Category Archives: Extra Thoughts

Scripture Uses God’s Transcendence to Shove His Nearness In Your Heart

I was re-reading this essay from Vincent below. It struck a chord in my mind because I had recently read a passage of Scripture in Ephesians 3 that said and concluded the same thing.

First the quote from Vincent,

“Those who claim to provide a God-centered theology are often proud of their theological prowess, but in reality their solution is superficial… For this reason, they seem to think that God-centered religion usually stresses God’s transcendence. God himself does not think so. That is not how he presents himself in Scripture. That is not how he tells his own story. A God-centered theology listens to what God says about himself, and in his narrative, he stresses both his transcendence and his immanence.

He could be aloof, but instead he is closer than your own heartbeat. He could forget about you, but instead he counts your hairs. He could let you fend for yourself, but instead he feeds you and heals you, and works miracles for you. He could be too important to have anything to do with you, but instead he wants you to have faith in him and ask from him. He is so spiritual that he does not even have a body, but he promises he will strengthen yours. He is so transcendent that he created the world, but he is so immanent that he walked and talked with Adam. He is so transcendent that he could destroy Sodom, but he is so immanent that he engaged Abraham to negotiate with him. He is so transcendent that he could wipe out Israel, but he is so immanent that he allowed Moses to stand in his way and stop him. This is how he wants you to know him. This is God-centered theology.

I do not say that we should find the right balance, because it is not a matter of balance. It is not a matter of finding the right point on a scale, but a matter of right or wrong doctrine. Jesus was the most God-centered person who ever walked the earth. He was God himself, but more than anyone in Scripture, he was also the one who told us to pray for our needs and ask God for what we want. The “God-centered” people declares, “God is not Santa!” and they think that this is God-centered theology. It is true that God is not Santa, but this is because he is far better than Santa. Jesus said he is our Father, and it is his pleasure to give good gifts to his children. He does not bring us gifts only once a year, but Jesus told us to ask for our daily bread. They say, “God is not a cash machine!” It is true that God is not a cash machine, but this is because you only withdraw your own money from a cash machine. Paul wrote that God supplies all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. This is God-centered theology, because it listens to what God says about himself, rather than shoving divine transcendence back in his face no matter what he says.”
(Vincent Cheung. Faith Override. Sermonettes 9. 2016. Pg. 9-10)

It is obvious that when the Scripture reveals propositional truths and premises about His Transcendence, Sovereignty and Power it is directly revealing truths about them. There is no higher spiritual activity than theological reflection. We are to reflect on the truths about God’s divine nature, including His transcendence.

However, what I wish to focus on is a mistake people make when thinking about His transcendence, and that is the emphasis.  When the bible reveals or emphasizes His Transcendence (and here is the IMPORTANT PART) to His chosen ones, and to those seeking Him in sincerity, what is a common or if not the most common application or consequence or command given in light of this? Think carefully about it.

As Vincent points out in general, God’s interaction and teaching with His children has a focus on His transcendence and nearness. Likewise, even when God speaks of His transcendence to His chosen ones, the emphasis leads to a conclusion of God’s nearness and love.

Paul in Ephesians chapter 3 does exactly this. After talking about the transcendent God who uses His church to show off how manifold His wisdom is to all the powers at be, Paul’s first conclusion is “come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.” Then Paul’s next reaction is “when I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray…,” and Paul prays that they will be made strong by His Spirit and love, and they both understand His and also experience His love greatly.

This is how Paul used the doctrine of God’s transcendence in relation for the saints.

And if that was not enough, Paul concludes a third time with this famous statement, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

So, after theological reflection on God’s predestination and grace (chapter 1) and His secret plan revealing how God uses the Church (now made up of gentiles) to show off the transcendent great wisdom of God (for His glory), the application is not to fall on our faces and beg or say self-deprecating statements to impress God with our humility; rather, we are given a true application of humility which is to boldly approach God’s throne and ask, knowing not only will God give us what we ask for, but super abundantly more than that, even beyond what we can image.

This is like Jesus’ teaching on the sermon on the mount but on steroids. Jesus kept commanding us in that sermon to pray and expect to get what we ask for. A fish for a fish, and bread for a bread. Now we are told we will get the bread we ask for and even more bread, not something different, but more of the good things we asked for. God uses His transcendence to shove His love into our hearts, which causes us to trust in His love more, and cause us to have more boldness in asking for what we want.

It is demonic for the religious fanboys to mostly emphasis God’s transcendence to highlight self-deprecation and farness, when Scripture regularly uses God’s sovereignty and transcendence to highlight His nearness to His children and their bold access to Him. If you see God’s transcendence and then feel hesitation to approach God you are acting like an outsider, as if you have no covenant with God. For God’s contracted insiders and children, His power and sovereignty is a motivation to approach boldly, quickly, constantly and with their heads held high.  God’s transcendence for God’s children is motivation to receive what they ask for and then even much more.

“I was chosen to explain to everyone[c] this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.

God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.  This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.  So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.  Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen,”
Ephesians 3:9-20

God Proving His Love For You Is the Gospel, not you proving your love for God.

The gospel is not your love for God, but God’s demonstration of love to you.

The gospel is not you working hard to be right with God, but God working hard to make you right with Him.

The gospel is not you sanctifying yourself to be clean, but God sanctifying you to make you clean.

The gospel is not you working things out to be healthy and prosperous, but God working things out to make you healthy and prosperous.

