Can God do everything, including sin?

by Matt Slick

No, God cannot do everything.  God is holy and He cannot sin.  The Bible tells us He cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2).  Also, since God is eternal by nature (Psalm 90:2), He cannot stop being God.  He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13).  God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone with evil (James 1:13).

Some critics of Christianity will say that if God is so powerful and He can do anything then He should be able to make a rock so big He can’t pick it up.  If He could do that, then there would be something He could not do.  But such absurd and illogical challenges are meaningless.  The truth is that God must be consistent with His own nature, and He cannot violate His own nature.  Therefore, God cannot lie, cannot stop being God, cannot deny Himself, and cannot be tempted by evil.  Why?  Because He is God.

The thought that God could sin violates all we are told about God in the Bible. Unless one reduces Scripture as we have it today to fallible and merely human transmission, without any Divine oversight/influence, I cannot see how any genuine Christian could even think that thought, much less express it publically, as I have actually heard of late.

Luther on the Sovereignty of God

“This, therefore, is also essentially necessary and wholesome for Christians to know: That God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will.”

“… it follows unalterably, that all things which we do, although they may appear to us to be done mutably and contingently, and even may be done thus contingently by us, are yet, in reality, done necessarily and immutably, with respect to the will of God. For the will of God is effective and cannot be hindered; because the very power of God is natural to Him, and His wisdom is such that He cannot be deceived. And as His will cannot be hindered, the work itself cannot be hindered from being done in the place, at the time, in the measure, and by whom He foresees and wills. If the will of God were such, that, when the work was done, the work remained but the will ceased, (as is the case with the will of men, which, when the house is built which they wished to build, ceases to will, as though it ended by death) then, indeed, it might be said, that things are done by contingency and mutability. But here, the case is the contrary; the work ceases, and the will remains. So far is it from possibility, that the doing of the work or its remaining, can be said to be from contingency or mutability. But, (that we may not be deceived in terms) being done by contingency, does not, in the Latin language, signify that the work itself which is done is contingent, but that it is done according to a contingent and mutable will—such a will as is not to be found in God! Moreover, a work cannot be called contingent, unless it be done by us unawares, by contingency, and, as it were, by chance; that is, by our will or hand catching at it, as presented by chance, we thinking nothing of it, nor willing any thing about it before.”

“And how can you be certain and secure, unless you are persuaded that He knows and wills certainly, infallibly, immutably, and necessarily, and will perform what He promises? Nor ought we to be certain only that God wills necessarily and immutably, and will perform, but also to glory in the same; as Paul, (Rom. iii. 4,) “Let God be true, but every man a liar.” And again, “For the word of God is not without effect.” (Rom. ix. 6.) And in another place, “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His.” (2 Tim. ii. 19.) And, “Which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” (Titus i. 2.) And, “He that cometh, must believe that God is, and that He is a rewarder of them that hope in Him.” (Heb. xi. 6.)”

Living in Denial

“The only reason the atheist has for ‘wanting’ to believe that God doesn’t exist is that he hates him.”

Author Anonymous

The reason the atheist can only ‘want’ to believe that God doesn’t exist is that he knows otherwise. The atheist’s hatred for God is evident from his many railings, if not directly against God, against God’s people. The wise atheist is never caught railing against God, for he would look extremely foolish railing against that which he says does not exist. His wisdom is on a very short leash however, because he is given away by his railings against God’s people.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 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.”  – Romans 1:18-20

“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” – Romans 8:7

The heathen rage because they desperately want to believe there is no God, however they know He exists, and He speaks of them as objects of His wrath and under condemnation for their unbelief. Men can only ‘not’  believe in Him, they cannot deny Him.

God’s Wrath Against Unrighteousness

God gave them up. . .

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, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 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.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

The wrath of God isn’t reserved solely for the second coming of Christ, or the final judgment when those who rejected The Son will be cast into outer darkness. God’s wrath against sin is also demonstrated right now, right here, on planet earth, in our country, in your city, on your street, perhaps even in your home.

We are told the reason for God’s wrath being revealed right here, right now, is the failure to acknowledge God; the general knowledge of God that is in the heart of every man. This would apply not only to the professed atheist, but all those for whom there is a god, but whose god is not the sovereign God who created the universe and everything in it,

We are then given three ways that those that fail to acknowledge God are ‘given over’. The word translated “gave them over” or “gave them up” is a word that basically means “to give into the hands of another, to give over into one’s power, or to deliver one up to the custody of another.” In other words, God removes His restraining hand, that bit of moral conscience that we all seem to have because of that inner knowledge of God, and men are completely controlled by their own sinful natures, seemingly without any remorse or sense of conscience concerning their deeds.

