Posted in theology

Sunday word of the Week: Omniscience

By Elizabeth Prata

The thread of Christianity depends on a unity from one generation to the next of mutual understanding of our important words. Hence the Word of the Week.

8341e-word2bcloud

The simple definition:

Omniscience: God’s knowing all things that are proper object of knowledge, including all future events. Definition from Biblical Doctrine, MacArthur & Mayhue, p. 935

Longer definition & explanation:

God’s omniscience is his perfect knowing of himself, all actual things outside himself, and all things that do not become reality in one eternal and simple (not having any parts but having distinctions) act (exertion of energy). One should note that this definition does not say that God knows things that are “possible”, because in God’s eternal mind and plan there are only actual things, not possible things. He does know what would have occurred if circumstances had been different, but since in his mind and plan they would never occur, they are not ‘possibilities’. Source ibid.

Omniscience is considered by most theologians as an incommunicable attribute of God, though some disagree and believe omniscience will be communicated to us in glory. (Bavinck, Shedd, Hodge, Berkhof).

God’s omniscience is a demonstration of and affirmation of His sovereignty. He knows all because He is the first cause of all. Every plan in the universe originates from God’s all-knowing mind.

While in some ways it is a fearful thing to understand that God is omniscient, in many other ways, it is comforting. He is in control. He loves His believers, even though He knows us and He knows what we think, say, and do, now and in the future. He loves us sinners anyway.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
(Psalm 139:1-6)

omniscience

————————————

Further reading

Previous entries in the Word of the Week Series-

8. Heresy
7. Orthodoxy
6. Glorification
5. Sanctification
4. Propitiation
3. Immanence
2. Transcendence
1. Justification

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Word of the Week: Justification

By Elizabeth Prata

word of the week word cloud
We’re losing the meaning of our uniquely Christian words.

I listened to a Phil Johnson interview last year where he talked about being caught off guard with the flooding-in and vehemence of the social justice movement and the racial equality woke movement.

It is a true fact that many of our younger people think that ‘social justice’ is the same thing as ‘biblical justice,’ when they certainly are not.

Biblical illiteracy is high, and with the lack of actually reading the Bible, younger people are losing the meaning of foundational words like justification, sanctification, glorification.

Some years ago I enjoyed the Apologetic Index’s listing of the Emerging Church: Glossary of Emergent Terms For Those New to the Conversation. It was funny, if you were up on news of he movement. It was also sad to see how devastatingly accurate those writers were about the co-opting of normal terms and made to mean something new. Like this entry to their ‘dictionary’-

Christ – An incredible, outstanding man in the Bible who left behind a valuable story that enables us to make the world a better place. Some people (including some in the emergent conversation) say he is a divine being, but this concept is subject to deconstruction.

Since we in our native countries speak a language to each other and are subsequently understood, we tend to think that language stays the same. It doesn’t. Language isn’t static. Meanings shift and move all the time. Hogwash was a word that came into use, rise in the 1700s, peaked in the 1800s and now you rarely see it written anymore and even more rarely, spoken. Lots of words that are currently in use weren’t a existence when I was a kid, because the thing the word refers to wasn’t invented. Compact Disc (and even that is dwindling as digital music takes over), surf-n-turf, head trip, grok, miniseries, and biohazard were words that were new when I was growing up.

New words today would include adulting, sup, suh, trill…sigh, are currently trendy words.

Old words still exist but change meaning. When I was growing up, incontinent meant liable to urinate one’s pants. 2 Timothy 3:3 uses the word incontinent-

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

No it does not mean that men everywhere will be dribbling. The word in the 1300s-1400s used to mean without self-control emotionally and physically, now it evokes only the lack of control over the bladder. We don’t use the word dayspring much anymore. Suffer in the old translation of “suffer the little children to come unto me” has a different meaning now. We don’t see words like froward, graven, cleave, or husbandman in common use these days.

So words fall in and out of use, new words emerge, and old words shift meaning.

However the thread of Christianity depends on a unity from one generation to the next of mutual understanding of our important words. Words handed down that form the bricks of our faith must be used, taught, and widely understood. We must understand the important terms.

Hence the Word of the Week series. I started the sereies last year and I’m repeating it.

JUSTIFICATION

Defined by Baker’s Exegetical Dictionary, public domain. More at link

Justification is the declaring of a person to be just or righteous. It is a legal term signifying acquittal.

