Thursdays With Spurgeon—Holding Two Extreme Truths

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Holding Two Extreme Truths

     This is a deep, unsearchable mystery. Man walks without a leash yet treads in the very steps that God ordained him to tread in as certainly as though manacles had bound him to the spot! Man chooses his own seat, selects his own position; guided by his will, he chooses sin, or guided by divine grace, he chooses right. And yet in His choice God sits as sovereign on the throne, not disturbing but still overruling and proving Himself to be as able to deal with free creatures as with creatures without freedom. As able to effect His purpose when He has endowed men with thought and reason and judgment, as when He had only to deal with the solid rocks and with the imbedded sea.

     O Christians! You will never be able to fathom this, but you may wonder at it. I know there is an easy way of getting out of this great deep either by denying predestination altogether or by denying free agency altogether. But you can hold the two: You can say, “Yes, my consciousness teaches me that man does as he wills, but my faith teaches me that God does as He wills, and these two are not contrary the one to the other. And yet I cannot tell how it is. I cannot tell how God effects His end. I can only wonder, and say, ‘Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!’” (Romans 11:33). Every creature is free and doing as it wills, yet God is freer still and doing as He wills not only in heaven, but also among the inhabitants of this lower earth. 

From The Infallibility Of God’s Purpose

The debate has raged for years: predestination vs. freewill. 

People will sometimes ask me, “Are you a Calvinist (predestination) or an Arminian (freewill)?” And I always give the same answer, “Yes, I am a solid Cal-minian!” As with most things that are difficult for our finite, human minds to grasp about God’s nature, the answer is not either-or but it’s both-and.

C.S. Lewis captured the same sentiments as Spurgeon. Lewis always said the best course between two immovable ideas was right between them. He added, “Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem” (emphasis mine).

Spurgeon would agree—there never was any problem, at least not with God. Any problems of understanding are in ourselves, not in Him. So far better than choosing one over the other, choose the both-and, and then stand in awe and wonder and worship that our infinite God is sovereign over all. Even over our puny, limited theologies and doctrines. 

Links & Quotes

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“Are our ears ever open? Are we eager listeners? As ready to hear as God is to speak? Oh, how much we lose of happy wisdom, simply from not listening!” —Horatius Bonar

“It would be a great folly and a great tragedy if a man loved his wedding band more than he loved his bride. But that is what this passage [Romans 1:22-23] says has happened. Human beings have fallen in love with the echo of God’s excellency in creation and lost the ability to hear the incomparable, original shout of love [Psalm 19:1-2].” —John Piper

Charles Spurgeon was a Calvinist, which means he held to the doctrine of predestination, but read how he pulled together both predestination and freewill. “It is a wonderful thing how God effects His purpose while still the creature is free. They who think that predestination and the fulfillment of the divine purpose is contrary to the free-agency of man, know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm. It would be no miracle for God to effect His own purpose, if He were dealing with stocks and stones, with granite and with trees; but this is the miracle of miracles, that the creatures are free, absolutely free, and yet the divine purpose stands. Herein is wisdom. This is a deep unsearchable. Man walks without a fetter, yet treads in the very steps which God ordained him to tread in, as certainly as though manacles had bound him to the spot. Man chooses his own seat, selects his own position, guided by his will he chooses sin, or guided by divine grace he chooses the right, and yet in his choice, God sits as Sovereign on the throne; not disturbing, but still over-ruling, and proving Himself to be able to deal as well with free creatures as with creatures without freedom, as well able to effect His purpose when He has endowed men with thought, and reason, and judgment, as when He had only to deal with the solid rocks and the imbedded sea.” —Charles Spurgeon

Moral truth advocatesJ. Warner Wallace asks, “Are moral truths a product of culture? Can they be explained by purely naturalistic forces?”

[VIDEO] Are you on the wrong side of history? Check out Jonah Goldberg’s insightful commentary on this question—

‘Before All Worlds’

C.S. LewisI re-read C.S. Lewis′ book Miracles earlier this year (you can read my full book review by clicking here). As you may have noticed, after reading and reviewing books on this blog, I also like to share some quotes that caught my attention. This particular quote is fairly long in itself, but I think you will understand the context within the quote—

“When we are praying about the result, say, of a battle or a medical consultation the thought will often cross our minds that (if only we knew it) the event is already decided one way or the other. I believe this to be no good reason for ceasing our prayers. The event certainly has been decided—in a sense it was decided ‘before all worlds.’ But one of the things taken into account in deciding it, and therefore one of the things that really cause it to happen, may be this very prayer that we are now offering. Thus, shocking as it may sound, I conclude that we can at noon become part causes of an event occurring at ten a.m. (Some scientists would find this easier than popular thought does.) The imagination will, no doubt, try to play all sorts of tricks on us at this point. It will ask, ‘Then if I stop praying can God go back and alter what has already happened?’ No. The event has already happened and one of its causes has been the fact that you are asking such questions instead of praying. It will ask, ‘Then if I begin to pray can God go back and alter what has already happened?’ No. The event has already happened and one of its causes is your present prayer. Thus something does really depend on my choice. My free act contributes to the cosmic shape. That contribution is made in eternity or ‘before all worlds’; but my consciousness of contributing reaches me at a particular point in the time-series.”

 For other quotes from this book see Miracle Or “Cheating”?Miracles And NatureChristianity And PantheismCorrecting The PantheistAbsolute FactThe Central MiracleThe Miracle of Freewill, Checkmate and Doctors Don’t Heal.

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

“Just because no one complains, it doesn’t mean that all parachutes are perfect.” —Anonymous

“I am not young enough to know everything.” —Oscar Wilde

“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” —James Thurber

More appalling misery created by the pro-abortion crowd: Planned Parenthood’s Horrible Treatment.

Very good: 7 Things All Great Friends Do.

“I must pray for the strength and courage to be truly obedient to Jesus, even if He calls me to go where I would rather not go.” —Henri Nouwen

“One of the greatest mercies God bestows upon us is His not permitting our inclinations and opportunities to meet. Have you not sometimes noticed that when you had the inclination to a sin there has been no opportunity, and when the opportunity has presented itself you have had no inclination towards it? satan’s principal aim with believers is to bring their appetites and his temptations together….” —Charles Spurgeon

“This is not Predestination: your will is perfectly free: but all physical events are adapted to fit in as God sees best with the free actions He knows we are going to do.” —C.S. Lewis

Thursdays With Oswald—Predestined Freewill?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Predestined Freewill?

     Our destiny is not determined for us, but it is determined by us. Man’s free will is part of God’s sovereign will. We have freedom to take which course we choose, but not freedom to determine the end of that choice. God makes clear what He desires, we must choose, and the result of the choice is not the inevitableness of law, but the inevitableness of God.

From Conformed To His Image

Typically there are two schools of thought: Predestination (also called Calvinism) and freewill (also called Arminianism). The Bible has numerous verses that make the case for both of these viewpoints.

C.S. Lewis advised that in matters with two starkly different theological viewpoints, the safest action was to chart a course right between the two rocky islands. With that in mind, I don’t consider myself a Calvinist nor an Arminian, but a “Calminian.”

No matter where you find yourself on this theological issue, I think there is one thing we can all agree upon: God is Sovereign and God is Love. In both His sovereignty and His love He created us, sent His Son to die on a Cross for us, and sent His Spirit to draw us. I choose to accept His gift of salvation, and I’m not trying to find out how far I can stray and still be “saved.”

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