How Do We Learn The Glory Of G-d?

* NOTE – I had to take a break from the series on Calvinism for this week but will pick it up again next week.

Psalm 19:1-6 (NASB)
1 The heavens are telling of the glory of G-d;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
6 Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

In his book, What is Reformed Theology, theologian and teacher, R.C. Sproul, notes that there are three ways that man learns about G-d.

The study of Scripture is the most common. Regular study of the Word can build our faith like nothing else can. It teaches us how to glorify G-d, how to walk a sanctified life, and how to love G-d and our neighbors.

The study of history also demonstrates G-d’s nature and will, Many men and women, having run the race before us, have poured their lives into studying and walking out the Scriptures in a practical way. Learning their way of thinking and bringing it up against the Word can teach us much about HaShem.

The study of nature is the third way we learn about G-d. This reaches out to everyone; even those who won’t study Scripture or the history of what brought us here, can still learn about the Creator of the world in this way.

Psalm 19 has much to tell us about Adonai’s glory and how it is evident on the earth. Looking into the night sky with its starry scene; watching the sunrise with the brightness of His glory; and sharing a beautifully painted sunset canvas with a loved one are all pleasures we can experience that prove our Maker does exist.

“The heavens are telling of the glory of G-d; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech and night to night reveals knowledge.” Psalm 19:1-2 (NASB)

The skies shout out with praise to G-d all day and night. They are filled with His glory and the works of His hands. The sun and clouds speak of Him during the day, and the moon and stars reveal the knowledge of Him throughout the night.

This image, known as the Hubble Ultra Deep-Field, took over nine years to compile from photos taken by the Hubble telescope. This picture shows one thirteen-millionth of the total area of the sky. Yet it is estimated to contain over 10,000 objects at a distance of up to 59,000 light years away. While the Bible says that G-d finished His creation work in six days, we can see that the majority of the acts of His creation are still unknown to us.

So the entire universe declares the glory of G-d and it does so in a silent but persistent way.

“There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterance to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun.: Psalm 19:3-4 (NASB)

Although nature speaks boldly about her Creator, she does this in a visual way. She has no voice, and makes no speech. Instead, we see the glory of the rising sun in the east that reflects the Son of G-d. It teaches us to look to the east for our hope, to the city of Jerusalem where G-d will reign when He returns to earth. The sun warms us and gives life to this world, just as the Son gives life to those dead in their sins.

Dr. Henry Morris, founder and president of the Institute for Creation Research, says, “Scientists now know that the heat energy transmitted to the earth by solar radiation empowers all activity on earth, either directly (e.g. wind, rains) or indirectly (plant life through photosynthesis, and therefore also animal and human life).”

In other words, the sun is responsible for giving and maintaining all life on earth and is a witness of G-d’s Son who gives us life.

All of creation witnesses this continually. Man is without excuse when he looks up to the sky.

In our age of knowledge and learning, we try to explain away G-d with science. We think that we have no need of a Creator since science can explain that everything can be accomplished without a G-d.

But having a scientific explanation for what we see does not mean there is not a Creator full of wisdom and knowledge. It means, instead, that we have a Creator that blesses us with His wisdom and knowledge. He uses His works to declare Himself to us.

And this is where the believer differs from the unbeliever. This witness of nature is only an external calling for those who reject the Messiah but it is an internal calling for those who walk in the Spirit.

Some cannot accept what they plainly see. To acknowledge that the heavens declare G-d’s glory is to also acknowledge that there is a Ruler of the Universe; That they are not in charge but He is.

So they make up other gods, or declare that there is no god, in order to put themselves in control of their life.

Romans 1:20-23 says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they (the ungodly and unrighteous) are without excuse. For even though they knew G-d, they did not honor Him as G-d or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible G-d for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”

In order for man to deny G-d, they had to invent gods in other images. Some resemble men, some beast, some are birds and others take the form of the lowest creatures on the planet. But man uses all of them in his refusal to acknowledge Adonai. Instead, he attempts to regain power for himself by creating a god in his own image.

This goes against the work of G-d. Yeshua came to end that struggle for us by reconciling us to the Father. He delivered us from the consequences of our sin. His sacrifice is the pivotal point of all of creation. It is the reason that nature declares the glory of G-d.

Let us walk in a way that acknowledges our Creator and appreciates the beauty of His work.

