Question: Why does a loving God allow suffering?

Why does a loving God allow suffering? I looked at one aspect of the question on an earlier post, “How can a loving God allow suffering?” which looked at one element of the question, namely, people don’t understand the character of God’s holiness and the offense of sin against holiness, which results in personal and corporate suffering. This article will focus on another aspect, Continue reading

Question: How could a loving God allow suffering?

How could a loving God allow suffering? That is a question I have heard many, many times.  It’s as if people expect that God is, if He is all powerful, obligated to ensure that people should not suffer, because a “loving God” should not allow suffering of people. Continue reading

Why does the Holy Spirit work in people?

When a person trusts in Jesus Christ, he becomes a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).  His life will never be the same and an adventure begins that is unlike any African safari, South Pole expedition, or Himalayan assault.  The things a true child of God encounters in the spiritual life are far beyond anything the world can provide. Continue reading

Question: Does God remove the Holy Spirit from a believer today?

 
Does God remove the Holy Spirit from a believer today?
 

The above question is part of a larger set of questions: Why did the Holy Spirit leave King Saul in the OT? Why did David pray that the Spirit would not leave him after a serious sin? Is there application there for believers today or is this only something that was an issue during their dispensation? Does this relate to losing your salvation in any way in our dispensation? I wonder why God would remove his Holy Spirit (that I would assume was saving/sealing him), but would not do that to a believer today that sinned to the point that Saul did.

This is a difficult set of questions and should not be dealt with superficially.  Consequently, I’ll give a little background and then answer the question.  I refer you to three posts made previously on August 14,15 and 17, 2012 in this site.  These will provide additional background that will be helpful.  As the writer to the Hebrew says,

13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
 14But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb. 5:13-14)

            God created man to resolve the Angelic Conflict.  God cast Satan down on the earth when he sinned (Ezek. 28:15) and Satan took one third of the angels with him (Rev. 12:4).  Satan destroyed the earth (void and without form, Gen. 1:2), and God recreated the earth placing man on earth to show that only when the creature is dependent on the Creator, would there be harmony and blessing.  There can be only one will (Luke 22:42), the Sovereign Creator’s, and any will contrary to God’s will results in destruction and misery (1 Thes. 1:7-9).

            This is a Classical Dispensational approach to human history to show that the creature continues to defy the Creator regardless of the promises, laws and provisions the Lord makes for man.  However, when man humbles himself before the Creator and depends on the Creator, then there is redemption and great blessing (1 Pet. 5:5). Thus God revealed specific dispensations, from God’s perspective, to reveal what is required for the creature to walk in harmony and blessing with God.

            David lived during the Jewish Age.  That is the time of Abraham through the time of Christ.  God provided promises called covenants to Abraham and David (Gen. 12:1-3; 2 Sam. 7:12-16).  Additionally, there were the Palestinian and New Covenants given (Deut. 30:1-12; Jer. 31:31-34) to help Israel trust God and enjoy His blessing. These were all unconditional covenants that depend only on God and will be fulfilled at the Second Advent of Jesus Christ.  The Mosaic Law (or Covenant) was a conditional covenant and designed as a system that made Israel separate from the rest of the world as God’s people, but also to lead people to Christ (Gal. 3:24).

            During the Jewish Age, the Holy Spirit “endued” or “clothed” certain individuals.  The enduement was not for saving or sealing, but for specific operational or experiential power in God’s plan. For example, the Holy Spirit worked through Joseph as prime minister in Egypt (Gen. 41:38). Artisans, who worked on the tabernacle, were endued by the Holy Spirit (Ex. 28:3; 31:3).  God took from Moses and “put the [Holy Spirit] upon them” for administrative purposes (Num. 11:17,25).  Joshua, as a political and military leader, was given the Spirit (Num. 27:18). Certain judges were given the Spirit (Othniel – Judg. 3:9-10); Gideon – Judg. 6:34; Jephthah – Judg. 11:29; and Samson – Judg. 13:24,25; 14:5-6; 15:14).  There were some kings who were given the Spirit (1 Sam. 10:9-10; 16:13). And certain post-exilic rulers were given the Spirit (Zech. 4:3,12-14).

            However, the Spirit may only be present for a short time.  The Holy Spirit could be removed as God sovereignly determined.  For example, the Holy Spirit could be removed as divine discipline, as in the case of King Saul (1 Sam. 16:14) and from David (Ps. 51:11).

            A person in the Jewish Age could request the Holy Spirit (2 Kings 2: 9-10; Luke 11:13).  And Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples to sustain them just before the ascension during the ten day period until the Day of Pentecost (John 20:22).

            This is in contrast to the Church Age ministry of the Holy Spirit.  In the Church Age, the time from Pentecost to the Rapture of the Church, the Holy Spirit indwells every believer (Rom. 8:9).  However, not every believer is filled with the Holy Spirit, that is, empowered or controlled by the Holy Spirit.  Paul commands the Church Age believer to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18).  There is never a command to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit – it is a reality.  The filling command exists, because when the believer sins, the filling ceases and the believer must  repent, confess his sins and depend again on the Holy Spirit through filling (2 Cor. 7:9-11; 1 John 1:9; Eph. 5:18).

            So, let me go back to the questions in the beginning.  The Holy Spirit left King Saul, because Saul rebelled against the Lord (1 Sam. 15: 22-23).  God removed His blessing from Saul.  God gave blessing to David to prepare him to be king.  David prayed that God not take the Holy Spirit, because David had just committed adultery and murdered Uriah the Hittite (Ps. 51:11).  David knew God could remove the Holy Spirit from his life.