Faith, gives you free access to all these good thing that God has worked so hard to give you

The Importance of Spiritual Growth

During the last few years, I have been more focused on internal spiritual growth with devotional materials rather than intense theology, I have come to experience the love that God has for me, and it makes me want to love others more.
I remember, about a decade ago, I was deeply reading reformed theology, and had just finished John Owens book, “The death of death in the death of Christ,” when I had a powerful experience in the Holy Spirit. I was sitting in my living room and the Spirit feel upon me with such power, I feel to my hands and knees. I felt an overwhelming sense of God’s love for me. Then I felt a hand against my back, as if Jesus was right there next to me. 3 times I heard Him say, “Oshea, I have forgiven you of all your sins.” Two things were impressed on me. One, was Jesus’ love and forgiveness for me. The second was that Jesus said this to me, because despite the theology I was reading, it was not penetrating into my soul and producing spiritual growth as it ought. Unfortunately, due to my stubbornness, I did not immediately grasp the importance of this and I took too long to correct this (several years). But by God’s grace, because He is faithful to work His sanctification in me just like He promised, I understand the importance of such things and priorities them much better.
This is one thing I would tell my younger self to prioritize first, and that is spiritual strength above everything else. Always pursue theology, but make sure you get spiritual strength as a foundation before diving into intense theology.

Love Never fails – To Heal by Miraculous Power

Paul says this famous premise in 1 Corinthians 13. This love chapter is sandwich between the chapters on Paul’s teaching on the gifts of the Spirit. I remember Vincent Cheung saying something to the effect of, (as I paraphrase from memory) “if this chapter is read at a wedding, it is only proper to have a healing and miracle service afterwards, because that is the context of Paul’s teaching on love.” I agree.

It is odd that pastors and theologians who scream the loudest for “context” only do it on their few pet doctrines, but ignore it on everything else. The context for this doctrine of love is about God’s people having overwhelming spiritual power. Paul’s instruction is for God’s people, who have great power, is to use this great power in love, toward each other.

This next statement might be a shock for some, but it needs to be said. For those who do not have great heavenly powers of the baptism of the Spirit, Spiritual Gifts, Faith to move mountains, and are practiced in manifesting the Anointing Presence of God, this chapter of love is not applicable to them, or at the very least, it is mostly not applicable to them.

Paul starts the chapter by presupposing the audience does have faith to move mountains, give prophecies, speak in tongues, give to the poor and sacrifice themselves for each other. Those who do not fit the above presuppositions are those Paul is not addressing. He is addressing those who have spiritual power. This does not mean if you do not have spiritual power you are free from obeying God’s command to love your neighbor as yourself. What it does mean, is that for the Christian, love (like with the Sermon on the Mount) is elevated to a higher standard. There is no such thing as Christian love, that is not favoring others as yourself with healing, miracles and prophecies. A love that is without spiritual power is not a Christian love, by definition. Such a definition of love might the standards of non-Christians, but we are not non-Christians.

Jesus showed compassion and love over and over and over in the gospels, and it was always with the power of healing and miracles. Love without miraculous power is an anti-love, it is a love that Jesus does not know or lived. It is a love the apostles did not know or live. It is a love the New Testament church did not know or lived. Non-Christians live this type of love, but we are not non-Christians, unless you really are.

Love is to favor. Loving your neighbor is to favor them, the way you want to be favored. Jesus filled with the Holy Spirit for ministry, had power. When He saw a sick person, He favored them by using power to heal them and remove their suffering. This means, if I was sick and in pain, and I had power, I would favor myself by removing the sickness and pain from me. This is how Jesus favored those around them. This is how the apostle favored those around them. This is how the New Testament favored those around them.

Jesus commanded we pray in His name and get whatever we wish so that God is glorified, and we are filled with joy (John 14-16). Love others by praying for others to receive whatever you want for them, so that by Jesus giving this to them, God makes their joy full. Jesus was filled with the Sprit for ministry, and so commanded His followers to be baptized in the Spirit for power.

The gospels take the time to repeatedly show that Jesus demonstrated love and compassion by healing and using heavenly power to help people. Jesus then commands us to do the same. Then for extra measure Paul used the chapter on “love” in context of using spiritual power in church to help people. This is how the Bible defines Christian love. God’s love is not a powerless love. Before creation and after creation God’s love is not a powerless love. The Godman Jesus Christ, who the saints are imaged after, did not and does not love with a powerless love. The love that Jesus commanded the saints to use was not a command to have a powerless love.

God’s love is using power to favor others with help and salvation. Jesus’ love is using power to favor others with help and salvation. God commands us to love in the same way. We are to love the way God loves, which is to use heavenly power to favor others.

Remember when the Israelites went in to take the Promise Land? Do you remember that “they failed” to completely eradicate all the inhabitants? Did they fail or did God fail? God in the ultimate sense decrees everything; therefore, even their failure to obey His command to completely eradicate all inhabitants, was by God power and decree. However, the “failure” was theirs not God’s. “God’s command,” which is what “He wants for them,” is to completely take the Land and enjoy it. Both the moral accountability, and the failure to bring God’s desire for their good, was their failure and accountability.  God is not the objects He creates, thus, God’s command to man, does not categorically apply to Him, just as blue does not apply to the number 7. They failed to fully enjoy all the goodness of the Promise Land, because they failed to obey God. That failure is their accountability and responsibility, not God’s. That is, their failure is not God’s failure. The public failure of God’s people to fully enjoy what Almighty God promised, was on them.

The same with this phrase “love never fails.” If the saints are truly empowered and full of faith, the way “God commanded” them to be, then indeed “love never fails.” Love will see the need for a revelation, miracles, healing, truth or resurrection and because it has power to support all this favor surging in their hearts, then the blind see, the lame walk, the prisoner is set free, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. However, if the saints are not in obedience to God’s command to have mountain moving faith and crowned with Spiritual power, so that they fail to love each other in miraculous power, then that accountability and responsibly is on them and not God’s definition of what love is. In such cases, God’s definition of love did not fail; rather, a person failed to obey God commandments, just like with the Israelites.

