Cease Pursuit

1 April 2012 at 00:09 (Daily Events, Misc.)

I guess I left you all hanging regarding the girl…

Well, I had backed off quite a bit, because I really did not believe she was interested in being more than friends with me. I had asked her to attend a Christmas event with me at my school, and on another occasion I asked if she would join me for dinner. She basically denied me both times. This all took place last December. Thus, I backed off. I decided it was best to focus on school.

This semester we have been able to talk here and there a bit, which has been nice just to maintain a casual friendship. So the other day I decided to ask her to attend “Spring Party” with me (this is a “date” event that my school does). Well, she declined this invitation as well.

So, I think it is pretty clear she is not interested. And this is absolutely fine! I wholeheartedly trust in God’s sovereign wisdom over this situation. In fact, I have been praying that God would incline our hearts away from each other if it is not His will for us to be together. I think this is precisely what He has done, and as I just mentioned, this is absolutely fine. Indeed, the Lord is my Shepherd! He will continue to lead me (and her) according to His sovereign and good will for our lives. I pray her and I can continue to be friends.

As a result of all this, I am even more inclined to believe that God is calling me to a life of singleness. Perhaps some time in the future this will change. But I am not planning to go out searching for a wife. I have not done so during the past six years, and I will continue not to do so. In my fallible thinking I think the Lord will have to plop some woman into my life who will be my bride, ’cause I don’t plan to seek one out. I am perfectly content hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and delighting myself in the Lord. There is no greater joy for me at the present moment than to set my affections upon Jesus, and to walk by faith as I serve His Bride: the Church.

Read my post “Lessons Learned During the Pursuit” to learn what the Lord taught me through it all. It’s pretty much the same! 🙂

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Begg, Piper, & Washer Quotes (and relationship thoughts)

25 November 2011 at 22:23 (Misc.) (, , , , , )

On my way back to Phoenix for Thanksgiving break (a six-hour drive), I listened to teachings from Alistair Begg, John Piper, and Paul Washer. Each teaching was on the subject of relationships. First I listened to Alistair Begg. He had so much good things to say, but one thing in particular that stood one was this:

“We should never assume that a friendship has to be more than a friendship when it begins.” – Alistair Begg

These words stood out to me because I have been making this assumption recently. Well, kind of. To clarify: I have not been assuming the friendship has to be more than a friendship, but I’ve been wanting it to be more. Granted, there may not be anything wrong with wanting a friendship to be more. But currently, I do not think it is appropriate, since we are barely getting to know each other. I think my focus should be more on becoming friends, rather than trying to be more than friends. Moreover, I should not be assuming we will become more than friends. Would I like this to occur? Definitely! But I need to trust that God would lead us according to His will.

“There is only one thing you should be seeking: To be a worthy and honorable servant of the Most High God.” – Paul Washer

Everything Paul Washer had to say was awesome as well, but this really stood out. He said this in reference to fathers, however I believe it is applicable to everyone. Granted, there are other things that we must seek at different things in our lives (i.e. job, house, wife!). But we should never ever fail to seek to be a worthy and honorable servant of the Most High God. This needs to be my focus. Truly, I should be far more diligent in my pursuit to be a worthy and honorable servant of God than any other pursuit. Still, by God’s grace, one can be seeking this even as one pursues a wife… Lord please grant me the wisdom as you lead me in these pursuits!

“Marriage most ultimately is the display of God… Marriage is God’s display of covenant keeping grace.”- John Piper

John Piper, as always, had lots of good things to say. Yet this really stood out. It’s just crazy how modern society views marriage as something completely different. I’m sure there are a variety of thoughts and ideas as to what the purpose of marriage is in our modern society. Many people don’t even believe marriage is necessary. But marriage is truly a most holy covenant as it reflects the covenant keeping grace of God. This deserves careful thought. It means that we should not view marriage apathetically or in any way that relegates marriage to a meaningless archaic tradition. Rather, we should recognize marriage to be the holy institution that it is! How amazing it is to know that Almighty God has ordained that a man and a woman can come together in marriage to display His covenant keeping grace! wow!

