Thursday, October 25, 2018

Stairs of Torture



We have terrible steps in our house. They have sharp edges. They are too short for my size 13 foot, They are jagged, and they often hurt my feet. I have so many times walked down them and hurt my arches, toes, the balls of my foot or otherwise really bruised them. So much so that I finally got tired of it. So, I purchased soft cushy carpet step covers. They are brilliant! So soft and cushy they make my feet rejoice. I want to just stand on the steps now, and enjoy the comfort! After only a day of having these new carpet covers, I tried to go up the steps. As I took my first step I was remembering and preparing myself for the pain of walking up the old steps, as if there were no carpets there. I got myself ready and almost cringed as I began to walk up the stairs. My muscle memory got the best of my body, but as soon as my foot hit the stairs, I felt the new carpets! It was a feeling of relief, joy, and happiness that hit me. My body immediately relaxed. Suddenly, I felt like my feet were delivered from the incessant torture that they received every time I would walk up and down the steps for the past three years. I thought immediately of our new life in Christ. We sometimes come back to the same situations of life that we had experienced before Christ. Often in those moments I have thought, "oh no! here it comes again, the pain, the sin, the hurt, the torture of our everyday life apart from Christ!" And we even sometimes physically cringe and prepare ourselves for the onslaught of whatever condemnation is coming our way, like I did when I tried to go up the stairs. Romans 8:1 says, "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We are free from the cringeworthy life that we knew before Christ, sort of like the cringing, and pain of my stairs. Are you preparing yourself around every corner for the condemnation of the world, like I was preparing myself for with our torturous stairs? You can be free from all condemnation through faith in Christ! If you have not decided for Christ, then don’t wait! Choose to be free of the cringeworthy condemnation of this world. Place your faith in Christ choose freedom! Christian, If you are in Christ, stop cringing like there is some condemnation coming, prepare for the blessings of life in Christ. Act like you are a son or daughter of God, and adopted into his family! You are not longer cursed, but eternally blessed in Christ!


Sometimes we Christians are preparing ourselves for a condemnation and a curse, and Jesus says, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?…Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more (John 8:10).” Jesus does not condemn us because he was found to be a curse for us. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…Galatians 3:13). He was condemned in our place so that he can in return say, “Neither do I condemn you.” Are you like me preparing for pain, torture, and condemnation. Or are you expecting blessing, freedom, and justification because that is your position in Christ! This was a freeing realization, an epiphany that I walk around as a Christian expecting condemnation even though I am free from all condemnation. Not only am I free from condemnation, but I am a recipient of his glorious eternal blessing, which is the exact opposite of condemnation. How can I walk around as if I am about to receive a foot beating like I got every time I walked up and down my stairs. I recently watched the new movie “Tortured for


Christ” the story of Richard Wurmbrand who spent many years in Communist prisons. His feet were so badly beaten that he could no longer walk regularly for the rest of his life. I remember vividly when he visited my Bible school and sat on the stage in his wheelchair because he could no longer walk on his own because his feet were so badly beaten all those years. He said that although the prison had taken his physical freedom away he had never felt more free. In his book “Tortured for Christ" he wrote, “I have found truly jubilant Christians only in the Bible, in the Underground Church and in prison.” He had found the freedom that Christ had won for him on the cross and had no longer let himself be bound by the constraints of this world, Oh, Lord let us taste of the same wine that these men of faith tasted. Let us walk up the stairs of freedom and blessing. Lord we will no longer walk up the step of torture and condemnation! For you have set us free, and, “if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed (John 8:36)."

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Theology of Work Part 1

Theology of Work

I just started a class called the Theology of Work. As I was wrapping my head around the concept of Work and how God views work and how we view God according to work, I came up with a
Before and after the Garden (Michelangelo Sistine)
"flow of consciousness" note. I wrote this after a discussion with a good friend, and I thought these ideas were worth sharing. Adam and Eve in the Garden received the first command and it is the command of work to name the animals and to rule and have dominion of Creation. This is often called the "Creation Mandate." It was a freeing, life giving, partnership with God in the ruling, ordering, and reign of creation. However, after the fall our work was cursed “man will toil by the sweat of his brow” and the woman will "bring forth children in pain in childbirth."

God then sent them out of the garden, and from then on God cursed the ground with thistles and
thorns. Work was no longer a blessing but a curse, and men had to struggle and strive to earn which
"Expulsion from Eden" (Doré)
was the exact opposite of what they had from God previously in the garden. God gave them of every fruit of the trees in the Garden. We see this in the scripture “the wages of sin is death” we earn death through the work of our hand after the fall. So, after the fall, work was no longer a wonderful life giving command from God but rather a curse that brought toil, sweat, striving and difficulty. We see this in such scripture as “if a man does not work he cannot eat.” In this we see that laziness is tied to the curse. It is also tied to our need for sustenance. Our sustenance through food is tied to the curse. What are we now sustained by? Our  own toil and effort. We cannot ever really rest. We must keep working to live. We have rests in between, but the commonality between all humans is that we have to work for our sustenance.

Work certainly has hints of the blessing, but also, we sense and see the reality of the curse. We have to work for everything. In this, God sets up our readiness to receive the gospel. God in the gospel has made up for what we lack. He has made up for what we could not, and never will attain in all our striving. We always fall short in our striving which we find in our work. Certainly we achieve things in our work-a-day world. We finish projects, build beautiful structures, help patients, produce beautiful art, and design amazing technology, but our work always falls short. Our work is limited, flawed, never enough. Especially as it pertains to righteousness. We will never be able to do enough to even tip the scales in our direction. The standard for salvation, or to be able to stand before a holy God, would be sinless perfection. Moreover, we would have to be actively completely righteous as Christ was in His active obedience to the Father. But alas, we fall woefully short in our striving. The work of Christ, on the other hand, is plenty. Not just enough, but more than enough.

That is how the writer of Hebrews talks about entering the rest of God. In creation, even God, the creator, worked for six days and on the seventh day he rested. That is why he commanded the seventh day for rest. The writer of Hebrews describes “entering his rest” and that Jesus is our rest. Jesus also describes that he is the “Lord of the Sabbath.” This is fitting. He is not just Lord of the day, but he is also Lord of the rest found on that day. The Sabbath was created so that we could find rest from our constant doing. That complete and final rest was never to be fully found on that day. That day was created for rest so we will one day look to where our true rest comes from. We never find true rest in the 7th day of rest, because the next day we are all back at it again. And the cycle continues. The Sabbath was created for us to build a longing for the true Sabbath. And that true Sabbath is not a day, but rather a person, the creator of days, Jesus Christ himself is the true Sabbath. In Christ we see that he has accomplished our final rest, and "It is Finished” was his cry.

The gospel is the final rest for man. The good news is Christ's cross. When we look at Christ and his work on the cross, upon which he worked on our behalf, to please a God which we could not have pleased, we find rest from our toil. He has pleased a God we could not have pleased, and accomplished a work which we could not have accomplished even if we had had an eternity to do so. God said how pleased he was with his Son, when he said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” We find our true and final rest in him, because God was finally pleased and propitiated with the work of Christ on the Cross. D.A. Carson wrote in his book Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, "In pagan propitiation, a human being offers a propitiatory sacrifice to make a god propitious. In Christian propitiation, God the Father sets forth Jesus as the propitiation to make himself propitious; God is both the subject and the object of propitiation. God is the one who provides the sacrifice precisely as a way of turning aside his own wrath. God the Father is thus the propitiator and the propitiated, and God the Son is the propitiation." (see source at end of post).

