Archives For Open Theism

A.W. Tozer wrote, “In today’s society, great numbers of people seem unable to deal with God’s revelation in Christ. They run and hide, just as Adam and Eve did. Today, however, they do not hide behind trees but behind such things as philosophy and reason and even theology.” I have seen too much of this and it makes me sick. People hiding beyond their church, association, or denomination anger me. We debate trivial topics instead of being about the mission given us By Jesus.

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Oh, we love to pontificate. We love to make our theological positions known and every one of us is convinced they are correct. I don’t care who is correct about non-essential matters. I only want to make certain I get the essentials right.

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In Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 10, Paul tells us we have each been created to do the specific work God designed us to do. Have you ever paused to think how amazing this is? Each person in history, in every country, and in every time, has been born with a God-ordained purpose for their lives. When each of us fulfills our purpose, it becomes part of the greater whole. It’s another brick in the massive Kingdom of God.

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When we fail to do the work He designed us to do, there is something missing. There’s a gap which must be filled. It’s an awesome responsibility. I can’t believe the privilege of doing work God designed me to do. How amazing is that? We must never forget the magnitude of the honor, or the obligation to fulfill it.

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With all the evil in the world it can become easy to believe there is no justice. Some jump quickly to blaming God. They hold Him responsible for the evil in the world, or even worse, accuse Him of causing it. Many struggle to understand why a supposedly all-powerful God would allow such atrocities to occur. Unfortunately, too many Christians have been exposed to teaching which tries to explain how God causes or at least permits all evil to accomplish His purposes.

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This is not only harmful teaching, but it is bad theology. God is love and does nothing that isn’t love. He is all good, all the time. Rather than diminishing His power, the fact evil happens in contrast to what He wills only demonstrates how powerful He is.

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I had a disturbing thought recently: We are destined to lose. I’ve read the Bible and I know how this war ends. God wins. We win. But this battle we fight today? We are destined to lose. God’s will for our lives is we continue the mission of Jesus. We are to bring the Kingdom of God down to earth. It is our job to model the love of Jesus and proclaim the incredible truth of God’s character to every person we encounter.

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Unfortunately, the Bible makes it clear things will get worse before they get better. We live in dark, evil times. Many think these are the last days. We are not to the first to think this way; most generations before us believed the same for their own lifetime. The fact is, until Jesus returns, we are fighting what at least appears to be a losing battle.

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Having been created with free will, we are free to choose, free to love, and free to serve. It was for these things we were created in the very image of God Himself. Free will has a dark side as well. Since we are free to choose we are also free to hate, to be selfish, and to reject the God who gave us life. We can – and usually do – pursue whatever we desire.

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There is no master blueprint for your life; that would violate the very notion of free will. God created you with everything you would need to live the incredible life He envisioned for you. It is us – you and me – who make the choices that send our lives off the rails.
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Jesus made it clear that we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). The Bible also states that darkness cannot coincide with light (I John 1:5; John 8:12; John 12:46; 1 Thessalonians 5:5). We can’t fill our lives with darkness and expect the presence of God to be evident within us. We spend too much time pursuing our desires and counting on God to bail us out when things don’t go our way. If you’ve been following Jesus for any amount of time, you realize it doesn’t work that way. As creatures of freewill, we have the ability to limit the power and presence of God in our lives. The more we fill our lives with sin and things not of God, the less room we have for Him.

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The more time we spend concerning ourselves with selfish pursuits, the less time we have to live the life God created us to live. Most of us would not consider ourselves selfish, but the truth is we spend far more time focused on ourselves than on Christ or anyone else. Our modern society attempts to dictate how we should live, feeding subtle – and not so subtle – messages into our minds at a dizzying rate. Satan has masterfully disguised his undermining of God’s character by manipulating the societal forces that play into our psyches every day. The tricks of the devil are as old as creation.  He tempted Eve by questioning the trustworthiness of God, implying He had an ulterior motive to keep her from eating of the forbidden fruit. Today He slyly convinces us that we need more “stuff” and to look out for ourselves first, clearly calling into question God’s ability to provide for our needs.

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The bombings at the Boston Marathon again have people shaking their fists, pointing fingers, and asking, “Where was God?” The first instinct of many when something tragic occurs is to blame God for not preventing it or even to accuse Him of orchestrating it. Strip away everything else you know about God and you will be left with an incomprehensible love. Love does not maim; it does not kill. Love protects and heals. There is no part of the bombing that was part of God’s plan, despite what some seriously misguided individuals might have you believe. Sickness and hatred were behind the bombings. These traits are the antithesis of who God is.

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Understanding the concept of freewill (see “Freewill and the Sovereignty of God, Part I”) makes it easier to comprehend why evil occurs in our world and to interpret God’s plan for our lives. If we perceive God before the beginning of time planning out every detail of every life, we are left with no other choice but to think that God plans and thus approves every atrocity that has befallen man. It then becomes impossible to reconcile a God who loves us beyond measure with a God who would allow barbarities such as the attempted extinction of the Jews by Hitler, the genocides in Rwanda and Sudan or the everyday abductions of children around the world. The best way I know of determining truth in a given matter is to compare it to the character of God. Therefore, since the thought that God would plan and approve of evil is in direct contradiction with the God we see revealed in scripture, we can reason that the teaching that God has preordained evil and calamity is simply not true.

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Awesome Sunset

I should have known when we embarked on our “Tough Topic Thursday’s” that there was no way a single blog post on any subject would be sufficient! Today we will dive into the topic of freewill. This might get a little heavy, but stick with me; we need to lay the groundwork for the next week or two on this issue.

So many have questioned why bad things happen to good people or why a loving God allows evil in our world. To understand the answers to questions like these, we first have to understand the concept of freewill. Let me state first and foremost that God is sovereign over the outcomes in our world(Psalm 103:19; Acts 2:22-23; Acts 4:27-28); He is in control and no matter what occurs on earth, He is able to bring His overarching plan to pass. God is all powerful (Jeremiah 32:27; Revelation 19:6 ) and can bring anything He desires into reality. However, He chooses to give humans freewill and to work with them in bringing about His plans.

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