Tag Archives: Power

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Power is what will Finally Deliver You

I awoke today feeling off and with a headache. Halfway through the day I saw a reminder to seek God in devotion for spiritual strength, and I felt the Spirit prod me to do this. As the day went on the headache got worse and I felt an irrational oppressive pressure on my mind. I even had a difficult time remembering things. Finally it got to a point where it was irrational fears and accusative thoughts coming out of nowhere.

I have been seeking personal inner strength as a priority for about 2 or 3 years now. God has been delivering me from many of my old fears and even sins and etc. I will one day write about this, but even as a young man I experienced a direct demonic attack regarding temptation. It frightened me. I lacked the knowledge and power to know how to deal with such a thing. It caused me years of terrible fear in my heart. Vincent’s materials were helping me, and his essay on Demonic Attacks was a moment of where I began to experience real breakthrough.

Today, I suddenly felt all those old fears suddenly being pressed upon me, like they once did. So, again I did the easy thing and just began to pray in tongues and declares God’s promises over me. When I began this, the oppressive mental attacks ratcheted in up strength. However, after about 15 minutes I felt a sudden power in speaking in tongues. This happens often to me. You will be praying in tongues and suddenly, the power will increase, and you feel power and urgency. The moment this happened I heard the Spirit say to me, “You are a child of God, these things are to be afraid of you, not the other way around!” At this exact moment, all the oppressive thoughts and pressure vanished and even my headache was instantly healed.

In a perfect world of mature faith, a simple word would have stopped this attack earlier on the day. And we are all to seek this level of faith. So, while you work on a strong faith, have compassion on yourself and those around you needing help, by praying in tongues and bringing down the power of God to expand His kingdom.

Vincent Cheung in the essay, “Cure for Psychological Trauma,” says, “Power is what will finally deliver you.” The foundation is first correct theology and promises. But the thing that will deliver from all your troubles is power. Unadulterated power of God. Mature faith will always do this. However, praying in tongues is one of the easiest, (it is so easy it is like having game cheat), ways to move the power of God directly into your soul, body and life. You should eagerly seek this gift. We need less talk and more power! God’s power is able to deliver you, your family, your church and even entire nations.

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He Will Do It/We Will Do It

Salvation’s broad foundation, is “God.” God is the foundation of theology and thus salvation. Without Him, there is no point in doing theology. God’s foundation as taught in Scripture, is that of absolute and directly sovereign over all reality. This foundation takes away all the problems for salvation and man’s ablity to obey God.

We will not rehash the absolute reliability of the Contract we have God. God will do what He says, no matter how great and wonderful the promise. That is the summary of the doctrine.  

Many look at their sanctification and thus proof that they will be glorified, from a man-centered focus. Doing so will bring heartache, stress, depression, blasphemy, and if not rectified damnation.

When Isaiah 55 says that God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts, it is not referring God’s knowledge versus human knowledge in general. If that was the case, then the knowledge that God’s knowledge is not our knowledge is not our knowledge. It would end up in self-contradictory nonsense. But since Jesus appeals to the law of contradiction, we know anything that leads to skepticism is false. Thus apart from the obvious nonsense we know such an interpretation is unbiblical.

Rather, in this passage God refers to knowledge about His future revelation of unmerited favor that will be given through Jesus Christ. The verse that follows says, come buy milk and honey without price. That is, things like forgiveness and healing (etc), because of Jesus’ finished work, we can buy them without cost. For the audience at that time, such a revelation of grace was beyond their understanding and faith. However, since we live after the finished work of Jesus, then God’s ways of grace are our ways, and His throughs of grace are our thoughts. Paul even says in 1 Corinthians 2 that “we have the Mind of Christ.”

I say this to remind the reader, that the gospel radically changes the believer into a super species. They have a new created reality, fundamentally different from their old reality.  The Christian renews their mind to think in line with the new definition given to them in Christ.