Men are ‘given over’ to the impurity of their hearts, to dishonorable passions, and to debased minds. And while we tend to focus on sins of homosexuality, Paul also gives us a ‘vice list’ that covers ‘all manner of unrighteousness’ not necessarily specific to sexual sin! Paul is telling us when we at refuse to acknowledge God as He is revealed in His creation, that there exists a very slippery slope that hits bottom with God removing his restraining hand (moral conscience) from our lives and with us being ‘given over, given up, released to our sinful nature, and possibly abandoned by God.

My friend, dear reader, if that’s true, it has to be the worst possible state any living person could be in – abandoned by God, and without hope!

Our prayer this morning is that if you are reading this, God is still speaking to you and you are listening.

If you are reading this and think it nonsense – that God is not angry at your sin and even now He is not revealing His Holy wrath against it – perhaps that God doesn’t even exist, think again. You are in grave danger, and as an earlier passage in the same chapter of Romans tells us – you stand without excuse , without any reasonable defense), before the holy, perfect, and just judge of His entire universe!


“God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

What Pleases God the Most?

John Piper, speaking at a  New Attitude Conference in 2007, sponsored by Sovereign Grace Ministries (C. J. Mahaney), asked a series of questions in a presentation titled “Discern What Pleases God – Himself” He provided answers to the first five questions, but left the answers to the last two questions to the hearer.

1. Q: Who is the most God-centered person in the universe? 

    A: God.

2. Q: Who is uppermost in God’s affections?

    A: Not you, but God.

3. Q: Is God an idolater?

    A: No, He has no other Gods before Him.

4. Q: What is God’s chief jealously?

    A: God’s chief jealousy is to be known, admired, trusted, enjoyed, and obeyed above all others.

5. Q: What is the chief end of God?

    A: The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy himself forever.

6. Q: Do you feel most loved by God because He makes much of you, or because He frees you to make much of Him forever?

7. Q: Are you God-centered because god is supremely valuable to you, or are you God-centered because you believe you are supremely valuable to Him?

The point of the first five questions is that God is first and foremost about his own glory and the honor of his Name, not us. The final questions are personal in nature and demand thoughtful self-reflection. Your answers might reveal that you are either truly God-centered, on His terms, or that you are self-deluded into thinking you are, when in fact you’re living out a man-centered Christianity.

Please don’t ignore the questions.

John Piper’s sermon, as well as the other New Attitude 2007 conference sermons can be listened to or downloaded here. Scroll down the page and you will see the entire set of sermons. They are all excellent.

Harry Emerson Fosdick and the Emerging Theology of Early Liberalism

Romans 11:22, Job 28:28
Code: A173

By John MacArthur

In the early part of the 20th century liberalism took mainline Protestant churches by storm.

In fact, it might be argued that the first half of the century ushered in the most serious spiritual decline since the Protestant Reformation. Historic evangelicalism,1 which had dominated Protestant America since the days of the founding fathers, was virtually driven out of denominational schools and churches.

In a few decades, liberalism virtually destroyed the largest Protestant denominations in America and Europe.

Evangelicalism managed to survive and even seemed to thrive for awhile outside the denominations. But it never regained its influence in the mainline groups. Instead it flourished chiefly in relatively small denominations and non-denominational churches.

Sadly, the broad movement that encompassed evangelicalism in the 20th century now seems poised to follow the very same path that led the mainline churches to disaster a century ago.