The Corinthians were prideful, however despite this, at least people were being healed and miracles were performed so that God’s people were favored with help and deliverances. If I were sick and in pain, I would pick a prideful Corinthian who has power to heal me, 1 million times over a so-called saint who was humble but lacked God’s power, and thus, lacked the ablity to love me by removing the pain. Neither, is a true definition of love, but the Corinthians were at least able to relieve suffering saints with the Spirit of God. That is, the Spirit of God did not leave the Corinthians, even though they had some selfish intentions. Paul corrected them and told them to seek even more power. The finger of God, was still moving to help those around them with power, despite some of their faults. However, without this power, then the finger of God does not break in with power, because the power is not there to begin with.

Let God’s people not repeat the mistakes that Israel committed in desert and Promise Land. Let us be filled with faith and the Spirit for heavenly power. Let us love like Jesus. Let us love by the definition revealed in the Scripture. Let us love like God. Let our favor be with power, so that “love never fails.” Let us favor our fellow saints as much or more than ourselves, and with this desire, let us be filled with faith and power. Let us fulfill our desire to help by wielding the power of God as our own, which is our rightful inheritance. Let our actions be the Finger of God that expands His Kingdom with love that never fails.

Calvin Institutes, And God Being the Cause of All Things

Calvin Institutes[1]

Chapter 18, Book 1.

The sum of the whole is this,

since I say the will of God is the cause of all things,

all the counsels and actions of men must be held to be governed by his providence. Therefore, just as God exerts his power in the elect, who are guided by the Holy Spirit, He also exerts force in the reprobate to do him service.

When I say that God bends all the reprobate, and even Satan himself, at his will, some object that on The sum of the whole is this,—since the will of God is said to be the cause of all things, all the counsels and actions of men must be held to be governed by his providence. Therefore, as God exerts his power in the elect, who are guided by the Holy Spirit, He also exerts force in the reprobate to do him service.

..only happens by the permission, not by the will of God…

[Those who are against the will of God that causes all things, counter this by saying] this is done only by the permission of God, and not by the will of God. However, God himself, openly declares that he does this, and thus, rebukes their evasion of this doctrine.

What we formerly quoted from the Psalms, to the effect that he does whatever pleases him, certainly extends to all the actions of men.

David, not murmuring against God, but acknowledging him to be a just judge, confesses that the curses of Shimei are uttered by his orders. “The Lord,” says he, “has bidden him curse.” Often in sacred history whatever happens is said to proceed from the Lord, as the revolt of the ten tribes, the death of Eli’s sons, and very many others of a similar description. Those who have a tolerable acquaintance with the Scriptures see that, with a view to brevity, I am only producing a few out of many passages, from which it is perfectly clear that it is the merest trifling to substitute a bare permission for the providence of God [i.e. God’s will causes all things], as if he sat in a watch-tower waiting for fortuitous events, his Judgments meanwhile depending on the will of man.

2. With regard to secret movements, what Solomon says of the heart of a king, that it is turned hither and thither, as God sees meet, certainly applies to the whole human race, and has the same force as if he had said, that whatever we conceive in our minds is directed to its end by the secret inspiration of God. And certainly, did he not work internally in the minds of men, it could not have been properly said, that he takes away the lip from the true, and prudence from the aged—takes away the heart from the princes of the earth,

Many passages which declare, that God blinds the minds of men, and smites them with giddiness, intoxicates them with a spirit of stupor, renders them infatuated, and hardens their hearts. Even these expressions many would confine to permissions as if, by deserting the reprobate, he allowed them to be blinded by Satan. But since the Holy Spirit distinctly says, that the blindness and infatuation are inflicted by the just Judgment of God, the solution is altogether inadmissible. He is said to have hardened the heart of Pharaoh, to have hardened it yet more, and confirmed it.

[This is a good catch 22 Calvin brings up.]

Some evade these forms of expression by a silly objection, because Pharaoh is elsewhere said to have hardened his own heart, thus making his will the cause of hardening it; as if the two things did not perfectly agree with each other, though in different senses—namely that, man, though acted upon by God, at the same time also acts. But I retort the objection on those who make it. If to harden means only bare permission, the contumacy will not properly belong to Pharaoh. Now, could anything be more feeble and banal than to interpret as if Pharaoh had only allowed himself to be hardened? We may add, that Scripture cuts off all handle for such cavils: “I,” saith the Lord, “will harden his heart,” (Exod. 4:21).

I admit, indeed, that God often acts in the reprobate by interposing the agency of Satan; but in such a manner, that Satan himself performs his part, just as he is impelled, and succeeds only in so far as he is permitted.

3. I have said what is plainly and unambiguously taught in Scripture, those who are quick to defame what is taught by scripture, had better beware what their actions mean. If they want human praise for being humble, because they claim mysteries in scripture, then what greater anti-humility can there be, other than to utter one word in opposition to the authority of God—to say, for instance, “I think otherwise.”

—-

Chapter 23, Book 3

Here they repeat the distinction between will and permission, the object being to prove that the wicked perish only by the permission, but not by the will of God. But why do we say that he permits, but just because he wills? Nor, indeed, is there any probability in the thing itself—viz. that man brought death upon himself merely by the permission, and not by the ordination of God; as if God had not determined what he wished the condition of the chief of his creatures to be…  The first man fell because the Lord deemed it meet that he should…however, it was just, because he saw that his own glory would thereby be displayed. When you hear the glory of God mentioned, understand that his justice is included.

——-

Chapter 16, Book 1.

