Month: May 2009

LDS friends, consider this view of God

I am in Jeremiah 26 – halfway through the biggest book in the Bible.

Focus for a minute on verse 13:

Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced on you.

A preacher from England, years ago, once noted as he pondered the fact of God “repenting”:

The suggestion is that of a people listening for God, and so amending ways and doings, turning back to God; and God–do not be afraid of this, it is human speech, but that is the only way in which we can express truth concerning Him,–God sighing with relief, and releasing His sorrow in order to console and deal with a people that turn back to Him.  “Jehovah will repent Him.”  It is not merely that He will change His mind; it is not that He will change His mind at all.  It is that He will change His activity, because He cannot change His mind.  His mind is the mind of compassion, of love, of tenderness.  The supreme desire of the heart of God is never to smite, but always to heal; never to afflict, but always to bless.  If men have turned from Him, they have made their own whips and sufferings.  When they turn back, He will repent Him.  That is an unveiling by reverent suggestion, of the sorrow of the heart of God, of the breathing sigh of relief when the penitent man or nation turns back to Him; and of the activity out of sorrow which is for the healing, and the consolation of the people that turn.  There is no greater word in all the Bible, Old nor New, than this.  Amend your ways and your doings; listen to the voice of God, and God will repent Him of the calamity that He appointed; and out of that sorrow in activity, will turn back the forces that are marching against you, and deliver and heal and take you to Himself!

Does God enjoy punishing?  The preacher goes on to write:

But that act of God in punishment, is ever the “strange act” of God.  Now that is not a phrase of my own.  I would not dare to use it.  Isaiah used it.  When the drunkards were mocking at him, and saying Who is this that talks to us, who speaks to us line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; the prophet answered them, and finally told them God must visit them in judgment, and he called it “His strange act.”  It is the act that is foreign to the nature of God, that which is not within His deepest purpose for man or nation.  “He doth not willingly afflict . . . the children of men.”  That is Jeremiah’s word; we find it in the Lamentations; but hear it even more literally translated: “He doth not afflict from the heart the children of men.”  His heart is against it.  When men turn back to Him, He sighs and repents.  How are we to escape the calamity which God appoints?  Directly there is true and thorough return to Him, He repents.  Apart from such return on our part, there can be no Divine repentance.

The Tension in I Timothy 2:4 (from a Calvinistic perspective)

The ESV Study Bible (2008) discusses I Timothy 2:4:

Evangelistic prayer for all people is noted in the fact that God desires all people to be saved.  It appears that Paul is countering an exclusivist tendency in the false teachers or at least their downplaying of the importance of evangelizing the Gentiles (along with their emphasis on the Jewish law).  This statement figures prominently in theological disagreements over the extent of the atonement.  It cannot be read as suggesting that everyone will be saved (universalism) because the rest of the letter makes it clear that some will not be saved (4:1; 5:24; 6:10; cf. Matt. 25:30, 41, 46; Rev. 14:9-11).  Does that mean God desires something (all people being saved) that he cannot fulfill?  Both Arminian and Calvinist theologians respond that God “desires” something more than universal salvation.  Arminians hold that God’s greater desire is to preserve genuine human freedom (which is necessary for genuine love) and therefore he must allow that some may choose to reject his offer of salvation.  Calvinists hold that God’s greater desire is to display the full range of his glory (Rom. 9:22-23), which results in election depending upon the freedom of his mercy and not upon human choice (Rom. 9:15-18).  However one understands the extent of the atonement, this passage clearly teaches the free and universal offer of the gospel to every single human being; “desires” shows that this offer is a bona fide expression of God’s good will.  Come to the knowledge of the truth highlights the cognitive aspect of conversion, i.e., individuals must come to understand key truths in order to be converted.  “The truth” occurs often in the Pastorals as a synonym for the gospel (cf. I Tim. 3:15; 4:3; 2 Tim. 2:15, 18, 25; 3:7, 8; 4:4; Titus 1:1, 14).

Calvinism – the hot topic of late among some LDS

I need to get up to speed and read everybody’s internet conversations.

This is incredible.  What an awesome topic.  I have been meditating on this theme since our past Sunday School lesson on “Salvation”.

Several thoughts . . .

1.  My wife and I were recently in Salt Lake City listening to Celtic Woman.  I was spellbound for two and half hours this Tuesday night.  Have you ever heard the song, “The Voice”?  All I could think about was the merciful, efficacious calling of God upon my life in S.E. Idaho.

2. But let me throw out some quick humor before I check out again (It has been very busy this week):  The LDS Authorities love and appreciate Calvinistic theology.  Don’t you guys all know that?  For almost 200 years, they have kept the KJV Bible together and untouched, even despite what their first prophet tried to do with his pen. 

3.  Seriously, here is a humble adomonition from the translators at the close of the KJV preface:

Many other things we might give thee warning of, gentle Reader, if we had not exceeded the measure of a preface already.  It remaineth that we commend thee to God, and to the Spirit of his grace, which is able to build further than we can ask or think.  He removeth the scales from our eyes, the vail from our hearts, opening our wits that we may understand his word, enlarging our hearts, yea, correcting our affections, that we may love it above gold and silver, yea, that we may love it to the end.  Ye are brought unto fountains of living water which ye digged not; do not cast earth into them, with the Philistines, neither prefer broken pits before them, with the wicked Jews.  Others have laboured, and you may enter into their labours.  O receive not so great things in vain:  O despise not so great salvation.  Be not like swine to tread under foot so precious things, neither yet like dogs to tear and abuse holy things.  Say not to our Saviour with the Gergesites, Depart out of coasts; neither yet with Esau sell your birthright for a mess of pottage.  If light be come into the world, love not darkness more than light: if food, if clothing, be offered, go not naked, starve not yourselves.  Remember the advice of Nazianzene, It is a grievous thing (or dangerous) to neglect a great fair, and to seek to make markets afterwards: also the encouragement of S. Chrysostome, It is altogether impossible, that he that is sober (and watchful) should at any time be neglected: lastly, the admonition and menacing of S. Augustine, They that despise God’s will inviting them shall feel God’s will taking vengeance of them.  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; but a blessed thing it is, and will bring us to everlasting blessedness in the end, when God speaketh unto us, to hearken; when he setteth his word before us, to read it; when he stretcheth out his hand and calleth, to answer, Here am I, here we are to do thy will, O God.  The Lord work a care and conscience in us to know him and serve him, that we may be acknowledged of him at the appearing of our Lord JESUS CHRIST, to whom with the Holy Ghost be all praise and thanksgiving.  Amen.

Nicely written.

I don’t want to be a hypocrite in the I- 15 Corridor.  Some might think the KJV translators were involved in a conspiratory cover-up about who God is and what He does.  I don’t.  May the God of the reformation, Who is clearly declared in the KJV Bible, advance His Kingdom by sovereign grace. 

Verily, He will.

4.  Have you ever watched the movie, Emma Smith?  She sings the hymn, “Come Thou Fount”.  I can’t think of a better hymn on the sovereign grace of God in salvation to be broadcasted almost every week.  I do love the God of John Calvin.

Later, friends.

And maybe I can try to catch up on some internet threads . . .

Sunday worship – Christ in me

Christ with me, Christ before me,  Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I rise, Christ to shield me.

Here is a nice song that I think can be derived in some of the wording ideas from St. Patrick and “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”.  Yes?

Lisa Kelly sings beautifully here.