One of the most popular spokesmen for liberal Christianity in its heyday was Harry Emerson Fosdick, pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City. Fosdick, while remaining strongly committed to liberal theology, nevertheless acknowledged that the new theology was undermining the concept of a holy God. Contrasting his age with that of Jonathan Edwards, Fosdick wrote,

Jonathan Edwards’ Enfield sermon [“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”] pictured sinners held over the blazing abyss of hell in the hands of a wrathful deity who at any moment was likely to let go, and so terrific was that discourse in its delivery that women fainted and strong men clung in agony to the pillars of the church. Obviously, we do not believe in that kind of God any more, and as always in reaction we swing to the opposite extreme, so in the theology of these recent years we have taught a very mild, benignant sort of deity . . .. Indeed, the god of the new theology has not seemed to care acutely, about sin; certainly he has not been warranted to punish heavily; he has been an indulgent parent and when we have sinned, a polite “Excuse me” has seemed more than adequate to make amends.2

Fosdick was never so right. He correctly saw that liberalism had led to a warped and imbalanced concept of God. He could even see far enough ahead to realize that liberalism was taking society into a dangerous wasteland of amorality, where “man’s sin, his greed, his selfishness, his rapacity roll up across the years an accumulating mass of consequence until at last in a mad collapse the whole earth crashes into ruin.”3

Writing in the wake of World War I, Fosdick suggested that “the moral order of the world has been dipping us in hell.”4

Despite all that, Fosdick ultimately would not acknowledge the literal reality of God’s wrath toward impenitent sinners. To him, “the wrath of God” was nothing more than a metaphor for the natural consequences of wrongdoing. His theology would not tolerate a personal God whose righteous anger burns against sin. To Fosdick, the threat of hell fire was only a relic of a barbaric age. “Obviously, we do not believe in that kind of God any more.”

Fosdick wrote those words almost ninety years ago. Sadly, what was true of liberalism then is all too true in the so-called “evangelical movement” today. “Evangelicals” have to a very large degree rejected the reality of God’s wrath. They have disregarded His hatred for sin. The god most evangelicals now describe is completely benevolent and not the least bit angry.

Post-modern “evangelicals” have forgotten (or simply refused to believe) that “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). These days, they are the ones saying, “We do not believe in that kind of God any more.”5

“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God” (Rom. 11:22).

Ironically, an overemphasis on divine beneficence actually works against a sound understanding of God’s love. It has given multitudes the disastrous impression that God is kindly but feeble, or aloof, or simply unconcerned about human wickedness. Is it any wonder that people with a such a concept of God defy His holiness, take His love for granted, and presume on His grace and mercy? Certainly no one would fear a deity like that.

Yet Scripture tells us repeatedly that fear of God is the very foundation of true wisdom (Job 28:28; Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10; 15:33; Mic. 6:9). People often try to explain away the sense of those verses by saying that the “fear” called for is nothing more than a devout sense of awe and reverence. Certainly the fear of God includes awe and reverence, but it does not exclude literal holy terror. “It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread” (Isa. 8:13).

We must recapture some of the holy terror that comes with a right understanding of God’s righteous anger. We need to remember that God’s wrath does burn against impenitent sinners (Ps. 38:1-3). That reality is the very thing that makes His love so wonderful. We must therefore proclaim these truths with the same sense of conviction and fervency we employ when we declare the love of God. It is only against the backdrop of divine wrath that the full significance of God’s love can be truly understood. That is precisely the message of the cross of Jesus Christ. After all, it was on the cross that God’s love and His wrath converged in all their majestic fullness.

Only those who see themselves as sinners in the hands of an angry God can fully appreciate the magnitude and wonder of His love. In this regard our generation is surely at a greater disadvantage than any previous age. We have been force-fed the doctrines of self-esteem for so long that most people don’t really view themselves as sinners worthy of divine wrath. On top of that, religious liberalism, humanism, evangelical compromise, and ignorance of the Scriptures have all worked against a right understanding of who God is. Ironically, in an age that conceives of God as wholly loving, altogether devoid of wrath, most people are tragically ill-equipped to understand what God’s love is all about!

The simple fact is that we cannot appreciate God’s love until we have learned to fear Him. We cannot know His love apart from some knowledge of His wrath. We cannot study the kindness of God without also encountering His severity. And if the church of our generation does not regain a healthy balance soon, the rich biblical truth of divine love is likely to be obscured behind what is essentially a liberal, humanistic concept.

1. From the time of the Protestant Reformation until fairly recently, the expression evangelical has referred to those who believe that the Bible is inspired and absolutely authoritative, and who therefore understand that salvation from sin is available through faith in Christ alone, not by any works or sacraments. When I speak of “historic evangelicalism,” I’m using the term in that specific and technical sense, minus all the contemporary baggage the word evangelical seems to have acquired.