[ Not sure if I agree with Calvin that this is what Augustine taught, however, Calvin says it, to say he agrees with it. And I agree with Calvin this doctrine is correct. If God’s will is not the active/direct/primary, then it cannot be said to be a true cause of anything. ]

When [Augustine] uses the term permission [He means] that the will of God is the supreme and primary cause of all things, because nothing happens without his order or permission. He certainly does not figure God sitting idly in a watch-tower, when he chooses to permit anything. The will which he represents—if I may so express it—is an active will; for if God’s will is not active, then God’s will could not be regarded as a cause.

Chapter 18, Book 1.

[God’s decree and command is not the same thing, and thus, God is not unjust even though He is the author of sin]

4. Some say, if God causes the counsels and affections of the wicked, he is the author of all their sins; and, therefore, men, in doing what God has decreed, are unjustly condemned, because they are obeying his will. Here ‘will’ is improperly confounded with precept, though it is obvious, from innumerable examples, that there is the greatest difference between them … Thus we must hold, that while by means of the wicked God performs what he had secretly decreed, they are not excusable as if they were obeying his precept.

[Calvin is in context of affirming God causes all things. He is answering the objection, if God cause all things and God’s cause is not passive but active, then God is the author of sin, “by decreeing people to sin, and then punishing them for “obeying” His will.” God decrees/causes the wicked to sin. He answered is by saying God is not author of sin, (aka, “does evil by punishing people for obeying His will”) because of the category fallacy of decree vs precept. Calvin denies the author of sin, because of a category fallacy. Calvin does answer the objection by removing God as the ultimate/real cause from the definition. Thus, Calvin does not have an issue with God being the author of sin by decreeing and causing the wicked to sin, his issue is saying God is unjust by committing a category error. If you get rid of the category error, you get rid of the objection for calling God the author of sin (i.e. unjust), in the first place. Calvin is attacking the author is sin objection, not by removing God as ultimate cause from the objection, but removing the category error. Calvin’s argument reminds me of how Vincent Cheung might.

The author of sin is in the category of ultimate cause only real cause, because it refers in context here to God’s decree. If God’s decree does not mean ultimate/real cause, then you are mistaken, and if Calvin defines God’s decree as not ultimate cause then he is mistaken. It is possible the Calvin contradicted or changed the author of sin to not relate to ultimate cause in other places, but here he does. It is clear that saying “authorship in Calvin’s thought refers to secondary agency,” is false; rather, Authorship here refers to God’s decree. Again, God’s decree is about the only real cause, or that is ultimate cause. God’s decree does not refer to God being secondary to Himself in ontology; God’s decree does not refer to secondary objects or dual causes.]


ENDNOTE

[1] Calvin’s Institutes. CCEL eBook edition. publish domain. (www.ccel.org)

I have down a modern copy edit (light paraphrasing on some parts) on the English, on this material. See original for comparison.

 Desire vs Faith

We can define “desire” as one of two main ways, as “feelings / emotions,” or as “a want or wishful hope.”

Both of these definitions have the same non-relevance in regards desire being non-intellectual and having no necessary connection to faith, or no necessary connection to receiving the promise.

Faith is simply a mental assent to God’s truth. Having a desire or wishful hope to be saved, and mentally assenting to the gospel propositions as truth, is not the same thing.

The bible does speak of a “sound mind” and that we are to renew our minds. This is in two ways. The first and foundational meaning is to know the propositions of Scripture and assent to them, and deductively apply them to yourself and to decisions of good and evil about reality. You remove false propositions and replace them with true propositions from Scripture, and you remove invalid reasoning with deductive reasoning. The second part is what we call the psychological state of the mind. A renewed/mature mind will experience a more stable state of joy, and without even trying will keep gravitating towards wanting or desiring to please God rather than the self or man. However, as John says in 1st John 3, our hearts or that is, our irrational emotions and thoughts can condemn us, even when it is not true. Thus, you never base what is true or false by your emotions or by your up and down desires. You base what is true on “faith.” You do not base truth by sight for sensations is no truth or produces truth. Or simply put because we live by faith alone, and since sight is not faith, we do not live by sight. By the same reasoning, we do not live by feelings and desires, because these not faith. To go from sight to a proposition is invalid; however, it is just as invalid to go from desire/feelings to a proposition. In both case one is making a category error and denying the law of identity.

A wishful hope for healing is not faith. A wishful hope is not a mental assent to the fact that in Christ’s atonement “you” are already healed (Isaiah 53); that is faith. To desire to be healed, is on one hand something Jesus presupposes that people want; however, because desire to be healed is a command then even if you do not “feel” the desire to be healed, you can be obedient, if by nothing else, by pragmatically seeking to be healed by faith, in how the bible says to grow faith.

The desire would and often should be there, but it is not faith, and it is not needed to obey God’s commands. We should desire and seek for a sound mind, both in the intellectual, spiritual aspect, and also for a constant state of joy and desire for God. However, we do not start off with a mature mind when we are born again. We renew our minds by the means God has given us. If we do not start off with a perfect state of mind when born again, and having such a mind is required for us to ask and obtain our requests from God, then it would never happen. Think about the examples of faith in the Bible? Samson, when his eyes were stabbed out and bound in chains of slavery, was his mind in perfect joy? All he did was believe God would be faithful to His promise to use Samson. His faith was so great he is mentioned in Hebrews 11 with David, Moses and Abraham as a man who the world was not worthy to have utter Samsons’ name on their filthy lips.  It is true that having a joyful and peaceful state of mind for good things is able to help, so that even prophets asked for music to be played, and David would retreat and quietly meditate on God’s goodness; however, with or without the perfect desire, only one thing is needed, a mental assent that God will do what He said, without doubting it. When this is done you can ask for 100 mountains to throw themselves into planet Saturn and it will happen.