Accordingly it is not surprising that salvation is often viewed in legal terms. The basic question in all religion is, “How can sinful people be just (i.e., be justified) before the holy God?” Justification is a legal term with a meaning like”acquittal”; in religion it points to the process whereby a person is declared to be right before God. That person should be an upright and good person, but justification does not point to qualities like these. That is rather the content of sanctification. Justification points to the acquittal of one who is tried before God. In both the Old Testament and the New the question receives a good deal of attention and in both it is clear that people cannot bring about their justification by their own efforts.The legal force of the terminology is clear when Job exclaims, “Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated” ( Job 13:18 ).

Justification means that God brings down the gavel and declares a person righteous, despite their crimes, because they have passed through the Righteous Door of Jesus. This was enacted when Jesus died on the cross, becoming sin for us, and then His righteousness was imputed to us. Therefore God can and does declared His elect justified, i.e. no longer under penalty for their crimes.

Phil Johnson wonderfully explains it here in this sermon-

Who Can Condemn Us? 
May 27, 2018 | Romans 8:34

justify justification verse
——————————————–

More explanations here

Got Questions: What is Justification?

Ligonier: What Are Justification and Sanctification?

Posted in theology

Word of the Week: Angel

By Elizabeth Prata

The thread of Christianity from generation to generation depends on a mutual understanding of our important words. Hence the Word of the Week. Past Words of the Week have included Justification, Transcendence, Immanence, Propitiation, Sanctification, Glorification, Orthodoxy, Heresy, Omniscience, Aseity, and Immutability. I then went to a series examining each of the 9 characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and on December 29, 2018, wrapped up the Fruit series with Self-Control. Now it’s back to individual words of the week and this week I chose Angel.

Angel

Aren’t we fascinated with Angels! They appear in art, literature, drama, and of course, the Bible. They are first mentioned in Genesis 2:1 where it is written,

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

Host is another name for the angel army. Since God finished His work and called it all good, why does there need to be an army, which fights in warfare? Warfare isn’t good. Matthew Henry explains,

The creatures made both in heaven and earth are the hosts or armies of them, which denotes them to be numerous, but marshalled, disciplined, and under command.” (Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible)

Other names for angel besides host or heavenly host is sons of God, Morning Stars, Principalities, Rulers and Authorities, and Watchers. Because the Heavenly Host of angels is an army, some of their divisions or classes are also named, Seraphim, Cherubim, and Archangel. Also possibly Rulers, Authorities, Powers and Forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12).

Some angels’ names are given. They are Gabriel, Michael, Lucifer and Apollyon/Abaddon. Wormwood is also another possible name for a specific angel.

Angels are a class of beings that are not human and not part of the Trinity. They have superior power and abilities than humans, but are not human. When humans die, they do not turn into angels. We should stop saying things like “Heaven gained another angel with the death of…”

A personal peeve of mine is the continual depiction of angels as babies with wings. In Italian Renaissance art (where they became ubiquitous) these beings are called putti and that morphed into what we think of as cherubs or cherubim. However, this is a gross distortion of the actual cherubim, who are extremely powerful and magnificent, as are all angels. In 2 Peter 2:11 they are referred to as “angelic majesties”, beings whom the false prophets are unafraid to rebuke, and this is written as a negative. (So don’t go around “rebuking satan”).

Angels roam between the three heavens. When God completed Creation week, we learn that the angels were present in the universe and “the heavenly host sang together [gave a ringing cry] and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). Angels appear in the throne room of heaven, (Isaiah 6:2) and they roam the earth. (Job 1:7). Some angels are even under the earth AKA in the abyss, chained up and waiting for the day of judgment. (Jude 1:6). Angels are everywhere!

When Lucifer rebelled, he convinced a third of the host to ally with him. They sinned, and thus they fell. These unholy angels are now the demons. They oppose God, His people, and His plan. Though they fell morally, they still have access to the heavenly throne room. (Job 2:1). The unholy angels still retain the power and strength they were created with. So be careful, they can deceive and masquerade as holy angels and they do it well!

It will be during the Tribulation that the door to the throne room will be shut against the unholy angels and they will no longer have access. This enrages Lucifer, now called Satan (because that means adversary) and his wrath ramps up the Tribulation into high gear. He takes his anger out on the remaining earth population. (Revelation 12:7-9, 13-17). Angels who rebelled will not be redeemed. Their condemnation is fixed. (Matthew 25:41)

Angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14) but sometimes when they appear to humans they appear as flesh and blood men (the Bible always refers to angels as men, there are no female angels). We don’t know how they change to flesh and blood looking men when they appear on earth but suffice it to say that part of it is a mystery. Angels have personal will (otherwise Lucifer & Co. would not have fallen). They also have intelligence and emotions.

