Sunday, May 13, 2018

"God Said"

The following work is a response to my friend who is an agnostic / atheist. He from time to time challenges me on my faith and poses questions of interest. Since I haven't posted anything in a while I thought it might be interesting to post some of our conversations.


Greetings My Friend,

I'm not sure if you were done with my last question to you about the Killing of Jesus, but, here is another issue I would like to address to you:

It is written in Genesis that God said, "Let there be light (Gen !:3); in Gen 1:6 God said, "Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water;" and in Gen 1-11 God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to the various kinds"....and so on.

Okay, here are my questions: Why did God have to speak and who was he speaking to? Himself? Was God using "magic" to conjure up all that he desired? Dictionary.com states to conjure a miracle...to call into existence by magic. 

Gene,
__________________________________________

You do have a keen eye for scripture, were you ever to come to faith, you would make a great theologian! No God did not have to speak, nor did He speak as we would understand it. This involves God’s otherness, remember before we talked about His “being” and that He is not like us. He has no mouth to speak with, no parts to form sounds with. He is spirit and spirit is non-corporal. (Joh 4:24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.) 

 As a spirit and as the Supreme Being He is revealed in scripture to be at all places at all  times. He is no less present here as He is in heaven or the far reaches of the universe. His being fills all things, He is understood by theologians as a Simple being, because He does not consist of parts, therefor he has not a mouth with which to speak.

What we have throughout scripture is what theologians call “anthropomorphic language.” It is a way of presenting the acts of a spiritual being in terms relatable to human understanding. In scripture we find God doing things with His hand and arm. (Luk 1:51  He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.)  (Isa 40:10  Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.) Yet He has no parts, no hand, no arm. He is even here described as coming or moving from one place to another, yet He cannot move, there is no place for Him to move from or place to move to, He is Omnipresent at all times and all places. He is also said to be angry, to be please, to laugh, to love, to hate, to be grieved. Yet He has no emotions as we would understand, this is called God impassibility.  He is described in scripture as immutable, meaning He cannot change. Any movement from anger to laughter would be a change in His being, of which He is incapable, being immutable. You can see the far reaching conquences to this immutable being when it comes to our understanding.

Yet we find these terms used constantly throughout scripture. It makes Him reasonable to our minds, allow us to follow Him in thought as His time passes through our lives. This mystery is deepened in John chapter 1.

(Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

Joh 1:2  The same was in the beginning with God. 

Joh 1:3  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.) John speaking of the same event as your reference in Genesis 1, speaks as if the Word that was spoken was a Person, not a sound. So what did God do in the beginning? What ever He did that brought about the existence of matter, space, and time He has deemed it most accurate to describe it to us as His speaking.

In Exodus,  (Exo 3:8  And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites) God is described as coming down. Does that mean He was somewhere else for a time? No, He is Omnipresent. But as events occurred in time and life experience, He deemed it most accurate to describe this action as coming down. It is a way to relate the action of a spiritual being in terms and reasons a physical mind comprehends and understands. It makes the action knowable.




In Numbers (Num 23:19  God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?) Here it is said that God is not a man that he should lie or repent. Yet, in Jonah it is said, (Jon 3:10  And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.) There are a number of things here, besides the contradiction, you again have God changing His mind. But an immutable being does not change His mind, also, a change necessitates a receiving of additional information that renders a more perfect action. Yet God is not only immutable, but omniscient (all knowing) and perfect in that He cannot improve upon His actions. So how do we understand this language?




In the events of time we see changes, God is seen and understood to be involved in all such events. In the language that describes these things for us, God appears to change in mind and actions; yet it is the events in time that are changing and God remains immutable, omniscient, and perfect. But the language reveals these events in human terms and presents God in a form our minds relate to and understand.

The Westminister Confession speaks of these things thus, (There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory;
most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.) 



John M. Frame says it well, “Although God's eternal decree does not change, it does ordain change. It ordains a historical series of events, each of which receives God's evaluation. God evaluates different events in different ways. Those evaluations themselves are fixed in Gods eternal plan. But they are genuine evaluations of the events. It is not wrong to describe them as responses to these events.
Furthermore, we have seen that God is not only transcendent beyond time and space, but also immanent in all times and spaces. From these immanent perspectives, God views each event from within history. As he does, he evaluates each event appropriately, when it happens. Such evaluations are, in the most obvious sense, responses.
Does such responsiveness imply passivity in God? To say so would be highly misleading. God responds (both transcendently and immanently) only to what he has himself ordained. He has chosen to create a world that will often grieve him. So ultimately he is active, rather than passive. Some may want to use the term impassible to indicate that fact.”

