Sovereignty of God

The Gospel Applied: "The Artist" (Part 1)

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Almost in the perfect center of the north end of the city of Paris, the hill of Montmartre and its grand white Cathedral of “Sacré-Cœur” (Sacred Heart) seem perched above the city. From the church you are afforded one of the most magnificent views of the “city of lights” that doesn’t require going up in a rickety elevator on an old “erector set” called the Eiffel Tower.

Montmartre is noted for several things, but probably best known for the quarter’s daily working street artists. Gathered near the square due west of the church, these artists sit in front of easels painting either in oils or watercolor, while others around them are sketching, chalking and creating in a host of artistic media.

Though I could not do what they do, I confess that I love to walk around and see artists at work.

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The God Who is There - Romans 9:1-10:4 (Part 2)

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Recognition of God’s sovereignty in His work with people can be a tough subject to tackle. Even believers can become so earthly minded that we forget that God is not an elected leader Who seeks our approval. He is the Supreme. He is the Creator. All answer to Him, and He answers to none.

That can be deeply offensive to the American mind, but that makes it no less true. God is God—and as such, He is the Planner, the Author and the King. Don’t skip what Paul wrote and focus only on the offense: Paul made the point that God had (and has) a plan. He is at work. He has decided on the basis of His own desire to work through some people, and that wasn’t based entirely on them—but on His sovereign right to make such a decision.

Before you dive into what seems objectionable about those words, look at them. If you have a relationship with the Living God, you can celebrate the fact that you are not a cosmic accident. God has a plan He is working. He wanted you, and He chose you! How can that not be an exciting reality?

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A Forty-year Providence

When I first saw it, it was all jumbled up with grocery ads and direct mail fliers that urged me to consider the metaphysical significance of my current gutter system. But this piece of mail, this greeting-sized envelope postmarked from Long Island, NY, was less noisy, unassuming somehow. I recognized the handwriting as belonging to my husband’s grandmother—a carefully-formed script that she’d learned through hours of instruction in elementary school, back before the ubiquitous keyboards and touch screens that now dominate our lives.

The card, I assumed, would be a late birthday card with the requisite birthday check. I’d heard from my mother-in-law how sorry her own mother was about the delay and how they had had so many things happening and to look for it soon. But when I opened it, it wasn’t what I expected. The envelope did include a check, but instead of a birthday card, it was a “Get Well Soon” card. Inside the same script had written:

Hope this card is inappropriate and that your recovery is complete!! Oh, and by the way—Happy Birthday!!

Still, it was fitting. I had been sick a couple weeks earlier and so perhaps a belated “Get Well Soon” was as relevant as a belated “Happy Birthday.”

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The Bible on Clark Pinnock's Open Theism, Part 2

Read Part 1.

Other Passages Answer Clark Pinnock’s Open Theism

Genesis 6:6—God is sorry and grieves. The LXX uses the word enthumeomai, which is simply to consider or think about, not to “be sorry” (See Matt 1:20). The Hebrew nachem is to have sorrow or to console oneself. Clearly God has emotional responses to the deeds of men. Still, this gives no indication of what God did or did not know beforehand. If He wants to have foreknowledge and still be saddened by what takes place, does He not have the right to do that? Or is He only allowed to express emotion if He follows the rules of open theism?

Genesis 8:1, 9:15-16 (and Ex 6:5)—God’s remembering is not indicative of His otherwise forgetting. Rather it points to a return to focus of that which is remembered. God didn’t forget Noah or the covenant. To assume that God’s remembering requires His first forgetting demands the presupposition that God has the same limitations as humanity. To use God’s remembering as an argument that He forgets or does not know, requires presupposing that the premise of open theism is correct before examining the biblical data.

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The Bible on Clark Pinnock's Open Theism, Part 1

The problem of evil presents a challenge for philosophers and theologians who hold to the existence of God. Simply stated, the problem includes three conditional premises and a concluding question: If God is all powerful, all knowing, and all beneficent, then how can evil exist? In order to resolve the problem that the concluding question implies, one of the three premises has to be denied or altered.

While I would suggest that the problem can only be resolved by understanding and defining the beneficence of God through the lens of His holiness (as emphasized in Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4), the theology of divine openness, otherwise known as open theism, attempts to answer the question by denying the other two premises. Open theism is on the extreme end of the “free-will” spectrum as a philosophical attempt at resolving the problem.

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