He has provided an answer to the work that cursed us in the Fall, and by his grace we have and will enter our rest in him. On that day, we must work and toil no more. He will at long last be our final rest!




From D. A. Carson, 
Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus

Quoted By R.C. Sproul in The Work of Christ
R.C. Sproul 
Kindle Position 1611

Monday, October 1, 2018

Why “Signs and Wonders” should NOT Make Me Happy

Why "Signs and Wonders" Should NOT Make ME Happy

There is a new move in Evangelicalism toward a “Signs and Wonders” orientation. The signs and wonders movement claims to be evangelical, Bible believing, and Christian. They place much hope and emphasis on experiences with signs and wonders. The embracing of the signs and wonders movement is most starkly seen in the widespread Evangelical acceptance of Bethel Church, and its leader Bill Johnson by much of the evangelical world. Although there is a large group of theologians and Evangelical leaders that are critical of the “signs and wonders” movement there is also a large group that have taken on the movement as a truly biblically orthodox movement. 

I would like to share with you why we should not seek signs and wonders, and why any sign or wonder should not make me happy. There are many leaders in this movement, including Bill Johnson[1]that teach that without some sign or wonder that a full proclamation of the gospel has not happened. This belief that the gospel can only be truly proclaimed with signs an wonders, or else it is insufficient as a true gospel proclamation could not be biblical, because of Jesus words that I will share and exegete at the end of this post. But first let me show you what is meant in this movement by signs and wonders.

In the “signs and wonders” movement there is a great pursuit of “miracles” or “signs and wonders” as they are called in the New Apostolic Reformation and the Third Wave Movement. There is a heavy emphasis on these miracles which include healings, speaking in tongues, prophecy, words of knowledge, visions, dreams, being “Slain in the Spirit,” being “in the Spirit.” By which they mean an out of body experience where your spirit has traveled into the spirit realm. There is a pursuit of seemingly occult like practices including practices in the relatively new movements which practice things like “glory clouds” of God’s presence filled with “gold dust,” angel feathers falling, gems appearing, conjuring angel orbs, fire tunnels (in which they employ Kundalini methods), spirit travel, out-of-body experiences, and “healings.” They also practice portal travel (where people claim they can go through portals to other places physically, which is obviously a New Age / Occult practice), extra-biblical revelation. Often a prophet or Apostle will give a “New Revelation.” They try to practice raising the dead, also charismatic praying in tongues, soaking, new wine movement, drunken glory, visualization, laughter (Toronto Blessing), and animal sounds while filled with the Spirit. I do not condemn tongues if done orderly as the Bible explains in 1st Corinthians 14:26-40. 

The many practices that the NAR employs when “Slain in the Spirit” are never mentioned in the Bible. Some other NAR practices are contemplative or meditative, where they teach emptying the mind or repeating one word from the Bible, which is not a historical Christian meditative practice. Meditation for the Christian is filling our minds with Scripture. Some of these practices include chanting and soaking, which are taught in Bethel school’s SOZO ministry. The movement practices contemplative prayers, soaking prayers, labyrinths, the “silence,” centering prayers, breath prayers and what they call the “prophetic act of waking up angels.” 

One of the most beloved shows of NAR leaders and its adherents is the show “Its Supernatural” with Sid Roth which he deals with topics such as angel worship/visitation, portal travel, heaven tourism, eavesdropping on conversations between the Trinity, the Bible Code controversy, teleportation, “downloading the mysteries of money,” seeing the invisible spirit world, language/worship of heaven, dream interpretation, and blood moon prophecy. Most recently the translator of The Passion Translation Brian Simmons appeared on the show “Its Supernatural.” He said he had a vision of Jesus in the “Library of Heaven” in which Jesus said he would give him the 22nd book of John to translate, not now but later. Here is the full interview.

Simmons begins to describe his vision at the 17 minute mark. This emphasis on the supernatural and “signs and wonders” displays patterns in the NAR and Third Wave movement of ministry where they exhibit a boundaryless engagement with supernatural realms. 

To paraphrase the practices of the modern signs and wonders movement, they practice laughter, falling, shaking, prophecy (Psychic Clairvoyance), portal travel, extra-biblical revelation, raising the dead, tongues, soaking or centering prayer, new wine movement, drunken glory, visualization, laughter, animal sounds while “Spirit-filled,” conjuring angel orbs, fire tunnels, spirit travel or out-of-body experiences, angel worship, heaven tourism, teleportation, dream interpretation, and healings. NAR churches also claim that gold dust, oil, glory clouds, angel feathers, and gems have appeared on people.

First, let us be clear that these signs and wonders are not biblical at all. Moreover, they mirror some sort of occult practice, and not biblical signs and wonders that are seen in the New Testament. The list of things practiced in the signs and wonders movement are wholly unbiblical, terrifying, weird, and even a little creepy. Beyond all that they put the emphasis in the wrong place. Jesus is clear in Luke 10:17-20 we should rejoice in our salvation rather than that spirits are subject to us. We should be more grateful for our salvation than signs and wonders. We should rejoice that our names are written in Heaven. How do our names get written in Heaven? How are our names inscribed in the eternal book of life? What is salvation? I would like to describe what salvation actually is so that it becomes quite easy to rejoice in it.

  1. We were dead in our trespasses and sins you were made alive in Christ. That is the supreme Miracle (Ephesians 2).
  2. We were rebels against God (Romans 13:2; Romans 8:7 Romans 5).
  3. We were unable to help ourselves or receive God’s grace which is sometimes in theology referred to as “Effectual Calling” (Phil 2:13; John 6:44; 2 Timothy 2:25; 2 Peter 1:3; Matt 22:14; Ephesians 1:4-5).
  4. To be saved we must be and were born again. Which is being born from of the water and the Spirit a supernatural birth from above (John 3).
  5. We were made children of God and were not born of Human will, but born of God (John 1:12-13 Colossians 3:12-13).
  6. God’s kindness led us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
  7. He took the blinders off our eyes to be able to see and receive Christ (2 Cor. 3:12-16; John 12:40; Acts 26:18; Eph 1:18).
  8. God offered Jesus as the propitiation of our sins. Those same sins that we could have never received forgiveness for outside of Christ (Rom 3:25).
  9. He crushed the head of the serpent the devil by “destroying the works of the enemy” (1 John 3:8).
  10. He was cursed on our behalf “cursed is everything that is hung from a tree” (Galatians 3:13).
  11. God seated us with Christ in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6).
  12. He was raised for our salvation and culmination as one who will one day received a glorious body like unto his (1 Corinthians 15).
  13. He gave us freedom from the effects of the fall (Romans 8:2).
  14. God presented Christ as the atoning sacrifice for our sins so that we could have peace with God (Romans 3:25-26).
  15. We were adopted into God’s family before the foundations of the earth (Ephesians 1:4).
  16. We have been raise with Christ (Colossians 3:1).

