The God/Man Relationship Part 2: Perspective, Can I Have A Say About My Destiny?
What's An Elephant?
This is the second article to the series I have been working on called The God/Man Relationship. In part 1 I pointed out that there are groups of Christians who approach God’s Word as if they were from the planet Vulcan. Just as Moses removed his sandals from his feet before the burning bush they feel compelled to leave their human emotions at the door when studying scripture. Just as Mr. Spock, is devoted to pure logic, they are devoted to pure doctrine. Because of our sin nature, they attempt to suppress their humanity based on the belief that it will pollute their understanding of God’s Word. Building on this theme, I have also noted that Vulcans not only suppress their emotions they also ignore their human perspective. It's as if they think God hates their humanity.
John 3:16 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.
I listened to a message from John MacArther. He was talking about the nature of God. The subject matter was God’s Sovereign Election and God’s divine Justice. He made several statements that made me suspect that he might be from Vulcan. When considering God’s sense of fairness, he believes we must set aside all human considerations:
"To understand fairness, we must set aside all human considerations and talk about the nature of God, and what is divine justice" –John MacArther1
He goes on to say:
"God does what he wants and his choices are free of any influence outside of himself. Everything fits into the unfolding and uninfluenced purposes of his own sovereignty.”
I am struggling with the idea that we should set aside our human perspectives when we approach God’s sovereignty or his divine Justice. I find it difficult to believe that God doesn’t consider any influences outside of himself. That He would do a thing without considering all sides.
Abraham Reasoned With God
I am unable to find in scripture God insisting that we set aside all our human considerations before we come to Him. Instead we see him meeting us where we are. Consider Romans 5:8 that says while we were sinners Christ died for us, or Matthew 11:28, where Jesus instructs all who are weary and burdened to come to Him. God is indeed sovereign and He can do whatever he wants, whenever He wants to. Yet, because He loves us, He considering us in his decisions.
Doesn’t divine Justice depend on God’s ability to rightly see, understand, and judge all parties without error or discrimination? Does the sovereign judge of the world rule on a thing without first considering the consequences of his judgements? To Judge a thing, based only on a singular perspective, is illogical. But for some reason, when it comes to the God/Man relationship, this is what Vulcans believe God does. Now I am not saying he always or ever asks us for our permission or opinion. I am saying that he is all knowing and has considered us and our perspective. We can trust Him in all things. When discussing scripture with Vulcans, I can’t help but think of Abraham’s words when reasoning with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.
"Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
Gen 18: 24 & 25 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked; that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
Jesus, Both God and Man
There are two methodologies seen most often within Christian communities, Calvinism and Arminianism. Both are viewing platforms used by Bible scholars to view and interpret God’s Word. They are two apposing paradigms that have caused a great deal of conflict within the Church. When boiled down to their simplest form, they are really just two different perspectives of the God/Man relationship. Calvinism attempts to understand God’s sovereignty or God's perspective. Arminians attempt to understand Man’s responsibility or man's perspective. In light of these two sides, I find it interesting that Jesus was both God and Man. John 1 teaches us that Jesus is also the Word of God incarnate, so it follows that within the Word of God, both perspectives are being seen at any given moment. In Jesus, we see both God and Man's perspectives in their proper order and balance.
You can’t ignore Christ’s humanity anymore then you can remove His divinity. I believe this is the error that both Calvinists and Arminians make. They focus on one side at the expense of the other. Jesus was 100 % God and 100% Man. In his humanity, we see him need rest and get angry over sin. We see him show affection to those around him. He was compassionate to those who suffered and cried when Lazarus died. We know that he felt the pain of betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was wrongly accused and beaten by both the Jewish leadership and the Romans. He suffered and died just as all humans do when crucified. Every emotion you and I feel he felt while he was here in Human form. Yet, because He is God, He never sinned. In his divinity, He created the World in 6 days, was born of a virgin, turned water into wine, healed the sick, raised the dead, and returned from the grave Himself after 3 days in the tomb. In his humanity he submitted to God at the cost of his life. In his divinity, He conquered sin and death by rising from the dead, His sacrifice redeemed us from Hell and reconciled us to God.
"Not My Will.”
Consider His prayer time in the garden just before He went to the cross. (Luke 22:39-46) His stress was so intense that he sweated blood. In this anguish, he set his will along side God’s will. He set His perspective along side God’s, and considered them both. We see his personal desire when he asked the father to “let this cup pass” he clearly did not want to go to the cross. Yet, we see him submitting all that he was to God’s perspective when he says “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.”
