Justice and Mercy Tangled

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It is the confusion between justice and mercy that makes us shrink in horror when we read the stories of Nadab, Abihu, and Uzzah. When God’s justice falls, we are offended because we think God owes perpetual mercy. We must not take His grace for granted. We must never lose our capacity to be amazed by grace. We sing the song, “Amazing Justice.” Our lyrics tend to go like this: Amazing
-R.C. Sproul

Wrong Interpretations Steal Joy

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HEBREWS 6:4 is a warning addressed to Non-Christians. Wrong interpretations hold that the passage teaches that salvation can be lost. If this interpretation were true, the passage would also teach that, once lost, salvation could never be regained. There would be no going back and forth, in and out of God’s grace. But Christians are not being addressed, unbelievers are and it is the opportunity for receiving salvation that can be missed, not salvation itself, that can be lost.
The writer of Hebrews is speaking to the unsaved who have heard the truth and acknowledged it, but who have hesitated to embrace Christ. The Holy Spirit warns them, “You had better come to Christ now, because if you fall away it will be impossible for you to come again to the point of repentance.” They were at the best possible point in life for repentance, a full knowledge. To fall back from that would be the end.
The Bible is clear about followers of Christ not losing salvation. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29, Rom. 8:35-39, Phil. 1:6 and 1 Pet. 1:4-5).
Something to ponder: If you can lose your salvation, why witness? No one would ever consider Christ if they could lose there salvation. Where is the joy in that? Where is the Hope in that? If you are in Christ, rejoice. Your salvation is secure forever.

Evidence of Trinity in the Old Testament

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God is one. The great emphasis of the First Testament (Old Testament) is the oneness of the only true God, the God of Israel (Dt 6:4, Isa 42:8, 43:10, 1Ki 18:39).
The common word “one” is ehad. It is seen over 900 times in the First Testament and it carries the idea of a composite unity. The same word is used in describing one flesh between one man and one woman as husband and wife. (Ge 2:24). A related word, yahid characterizes “solitary, alone,” but it is not used of God in the First Testament.
God speaks using the designation “we” and “us” (Ge 1:26, 3:22, 11:7, Isa 6:8); some relate this to angels or a divine council but only with difficulty. Elohim and Adonai are both in the plural form. They are almost always used with singular verbs and modifiers as proper names. Other plural terms for God are rarely translated (Ecc 12:1 lit. “Creators”).
“The First Testament and Intertestamental view of God was less individualistic than today. The Spirit of God (Ge 1:2), the Word of God (1:3; Ps 33:6), Wisdom of God (Pr 8:22-31), the Angel of God (Ex 3:2-15, and sometimes the Messiah (Isa 9:6; Mic 5:2) were seen as both God yet God as distinct from God. Isa 48:16, 44:6, Zec 12:10, Ps 45:6-7, 110:1. These apparent divine agents were personified and ascribed divine attributes.” — Dr. Horrell, DTS.

Inspiration and Inerrancy

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Inspiration is the act where God is the responsible manager and arranger of the Bible through human authorship, so that they recorded without error His message in words of original writings. We see this in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” God spoke the Bible. He was the source by which the original manuscripts, the writings themselves, were inspired. Today when we get inspired to do something, it is an emotional inspiration; something or someone moves us in an emotional way to do something. However, this was not the case with the Biblical writers. The writers were not inspired by God to write the Bible, but rather the writings were inspired.
Inerrancy is derived from the doctrine of Inspiration in that the Bible says scripture is from God; and since God is perfect and cannot lie; the Scriptures are therefore inerrant. Scripture is inerrant in everything that it teaches, whether it is faith, morality, history, science or geography; it is completely true. This is not to say that every copy is without errors, like typos or misspellings, but that every teaching, instruction, action and saying happened, is true, is from God and is without error. Inerrancy also refers to truth. In addition to the character of God who is trustworthy, His word is true. Inerrancy can be supported in John 17:17, where Jesus says, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” So, the Bible as the Word of God, which is inspired by God, is true. Feinberg supports this by saying, “Inerrancy is related to Scripture’s intention.” He goes on to say, “Scripture accurately records many things that are false, for example the falsehoods of Satan and human beings.” This is illustrated in the garden when Satan said to Eve in Genesis 3:4, “You will not surely die.” Just because a false statement was made does not make the Bible errant or untrue.