Perhaps Gene, you can see in this my passion in knowing and understanding the nature of God. It is fascinating to the mind, exciting to the soul, reaching into the wonders of such a being. (Eph 3:9  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 
Eph 3:10  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 
Eph 3:11  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:)

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,
David


Sunday, April 29, 2018

"Question of Morality" Part II

The following work is a response to my friend who is an agnostic / atheist. He from time to time challenges me on my faith and poses questions of interest. Since I haven't posted anything in a while I thought it might be interesting to post our conversation.

"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson


Here is the problem I have with your response to the killing of Jesus. There is no reasoning (scripture) that can be given by the Bible to justify the torture and sacrifice of a Man to exonerate the crimes of others. I ask this question in friendship, not in condemnation: How can you default to the Bible to justify a brutal killing when your own sensibility and reasoning should reject such an outrageous concept? 


It is, in my opinion, morally wrong to hold a child responsible for the crimes (sins) of their parents. Did not God know ahead of time that Adam and Eve would eat from the Tree of Knowledge? If he knew that would happen, how can he hold their descendants responsible? There is no Biblical justification that can exonerate a God the allows the execution of his own Son (himself) so that mankind can be saved from eternal hell. There is no justification that can exonerate a God the allows a man to rape a little girl and take no action except to wait until the death of the rapist to send the rapist to Hell unless of course, the rapist accepts Jesus into his heart and is saved from justice. How can anyone with compassion and empathy let God go unaccountable for allowing cruel things happen to children? A God that does that is either not as powerful as proclaimed or doesn't care and therefore is not worthy of "God" status. 


You stated,  "Our morality is not from Him, for our morality is in ruin." I absolutely disagree. If I see a child being raped, I would do whatever I could to stop the rape. God choose not stop the rape of a child. I believe my action to take action against the rapist is moral. God's decision not to interfere is immoral and therefore it is God's morality in ruins.  


You stated, "Every human being, even from our perception of innocent, though not yet having done any good or bad is guilty by nature." I am not even sure how to respond to that, except, once again I must say "I absolutely disagree." So a newborn baby taking his first breath of life is already condemned and guilty of sins (crimes) he or she has not committed. This is one of those concepts that Christianity puts forth that for me shows how Christians set aside reason and logic because of the fear of Hell if they don't accept God's "plan, verdicts, and rules."


You say mankind does not understand God's true perfection. Well, you may be right because I cannot understand how it is perfection that an all-powerful God allows a child to be raped, condemns us at birth for the sins of our parents and creates a "Hell" for those of us that cannot believe in something unseen and unproven. If there is a God, he made us that way and he is a monster to create a situation that virtually guarantees many will not accept a myth as true and condemns us to hell because we use our reason and logic to reject a claim that cannot be proven. 


Well, my friend, I know have thrown a lot at you and I have actually enjoyed responding to your email I could go on, but it is 10:52 p.m. and I need to get to bed, work tomorrow! 

Take care my friend,

Gene
________________________________________

Excellent response Gene, I see what you’re saying. Those conundrums have crossed my mind before as well. They are not easily answered and theologians have wrestled with them over the years. I will give you my best understanding of the Scriptures at this point. Since you like to reason things out, lets start with where Logic might take us.

 {LOG'IC, n. [L. id; Gr. from reason, to speak.]
The art of thinking and reasoning justly.
Logic is the art of using reason well in our inquiries after truth, and the communication of it to others.

Logic may be defined, the science or history of the human mind, as it traces the progress of our knowledge from our first conceptions through their different combinations, and the numerous deductions that result from comparing them with one another.

Correct reasoning implies correct thinking and legitimate inferences from premises, which are principles assumed or admitted to be just. Logic then includes the art of thinking, as well as the art of reasoning.

The purpose of logic is to direct the intellectual powers in the investigation of truth, and in the communication of it to others.} – Webster’s 1828 edition.  

(Isa 1:18  Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.) 

Let’s start with the beginning, if God is who he says He is and is truly infinite in His nature, does he have the right to create? It seems from that statement logic would dictate it would be right for Him to create, for nothing exist outside of Him. I cannot think of an argument at this point that would prevent Him from creating assuming as the Scripture states He has the power to do so.