Blessed are You, O L-rd, our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, Who created all things for Your glory so that we might know the work of Your hands.

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Two Natures Within Man

Someone asked me if Calvinists would agree with this line:

Two natures beat within my chest.
The one is cursed, the other is blessed.
The one I love, the other I hate.
The one I feed will dominate.

I think they would but only after salvation. They still acknowledge a struggle between the flesh and the renewed spirit as Paul talks about in Romans 7:14-25 and his conflict of the two natures lesson.

Jesus purchased our salvation through His sacrifice, and our deliverance from the wages of sin (death) and our ability to obey G-d (sanctification) are a result of His work (Romans 6:22-23). However, we still have a struggle between our fleshly nature and the renewed man that is led by the Spirit.

But before salvation, we are free from walking righteously; everything we do results in sin and death (Romans 6:20-21) no matter what our motivation is.

Those who aren’t saved can still perform good deeds and they still have an innate sense of right and wrong (but it’s to different degrees in different people) but it’s without the Spirit. There’s going to be some selfish reason that motivates them (meaning it’s not done for the glory of G-d).

A person may struggle with being “good” without applying the salvation of Jesus. They may do this because they don’t want their spouse to leave, they want to a better quality of life in some area, or they may be living up to the standards of a religion of social group. There’s some reason for their actions that leaves G-d out of the picture even if they think they are doing it for Him.

But as believers we have a different motivation — “…do all to the glory of G-d.” (1 Cor. 10:31). This is the difference between the actions a disciple of Jesus that is led by the Spirit and a non-believer.

There are many Christian denominations that accept the teaching of original sin and being born with a sinful nature. This isn’t unique to Calvinism. Psalm 51:5 confirms that we’re conceived and born in sin.

If any Calvinists want to give their thoughts, please leave a comment.

Total Depravity

Eph 2:1-5 (NASB)
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Messiah (by grace you have been saved),”

Total depravity is the first of the 5 points of Calvinism. It tells us that man has a sinful nature that affects our entire being. Body, mind, soul and will are all impaired by sin. It drives our decisions and makes us incapable of doing good in our own strength.

We are given this sinful nature at birth, inheriting it from our earthly mothers and fathers. Proof of this can be seen in the inbred selfish actions of children. They must be taught to share, be kind, not lie, and obey. Ever since the disobedience of Adam and Eve it has been the default state of humanity. A sinful life is something we are naturally comfortable with and we are reluctant to make any changes.

This is not to say that man is utterly or completely depraved. If that were the case then we would only see the worst of humanity continuously. We would all be Hitler’s, engaging in mass murder and ethnic cleansing.

There would be no structure to our government or laws. Each nation would live in anarchy. Israel found itself in this condition after rejecting the judges that Adonai had established to rule them. Judges 21:25 (NASB) says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

But we do see much good in the world today. There are false religions that feed the poor, shelter the homeless and provide clothing to those who need it. There are godless philanthropists who give millions of dollars to charities. There are atheists that run soup kitchens.

I’m sure we all know that one guy that would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. We all know the woman that would volunteer to watch your kids while you visited a sick relative in the hospital. But they may never open their mouths or their hearts to glorify G-d and worship Him.

They do these acts with a selfish motive. They may want to impress someone or atone for some past wrong they committed. They may be trying to comfort some feelings of guilt about having a better life than other people, but it’s usually an effort to make themselves feel better or gain an advantage. There’s some kind of benefit they’re seeking for themselves.

They may perform a good deed out of love for the person their helping but they won’t do it with love for G-d.

So to say that man is totally depraved is not to say that he is utterly or completely depraved but that he has a sinful nature to some degree. Still most people in this world are what we could consider as “basically good.”

The concept of total depravity also teaches that man is incapable of seeking out G-d.

In fact, it’s much worse than that. We not only don’t want to seek out our Creator; we turn from Him and flee from His care.

Romans 3:11-12 (NASB) tells us, “There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for G-d; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.”

“There is none who seeks for G-d; All have turned aside,”

The Apostle Paul is not writing about a different people in a different land at a different time. He clearly states that “all” of humanity have turned aside from seeking G-d.

And he says again, “There is none who does good,” and then emphasizes, “There is not even one.”

Since the time that Adam and Eve hid from the voice of HaShem in the garden, humanity has been turning their face from Him.

We have, in fact, become as Paul says later in Romans 3:18, “There is no fear of G-d before their eyes.”