This is just a very short list of what God has done for us in Christ by saving us. As you can clearly see salvation that God has accomplished for us in Christ is way more supernatural than any other act. God has made dead men rise to live with Jesus, and called sinners to repentance. 

Jesus describes in Luke 10:17-20 What our posture towards signs and wonders should be. Miracles should not be nearly as important as salvation, and the supernatural nature of what happens when God quickens the hearts of men to salvation. 

“(17) The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!" (18) And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. (19) Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. (20) Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.””

Our joy should be in the Lord and his magnificent power to raise the hearts of men and women to respond to God. He has written our names in heaven, he has given us every blessing in the heavenliness, he has raised us up with Christ, and we are co-heirs with Christ. We should not be happy or have joy about Pseudo-miracles, or pretend miracles, or for that matter, even real miracles. As Christ said, we should rather rejoice in the Savior that the miracles point to. 

The word that Luke attributes to Christ’s words and we translate as “written” in heaven is Grapho (γράφω). This word means enrolled, written, inscribed, carved or to engrave something permanently. This word that Jesus uses describes also the eternality of our union with Him and how that salvation will be of an eternal nature, because our names will be forever engraved in the book of life in heaven. When you trusted Christ your name was engraved on the eternal granite of the throne room of heaven. 

The word that Jesus uses for rejoice is Chairo (χαίρω) It means to be cheerful, calmly happy, well-off, to be well, be glad, joyful, or rejoice. Where is the joy in our salvation? Are you glad and better off as a result of your being made a son or daughter of God? Many in this movement would rejoice that someone is “healed,” or that some strange miracle happened, and barely mention salvation found in Christ. The movement also stirs up a craving and desire for more of the same, but Jesus says here quite plainly do not rejoice that demons are subject to you, but that your names are “engraved" in heaven. Of course we should be glad of the authority that we have in Christ over the principalities and powers of the unseen world. By the way that authority is only given to us by God through salvation and His good grace, not through our own effort. I am not saying that we cannot be glad for our authority over principalities and powers, but that gladness should be dwarfed in comparison to the gladness we feel at our salvation. So let us rejoice and be glad that, in Christ, our names are eternally and irreversibly engraved on the granite halls of the throne room of heaven! We can be truly glad, happy, and rejoice that we get to call on His name and that He has saved our souls. We look to the heavens and our help comes from the Lord. He saves your soul, so rejoice!


[1]Johnson wrote in His book “When Heaven Invades Earth a Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles,” on page 126 “Without miracles there can never be a full revelation of Jesus.” and on page 127 he wrote, “Miracles provide the grace for repentance.” And further he says, “Here the apostle Paul demonstrates how the Gentiles were brought into obedience through the power of the Spirit of God, expressed in signs and wonders. This was what he considered as fully preaching the gospel. It wasn’t a complete message without a demonstration of the power of God. It’s how God says amen to His own declared word!”

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

WHAT ROLE DOES EXPERIENCE PLAY IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE?

I have had many conversations lately with friends, family, and other acquaintances that have been wonderful and wonderfully eye-opening to the affects of Relativism that are present in our culture, even in the Christian culture. Relativism is the doctrine that truth is not absolute, but rather relative to situations, culture or ones feelings. This is especially seen or understood on a deeper level in relation to a person’s experiences. I have heard this perspective so often lately that I would like to address the role that experience plays or should play in our Christian lives. I have had many conversations recently with people on Christian experience. For my purposes I will summarize the contents of people’s remarks for their anonymity. It is no secret that I have published a book that is theologically critical of a new movement called the New Apostolic Reformation. It is called "Divergent Theology." Many (but not all) of the conversations that I have had recently about experience were couched in this topic. 

The conversations usually go something like this. I call into question the theological foundations of the New Apostolic Reformation, a movement that I believe has left Theological Christian Orthodoxy. The person that I am talking with then defends the movement, leaders, Teachers, Prophets, or Apostles who have precarious or clearly theologically inaccurate teachings. I return numerous examples of these precarious and inaccurate teachings, “from the horses mouth” so to speak. The person usually tries for a while to say that the teacher did not mean what we all understand him to mean, or that I have not understood him properly, or that the Bible actually does teach what the teacher said. There are a few back and forth interactions where I try to show the person how Christian Orthodoxy does not agree. Using the Bible, the Christian Creeds, and even logic to connect the dots is usually not enough for the person to say wait a minute maybe this does fall outside Theological Christian Orthodoxy. The discussion usually breaks down to “Well, I have had a good experience with these teachers, leaders, or at these churches."

Here are a few examples of responses that I have received over the last few months. Again, these responses have been changed for anonymity of the people and places, but these are all the types of responses that I have received from people after “proving” that this movement’s theology, teaching, and practice are not Christian.

"My family, and I have been blessed by the ministry of ___________ . I can only share my experience as a believer."

"I just have a another point of view and understanding than you. My personal testimony is different than yours."

"In my eyes, this doesn't lead anywhere, where fruit can develop. It's not encouraging, but only produces anger and separation. I think the devil rejoices more about us using good and sound doctrine than Jesus does."

"I can't argue theologically, I’m not a theologian. I just count on my experience.”

“I only look into my heart and see what God is showing me there. My experiences are as valid as yours, so what can we do about this difference?”

“I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. ______________ Church does lots of good stuff too."

"I come to different conclusions. I understand their teaching differently than you do and I can tolerate some mistakes. For me those mistakes are very minor."

“It's not for me to judge. Even when ____________ Church gets it all wrong and all their motives and teaching are absolutely false.” 

"Even when they are a little off, what I see is acceptable and encourages my walk with God.”

"When you call a whole movement unchristian you are creating disunity, and disunity is the ultimate wrong.”

“Your questioning of ____________ is very Pharisaical and not how the kingdom of God operates"

These are just a few of the ways people respond when the theological foundations of the New Apostolic Reformation are brought into question. A telltale sign of a cult like atmosphere is an inappropriate loyalty to its leaders. I have definitely seen this in the last several months since the release of my book, which calls into question the biblical authenticity of the teaching of the leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation. I have heard in the last months an unquestioning loyalty to leaders in this movement. I have also seen in these conversations that dissent and discussion of a “negative” or questioning nature are highly discouraged. These are all signs of a cult-like behavior. Another sign of cult-like culture is and overemphasis on great religious experiences. 

One thing that comes up again and again with those affected by ___________ Church is “experience.” Experience is a key aspect of our faith, but it is not the key driver. Something is not confirmed as authentic or true because we had a great experience with it. The Bible is pretty clear that false prophets will be able to do miracles that create an environment where people will feel like they are experiencing God. But they will be experiencing a faux, or pseudo-christianity. Jesus clearly describes that these false or pseudo-teachers are not known by Jesus. Jesus even called them "wolves in sheeps clothing.” (Matthew 7:15-23) Let us think about that for a moment. What would wolves dressed up as sheep do. They would stealthily come in among a flock unbeknownst to the flock for the purpose of destroying, devouring, and ravaging the flock. What do wolves do in relation to sheep? They kill and eat them. Sheep are helpless to defend themselves against wolves. They rely on the shepherd, and His warnings, and guidance to keep such dangers away. Thus Jesus, The Good Shepherd, warns against such ravenous wolves. 