Now let’s add another dimension, if God is righteous, then he must create in a way that is right and just. (Dan 9:14  Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.)
So, following this logic, when creation is complete, it must be complete in such as fashion that nothing wrong or unjust exist. (Gen 1:31  And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.)

You stated, “There is no reasoning (scripture) that can be given by the Bible to justify the torture and sacrifice of a Man to exonerate the crimes of others.”  So we are not debating the authority of the statement, but the logic of it.

So far we have a creation that is good, no death exist, no crime, no hate, nothing in creation has committed an injustice. So at this point we have determined I think quit reasonably that it was right for God to create, and there being no injustice committed in or by this creation, we must determine His creation to be right.

I will assume we are good up to here, but now we come to the issue of evil, unrighteousness, and injustice. We will have to determine if it would be right for God to create in such a way as to allow those things to exist in His Creation. We will have to admit He could have created without allowing these elements in His creation since He is infinite in Power and Wisdom. But since He chose not only to allow them but make provision for them, how are we to understand it? And would it be right?

If God in some way of His own essence induces evil into His creation, then He becomes responsible for that evil. Lets try and identify the source of this evil. (Eze 28:15)  Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.) The first appearance of Evil in creation that I can find is here where the great created being that we now know as Satan fell. He was perfect from the day of creation, no contrary thought to perfection, no injustice, complete goodness. But we discover this being diverted from this state and a root of iniquity began to sprout. It did not precede from God, but came from the creature. You find this same process taking root in the first two human beings, iniquity coming from the creature and it falling from it’s original state of being.

But was it right for God to create in such a manner as to make this possible? I think we have determined it was right for God to create, and it was right for Him to create in what ever manner He pleased as long as it is consistence with His Righteousness. If God created a perfect being, but in that perfection gave Him the moral ability to understand God’s purpose and see His Glory; but also possess a consciousness of his own being with an ability to pursue his own purposes and glory, can we charge God with an injustice? I would argue that this would not be an injustice, but a giving of moral responsibility to the creature. The fact God new they would fall does not make it unjust in giving them the opportunity to stand and making them responsibility for it. Even our own experience I think in a small way demonstrates this. We all know our children will fail, yet it is not wrong for us to let them try. Nor is it wrong for them the carry the responsibilities of those failures. They learn from the failure as well as from the consequences of those failures. 


It seems reasonable for God to make demands upon the creature (man) and expect obedience from him. All that would be required of him would be for God’s Glory and the creature’s own good. Then to give the creature the absolute ability of being able to perform that obedience with ease would be perfectly right to require. The fact the creature (man) could recognize the Glory and Majesty of his creator, and possess the ability to recognize what he was as a creature, would be a glorious thing. But sin sprang when the creature through the possessing of these faculties began to desire what God was, for himself and his own glory.


It seems reasonable for God to determine the rules of conduct as long as those rules were right and good. (Gen 2:17  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.)  Though Adam was a very great man, a very good man, and a very happy man, yet the Lord God commanded him; and the command was no disparagement to his greatness, no reproach to his goodness, nor any diminution at all to his happiness. Let us acknowledge God's right to rule us, and our own obligations to be ruled by him; and never allow any will of our own in contradiction to, or competition with, the holy will of God. – Matthew Henry (1662-1714)

It seems reasonable for God to require service from the man since God owns everything, therefore for the enjoyment of living in God’s environment should require something of the man. (Gen 2:15  And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.) 

It seems reasonable and right for God to keep one tree for himself and forbid the man from it’s use, after all, God owns it all and has given the man access to all but one.  (Gen 2:16  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat)

As in all societies, once a law is given, justice demands retribution for the breaking of that law. (for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.) The law and the punishment was made clear and set forward so as the breaking of it would be committed with full understanding. (1Ti 2:14  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.)

We know that the man committed treason and rebelled against the Maker and time moves on. I took the time to cover all of this to demonstrate that the account of creation and the fall of man follow a logical and reasonable course of actions. God being right and good toward the man, the man being happy and complete in his environment and responsibilities. The man being wrong in his rebellion and punishment just.


