Elihu Proclaims God’s Majesty

Elihu Proclaims God’s Majesty – Job 37

1 “At this also my heart trembles

    and leaps out of its place.

2 Keep listening to the thunder of his voice

    and the rumbling that comes from his mouth.

3 Under the whole heaven he lets it go,

    and his lightning to the corners of the earth.

4 After it his voice roars;

    he thunders with his majestic voice,

    and he does not restrain the lightnings[a] when his voice is heard.

5 God thunders wondrously with his voice;

    he does great things that we cannot comprehend.

6 For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’

    likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.

7 He seals up the hand of every man,

    that all men whom he made may know it.

8 Then the beasts go into their lairs,

    and remain in their dens.

9 From its chamber comes the whirlwind,

    and cold from the scattering winds.

10 By the breath of God ice is given,

    and the broad waters are frozen fast.

11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture;

    the clouds scatter his lightning.

12 They turn around and around by his guidance,

    to accomplish all that he commands them

    on the face of the habitable world.

13 Whether for correction or for his land

    or for love, he causes it to happen.

14 “Hear this, O Job;

    stop and consider the wondrous works of God.

15 Do you know how God lays his command upon them

    and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?

16 Do you know the balancings[b] of the clouds,

    the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge,

17 you whose garments are hot

    when the earth is still because of the south wind?

18 Can you, like him, spread out the skies,

    hard as a cast metal mirror?

19 Teach us what we shall say to him;

    we cannot draw up our case because of darkness.

20 Shall it be told him that I would speak?

    Did a man ever wish that he would be swallowed up?

21 “And now no one looks on the light

    when it is bright in the skies,

    when the wind has passed and cleared them.

22 Out of the north comes golden splendor;

    God is clothed with awesome majesty.

23 The Almighty—we cannot find him;

    he is great in power;

    justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate.

24 Therefore men fear him;

    he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”[c]

Footnotes:

Job 37:4 Hebrew them

Job 37:16 Or hoverings

Job 37:24 Hebrew in heart

Contradiction in God?

Silly question, right? Do any of us know any genuine Christians who would affirm that there might be contradictions in God? I don’t. With that in mind, consider the following:

First, here are two passages of scripture that seem to say the God wants every human being to come to repentance and belief in Christ. At least that’s the prevalent belief across most of the Christian church.

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires ALL people (men) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Tim 2:3

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that ALL should reach repentance.” – 2 Pet 3:9

Now consider the following passages that say very clearly that God personally causes ‘some’ to believe lies, and/or consciously blinds the eyes and hearts of ‘some’ so that they would NOT believe.

“Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” – 2 Thess 2:11-12

He (God) has blinded their eyes
    and hardened their heart
,
lest they see with their eyes,
    and understand with their heart, and turn,
    and I would heal them.” – John 12:40 quotes Isaiah 6:10

If it is true that God desires that ‘all’ men, without exception, be saved, and at the same time the same God causes ‘some’ to believe a lie and blinds ‘some’ to the truth, so that they will NOT believe, we could logically conclude that

A. God can and will act contrary to his nature / desires.

B. God doesn’t always get what he wants.

C. We have, in some way, misunderstood the text of 1 Tim 2:3 and/or 2 Pet 3:9.

If A or B is true, then C might be false, an outcome we would prefer. We don’t like to be told we haven’t correctly interpreted the Bible.

If A or B is false, then C just might be true, and we have indeed misinterpreted 1 Tim 2:3 and/or 2 Pet 3:9.

That brings up the final question for now, “IF we have misinterpreted either passage, how have we erred?

I suggest that we very well might have erred in interpreting “ALL” in these texts to mean every human being without exception. It could be that “ALL” means, in both cases, all kinds of people, i.e. rich men, poor men, leaders/rulers, ordinary folk, Jews and Gentiles.

I further suggest that if we define “ALL” to mean all kinds of people, our high and loft view of God’s power and immutability remains intact, and there is NO contradiction in God. After all, he IS GOD.

Food for thought. . . yours? The lines are open.

Who is God’s Candidate?

There are two sermons by Dr. John MacArthur that probably should be mandatory listening for all of us. There are two parts:

Part 1: https://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/90-489/who-is-gods-candidate-part-1

Part 2: https://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/90-490/who-is-gods-candidate-part-2

They might not be what you expect :).

On a personal level, I’m frankly tired and disgusted by so many things I see and read  and hear concerning the current election cycle. God doesn’t have a ‘political party’. God is for God and his own divine purposes. It might be that either candidate, when elected, represent God’s judgment against our sinful nation. Think about it.