Also, like assenting to the fact that bananas are your favorite fruit, it is either mental assent that you do, or if they are not and you still affirm, “bananas are my favorite fruit,” you mentally assented to a lie or a delusion. A mental assent does not merely mean you affirm something like (2 plus 2 equals 4), if the context demands it. It is one thing to assent that figs exist, and a different thing to assent that figs are “my” favorite snack. This is either true or false; if false and you say it in your mind anyway, then all you have done is indulged in a mental delusion.

When we realize our faith is not where it should be we are told to renew our minds. We take off the old falsehoods and replace them with the truth. We “confess” them, even when we know we have doubts, not because we are delusional, but because the promise of God is that we can renew our minds and that the Spirit will help to strengthen us. We confess God’s promises, knowing God will be faithful to sanctify our minds so that soon, we can assent to them without doubts. Because the “foundation” is not us, but GOD, we have the confidence to read God’s promises, and confess them knowing God will renew and strengthen us, so that soon the doubts will be gone and an indomitable faith remains.

Jesus: “You Have Heard it Said…”

Jesus: You have heard it said,

“if you ask, you might or might not get it, depending on God’s will.”
However, I say to you, “If you ask you will receive, if seek you will find, and if you knock the door will be open.”

Jesus: You have heard it said,

“If you pray God will answer with a ‘yes,’ ‘maybe’ or a ‘no.’”
However, I say to you, “for everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

Jesus: You heard it said,

“If you keep asking, and God has not given it to you,  God has answered your prayer with a no.”
However, I say to you, “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, 6 ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ 8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.” [1]

Jesus: you have heard it said,

“Even if God answers your prayer, because God is looking out for you, He will often give you something different, but better.”
However, I say to you, “what man is there among you, if his son will ask him for bread, will give him a stone? Or also if he will ask for a fish, will give him a snake? Therefore if you, although you* are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?”

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives,

and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you, if his son will ask him for bread, will give him a stone?

Or also if he will ask for a fish, will give him a snake? Therefore if you, although you* are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him? Matthew 7:7–11 (LEB)

Since it is God’s, and not man’s definition that a “good” God gives you the very thing you ask for, anyone who teaches otherwise is spouting a doctrine of demons. Some bark up like mad dogs that, “what if you ask for something bad?” So what? What does this logically have to do with what I am saying? This is not a relevant point, because James says if you ask God for evil things (“God help me murder this person”), then you are God’s “enemy,” and so prayer is the least of your concerns. Since I am addressing Christians or those who at least claim to be so, and not sworn enemies of God, I will ignore logically non-relevant points.

Jesus says, if you ask in faith you will get what you ask for. Jesus even says this in more than one way, in case we missed it. What Jesus is doing here with prayer, is the same He is doing throughout the “Sermon on the Mount.” You have heard it said “do not murder your brother, but I say to you, do not do it, even in your heart.” When Jesus teaches on judging people, His point presupposes that you are able to judge your brother, and to do it without hypocrisy. You do this by removing the wood from your own eye first. Some morons say, “you cannot judge without hypocrisy or bias”; yet, Jesus contradicts this in His sermon. He teaches the true ethical standard God demands for judging, and He expects His disciples to do it. It is good news to see in the new covenant, God promising to give us ethical power, “I will write my laws in your hearts.”

In this context of Jesus repeatedly correcting the low opinion of people’s thinking on God’s commands and standards, Jesus talks about “prayer and faith.” Thus, when we see Jesus saying, “if you ask God in faith, you get the very thing you ask for,” then we can infer the presupposition behind it, at least in the broad sense; and so, Jesus’ teaching is in opposition to the people’s low opinion of what they think prayer and faith should accomplish. The Jews had a perverted and low view of prayer. From the Mount, Jesus corrects their error and describes the true ethical standard that God commands about faith. Whatever the low valuation of prayer the Jews had, it was not to the standard of, “if you ask in faith, you will get what you ask for.”  Jesus is expecting and demanding, (just like He demands us to not even lust in our hearts after another woman), to pray and get what we pray for.  Jesus in essence says, “You have heard it said, if its God’s will, then you might get what you pray for. But I say to you, if you ask in faith, you will get the very thing you ask for, because God is the good Father.” This is the type of Being we are dealing with. You must deal with Him and not someone else.

Do you know this Jesus?

[1] Luke 7:5-8

Obedience Proves you Understand the Scripture

All who follow his precepts have good understanding,”
(Psalm 111:10 NIV).

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you bear much fruit, and prove to be my disciples,
(John 15:7-8 LEB).

 Ethics are the conclusion of one’s worldview. Without knowledge, there is no knowledge of ethics. Without a reality, then there is no reality for ethics to exist in. Without man, there is no man to command. Thus, on the major premises of epistemology and metaphysics, ethics conclude from this.

We read something interesting Psalm 111:10b. We are told that by obeying God’s precepts (i.e. Ethics) it “proves” that a person has good understanding or intelligence. Since obeying God is Christian ethics, it means obeying God concludes from “understanding” Christian epistemology and metaphysics. This is why the greatest test for exposing if a so-called Christian pastor, or historically famous theology is truly intelligent and understanding can be seen in their obedience of God. In obedience they prove they have understanding of Christian epistemology and metaphysics. However, like the religious hypocrites in Jesus’ day, some Christian ethics can be outwardly mimicked, at least to a degree. However, some ethics cannot be mimicked by hypocrites. For example, one such ethics is mentioned by Jesus in John 15. Jesus’ presupposes that bearing fruit for the Father is a command or precept. It is a Christian ethic. Jesus says by doing this ethic you “prove you are His disciples.” The ethic mentioned here is having faith to ask God for anything and then God give you this anything.

Even Jesus said it was more difficult to speak healing to the sick than speaking forgiveness of sins, because if you say, “get up and walk,” there is an immediate point of verification. False Christian converts do not have faith, thus, they cannot ask for God for anything and then get it. They cannot do the miracles that Jesus did, because they do not have faith or understanding.

