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Thread: What does the word "means" mean to you?

  1. #61
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    Vadim, I’m going to have to summarize my thoughts and try and bring this together somehow.

    Firstly, I do not view the essence of God as only what he is in His transcendence. When in his immanence He has communicated certain truths in revelation, I believe these truths are commanded for man to believe and that they express the particular portion of His essence, nature, and character that the particular truth communicated reveals.
    I do not believe ‘mystery’ applies to what God has revealed once a regenerate believer learns the truth of revelation on any particular issue of the gospel. These things are only a mystery to unsaved humanity, as Christ taught in His parables regarding the kingdom.

    I’m sorry, I thought both ‘contradiction’ and ‘non-contradiction’ were included in the ‘law of contradiction’, in the sense contradiction and non-contradiction are both defined in logical propositions. I guess I accept your point that God created such a law, however, many teach that God speaks in true paradoxes that we cannot resolve (and I abhor that). Even for unregenerate people, reason and logic following all the ‘rules’ of non-contradiction can be used to teach anything persuasively (as any humanist knows). So the 'law of contradiction' is inadequate for the unbeliever. Only once we know the truth of the gospel does the error of speaking dialectically regarding revealed truth become apparent (in my view). Having said that, logic and reason are still subordinate to God's sovereign revealed will but I don't believe anything in His revealed will will be contradictory or truly paradoxical (other than what might 'appear' to be such when isolating a misuse of textual verbage from the whole of scripture).

    Anyway, I have agreed with you that God has absolute freedom, there are reasons I don’t like to term this ‘free will’ but don’t want to debate that now. I also agree that we cannot know the essence of God in his infinity or transcendence beyond what is revealed. For what is revealed, our knowledge of God’s essential nature, character, and covenant purposes on those things begin in regeneration and mature over time.

    Bro. Bob
    Last edited by Bob Higby; 02-04-19 at 12:38 AM.

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  3. #62
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    I almost forgot. I do need to state the points I will not concede and cannot perceive myself as conceding.

    1. I will not affirm that God cannot do certain things, for the NT clearly says such there are such things (2 Tim. 2:13, Titus 1:2). So I still stop short of confessing that He has no constraints on His freedom as God (though I confess that He has absolute freedom and believe I'm not contradicting the other point I've made).

    2. I will not answer the question 'can God make a square circle' because I think anyone will answer that either way according to their bias and it resolves nothing.

    3. The key question of Christ's immutability as God as it relates to His incarnation, did He have the free will to choose to sin (again, considering 2 Tim. 2:13 above) or should we state that He was unable to sin. I don't expect an immediate and simple answer to this, I have debated it on other websites extensively without resolution.

    Bro. Bob

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    Dear Robert!

    You write: "1. I will not affirm that God cannot do certain things, for the NT clearly says such there are such things (2 Tim. 2: 13, Titus 1: 2). So I still stop short of confessing that He has no constraints on His freedom as God (though I confess that He has absolute freedom and believe I'm not contrasting the other point I've made)".

    1) Let's look at two texts from the Scripture:

    a) And he said, Abba, Father, all things [are] possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. (Mk.14:36.)

    b) If we believe not, [yet] he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. (2Ti.2: 13.)

    Jesus asserts,"all things [are] possible unto the." Paul States: "he cannot..."There is a contradiction: The One to whom everything is possible, something can not.
    There are two ways to treat this contradiction:

    a) to consider the statement "all things [are] possible unto the" in the light of the statement "he cannot...".

    b) consider the statement "he cannot..."in light of the statement' all things [are] possible unto the'.

    You follow the first path. You are considering "all things [are] possible unto the" in light of the statement "he cannot...". As a result, you receive the limitations of God's Almighty will. This result contradicts the dogma of faith about the absolute omnipotence of God's will. This result contradicts what Jesus claimed when he said,"all things [are] possible unto the." This result logically inevitably introduces the picture of" limited God " (my message 43). This is the result of your mind. But your faith tells you that God is absolutely omnipotent in his will, and therefore absolutely free. In the end, you combine the affirmation of reason and the affirmation of faith to produce a paradoxical picture: God is absolutely free, but this freedom is limited. Robert, you may not believe this is a contradiction. But from the point of view of logic it is a contradiction, and nothing else! This is "theology of paradox" in its pure form (100%). Is this theology scriptural? No.

    Let's take the second way. Consider the statement " he cannot..."in light of the statement' all things [are] possible unto the'. We are faced with the question: for what reason the One who can do everything, something can not? The answer can be only one: the One who can all, something can not, just because He does not want it. Not wanting something is an active act of will. There are no restrictions on absolute freedom of will in this act. This act is an actualization of God's absolutely free will! This result corresponds to the dogma of faith about the absolute omnipotence of God. This result is consistent with what Jesus claimed when he said, "all things [are] possible unto the." This result simply and logically explains Paul's statement. As a result, we have a simple and consistent picture of God's absolute omnipotence and God's absolute freedom. Is this theology scriptural? Yes.

