, or shocked. I felt bad for the victims. I prayed for them, but I was not burdened enough by the horror that had occurred. I found myself desensitized by the violence, and the evil that propelled it. Part of this hardening is due to my 22 years as a Corrections Officer, witnessing the doctrine of Total Depravity fleshed out.

I began to think about this in contrast to the wonderful time of worship, prayer, fellowship, and learning, I experienced on the Friday, and Saturday, that preceded the evil that occurred on Sunday. Hundreds of brothers, and sisters in Christ, from different Churches around the area, came together for the Reformation 500 Conference. It was such a joy to see the unity of the body. I was encouraged by news of revival by Dr. Beeke during the Q. & A. session. I could see the results of it in my little corner of the world. I met some brothers, I had not known before. Fellowship in Christ was easy, and familiar like a homecoming. I went home encouraged and uplifted.

The next morning at Church Dr. Dennis exposited the word of God faithfully, it too was a joy. Then to hear about the malignant work of evil in Texas, as I mulled over my lack of significant emotional response, and what it meant about my heart. Then later in the day, news came that struck much closer to home. A teen, who was about my daughter’s age, and the son of a Pastor I know, had committed suicide. This young, well liked, healthy, teen, killed himself. There was some lie he had heard from the enemy, in some shape, way, or form, which moved him to this. I don’t know what it was. The details don’t matter right now, just the fact that they have had their beloved son torn from them by evil, and its lies.

This happened directly after such a wonderful time, which it caused in me to think of how much was going on behind the scenes, so to speak. We live our lives, not considering the battle going on about us, oblivious to it and the effects. Why does it seem the highs and lows of the spiritual life are in constant rise and fall? A wonderful thing happens, and is immediately followed by a horrible thing. An unspeakably evil thing occurs, and then a marvelous event is witnessed. It keeps going on, and on.

Do I believe there will be a great revival in the end times? Yes I do. Do I believe there will be a great apostasy in the end times? Yes I do. I don’t think they necessarily are going to happen separately. I think we can see them happening now. Ebbing and flowing, in increasingly dramatic levels. Like birthing pains, increasing in frequency, and intensity. I don’t mean to imply that in the spiritual battle the enemy ever has victory. What ever back and forth fighting is happening, rest assured, it is all working according to God’s good, and final will.

While we are able, let’s revel in the glory, love, and righteousness of God. Let us love and minister to the hurting, and share the gospel of Christ with the world. They, who are laboring under the burdens of the world system, and the condemnation of sin, have no reprieve, unless by the power of God they be saved. Let’s be bold in proclaiming hope through Jesus. Let’s not neglect the delicate work of soul care. The injured, battered, abused, victims of evil in this world must be led by those justly inflicted, injurious wounds to the only one who can heal, and bring them to wholeness, Jesus Christ.

The Reformation 500 Conference in Meridian, Idaho.

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I don’t know if you are aware of this, but little ol’ Meridian Idaho had a conference November 3rd, and 4th in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.  We were blessed with presentations from Dr. Joel Beeke, President of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and accomplished Christian author, and Dr. Stephen Myers, Associate Professor of Historical Theology for the PhD program at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary.

The Well Church in Boise did a wonderful job of organizing and putting it on.  The Valley Shepard Church of the Nazarene hosted the event in their facility.  I’ve never seen so many Reformed Theology people in one place.  It was very encouraging.  I thought there were only like five of us in the whole state.  From what I understand over 600 people registered for the conference.  It looked to me like most of them showed up.  Here is a picture of Dr. Beeke at the book table.
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Here is the crowd at the book tables.

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I met some folks, made some connections, and had a great time learning.  One of the people I met was Casey Ralls.  He attends the Well Church, and was recording the conference.  He also sent me a link to the Youtube playlist so all of you folks who couldn’t attend, could watch the conference on Youtube.  Isn’t that great?  Here is the link.

White Privilege?

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I saw a video on a friends facebook wall. The link is at the bottom of the article.  It was disturbing to me that so many Americans feel ashamed of their, “privilege” and don’t thank God for it, and His providence. We are not entitled to good things just because we are here. Here is my take on the video.
Let’s reason together. Now that we have had emotional reactions it is time to put this sentiment into its proper perspective. Leave the white, black, and hispanic, “underprivileged” American kids on the field. Replace all the other kids with some Somalian kids. (Could have just as easily used anyone one of these classes of children;children who are in wheelchairs, have down syndrome, or were aborted.) Now ask a set of questions that will be certain to demonstrate how much improved the lives of the American kids are without those other setbacks are. What you are seeing here is a direct attempt at emotional manipulation by someone who does not care about original sin, individual sin, theodicy, God, His sovereignty, or His providence. Listen, you should thank God for being born in this country, to the parents you had, the color of skin, the air you breath, the clean water and abundant food. You should thank Him for everything. You should feel compassion for your fellow man, but don’t allow it to cloud your reason. A man goes to an orphanage to adopt a child. He looks among all of the children, finds the most pathetic looking one he can, adopts him, nobody would call that man a sinner for not adopting all of the children. He would get a pat on the back for changing just one of their lives. Every last one of us are guilty sinners. Each one of us deserve, suffering here on Earth, painful drawn out deaths, and an eternity in Hell, because of our sinful natures, our rebellion against God, our individual sins, and our hatred of Him before our conversions. He is under no moral obligation to save anyone, or give them a comfortable, “fair” life. We are not morally obligated either. If you buy into the left’s logic, we must ensure that everyone starts our with, and continues to have, all of the same opportunities and privileges. Who do you think would enforce that? How would they enforce it? I’ll tell you what it would look like, it would look like the USSR. People would be marched off at gunpoint to concrete block houses. The government would become your god. They would enforce mutual oppression of everyone, or kill those who dissented. One of the wonderful things about our founding documents is that we have the right to pursue happiness. We are created equal by our Creator, God. We are not made equal by government. What we do with our lives is up to us. You can blame other classes of people, who under God’s sovereign providence had a more comfortable life, but that does not mitigate your condemned condition before the Lord of glory. What if, God only saves the elect whom He predestined in eternity? Are you going to blame Him, and call Him immoral, or a fool?
Romans 9:14-24 “14What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” 18So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
19You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.”
Let those who have been given new natures by God, and are born again, have compassion on the less fortunate. We will minister to their needs out of the excess of love that Christ has demonstrated on the cross towards us. Don’t rob us of that blessing. Don’t reduce the less fortunate to wards of the state, and welfare which is a nameless faceless benefactor with no compassion. Let them instead seek mercy from the Lord and His elect so that they will see His kindness in them, to them, and from them. Let them see that they must come to God with nothing, entitled to only suffering and Hell, just as we did. Beggars of divine grace, filthy, defiled, hands. They aren’t just empty hands after all… They have been tools of the enemy full of perversion, sin, and unrighteousness.