They holy angels praise God, perform His will, minister to humans, render His judgments, learn (“angels long to look into these things” 1 Peter 1:12), and so much more!

In fact there is an entire niche of study called Angelology. Different areas of Biblical study include,

Theology Proper (Doctrine of God)
Angelology (Doctrine of angels & demons)
Anthropology (doctrine of man)
Bibliology (origin of the Bible)
Christology (Doctrine of Jesus)
Ecclesiology (Doctrine of the Church)
Eschatology (Doctrine of The End Times, or Last Things)
Hamartiology (Doctrine of the Holy Sin)
Pneumatology (Doctrine of the Holy Spirit)
Soteriology (Doctrine of Salvation)
Prayers & Worship

So rest assured if you want to study the topic of Angels it is a legitimate field of study. They are certainly fascinating beings. Caution is warranted, however. Though the field of study is legitimate, many people who write about angels are not. There is a glut of less than credible resources out there.

C. Fred Dickason’s book Angels Elect & Evil is a good resource I am told.

Martyn Lloyd Jones did a sermon on Good Angels, here. Though the sermon for Jones’s companion to Good Angels sermon, called The Devil and Fallen Angels is lost, the transcription of that sermon is here.

S. Lewis Johnson has a sermon series on angels, here

RC Sproul has a couple of teaching series at Ligonier. This one on angels is two parts and can be listened to for free. This one on Angels & Demons is 4 parts and just the first lecture can be heard for free.

Further reading:

GotQuestions: Angels (this page lists a series of further essays)

Essay by Phil Johnson- Angels: Messengers of God

The End Time: Back to Basics- All About Angels

angel

Posted in theology

Sunday word of the Week: Omniscience

By Elizabeth Prata

The thread of Christianity depends on a unity from one generation to the next of mutual understanding of our important words. Hence the Word of the Week.

8341e-word2bcloud

The simple definition:

Omniscience: God’s knowing all things that are proper object of knowledge, including all future events. Definition from Biblical Doctrine, MacArthur & Mayhue, p. 935

Longer definition & explanation:

God’s omniscience is his perfect knowing of himself, all actual things outside himself, and all things that do not become reality in one eternal and simple (not having any parts but having distinctions) act (exertion of energy). One should note that this definition does not say that God knows things that are “possible”, because in God’s eternal mind and plan there are only actual things, not possible things. He does know what would have occurred if circumstances had been different, but since in his mind and plan they would never occur, they are not ‘possibilities’. Source ibid.

Omniscience is considered by most theologians as an incommunicable attribute of God, though some disagree and believe omniscience will be communicated to us in glory. (Bavinck, Shedd, Hodge, Berkhof).

God’s omniscience is a demonstration of and affirmation of His sovereignty. He knows all because He is the first cause of all. Every plan in the universe originates from God’s all-knowing mind.

While in some ways it is a fearful thing to understand that God is omniscient, in many other ways, it is comforting. He is in control. He loves His believers, even though He knows us and He knows what we think, say, and do, now and in the future. He loves us sinners anyway.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
(Psalm 139:1-6)

omniscience

————————————

Further reading

Previous entries in the Word of the Week Series-

8. Heresy
7. Orthodoxy
6. Glorification
5. Sanctification
4. Propitiation
3. Immanence
2. Transcendence
1. Justification

Posted in theology

Word of the Week: Propitiation

c111c-word2bof2bthe2bweek2bword2bcloud
3. Immanence
2. Transcendence
1. Justification

A definition would be:

The satisfaction of the righteous demands of God in relation to human sin and its punishment through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ upon the cross, by which the penalty of sin is cancelled and the anger of God averted. [The NIV is distinctive at this point, in that it generally translates this term by “atonement” and related words.]. Source: Dictionary of Bible Themes, Martin Manser.

An explanation would be:

“Propitiate” and “propitiation” are not commonly used in the English language. We must look to an age long gone in order to discern their meaning. In ancient times, many polytheists thought of their gods as unpredictable beings, liable to become angry with their worshipers for any trifle. When any misfortune occurred, it was believed that a god was angry and was therefore punishing his worshipers. The remedy was to offer the god a sacrifice to appease his anger. This process was called “propitiation.”

A few of the New Testament writers used exactly the same word, but the meaning was slightly different. Instead of seeing God as one whose mood needs to be appeased, “propitiation” focuses on the sacrifice of Jesus by death on the cross which brought the resultant peace between God and sinful humanity.