But some will say, the punishment does not fit the crime. One disobedient act and all creation is plunged into ruin and the human race into eternal damnation. It is here we do not understand what perhaps Adam may have understood. Before time began, God inhabited an eternity of pure Holiness and Blinding Righteousness. (Isa 57:15  For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.) Now a dependent created being call an angel introduces iniquity for the first time, an act that brought an eternal curse without any means of hope upon itself and all who followed it. Then the one created being that was made in God’s own likeness joined this rebellion which is a crime our minds cannot comprehend. We can only know it’s greatness by it’s punishment. If a man comes upon another man’s property and kicks his dog without provocation, there is a level of retribution to be sought. If he abuses the man, a higher level of retribution is demanded. If he abuses a man of dignity such as a Prince or President an even higher level of retribution is to be sought. If he abuses an infinite being completely out of his species, a being who is eternal and majestic above all known measures, the highest, not of Creation, but the source and fountain of all! At what level does justice seek retribution? But out of pure Mercy, God of His own being meets the demands of divine justice and offers to the man redemption from the fall.

Again, you stated, “There is no reasoning (scripture) that can be given by the Bible to justify the torture and sacrifice of a Man to exonerate the crimes of others.” There is a misunderstanding somewhat in this statement concerning the Christian understanding of Christ Sacrifice. Remember how before we talked about Christ himself having the power to take up again His own life, that no one takes it from him, but he lays it down of his own purpose. Perhaps your military training will help us here. Do we not hold one in high esteem who offers and gives his life for another? Have we not heard the heroic tales of one who threw himself in harms way to save his fellows? The one who threw himself upon the grenade and saved his buddies! Oh, but he had a wife and small children, surely it was wrong for him to make the sacrifice! No, the circumstances of the moment made the sacrifice the right thing to do.

I would suggest the circumstances in which man finds himself in after the fall makes the sacrifice of Christ offering himself to save us the right thing to do. Did the man’s buddies deserve such a sacrifice to save them? They would probably say no. Did we deserve that deity should humble himself and become a man and offer himself in our place? Obviously the answer is no, but it was right for God to show mercy if he choose to do so.

You stated, “It is, in my opinion, morally wrong to hold a child responsible for the crimes (sins) of their parents.” There is a slight misunderstanding of this concept also. It is true we are all guilty in Adam. (Rom 5:12  Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned:) It is not Adams particular crime, but what we became as a result of it. It is the nature of what Adams was that was passed on to his race, sin is as much of who we are as the life we live. For this we ourselves our guilty. (Rom 5:14  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression, who is a figure of him that was to come.)

I present this in response to your question of reason. I hoped to demonstrate that if the God of the Bible is who He says he is, then the torture and sacrifice of the God Man (Christ) is reasonable in all aspects. It would be the only logical action that could be taken to save the creature. When the concept of such a being as God contrasted with such a creature as man is understood, the logic and reason become more clear. That is what the study of Theology is, that we come to understand these things more clearly. Anytime you reason together and information is share, understanding is lightened. That is Theology to the Christian, reasoning with the Scriptures is like talking with God and understanding things He has revealed. Bringing spiritual things to light. (1Co 2:10  But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 
1Co 2:11  For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God. 

1Co 2:12  But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. 
1Co 2:13  Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words. 
1Co 2:14  Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged.)
There is more I would like to say about some of the things you mentioned, but this has been a very busy week. Give me some time and I will proceed to try and address some other issues you brought up. I don’t want leave anything in question unaddressed. But for now I hope this at least helps you to see the logic we find.
David


Saturday, April 7, 2018

"Question of Morality"

The following work is a response to my friend who is an agnostic / atheist. He from time to time challenges me on my faith and poses questions of interest. Since I haven't posted anything in a while I thought it might be interesting to post our conversation.


Greetings My Friend,
I was wondering how you would respond to the following:

If God gives us our morality, was it moral to use a human sacrifice to wash away someone else's sins? Yes, Jesus, if the story is true, was a human sacrifice to save others. Why is that thought to be, by Christians, the love of a compassionate God to brutally sacrifice Jesus for the faults of others? 

 For me, a compassionate God would have found a better way to "save" us than to kill Jesus. Didn't God command thou shalt not kill? Yet, God routinely killed in the Old Testament and the greatest kill of the Bible was the killing of Jesus. Such violence from a loving compassionate God--please consider that statement as an observation and not as an attack.

Yes, God didn't kill Jesus directly, the Romans did. Well true, but it was God's plan for Jesus to be killed for the saving of others (Jesus is used as a scapegoat). If one argues it wasn't God's plan to have Jesus sacrificed, then God certainly could have prevented it and did nothing to stop the brutal killing of Jesus.  

I hope you don't take my thoughts above as an attack on the Christian God or the Bible. For me, my thoughts above are reasonable to bring up. I think my thoughts and questions above are a real problem for Christians to give an intellectually honest defense of God's actions concerning the killings in the Old Testament, either done by God or ordered by God, and the brutal sacrifice of Jesus.