So… I listened to these teachings because I need lots of wisdom and godly counsel as I seek to be a godly man in preparation for my future marriage, Lord willing. Even after receiving a degree in biblical counseling, and even as I have less than 5 months left to graduate with a degree in biblical languages, I have lots to learn!

 

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Lessons Learned During the Pursuit

11 November 2011 at 23:50 (Daily Events) (, , )

It has been a little over 5 years since I’ve had a girlfriend. During these 5 years I have grown content being single. Indeed, I have had much joy seeking and serving the Lord during this time of singleness. Although I have desired to have a wife, I have not actively sought or pursued a wife. Instead, I have focused on being obedient to the Lord as a single young man. There have been three girls that caught my attention during these 5 years, but I did not think it was the right time to seek out a relationship; and my contentment with singleness kept me from pursuing any one of them.

But this year another girl has caught my attention, far more so than the other three! I have already written about her in the past two blogs. I have been trying to get to know her more, but it is hard since our schedules conflict. Also, lately it seems she isn’t too interested in getting to know me. I could be completely wrong though. Whenever we do talk (two or three times a week), she still talks as one who is interested in talking (as opposed to one who wants to get away!). Yet there is a part of me that thinks she isn’t interested in a relationship.

Consequently, I have backed off a bit. I’ve also realized that I should be focusing more on being a godly brother in Christ. In fact, God has been teaching me a few things throughout this “situation” (for lack of a better term). For example:

  • I’ve been reminded more and more of my continual need to be content as a single man — and I believe, by God’s grace, I am still content! Yet within my contentment, I’m trying to learn how to honor and delight in the Lord by seeking what the Bible calls “good”, namely, a wife (Proverbs 18:22). It is an interesting challenge. It seems almost contradictory. But I think not. Rather, my contentment enables me to recognize that no matter how the pursuit ends, God will be glorified, and His good and perfect will will be accomplished.
  • I’ve been reminded of my need to pursue Christ-likeness at all times. Christ was holy. Christ was pure. Christ obeyed the Father always. Christ loved. Christ humbly served. Christ proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom of God. Christ called people to repentance. Christ made the Father’s name known. Christ was righteous. The list can go on! I need to be Christ-like. As a single man, or as a married man, I want to be Christ-like. And this need has been more pronounced during this time of wanting to get to know this girl. Because every day it is so obvious that I am a sinner. Every day it is so obvious that I have a wicked heart. It is so obvious that I need sanctification. And when I am married (Lord willing), it will be my responsibility to lead my family, to disciple my children, to love my wife like Christ loved the church; so it is paramount for me to pursue Christ-likeness. Even if I don’t get married, it is paramount for me to pursue Christ-likeness, for I am a Christian; and as a Christian, I am called to be a godly witness to the world, and to serve the body of Christ.
  • As I briefly mentioned in the first bullet point: No matter what the outcome, God will be glorified! If we do not become friends and if we never enter into a covenant of marriage together, I’m so thankful to the Lord for using this situation to remind me of His sovereignty and of His goodness. I’m also thankful to the Lord for teaching me contentment, and reminding me of my need to pursue Christ-likeness (and it’s so awesome to know that the Holy Spirit is the One who will produce Christ-likeness within me!).

So as of now, I just really would like to be a brother in Christ to her. If it’s God will for a deeper relationship to begin (which would be sweet), praise Him! If not, praise Him still!

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To Find a Wife

3 November 2011 at 19:29 (Uncategorized)

I’ve been trying to get to this know girl more; yet I wonder if I should continue trying. I want to continue trying, but it seems like my efforts are an attempt to force a relationship, rather than allowing a relationship to naturally develop. This is discouraging me.

Before being introduced to her, I was completely content being single. In fact I still am content. If the Lord wills for me to be single all my life, I will be content. By His grace, I will be given joy to live faithfully to the Lord as a single man.