2. Harry Emerson Fosdick, Christianity and Progress (New York: Revell, 1922), 173-74 (emphasis added).

3. Ibid., 174.

4. Ibid (emphasis added).

5. See Robert Brow, “Evangelical Megashift,” Christianity Today (February 19, 1990), pp. 12-14.

Does God Elect Persons Based on Their Foreseen Faith?

By far the most popular interpretation of election, predestination, and the foreknowledge of God tells us that the ‘elect’ of God are those whom God, looking down the corridors of time, saw choosing Him, as an act of their own autonomous free will. It is those ‘foreknown’ ones whom God also predestined a plan for their lives. This post specifically addresses this issue, and well deserves our thoughtful consideration. If you are reading this, please set aside any presuppositions you might have concerning the owner of this blog. 

Does God Elect Persons Based on Their Foreseen Faith?

By John Hendryx

The Scripture teaches that everything related to the gospel is designed to glorify Christ and abase man’s pride in thinking he can save himself. So it follows that anything that diminishes Christ’s glory is inconsistent with the true gospel. So my purpose in raising this issue is not to be contentious but to glorify God by aligning our thoughts with His. This short essay is meant to challenge the unbiblical position that some modern evangelicals hold regarding “foreseen faith”. Specifically, I would like to confront the position, held by some, which believes that God looks down the corridors of time to see who will believe and then “predestines” them based on the exercise of their autonomous free will to choose Him. I do understand that one of the main purposes that some Christians believe this concept is that they wish to preserve God’s indiscriminate love to all and can’t imagine a God whom would  “arbitrarily” choose some and condemn the rest.  If unconditional election were true, they reason, then why doesn’t God save everyone? Wouldn’t choosing some and leaving others make God arbitrary in His choice? These are understandable objections that I hope to address in what follows: 

If I understand the “foreseen faith” position correctly, the following three ideas express the central concepts that this position holds:

1. The salvation of individuals is ultimately the result of their choice rather than divine appointment (alone).

2. Election is based upon God foreseeing the faith of certain individuals rather than only being in accordance with His pleasure and merciful will.

3. Election is conditional, based upon the acceptance of Jesus Christ and not the determination of God, even though God’s grace is certainly involved in this process.

Before we enter a discussion of the merits of the reasoning (logic) itself we should first consider that Christianity is not something we derive from mere speculative philosophy. God has indeed given us reasoning faculties and the tools of logic, but as Christians, these are always to be used within the biblical framework He has graciously given us. To think Christainly is to recognize that we can only know God as He has revealed Himself to us in the Scriptures, and the Scriptures themselves give no evidence of the “foreseen faith” position. So to base ones theology on unaided human reason alone is no less than deriving the deepest held presuppositions of our faith from extra-biblical sources.

Biblical View of Knowledge

While the Scriptures, in fact, do say, “… those whom He foreknew, He also predestined” (rom 8:29) but it would be poor exegesis to conclude that this must mean “foreseen faith”. It is a stretch well beyond what the text actually says and plainly a reading of ones theological presuppositions into the Text. Even those of the foreseen faith position will admit that it is placing an additional concept in the verse that is just not there. In fact the text in question does not say that God foresees some event (our faith) or action people perform, but rather, says “those He foreknew…” In other words Paul communicates that God foreknows people. In the Scriptures whenever it speaks of God “knowing” people it refers to those objects He has set His personal affection on. It expresses the intimacy of personal knowledge within the framework of the covenantal relationship between God and His people. The relationship implies a commitment on God’s part. There are many instances in the Scriptures where this kind of covenantal commitment is expressed by the word “knowledge”. An example of this can be found in Daniel 11:32:

“By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action. Daniel 11:32

Here in Daniel those who broke covenant are set in direct contrast to “the people who know their God“. In other words, the concept of knowing God in biblical terms is to keep covenant with God. God has an oath-bound commitment to His people, so “to know” is obviously a great deal more than an an intellectual awareness of impersonal data about a person.

The same concept is also carried over to the New Testament. Jesus tells certain individuals that He never knew them (Matt 7:23). When speaking of not knowing them, Jesus is clearly referring to the idea that some are outside His covenant and He therefore has no commitment to them. Romans 11::1-2 gives further proof that foreknow really means “previous covenantal commitment” rather than an historical event. Here it reads, “God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew“. The obvious issue raised here is that God has not cast aside the previous covenantal commitment (those He foreknew) He made with Israel.