Looking forward to your response.

With kind regards to a good friend,

Gene

Response:

Now to your question, the short answer is “yes” to everything you said. You are correct in every accessement. Now the long answer, your question was multi-faceted and with several layers. Lets start with your statement, “If God gives us our morality, was it moral to use a human sacrifice to wash away someone else's sins? Yes, Jesus, if the story is true, was a human sacrifice to save others. Why is that thought to be, by Christians, the love of a compassionate God to brutally sacrifice Jesus for the faults of others?”


Mainly it is thought to be compassionate because most Christian don’t think beyond that, or they would be asking themselves the same question. In saying that, I’m not putting myself upon the smart pedestal, it’s just a fact most of us don’t think about it. We just accept it, believe it, and move on. I suppose it can also be attributed to our society today.

Our TV and media are filled with preachers of the so called Gospel that have very little if any formal training in the scriptures. The result is a mess of confusion spreading around the world. I study the scriptures but find I need help from time to time. Some of the tools I use that help me, after prayer of course, consist of mostly dead men. I study how they thought and what they wrote about the scriptures 1,800 years ago, 1,500 years ago, 500 years ago, and look for the consistence doctrine that can be followed throughout history. A good read would be after someone who has been dead at least 300 years.

There’s too many new idea’s and views of God appearing in the last couple of century’s, with an explosion in the last century of new understanding. This book (the Bible) has been poured over by men of great minds for near 2,000 years. For someone in this last century to be so wonderfully endowed with knowledge to discover some new doctrine that eluded the Church for two millennial is a bit of a stretch. 

The answer to your question, or at least for me to try, it does not rest in our view of morality, but our view of God. What is he? What does he consist of? etc. Then understanding what we are, what we consist of and how that relates to Him. All we can know about Him is what He has told us in the Scripture. I know you believe those writings are just old writings made up by men, but if we believed that, we wouldn’t have a God. Well, we would have one, but he would be one of our own making and imagination. So I’m gong to speak from my perspective and not yours.

First, what is God? He is a Spirit, {Joh 4:24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.} He is incorporeal INCOR'PORAL, a. [in and corporal. Not consisting of matter or body; immaterial.] He has no specific location, is not limited by or confined to space. Therefore we understand Him to be present everywhere. {Psa 139:8  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.  Psa 139:9  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; . . .} 

He is not like us, so in our minds we have nothing to relate to, no basis of understanding of which to lay a foundation, to form our understanding as to compare Him to something. The Old saints simply referred to His otherness. He is simply other, we know not what. {Exo 3:14  And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.} When Moses inquired of What God was, He simply replied, I Am what I Am. We are also told there is nothing else like Him in existence. {Isa 46:9  Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,} So all we have to go on is what He has chosen to reveal of Himself in Scripture.

There is a theological termed used to convey something of what He is, “Trinity.” Through out Scripture He is seen as One God, yet three persons. This is a difficult concept to express as we know nothing of a being that consist of such. We find this confessed by the church in the “Apostle’s Creed” dated around 150 AD. We find it more defined in a more specific manner at the council of Nicaea in 325 AD. This document was to address unorthodox teaching that was spreading throughout Christianity at that time. It states in part, {I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. . . And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.}

It is defined further in Athanasian Creed of the 4th century around 500 AD. I quote it in it’s full text for the information which it holds. Note that the term catholic is not understood as we would today. It simply means one universal faith. The Roman Catholic church today is an entirely different faith. 



Athanasian Creed

Whosoever will be saved , before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.
The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.
So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord.
For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be both God and Lord, So are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other; none is greater, or less than another; But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved is must think thus of the Trinity.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of his Mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching his manhood; Who, although he be God and Man, yet he is not two, but one Christ; One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh but by taking of the Manhood into God; One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.

This is seen throughout Scripture beginning in Genesis one at creation. It is stated that God created heaven and earth, yet we notice when it comes to the design of man, the phrase “let us make man” identifies the plurality of God. The Hebrew word here for God [Eloheem] denotes the plurality. We can see this in many examples throughout Scripture, but to keep us on our subject, It is stated in {Act 3:15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.} Here it is said God raised Christ from the dead. In {Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you} It is here stated that the Spirit of God raised up Christ from the dead. In {Joh 10:17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. Joh 10:18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.} Here it is stated that Christ raised himself.