Matthew Henry commenting on this passage of scripture says, "take heed of those who pretend to revelation, And admit them not without sufficient proof, Lest that one absurdity being admitted, a thousand follow.” So the wolf that is admitted with one Theological absurdity will be admitted with a thousand more absurdities to follow. Matthew Henry also comments further about the Wolves, "We have need to be very cautious, because their pretenses are very fair and plausible, and such as will deceive us, if we be not upon our guard. They come in sheep's clothing, In the habits of prophets...They pretend to be sheep, and outwardly appear so innocent, harmless, meek, useful, And all that is good, as to be excelled by none; they feign themselves to be just men, and for the sake of their clothing are admitted among the sheep, which gives them an opportunity of doing them a mischief ere they are aware. They and their errors are gilded with the specious pretenses of sanctity and devotion. Satan (also) turns himself into an angel of light,"

Because of my book and my critique of the New Apostolic Reformation, I have in the past years or so, been labeled and even personally called unloving, legalistic, unwise, unspiritual, a negative person, unbiblical, and even Pharisaical. I was recently told that I am not operating in how the kingdom of God operates by calling out falsehood. I responded by asking the person about the Apostles correcting errors? What about the Church fathers? I asked if Paul was not operating in kingdom values when he rebuked, Peter to his face, or the Judaizers, or Philetus and Hymenaus? What about the condemnation of the heretics of history for example, Gnosticism, Arianism, Pelagianism, or any other early heresies? Were those Apostles, and Church Fathers not operating or acting with Kingdom values? I would posit that correct or Orthodox theology is one of the most integral parts of Kingdom operation. The Apostles, and the early church fathers work in correcting errors has been one of the most integral aspects of Kingdom work in Church History!

As a result of this almost two year process of uncovering the theological fallacies of the New Apostolic Reformation and subsequent pushback, I have witnessed what I might call a “Theology of Experience” which is actually the “fallacy of relativism.” The fallacy of relativism is, alone that people have been blessed by something isn’t proof, or even evidence of its authenticity. I know of hundreds of people who have been “destroyed” by this movement. Who’s experience counts? Those who have been blessed, or those who’s faith has been destroyed? The argument of authenticity because of blessing doesn’t even hold up to its own logic. If a movement’s authenticity were based on positive experiences, than everyone who walked through the doors must be blessed. There must be a blessing for everyone who comes into contact with this movement. But that’s not the case. 

We ought to be very careful to not make experience your ultimate authority. I will give an example, Mormons will give a free Book of Mormon to anyone who visits the Mormon temple. I wanted to get a copy, so I went to the Mormon temple in Oakland, CA. It is a beautiful structure in the Oakland hills. I had a great experience there. The people I interacted with there were lovely, kind, caring, compassionate, helpful, and very passionate for their truth. But they are not Christian. And their theology does not line up with Scripture! Scripture is a Christian’s authority not our experience. I am currently reading a book called “Why the Reformation Still Matters” which addresses the topic of experience.

“During the Reformation the main alternative to revelation was tradition. Today we perhaps suffer from a deficiency of tradition rather than a surfeit of it! What has replaced tradition as the rival to revelation is experience.”
(Kindle location 830)

The writers go on further to describe how experience is the new “god of the age,”

“We have seen a dramatic loss of authority in the modern world. Now preference and experience are everything. Ethical issues are decided on the basis of the personal stories that elicit most sympathy. Individual dilemmas are determined on the basis of a person’s feelings. Any sense that right and wrong may be rooted in metaphysics (the way things are) or in divine revelation has been replaced by subjectivity...So the Bible always trumps experience. That does not mean we must ignore experience. Experience will often give rise to questions we bring to Scripture. But Christ still reigns through his Word, read and preached. So we need to work hard to ensure that our lives and our life together are ruled not by tradition or experience, but by Christ through his Word.”
(Kindle location 835-840)

Some of the questions that arose for me out of these discussions with people were, what would it take to denounce something as false teaching? Or Wolf in Sheep’s clothing? The answers I received were nothing short of appalling for me. Because of the answers I got I have deepened my recent calling to theology and to make it one of my ministry’s main aspects. This is why we study and should know theology, because we love and want a relationship with the “Theos” that we study. Theology is all about knowing and explaining the eternal God in a correct manner, any other goals in theology are secondary to this.

In my many "experience" discussions lately the argument often then turns to relationships, and how relationships are not so cut and dry, not so black and white. I have also been accused of being too black and white in this two year journey. I would pushback a little on the view that when faith becomes relational there will be no more black and white. Of course there is still right and wrong black and white in relationships. I love my wife, and am in relationship with her. if I was unfaithful to her that would be a breech of our relationship and very clearly wrong. Relationships are definitely messy, but that doesn’t mean there is not black and white right or wrongs anymore in those relationships, and especially not in our relationship with the Lord. The relationship that we have with the Lord is that we repent and believe in him by faith, and he makes us children of God. Those are things that must take place. Those are black and white things. There are a few things that must happen for us to have a relationship with God. Jesus can’t just be your homeboy, it doesn’t work like that.

The Bible says , “as you have received Jesus as Lord, so walk in him” (Colossians 2:6) this means the same way we walk with God is the same way we received him, namely by faith. We received him by faith, and we walk with him also by faith (Hebrews 11). Even though we can have a deep and intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we don’t set the terms of that relationship, and neither does our experience, He does, and thankfully He has made a way to access Him through Jesus Christ. Our experience of God is not on our terms, we can and only are able to experience God on the terms he has set for us in His word through faith and reliance on Jesus Christ. 

In one of these conversations someone asked me, "What if I only had my Christian experience and did not have the Bible?" My response was, "we would not have a Christian experience without the Bible, so aren’t we glad God made sure that we do! Because if we did not have the scriptures then we could not know who Jesus is." Or at least we could not be sure who he is. And we would not have a pure and loving relationship with Jesus Christ unless we had the scripture. We could not know him. This was seen clearly in one of the battles that the Reformers fought during the Reformation namely “Sola Scriptura.” Which means that in the scriptures alone can we find a relationship and peace with God. 

The Apostles received special revelation during their time to record the scriptures, and we are not privileged to that type of revelation or experience of God speaking anymore. The closing of the canon of scripture is the final and authoritative revelation of God. This is also a very difficult angle for me that the New Apostolic Reformation takes, and it is a step too far. Everywhere you turn in this movement every other leader has some “new revelation.” Does God speak today? YES and he does it through the word of God and the leading of The Holy Spirit, not through new revelation from Apostles. People today want to hear God speak to them, sure! Read the Bible. And if you want God to speak audibly, then read it out loud. You could even have God speak to more than one person at a time when you read it corporately as 1 Timothy 4:13 says, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture."

I have heard also in this last couple years a differentiation between Jesus the Word and God’s Word (The Bible). However, they are one and the same. When we want to know Jesus we should know his word and when we get to know his word we get to know Jesus. Jesus and His Word the Scriptures are inseparable . “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Furthermore, Jesus said not one iota or dot from the law (written word) will pass away until all is fulfilled in Him (Matthew 5:17-20). He is himself the Word of God, thus He is the fulfillment and actual manifestation of God. And the word is Him in written form. We don’t worship the Bible for sure, but the Word is Christ and Christ is the word, when you read it you read of and about Him. If you want to "Know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, becoming like Him in His death, and so somehow to attain from the resurrection from the dead," (Philippians 3:10-11) then find Him in God's Word the Bible. The Bible is the one stalwart Christian "experience" throughout the ages. 

