God’s S.C.A.L.E. of Mercy and Justice.
- Separated by Sin
- Chosen in Christ
- Available to All
- Lovingly given Life
- Entered for Eternity
God’s SCALE of mercy and justice was introduced at the end of my last blog God’s Justice and Mercy in Romans Chapter 9 . The acronym SCALE helps me recall and describe how God in His Grace, has granted the opportunity for salvation to all who will come. It is also a view of God that does not require Him to have two wills in the redemption of men. One will, where He pleads with us to turn to Him and desires all people to be saved, and a secret will, where He ONLY calls certain “Elect” to salvation, leaving no opportunity for the Non-Elect to come. This is a contradiction that I believe cannot be possible with God.
My goal is to describe and support the theology behind the SCALE acronym. However, this post is intended as an overview and I am also working on dedicated posts for each letter in SCALE. I will be defending God’s nature and character as seen in His justice and mercy towards every man, woman and child in His creation… past, present and future.
As you read keep in mind what God says about scales.
Levit. 19:35-36 – You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
Proverbs 11:1-2 – Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight.
Justice and honesty are a delight to God, and He calls us to be honest and just, as He Himself is. Before getting into SCALE and its underlying theology, here is a brief look at what theology IS and is NOT.
WHAT IS THEOLOGY ?
Theology is for all Christians, not just for seminary or Bible school students. It involves an active and ongoing search of the scriptures with the goal of knowing God, and His will. Theology then, is what we, as the created ones, eventually come to understand about our Creator. Ultimately, God is beyond what we can fully understand, and we will often fall short in our understanding. Even so, we should never stop searching out the wonders of our great God.
We should, like the Bereans in Acts 17, be searching the scriptures daily.
Acts 17:11 – These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
Good theology will not be based on life experiences, feelings, traditions, or institutes of men. It is found in God’s word alone, diligently studied by His children. Well meaning and sincere Christians can and do differ in the interpretations of certain scriptures. As a result, conflict within the body of Christ can occur. In a church, when these differences cannot be overcome, separation may be necessary when it is for the sake of keeping peace in the brotherhood. Here is a quote from the book If You Bite & Devour One Another by Alexander Strauch, that I have found to be true…
Our differences regarding some doctrinal beliefs may be so significant with certain believers that they prevent us from ministering together. But, as brothers and sisters in the Lord, we can still pray together and enjoy each other’s company on a personal level. At such times, we put our differences aside and focus on our Christian fellowship together and common beliefs in Christ. As Whitefield said to Wesley, “May all disputing cease, and each of us talk of nothing but Jesus and him crucified.”
The author above also admonishes us Christians by quoting J. C. Ryle who said the following…
Keep the walls of separation as low as possible, and shake hands over them as often as you can.
I will not convince anyone SCALE is good theology. You must, by fervent study, with the Holy Spirit’s help and illumination, “find out whether these things” are so.
I urge you to study how God has revealed Himself from the start of scripture to it’s end. Let your theological understanding rest comfortably within God’s attributes, clearly stated throughout the Bible. (See this blog on God’s attributes) All theology must be in agreement with God’s revealed attributes.
Separated by Sin
Romans 5:12 – Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.
In God’s SCALE we must first recognize that we are ALL sinners in need of God’s mercy and Grace. The Bible tells us in Romans 5:12 that because of Adam’s sin, we are separated from God who is LIFE, and are ALL in need of His salvation. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says “For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.” As descendents of Adam we live under sins curse and are called slaves of unrighteousness and sin.
There are some who believe that man inherited more than just a sin nature which separates us from God and inclines us to follow our own selfish heart. They believe that man is completely dead to God due to Adam’s sin of rebellion. In their view, we cannot respond to God when He calls through His Spirit and the Gospel because we are unable to, being as a corpse dead. This view is never taught in scripture.
What about Romans 5:12 quoted above? It does say “death spread to all men”.
WHEN IS DEAD really DEAD?
The primary question is this, does spiritual death mean we are born spiritually unable to turn to God?
First, what does the Bible tell us about the condition of man after the fall of Adam?
Genesis 3: 22-24 – Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
It is clear, from Genesis 3 that Adam’s act rebellion gave man his first taste and knowledge of evil, but also left intact Adam’s ability to know good and do good in God’s eyes. Remember also, Able’s sacrifice was acceptable to God. God does not teach us in His word that people are unable turn to Him and please Him in obedience. God calls on men over and over to turn to Him. However, because of sin and because God is righteous, man had to be separated from everlasting life (God). Man was NOT separated from the possibility of restoration. In our separation, we are as good as dead unless God does something to change our spiritual state. God is life, so to be separated from Him is in fact to be dead in our sin.