In laymen’s terms, what King David says is 100 more true today, when he says, “In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall,” Psalm 18:29

Man’s ablity is God’s ablity. Or stated negatively, man’s limitation is God’s limitation. We are not talking about being deified with attributes that by definition can only belong to God like being infinite, or immutable. What we are referring to is God’s promises to strengthen us, bless us and empower us.

Our ablity to be sanctified is not measured by man’s limitation but by God’s infinite ablity to work in man. Our ablity to know God, is not measured by our finiteness, but by the limitless ablity of the Spirit of God to make us to have the mind of Christ, and to cause us to know all the things freely given to us. Or is the finiteness of man greater than God’s ablity of infinite power? Some perverts not satisfied to limit man, but they are not quenched until they limit God. We are not talking about something irrational like God creating a rock to heavy for Him to lift, when God does not have body. We are talking about the sheer power of God to create and cause. How many propositions can you think of at the same time? Or how high can you jump? Or how long does it take to go 500 miles? Howe well can you cure an incurable disease? How well can you sanctify your actions? The issue is how much ablity does God have to enable me to think of many propositions at the same time. How much power does God have to enable me to jump or go a distance of 500 miles? How much power does God have to renew and heal the body? How much ablity does God have to sanctify my actions? This is the new measure the Christian is to measure their own ablity.

Jesus says, “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26. Jesus is making a distinction with God’s power and human power. Jesus points out that human power it limited, but God’s is not.

Paul in Ephesians 6:10 says, “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Also, in Acts 1:1-8, Jesus commands the apostles and believers to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Lastly, Jesus says about those who believe in Him, “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,” John 14:12.

The conclusion is simple. Jesus says in Mark 9:23

“Everything is possible for one who believes.”

We are not pantheists. God is not what He creates. God is separated from creation. When God empowers “you,” then it is “you” not God that is empowered.  

It will obey “you.” Jesus says you can command a mountain to be thrown into the sea and it will obey who? God? No. It will obey “you.” In Ephesian 6, it is a command, not a mere suggestion, to be empowered with human limitations? No. To be empowered with God’s own power and strength. Let the sink in. Imagine Zeus freely giving power and his lightning bolt to “you” to empower “you.” But this is what God does for us, and commands that we do. Boldly walk into the throne of grace and grab Yahweh’s lightning bolt and use it. God like this. He wants you empowered with His power.

The limitations of the old man are gone, whether if it is about spiritual things such as sanctification or something like being teleported 500 miles to another city.

We are children of God. His ways are now our ways, and His thoughts are now our thoughts. So much so that “all things are possible to the one who believes.” This is the glory and splendor and privilege that belongs to the sons of God.  The corrupted world will be liberated into the “liberty of” the “children” of God.

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A Superior Species

We declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden
and that God destined for our glory
.
1 Corinthians 2:7

Its all fun, joy and praises when I mention we need to glorify God, praise Him, give Him all the credit, and extol His Name above all others, and this is as it ought to be. However, once I mention how highly God has exalted man as a superior species in Christ, then I am attacked. The reason for this is the church being under the oppression of tradition and false humility. People are stuck at the doorway of forgiveness, being centered on their sin; they are centered on themselves.  This doorway into the next life, is so precious and magnificent that they remine there. They never truly inter in the glory and privilege of being children of God. They never experienced what it means to be child and sit at the table of their beloved Father.

The Logic of Denying the Consequent is used throughout the Scripture. If there is a logical necessary connection from the antecedent to the consequent, then if you deny the consequent, you deny the antecedent. The part that makes this work is if the connection is necessary and not merely sufficient. Ultimately, this means it must be a truth, but only God is able to reveal truths. However, since the scripture gives us truth and uses this logic, then so will we.

For example,

Galatians 3:18, “For if the inheritance is of the law, [then] it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.”

M.1. (P) If inheritance if of the law, (~Q) then inheritance is not by promise.
M.2. ~(~Q) It is by promise.
M.3. ~(P) Thus, inheritance is not by the law.

This example is given to lead to our present subject. If you deny the consequences of man’s highly exalted position produced by Jesus’ atonement, then you deny the atonement. There is no way around this.