But I would love to have a wife. And as I’ve gotten to know this girl, I see the kind of woman I want to marry. She is someone who loves the Lord. Truly. She is someone who is seeking the Lord on a daily basis — seeking to know Him through prayer and study of His Word so that she might have wisdom on how to live a life worthy of the Gospel. It seems her mind is constantly given over to the Lord, that she might be pleasing to Him in all she thinks, says, and does. She just presents herself as one who is surrendered to the Lord. No doubt she is not perfect. But by God’s grace, she is one who is daily taking up her cross and following Jesus. This is the kind of woman I want to marry.

Whether or not it is God’s will for her and I to be together I know not. One thing I do know. I must be faithful to the Lord during this time of my singleness. Additionally, I must have the mindset that my responsibility as a man in a relationship is to love my wife like Christ loved the Church. Christ came not to be served, but to serve. He came not to receive pleasure, but to lay down His life for His bride, that she might be saved and have eternal life. Likewise, as a husband, it will be my responsibility, joy, and privilege to love my wife in such a way that reflects the love of Jesus. This means serving my wife. This means giving up my life in order to edify her, to nourish her, to provide for her, to protect her. It means living my life in such a way that is submitted to the Lord, led by the Lord, and pleasing to the Lord, so that He would graciously use me as an instrument for my wife’s sanctification.

So I’m trying to have this mindset as I get to know this girl. The mindset that says: “I am getting to know you not in order to find a girl who will please me, satisfy my needs, and make me feel good about myself. Rather, I am getting to know you so that, with God’s wisdom, I can determine whether or not it is His will for you to be the woman I will love like Christ loved the Church.”

 

Ephesians 5:25-31

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

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About a girl

21 October 2011 at 16:13 (Misc.)

I’ve met someone. I’d really like to get to know her more. I’m thinking and praying about it. I need to pray more about it. I need wisdom. How do I delight in pursuing a girl, while delighting myself in the Lord? How do I give myself completely to the service of God, while giving of my time to spend getting to know a girl?

Do girls truly want to be pursued? Do they want a man to chase after them (figuratively)? I hear the answer to these questions is yes. This can be scary. For just as girls want to be pursued, guys don’t want to be turned down.

So I pray. And pray some more.

Father: Be my delight. Be my first love. Have my heart, my mind, my will, my emotions. May they be all yours. Lead me according to Your will. You know I desire a wife; and I know you will satisfy the desires of my heart as I delight myself in You. Be glorified in my life during this time that I seek wisdom in this area. Thank you that you do so freely offer wisdom and counsel when I ask. For truly, I want to know this girl more.

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Esperanza and Youth Ministry

25 September 2011 at 22:03 (Daily Events, School) (, )

I decided to attend a Spanish church named Iglesia Bautista Esperanza, which we shorten to “Esperanza”. It is a very small church, and the people are great! On my first visit, I was invited to attend their men’s camping retreat, and I decided to go. We left last Friday afternoon and returned today. We went up a mountain about 1hr 1/2 from TMC. It was a blessing being there with those guys. The land was beautiful. The weather was awesome (aside from the rain at times). But spending time with the guys, singing songs of adoration to God and listening to teachings from the Bible was the best part. I was reminded (as I am reminded every day), that I am a sinner, in need of a savior. I was reminded that a life apart from God is a life of slavery/bondage to sin, yet God frees us from that bondage and makes us slaves of Christ (which is a blessing, not a curse). And even though as Christians we have been freed from that bondage, we oftentimes live as though we were still in slavery to sin. Thus we need to be in prayer, in God’s Word, and in “fellowship” with other Christians. Truly, every single day–every single minute and second–I recognize my need to saturate my mind with the Gospel of grace, that I would live for God’s glory as a slave of righteousness. There is truly no better joy than being a slave of Christ.

