Simmering Thoughts Podcast on Joy

I enjoyed recording an episode of the Simmering Thoughts podcast yesterday with my friend, Ryan Akers. He and Chris Dean normally host, but due to illness in Chris’ family, they were forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel. We continued their series on the fruits of the Spirit by discussing joy from a biblical perspective. You can listen to the episode here.

My Experience of Black America

Photo taken by yours truly in a crush of people on the east Capitol steps, July 2007

Over the past week, I sat down at my computer to write about black America, by which I mean Americans of African descent and their culture. I had hesitated to do so for a long time, for I was certain that no matter what I wrote, it would cause offense. However, I have come to feel that this fear is actually detrimental to the cause of racial reconciliation, and that only in sharing our stories can we ever hope to understand one another. I therefore sat down to write, and what came out of me was not a few brief thoughts, but a continuous stream of contemplation. I present this very long article to the public in the hope that it might be somewhat helpful. I particularly hope it can benefit the Church.

Perhaps it seems silly to speak of myself experiencing black America, as I am white and have not spent a substantial portion of my life in the company of a large number of African Americans. However, the fact is that practically everyone has experienced something of black America. What they’ve experienced might represent a tiny fragment of the whole, but it helps to define how they view black Americans and think about issues of race and/or ethnicity. Looking back on my life now, I realize how those experiences have helped to shape my ideas. Not only that, but they have taught me some things about the Church. Continue reading

Predestination: The Promise of Salvation

Predestination is the promise of the end at the beginning. When we preach this doctrine, we proclaim that God is not only eternally Savior, but He eternally had a people to save. We proclaim that He is not bound by linear time, and His foreknowledge is so perfect that for Him to know something will occur means that it will occur. We proclaim that God has loved His people from eternity past, and He will work His will in them so that they will most certainly persevere. Yes, predestination is the promise of the end at the beginning, and in that we can have confidence.

The doctrine of predestination could not exist if God was bound by linear time: that is, if His existence progressed eternally in a series of seconds, minutes, and hours. Human beings exist within linear time. We are presently something we were not in the past and will not be in the future. We cannot look ahead, nor can we turn back. We respond to events as they hit us one by one, and thus we are subject to change.

God is eternal. This means He is not bound by linear time like we are. As the Psalmist wrote, “Before the mountains were born / Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, / Even from everlasting to everlasting, / You are God.” (Psalm 90:2) The Lord is clearly aware of and works within linear time—after all, He created it. When He became incarnate as a man, Jesus Christ was most certainly bound by linear time. He was like us in every way…except without sin. However, the eternal Godhead is fully eternal. Scripture continually points to God’s ability to declare the future things as proof that He is truly God. This is meant to reveal to us that God is not bound by linear time, and He is therefore in a different category than us. The Creator is distinct from His creatures. Continue reading

Our Savior: The Author of Salvation

When we speak of salvation, we often begin by talking about ourselves, and that is our first mistake. It would be better for us to start by considering the One from whom salvation flows: our forever Savior, God Almighty. When we build our understanding of salvation upon our own identity, we can have no assurance, but when we build it upon the character of God, we have every assurance.

The first thing we must say about God is that He is what He is. The One who revealed Himself to Moses as “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14) does not experience any change in character. All that He is, He was eternally, and all He is now, He will forever be. Our experience of His character may change, but the character itself doesn’t. God cannot become something He previously was not, so as to be created. He cannot improve on what He is now, so as to become better. He is the perfect Creator then, now, and forevermore.

Therefore, when we say that God is Savior, we do not assign to Him a new identity that He did not previously possess. He was a Savior even before there was something to save, and because He has always been a Savior, He always will be. He is a Savior precisely because it is in His nature to save. When Jesus Christ said He came to earth “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), He was describing the eternal character of God as manifested in that portion of redemptive history. Continue reading