Does Jesus sit in the heavenly places?
So does man (Ep. 2:6, Col. 3:1-3).

Is Jesus blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places?
So is man (1:3).

Does Jesus have the Mind of Jesus?
So does man (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Was the gospel predestined for the glory of God?
Yet, it was also predestined for the glory of man (1 Corinthians 2:7)

Does Jesus have direct access to the Father?
So does man (Hebrews 4:16, 10:19)

Is Jesus heir of the world?
So is man (Romans 4:13).

Does everything belong to Jesus, including time?
It also belongs to man ( 1 Corin. 3:23).

Does Jesus have the intellectual and ethical power to judge all things?
So does man ( 1 Corin. 2:15)

Jesus is the only begotten son of God, but in this context, I ask, is Jesus a child of God?
Yet, so is man (1 John 3:1,9, 4:13)

Is creation liberated into the liberty of God?
Yet, it is also liberated into the glorious liberty of man (Romans 8:21).

How glorious and valuable is the resurrected Jesus Christ?
Man also has this glory and image (Romans 8:30)

Did Jesus have the fullness of the Spirit of God on earth? (Acts 10:38)
So does man (Acts 1:1-8)

Does Jesus dwell in the house of God?
So does man (John 14:1-3)

Does God judge Angels?
So does man (1 Corinth. 6:3)

The same love the Father has loved Jesus, Jesus loves man. (John 15:9)

The same love the Father loves Jesus, the Father loves man. (John 17:23

The same glory the Father gave Jesus, Jesus gives this glory to man. (John 17:22)

The same Spirit of God, who knows God exactly (because it is God’s Spirit), God has given to us, so that we have the Mind of Christ.

If we deny pantheism (as the bible does), then we must affirm, as the Scripture does that God does these glorious thing to man, not Himself. When Peter says to humble yourself under God’s hand, he says God will exalt “you” and not Himself.  It was Jesus, who created all things and sustains all things by His power, who said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.” If this is so for a pagan, how much more is this true for all thing magnificent things God as given His children.

God promised to make Abraham’s name great and famous. Abraham became excessively rich and defeated a combination of many armies. Even to this very day Abraham is sung in the songs of millions and millions of Christians. Even in Heaven Abraham is famous (Matthew 8:11). The promise was to make His friend’s name great, not His, and it happened just as God said. God made Moses like a God to Israel and Pharaoh. God promised to do the same for Joshua, by making him great in the eyes of Israel. It was never recorded that Jesus was teleported by the Spirit, but this glory was given to a man, a table bearer named Philip.

To diminish the glory of man, particularly the born-from-above man, is to diminish the glory of God, because God said He has greatly exalted and glorified man through Jesus Christ. It would be to say God is defective and stupid at accomplishing His desires. To trample on the glory, fame and exaltation God has given His chosen ones is to trample on the blood of Jesus Christ as a common and ineffectual thing.

We are part of Abraham’s blessing, fame and glory (Gal. 3-4).

God does not mind sharing His glory, authority and power, for example, with His friend Abraham or giving the disciples 12 thrones, and all saints the inheritance of being His children; however, what God will not share is the credit and praise that belongs only to Him for all the good things He predestined for our value. Praise and credit is one type of glory (there are many types of glory), however, this type of glory, God will not share. Herod learned this the difficult way. Fame, power, favor, thrones, an eternal name, riches God has no issue lavishing these glories on His friends and children.

God has made us a superior species in Jesus Christ. Any denial of the unmeasurable magnitude of this reality is a denial of the gospel and blood of Jesus. There is no risk of pride, for we know God has give all these things to us by unmerited favor and mercy. Jesus loved us to the point of the cross. To accomplish these great things for us He was nailed to our curses. However, by the magnificent promises of God we partake of the divine nature itself. It is our new identity. We are glad to recognize this and praise God for eternity. We are filled with inexpressible joy for all the good things God as lavished so freely upon us. Oh, what great love this is, that God calls us His highly beloved children.

