Friday, January 30, 2015

Will God Save My Kids? A Response

This post was originally sparked by this article, titled "Do you believe God will save your kids?" It's written by blogger Tim Challies, who happens to be a Calvinist, as is evident from his article.

Challies pulls out all the stops on this one. He opens by stating that "There are few things I pray for with greater frequency or intensity than the salvation of my children." And he doesn't just pray for it...he believes it. "I believe God will save them. I believe he will save them because that is what he does—he saves. I believe he will save them because that is who he is—he loves to save."

And he continues believing and praying, all through the post. And in the end, "I entrust their souls to him. I put my confidence in him, and in his character, and in his Word." And again, at the closer, "And I pray—I pray that the God who graciously extended favor to undeserving me, would extend it to my undeserving children as well."

Now, there's a lot in between those statements: About trusting God, about how God "uses" prayer and the Bible and the Gospel to save his people. But in the end, it ultimately comes down to trusting that God will save them.

And I thought...How absolutely horrifying it would be to read this, as the parent of a child who had died un-saved.

Don't get me wrong: It's good to pray for the salvation of your children. And it's good to trust in God. And it's good to believe that God is the God who saves, who desires and loves to save people. All of that is good and true...but in the Calvinist scheme, that's only one side of the coin.

The other side, of course, is that God is the one who deliberately doesn't save everyone. That God is the one who desires and loves to save some people, and desires and loves to damn the rest of them. That God is the one who takes many kids from Christian families and deliberately withholds the grace they so desperately need. That God is the one who created billions of people for the express purpose of not saving them...and that your child could easily be one of those people. 

That's the other side of the Calvinist coin here, and it's just as necessary as the first side. And one necessary consequence of this is that in the case of non-elect children, the parents will love their children better and more fully than God ever did. Love is, after all, to desire the Good of the beloved, and while the parents will pray, will desire and work towards the good of their children, God will actually do the exact opposite: God will so order the universe as to render their salvation impossible. That may well be justice. That may well be his right as the supreme ruler of all. But it is not loving...not to the reprobate.

That's horrifying to me. That's unacceptable. I don't understand how you could read the Bible and arrive at an understanding of God whose love towards the reprobate is surpassed by the love of human friends and family. And I can't comprehend what that would be be the parent of a dead child, knowing that somehow, you loved your child more and better than your God ever did.

Anna and I are trying to get pregnant. Every day, the enormity of that hits me a little more. Every day, the possibility that today or tomorrow could be the day when we discover that two-become-one has actually become three...that possibility is awesome: It is awe-inspiring. And when it comes to the question, "Will God Save My Kids," I only have a few thoughts:

I believe that God will desire to save my kids, and consequently, I reject any notion that he desires, or plans, or ordains, or decrees for them to be damned.

And I also believe that since God desires them to choose him, he will leave them the possibility of not choosing him - although I reject that he gets any pleasure from the agony of those who reject him. 

Finally, I believe that he will create them with the express purpose of having them consciously choose to follow him, and to have them join him in paradise, and that despite our rebellion and captivity, he has already affected their rescue, and beyond that, he will woo and call them in various ways throughout their lives.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Thoughts on Scripture (Following my message to Jr. High/HS)

I just did the Jr High/High School message at my church this morning. We're in the middle of a short series called "Bible 101", and my topic today was Divine Inspiration. While writing the message, I had a few thoughts that I don't recall having before, and I wanted to share them here.

First off, while researching "God-breathed", I discovered that the Greek word is theópneustos (theh-op'-nyoo-stos). It comes from “theos” – God – and “pneo” – meaning “breath” or “to breath out.” A couple of the sources I looked at speculated that Paul had actually coined this word, creating it to describe Scripture in just the right way.

And in thinking about the breath of God, my mind suddenly snapped to Genesis 2...the creation of man.

"Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." - Genesis 2:7

God breathed into Adam and made him live. None of the other animals are created this way, which tells me that this is where get not just our life, but our souls and spirits: From the very breath of God. God took an earthly thing – a pile of dirt – and made it something more, something spiritual and living.

And I don’t think it’s an accident that we see Paul describing Scripture in the same terms. They are God-breathed, and that’s what the breath of God does. God’s breath makes things come alive. It makes them more than what they should be. God breathed into Adam and he became a living being, and he breathed into the words of Scripture and they became the words of God.

That was the first thing that struck me. And the second?

I think that Scripture is a kind of incarnation.

In discussing the relationship between Scripture being the words of God, and also the words of man, it struck me that the reasoning was somewhat similar to that of Christology, and the relationship between Jesus' divine and human natures. And just as the ultimate baseline of orthodoxy is to affirm that Jesus is both 100% man and 100% God, I think the same holds true for the Scriptures.

They are both the writings of human authors about God, as well as God-breathed Truth that we can trust and rely on. Scripture was written by the people of God in a variety of situations by a variety of different people, all bringing their own experiences, voice, and personality to the table. And at the same time, it is timeless truth about the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and it remains true and relevant for us today.

It is both at the same time: An incarnation. But instead of The Divine Word becoming flesh, it is the words of God becoming the words of man, entering our reality as this Book of books.

That was how I ended the message on Sunday, and I hope it was helpful to them. It was definitely a lot of fun to prepare the message... Let me know what you think!