Wesleyan Quadrilateral
Another great tool that has helped me understand and balance my Christian experience in a helpful and healthy way is the Weslyian Quadrilateral. As seen in the graphic below the single foundation of our faith is the scripture in which, as said before, we know who Jesus is and how we can respond to him by faith. A stepping stone to the scripture is Christian tradition. We can look to the creeds and councils of antiquity for help on understanding the challenging theological concepts such as the Trinity and the Hypostatic Union of Christ. The liturgies of history also are faith strengthening as we delve into them to draw us to Christ. Hymns, songs and spiritual songs are also faith strengthening in our habits of worship. Tradition can be helpful if we do not make it more of a crutch than it was meant to be. Reason is something that we should not ignore, but also not put too much stock in as our own reason and logic can let us down. But it can be helpful especially in seeking to understand the deeper mysteries of faith. Finally, Wesley puts experience as the last and final building block of his quadrilateral. It is not the most important, but also not unimportant. We do however not build on it as a foundation, but rather allow it to supplement, and complement our faith. If something that we have heard, seen, experienced or otherwise witnessed in regards to faith, and how we are made right with God, stands in direct opposition to scripture, it is to be summarily rejected. We can also take the councils of the church fathers for instance if anything teaches subtly or outright against the trinity or Hypostatic Union of Christ, then we can reject it because we stand on the tradition and accepted teachings of Christendom. The error that is becoming tendential is to turn the Quadrilateral upside down and make our experience the foundation of our faith. I have witnessed in the current Christian landscape that people tend to let their experience confirm or validate the scripture. When in reality we should let the scripture be our foundation and validation of everything else. My experience is not authoritative. My experience doesn’t validate the scripture; the scripture validates my experience. I want to be faithful to embrace the ways that God has revealed in His word how He does work. In so doing, I embrace the certainty and the mystery of His ways.

Let us with fresh faith and vigilance commit ourselves with great zeal to the word of God, and let our Christian experience support the words written there not the other way around. 

I always like to add stuff, at the end of my blogs as a response in worship either music, art, or some other thing that encourages your walk with Christ. I was listening to this while I was writing this blog. Put it on blast and read along as these guys rap more about how Supreme Jesus is!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Is God's Love Reckless?

Is God’s Love Reckless?

There’s a new song out written by Cory Asbury and produced by Bethel music it’s called “Reckless Love.” This song has won many awards this year and has been number one on the Christian and Gospel Billboard chart and even high on the



secular charts. Many have thrown their hat in the ring with critique of its message including John Piper, Relevant Magazine, etc. This song is so popular in fact, we could say that it is the “How He Loves” of 2018 (which was written by John Mark McMillan and covered by David Crowder).

The lyrics of the chorus of “Reckless Love” are...

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

So I want to throw my hat in the ring also to ask the question if God’s love is indeed Reckless? Or if He is reckless or if maybe the expression of His love is reckless? I was brought to this topic because we sang this song on Sunday at church. I thought immediately to myself that, “God’s love is NOT reckless!” I became quickly distracted and could not sing the rest of the song because I was so disturbed in my spirit that we might think or sing that God’s love was reckless. 

To avoid any confusion of terms we need to define the word reckless. I will define it like the artist Cory Asbury defined it so that I am consistent with his intentions and meaning. He defines reckless as “He (God) is utterly unconcerned with the consequences of His actions in regards to His own safety, comfort, and well-being.” He has defined it in this way, but what does the first language English speaker think when they hear the term reckless. My thoughts went to a more precise definition like that given by the Oxford dictionary. Oxford defines reckless as, “Heedless of danger or the consequences of one's actions; rash or impetuous.” All you need is a good thesaurus to gain a broader understanding of the word. Some synonyms are without caution, rash, careless, thoughtless, inattentive, hasty, impetuous, or impulsive, 

First of all we need to be fair to artists. Artistic license should be granted to those who are writing music, poems, and or otherwise using art to describe a seemingly indescribably awesome God. I want to grant Asbury grace in that, however that does not let him and other artists off the hook for not describing the nature, character, and works of God in precise, and accurate ways. I know also that artists choose words and ideas sometimes, as Asbury said he has here, to shock us on purpose. I also want to give leeway for those instances. But the more I thought about this the more I cannot get over the usage of this word in description of what God’s love is like. 

Asbury clearly states that he is not saying that God is reckless. However, that is a reckless thing to say...that God does reckless stuff, but His character is not reckless. That is like saying that as a father I am not reckless but I do reckless stuff with my kids. Doing reckless things with or for my kids would make me a reckless father. Asbury cannot have it both ways. Put a different way, maybe we say God sometimes acts without wisdom, but his character is wise. It doesn't compute. God only acts as defined by his character and he cannot change his character to act in an unwise way. For instance, it would be correct to say, God is wise and thus all his actions are wise. In the same way God is not reckless in his character, thus he cannot act recklessly or do seemingly reckless things. They may seem reckless to us but they are not reckless and should not be characterized as such. He cannot act recklessly either in the the doing or carrying out of his loving actions.

Looking at the definition again, we cannot say any part of God’s nature is rash, careless, thoughtless, inattentive, hasty, impetuous, or impulsive but that is the definition of reckless. He is none of those things, thus He cannot act in that way. He is rather the exact opposite of all those things. God is thoughtful, attentive, long suffering, patient, calm, circumspect, considerate, thoughtful, and wise. And those things of his character do not change, “I the Lord change not, therefore you oh sons of Jacob are not destroyed.” (Malachi 3:6) The triune God has eternally exercised his love, even before we were created. The triune God has exercised love from before time because He is love (1 John 4:8). God’s love is expressed in several dimensions, benevolence, grace, mercy, and persistence. Persistence may be what Asbury is really trying to get at. God is often described in the New Testament as withholding judgement and continuing to extend his love and grace over long periods of time. His persistence, patience and long suffering is also on display over and over again with Israel in the Old Testament. One of the most popular verses that display Gods persistence and patience is found in 1 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter‬ ‭3:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬). He is persistent in that He is persistently giving man chances over and over again to respond in repentance to His offer of love and grace. 

Furthermore, God’s love is not reckless but meticulously, precisely planned, and carefully coordinated within the eternal Trinity. We see this clearly in the first chapters of the Bible, that His plan was actually an eternal plan. Right after Adam fell God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."”‭‭(Genesis‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭ESV). This verse has long been understood at a prophetic statement referring to what Jesus would do on the cross. Is the cross an ultimate statement of God’s love? Yes it is the ultimate statement of every part of His character. The cross makes it possible for man to receive God’s love and grace. It is the expression and propitiation of his justice, righteousness, perfection, holiness and every other part of His character. The cross was planned by the Trinity from long before the fall, the fall was no surprise to God. He didn’t react and say, “well then I better come up with a pretty reckless plan to win them back!” In a video of the song “Reckless Love” (seen below) Asbury explains some thoughts that led to the song... “He (God) doesn’t wonder what he will gain or loose by putting himself on the line. He simply puts himself out there in the off chance that you and I might look back at him and give him that love in return.” The extension of the love of God is not a mishap or an “off chance.” This paints God as a being that just hopes against hope that we will love Him too. According to this God risks giving love for the “off chance” that you will return love.