Now lets try and put this together, God is one God. { 1Jn 5:7  For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.} but there are three eternal persons to this all mighty Godhead, all co-eternal, and co-equal in all aspects. They act as one in creation in their respective roles. The Word {Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Joh 1:2  The same was in the beginning with God. Joh 1:3  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.} which was with God in the beginning was God, of the same substance and being, and became flesh. You could say put on or wrapped himself in it. { Heb 2:14  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;} and { Heb 2:16  For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.} and also { Heb 10:5  Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:}


We are told by Matthew {Mat 1:23  Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.}  So He was more than a Son, but God himself that came and lived among us. Matthew was referring to {Isa 7:14  Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.} which is dated to be around 700 BC. / R. C. Sproul states that God saved us from Himself, by Himself, for Himself.

Christ is seen in Scripture as the God man, fully God, yet fully man. When he took on flesh, he did not put aside his deity, but simply put flesh upon him. He is seen as having a reasonable mind, limited with all aspects of the physical mind, yet possessing at the same time the infinite mind of God. In His humanity He is seen being hungry, being limited to one place and seeing only where His natural eye’s let him see. Yet at the same time this man demonstrates when necessary His divine nature by controlling all circumstances and elements around him. He demonstrates knowledge and understanding far beyond the sight of his natural eyes.

Now His crucifixion, when he died upon the cross, the human man died. The mind ceased to function, the heart stopped beating, he died. But the God man cannot die, as He stated, he retained the power to take His life again. Did he suffer? Yes, he experienced what any man would experience upon on a cross. What happened in those 3 hours of Darkness which was seen upon the earth we are not told exactly; how the Divine person absorbed the wrath of God for us  is not so clear to our understanding. But what we know and understand from scripture is no created being could absorb the wrath of God. That is why hell is eternal.

So we see the cross as God Himself giving Himself to save us for Himself. The cross is not a tragedy, but a great display of his goodness to save a fallen creation. The mystery of the triune being of God is a part of His otherness, the I Am what I Am. It stretches our minds to conceive of a eternal being, an uncreated being existing, a self existing being from all eternity. From Him comes all things, space, time, matter, angels, men, all things. He knows all things because He created all things. Time is known from beginning to end because He is the creator of each moment from eternity. The time we see passing each day was created in the beginning, and has already been seen and understood by God.

Now “Thou shalt not Kill.” This does not imply death shall not be the means of punishment. But it is asked, what about the innocent? What about the women and children in the Old Testament that were commanded to be killed? Or the people of such like that die today in tragedies? This is understood by understanding what we are. The short answer again is, there are no innocent people. But this will need to be qualified.

It has to do with what we are, our nature and being. It might help to consider rattle snakes, it does for me! I will not bring them into my home, I will not be in their presence. I know what they are and what they do. They may be small ones and have never bit anything, but I know their nature. I know they are not innocent, all they need is time and opportunity. If I knew time as God knows time, I would know their danger all the more. I would know the only way to keep my home is to remove the snakes. Unless I could change their nature and make them something else, but I cannot do this.

{Gal 6:15  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.} In the Gospel, our nature is changed and we become something else.

Every human being, even from our perception of innocence, though not yet having done any good or bad is guilty by nature. All we need is time and opportunity. Every human being is guilty even before their conception. {Psa 51:4  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Psa 51:5  Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.} Evil, tragedies, pain, suffering exist because God has deemed it right and just for us in this life and eternal punishment in the next, therefore we suffer the curse from Creation. But the Gospel offers not only forgiveness but a changing of our nature as we grow in Christ and are sanctified throughout our life.

But someone might say, “For me, a compassionate God would have found a better way to "save" us than to kill Jesus.” In the Scripture we do not see a God trying to find the best way to save us. We find a God creating by design in a manner that most satisfies His purpose and Glorifies His being. If it was His purpose to have a creation without sin and suffering and rebellion, then that is the creation we would have. Again, to quote R. C. Sproul, evil is never good, but it is good there is evil. It takes a while to think on that. The fact there is evil, illuminates the value of virtue.

I have heard it said that we give our kids all we can so they can have the things we never did. Yet, we do not consider the fact, the things we never had made us what were are. There is a great divine plan playing itself out, it will consummate as the most Glorious display of this eternal being. All of His attributes will be on display for those who love Him to admire for all eternity. His eternal justice will be on display along with His blinding holiness by experience for those who hate him.