Jesus taught the same concept in his parable of the prodigal son. By his own choice this rebellious son left his father’s house and squandered away his inheritance with worldly living. What does the father say and do when his son returned home?
Luke 15: 21-24 – And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
The prodigal son was not physically dead, but was as good as dead to his father, due to his separation and fallen state. How was he restored? He returned and in humility before his father and was given his life back. His father had no obligation to, but in mercy and love he granted his son his life and restored him. Also, the father did not force his son to return to his life. As hard as it was, it would seem that the father waited and grieved, but had hope that his son would return. This is clearly seen in how the father responded when his son finally returns.
Jesus admonishes the Pharisees and scribes with this parable because they were complaining that he kept company with sinners. They couldn’t see it, but Jesus was pointing out that bringing life to dead sinners was the very reason why he was in the world. The parable describes how God, our heavenly Father works in bringing salvation to the sinner. Also, the heavenly hosts react in jubilation, just like the prodigal son’s father, when sinners repent. Jesus said this earlier in Luke 15:7…
Luke 15:7 – I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
We should understand spiritual deadness by how it is used throughout scripture without adding to it our own theological requirements. Dead sinners are always shown in scripture to have the ability to choose life.
The analogy of being a slave is also used when Paul talks about our condition prior to receiving Christ. As a slave of sin our fruit is bad and leads only to death. When we are bought by God out of that bondage, Paul says we become slaves of God. Our lives should now be characterized by good fruit. That does not mean we never deny God’s Spirit working within us. As a “Slave of God” we still sin and fall short of the mark.
Romans 6:20-23 – For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Physical and spiritual death are a result of the rebellion of man, this is clear. But the most terrible death is a spiritual one, eternal separation from God. Spiritual death is the ‘really dead’ from which there is no return or second chance. The only hope we have is salvation in Jesus Christ, God’s gift. Spiritual death is assured if God’s provision is rejected in unbelief. God leaves this choice with each person He creates.
Consider also, if we were born unable to turn to God, why would Satan be said to be blinding those who do not believe?
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
What need is there to blind those who were born unable to see because they are dead? This verse and others do not fit with the idea that spiritual deadness equals inability.
The gospel of Christ is not hid! It shines out brightly and gives life to all who will believe. It is the power of God unto salvation breaking down the middle wall of separation caused by sin. When we believe, we are identified as being in Christ, and therefore we are no longer dead in sin.
Chosen in Christ
Ephesians 1:4 – According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.
This verse in Ephesians is often used as a proof text for the idea of individual election to salvation by God in eternity past. An idea that is never clearly stated in scripture and also, not introduced until hundreds of years after the last books of the New Testament were completed. The doctrine was first articulated and popularized by a 4th century church father named Augustine during his debates with Pelagius. Many other bible passages like this one are used, most out of context in support of this view of election.
Ephesians 1:13-14 – In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
1 Corinthians 15:22 – For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
1 Peter 2:6 – Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”
Ephesians 2:4-5 – But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Romans 12:5 – so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
Ephesians 3:9-12 – And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence THROUGH FAITH in Him…
1 John 1:1-3 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:9 – That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Available to All
Psalms 34:18 – The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
The Bible is clear about who can come to the LIFE found in Christ. Jesus himself declares that he calls all people in the world because we are all sinners! However, there are some who believe that Jesus only died for a few chosen “elect” before time began.
Luke 5:32 – I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
How many times does the Bible state that salvation is for everyone? There are over a hundred verses that say salvation is offered to everyone.
1 John 2:2 – He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world.
The Bible says God desires the salvation of those who are perishing.
2 Peter 3:9 – He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
The Bible says people are going to Hell against God’s will.
1 Corinthians 15:34 – For there are some who are ignorant of God–I say this to your shame.
It is inconsistent with the nature of God, revealed over and over in His Word, to say God selected the “elect” to salvation individually, effectively sending all others to eternal torment with no hope.
God is sovereign and this is without question. We have seen his sovereign choices throughout his Word. Yet underlying all Gods choices, He ALWAYS gives the same message to the wicked. “Believe on me, REPENT or face judgement”. NEVER is any wicked person destroyed only for God’s glory. The opposite is true, God takes no pleasure in those who are lost.
Ezekiel 18:23 – Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?
Here are just a few examples in the scriptures of God calling sinners to repentance…
Luke 13:5 – I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Revelation 2:21 – And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not
Revelation 3:19 – As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Matthew 4:17 – From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mark 1:15 – And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Acts 8:22 – Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
Acts 17:30 – And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.