            There is tremendous application for the believer today.  Today, the believer will always be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit establishes the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit for Jesus Christ to dwell (1 Cor. 6:19-20).  Jesus said He indwells the believer and He must have the temple established (John 14:20; 17:21).  However, when the believer sins today, he loses the divine operational power in which to produce the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).  As long as a believer is filled with the Spirit, he will not sin (Gal. 5:16)  Have you ever wondered why Christians can be nice sometimes and horrible at other times?  They are not filled with the Spirit, even though they may be genuine believers.

            Removal of the power of the Holy Spirit, in no way causes a believer to lose his salvation.  Salvation is maintained by the shed blood of Jesus.  There are many other issues to consider in eternal security (see the post made on May 18, 2013, Is suicide the unpardonable sin?). 

            God removed the Holy Spirit from King Saul, but he was still a believer and he will be in heaven.  King Saul died a horrible death (1 Sam. 30), because he went down the downward spiral into the Sin unto Death (1 Sam. 30; Eph. 4:17-19; 1 John 5:16).  It is only in this life that a believer can suffer.  After death, there is no more sorrow and no more tears, because the old things have passed away (Rev. 21:4).  God does not remove the indwelling of the Holy Spirit today, but the believer can go through the downward spiral (Eph. 4:17-19) and end up in the Sin unto Death (1 Cor. 5:1-5; Jam. 5:19-20; 1 John 5:16).  He will be saved, yet through fire (1 Cor. 3:15).

 

These questions are very important in the interpretation of Scripture.  You will get one answer if you take a Literal Historico-grammatical approach to Scripture interpretation.  You will get a multitude of other answers with a number of other systems of interpretation.  The Literal Historico-grammatical approach to interpretation means that the Bible student will interpret Scripture literally in its natural sense, unless the passage is clearly describing a symbolic or hyperbole matter. It, “historic-,” means that Scripture must be interpreted in the time in which it was written according to the history, culture and environmental factors that influenced the writer.  And it, “grammatical,” means that Scripture must be interpreted according to the grammatical rules of writing of Hebrew, Chaldean and Greek languages.  This system will give a student the answer to many of his questions and why Classical Dispensationalism is the best approach to understand God’s sovereign plan and purpose as revealed in Scripture.

 

 

Question: Does God Elect or does man have Freewill in Salvation?

 

This is the first of several articles that will be included in the coming days.  Be careful about presuming on the content before you listen to understand and dialogue with someone on this important doctrine.

 

Does God Elect or does man have Freewill in Salvation?

 

            The question of Election versus Freewill has stirred up theological thinking for hundreds of years.  It’s not been totally settled, but many people have come with more clear answers than others.  Does God elect people separate and apart from the free will of man?  Or, does the free will of man determine his destiny for eternity? The Bible seems to address both aspects. 

            This will be the first of several articles to address this important question.  There is so much Scripture on the topic that it will not be addressed in a few short articles.  The purpose of this is to answer the question posed to me and to provide discussion points, so that we might arrive at a clearer understanding of God’s plan without causing division, schism, or even separation.  Jesus said oneness was a major purpose for His people in His prayer to the Father (John 17:20-23).  My intention is to preserve peace and rightly divide Scripture by renewing truth in the mind.

            Scripture indicates God sovereignly makes choices apart from man. For example,

13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!
 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion1.”
 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.
 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth1.”
 18Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. (Rom. 9:13-18)

Is this black and white clear?  Remember this is only one text, which must be harmonized with 66 books of the Bible.  One text cannot be taken out of context, or it becomes a pretext.

            On the other hand, Scripture indicates that man has freewill.  For example,

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh. 24:15)

If man didn’t have a choice, why would Joshua tell them to choose? Additionally, John wrote,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

If man didn’t have a part in salvation, then why does it say, “that whoever believes”?  Both God’s sovereignty and man’s freewill are indicated in Scripture, so how do we harmonize this to prevent any contradictions or pretexts in Scripture?

            This is best understood by the word “antinomy.” The word literally means “against the law” or the mutual incompatibility, real or apparent, of two laws.  The concept of antinomy holds that two subjects are both true, yet they contradict each other.  For example, the Trinity is an antinomy in that God is one and God is three. On the one extreme, God is one, which is modalism and states that God appears as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  On the other extreme, God is three and the extreme holds to three gods or tritheism.  If you go too far on either truth, you enter heresy. The same is true with sovereignty and free will.  Both are true and you end in heresy if you camp on one or the other.  Accept the antinomy by faith and you will be much closer to the truth.

             Does God elect? Yes.  Does man have freewill? Yes. Did God elect before the creation of the human race? Yes. Does man have to choose at the point of salvation to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior? Yes.

            Those who hold to extremes counter the other side’s argument. For example, those who camp on the sovereignty of God often say God regenerates man and then gives man faith to believe.  God does not give faith to those who do not believe.  Scripture does say, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy…” (Rom. 9:15).  Those who hold to the free will of man extreme often say that God knew who would believe and thus elected them. 

The key is to accept by faith that both are true and seek to understand Scripture so that no contradiction exists.  There can be no contradiction in Scripture, because it is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16) and the Holy Spirit carried along the writers of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:21), so that it is true (John 17:17).

            I will include a few more articles on the subject in the following days to stir up your thinking and to grasp the awesome infinity of God’s wisdom.