Why Akathleptos?

Why Akathleptos? Because it means Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The term also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.

Why Patmos? Because the church is increasingly marginalized and exiled from the culture.

Why Pen-Names? So the focus is on the words and not who wrote them. We prefer to let what we say stand on its own merit. There is precedent in church history for this - i.e., the elusive identity of Ambrosiaster who wrote in the 4th century A.D.

“Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it." Blaise Pascal



Saturday, July 25, 2015

Distorting The Sovereignty Of God



Here is an example of distorted understanding of the sovereignty of God:

The United States Supreme Court decision mandating same-sex marriage as the law of the land is tragic (true) ... but God is still sovereign (true) ... so everything is OK (false because it abrogates human responsibility)

Another example:

Abortion is morally wrong (true) ... but God is still sovereign (true) ... so everything is OK (false because it abrogates human responsibility)

Here is yet another, more obvious example. Suppose the Allies had said in 1941:

What Nazi Germany is doing is wrong (true) ... but God is still sovereign (true) ... so everything is OK (obviously false; everything was clearly not OK)

To correctly understand the sovereignty of God as revealed in the Bible, it's vital we grasp both the sovereignty of God and human responsibility (choice and action) as revealed in Scripture. Both are affirmed in the Bible.

God is unquestionably absolutely sovereign (Ps 115:3, etc.); nothing happens outside His control for even the smallest things (i.e., the flip of a coin [Prov 16:33], the death of a sparrow [Matt 10:29], the number of hairs on your head [Luke 12:7], etc.

Consider this ...
  • To be truly sovereign with supreme power capable of accomplishing whatever one pleases, one must have all power (must be omnipotent)
  • To be truly sovereign in complete control, one must know all things (must be omniscient)
  • To be truly sovereign, there can be no external influence or dependence (must independent or transcendent)
  • To be truly sovereign in the sense of exercising supreme dominion in all places, one must be simultaneously present everywhere (be omnipresent)
  • To be truly sovereign in the sense of exercising absolute authority at all times, one must be eternal with no beginning or end
And, in fact, the Bible reveals the one true God to have all these attributes. There does not exist in the cosmos a single particle of matter, no matter how small or big, that is not under the sovereign control of God. His sovereign control extends beyond mere physical matter into the unseen spiritual realm to literally encompass all of creation.

But at the same time that God is absolutely sovereign, Scripture repeatedly affirms human responsibility. Our choices and actions are truly our own (i.e., Josh 24:15; James 1:13-16; etc.) This apparent contradiction that God is absolutely sovereign and yet at the same time we are fully responsible cannot be ultimately comprehended by finite human minds. That God is able to use our choices, decisions, and actions (which truly are our own) to perfectly accomplish His will, is mind-boggling evidence of just how great God is. His greatness is beyond our comprehension. It's almost unfathomable that this absolute Sovereign God grants us responsibility to make choices and decisions and then act (all of which are truly ours), and then use those choices, decisions and actions to perfectly accomplish His will.

Two examples where both the sovereignty of God and human responsibility are simultaneously depicted in the Bible:
  • One occurs in Acts 23 after Paul is arrested in Jerusalem and in Roman custody. In Acts 23:11 God reveals to Paul one night that Paul will be a witness for Him in Rome [sovereignty of God; i.e., Paul will not die in Jerusalem]. The very next day, Paul learns of a conspiracy to kill him (Acts 23:16-17) and immediately takes action to reveal the plot to the Roman Commander [human responsibility].
  • The other occurs during the shipwreck recorded in Acts 27. After the violent storm pummels the ship for several days so that all on board lose hope of surviving, God reveals to Paul in Acts 27:23-24 that all will be saved which he communicates to the crew [sovereignty of God; i.e., no one will die]. Yet, just a short time later, Paul urgently tells the Centurion in Acts 27:30-31 that unless he prevents the sailors from abandoning the ship, they cannot be saved [human responsibility; unless the Centurion acts, all will die].
Many Christians have a distorted understanding by not simultaneously maintaining the healthy tension revealed in Scripture between God's sovereignty and human responsibility. They either swing to side of sovereignty and negate/minimize human responsibility ... or ... they emphasize human responsibility at cost to the sovereignty of God. To be true to Biblical revelation, both must simultaneously be upheld.

Coming back to the first two examples I gave of a distorted understanding of God's sovereignty:

The United States Supreme Court decision mandating same-sex marriage as the law of the land is tragic (true) ... but God is still sovereign (true) ... so everything is OK (false, because it abrogates human responsibility)

Abortion is morally wrong (true) ... but God is still sovereign (true) ... so everything is OK (false because it abrogates human responsibility)

Some Christians who correctly affirm the sovereignty of God, fail to recognize their responsibility to act. Others affirm the absolute sovereignty of God, but also realize their grave responsibility and act.

1 comment:

  1. Amen! There is little more disgusting than a cheap grace Calvinist hiding behind Romans 13 as an excuse to be a coward. In fact, the obligation belief of such a creature would seem to be no different than an atheist who believes he will cease to exist if his risk taking results in his demise.

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