Tuesday, September 27, 2005

God's Omniscience and Prayer

The doctrine of God's omniscience touches so many practical aspects of our Christian lives. I'm not sure how many of these I will write on, but I really wanted to say something about God's omniscience and our prayer lives...

Some might say that if God already knows what will happen, we don't need to bother praying. Well, that would certainly fly in the face of God's clear commands to pray - ie. "pray without ceasing".

But, understanding the omniscience of God should effect how we pray. Jesus taught that "When you pray do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him" (Matthew 6:7-8). Moreover, I think we can rest confidently that God knows better than we do what we need. After all, he made us and knows the plans he has for us.

So our attitude in prayer isn't coming to tell God what we need - he already knows. Certainly we are to bring our requests and need to God in prayer, but not to inform him of something he doesnt already know. We bring our needs to him as an expression of trust and dependence upon him to meet these needs.

I find that reassuring, because there are so many times when I frankly don't know how to pray. I don't know what I need, what the situation calls for, what would be best. But God knows before I ever utter a word.

Confessionso of a Chocaholic

Ok, so a week or so ago I mentioned that I'm a chocolate junkie. It's bad. Real bad. But a few nights ago I realized how it was affecting my family. My son's are now certified
chocolate fiends as well.
We had some people over and my wife made some chocolate peanut butter brownies. OH YEAH! Anyway, she somehow got a little on her sleeve. It was up around her elbow, so it went unnoticed for a few hours. Then Caleb saw it. He began picking it off. We thought he was going to throw the dried, crusty brownie batter in the garbage. No way. He ate it. And then picked some more off and ate it too. I'm such a proud dad!

Well, the moral of the story. Well, I guess there ain't one. Just thought I'd give you a glimpse into the fun that is my world!

Why God Can't Change (and other thoughts on God)

Last night Bob did an incredible job of conveying the nearly impossible to convey idea of God’s aseity – his eternal, unchanging independence. I believe these truths of God to be incredibly important and not talked about nearly enough.

Why are they important? Well, first, if God isn’t eternal, how did he come to be? Was he created? If so, then whoever created him must be eternal and more powerful. No. If God is God, he has always been God. Isaiah 40:28, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” ESV

Also, it is incredibly important to affirm that God does not change. Think about it for just a minute. If God changed, then it would mean that either he wasn’t perfect before the change, or he isn’t perfect after the change. That won’t work.

Bob did mention last night the unbiblical idea that God doesn’t experience any emotion, sometimes called God’s impassibility. I agree - it is unbiblical. But we can fall off the fence another way too. Some have argued that God is growing into his Godhood (an idea called Process Theology). Process theologians assert that God, to be a real being, must change. One process theologian says that God is continually adding to himself all the experiences of the universe. Frankly, it just doesn’t square with Malachi 3:6, “"For I the LORD do not change” or with Psalm 102:25-27, “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.”

Finally, asserting God’s independence is essential. We are creatures and draw our life from God. He is Creator, and draws his life from nothing other that himself. He is self existing and, as Bob’s sermon title mentioned, all sufficient. Consider Paul’s words as recorded in Acts 17:24-26, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” No, we serve God, not because he needs us, but because it is an absolute privilege to be included in his awesome plan (which is also eternal and unchanging – but that’s another blog for another day)!

My Gluttony

Sovereign Lord, please grant to me
A disciplined will
so to choose what pleases thee.
But more O Lord,
Grant that I might not need it.
Give me a clean heart
with holy desires
right affections
and godly passions,
so that my heart beats with yours
and I desire what you desire
want what you want
pursue what you pursue
love what you love.
Let all my hungers, thirsts,
wants and cravings
be yours,
so that I may indulge
and be a glutton in them
for all eternity.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

On the Beauty of the Trinity

Jonathan Edwards commented on the doctrine in the Trinity, " And God has appeared glorious to me on account of the Trinity. It has made me have exalting thoughts of God, that he subsists in three persons; the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The sweetest joys and delights I have experienced, have not been those that have arisen from a hope of my own good estate, but in a direct view of the glorious things of the gospel"

I love that, but let me draw your attention to one thing. Edwards connects the doctrine of the Trinity with the "glorious things of the gospel". This doctrine is a sidebar, not theological mumbo jumbo - it is an essential part of the life giving, beautiful gospel.

Is the doctrine of the Trinity relevant? I don't know. Is the gospel?! You better believe it is.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Clarifying Thought on the Trinity

Sunday night, I talked for a long time on the mystery of the Trinity. I felt like I could have talked a lot longer (but I spared you that). Augustine spent thirty years of his life working on his treatise On the Trinity (it ended up being close to 500 pages). So please, cut me a little slack for going over by 12 minutes! It is truly an amazing thing.

Sunday night I started to explore an aspect of the Trinity but didn't have time to explain it well. I wanted to take a few minutes and come back to the idea that we worship God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity. With the emphasis we place on the distinctiveness and deity of the persons of the Trinity, it is easy to forget about Unity of God. However, to forfeit the Unity of God is disastrous.

Most of us won't come out and say it, but I think we have latent ideas about how redemption worked: God the Father was angry with our sin, God the Son loved us and stepped in to divert his Fathers anger. The Spirit is someone involved, but we don't quite know how - though we appreciate his abiding presence with us now. While this is how many think, and a few actually describe, of salvation, it is truly unbiblical.

Augustine helps us in this I think. Augustine proposed the psychological model of the Trinity - one mind, different aspect (will, imagination, memory). While their are faults, as there are with every model/analogy of the Trinity, there is also some truth. Augustine preserves the essential unity, and this is incredibly important in so many ways.

Back to our discussion of redemption, we must remember that God was of one mind. God hates sin - the Son and the Spirit as much as the Father. Remember, they are all Holy God! Yet, God loved his people - the Father, Son and Spirit. Consequently, they entered into a covenant together to redeem a people to be theirs. They were of one accord on this. And they worked to accomplish it - The Father planned it, the Son accomplished it, the Spirit applies it by bringing us new life!

Let's be careful not to play one member of the Trinity off against the other. They are the same in their perfection and glory! God in Trinity, Trinity in Unity.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Weightiness of God's Holiness

This past week as I was studying for the message on God's holiness, I was somewhat worried that it was too heavy. Too heavy? I guess I was thinking heavy equals boring.

The more I thought about it though, the more I realized how much we need heavy doctrines. Think about it. Anchors are heavy. They have to be. If they aren't heavy, then the ship will be pushed around by any strong wind. And lets be honest. Life is full of storms. Some are literal - like the one the south just experienced. Some are more figurative - like loosing a close friend in a car accident or the feelings of loneliness and homesickness.

What will steady us in those times. Not light and fluffy theology! Not sentimentality and self-help-you-can-do-it theology! Not health and wealth, reach your destiny doctrines. What will steady us in tempestuous times? Deep thoughts, weighty thoughts, heavy doctrines! They will anchor us firmly.

Thank God that he is heavy. We need his weight.