"What does the Bible teach about the Trinity?"

What follows is the answer to the above question provided at GotQuestions.com and sourced from Making Sense of the Trinity: Three Crucial Questions by Millard Erickson and The Forgotten Trinity by James White. I think it provides a good summary of what the Bible teaches and also that my friend Ed might read it and pay attention. Ed seems to think that the concept of the Trinity is just something invented at a 4th Century church council and passed on by various dead men through the years.

Question: “What does the Bible teach about the Trinity?”
Answer:
The most difficult thing about the Christian concept of the Trinity is that there is no way to perfectly and completely understand it. The Trinity is a concept that is impossible for any human being to fully understand, let alone explain. God is infinitely greater than we are; therefore, we should not expect to be able to fully understand Him. The Bible teaches that the Father is God, that Jesus is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also teaches that there is only one God. Though we can understand some facts about the relationship of the different Persons of the Trinity to one another, ultimately, it is incomprehensible to the human mind. However, this does not mean the Trinity is not true or that it is not based on the teachings of the Bible.

The Trinity is one God existing in three Persons. Understand that this is not in any way suggesting three Gods. Keep in mind when studying this subject that the word “Trinity” is not found in Scripture. This is a term that is used to attempt to describe the triune God—three coexistent, co-eternal Persons who make up God. Of real importance is that the concept represented by the word “Trinity” does exist in Scripture. The following is what God’s Word says about the Trinity:

1) There is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5).

2) The Trinity consists of three Persons (Genesis 1:1, 26; 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8, 48:16, 61:1; Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). In Genesis 1:1, the Hebrew plural noun “Elohim” is used. In Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7 and Isaiah 6:8, the plural pronoun for “us” is used. The word “Elohim” and the pronoun “us” are plural forms, definitely referring in the Hebrew language to more than two. While this is not an explicit argument for the Trinity, it does denote the aspect of plurality in God. The Hebrew word for “God,” “Elohim,” definitely allows for the Trinity.
In Isaiah 48:16 and 61:1, the Son is speaking while making reference to the Father and the Holy Spirit. Compare Isaiah 61:1 to Luke 4:14-19 to see that it is the Son speaking. Matthew 3:16-17 describes the event of Jesus’ baptism. Seen in this passage is God the Holy Spirit descending on God the Son while God the Father proclaims His pleasure in the Son. Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14 are examples of three distinct Persons in the Trinity.

3) The members of the Trinity are distinguished one from another in various passages. In the Old Testament, “LORD” is distinguished from “Lord” (Genesis 19:24; Hosea 1:4). The LORD has a Son (Psalm 2:7, 12; Proverbs 30:2-4). The Spirit is distinguished from the “LORD” (Numbers 27:18) and from “God” (Psalm 51:10-12). God the Son is distinguished from God the Father (Psalm 45:6-7; Hebrews 1:8-9). In the New Testament, Jesus speaks to the Father about sending a Helper, the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17). This shows that Jesus did not consider Himself to be the Father or the Holy Spirit. Consider also all the other times in the Gospels where Jesus speaks to the Father. Was He speaking to Himself? No. He spoke to another Person in the Trinity—the Father.

4) Each member of the Trinity is God. The Father is God (John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Peter 1:2). The Son is God (John 1:1, 14; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20). The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16).

5) There is subordination within the Trinity. Scripture shows that the Holy Spirit is subordinate to the Father and the Son, and the Son is subordinate to the Father. This is an internal relationship and does not deny the deity of any Person of the Trinity. This is simply an area which our finite minds cannot understand concerning the infinite God. Concerning the Son see Luke 22:42, John 5:36, John 20:21, and 1 John 4:14. Concerning the Holy Spirit see John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7, and especially John 16:13-14.

6) The individual members of the Trinity have different tasks. The Father is the ultimate source or cause of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11); divine revelation (Revelation 1:1); salvation (John 3:16-17); and Jesus’ human works (John 5:17; 14:10). The Father initiates all of these things.

The Son is the agent through whom the Father does the following works: the creation and maintenance of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17); divine revelation (John 1:1, 16:12-15; Matthew 11:27; Revelation 1:1); and salvation (2 Corinthians 5:19; Matthew 1:21; John 4:42). The Father does all these things through the Son, who functions as His agent.