God is not leaving his love to chance, or bending the laws of nature like the reckless superhero Ironman blowing everything up in his way to save the love interest of that particular Ironman sequel film. His love is not extended so that He could possibly have the chance to be with us like we are the center of the universe. He is extending his love and grace continually because He is love and grace (1 John 4:8; 1 Corinthians 13:11), and we would only find true love and grace in Him. He isn’t bending over backwards so that He can be with us, but rather He has made it possible that we can be with Him! Peter confirms this idea in 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” (‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬).

The devil is actually the reckless character in the spiritual realm. He comes to “steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10)." And he, “prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8)." We could say that God didn’t care about the “consequences of the actions of his love.” But that is also misleading. Did Jesus know of the consequences of His looming death on the cross? And the separation and sin-bearing that He would experience? Of course, and He even asked for God to remove the cup of wrath! And His soul was agonizing to the point of death! He knew and embraced the consequences, and cared deeply about them. But Jesus went through it because it was the will of the Father. And He loves the Father that’s why He follows through on His Father's will. Jesus said, “But I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” John 14:31) 

I would like to gently lead us, and maybe even Asbury and the whole Bethel worship team, that has often put man in the center of the worship universe, to a fuller more accurate picture of the character of the love of God. I hope this post at least gets us thinking of the Bethel leanings toward Pelagianism (see video below), and a God that only sent his Son to the cross because He thought we were that valuable. Pelagianism is the teaching that people are not born into sin, and that "people are good and mean to do good even if they are not saved." (Quote from Eric Johnson Pastor at Bethel)


Of course this is flat out wrong and condemned in Pelagianism at the Councils of Carthage and Ephesus! I beg you to consider the source of your worship songs and the theology that stands behind certain worship movements. Because theology affects and influences liturgy and vice versa. That is why I wrote “Divergent Theology” to expose these terribly unorthodox theological leanings. I have spent much time in that book dealing with the theology, teaching, and practice of Bethel and the New Apostolic Reformation. 

In closing, I would like to say that using this verbiage in reference to the love of God most likely will mislead people as to the true character of God. I fear it could confuse people, make man more important than he is and make God less worthy than He is. When I believe that God is in reckless pursuit of me, then I elevate my worth over and against God’s infinite worth. When He is Reckless in pursuit of me, He actually becomes Feckless and the concept of his Recklessness backfires. This concept, I fear, turns God into hopeless romantic with no backbone, and the result is a Feckless God. The truth is, that God extends His love because He is love, not because we are so desirous to Him. We sinners are utterly undesirable to a holy God. But because He is the center of the universe, and it would be a terribly unloving thing to keep himself to himself, He extends His love to us because He is love. And it is all “to the praise of His glory.” So let’s be thoughtful as we sing “Reckless Love” and all other worship songs because liturgy affects, forms, and informs our theology. And we definitely want to believe the right stuff about God. Right?

Friday, March 30, 2018

Thoughts for Reflection on Good Friday

Most Kings when it is time for them to die come to some sort of process where they talk to their successor, son, or one taking over power to give them the crown. Sometimes Kings died on the battlefield, but if not they usually have a noble death, where they are surrounded by family and the King that will be coronated at his death. Jesus death was nothing like a kingly death.

Read John 19 it describes the events of Jesus death on a cross

On the cross...

1. Jesus Experienced Physical Suffering

1. Before Jesus had to even go through his day of torture and crucifixion he stayed up all through the night praying and the Bible says he sweat drops of blood. Bleeding through your sweat glands is A real physical condition called Hematidrosis.
2. He was struck with 40 lashes (minus 1) with a cat of nine tails. With balls wrapped up in leather, and glass, and metal, and small bones to do the most damage to people’s flesh.
3. The Roman soldiers pulled His beard, spit on Him, beat Him with rods, punched Him (While Blindfolded) in the face and asked to prophecy who hit Him.
4. They wrapped together a crown of thorns and pressed it into his head to mock him.
5. He was made to carry his own cross.
6. He was crucified at Golgotha. The details of crucifixion are...He was nailed and probably bound so that you had to press upward with your legs and pull with your arms to even breathe. People usually died of asphyxiation when crucified. We get our English word excruciating (someone who has “excruciating pain”) from the word crucifixion. Crucifixion only existed as corporal Roman punishment for the few years preceding and following Jesus life. It is known to this day as one of the most cruel forms of capital punishment known in human history.

2. Jesus Also Experienced Emotional Suffering

Look at the passage where Jesus was in the garden of gethsemane He was so troubled that his emotional state affected his physical state when he sweat drops of blood. We can see clearly emotional torment from the things that he said on the cross. He had to make arrangements for John to take care of Mary his mother, and His Father in heaven turned His back on His son when he "became sin." Jesus said, "Father why have you forsaken me."

3. Jesus aAlso Experienced Spiritual Suffering

Read Isaiah 53:3-12 which is a prophetic explanation of what Jesus would go through in the future. It is AWESOME!!! The cup of God’s wrath was poured out on Christ. That was the suffering for the sins of the whole world. Think about if Jesus had to spiritually suffer for only our worst sins. He not only suffered spiritually for our worst sins, but ALL our sins.

One of the eyewitnesses a Roman Centurion saw the “way in which he died”, and proclaimed “truly this was the son of God.” This would have been an incredible proclamation for a Roman, because a Roman would have believed that Caesar was the son of God. This is not only a proclamation of Jesus as God, but that Caesar was NOT! Here are a few questions for you this Good Friday for your reflection.

1. When you read about the details of the Crucifixion what do you feel? Love, Mercy, Grace, Hope, Sadness, Fear, Wonder, Thankfulness?

2. What is your response to the fact that, “He bore your sins in his body on the cross?”

3. What is your response that the Romans wrote above his cross, “The King of the Jews?”

Pray and thank God that he has sent His Son for us in our place.

“Dear Lord Jesus, Thanks you so much for your sacrifice in my place. Thank you that you suffered in my place that I could be free, forgiven, and be called a child of God. Jesus, you are so wonderful. I thank you so much for your cross. I fall down before your cross so that you would give me forgiveness and freedom from all my sins past, present, and future. Thank you for your grace, and that you died for me, even though I did not deserve it or earn it. You died for me while I was still a sinner. THANK YOU!!!”

Here is a wonderful song by Matt Papa to illustrate the Wondrous Mystery that happened for you and for me on the cross.