The more difficult ethics that cannot be mimicked by false converts (such as healing, miracles and answered prayers), are ethics that give greater proof of greater understanding of God’s truth and greater Christian intelligence. It means you need to understand more of God’s sovereignty and Christian epistemology, and to believe them, in order to do such ethics. These ethics prove, you truly believe what the bible claims about God.

Thus, the real proof for a persons claim to ministry is not a degree, which is mere human approval, but doing the more difficult ethics. These prove such a Christian has great understanding of Christian epistemology and metaphysics. It does not mean they are perfect in their understanding, but as the Scripture says, it does prove they understand God. If your pastors and favorites theologians do not have such ethics in their life, they do not give Scriptural proof they understand God’s sovereignty, or biblical epistemology as well as they claim.

Do not let such disobedient weaklings be your instructors, in particular, if they directly teach against such ethics, or merely hold them back. 

Prayer of Petition VS Dedication: When prayer becomes Non-prayer

Below, is a quick contrast between a prayer of “dedication,” that Jesus prayed in the garden, and a prayer of “petition” (John 15:7, Luke 18:1).

These are two different categories. They do have some overlap, depending if you are looking at the only real level of causality, or from the human relative level, and ethics. There is also some overlap between the direct meaning and indirect or presupposition behind it; however, we will keep it at this relative and direct perspective for simplicity, because it is this level that Jesus mostly spoke about.

When Jesus prayed in the garden, it was a dedication prayer, like Hannah dedicating her son, or when we dedicate our tithes and offerings to God. We will focus on the two necessary qualifications from these types of prayers, which is important for our present topic.

 

Dedication:

One, the person dedicating knows specifically what the plan or will of God they are dedicating to. The point is about a “specific” plan, “revealed from God,” not revealed from human speculation. Second, the person is directly giving up something of theirs to aid God’s specific plans and goals.

As for the first qualification Hannah knew God’s plan about having an ongoing ministry to God with ministers.  There was no mystery about what God might or might not do about having a church and ministry. God instituted it and commanded it. It was His goal and plan. There are no vague notions about it. Hannah dedicating her son to the service of God, was Hannah dedicating to a clear and specific plan of God she understood. The same with tithing.  You know exactly what God’s plan is when it comes to tithing. There is no mystery here. God’s plan is to support His ministry and ministers. You are dedicating your money to His plan, a plan you know about in precision and clarity. The same with Jesus in the Garden. Jesus knew the specific plan of God about His death for the salvation of the elect. There was no mystery here. There were no nebulous notions of what God might or might not do. Jesus says in effect, “I am not here for Myself, to ask for something, I am here to dedicate Myself to Your plan Father, however, in Me giving Myself to aid Your plan, if there is a way for Me not to suffer so horrifically, then grant this to Me, however, I am here to aid Your specific goal Father, so I will do it no matter the cost.

In all these examples the plan of God is known from infallible divine revelation, and not personal superstitions from observations. Thus, one important point about a prayer of dedication is knowing about a specific plan of God as revealed truth (as infallible divine revelation), and giving something you have to aid this plan.

The second point is about who is giving to who. God owns all things, however, even Jesus when talking about the relative level said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar,” and not “Give Caesar’s things to God, because God ultimately owns it.” The bible does not teach pantheism. God is not what He creates, although He directly and absolutely controls every aspect of it, so that He is even the author of sin and evil. Thus, when God gives “you” something, because God is separate from the things He creates, God gave it to “you,” and “not Himself.” It is yours, not God’s, in this sense.  God gave money to Caesar, not to Himself, and thus, it is Caesar’s. The same with our money. When we tithe and give extra offerings, we are giving to God in this sense. God has said what His plan is about the ministry and ministers, and we obey Him by giving a portion of our money to aid God’s plan.

 

Petition:

A prayer of petition has the two same foundational points from above, but the object has changed. First, it is our specific plan, not God’s. Second, God is giving to us, and not us to God.

For the first point, the direct focus is our plan. We have a specific plan, and we are asking God to help, give it and establish it. Think about healing. When King Hezekiah was praying to be healed, was he praying for the idea of healing for all people, all animals and all theoretically possible aliens in the broadest sense possible? No. He was praying for healing for himself. (I know this sounds obvious, but people still miss these sort of things). As with the prayer for dedication, the plan is a specific one, and not a mystery, not might this or might not that.

I recall one time I was praying for help against a temptation to God, however, I was not clear in how I wanted God to help me. I suddenly felt the Spirit of God rebuke and say to me, “What do you want?” I then said, “I want my friend (Chris) to call me in the next 5 minutes, and read a Psalm to me and pray for me.” Exactly 5 minutes later my friend Chris called, and said he called because he suddenly felt the holy Spirit move him to call me, and read me a Psalm; and so he did.

God is often kind to us in our lazy prayers; however, this kindness of God does not remove the accountability from us that we are to specifically make our request known to God and receive them in faith.

As for the second part is obvious. God is the one giving to us. We are not referring to mysterious hidden providences of God; rather, we are referring to what Jesus said in the sermon on the mount.  Jesus said God is a good Father, in that what we ask for, God gives us this exact thing and not something different. God gives to us, and gives what we ask for. God hears our plan and our will, “Lord, heal me of this sickness,” and God aids our plan, by giving us a healing. Just like we see Jesus doing over, and over, and over, and over again in the Gospels. These people were stocking him, overcrowding Him, even interrupting Him (the person lowered through the roof), and He would stop what He was doing, and blessed their plan by giving them the healing they were asking for.

By staying on this level, we learn an important lesson: one type of prayer will negate the other. You are doing one or the other. You are in the direct sense, either giving to God, or God is giving to you. You are either knowing God’s exact plan (as divine revelation) and aiding it, or God is hearing your exact plan and aiding it.