Humanity has disobeyed and defied G-d. We are now in the stage where we are openly mocking Him with no reverence or respect.

And this cannot be helped. We are a people that have no care for G-d and His ways. We will not and cannot seek Him out.

Then what is our hope?

Scripture says we are dead in our sins. How are we to be brought to life? Who can resurrect our spirit so that we can stand in fellowship with the Almighty as He intended us to do?

In John 6:63 (NASB), Yeshua says, “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”

It is the Ruach HaKodesh, the Spirit of G-d, in the words of Yeshua that gives us life. The words of G-d were powerful enough to bring creation into existence and the words of G-d bring life to our spirit.

He follows this up with a confirmation in verse 65 that, again, we must be called to follow Him as His disciples; we cannot seek Him out on our own. “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

Yeshua is our hope. He is the one who can bring life into our dead souls, can give us a true, selfless love for G-d, and can cause us to run towards G-d with a desire for more fellowship with Him.

Blessed are You, Adonai, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who wakens our spirit from the dead and restores us to fellowship for Your Name’s sake.

Calvinism

Proverbs 20:24 (NASB)
24 Man’s steps are ordained by the Lord,
How then can man understand his way?

As we study through the book of Romans we’re hearing a lot about Calvinism. It’s not surprising since many Calvinists use the Romans Scriptures to confirm their teachings.

Over the next few weeks we’ll take a look at John Calvin and the main teachings of his theology. We’ll compare them to Scripture so that we can make our own decision.

While looking at Calvin’s biography (1), one thing stands out: he was eager to see reform in the Catholic Church. I believe that, based on Prov. 20:24, this was intended by G-d.

He was born in 1509 and, at the urging of his father, began studying for the priesthood when he was only 12.

He soon became convinced that, like his contemporary Martin Luther, the Catholic Church had errant teachings and needed to straighten some things out. But after failing to work within the church, Calvin became a leader in the young protestant (or reform) movement that Luther began in 1518.

Calvin spent years writing and revising his thesis that he called, “The Institute of the Christian Religion.” This became a running commentary on his view of the calling of G-d to man for salvation.

After fleeing persecution many times, Calvin settled in Geneva, Switzerland in 1541 and established a school there, sending missionaries across Europe and to the America’s.

He became ill in early 1564, and preached his last sermon on February 6 of that same year. His health worsened throughout the spring, and he died on May 27 and was buried in Geneva.

What Calvin is still most known for are his views on salvation and the way G-d calls His elect. He was the first to preach this viewpoint and make it popular.

The most common phrase used to describe Calvinism is “once saved, always saved” but this cliché is a very simple way to describe a very complex idea. And it doesn’t even touch on the other concepts that Calvin taught and wrote about in his commentaries.

Over time, there have been five points used to describe Calvinism. They are:
1) Man is born in sin and does not desire to restore his relationship with G-d. He is incapable of even wanting to seek out G-d. G-d must reach out to man and supply the faith it takes to receive His grace and salvation.

2) G-d has chosen some as His elect and has predestined these for salvation. The other side of this is that some are predestined for destruction. It is not up to man to choose his final destination.

3) Yeshua died only for the salvation of the elect. His sacrifice has no effect on those not chosen and it was never intended to apply to them. Their sins cannot be covered or else they would be saved.

4) G-d’s calling to His elect is irresistible; they must obey and respond to it. Again, man has no choice on his eternity. When a man is called by the Ruach HaKodesh, at whatever stage in his life, he will answer it.

5) Salvation given by G-d is eternally secure. His chosen cannot fall from His grace for any reason. Making a decision to walk away from G-d is either temporary or evidence that you were never called in the first place.

These five categories are not exclusive to Calvinism and they are not only the beliefs but they do represent the defining doctrines. They were crafted from Calvin’s teachings after his death in response to another theology, Arminianism, that rejected the idea of G-d having an elect and instead favored man willfully choosing or rejecting G-d and His salvation.

We’ll take a look at Scripture in the coming weeks and compare what we find with Calvin’s teachings. Does this fit into our Messianic theology and, if so, how?

There has always been controversy about this and we may find we agree with all, some, or none of these ideas. But let’s talk about them and see what the Bible shows us.

Blessed are You, L-rd, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who has risen up men to establish Your Word among us and to set us on a path towards You.

(1) http://www.calvin500.com/john-calvin/biography/