    Why did you go the first way and not the second way? Because you had to impose restrictions on the freedom and omnipotence of God in order to guarantee the preservation of the Covenant and, accordingly, receive a guarantee of the salvation of the elect. Therefore, you have interpreted the text of the Apostle Paul as speaking of the limitations of the freedom and omnipotence of God. But confidence in the indissolubility of the Covenant and the guarantee of the salvation of the elect are not in the limitations of God (blasphemous thought), but in God's actualization of his absolutely free Almighty will. I turn to this point.

    2) what is the guarantee of salvation of the elect? The answer is very simple: the very love of God for them is the Guarantee of the salvation of the elect. The essential and integral property of true love is fidelity. Fidelity is one of the manifestations of true love! Election is an absolutely free and omnipotent act of divine love . And in this act of love there is already a guarantee of God's faithfulness to his Covenant, and a guarantee of the salvation of the elect, since the integral property of this love is faithfulness. God's love is absolute. Also absolute and God's faithfulness, because faithfulness is an essential attribute of love. God's love is eternal. The faithfulness of God is also eternal, for faithfulness is an inherent property of love. God revealed his love for the elect in Christ. Christ with his Blood confirmed and imprinted this divine love and faithfulness which is inseparable from this divine love. For this reason, seeking assurance that God will be faithful to his Covenant somewhere outside of God's love for the elect is an affront to God's love. For faith, to seek a guarantee of salvation in the limitations of God's freedom is a blasphemous absurdity!

    3) What do we get in the end?

    a) God is absolutely free and omnipotent. God is God.

    b) the Guarantee of salvation lies in the love of God which was revealed to the chosen in Christ.

    с) the Act of salvation is God's actualization of his absolute freedom and omnipotence.

    Is this theology scriptural? Yes. It's simple, pure, logical.


    4) the application in theology of the methods and techniques of rational speculative philosophy will inevitably lead to the denial of some of the tenets of faith or to the "theology of paradox". Therefore, we need to throw these methods to the dustbin of history.

    Brother Vadim.
    Last edited by Simplici; 02-05-19 at 06:01 AM.

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  7. #64
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    Brethren,

    I am going to respond to a few of Vadim’s points (cited in bold and italics below) but this will be my last post in this thread. I get the impression that attempting to resolve the significant differences in rhetoric here is starting to generate more heat than light & I need to get back to the central gospel passion of my very existence, which has nothing to do with speculative philosophy regardless of what has been alleged of me.

    Jesus asserts,"all things [are] possible unto the." Paul States: "he cannot..."There is a contradiction: The One to whom everything is possible, something can not.
    There are two ways to treat this contradiction


    I cannot follow the ‘two ways’ logic you have outlined following this statement, simply because I do not accept the premise (assertion) that there is a contradiction. What you are citing is a contrast of rhetoric in scripture, I (and many other expositors) to not accept this as a paradox or contradiction. I will admit that ‘restraint’ is potentially the wrong word to use when describing a contrast with ‘freedom’ when it comes to God, simply because the very concept of God’s freedom means so many different things to different people. But for most simple people, ‘absolute freedom’ in God means also Platonic ‘free will’ ascribed to him, which results in the conclusions such as: God might finally get so sick of our foolishness on planet Earth that He will just blow it all up and start over. The same reasoning is used of opponents of the Gospel with regard to denial of the second coming (God will no longer keep this promise because He got tired of man’s wickedness) or forms of Deism (God created everything but in His free-will abandoned all of His creation long ago to itself and the basic laws He invested the creation with). Also, I constantly here ‘what if God had done differently’ in preaching and discussion, which is reasoning that the Bible does not use.

    For me, what we can know in our limited state regarding God’s freedom is revealed in scripture: no one is His counselor, He is not accountable to any outside entity (law or person) for what He purposes and does, He does strictly as He pleases in all of His predestined plan. Then we have His plan of salvation and all associated doctrine clearly stated. The two passages I mentioned from Paul refer to the certainty of God keeping His covenant of redemption and Paul felt comfortably using ‘cannot’ instead of only ‘will not’ in describing this. When God cut the covenant with Abraham in Gen. 15 and passed through the pieces of the animal, He was committed to non-failure in keeping His promises to the extent that ‘cannot fail’ is appropriate language to describe this covenant promise.

    But this is not a philosophical theology of ‘God cannot’ which some of what I have stated has been interpreted as being. For me, stating that God is unable to break His covenant (which the very of nature of a covenant for God implies) is not a broad and ontological philosophy of God’s transcendent being, so I do not see a contradiction or paradox between God’s absolute freedom and the rhetorical statement that He cannot do certain things.