Many when they pray, are in fact not praying, because they act like they are praying a petition, but then they refer to, “Lord, your will be done,” which is a dedication type prayer. When praying about the same these prayers cancel each other, therefore it is as if they prayed nothing. If this is the majority of your prayers, then you are not praying. If you are not praying, you are not a Christian. If you are not a Christian you will endure eternal suffering.

Since this is exactly the WOF doctrine, the WOF is right, and the others are wrong. Unless you are making a prayer of dedication, it is often wrong to pray “if it is your will,” as if you do not already know his will. In a prayer of petition, it can be an indication of unbelief and rebellion.

When you came to Christ, how come you did not pray, “God, I am a sinner. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and he came to this earth to die for sinners. If it is your will, save me, but if not, let me burn in hell”? Now when you sin, how come you do not pray, “God, I have sinned. If it is your will, forgive me, but if it is not, then revoke my salvation and damn me to hell.” How come? Because you know Jesus already suffered for your sins and paid for your forgiveness. God tells you this in his word. You knew God’s will before you asked, and you received by faith. Well, Jesus paid for a whole lot of other things, and God also tells you about them in his word.[1] 

This point we have been highlighting is a point that is different from the category error of mixing up ontology and ethics. If you do not know a specific divinely revealed truth, then an appeal in prayer to “ if the will of God,” is almost always nonsense. One could refer to the will of God in the broadest sense possible, such as “all things for God’s glory,” but the person who says this, could by the “will of God,” blaspheme the Spirit in the next breath and be sent to hell for the “glory of God.” Thus, a dedication prayer, is not meant to be said in this broadest sense possible, unless you are fine with giving your life to God, for God to cause you to blaspheme the Spirit, so that your burning body in hell is for His glory. No, you need something more specific.

Both types of prayer have in mind a specific plan, and is seeking to aid that plan. Because both are specific, to pray one type is not to pray the other type. To pray, “Lord heal me,” is seeking your specific plan, not God’s plan, in this direct sense. In this sense, you are indeed asking for “your will to be done” not God’s will. You are asking for God to give to you, and not you giving to God. Just like those who lowered the paralyzed man through the roof, and interrupted Jesus, they were asking for their will to be done[2]; they were not looking for God’s will to be done, in the direct sense by giving to a specific revealed plan of God.

I apologize for having to say such obvious things, but some have so abused the “will of God,” and so abused God’s sovereignty that I must go over this.

If you are NOT thinking about a specific decree and plan of God from Scripture (like tithing for support of the ministry), or a specific prophecy God has given you about your own ministry, then there is little context and little to no intelligibility to pray a dedication prayer. You are just mumbling at this point. You are praying like a mumbling pagan.

To ask for healing, and then say, “but your will be done,” is nonsense. In essence it is saying, this prayer is about “me knowing” my specific plan for healing and knowing “You giving” me that healing: however, it is also about “me giving” to You my circumstance and my “my not knowing” your specific plan to heal or not heal me?” LOL!

Again, this type of prayer has now become non-prayer. You are not saying anything. You are praying things that cancel each other out. If you pray like this, you are not praying, and if you do not pray you are not a Christian.

What is odd is that many cessationist and traditionalist (and sadly even Pentecostals) often refer to the “will of God,” as if they are praying a dedication prayer, when they are asking for something in a petition prayer. Thus, they are not praying. Getting past this point, we see another problem. If they are not receiving divinely given prophecies/visions/dreams concerning specifics for their ministries, then what “specific” plan from Scripture are they using to dedicate themselves to, by giving something to “God’s revealed plan”?  Take healing for example. What Scripture says God will not give healing when asked in true faith? Where? Remember a rebuttal only works if you can show a scripture that only means no healing with faith, and not a mere possibility.

These persons now have a real problem. They need a specific plan of God to dedicate themselves to, so as to feel really humble about themselves.

Sadly, the only thing left for such persons to acquire a “specific” plan of God, is to humanly divine it from the movements of circumstance, similar to how Satanists humanly divine the future with movements of a Ouija board. Their circumstances move this way, their bodies and hands move this way, thus, it is God’s specifically revealed plan not to heal me. Starting with an epistemology of human empiricism/observation (not scripture) they superstitiously conjure up a specific plan of God to their liking, such as, “its not God’s plan to heal me of this sickness.” Thus, many so-called Christians have more in common with demonic cults than with Christianity.  They are one step away from entering into the fellowship of demons, if they are not already there.

Be true Christians. Pray dedication prayers when applicable, and pray petition prayers when applicable and do not blur them into the same thing. Be Children of the light.

 

Dedication: Lord I give this to you.
Petition: Lord give this to me.

 

Dedication: Lord your will be done.
Petition: My will be done.

Dedication: I know Your plan, so I want to give this to You, to aid Your plan.
Petition: I know my plan, here is something I need You to give me, to help my plan.

 

———-END NOTES———-

[1] Vincent Cheung. Prayer and the Word of Faith.  From the ebook, Sermonettes Vol.8, 2015, pg.45.

[2] See Vincent Cheung. Healing: the Will of Man.

  Jesus Does the Marvelous “Works,” that the Father Does.  

[This section is from the “Works of God” section,
from my Systematic Theology book]

…This mighty work of God is mirrored in Jesus Christ and His saving of the Elect. Indeed there are even two baptisms in the New Contract with Jesus. One for the removal of slavery and sins, and one for the power of God’s Spirit.

  Jesus Does the Marvelous “Works,” that the Father Does.

