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God Simply Is

From The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story by D. A. Carson, on one thing about God that we are told in the first two chapters of Genesis, or at the very beginning of the Bible:

God simply is. The Bible does not begin with a long set of arguments to prove the existence of God. It does not begin with a bottom-up approach, nor does it begin with some kind of adjacent analogy or the like. It just begins, “In the beginning God” (Gen. 1:1). Now, if human beings are the test of everything, this makes no sense at all because then we have the right to sit back and judge whether it is likely that God exists, to evaluate the evidence and come out with a certain probability that perhaps a god of some sort of another exists. Thus we become the judges of God. But the God of the Bible is not like that. The Bible begins simply but dramatically: “In the beginning God.” He is. He is not the object whom we evaluate. He is the Creator who has made us, which changes all the dynamics.

…Right through the early part of the Renaissance (roughly fourteenth to seventeenth centuries) and down through the time of the Reformation (sixteenth century), most people in the Western world presupposed that God exists and that he knows everything. Human beings exist and because God knows everything, what we know must necessarily be some small subset of what he knows. In other words, all of our knowledge—because he knows everything—must be a subset of what he knows exhaustively and perfectly. In this way of looking at reality, all of our knowledge must come to us in some sense by God disclosing what he knows—by God disclosing it in nature, by God disclosing it by his Spirit, or by God disclosing it in the Bible. That was simply presupposed.

Then everything changed—in Western historical thought, that is. I’ll post what follows on Monday.


Round the Sphere Again: St. Patrick's Day Freebies

To celebrate the day, three free Easter hymns from Keith and Kristyn Getty.

Michael Haykin’s lecture “Remembering Patrick and His Confession” (downloadable PDF).


Thankful Thursday

Today I’m thankful for warmer temperatures and the promise of spring. It’s been a colder and more difficult than average winter and I’ll be glad when it’s finally over. I’m thankful that God instituted seasons so that I can always look forward to something different weather-wise.

I’m thankful that I have people to help painting my walls, shopping for a car, and cataloging library books.

I’m thankful for my family, every one of them.

Throughout this year I’m planning to post a few thoughts of thanksgiving each Thursday along with Kim at the Upward Call and others.


Not As Sound As a Bell

I am, by now, sick of thinking and reading about Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins. Last week I did a short post related to it  and thought that would be it because I wasn’t all that interested and I don’t do band wagons.

But I live in the real world. I know a few lovely folks who have read Rob Bell and liked his books. (I bet you do, too, especially among the young people you know.) On Monday, someone suggested that I buy the full set of Nooma videos for the church library. As it turns out, I don’t have funds for a rather expensive single purchase, but I am willing to bet that another in a position with access to a bigger purse will be approached with the same request.

Usually my strategy is to simply promote sound authors and books and pray that people will be drawn to what is solid instead of what is squishy. But it seems that Bell’s latest book is worse than just squishy, because at it’s core, it gets the matter of first importance—the gospel—wrong. I’m afraid that some people I know and love will be influenced to likewise leave the center by an author they’ve enjoyed previously.

The gospel, Paul says, is that “Christ died for our sins,” and we know from what Paul says elsewhere that, yes, this means that “Jesus rescues us from God,” an idea that Bell seems to belittle. To put it more accurately, Paul writes that God loves us by sending his Son to save us from God’s wrath. What’s more, there is only one way to escape the wrath of God, and that’s by faith in Christ in this life. This is the gospel that saves.

Getting the gospel wrong kills. “Another gospel” gives no hope—or worse, false hope.

Since Bell’s teaching could harm people close to me (and close you, too), I’m linking to a few more articles that have been written since my last post. These pieces will help identify the issues and give reasonable talking points in any real life discussions regarding the teachings of Rob Bell.

And may this be my last post ever on this subject, ever! But you never know.


Theological Term of the Week

A name for several views that have denied that God’s law in Scripture should directly control the Christian’s life; the belief that obedience to God’s moral law is not necessary for the Christian.

  • Scripture that argues against antinomianism:
    Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)
  • From the London Baptist Confession, 1689, Chapter 19, Of the Law of God:

    6._____ Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, in that as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts, and lives, so as examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against, sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his obedience; it is likewise of use to the regenerate to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin….

  • From Concise Theology by J. I. Packer:

    It must be stressed that the moral law, as crystallized in the Decalogue and opened up in the ethical teaching of both Testaments, is one coherent law, given to be a code of practice for God’s people in every age. In addition, repentance means resolving henceforth to seek God’s help in keeping that law. The Spirit is given to empower law-keeping and make us more and more like Christ, the archetypal law-keeper (Matt. 5:17). This law-keeping is in fact the fulfilling of our human nature, and Scripture holds out no hope of salvation for any who, whatever their profession of faith, do not seek to turn from sin to righteousness (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Rev. 21:8). 

Learn more:

  1. J. I. Packer: Antinomianism
  2. Phil Johnson: A Primer on Antinomianism
  3. John MacArthur: Is There Such a Thing As a Carnal Christian?
  4. Ernest F. Kevan: The Law Not Abrogated by Christ to Believers
  5. P. G. Mathew: Antinomianism
  6. A. W. Pink: The Law and the Saint
  7. S. Lewis Johnson: Shall We Continue in Sin?
  8. James White: Earnestly Contending for the Faith Against Antinomianism (download audio)

Related terms:

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.