The Holy Spirit is the means by whom the Father does the following works: creation and maintenance of the universe (Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; Psalm 104:30); divine revelation (John 16:12-15; Ephesians 3:5; 2 Peter 1:21); salvation (John 3:6; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2); and Jesus’ works (Isaiah 61:1; Acts 10:38). Thus, the Father does all these things by the power of the Holy Spirit.
There have been many attempts to develop illustrations of the Trinity. However, none of the popular illustrations are completely accurate. The egg (or apple) fails in that the shell, white, and yolk are parts of the egg, not the egg in themselves, just as the skin, flesh, and seeds of the apple are parts of it, not the apple itself. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not parts of God; each of them is God. The water illustration is somewhat better, but it still fails to adequately describe the Trinity. Liquid, vapor, and ice are forms of water. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not forms of God, each of them is God. So, while these illustrations may give us a picture of the Trinity, the picture is not entirely accurate. An infinite God cannot be fully described by a finite illustration.

The doctrine of the Trinity has been a divisive issue throughout the entire history of the Christian church. While the core aspects of the Trinity are clearly presented in God’s Word, some of the side issues are not as explicitly clear. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God—but there is only one God. That is the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Beyond that, the issues are, to a certain extent, debatable and non-essential. Rather than attempting to fully define the Trinity with our finite human minds, we would be better served by focusing on the fact of God’s greatness and His infinitely higher nature. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:33-34).

Yes, the concept of the Trinity was first articulated at an early church council, however the Biblical support in the context of the entire Bible over against the few (in comparison) passages taken out of context used to refute it should be overwhelming to any average thinking adult.

Thoughtful Study of The Decrees of God

I Will Surely Tell of the Decree of the Lord

by Mike Riccardi

clip_image002In numerous passages throughout the Bible, there are places where Scripture speaks of God’s “purpose” (Acts 4:28), His “plan” (Ps 33:11; Acts 2:23), His “counsel” (Eph 1:11), “good pleasure” (Isa 46:10), or “will” (Eph 1:5). In one way or another, each of these designations refer to what theologians call God’s decree. The Westminster Confession famously characterizes describes God’s decree as follows: “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.”

So in those instances where Scripture speaks of God’s purpose, plan, counsel, pleasure, or will, these passages are referring to the divine decree by which God, before the creation of time, determined to bring about all things that were to happen in time. John Piper, summarizing God’s decree, says, “He has designed from all eternity, and is infallibly forming, with every event, a magnificent mosaic of redemptive history” (Desiring God, 40). This helpful summary presents three characteristics of God’s decree that succinctly encapsulate the teaching of Scripture: God’s decree is eternal, immutable, and exhaustive.

God’s Decree is Eternal and Unconditional

First, Scripture presents God’s decree as having been determined before the creation of time, and thus it is said to be eternal.

· David praises God because all his days were ordained and written in God’s book before any one of them came to pass (Ps 139:16).

· God’s election of individuals to salvation is said to have occurred “before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4; cf. Matt 25:34; 1 Tim 1:9).

· Paul also says that the plan of salvation of the Gentiles was in accordance with God’s eternal purpose (Eph 3:11), which mystery was “predestined before the ages” (1 Cor 2:7).

· In Isaiah 46:10, Yahweh asserts that He will accomplish all His good pleasure and establish all things according to His purpose.

· Paul makes a similar statement in Ephesians 1:11 when he states that believers have been “predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”

What these passages are teaching us is that all of God’s providential actions in time conform to a fixed purpose which precedes time. And this “fixed purpose” is none other than God’s eternal decree.

A very important implication of the eternality of God’s decree is that it is entirely unconditional. That is to say, nothing external to God moved Him to decide to do one thing as opposed to another thing. Edwards said, “His will is supreme, underived, and independent on anything without himself; being in everything determined by His own counsel, having no other rule but his own wisdom.” In fact, not only is that not the case: it’s impossible. Because God, who is the only self-existent, eternal Being, was the only entity present in eternity past (Col 1:17). To put it simply, God’s decree wasn’t influenced by anything external to Him because there was nothing external to Him (Gen 1:1; John 1:1–3).

The consequence of this reality is that every one of God’s decisions that make up His decree—down to the minutest of events and actions—was an entirely free decision according to His own will. This is why Scripture so often refers to God’s decree as His “good pleasure,” or that which pleases Him (Ps 115:3; 135:6; Isa 46:10; 48:14; Phil 2:13). So far from teaching that any part of God’s decree was based on an external influence, Scripture proclaims: “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven” (Dan 4:35).

God’s Decree is Immutable

“OK. So maybe God’s decree is unconditional because it was formed in eternity past. But what if the decree could be changed now that we’re in time? After all, God can do what He wants, right? You wouldn’t dare put God in a box, now would you?”

To such an objection (one that is unfortunately all too common), Scripture replies that God’s decree is not only eternal and thus unconditional, but also unchangeable.