It will be said, He is not fair, He created evil therefore He is unjust to punish it. {Jas 1:13  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: Jas 1:14  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Jas 1:15  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.} Evil has never or ever can be attributed to God, Yet it did so please Him that it should exist in the creation. He so created in such a way that it was possible for it to originate within the creature. {Eze 28:15  Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.}

Now to understand the necessity of eternal punishment one must have some concept of the Holiness of God. It is another concept that is difficult for us to grasp, for again we have nothing of which to make comparison. We have our concepts of good and evil by comparison, but this cannot transcend into the Holiness of God, nor what it would mean for that Holiness to be violated. All we can do is look at what we have. A single act of unbelief in departing from the living God as in the beginning brought ruin upon the whole creation and man kind. It had previously brought ruin upon the heavenly places and angelic beings of which no redemption has been offered. To the Glory of His great mercy, that is not so with us. It did so please Him from all eternity to save us, thus the Gospel is offered. But for now {Rom 8:22  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. Rom 8:23  And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. Rom 8:24  For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? Rom 8:25  But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.} Even now it continues, and will continue to the consummation of all things in Christ.

Now our morality, our morality is not from Him, for our morality is in ruin. Observe the history of mankind, it is said we are evolving and getting better. Yet, this past century is the bloody century in hisory. We have moments of reprieve when this evil is restrained, but only to break out again. It is our just reward, and an eternity of justice awaits us.

But it is then asked, why the death of Christ? If He is God, why just not forgive? He can’t just forgive, He is God. Because of His perfections, all His Attributes are interwoven. His Holiness and Justice flow in the same perfections as his Love and Compassion. Sin is an eternal concept, once committed and cannot be uncommitted. To just forgive is to leave an injustice, which is impossible to do and leave justice in perfection. To make it just, make it right, something or someone has to pay retribution. If it is a divine injustice that has been offended, any natural retribution will for ever come up short. Thus we have the need for God Himself to pay the penalty. [PROPITIATION, n. propisia'shon. 1. The act of appeasing wrath and conciliating the favor of an offended person; the act of making propitious.] { 1Jn 4:10  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.} Divine judgment unlike our institutions of corrections will not be something hid in an obscure place out of sight, but on display for all eternity. { Rev 19:2  For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. Rev 19:3  And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.}

Most of the problems we have with God and His actions are a result of making Him in our mind something like ourselves. Making Judgments upon His actions based upon (our) understanding of right and wrong. Yet we ourselves have never seen or understood true perfection or Holiness, it is a concept much like eternity. Our minds recognize it’s properties, but it’s comprehension transcends us. Therefore we assign to it skewed judgments.

Of course all these understandings are not necessary for one to become a Christian, that requires faith in Christ, but it is a joy of discovery once the journey has begun. {Rom 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Rom 10:10  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.} 

David






Monday, March 19, 2018

"Seed of Deception"

"Seed of Deception"

It may just be me and my particular focus at the time, but it seems I'm seeing much being written these days on deception. I keep coming across testimonies of people who have believed things for years, only now to discovered they were deceived.

This is a subject very close to me, as I have found myself believing things for years I now believe differently. My particular views about God and religion have changed drastically over the years. This resulted in my leaving a church I had attended for nearly 30 years. It also caused enough friction that fellowship has become difficult with some of the people I was associated with, people who I love greatly and for whom I held great respect. As a result, the seriousness of this subject is a very real thing to me. For this was a difficult and painful thing to experience. It has caused me to ponder how this can occur in people's lives and how we can avoid it.

As I look back over the years, I can now see areas where I was blind, areas that could have been avoided if I had a little more light. {John 11:10  But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.}  It is in these dark areas where the seed of deception are sown. These are the seed that grow in darkness, for light makes manifest. Seed require their environment to germinate and produce their fruit, these seed require an environment of darkness. This is not a darkness of some great evil, but a subtle shading of our understanding that keeps just enough light out to allow these seed to grow. If you will be patient with me, I would like to appeal to you with a few words concerning this subject. I hope they will help us lighten these shadowed areas and dry up any seed of deception.

This is not talking about the natural process of growing and learning that we all experience throughout life. We naturally become more familiar with and understand things better as we grow and mature. Nor is this to suggest that spiritual things can be understood simply by applying certain principles alone. When it comes to spiritual matters, it is the teacher, the Holy Spirit that must open our understanding when any principle of understanding is applied. {1Co 2:14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.} This is simply to point out some things that can help us avoid providing a place for these unwanted seed to grow.