Classes have been good. Busy, as expected, but good. As I said before, I plan to write separately about each class. For now, I shall begin with “Intro to Youth Ministry.” This class is going just fine. I just finished one of the books for that class, which is entitled “Age of Opportunity” by Paul David Tripp. Here is my summary of the book:

The teenage years are an age of opportunity to prepare one’s teen for a wise, God-honoring, God-fearing life driven by biblical conviction rather than worldly culture. It is an age during which parents plant seeds that will result in maturing young adults who love the Lord and His Word. Many parents, however, self-centeredly view the teenage years as a struggle for survival! This is an unbiblical mindset. It is true that teenagers are in a unique season in their life, in which they battle unique temptations. But teens are no different than every other human being: they are sinners, engaged in a spiritual battle, in need of a Savior. Thus, God has established the family to be a learning community, in which the parents are the teachers. As parents humble themselves to change their own sinful attitudes, they can be positioned as God’s instruments of change in the lives of their children. Every moment of family life is a teaching moment, and God’s Word is the foundation of the parents’ teaching. Behavior modification is not enough; the aim is a changed heart, from which a love of God grows, which can only be accomplished with a confident faith in Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Even though I do not have any children, I have greatly benefited from this book, as it draws the readers’ attention to their our lives in need of sanctification.

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First Week Fall/’11 Complete

5 September 2011 at 23:16 (Bible Thoughts, Daily Events) (, )

The first week of my Senior year as come to an end. So far, by God’s grace and mercy, things have gone well. I am excited for each one of my classes. I have no doubt that my Righteous Father will teach me many things. My prayer is that I remember what I learn, and that I humbly submit myself to His Lordship as I apply what I learn in my service to others.

I plan to write more regarding each of my classes, but I will save that for when things start picking up.

My dorm and sister dorm went to Ventura Beach today. 🙂

Aside from my school work, I am reading “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands,” by Paul David Tripp. In this book, Tripp is reminding us that we, as Christians in the community of the local church, are instruments in the Redeemer’s hands. We are all sinners who are being sanctified by God’s Word, and God has mercifully given us the ministry of serving one another. The edification of the church is not the responsibility of trained professionals, but all parts of the body of Christ. Hence the subtitle, “People In Need of Change, Helping People In Need of Change.”
In life, we will continually experience trials. We must remember that God is sovereign (see Dan. 4:34-35), that His grace abounds (see Gen. 3:15), that He is faithfully working to accomplish His plan to glorify Himself as He redeems His people, and He uses us as His instruments to accomplish His plan (see The Bible!).

Here are a couple quotes from the book:

“God’s response to the willful rebellion of his creatures was grace! This grace justifies, providing complete forgiveness and unwavering acceptance with God. This grace adopts, welcoming us into his family with all the rights and privileges of true sons and daughters. This grace enables, empowering me to think, say, and do things I could not do in my own strength. This grace transforms, radically changing every aspect of my life.”

Also:

[God’s story of Redemption/Grace] reminds me that my life need not be imprisoned by my own rebellion, defeated by my own foolishness, or paralyzed by my own inability. God’s grace is most powerful and effective at the moment of my greatest weakness.”

Truly, as we consider the wretchedness of our sin, we see that the Lord’s grace is amazing. My prayer is that we never forget the grace which has been given to us, and that we always have faith that the Lord will continue to show us grace as we sin in the future. And as we consider His grace, may it motivate us to trust and obey Him.

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Is God holding out on us?

27 August 2011 at 20:40 (Bible Thoughts)

The desires of the flesh are wretched. They are vile. They are perverse. They are demonic. They are damning. To act out on those desires is to be in traitorous rebellion against the Almighty and Holy Creator/God.

Nevertheless, they are in fact desires of our flesh: desires, which all human beings have. Our flesh delights in the evils of sin. Our flesh longs to be satisfied with the lusts of our depraved hearts.

To make matters a bit more frustrating to the Christian, some of the objects of our lusts are admired and advocated by the world. Indeed, they are even promoted, applauded, and approved by the world. And because of this, there are times when I start thinking that I am somehow being cheated in life by God. Since God commands that I do not do the things that my flesh longs to do, I start to think that God is holding out on me; or that God is keeping me from something good, something that will bring me comfort, joy, happiness, and fulfillment.