The Lord also says to Jeremiah, “”Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” God has determined beforehand to affectionately set apart certain people, but not as a result of their decisions (Amos 3:2; Mt. 7:23; John 10:14; Eph 1:4,5). In fact the Bible teaches that God’s grace in choosing us is free, based on His gracious will alone and not influenced by the innate capacities, spiritual desire (ROM 9:16, John 1:13), religious merit, or the foreseen faith of the people He sets apart as His own (Eph 1:5, 2:5,8). Rather, God acts in accordance with his highest purpose, which is His own glory.

Everyone who is called by My name,
And whom I have created for My glory,
Whom I have formed, even whom I have made…” Isaiah 43:7

Logical Inconsistencies

But aside from the lack of biblical evidence by the “foreseen faith” camp I also wish to point out the fatal flaw and inconsistent logic of the unbiblical presupposition itself. While some portray “foreseen faith” as giving great liberty to every man’s free choice, upon greater reflection, this idea turns out to give no real freedom to man at all.  For if God can look into the future and see that a person #1 will come to Christ and that person #2 will not come to faith in Christ, then those facts are already fixed, they are already determined. God’s foresight of believers’ faith and repentance implies the certainty, or “moral necessity ” of these acts, just as much as a sovereign decree. “For that which is certainly foreseen must be certain.” (R.L.Dabney) If we assume that God’s knowledge of the future is true (which evangelicals all agree upon), then it is absolutely certain that person #1 will believe and person #2 will not.  There is no way their lives could turn out differently than this. Therefore it is more than fair to say that their destinies are still determined, for they could not be otherwise.  The question is, by what are their destinies determined? If God Himself determines them then we no longer have election based on foreseen faith, but rather on God’s sovereign will.  But if God does not determine their destinies then who or what determines them?  Of course no Christian would say that there is some powerful being other than God controlling people’s destinies.  Therefore the only possible alternative is to say they are determined by some impersonal force, some kind of fate, operative in the universe, making things turn out as they do.  But of what benefit is this?  We have then sacrificed election in love by a personal and compassionate God for a kind of determinism by an impersonal force and God is no longer to be given the ultimate credit for our salvation. (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology)

Furthermore, no one could then consistently hold that God foreknew who would believe and be saved and then also preach that God is trying to save every man. If God knows who will be saved, then it would be absurd for Him to reason within Himself that more persons might be saved than the original persons He knew would choose Him. It would be inconsistent to assert that God is trying to do something which He already knew could never be accomplished. Likewise no one could consistently say that God foreknew who would be saved and then turn around and teach that the Holy Spirit does all He can do to save every man in the world. In this scheme, The Holy Spirit would be wasting time and effort to endeavor to convert a man who He knew from the beginning would not choose Him. The unbiblical system collapses in on itself.

Some will answer that it is neither election not foreseen faith but somewhere in the middle.  But this option is excluded, by definition, unless you believe that God is somehow ignorant of the future.  In other words, the only way the “middle position” could be true in this case is if you limit God’s omniscience, (an impossibility). Either God knows and decrees the future or He does not.  If God knows the future and your position of foreseen faith is true, then God has left us in the hands of impersonal fate.  Our choice would then be prearranged by an impersonal determinism.  Your “middle ground” position could theoretically be true only if you fastened ignorance on God about the future, but then God would not know who would choose Him and your whole theory would break down since it was based on foreseen faith to begin with.  To conclude, unless you are willing to believe that an impersonal force determines our salvation, and that God does not know the future (the Open Theism heresy), the foreseen faith position is both biblically and logically impossible. In order to honor God we must, at this point, derive our authority from the Scriptures and be careful not rely merely on what we have been taught at our church.

Is God Arbitrary

First I would challenge you to wrestle with the following verse. Paul encountered the very same argument against election; that it would make God unjust and arbitrary.