One thing that can help us discern truth and avoid deception is hard work. {Pro 24:27  Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.} We must understand that truth will not just fall out of the trees and take root in our minds. It will require effort, sometimes much effort depending on the environment in which we find ourselves. We must be willing to do our own studying, willing to spend a great part of our lives reading and meditating upon the scriptures. {Mat 22:29  Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.} We must make use of the available tools, commentaries and expositions of those before us to aid in our understanding. We must become familiar with the Creeds and Confessions of the Church to see how those scriptures were understood throughout history. This will take time and effort and must be applied with prayer, but it will give us a working knowledge of the Christian faith. It will reveal the struggles that have always existed maintaining the truth; and will give clarity to the resulting damage that has and can occur when truth is shaded.


But this hard work must be applied correctly. One can study hard, but study wrongly. In your zeal it will be possible to apply yourself to much study in wrong doctrine. {2Ti 2:15  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.} That is why it is necessary to become familiar with church history. It is much easier to see the error of the past generations where the path has already been cleared, than looking into the weeds of our present time. Most of the error we are confronted with has already been dealt with in past generations, they can help us identify the weeds that need to be avoided. {Isa 58:12  And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.}

{Jer 6:16  Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.} 

When suggesting this strategy, it is common for someone to ask the question, "What do you do when you look to saints of the past and they don't agree?" This of course is a defense, they are positing themselves to disarm you. It is a way to weaken your argument and strengthen theirs. Point being, "You and I disagree, but I can still hold to my belief because the truth can not really be known." We all must acknowledge that disagreements do exist in Christianity, for men are sinful and disagreements are inevitable. {Act 15:1  And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
Act 15:2  When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.}
The Scriptures delivered by the Holy Spirit through Prophets and Apostles are infallible and our only source of faith and practice. But the Creeds and Confessions
help guide us in a clear path to help keep us in an orthodox belief of those Scriptures.



Another thing to avoid is letting our feelings and emotions guide us in our understanding of God and what He requires in worship. I have heard Scripture read with the question posed, "Well, what does that verse mean to you?" Depending upon you current state of mind and experiences a said Scripture could invariably mean any number of things to you. But whatever comfort we may perceive from a particular verse, the only real value it has lies in what the text actually says; and from the context derive how it is to be applied to our lives. 

As fallen beings, we are fickle in our emotions, they are an uncertain guide. A particular form of worship may touch our feelings and make us feel good and raise our spirits so to speak. But that form of worship may be entirely unscriptural, and following our emotion can lead us into error and worship displeasing to God. Scripture gives us a sure and steadfast guide to understanding God and what he requires of us in our worship. Certain techniques can be induced by men to manipulate our emotions and deceive us. {Act 8:9  But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
Act 8:10  To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
Act 8:11  And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.}
Simon appealed to the emotions, his techniques bewitched (amazed) his hearers. He was perceived as being a godly man, but his form of worship was corrupted. There are no new ways of worship, only inventions of men. The approved practices of Scripture cannot be improved upon. When we rely upon the Scriptures and find in Church history orthodox worship guided by those Scriptures, we can know we are upon sound doctrine. 



Lastly, and the most difficult, is the influence of family and friends. It is most difficult for us to see them as a danger, someone leading us into harms way. Yet many times they are the very ones to deceive us. 

We are lead astray because of the love and trust we place upon these relationships. Very seldom is this deception intentional. Most often they are friends and family who genuinely have a love and zeal toward God. Pastors who genuinely love and care for the flock. But who themselves have become victims of deception. This makes them all the more dangerous because of their perceived sincerity. We are left feeling secure knowing such loving people would not lead us astray. And thus we all fall into error. {Luk 6:39  And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?}  Everything and everyone must be weighed against the test of Scripture. 

Let's apply these things in an example: You have a person who has professed faith in Christ. They have the influence of their family and friends who were instrumental in helping them make such a profession. But they are a bit slack in their efforts to study and simply rely upon what their family and friends tell them. Perhaps they are excellent students, but the material they are given is provided only by their particular circles. They are able only to view the Scriptures through that lens of interpretation. They do feel good being with their family and friends in worship, and therefore assume that God must be blessing their services. In this environment, a person could go on for years with a misunderstanding of God and true Christian worship. 

Seed of deception were being sown in the first and second century church and they are still being sown today. There are also certain events and practices that were unique to the first century Church, a misapplication of those events and practices has lead to much confusion. But if we are diligent in prayer and the study of the Scriptures, while making ourselves aware of our history; we can provide a suitable place for truth to grow. The light of the Gospel will then dry out the seed of deception. 

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,

David