Empowered by the Spirit to Shine God’s Salvation to THE END OF THE EARTH

“And he says,
“It is trivial for you to be a servant for me,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel.
I will give you as a light to the nations,
to be my salvation to the end of the earth.””
(Isaiah 49:6 LEB)

Notice the last phrase, “THE END OF THE EARTH.”

This passage is directly about Jesus, God’s servant who would redeem and save His people. However, take special notice how both the apostle Paul and Jesus Christ use this passage of Scripture. They both quote it in the book of Acts, and both use it to refer to the church and not merely about Jesus. That is, Jesus through His redeemed church, will shine the Father’s salvation to the end of the earth.

First Paul.

“For so the Lord has commanded us,

‘I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles,
That You may bring salvation to THE END OF THE EARTH.’”
(Acts 13: 47 LSB)

Paul says that God commanded him and his ministry team, on the basis of Isaiah 49:6 to preach the gospel to all who will listen. How can this be, if the passage was about Jesus. The church is one body with Jesus. Jesus prays in John 17, in more than one way, that as the Father and Jesus is one, that the church be made one in Jesus. Jesus working through the Church, is Jesus working.

Next, we will see how Jesus command this passage for all disciples, and then ‘how’ this will happen.

“But [Jesus] said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has set by His own authority;
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to THE END OF THE EARTH.”
(Acts 1:7-8 LSB)

Jesus say it is by the baptism of the Holy Spirit that his followers will fulfill His command to expand His light to the end of the earth. In the next chapter, when the Baptism of the Spirit arrived, the Apostles only made up a small percentage. Thus, we are shown His baptism and command extends to all Jesus followers.

Three things. One, this gives proof that baptism of the Spirit is for all, for Jesus connects TO THE END OF THE EARTH kingdom expansion to the baptism of the Spirit.

Second, as long as this command stands, to obey God by expanding His salvation to the ends of the earth, the baptism of the Spirit still stands.

Third, without the baptism of the Spirit, one cannot obey this command to shine God’s salvation to THE END OF THE EARTH.

Matthew 4 shows something similar. Isaiah 9 is quoted about a light shining in Capernaum. Well, what happened in Matthew 4 and in Capernaum? Jesus is led by the Spirit to be tempted and filled by the Spirit for ministry. Jesus started His ministry only after He was empowered by the Spirit. Jesus said that He cast out demons by the “power of the Spirit” and not merely by His Son of God authority.  After this anointing of the Spirit for ministry, Jesus goes to Capernaum to (1) preach repentance and to (2) heal the sick. It is in this context that Isaiah is quoted by saying a “Great Light has Dawned.”

Thus, Jesus Christ “great light shining” is summed up with being empowered by the Spirit, preaching and healing the sick. Jesus’ command for His redeemed followers is the exact same thing. They are commanded to be baptized in the power of the Spirit, to preach and heal the sick.

The same thing He did, and the same way He did it.

The Human Ministry of Jesus Empowered by The Spirit

In this video ( Why We Won’t Sing Bethel Music in Our Church ),[1] Costi Hinn and friends accuse Bill Johnson of heresy concerning the incarnation or humanity of Jesus.

They quote Johnson saying, “laid His divinity aside,” “as a man,” and “did these miracles.” They say from this Johnson and other Charismatics like him teach the false doctrine we are to be like Jesus, by being filled with the Spirit and working miracles like Him.

Costi Hinn (along with Dale Thackrah Kyle Swanson) concludes that Johnson’s statements mean, “Jesus was not God, when He did these miracles,” and therefore it is “heresy to say Jesus was not God.”

I will not stay long on this point, other than to say, from what was quoted, (not regarding the totality of what Johnson says, for I have not read the book) Cosit slandered and bore false witness against Johnson. The phrase “laid His divinity aside,” could as easily mean, Jesus was still God, but did not chose to use all that was available to Him as God. For example, “Jesus grew in knowledge and wisdom,” does not mean Jesus “was not God”; rather, it means Jesus as a man, laid His infinite knowledge/wisdom aside, (i.e. chose not to use it), while the eternal Son of God still had His infinite knowledge (more on how this works later).