Romans 9:18-23
18   So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
19   You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”
20   On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?
21Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same  lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
22   What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His  power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for  destruction?
23   And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

To begin with, Paul would not ask this hypothetical question unless He believed the ultimate determination of ones salvation to be in the hands of God alone. Paul is saying that God has the sovereign right to do with us whatever He wants.  Will you deny Him this right? Furthermore, since we know the character of God we must not think that, on His side, God had no reasons or causes for saving some and not others  – – “since the divine purpose always conspires with His wisdom and does nothing without reason or rashly; although these reasons and causes have not been revealed to us. In His counsels and works no cause is apparent, it is yet hidden with Him, so that He has decreed nothing except justly and wisely according to His good pleasure founded on His gracious love towards us.” (Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics) Just because we don’t know why He chooses some to faith and not others is not reason enough to reject it.  In the absence of relevant data, we, therefore, have no reason whatsoever to assume the worse, so there are no legitimate grounds for doubting the goodness of God here.  Therefore, to doubt that God can choose us based solely on his good pleasure, is to doubt the goodness of God. The “foreseen faith” people are, in effect, saying that they cannot trust God in making this choice and prefer it to be left up to the fallen individual, as if he would make a better choice than God. Let’s summarize then the response to the charge of God being arbitrary:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29: 291. Election is grounded in God’s moral character (i.e., goodness, compassion, empathy, integrity, non-duplicity, non-favoritism, justice, etc.)

2. God does have “causes and reasons” for His choices, though these are “internal” to God  (i.e., not found in the creature). We know He is good and therefore can trust that He would make a better choice than we would. 

3. He ‘does NOTHING without reason’ — He  ‘does NOTHING rashly’. He has simply not revealed these reasons and causes to us–although they certainly exist.  Since they haven’t been revealed, we cannot try to figure them out but since we know the trustworthiness of God we can rejoice in His wisdom. God does not ‘lack just reasons’ for His actions. These ‘just reasons’ are merely hidden from us.

4. Salvation is not conditioned upon anything that God sees in us that makes us worthy of His choosing us.  NONE of His decrees were done except justly and wisely”.

We must always keep in mind that God is obligated to save no one and that we all justly deserve His wrath.  Therefore, if God saves anyone, it is purely an act of His mercy.  All evangelicals agree that it would have been just of God to wipe out all mankind in judgment, so why, then, would it be unjust for Him to judge some and have mercy on the rest.  If six people owe me a debt, for example, and I forgive four of them their debt but still require the remaining two to pay up, I am totally within my right.  How much more so God? (Read The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard: Matt 20:1-16)

“It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (ROM 9:16).

Related Articles
Prayer of the Synergist by John Hendryx
Synergism & Freewillism Commonly Taught in Modern Pulpits by John Hendryx
Conditional Election by Ra McLaughlin
Those Whom He Foreknew He Predestined by John Piper
The Enormous Ignorance of God When God Doesn’t Know the Future Choices of Man by John Piper
Justice and Election Is it Fair for God to elect some and Not Others? Gregory Koukl

God is “Cool”?

Last Sunday in Chapel we had another young worship leader (we have seen many over the last couple of years). After the first song during ‘worship time’, he paused and asked hypothetically (and VERY sincerely): “Isn’t God cool?”, after which we joined in the second song of the day, the lyrics of which told us that because of His love, in His Name we find comfort, shelter, healing, safely, peace, and happiness.

Right off the bat I need to say that I am not criticizing this young worship leader or commenting on the state of much of today’s popular “worship” music. I am wondering about the “God is cool!” mentality that pervades much of postmodern Christianity. Also, I am not saying that God is NOT “cool”. It depends on what “cool” means to the speaker/hearer.

When I heard the question asked it just didn’t ‘compute’. You see, I have started listening through the Bible (mostly while driving anywhere and everywhere) again this year and I’m in the Old Testament. On my way in to Chapel I had been listening to the wilderness journey of the Israelites, with all the instances of rebellion and disobedience, followed by God’s judgment and severe consequences. God was definitely NOT being cool!

Where am I going with this? I’m so glad you asked!

After service, while driving home I realized that there are thousands if not millions of young believers (and many not so young) who have never met or known the God who isn’t “cool”. While they know something of God’s love, a bit about grace, they know little or nothing about His other attributes. Such “weighty” doctrinal issues are no longer in fashion in much of today’s church. As for those other attributes – it’s quite a list. Christian evangelist and Biblical scholar Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952) defined, from Scripture, seventeen attributes of God. “Love” and “Grace” are but two.

While I agree that “two out of three ain’t bad” (so the song goes), ‘two out of seventeen ain’t good!”. It is in knowing ALL of God’s attributes that we can come close to apprehending the meaning of Jesus’ words to His Father in John 17:3; “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” We can’t even know very much about God’s love and grace, about which we know something, WITHOUT knowing something of the other 15!~! We are limited to our human concepts of both, and strictly human concepts are far short of God’s reality.