But that is an absolute lie. To believe that lie, is to believe that God himself is a liar. To believe that lie, is to believe that God is not just. It’s to believe that God is not righteous. It’s to believe that God is not good. It’s to believe that God is hateful, malicious, mischievous, and tyrannical.

But God is none of those things. God is honest, just, righteous, good, and loving. His commands are given for our good. Therefore, obedience to God’s commands is the best thing we can do if we want a satisfied, joyful, happy, and fulfilled life. (Not that our goal in life should be to enjoy life, but rather to glorify God and enjoy Him!)

The Scripture says:

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36 ESV)

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I [Jesus] came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 ESV)

“If you keep my [Jesus] commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. ” (John 15:10 ESV)

Thus:

When God commands not to get drunk, it’s for our good
When God commands not to have sex outside of marriage, it’s for our good.
When God commands that marriage be between one genetic man and one genetic woman, it’s for our good.
When God commands that we be honest (i.e. tell truth, don’t cheat, etc.), it’s for our good.
When God commands that we regard others as more important than ourselves, it’s for our good.
When God commands that we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him, it’s for our good.
When God commands that we worship Him and Him alone, it’s for our good.
When God commands that we believe in Jesus–and no other religious figure–for salvation, it’s for our good.

In summary:

We have desires that the world calls good, but God calls sinful. God does not give commands to torment and frustrate us, but to benefit us to His glory. So when obedience to God’s commands means rejecting our desires, the most beneficial thing for us to do is obey. Indeed, the command is a good command, coming from a good God — a righteous and Holy God who has no obligation to love or save anyone–for all human beings are traitorous rebels–but He does! He does love! He does save!

So may we love Him in return, by obeying His commands. May we delight not in sin, but in obeying His commands. May we delight in beholding His glory, not in beholding our sinful lusts. May we trust in the goodness and benefit of God’s commands. And may we trust that by the power of His Holy Spirit, we can be mortifying the deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:13), and be magnifying the glory of God!

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The Fallacious Fantasy of Free Will

20 August 2011 at 15:42 (Bible Thoughts) (, , , )

About a year ago I listened to a sermon by Brian Borgman in which he clarified the Biblical perspective of “Free Will.” Christians today have a very warped view of God’s sovereignty, hence the whole idea of “Free Will.” I took pretty extensive notes on Borgman’s sermon, and I have included them in the main body of this post for you all to read and, Lord willing, understand and believe. Afterward, I have included my own closing thoughts.

–Begin notes here–

There are various beliefs concerning “free will” in the Bible. Some say that human beings have a free will to choose whether or not they will be saved, others say we don’t.

So, how can God be sovereign, and man be free?  How can God predestine, and man have free will?  Most people choose to limit God’s sovereignty in order to maintain their opinion of free will. The idea that “God’s most precious gift to human beings is free will” is false.

So what is actually the most precious gift? Is it “Free Will”? No! Rather, the most precious gift is free grace that overcomes our stubborn wills.

Those who believe in free will assume that the Bible assumes free will in the same way that they assume free will. But where in the Bible is this assumption about free will supported?

Many don’t even have a good definition of free will. Is it a choice to choose between black and white socks? It is important to clarify the biblical definition of free will.

So, in order for us to understand theologically what “Free will” is really about, because it’s not about socks, two distinct views of freedom will be considered.

1. Freedom of Inclination
Emphasis is on the bondage (as opposed to freedom) of the will

This view is the Biblical view. The will is free in that man freely chooses what he chooses. He is not forced or coerced in his decisions. However, it is paramount to understand that man’s choices are governed by his nature and his character; and his choices are expressions of his nature and his character (**Note: The unconverted man’s nature is corrupt/depraved/”dead”**).

An analogy helpful to understand this can be found in Matthew 7:15-20.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Can a bad tree bear good fruit? No. You don’t get figs from a thorn bush. Fruit that a person bears is consistent with his nature. It is impossible for a “bad” person to bear good fruit, just as it is impossible for a bad tree to bear good fruit. A person’s will always acts freely, but consistently with his/her own nature.