· Rather than the possibility of a creature altering God’s decree, the psalmist declares that it is God who nullifies the creature’s counsel, even frustrating the plans of peoples (Ps 33:10).

· The next verse cements that reality: “The counsel of Yahweh stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation” (Ps 33:11).

· Daniel 4:35 declares that “no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”

· In a similar fashion, God Himself tauntingly asks, “For Yahweh of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” (Isa 14:27).

· And after receiving what is perhaps the most scathing, forceful rebuke in all of Scripture, Job simply summarizes the immutability of God’s decree when he says, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).

God’s Decree is Exhaustive

Finally, God’s eternal and immutable decree is also exhaustive. God is said to work all things after the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11). The psalmist repeats that the Lord does whatever He pleases (Ps 115:3; 135:6). He Himself declares that He will accomplish all His good pleasure (Isa 46:10).

However, such exhaustiveness is not merely a general control; rather, God’s control over creation is specific and meticulous. In his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem provides a helpful survey (318–21).

· God is the cause of the various kinds of weather (Ps 148:8; Job 37:6–13).

· He causes the grass to grow (Ps 104:14) and the sun—which Jesus calls His sun—to shine (Matt 5:45).

· He feeds the animals of the earth (Ps 104:27).

· It is His will that determines the deaths of even the smallest of birds (Matt 10:29).

· He determines the boundaries of nations (Acts 17:26) and rules over them (Ps 22:28)

· And not only does He remove and establish kings (Dan 2:21), but He even turns their hearts wherever He wishes (Prov 21:1).

· Even those events which seem random are determined by God (Prov 16:33).

· Neither do the events of our personal lives escape God’s sovereign foreordaining, for He supplies our every need (Phil 4:19; Jas 1:17), determines the length of our lives (Ps 139:16; Job 14:5), and even directs our individual steps (Prov 16:9; Jer 10:23).

· His control extends through the entirety of salvation (Rom 9:16; Eph 2:8–9; Phil 2:12–13), to suffering (Gen 45:5–8; 50:20; Job 1:21; 2:10; 12:9), and even evil (Isa 45:7; Lam 3:37–38; 1 Sam 2:25; 2 Sam 24:1; Acts 2:22–23).

Perhaps the greatest summary statement comes in Paul’s great doxology in Romans 11:36: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.”

Conclusion: God is the Ultimate Cause

In light of the Scriptural teaching concerning God’s decree—(a) that it is eternal, and thus uninfluenced by anything external to God, (b) that it is unchangeable and cannot be frustrated, and (c) that it includes absolutely everything that occurs in time and space and beyond—the only reasonable conclusion for the student of Scripture to come to is that God may be properly said to be the ultimate cause of all things. As John Frame says, reflecting on the Biblical evidence, “Through the centuries of redemptive history, everything has come from God. He has planned and done it all. He has not merely set boundaries for creaturely action, but has actually made everything happen” (Doctrine of God, 58).

The exhaustiveness and meticulousness of God’s sovereign decree raises a significant question: How can God be the cause of actions and events that are evil and sinful—things which God Himself prescribes against—and yet not be rightly charged with unrighteousness? That’s a question that needs to be answered, and we’ll take a look at it in a future post. But for now, let us at least acknowledge that, based on the biblical doctrine of God’s decree summarized above, Scripture gives us no other option but that God is indeed the Sovereign Lord who works all things after the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11).

_______

Mike Riccardi is the Pastor of Local Outreach Ministries at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. He also teaches Evangelism at The Master’s Seminary.

Does the atheist merely deny that which he knows is true?

Atheists either totally deny the existence of God or they claim they just don’t believe in God, or gods. I have met both types, however there are far fewer professing atheists who tell me that God doesn’t exist than those who merely tell me they just don’t believe in God. When it is suggested that to claim God doesn’t exist necessarily presupposes ‘all knowledge’, thoughtful God deniers will move into the ‘I just don’t believe in God’ camp.

We ask the above question because of what scripture tells us in the New Testament book of Romans, Chapter 1:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity. . . 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Note the following points about men in the above text.

1. Men suppress the truth (by their unrighteousness). (v. 18)

2. They (men) knew God. (v.21)

3. They (men) exchanged the truth about God for a lie. (v.25)

If you read the rest of Romans 1, you will also find out what the results are when men exchange the truth of God for a lie, but those results are not the topic of this post. The point of this post is the original question “Does the atheist merely deny that which he knows is true?” If the answer is ‘yes’, should it inform how we discuss the existence of God with professing atheists? If that’s another ‘yes’, how should it inform our end of the dialogue? What might change in the way we discuss the issue of od’s existence?

Food for thought and discussion.