Acts 3:19 – Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
Revelation 2:22 – Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
Ezekiel 18:21 – But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
Ezekiel 18:30 – Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
Acts 20:21 – Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 7:10 – For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
Acts 2:38 – Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 26:20 – But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
Isaiah 55:7 – Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Matthew 9:13 – But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
To read the overwhelming evidence in scripture and then use verses out of context to support the idea that God does not give an opportunity for all people turn, or worse yet, that God ordains their evil to highlight His glory, is a serious error. Paul refutes such an idea in Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! God ordains or determines NO sin. He allows it for a time only. It is because of His grace and mercy that God provides the remedy, and that He is long suffering with our sinful world. Likewise God asks us to be merciful as He is. God is not going do less than He asks his children to do.
Matthew 5:7 – Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Proverbs 14:22 – Do they not err that devise evil? but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.
Proverbs 3:3 – Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart.
Luke 10:37 – And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Salvation is available to ALL people! However, the blood of Christ must be applied to the doorposts of your heart. Believe in Christ, and God is faithful to give LIFE. Why? NOT because of anything in us but because God is Love!
1 John 4:16 – And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
Lovingly Given Life
1 John 4:7 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
Love is not really love if it is forced on someone. Our experience tells us it is impossible to force others to love us. Of course God is fully able to force His will on any part of His universe. He is able to simply make us believe and love Him. But what kind of love would that be? It would not be recognizable as the love that God has revealed to us in His word. God’s love sent Jesus into the world. In fact, God has always been LOVE. Consider what Jesus said in his prayer to God the Father just before the cross…
John 17:20-23 – I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Jesus prays that the world would know he was sent by God, and that God loves us just as He loved Jesus in eternity. This amazing truth comes from our savior! God the Son, because of his love for God the Father, willingly bore the cross in obedience, out of love for the Father and the sinner.
God does not force His love and life on anyone. We do not see Him say this in His word..“I have made you, you will believe and love me because I have willed it to be so.” Certainly God made us, who believe and know Him, to reflect His kind of love. Remember, He also said this….
Genesis 1:26a – And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: .
God said “Let us make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness”. The triune God who dwells in love from eternity, created us with the ability to dwell in love. We were made to love and to be loved just as God loves Jesus and Jesus loves the Father. So what kind of love is God’s kind of love?
Romans 5:8 – But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
It is a love that went to the cross for sinners…an amazing sacrificial love. Jesus is the ultimate expression of God’s love, and we are called to love people with that same love. This is only possible if we are in Christ.
I Corinthians 13:4-13 – Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Colossians 3:14 – But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
I John 3:17 whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
Acts 20:35 – I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
God lovingly gives life through his son, who came in love, and was lifted up on a cross to give God’s life to all who believe.
John 3:14-15 – And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 20:31 – but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
Revelation 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
God’s grace is a wonder. It is amazing! But never does the Bible tell us that it is irresistable. It is clear in God’s word that many people will not accept His provision of LIFE.
John 4:48 – Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.
John 5:40 – And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
Matthew 7:13 – Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
Everyone who has been born, or will be born, has a spirit that will at the end of time, remain in one of two states, eternal life with God…or eternal separation from God.
Genesis 3:4 – And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
The roll will be called someday…On that day billions of souls who, in the pride of life, followed satan’s lie and would not turn to God, will see the book close without hearing their name. Those who’s name God entered into the Lamb’s Book, who believed and followed God, will hear their name and enter into eternal life.
Entered for Eternity
John 5:24 –Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
The only way to “lose” salvation is to never have really believed to begin with. God writes each believers name into the Lamb’s Book of Life. At that moment of belief we pass from death to life. This book is God’s ledger, and no created being can access or alter it. It cannot be hacked. When we believe, our name is entered for eternity and it is NEVER blotted out.
John 10:28 – And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
Revelation tells us that NO one but the Lamb can open the Lamb ‘s Book of Life. This means only God knows who is in the book. ONLY God knows the heart of every man, woman, and child that was, is, or will be.
The Bible is clear that the believer is secure in eternal life. However, it does not promise that as a followers of Christ we will not fall into sin. The idea of “Perseverance of the Saints” leaves many doubting they are saved and elect of God. It also allows some to look at struggling Christians who may have fallen into sin in unrighteous judgement, as the Pharisees would.
What did Jesus say about this?
Matthew 5:7 – Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out themote out of thy brother’s eye.
John 8:7 – So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
There is but one judge and the Bible says it is Jesus. As a believer we are warned not to judge lest we be judged. We are called to work out our own salvation, not by trying prove we are saved by good deeds. But by the examination of our heart daily to see if we are walking in Christ.
Our destination in Christ is assured and we as believers will NOT be judged on our eternal position. We will however be judged on our fruits.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 – For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Works are NEVER connected with our salvation. We may suffer loss of rewards and have the shame of having led a shallow Christian life, but because of the eternal love of God, Son, and Spirit, we shall rest in the eternal life and light of the Lamb.
Revelation 21:23 – And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
This is one of my favorite verses. God says this to His people who are captives in Babylon. God is reminding them that He has a plan and it is a GOOD plan.