This view (“Freedom of Inclination”) affirms the biblical doctrine of determinism. In other words, there are two influences that shape or determine a person’s will: i) Internal, and ii) External.

i) Internal: Our mind

The mind of man governs his choices. Unfortunately, the Bible teaches that human beings have a mental impediment in understanding the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14; Eph 4:17-19). Our mental ability, which informs the choices that we make, is fallen.

The Apostle Paul said that the natural (unspiritual) mind is set on the things of the flesh, and is not willing to do the things of the Spirit (Rom. 8:7). Our minds influence us to choose that which we most desire, and unfortunately, we desire that which is opposite to what God desires (John 3:19; Jer. 17:9).

So what determines our choices? In the words of Brian Borgman, “It is not a will acting in an arbitrary free and neutral manner, but rather the will working in connection with a darkened mind and corrupt affections.” So, our choices (as unbelievers) are determined by our darkened mind and our corrupt affections.

ii) External: God’s sovereignty

The Bible teaches that God is sovereign, and that His sovereignty controls circumstances and even man’s decisions. For example: Proverbs 16:9 says:

The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.

This teaches us that a man’s plans are not coerced: they are free! But then it says that the Lord directs his steps. You can make whatever plans you make, but it is God’s sovereign will that determines the steps. Additionally, Proverbs 19:21 says:

Many plans are in man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand.

God’s counsel actually stands, not man’s. Moreover, Proverbs 20:24 teaches that man’s steps are ordained by the Lord. Furthermore, Proverbs 21:1 says that the Lord turns the king’s heart wherever He wishes.

(In fact when we pray, we pray believing that God will change the heart of somebody without their permission)

Thus, in the words of Brian Borgman, “It is not the reality of the [human] will that is in question, but its independence from the rest of our fallen nature, and its capacity to choose autonomously against God’s eternal purposes.”

In other words, human’s do have a will. However, our will is not independent from our fallen nature and from God’s eternal purposes.

This view (“Freedom of Inclination) also affirms the biblical doctrine of compatibilism: Man is a free moral agent, but God is absolutely sovereign. Man isn’t forced to do something against his nature! It is God’s sovereignty working in and through man’s willing to accomplish God’s purposes.

For example, Genesis 39-50 records the story of Joseph. Joseph’s brothers were uncoerced when they decided to kill, and later to sell, their brother. They did what was consistent with their nature. However, God was sovereign over it all as revealed in Genesis 45:5 where Joseph acknowledges that, although his brothers sold him into Egypt, God was the one who sent him there. Then in Genesis 50:20 it says, “You meant evil against me, God meant it for good.” This is compatibilism. God decreed it and executed it by using the uncoerced and wicked hearts of Joseph’s brothers.

Consider also Acts 2:22, 23 & 4:26-28. It is plain from these passages that the people who killed Jesus are morally responsible for their acts, even though it was predetermined by God to occur. Herod and the others could not have done otherwise when they killed Jesus, but to fulfill the predetermined plan of God; and they did so out of the wickedness of their own hearts, not coerced.

Consider also Isaiah 10:5ff especially verse 15. There can be no question that God is sovereign over Assyria’s actions, for God sent and commissioned Assyria (vv. 5-6). Assyria did exactly what God raised them up to do. However, in verses 7-11 God holds Assyria responsible for their actions. Assyria never intended to be a servant of the Living God. It never willingly wanted to be the rod of God’s anger. Assyria did not purpose to be an instrument in God’s hands. Instead, Assyria did what it did on it’s own will. Nevertheless, God was the one who wielded the “axe” of Assyria, and yet He also holds Assyria responsible.

Thus, Compatibilism teaches that man’s uncoerced actions, which are consistent with his nature, are in concert with God’s sovereign power. God has a plan, and He accomplishes His plan by using specific nations and individuals. So “free will” is not necessary for moral responsibility.