The Greek term for “propitiation,” hilasmos, occurs in some important passages: Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10. The message we get from these passages is that propitiation (also called “expiation”) pertains to Christ’s sacrifice for sins in order to bring about a peaceful relationship between God and humanity. Source: Holman treasury of key Bible words, by Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P.

The key verses for our word propitiation are in Romans 3:25–26, where Christ Jesus,

whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

and in 1 John 2:1-2,

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

The effects of propitiation: God’s justice is satisfied, His wrath has been exhausted, His mercy is available to those who repent.

powers
Illustration by Chris Powers, fullofeyes.com

3. Immanence
2. Transcendence
1. Justification
 

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Word of the Week

word of the week word cloud
We’re losing the meaning of our uniquely Christian words.

I listened to a Phil Johnson interview where he talked about being caught off guard this spring with the flooding-in and vehemence of the social justice movement and the racial equality woke movement.

It is a true fact that many of our younger people think that ‘social justice’ is the same thing as ‘biblical justice’ when they certainly are not.

Biblical illiteracy is high, and with the lack of actually reading the Bible, younger people are losing the meaning of foundational words like justification, sanctification, glorification. It doesn’t help when venerable theologians choose to use phrases like “future justification; instead of  ‘justification’ and confuse, well, just about everybody.

Some years ago I enjoyed the Apologetic Index’s listing of the Emerging Church: Glossary of Emergent Terms For Those New to the Conversation. It was funny, if you were up on the movement. It was also sad to see how devastatingly accurate those writers were about the co-opting of normal terms and made to mean something new. Like this entry to their ‘dictionary’-

Christ – An incredible, outstanding man in the Bible who left behind a valuable story that enables us to make the world a better place. Some people (including some in the emergent conversation) say he is a divine being, but this concept is subject to deconstruction.

Since we in our native countries speak a language to each other and are subsequently understood, we tend to think that language stays the same. It doesn’t. Language isn’t static. Meanings shift and move all the time. Hogwash was a word that came into use, rise int he 1700s, peaked in the 1800s and now you rarely see it written anymore and even more rarely, spoken. Lots of words that are currently in use weren’t a existence when I was a kid, because the thing the word refers to wasn’t invented. Compact Disc (and even that is dwindling as digital music takes over), surf-n-turf, head trip, grok, miniseries, and biohazard were words that were new when I was growing up.

New words today would include adulting, sup, suh, trill…sigh, are currently trendy words.

Or words still exist but change meaning. When I was growing up, incontinent means liable to pee one’s pants. 2 Timothy 3:3 uses the word incontinent-

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

No it does not mean that men everywhere will be dribbling. The word in the 1300s-1400s used to mean without self-control emotionally and physically, now it evokes only the lack of control over the bladder. We don’t use the word dayspring much anymore. Suffer in the old translation of “suffer the little children to come unto me” has a different meaning now. We don’t see words like froward, graven, cleave, or husbandman in common use these days.

So words fall in and out of use, new words emerge, and old words shift meaning.

However the thread of Christianity depends on a unity from one generation to the next of mutual understanding of our important words. Words handed down that form the bricks of our faith must be used, taught, and widely understood. We must understand the important terms.

Hence the Word of the Week.

JUSTIFICATION

Defined by Baker’s Exegetical Dictionary, public domain. More at link

Justification is the declaring of a person to be just or righteous. It is a legal term signifying acquittal.

Accordingly it is not surprising that salvation is often viewed in legal terms. The basic question in all religion is, “How can sinful people be just (i.e., be justified) before the holy God?” Justification is a legal term with a meaning like”acquittal”; in religion it points to the process whereby a person is declared to be right before God. That person should be an upright and good person, but justification does not point to qualities like these. That is rather the content of sanctification. Justification points to the acquittal of one who is tried before God. In both the Old Testament and the New the question receives a good deal of attention and in both it is clear that people cannot bring about their justification by their own efforts.The legal force of the terminology is clear when Job exclaims, “Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated” ( Job 13:18 ).

Justification means that God brings down the gavel and declares a person righteous, despite their crimes, because they have passed through the Righteous Door of Jesus. This was enacted when Jesus died on the cross, becoming sin for us, and then His righteousness was imputed to us. Therefore God can and does declared His elect justified, i.e. no longer under penalty for their crimes.

Phil Johnson wonderfully explains it here in this sermon-

Who Can Condemn Us? 
May 27, 2018 | Romans 8:34

——————————————–

More explanations here

Got Questions: What is Justification?

Ligonier: What Are Justification and Sanctification?