Jesus said that He “cast out Satan by the Spirit,” and not His own power. It was the Spirit who empowered the man Jesus Christ, for ministry, it was not Jesus’ own power that empowered Him for ministry. Jesus chose to use the power of the Spirit for ministry. This does not mean Jesus never used His own authority or power, in any way whatsoever, but that Jesus born as a man, under the Law, chose to operate in that limitation, and so was anointed by the Spirit (Isaiah 61) to do ministry and miracles. Jesus grew in knowledge like a normal man would; and this does not mean Jesus was not God or stop being divine. Example, I can choose to not use my right arm, without my arm ceasing to exit.

I do not know what all Johnson teaches on this, and I have no reason to care. What I care about it that these men claim to be intellectually and morally superior, and they are not; they are intellectually broken and morally wicked. They are slanderers.

For a more detailed look into what it means for the Son of God to be clothed in humanity, look at Vincent Cheung’s Systematic Theology (2010) pages 140-142.  Here are some selected quotes from this book.

“…In a similar way, the doctrinal formulation for the personhood and incarnation of Christ states that he is one in one sense, and two in a different sense. That is, he is one person who possesses two natures. To ensure the clarity and coherence of this doctrine, we need to define the terms and relate them to the doctrine of the Trinity. The way “nature” is used in the doctrine of the incarnation is similar to the way “essence” is used for the Trinity. They refer to the definition of something, and the definition of something refers to the attributes or properties of something. A “person” is again defined by the consciousness or intellect.

In the incarnation, God the Son took up a human nature, or human attributes. The divine and the human natures did not combine or mingle, so that both sets of attributes remained separate. His divine nature was not diminished by his human nature, and his human nature was not deified by his divine nature. Since the divine nature was not modified by the human nature, as indeed the divine nature cannot be modified, this doctrinal formulation reaffirms the immutability of God the Son. And indeed, a human nature cannot be deified, and neither can deity be conferred. Since deity is eternal, if a person is not deity to begin with, he can never become deity.

God the Son took up a human nature, and a human nature must include a human soul or mind. Although a “person” is defined in terms of the mind or intellect, the doctrine is that Christ remains one person even though he possesses two natures. This is so because of the definition of a person as a system of consciousness, and because of the nature of the relationship between the divine mind and the human mind.

First, we must insist that Christ is one “person,” because the Bible never refers to him as “they,” as it sometimes does the Trinity. Based on the way that the Bible refers to him, the way that he refers to himself, and the way that he behaves, there is no reason to think that he is not one person. Thus there is a need to arrive at a formulation that retains the view that Christ is one person even though he has two centers of consciousness. This need is not arbitrary, but it is necessitated by the biblical data.

The proper formulation is to state that God the Son took up a human nature, including a human mind, in such a manner that the human mind is contained by the divine mind, although the two are not in any way mingled or confused. Whereas the divine mind has complete control over the human mind, the human mind does not have free access to the divine mind, but it receives special information and capabilities only as granted by the divine mind…”

The important point of Vincent’s formulation is this, Jesus’ “human nature was not deified by his divine nature.” This doctrine is immune to contradiction. It still affirms the full deity of the Son of God and that His deity never stopped existing in all its fullness.

Thus, I can say, in context of the explained doctrine, “Jesus put aside His deity,” and “as a man, was filled with the Spirit, and did miracles as a man empowered by the Spirit.” Jesus commands us to be men (albeit born-from-above men), filled with the Spirit, and work His same miracles. Jesus says He did His whole ministry by the Spirit, quoting Isaiah. Peter says in Acts 2 that Jesus has given us this empowerment of the Spirit, as a promise of the Father. Paul says this Spirit and miracle power for us, is part of the ancient promise to Abraham. Jesus our forerunner, showed us how to be men born-from-above, filled with faith and the Spirit of power.