2. Libertarian Freedom
– “Free Will” –

This is the unbiblical view. It teaches that the will is free from all causes and influences. It teaches that the will has power of contrary choice! In other words, there may be influences, but the will has power to rise above those influences. So, although the unbeliever is “dead in trespasses and sin”, this view claims that the unbeliever can choose to be made alive without the outside influence of the Lord giving him life. The will is independent and self-determining, making autonomous choices.

Libertarian Freedom denies determinism, and affirms indeterminism. It claims there is no causation whether internal or external, whether God, character, inclinations, or circumstances. It claims man can only be responsible to God if he has libertarian free will (the ability of contrary choice) In other words, the bad tree has to have the power to make good fruit if it is to be responsible to God for its bad fruit. It claims, for an act to be truly free, it must be completely uncaused. It reduces the sovereignty of God to a general principle of God in charge, but not in specific control of rational creatures. Free Will proponents believe God does not exert his sovereignty over man’s will.

This view also denies compatiblism, and affirms incompatibilism. It teaches, for the will to be truly free, God cannot be sovereign over man’s choices, and man’s nature must leave the will sufficiently unhindered, so as not to infringe upon the power of contrary choice.

So, they dismiss the idea that the sovereignty of God controls man’s will; and they claim the nature of man does not hinder sufficiently man’s will, so that he can make a choice. In other words, they believe that although the unbeliever’s mind is in a state of hostility toward God (Rom. 8:7), it can easily be changed by one’s own free will.

(Open theism, which is the logical conclusion to free will, says that God is denied or gives up any knowledge of man’s future decisions, and the reason he doesn’t know what you’re going to do tomorrow is because if God knew your future free acts then that we undermine the power of contrary choice.)

This view teaches that the will is self-determining, contrary to Ro. 9:16.

The pillars of Libertarian Freedom are these:

  1. Real deliberation in choices that we make
    (It is true that there is real deliberation in the choices that we make, but the fact that we do not feel coercion in making a decision does not mean that it’s unconditioned or undetermined)
  2. Ought implies can.  They argue that if God tells you that you ought to do something, the implication is that you can do something.
  3. Moral responsibility requires free will.
    (Does this play out in our legal system? Do we need this kind of freedom to hold someone morally accountable for their decisions? No)

God commands people to act certain ways, so does a command imply ability?

Is there an “oughtness” to man to obey the totality of God’s law perfectly. Yes, Deut. 27:26. Mt. 5:48.  Just because man ought to be perfect and obey the law perfectly, does not mean that a man can do those things. In fact, man cannot obey those commands. Jesus commanded the leper to be cleansed, even though he did not have the innate ability to do so. He was willing to be cleansed, but did not have the power to be cleansed. He needed the cleansing to be done outside of him. The command to Lazarus to come forth from the dead does not imply that Lazarus was able to do so. In fact, he was not able to do so. He had to have been given life first in order to obey.

Ought does not imply can. You must does not presuppose that you have the ability.

God commands us in a lot of things in order to achieve other achievements than our personal achievements. For instance: God may say, “Bad tree, bear good fruit.” The bad tree doesn’t say “I think I can, I think I can.”  It says, “God I’m a bad tree, have mercy on me. Free me from my badness.” Actually, the command exposes our slavery to sin. The command convicts us of our own inability to comply.

The command is designed to create a dependence upon the God who can empower us. Sometimes, the command may also be accompanied by the very power required to fulfill it (“Lazarus, come forth”).

When the call of the Gospel goes out to us at God’s appointed time, that is what happens. We’re called upon to repent and to believe, and at God’s appointed time, there is the accompanying power to effect necessary repentance and faith.

It’s compatibalism, not libertarian freedom, that is the biblical perspective. In salvation, the will must be freed and empowered, and that happens not by the work of man’s will, but by the will and grace of God.  God’s grace overcomes our stubborn, bound, wills, and it is that, not free will, which is the greatest gift of all.

My prayer: “God, violate my will thoroughly today. Rip it to shreds, and do with it what you want. Overcome my stubbornness. Overcome my rebellion. Change my rotten mind. Bend my corrupt will. Purify my tainted, poisoned affections.”