Monday, January 22, 2018

THE IMMUTABILITY OF GOD: WHY GOD'S UNCHANGING NATURE MATTERS

The Immutability of God: 
Why God’s Unchanging Nature Matters


By: Richard P Moore

Kandern, Germany January, 2018

Maybe it is because I have been feeling the onset of a midlife crisis, and that things are so rapidly changing around me and I cannot keep up with stuff like I used to anymore, that I want to address the never changing nature of God. Maybe it is because so many artists lately have covered the subject of the immutability of God (see videos below). Maybe it is because I feel myself changing so much. Even since beginning of this writing this I have changed. That is the nature of being human. We change! From the moment we are born, we are changing. Sometimes for better sometimes for worse. I have been intrigued by the immutability of God probably mostly because I sense the change and tumultuous upheaval in my life and even soul and spirit. Recently I have felt my spiritual life changing for the worse. I sense my heart being drawn to the lusts of the flesh more and more. Comfort breeds complacency and complacency breeds comfort. I am feeling spiritually complacent. That is why I would like to address the immutability of God. I want to break my heart of this spiritual upheaval in my life, and whenever I have focused on the character, essence, and person of God I have shaken myself of the trappings and the sin that so easily entangle. That is my hope in contemplating with fresh eyes on the nature of a good and immutable God.

God is immutable. That means that he is unchanging. Put another way God’s nature, essence, and character are all constant. His nature is unchanging. Nothing about Him has ever changed. From eternity past to eternity future He will never change. The Westminster confession describes the immutability of God in this way:

"There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withall most just and terrible in his judgments; hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.”[1]

This makes the nature of God quite clear but let us unpack that a little. He is infinite; never beginning and never ending in that perfect state. He is uncaused therefore, he needs no one. This is seen in his own descriptions of himself like that instance when Moses asks God what his name is. He said, “I am that I am.” This is often referred to in theological terms as “Aseity” which is a term derived from Latin “As” which means "from" and “se” which means “self.” Aseity is the property by which a being exists in and of itself, from itself, or exists as of and from itself. The bottom line here is that God is self-sufficient. However it is not like we define self-sufficiency. A baby is not self-sufficient and an adult is. We are not talking about the self-sufficiency of adulthood, but rather God is of himself and exists outside the necessity or dependence on anything or anyone. This word also means that God contains within Himself the cause of Himself, is the first cause, or rather is simply uncaused. He is the uncaused cause. God is absolutely independent and self-existent. 

            The Westminster confession also describes an immutable God that is “working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will.” This is so comforting to me right now. I am in such upheaval spiritually with change and insecurity, but the Lord, the unchanging God in heaven, is working all these things according to the counsel of His own righteous will. Sometimes, I have to keep that truth right in front of me so that I do not become discouraged and lose heart. The pain, hurt, disease, suffering that we see so often around us He is working and turning to his righteous will! What a hope! What a relief in those most trying of times. God is most at work in the most difficult of times, and even turning your situation of suffering to His righteous immutable purposes (Romans 8:28). Moreover, overwhelming evidence of God’s immutability or unchanging nature are described in the following verses:



“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
James 1:17 ESV

We live in a world of shifting shadows. Not just personally, but in our whole existence there is so much that changes and the shadows of this world are deceptive. We many times are confused by all that changes in our lives and worlds. But this verse explains that there is not any variation due to change with God. Not one shifting shadow has been cast by Him because of the setting sun in the afternoon sky. It does not matter where the sun hangs in the sky, he changes not! Not just that he does not change due to circumstance, but more than that His giving nature is tied in this verse to his immutability! He gives good gifts and thus is the most unchanging benevolent being in all the universe!

“"For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”
Malachi 3:6 ESV

The prophet Malachi also describes God’s immutability. His thus saith the Lord is “I do not change” but He goes on to describe the outcome of His own immutability. Which is that the children of Jacob are not consumed. Herein, God ties his immutability to his eternal justice. He is a long-suffering and gracious God, thus He has shown kindness to a thousand generations of those that fear him. He will also display His justice to those who do not fear Him, and that justice has been exhibited throughout biblical history.

“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”
Numbers 23:19 ESV

God’s immutability is seen here as contrary to the attributes of man. His immutability is not Anthropomorphic. He is not a man. Thus, He cannot lie or change His mind. His promises are then also immutable. They stand like an immovable rock. Like Martin Luther once said, “The mercy of God is like the immovable Heavens that firmly stay above us. Under this roof, we are safe wherever we are.” The mercy of God is one promise to those who have placed faith in Him, but His mercy is also an attribute of His immutable nature that is not conditional. He is merciful in all His dealings because He is merciful. It is not the action and extension of mercy that makes Him merciful, but because He is merciful, He thus extends mercy.

“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;”
Titus 1:1-3 ESV

This passage shows us the unchanging nature of the truthfulness of God. Again, He does not become truthful because He told the truth a few times. It is His character thus He must tell the truth for He is truth. Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” He speaks the truth in His word, because He is truth. He is not like man who has a “eureka!” moment when we finally find the answer or the truth. He needs no eureka moment to find the answer. He is tho one constantly giving the eureka moments to us, because He is the eureka we are looking for.

“For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Hebrews 6:16-20 ESV

His immutability also makes Him the greatest being of the universe. This is seen in the covenants that he made with man. A covenant is made against a power or being greater than the one making the covenant so that the promise can be held out against the one making the covenant. This idea can be found in a court of law. A person giving testimony will swear to, “tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.“ After agreeing to tell the truth that person is “under oath.” What do we swear against when we are “under oath?” We promise against something greater than us, namely God. Since there is nothing greater than Himself and His immutability He cannot swear to anything greater, so He swears against the “unchangeable character of His purpose.” The writer of Hebrews then points out that God has sworn in a covenant to us against the two unchanging things, He Himself, and the unchanging character of His purpose. Accordingly, Jesus has gone into the Holy place to effectuate the terms of the covenant. In so doing Jesus also confirmed His immutability as a priest forever in the order of the eternal line of priesthood seen in the archetype of Melchizedek.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Hebrews 13:8 ESV

            Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews confirms Jesus as that eternal priest that He had previously mentioned. Jesus is proven here and throughout Hebrews to be God, and the same immutable God that has been described throughout Scripture. He is the second person of the Triune Godhead and so He must also have the same qualities and characteristics of the immutable God. Thus, we can throw ourselves onto his great mercy and grace because He is the immutable God that we have come to know and trust who has made a way to Himself through His effectual sacrifice. This verse is a direct claim to deity, for only God is immutable and so this points to Christ as that same immutable God revealed in the scriptures. The immutability of God means that God will follow through with judgment. It also means God will follow through with His promise of salvation. We can know and be sure that God’s certain judgment fell on His Son, Jesus Christ, and thus by faith in Him, men are saved from their sins and from God’s unchanging wrath.

What about the passages of scripture where it appears that God "changes his mind" or “repents?” I would offer a few arguments as to why God does not change His mind or ways as we understand change or repentance.

1. The evidence is overwhelming that God is immutable and does not “change His mind“ or “repent” according to our understanding. There are only a few instances where God appears to be described as changing His mind or described as repenting. I tend to think that those instances are where the writers of scripture are trying to put into the best language that they have to describe what is happening in God’s dealings with man. 
2. The second explanation that I can give is that God is being described in those passages of scripture in Anthropomorphisms. That means that the writers are describing God in terms of what man would do or using the language of man to describe God. I would argue that those passages do not mean that God repents as in what we understand repent to mean in turning from an evil action, or something that we believed to be wrong, but only that the writers are using anthropomorphic language to describe God. 
3. And thirdly, some of these “changes of mind” like Adam’s relationship to God, Ninevah, or Moses “changing God’s mind” in relation to destroying Israel are changes in the orientation or that standing between God and man. God never changes, but we do and so these apparent “changes of mind” occur when man changes or His relationship and repentance toward God change, and that can appear to be God changing His ways or mind.  