“Third, since that time the promise of the Father — the Holy Spirit — has been poured out. The effect of this baptism of the Spirit (Acts 1:5) is to infuse the followers of Jesus with the same power to work miracles (Acts 1:8, Luke 24:49) that Jesus himself possessed (Luke 4:14, 8:46, Acts 10:38). This power could heal the sick and cast out demons (Acts 10:38, Matthew 12:28), and it also produces visions, dreams, prophecies, and speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4, 2:17-18).”[2]

Even if some Charismatics do not explain the incarnation in perfect precision, I couldn’t care less, and it does not matter. Tradition is not as great as they think are in their statements about the humanity of Jesus; therefore, tradition is less than unimportant to me. Seriously, if I cared any less, I’d be dead. And despite some narrowly correct statements about the incarnation by the Reformed, any Charismatic, with their less precise doctrine, but who works miracles in faith and power of the Spirit, 10,000 more times apply a correct doctrine of the incarnation than all the Reformed tradition and books, and churches combined. This is the legacy of faith and shout of value to the Spirit, which the Charismatics have (as imperfect as they are).

The issue is this, the Bible explains the doctrine. Those who criticize the Charismatics either slander them, or make non-relevant personal attacks, while ignoring the Biblical doctrine that is clearly taught by others, like Vincent Cheung. Because the Bible correctly explains the incarnation, and the human ministry of Jesus, and Jesus’ own command for us to do His works (even doing greater works) the Reformed’s attack on the Charismatics (despite some of their sloppy or undetailed explanations) is ultimately an attack on the Bible itself. This is the Reformed’s legacy and damnation.

————–Endnotes————

[1] Why We Won’t Sing Bethel Music in Our Church ep. 10.

[2] Vincent Cheung. Behold I Give you Power. From the ebook, Hero. 2022. pg 89

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

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.

God’s Authority & Not Man’s Freedom Makes Man Accountable

Before going over a more positive stating of God’s sovereignty, we will deal with this idea of man’s responsibility and accountability to God, since the wrong doctrine of this is used to negate what the Bible says about God’s sovereignty and man.

This is both an ultimate question about God’s sovereignty and Christian ethics, and so, this will be dealt with more in that section.

Man is responsible and accountable to God, not because man is free from God’s direct control; rather it is the complete opposite. Man is accountable, because man is not free to God’s sovereign authority to hold man accountable.[1] Accountability does not presuppose freedom; rather, it presupposes a sovereign authority that you cannot escape from. Without a parent, how is child (if you can still call them that) responsible? Without teachers, students (if you can still call them that) are not accountable. Without a government of some sort, citizens (if you can still call them that) are not responsible.  

The point is, if you take the authority away, accountability is not merely partially removed, it is completely removed. On the other hand, I can hold my clay vase accountable for not talking to me, by slamming against the wall, and then throwing it into the fire. Whether or not you like this, is not the question. The issue is painfully obvious, even without freedom, my sovereign authority over the clay vase, is all that is needed to make it accountable. 

And in fact, this is exactly what Paul says in Romans 9 when the issue of how is man being accountable to God, when man is not free from God controlling man (like how God controlled Pharaoh, by hardening his heart).

Also, if you recall earlier comments about God’s transcendence, God is not merely above being accountable; God is categorically not even related to such a category. There is nothing above God. There is no other power. There is no other causality. There is no possibility for God not to be absolutely sovereign, and so it is impossible for there to even be a possibility or another power or metaphysical dualism. Because the possibility is not even possible, it means God is categorically separate from such a term. Is color above the concept of numbers, or do they have no necessary relation to even be considered in such a way? Because God is transcendent to man in this regard, we therefore know, when a person tries to apply accountability to God, by relating how it works with man, just made a metaphysical, intellectual and ethical no, no (to say it nicely).

First, Paul brings in the example of the twins who were, one chosen for mercy and the other damnation—before they were born or had done good or bad choices—to show God’s choices and His resulting causation from these choices includes both good and bad; both light and dark; both mercy and damnation. Paul then brings in additional examples of the old testament regarding a positive choosing and then also a negative choosing. Moses is the example for mercy and the Pharaoh is the example of damnation.