When I am tempted to worry, I can trust that my great God has a plan for me. He has a plan for all his children and it is GOOD. What a blessing to know the God who has loved us with an everlasting love, who’s SCALE of Justice and Mercy will never fail!
With that, if you have read this far, I pray that you also know the God who never fails in ALL he does. Who Loves the world he created and who saves anyone who will call out to him.
Please, if you have found anything that you have a question about, or if you see an error, I welcome your questions, comments or corrections.
MANY Blessings in Christ!
4 thoughts on “God’s S.C.A.L.E.”
Overall, I think that if you put the mind of God on the same level as the mind of man, you will end up saying something like, “God has two wills that are contrary to each other??… and that cannot be so.”
But this is exactly what Paul is addressing in Romans 9:19 when he says “Why does he still find fault? For who has ever resisted his will?” Paul is recognizing that there will be an uproar of skeptics at the notion that God makes an executive decision before man.
But, I’m wondering why Paul does not diffuse this uproar with classic Free Will theology? Why doesn’t Paul say, “look guys, actually God is responding to Jacob’s, Abel’s, and Abraham’s Free Will and correspondingly punishing Esau’s and Pharaoh’s outright rebellion.” Paul could have easily made things logical again using Free Will theology explanations but he didn’t. This isn’t the flow of the Text.
Instead Paul places the mind of man in a much lower category in comparison to the mind of God: clay vs. the Potter (9:20).
To compound matters more, Paul looks at not just individuals, but the whole nation of Israel and uses God’s sovereign call to “Gentiles” (9:24) to make Israel “jealous” (11:11).
Paul is actually moving away from Free Will theology entirely. He’s very much saying that God is in the driver’s seat on the whole plan of redemption. The practical outcome of this is worship… not the kind of worship that says “Aha, I have God figured out” but the kind of worship that says “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has first given to God that God needs to repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”
Paul gladly confesses himself as worshiping clay… and so do I.
Continuing the thread of thought as one who regards himself as “clay” in comparison to the Mind of God… What do you do with the problem of Lydia in Acts 16:14? Did she have Free Will independent of God? It says before her conversion, “The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying.”… Hmm…
Thanks for opening up this discussion!
Your comment it very much appreciated! While I agree that to put God’s mind on the same level as man would, and does, create problems, I do not believe I have done that in this post. I am contrasting different ideas of MAN’S understanding of how God works in His redemption of sinners. One understanding, leaves us with a God of contradictions and mystery to the point that we must simply throw up our hands and say “This is just how it is…who are you oh man…”. I would agree that there are times we must do this when looking into Gods marvelous works.
God in fact, wants His creatures, made in His image to know him. You seem to be assuming at some point one must give up understanding of the deep things of God?
Anything we understand rightly about our creator God is all because of Him to begin with! What is right understanding? Well that is the question of questions. Ultimately we will only REALLY understand in truth AND in spirit when we are with Him in heaven.
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24 NKJV)
If you read my post on Romans 9 you will possibly understand how I interpret what Paul is saying at that point in his letter to the Romans. Remember this was most likely an open letter to the believers there. Before you read my post…let me challenge you in this. Read Romans though in one sitting. I only ask this so that there may be an understanding of how I come to my conclusions, not to change your mind in anyway regarding your heartfelt and admirable stand on these issues.
You also seem to be assuming I believe in “Free Will Theology”, I would not box myself in it that way at all. I believe we, before belief, are desperately broken in our will. We don’t have a “want to” when it comes to God. It is through the conviction of the Spirit by the light of the gospel, that prompts our response. I do believe we are responsible, “able to respond”. It says so overwhelmingly in the scriptures.
We ARE clay in the hands of the potter! Who lovingly molds us into the image of Christ. I am worshiping clay as well. (Clay who worships God ;))
Thanks again for engaging in the conversation…it is in the spirit of brotherly love and I do very much appreciate you brother!
I see Paul bringing the gospel to a group of women who where already predisposed to know and be seeking God. This was certainly a Devine appointment when you look at how Paul even came to be in the area of Macedonia. Lydia heart was opened by the hearing of the gospel. Jesus is the Word, Jesus is God, so God opened her heart. What she heard got her attention.
It says that Lydia listened, the Lord opened her heart, and she attended to what Paul was saying. Yes, God opened Lydia’s heart and He does the same for all who believe. But, it does not necessarily follow that Lydia’s part in her conversion was entirely passive. She listened attentively to the Word, and believed. It is the Word that brings the sinner to the Savior. In the Gospel of John Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life” (John 5:24)
It’s not enough for people to simply “listen” to the message. It is definitely implied, though the passage does not state it, that Lydia believed. It is clear that Lydia did more than just listen. After listening, she applied what she heard, and then was Baptized.