Authority, Sufficiency and Canonicity

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The authority of Scripture means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words. Not obeying any word in Scripture would be the same as not obeying God. We can only appeal to the Scripture when we trust its authority. There are many places in Scripture that the Bible claims for itself absolute authority. It only appeals to its own authority because there is no higher authority to appeal to. If something is the ultimate authority, what else can it appeal to? If the Bible appealed to human reason to confirm its authority, it would show that human reason is a higher authority.
Scripture is sufficient. It contains the whole will of God. It sufficiently teaches everything necessary for a person to be saved and have eternal life. Scripture is sufficient. It gives full life in all aspects to the soul and is sufficient for all of life and conduct. Psalm 19:7-9 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous all together.”
When it comes to the matters of spiritual life, all we need to know is revealed in the Word of the living God and ministered to us by the Spirit through that Word. 2 Corinthians 9:8 says, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”
Canonicity is the collection of the 66 books of the Bible accepted as being inspired and authoritative. It is a standard or rule. The connection between Inspiration and Canonicity is that the Word of God was protected from human error in its original record by the ministry of the Holy Spirit; and that ministry extended to both the words and the Bible as a whole in the original writings. “Without the act of inspiration, there can be no canon.”[1] Though Kreider states, “How the manuscripts were recognized as inspired and accepted as canon is not the issue”, I feel that how we know what writings were supposed to be included in the canon of Scripture is significant. Three principles were used to validate both the Old and New Testament. First, the writing had to have a recognized prophet or apostle as its author, or someone associated to them as in Mark, Luke, Hebrews, James and Jude. Second, the writing could not contradict previous Scripture. Third, the writing had to have a consensus by the church as an inspired book.
One important example might be the Apocrypha, the group of writings written after Malachi during the silent period. These writings made it in to some Bibles, more specifically, the Catholic Bible. Not one passage from the Apocrypha was ever cited by any New Testament writer, nor did Jesus recognize any of it as He recognized the Old Testament canon of His era. Luke 24:27 states, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Also, Luke 24:44 says, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Another element of canonicity is preservation. God knew that Satan and man would try to pervert or discredit His Word, so God promised to preserve it. “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of God stands forever.” Is 40:8.

The Shack – a critique

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Soon after the introduction of the characters, the narrator provides Mack’s problem, “The Great Sadness.” Mack’s troubling depression resulted from the abduction and murder of his young daughter, Missy, while on a family vacation. While Mack runs into the water to save his older daughter and son from drowning, Missy disappears from the campsite and is presumed dead. She was later found murdered in an abandoned shack. Mack endures “The Great Sadness” for a number of years until receiving a note, written by Papa (Nan’s favorite name for God). The note said, “Mackenzie, It’s been a while. I’ve missed you. I’ll be at the shack next weekend if you want to get together. -Papa.” This makes Mack paranoid, angry, but curious. Mack chooses to travel through the mountains to meet the author of the note, acknowledging the possibility that God may actually be the author and admitting that the author could also be the serial killer who murdered his daughter.
Mack travels to the shack and gets angry by the memories of his daughter’s murder. As he looked around the shack, calling out to God, Mack screams at God “I hate you”, and why Missy’s life was taken. As he considers shooting himself, Mack remembers his family, decides against suicide, and falls to sleep. Moments later, Mack awakes, tears up the note, turns away from God, and determines to go home without answers. Heading down the trail, he feels a breeze overtake him. He turns to see the landscape changing into a warm climate complete with flowers sounds and a renewed shack. From this point, the dialog begins between Mack and God.
Some of this story is good and even helpful if we can read past the human personifications for God. Young teaches that evil exists only in relation to what is good. He affirms the nature of what is good and challenges us that God is inherently good and that we can only trust God if we believe Him to be good. He tackles the idea that we tend to place our own images on to God as if He had the same qualities we do. Young also attempts to demonstrate the loving relationships within the Trinity. One of the few things Young gets right is on page 101. He gives a pretty accurate statement about the Trinity. “We are not three gods, and we are not talking about one god with three attitudes, like a man who is a husband, father and worker. I am one God and I am three persons, and each of the three is fully and entirely the one.” This definition of the Trinity becomes diluted through the remaining descriptions of the Trinity.
There are many theological flaws in the book and I will briefly touch on what I think to be the three most important. Young teaches that the Trinity exists entirely without hierarchy and that any kind of hierarchy is the result of sin. The Trinity, he says, “are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command or ‘great chain
of being’… Hierarchy would make no sense among us.” The Bible is clear that there is hierarchy even within the Trinity (Phil 2:5-11). The Spirit and the Son have submitted themselves to the Father and the role of the Spirit is to lead people to the Son who brings glory to the Father. Never does the Father submit to the Spirit or to the Son.
Young presents The Father with nail scared hands (page 95). Again on page 99 there is some confusion about the father being incarnate. “When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God we became fully human”. Only Christ was incarnate. The bible clearly states the Father is Spirit (John 4). This confusion of roles within the Trinity continues also as some kind of modalism. The Father shows up or is manifested as an African woman for most of the story and as a white man at the end. We see in scripture that the roles of Trinity are clear and do not change. Nor does God manifest himself to us as the Son one time, the Father next, nor even the Spirit a different time. But each person of the trinity has His own role.
Young’s view of Salvation doesn’t come from the Bible. Mack questions whether Jesus’ statement insinuates that all roads lead to God. Jesus’ responds, “Not at all. Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you” (page 182). First of all there are two roads to Heaven — one wide path that leads to judgment, eternal separation from God and darkness — one narrow which leads to light and eternal communion with God. Second, God never lost us. He is not traveling every road searching for us. He knows exactly where we are. The doctrine of salvation gets more mixed up by the statement that God has no need to punish sin (page120). Scripture is devalued when Papa encourages Mack to look in the Bible not for principles, but for “a way of coming to be with us [Trinity].”
The theology of this book breaks apart Christianity by creating a man-centered universe.
Everything in this book points to getting Mack needs and comforts met, rather than Mack transforming and being regenerated to and for God. It is disturbing to hear that so many Christians read this book and say they have drawn closer to God.
What’s the big deal? You may ask. Look at it in light of wrong theology then wrong thinking, wrong thinking then wrong actions, wrong actions then there is no pleasing God.