This is classic systematic theology. Paul is bringing in different passages ranging over the Scripture that address the same theological category. From this Paul then gives a summary of a doctrinal statement that is to be believed and obeyed. “God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others, so they refuse to believe.” And this doctrinal comprehension includes what Paul stated before in the formation of it: “before they are born or had done good or evil.

If some say that the twins were a representation of nations, then Paul’s point is made even more so, for then it would mean, before millions were born or had made choices of good or evil that God chose some would obtain mercy and some damnation.[2] This point, logically therefore, is a point of non-relevance. However, this objection shows that such a person not only is defective in their objection but demonstrates they miss the entirety of what Paul is doing here. Paul is doing systematic theology. He brings many individuals and then asserts with logic and divine inspiration, that these are not an exception of God’s power and active; rather, Paul shows this is how God uses this power of causality over all humans for all time. That is, categorical premises of “all,” not some. 

Back to Paul’s doctrinal statement. He does not wish for people to miss the point. One can see how Paul bracketed the part about the twins (before they had made choices of good or evil) in the verse. Paul wanted to head off the misinterpretation that despite being born, God looked ahead and considered the twins choices of good or evil, to then decide who to show mercy and who to dam to hell. And so, Paul stops the flow of the statement to clarify that God did not consider their choices in determining their future of heaven or hell. 

God punishes the Pharaoh after saying He first hardened (first mention in Exodus) the Pharaoh’s heart. To this Paul’s opponent says,

if Pharaoh went along with God’s causality(ontology)

—that is, to be hard hearted and resist God’s command(ethic)

—then why is Pharaoh punished?”

This objection is bottom of the barrel stupid and displays a mind that is spiritually broken and mentally faulty.  Again, this is like saying trees and cats are the same, therefore, why don’t’ trees walk? It is a category fallacy.  All Christian ethics are God’s commandments. The Pharaoh was a lawbreaker by disobeying God’s command to let His people go. He is guilty, not because He did or did not resist God’s causality, but because He resisted obeying God’s command.

Some say that man is “more than a clay pot.” This is true, but only if whole analogy is taken up together.[3] Thus, if man is more than clay, then God is infinitely much more than a mere potter. Therefore, as much as man is more than clay, it is not a true infinite. God however is truly infinitely more than a mere man. Thus, if the analogy is taken up then the point of God’s sovereign control over man’s destinies apart from man’s choice is literally made “infinity” stronger.

This clay analogy reminds of how teachers and preachers today directly contradict the Scriptures teaching. They are blasphemers who would rather suffer the Scripture to nonsense, than let their cowardly souls suffer from confessing their unbelief. It appears popular in many Christian traditions to say God takes a wicked clay lump and God chooses to let some remain in this wicked lump state and make them into wicked pots. In addition, God chooses to take some of this wicked clay lump save them and make them into a good clay pot.  How obvious that this is not what the verse says. The lump is not already wicked or good. It is unformed, without choices of good or evil. It is a neutral unformed lump. It is like what is said about Jacob and Esau, “before they had done good or evil,” God decided to love one and hate the other.

This lines up with the objection Paul’s opponent brings up.

“If the Creator takes me from a neutral clay lump(that is not already bad) and makes me into a wicked pot, and I obviously go along with God’s causality, then why does God find fault with me, even if He commanded me to do good?”

This question of “responsibility” is precisely what Paul’s opponent asks in Romans 9:19.

…Therefore you will say to me, “Why then does he still find fault? For who has resisted[o] his will? (LEB)

…Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?” (NLT)

We will now put into the verse the clear terms for command(responsibility) and God’s absolute causality: or Christian ethics and Christian ontology.

“Why does God [hold people responsible] for not responding [to His command]?