So the heart of this old soldier goes out to this young worship leader (and all believers),who in only knowing a little, are missing out on so much of God!

And by the way, if you are reading this only knowing something, I encourage you to visit Pink’s Archive for “the rest of the story”. Not exactly light reading, but well worth it!

Doctrine: The Essential Foundation

A few excerpts from an article by John MacArthur found here. 

True biblical doctrine is practical. In fact, nothing is more practical than sound doctrine. Those who listen to right doctrine and put it into practice are transformed by it.

It’s become increasingly apparent that the contemporary mind is suspicious of propositional truth. The culture has imbibed the postmodernism construct: propositions lead to doctrines, which lead to theologies, which form the meta-narratives that the elite and powerful use to dominate, manipulate, and take advantage of the masses. “No more propositions, doctrines, and imperialistic meta-narratives,” they say. “Just show us Jesus by what you do.”

That may sound good, but it’s fundamentally flawed. . . .

Doctrine gives rise to dedication to Christ, the greatest practical act.

.. .the scriptural concept of doctrine includes the entire message of the gospel-its teaching about God, salvation, sin, and righteousness. Those concepts are so tightly bound to daily living that the first-century mind saw them as inseparably linked to practical truth.

This intent of this blogger is to set forth the truth of scripture, and focuses at times on biblical doctrine that seems to be ignored or simply has been forgotten in our postmodern world where God seems to be just a cuddly’ grandfather figure’ and His Son our ‘dance partner’. Don’t take that personally. The editorial comments of this blog’s author are not intended to be personal, but reflective of ‘trends’ in the beloved Bride of Christ that are sweeping the land. Mine is but a small voice among a growing chorus of believers who are giving voice to their discontent at seeing the God of the universe and the Lord of all creation ‘dumbed down’ and redefined by secular humanism and popular man-centered theologies.

I love you all!

Summary of the Sovereignty of God in Salvation – John Piper

Somehow I fail miserably in my feeble attempts to encourage folks to see the majesty and sovereignty of God in the salvation of men. Part of that might be attributed to today’s generally ‘low view of God’. I won’t go into that, but if you are reading this, at least consider the view you have of God. Much has already been written, preached and/or taught concerning the modern/postmodern and abysmally deficient view of God held by the vast majority of American evangelicalism. Below is an excellent summary, by John Piper, of God’s sovereignty in man’s salvation, which includes truths that uplift, encourage and ‘feel good’, and others that might reflect doctrine that is much hated these days.  

1. God elects, chooses, before the foundation of the world whom he will save and whom he will pass by and leave to unbelief and sin and rebellion. He does this unconditionally, not on the basis of foreseen faith that humans produce by a supposed power of ultimate self-determination (= “free will”).

Acts 13:48, “When the gentiles heard this they were glad and glorified the word of God. And as many as were for ordained to eternal life believed.”

Romans 11:7, “Israel failed to obtain what is sought. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened.”

John 6:37, “All that the Father gives to me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.” John 17:6, “I have manifested my name to them whom thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them to me.” (John 6:44, 65).

2. The Atonement applies to the elect in a unique, particular way, although the death of Christ is sufficient to propitiate the sins of the whole world. The death of Christ effectually accomplished the salvation for all God’s people.

Eph. 5:25, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Heb. 10:14, “By a single offering he perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

John 10:15, “I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Rom. 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?”

3. Because of the Fall, humans are incapable of any saving good apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. We are helpless and dead in sin. We have a mindset that “cannot submit to God without divine enabling.

Rom. 8:7-8, “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

Eph. 2:1,5, “You were dead through your trespasses and sins.”

4. God’s call to salvation is effectual, and, hence His grace cannot be ultimately thwarted by human resistance. God’s regenerating call can overcome all human resistance.

Acts 16:14, “The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul.”

John 6:65, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by my Father.” (Matt. 16:17; Luke 10:21)

1 Cor. 1:23-24, “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

5. Those whom God calls and regenerates He also keeps, so that they do not totally and finally fall away from faith and grace.

Rom. 8:30, “Those whom he predestined, he also called and those whom he called he also justified and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me; and I give them eternal life and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”

Phil. 1:6, “I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor. 1:8).

1 Thess. 5:23, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”


Romans 11:36, “From him, through him, and to him are all things, to him be glory forever amen!”