Unless God overcomes our wills by His grace, we don’t have a snowball’s chance in hades.

–End notes–

The bottom line is that unbelievers are dead in their trespasses and sin and thus follow “the course of this world” and the “prince of the power of the air” and the “spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:1-2; cf. Col. 2:13). As a result, unbelievers live “in the passions of [their] flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and [are] by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:3).

Dead in sin. Following Satan. Existing for sinful lusts. By nature children of wrath. Depraved.

The Old Testament exemplifies this depravity from Genesis 3 to Malachi. Except by God’s intervention, man’s heart would be completely bent toward evil (Gen. 6:5; 8:21). The heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9; cf. Lk. 6:45). Jesus rhetorically asks how good things can come from those who are evil (Mt. 12:34-35). Thus, humans would never choose God by their “free will”. They must first be regenerated (given a new nature), which is given by God’s grace and mercy alone to whomever He wills to give it to (Rom. 9:15)

Assuming that unbelievers have the ability to “want” to be alive (as opposed to being dead in trespasses and sin), that desire does not mean one has the capability of being alive. Even if dead people wanted to live (which is absurd since dead people can’t think let alone “want”), they cannot unless they are given the power to live. Dead people are incapable of altering their condition — God must alter it. God must save and give life; the human being can neither save nor give life to himself. That is the essence of being totally depraved. It doesn’t matter if one wants to live, for one cannot live unless empowered to do so by an outside force: God (who “made us alive” though we were dead [Eph. 2:5]).

But the question isn’t whether or not one wants to live, but whether or not one will put one’s faith in Christ. The Bible makes it clear that those whose mind cannot comprehend the things of God (1 Co. 2:14) and whose mind is hostile toward God (Rom. 8:7), will not and cannot put their faith in Christ. Their nature is corrupt/depraved. One puts one’s faith in Christ only when God calls upon a person (as He did Lazarus), with the effect that, though dead, he is given life, and hears of His irresistible grace. It is a result of God’s will, not man’s (John 1:12-13; Romans 9:16). We choose to serve God as those who have already been chosen by God. If He has not called and chosen us before the foundation of the world, we will not call upon and choose Him. Our will is only free to choose God if God has chosen to set our will free from its bondage to sin. As Jesus said in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”

With this understanding, what else is there for us to do but praise God. If God had not violated our corrupt nature and will by giving us life, we could not ever be saved. Our joyful boast is in Christ alone, in whom we are saved by grace through faith alone.

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Beginning of my Senior Year

19 August 2011 at 03:22 (School) ()

I need to set appointments for myself to update this blog.

Well by God’s grace I am about to begin my Senior year of college. I’m very excited. The Master’s College has been a huge blessing in my life. The professors. Staff. Fellow students. All have encouraged and challenged me, and all have been used by the Lord to cause me to grow.

I just realized I haven’t mentioned the classes that I took last year. Well here they are:

Fall Semester:

Old Testament Survey I
Minor Prophets
Writing for Graduate School and Seminary
Intermediate Greek I
Intermediate Hebrew I

Spring Semester:

Theology I
Sermon Preparation & Delivery
Introduction to Linguistics
Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
Intermediate Greek II
Intermediate Hebrew II

Each of those classes were amazing… except perhaps Critical Thinking & Problem Solving. There was so much to learn. I definitely need to take time to review all my notes, and listen to the lectures again (which have been recorded).

I also worked, last year, at Princess Cruises. I enjoyed it, but I did not like having to take time away from studying. I’m thankful to the Lord that I do not have to work this year. I’ve received enough grants/scholarships/loans to preclude the necessity of work. This will give me more time to serve my fellow students, and to serve at my local church. It will also give me more time to spend on my classes, which will be:

The Gospel of John
Deuteronomy
Introduction to Youth Ministry
Foundations of Science
Advanced Greek Grammar
Historical & Comparative Hebrew Grammar

I’m very excited for these classes! No doubt they will be challenging. So please keep me in prayer.

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