I would like to address some of the characteristics of God’s immutability.

1. He is eternal. Time does not apply to Him. He was before time began. We might ask how old is God? That question is not adequate. He is not older than aeons ago, and no younger than yesterday. He simply is not restricted by the confines of time as we calculate it. He was, He is, and He will be. also God is timeless he does not grow or develop. There are no variations in His character due to change. As James writes, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17) Shadows change due to the position of the sun in relation to the thing casting the shadow during the day. If the sun is high in the noon sky the shadows are not very long. in the late evening right before the setting of the sun the shadows are long. Shadows are shifty and changing. James uses that analogy as a contrast to the character of God. God does not shift like shadows! There is no variation in his character, being, essence, nature, or work according to the shifting sands of time, or the shadows of the day. He is simply outside time. Although he is outside time and not bound by its constraints, he is conscious and aware of our time and is sovereign within human history. He not only knows what is happening in human history, but orchestrates it as a conductor of a symphony that stands outside the symphony. The conductor instructs the symphony while not playing a single note of an instrument. He conducts the whole thing without being constrained by playing a single instrument. God is not only aware that certain events occur, but is sovereignly working those events of all of human history to His glorious plan. He does not get taken by surprise. He has no contingency plan when something does not go His way. 

2. He never changes and this remains the same as he has eternally existed

3. He is not like us. We are fickle and change consistently 

4. His character, will, nature, and essence stay the same

5. Christ’s character also stays the same although he was not man before, He was always the eternal son. When He took on flesh that did not change His character or his personhood in any way as the second person of the trinity the eternal son was, always is, and will always be the eternal son. 

6. The Holy Spirit also has eternally existed and His character never changes. He works as the Ruhach (Hebrew for Spirit or life force) of God from eternity past into eternity future.

7. God the father has also eternally existed and his character stays consistent throughout all eternity.

8. He exhibits certain traits simultaneously with the same fervor and zeal unchangeably, eternally, and equally. He exhibits sovereignty, pureness and holiness, love and grace, wrath and mercy, glory, supremacy, magnificence, transcendence, authority, excellence and faithfulness.
He is all seeing: He sees all movements and activity of the universe and He controls it all at the same time, never losing sight of one single activity of man or one microscopic detail of the movements that take place in the universe at any given time. It is all under his all seeing caring, and all powerful eye. 
He is all knowing (omniscient): Jesus said that not a sparrow can fall to the ground without the Father’s will (Matt 10:29), and even the hairs of the disciples heads are numbered (verse 30), and before Him no creature is hidden (Hebrews 4:13).Everything is completely transparent before God. He knows all truth completely even those things we have not yet discovered, because He built them into all creation as the great architect. He knows all the possibilities even when they are infinite; for He is infinitely possible. His knowledge is never taxed by our infinite list of impossibilities.  
He is all powerful (omnipotent): This means that God is able to do all things which are proper. He is known as El Shaddai. God almighty as He was know to Abraham. God overcomes insurmountable problems with ease as Jeremiah 32:17 says, “Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” And in Matthew 19:26 “but with God all things are possible.” His power is expressed in scripture over nature, as creator, as controller of the course of history, and the omnipotence to change man’s nature through salvation. God’s power is also never frustrated. The psalmist writes, “Our God is in the heavens, He does whatever he pleases.” (115:3) There are limits to His power however. He cannot do anything that we as humans can imagine. He shall only do things that are in line with the objects of his power. He cannot do absurd, illogical, or contradictory things. Like things against His creative order, against His own holiness, or undoing history, etc.
He is all present (omnipresent): He is present everywhere all at the same time. However that does not mean that He is like some sort of divine superman darting here and there in creation to give us access to himself across all of his creation, he simply is present and accessible across the whole of creation at all times. 

9. God‘s extension of grace then must also be immutable. Charles Spurgeon said it this way,

"I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called."

In Conclusion, it seems rather apparent from insurmountable scriptural evidence that God is immutable. Why does that matter? I would like to give a few reasons in conclusion why the immutability of God matters. First, the immutability of God means that fellowship with God, how man is made right with God, being able to trust in His word, living by faith as a Christian, are fundamentally the same realities and truths for us today as they were for Old and New Testament believers. Since God has not changed, how man is made right with Him also remains the same throughout the ages. We do not have to guess or uncover some mystic secrets, we are made right with God by faith as Hebrews 11 and the great men and women of the faith have showed us for generations. Amidst all the uncertainties of our current day and age. Political, cultural, social, and economic unrest, we can know and worship the eternal God by faith, as the saints have done for all time. Amongst all the tumult in this world God has stayed the same, and how we approach Him has stayed constant throughout the ages.

            Second, God’s immutability means that the things He says must also be true. This means that His word must have the same qualities of His immutable character. What does that mean? We can trust that His word is true, it is accurate, and we can take it as the eternal message that He wanted to deliver to man. A common trend in preaching and teaching is to sort of soften the word of God to make it more palatable for the everyday person. While that is all good, it overlooks the fact that God’s word is never out of date, never old-fashioned, or irrelevant. What is written is what we can know that God wanted said to man through the writers of the Old and New Testaments. Thus, we do not need to make it more palatable or relevant. We need to strive to make it understandable, but we don’t need to make it more relevant. It is already relevant, as it has been for ages.

            Third, I appreciate the immutability of God as an assurance to me as a Christian that God will do what He says He will do. In regards to salvation He says He will save me and “remember my sins no more.” That is of utmost importance to the Christian. He is constant in uncertain times. His promises of His presence and help are of highest importance in the life of the everyday Christian. We are called children of God, a priesthood forever, co-heirs with Christ, and the unchanging Jesus calls us friends. These positions of our salvation cannot change. What a comfort. The God of the universe calls us sons and daughters and that cannot change because He cannot change!

            Fourth, God’s immutability is a great comfort to the Christian in our deepest times of trouble. We can be assured that He hears us and at any time that we call on Him He is there to comfort us. One of my favorite psalms is 34:17-18 which says, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” What a promise! I am particularly glad for this promise that God is near to me in the valley of the shadow of death! It is there that the good shepherd's rod and staff protect me. That is what is so unique to Christianity. We grow more toward maturity in the hardship than we do in times of success and prosperity. I have learned more in the valley of the shadow of death about deepened faith and spiritual maturity than I have ever learned in the green pastures (Psalm 23). God is most true in our most trying times of life. These truths altogether about the unchanging nature of God can carry us in our deepest and darkest times. I am so glad for an immutable God aren’t you? 

The following is a spoken word piece that is a powerful declaration of God’s immutability.

The Damsel and the Villain from Desiring God on Vimeo.

In the beginning there was the Hero,And the Hero was the Father,And the Hero was the Spirit,And the Hero was the Son,And if this hurts your head already,Welcome to the kingdom. 
Immutable, inscrutable, infinitelyGlad-hearted, triune perfectionHis ancient love reverberated off each Member with no hint of dissension,Perfect in unity,Perfect in diversity,Holy Trinity.


[1] Williamson, G. I. 2004. The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub. Page 23