Haven’t they simply done what [He absolutely directly causes them to do]?

or

“Why then does he still find fault? [Ethics]

For who has resisted[o] his will? [Ontology]

Thus, Paul’s opponent is dealing with the issue of man’s responsibility when man is considered relative to God controlling and causing man to do. Paul’s opponent correctly restates Paul’s position about God’s absolute sovereignty saying “who has resisted God’s will (causality/sovereign control). Paul’s opponent understands that Paul position is that God is actively and absolute controlling man. The opponent says that “no person has resisted God’s will.” God’s will here is defined in context to me God’s causality not command, because it is painfully obvious people resist obeying God’s commands.

Thus, the opponent is saying,

Paul, your position is that no person has never resisted God’s causality, in causing them to make good or evil choices; but, if that is true, then why does God still hold us responsibly for things He sovereignly caused us to do?”

On the contrary, O man, who are you who answers back to God? Will what is molded say to the one who molded it, “Why did you make me like this”? Or does the potter not have authority over the clay, to make from the same lump a vessel that is for honorable use and one that is for ordinary use?
(Romans 9:20-21 LEB)

Paul’s reply is interesting because it ignores the fallacy of the opponent, and simply gives a positive answer about God’s authority and power. The fallacy of the opponent lies in what we disused earlier about God’s transcendence over commands given to man.  God is not merely above the laws; rather, laws do not categorically apply to Him. The Bible defines sin and evil as lawlessness. Thus, you cannot accuse God of sin or a wrong, without a law being transgressed by God. But laws do not categorically apply to God. Thus, it is categorically impossible for God to do sin or evil. It is not that God can do evil but chooses not to. No. The possibility does not even exist.

Who are you who answers back to God?” Paul ignores this, in that He does not address it directly; rather, Paul rebukes the opponent in this way: “as a man you are acting like God and as a man are trying to put God under a law.” The opponent has the role of God and man flipped. That is, the opponent’s position is not merely a little bit wrong, it is upside-down wrong.

The potter [has] AUTHORITY over the clay, to make from the same lump…” Remember the context is about why is man responsible. If ever there was a time for the Bible to say man’s accountability is based on freedom or freewill, now is the time. Now is the foundational issue or linchpin about man’s responsibility. Paul gives his positive answer to why man is responsible to God. God is an AUTHORITY OVER THE MAN. The answer given is NOT “God gave man freedom.” NO. The contradiction of this is given. Man is NOT free from God’s AUTHORITY to make man however He wants.

The way Paul does answer this presupposes what we just went over; that responsibility presupposes a higher authority and not freedom. If you are responsible, then it means you are not free, but under an authority. Paul’s answer to why people are responsible—even like Pharaoh, by performing the works God causes them to perform—is that God is an authority over them. That is, Paul appeals to that fact that God is a sovereign authority over us. We are responsible precisely because we are not free, but under God’s authority.

It can be said that God makes it—as an additive—that having more knowledge makes us guiltier. This can be said about metaphysics on a relative level when said about us. That is, we are led away by “OUR” own desires. However, both additives only work as adding to our responsibility because God as an “authority” over us commands it so! That is, without us being free from God’s sovereign authority and control over us, He adds additional rewards and condemnation if we have more knowledge (knowledge that He chose to give or not give us).

For the God’s elect children, the point is that though Jesus Christ’s imputed righteous (ethics) they have completed the requirement of obeying God. They have been credited with a perfect Christian ethic that is fulfilled and the receipt printed off. After new birth they are given the Holy Spirit that causes(ontology) them to behave in accordance with the perfect obedience already credited to their accounts. That is, as Pharaoh could not resist God causing him to reject His command, the Elect cannot resist the Holy Spirit causing them to be sanctified


—-Endnotes——

[1] I learned to say this doctrine in this way from Vincent Cheung (and some from Gordon Clark). See Vincent’s many mentions of this in his books. (www.vincentcheung.com)

[2] I learned this argument from Vincent Cheung. See, “More than a Potter.”

[3] This basic idea of taking the analogy up with both parts was brought to my attention by an essay of Vincent Cheung, “More Than A Potter.” Found in “Author of Evil.” 2014. Ch.18.