John 5:16–30 (NET)
16 Now because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began persecuting him.
17 So he told them, “My Father is working until now, and I too am working.”
19 So Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, the Son can do nothing on his own initiative, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.
20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does, and will show him greater deeds than these, so that you will be amazed.
21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes.
22 Furthermore, the Father does not judge anyone, but has assigned all judgment to the Son,
…27 and he has granted the Son authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.
…30 I can do nothing on my own initiative. Just as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of the one who sent me.

 Luke 4:16-20 NET
4:16 Now Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 4:17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and the regaining of sight to the blind,
to set free those who are oppressed,
4:19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

4:20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. 4:21 Then he began to tell them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read.”

  A few quick things about the works Jesus is doing.

The Father “works on the Sabbath.” Back the Exodus and wilderness story, on the Sabbath God first worked by giving them “food” to eat.[1] God then worked on the Sabbath to provide “sanctification”[2] for them. Thus, according to first mentions hermeneutics “God working on the Sabbath” on the behalf of man, is 1st a material-miracle blessing and then 2nd a spiritual blessing.  Most have this flipped upside down, or do not even consider the first because their parents are the same ones who complained in the wilderness. They do not like how God “works” on the behalf of man. The have the same attitude toward Jesus and His followers.

Also, in context of Exodus 16, we have in chapter 15 God healing them, and declares that He is “Yahweh who heals you.” Jesus does these same works the Father did.

Jesus Christ mirrors this in His working on the Sabbath. Our text starts with a common experience in the gospels. Jesus is healing on the Sabbath. Jesus is working material-miracle blessings on the Sabbath, just like His Father did.  Just like the Israelites in the wilderness who hated God for helping them, these in John 5 also hated God’s Son for helping them. Those who follow after the Father, and the Son by doing these same “works” to help man, are often persecuted by those who claim to follow God.

I know this sounds strange, but you need to let that sink in. The Father was providing one miracle supply after another for the Israelites; the responded with complaints and hating the Father.  God was richly helping them and they turned around and hated Him for it.  Jesus on the Sabbath was doing exactly what the Father did. He was richly supplying both material miracles and spiritual ones, and the Jews hated Him for helping them. They did the same thing to the disciples in the book of Acts. The same happens today.

Our verse in Luke shows that Jesus quotes Isaiah’s prophecy as being fulfilled by Him. The is about God healing, setting people free, preaching truth to them. This is God richly supplying every sort of material and spiritual blessing. The Father has been doing this works through the Scripture, and now Jesus is doing them as the Son of Man. In fact, when question by John’s disciples if Jesu was truly the one they were looking for He responded by saying,

“Luke 7:22–23 (NET) So he answered them, “Go tell John what you have seen and heard: The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news proclaimed to them. Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

Think about what Jesus is saying about being offended. He is not preaching on hell, and saying do not be offended by this; rather, just like in Exodus and the Sabbath provisions, Jesus is preaching and providing great miracle supplies, and then says do not be offended. That is, do not hate God for richly providing material and spiritual blessings, as the Israelites did in the wilderness. Do not be offended at God richly pouring out goodies, if you do, then you burn in hell. Your body will be left in the wilderness just like the rest.

Jesus started His ministry, as the Godman, after He was empowered by the Holy Spirit. He did His ministry, not by the mere power of the Son of God, but as a “man,” born under the law, “empower by the Spirit.” After Jesus’ baptism and the Holy Spirit coming down to rest on Him, He became an explosive ministry of miracles, healings, truth and power. This was an antitype for how God’s chosen ones would follow in Jesus’ footsteps. Jesus commanded the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they are baptized in the Holy Spirit for missional/miracle power. Jesus was baptized and empowered by the Spirit, as a man, and commands His followers to do the same.

I could go on and on about this, but this will have to suffice for now. We will transition to the “works that man will do” by quoting Jesus speaking of this very thing.

John 14:10–14 (NIV)
Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.


[1] Exodus 16:22-30.

 He said to them, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Tomorrow is a time of cessation from work, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. … See, because the Lord has given you the Sabbath, that is why he is giving you food for two days on the sixth day, (v. 23,29 Net). 

The first mention of the “Holy Sabbath,” is here. The first mention of Sabbath being a “holy” day is the day God provided so much miracle material provision, they stayed home and ceased from working. God worked so hard to provide for them miracle food, they were able to cease from their work.  This ceasing from material work, due to God’s abundant miracle provision, “sets them apart to Yahweh, (i.e. Holy)” and makes them a “cut-above” all peoples of the earth.

It is true that in Jesus’ atonement, He becomes the spiritual provision of forgiveness, sanctification, adoption and redemption; however, this does not negate the first mention of this is about material provision. Thus, the teaching about the first mention of God providing on the Holy Sabbath, is more than, but not less than, God providing abundant material miracle provision.

Fools often use one Scripture to cancel out another. But as we see here, as it often is, the Scripture for the sake of God’s love to man, keeps adding not subtracting blessings. Let us be true children of God, and in faith, obtain all the provisions of God, and by this become “Holy people of God.”

 [2] The next big mention about the Sabbath and God’s supply is in Exodus 31. God just gave Moses instructions about the Tabernacle, and all the symbolic parts that represent God’s mercy, salvation and nearness to them. In verse 12 it says, “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, speak also to the Children of Israel, saying: “Surely, My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you (NKJV).”

At first God is the abundant material supply through miracles; next, is the abundant spiritual supply of mercy, salvation and nearness.

Thus, we can conclude the Sabbath was designed by God to be a day where “God works” by supplying so much material and spiritual blessings, that man rests from their works. Their “receiving” and “trusting” in God’s abundance miracle supplies, makes them “holy,” set-a-part to God as His chosen people.

Therefore, in Gospel of Jesus Christ, not only imputed righteousness is provided(spiritual) but also healing (material) (Exodus 15:26, Isaiah 5:4-5, James 5:15), and finances (Exodus 36:5, 2 Corinthians 8:9)