Jesus is our role model. He express his will to God because He understood that God cares about our thoughts and our feelings. However, He also understood that his will was secondary to God’s purpose. In this, he is our great teacher, he shows us what to do with our mind, will, and emotions; we yield ourselves to God’s purposes. Jesus took his will, which as a man, would have been of great value to him and gave it to God. I believe God’s Word would tell us, as Christians, that our perspective matters, however, God’s point of view matters more.
By submitting our perspective to God, we empower our will to serve Him. Obedience is allowing Him to work in us to redirect our mind, will, and emotions. It is the fruit of an intimate relationship with God. Again, we do not dismiss or set our perspective aside, we offer it up. We present it willingly as an offering of love. A living sacrifice, a pleasing aroma unto God. He in turn empowers us to do his will for his good pleasure.
I am suggesting that by dismissing our perspective we are saying to God we are of no value. I believe we are important to God. Why else would He have gone through all this trouble to save us? By offering up our perspective, we are offering to God something of great worth to us and to Him; our submitted will.
The Renewing of the Mind.
Romans 12:1-3 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
I love Romans 12:1-3. Within these few verses are seen both God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. God’s mercy and man’s offering of obedience seen in sacrificial service. For our part, we must willingly and purposely make a decision to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is an act of our will that requires dedication and resolve. We are not to act like the world or to think to highly of ourselves. As we purpose to serve God, His Word changes us. A transformation begins to take place; a renewing of our minds. This is the work of God in our lives and is supernaturally accomplished. God’s will become our will, and like Christ Jesus, our humanity begins to submit to Him. This is God working in us. We can’t take credit for any part of our relationship with God, nor can we boast in our obedience because it did not originate with us, nor is it accomplished by us. For reasons that seemed good to Him, He chose us, and then he empowered us to choose him.
Philippians 2:13 For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
1 John 4:19 We love Him because He first loved us.
To have a healthy, intimate, and balanced relationship with God, we must understand His role as head of our union and our role as His bride. We are under his loving care and authority at all times. In every relationship weather it is man to woman or man to God, two perspectives are at play at any given time. As the Husband, I am the God ordained head of the home. Scripture gives me sovereign authority over my wife. If I so desired, I could make decisions without consulting her or without considering how the consequences of my decisions would effect her life. However, this would be detrimental to my relationship with her. Because I love her, I consider her when my decisions affect her life. Relationships only work when both perspectives are considered.
I am so grateful that God considers our vantage point. In scripture, we see him reasoning with Cain (Gen 4), Abraham (Gen18) and Moses (Exodus 33). We see His willingness to withhold judgment for the sake of 10 righteous people. (Gen 18) We see Him providing an escape for Lot and his family (Gen 19), and most importantly, we see him providing himself a lamb, His only begotten Son, as a redeemer for all mankind (John 3:16). In His sovereignty, He didn’t forget man; rather he moved heaven and earth to save them.
Let me be clear, Our perspective, outside of Christ Jesus is indeed worthless and our will is useless. Romans 3 makes it abundantly clear that as far as God is concerned, we were dead spiritually before our salvation. However, the value of our will becomes evident once we are saved. As Christians, our submitted will becomes a tool to express our love for God and His people.
I am rethinking the paradigm used by Calvinist and Arminian scholars. Each lead to extreme beliefs and behavior because they lack each others perspectives. As far as it is possible, I wish to understand God’s Word through His eyes and ours. Within the God/Man relationship we see that God, in His sovereignty, loves us and cares for us, not as a tyrant, but as a father who loves his children, as a husband who loves his wife. In response, we freely submit our perspectives to him, trusting that he knows what is best for us. Through loving devotion we show our love for him.
It is my opinion that if we wish to avoid extremes we must move on from the Calvinistic and Arminian approach to scripture altogether. Vulcans are born from the extremes of both camps. They may have different shaped ears, and one side laughs a little more then the other, but by and large, they are legalistic, non-feeling Vulcans. When interpreting the Bible, we must use a vantage point that allows us to see the whole Word of God; a view point that combines both perspectives. In this manner scripture will bring balance to itself, helping us avoid extreme doctrines that lead to a ship wrecked faith. When we realize that Jesus is both God and Man, and that He is also is the Word of God, we recognize that both perspectives must be seen in scripture. It follows then, that we must understand and teach both in their proper roles. Emotional Man submitted to a just and loving God.
Live long and prosper
Related Hubs from Abrushing1968
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