Friday, May 30, 2008

Love God with all of your Mind!

Recently, through a message at church, I have been thinking about the difficulties of understanding the Bible. As Peter says, "There are some things in them (Paul's writings) that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures." (2 Peter 3:16)

Although God's Word is in its essence a book with a simple message, the foundations are anything but soft and easy to understand. Paul told the church at Corinth, "Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature." (1 Cor. 14:20) God does not want us to settle for "easy believe-ism", He want us to press onto really know Him; at least as much as it is possible for us to do so. God wants us, more than anything else, to love Him - and to love Him with all of our minds. (Mark 12:30)

That being said, there are a number of very difficult questions that need to be thought about and answered in the pursuit of trying, to some extent, to KNOW God and His ways with our minds, as He commands us to do. We need to pursue theology not as a game, but with great reverence and prayer and humility and diligence. A more weighty work does not exist. It is not a mere head-game. The following are some questions that I feel are important for us to think about in this pursuit.

First, questions for Arminians:
1. What made you or makes you smarter or wiser than those who reject Christ or never do seek for God in the first place?
2. If God wants all people to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4), why doesn't He ultimately make that happen?
3. Why does God make my free-will more important than whether I go to hell or not?

Next for Calvinists:
1. Why does God predestine only some to heaven but most to hell for an eternity?
2. If God wants all people to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4), why doesn't He ultimately choose for that to happen?
3. Why does God make His glory more important than whether I go to hell or not?

In immature circles these questions are sometimes asked as a hammer to show how foolish the other side is. This is obviously not what God would want. However, like I said above, I believe He wants us to press on to know Him and take these questions seriously. By knowing Him better, we can love Him more and help others to know Him and love Him more also. We can be more sensitive (through the struggle!) to those who do not see things exactly the same way we do. We can love both Calvinists and Arminians, or those in-between, with an understanding that we are all on a journey to know God and love God. But let's not forsake the habit of pressing on to know Him through His Word! (Phil.3:10-12)

OK. I have my answers to the questions. I am curious to hear yours!


Doug said...

Hey bro,

In regards to your first question for the Calvinists, do you think there is Scriptural evidence to say that God predestines people to hell? I believe that he predestines us to be saved and thus to be in heaven, but I've been thinking about the issue of double predestination. Must it work both ways? Does he really predestine people to hell or does he give them over to what they want (Rom. 1:24,26, 2:5)? Tell me your thoughts.

Mark and Maki said...

Hi Doug,

This is where it might be safer to sit down for a couple hours and talk through these things face to face! The only danger in trying to answer HUGE questions like this in writing is that we are likely to be misunderstood. So please take my answer (everyone who reads this) with some grace and understanding. We will do the same for anyone else who wants to leave a comment here.
OK, let's get back to your question Doug. I think the word "predestination" really needs to be clarified so as not to cause confusion. The word, "predestine" occurs six times in the N.T. It is for that reason an important word that we need to understand. We need to keep in mind that God does predestine good things and also evil things, like human's willful sin. (Acts 4:28) In this verse it says that God predestined the abuse that Jesus received on the cross. There is no greater sin that anyone has ever committed than to torture and kill the Son of God. And yet this was God's GOOD and best plan accomplished through willful agents.
When we move over to salvation and reprobation, we need to keep these things in mind. Eph. 1:11 says, "In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will," Though God does not do evil in any way, he can be said to predestine the willful sin of people - though he does not DO the sinning. By not softening or changing Pharoah's heart but rather by letting him harden his heart willfully, God has indeed predestined that he would get glory over Pharoah. "But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth." (Ex.9:16)
So, where God is the active cause of people going to heaven, God is the passive cause of people hardening themselves and going to hell - because He allows people to do so. In both ways, though, God has predestined what has ultimately occurred.
In conclusion, I think we are on the same page, but are just using different words to describe what is happening.
This is truly tough stuff to get our hearts and heads around! At some point it is beyond us in every way. This is where we can rejoice at how BIG our God is! (Rom. 11:33-36)

Mark and Maki said...

By the way, please feel free to disagree with me. I am by no means an expert theologian. I welcome any thoughtful response to this post.