    The Guarantee of salvation lies in the love of God which was revealed to the chosen in Christ. Agreed, provided that ‘love’ (a very confusing English word when used generally) is the equivalent of charity, generosity, beneficence, kindness and not ‘passionate sentiment’ as it typically means in English common use today.

    God is absolutely free and omnipotent. God is God. YES!

    the Act of salvation is God's actualization of his absolute freedom and omnipotence. YES!

    Is this theology scriptural? Yes. It's simple, pure, logical. YES IT IS, AGREED!

    the application in theology of the methods and techniques of rational speculative philosophy will inevitably lead to the denial of some of the tenets of faith or to the "theology of paradox"
    This is where we’re going to need to agree to disagree and retain hope in God that the difference between us on this will not impact reasonable discussion of the many issues of gospel theology we interact with on this forum. I do not subscribe to rational speculative philosophy (or any humanistic philosophy, for that matter). Philosophy was my worst hated subject in Theology in college/seminary and I only study it to try and understand what all the ancient and more recent non-Christian philosophers had to say and how to answer their errors to someone hung up on particular philosophical mentors. The ‘law of contradiction/non contradiction’ is a humanistic invention, although I have conceded that part of this applies to scriptural revelation from the standpoint of affirming that the assertions of scripture when considered as a whole are consistent and are not paradoxical/contradictory. Of course, as I stated earlier, the Christ-haters will always use the perceived contrasting rhetoric of the Bible to condemn it—even if this is nothing but constructing a very ugly and offensive ‘straw man’.

    On to my passion, affirming the true Gospel without human distortion (to the extent that the Lord gifts me for doing so) and exposing the errors in the history of dogma (contrasted with the truth) that compromise the gospel and muddy it up.

    If you wish to post a last word on this subject I will leave it as it stands just I have done in the thread on philosophy.

    Eternal Grace and Peace in the Lord Jesus Christ, Bro. Bob
    Last edited by Bob Higby; 02-06-19 at 02:45 PM. Reason: correction of errors in entry

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    No comment. This is my last post in this thread.

    Brief history of the discussion:

    " He acts out of the constraint of His own nature..." Robert Higby (post 22)
    "I do not believe the nature of God itself is limited in any sense..." Robert Higby (post 57)

    Mercy and peace in Christ to all brothers and sisters!

    Vadim
    Last edited by Simplici; 02-06-19 at 06:09 PM.

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    Thank you Bro. Vadim for reminding me of the importance of words and how we use them in expressing our thoughts.

    Thank you Bro. Bob for providing an occasion for the reminder.

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    Gentlemen, I am so glad that this discussion was maintained in a friendly manner, but I do think some clarity can still be offered.

    First, to say that logic is a part of the created order makes God a confused being. Think with me for a moment on what this says about the Godhead before creation. If logic was created alongside the rest of the laws of reality, then God was illogical before creation. His thoughts were unordered and chaotic. This idea completely destroys the decree of God, which all happened before creation itself. Now while Clark did take this idea a little far, he said it well. Logic is the way God's mind works. It is not a law unto Him, it is a part of His essential nature. Just as He is just, good, loving, wrathful, and the like, He is logical. We describe Him as such because He tells us to. We are called to be logical (to organize our thoughts in accordance with logic) because this is the mind of Christ. It is not a restriction on God, it is a descriptor. We are saying that these laws that we have over us are to give us the character that God has. We are to emulate Him, and this is a way in which we do that. Logic is not a law that God obeys, it is that system that He organizes his own thoughts by. So long as God was thinking, He was doing so logically.

    Second, I am amazed that so many people missed the point that would end this discussion completely. No one is restricting God's freedom to say that he acts according to His nature. Scripture tells us everywhere that God acts and plans according to His good will. His good will comes out of his very nature. His nature is truth and goodness and light. He never acts or decrees otherwise. Again this is no restriction, it is a descriptor. God cannot sin because He is good and never desires to sin. He will never desire to sin because of who He is, not because some law of His nature forces Him to. We all agree God is completely free and nothing outside Him compels Him, but even scripture says His nature compels Him. It's who He is. His freedom is a lack of force or constraint, not to say that He has no driving force in Him. HE IS GOD ALMIGHTY, KING AND SOVEREIGN OF ALL! His nature is beautiful and could not be otherwise. God did not create His own nature, or decide His attributes. No one and nothing dictates to Him how to think or behave. All of His freedom comes from His essential nature, just as all His other attributes.

    I desperately wanted to say this, whether I helped the discussion I cannot say. I hope I have expressed my own faith in the God who is and faithful represented His word.

    May God be the Judge

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