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Theology

Weekly Spurgeon

From Morning and Evening

“God, even our own God.” 
– Psalm 67:6

It is strange how little use we make of the spiritual blessings which God gives us, but it is stranger still how little use we make of God Himself. Though He is “our own God,” we apply ourselves but little to Him, and ask but little of Him. How seldom do we ask counsel at the hands of the Lord! How often do we go about our business, without seeking His guidance! In our troubles how constantly do we strive to bear our burdens ourselves, instead of casting them upon the Lord, that He may sustain us! This is not because we may not, for the Lord seems to say, “I am thine, soul, come and make use of me as thou wilt; thou mayst freely come to my store, and the oftener the more welcome.” It is our own fault if we make not free with the riches of our God. Then, since thou hast such a friend, and He invites thee, draw from Him daily. Never want whilst thou hast a God to go to; never fear or faint whilst thou hast God to help thee; go to thy treasure and take whatever thou needest — there is all that thou canst want. Learn the divine skill of making God all things to thee. He can supply thee with all, or, better still, He can be to thee instead of all. Let me urge thee, then, to make use of thy God. Make use of Him in prayer. Go to Him often, because He is thy God. O, wilt thou fail to use so great a privilege? Fly to Him, tell Him all thy wants. Use Him constantly by faith at all times. If some dark providence has beclouded thee, use thy God as a “sun;” if some strong enemy has beset thee, find in Jehovah a “shield,” for He is a sun and shield to His people. If thou hast lost thy way in the mazes of life, use Him as a “guide,” for He will direct thee. Whatever thou art, and wherever thou art, remember God is just what thou wantest, and just where thou wantest, and that He can do all thou wantest.

Categories
Theology

Weekly Spurgeon

Sorry for its absence in the past two weeks.  This week, the quote is quite short, but it is long on conviction.

If any of you should ask me for an epitome of the Christian religion, I should say that it is in one word–prayer. Live and die without prayer, and you will pray long enough when you get to hell.

Categories
Life

More On God’s Unchangeable Nature

It seems as if during the past two weeks, I can’t escape resources that continually affirm the unchangeable attribute of God. Earlier this week, I wrote a post called Does Prayer Change God’s Mind? and argued that prayer changes us, not God. Prayer is a one of God’s avenues to bringing about his will in the world. So, why do we pray? We pray so we can present our lives to the Lord in a way that says, “Jesus, change me. Make me more like you. Let me pray in your will, that my request will be granted because it glorifies you.”

This whole debate stems out of the openness and process theology debate. Openness theology (open theism) says that God has not ordained all things and that he doesn’t even know all things. Process theology goes a step further: because change is a primary quality of genuine existence, God must therefore change in his being.

Obviously they haven’t read Psalm 102:25-27. “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.”

With that, here are some quotes from others about this:

Norman Geisler, on Moses changing God’s mind in Exodus 32: “There was a change in Moses. As leader and mediator for his people, there was a change in Moses’ heart, which allowed God’s unchanging mercy to flow to Israel through Moses as their mediator.”

Wayne Grudem: “If God could change (in his being, perfections, purposes, or promises), then any change would be either for the better or for the worse. But if God changed for the better, then he was not the best possible being when we first trusted him. And how could we be sure that he is the best possible being now? But if God could change for the worse (in his very being), then what kind of God might he become? Might he become, for instance, a little bit evil rather than wholly good? And if he could become a little bit evil, then how do we know he could not change to become largely evil-or wholly evil?…How could we ever trust such a God who could change? How could we ever commit our lives to him?”

William Barrick: “Indeed, if man is capable of changing the mind of God, then it might be argued that man knows more about governing this world than God.”

Categories
Life

Does Prayer Change God’s Mind?

There are two primary views of prayer in Christianity. One is that God uses prayer as one avenue to bring about his sovereign purposes in the world. The other is that man uses prayer as an instrument to bring about his will in heaven and on earth.

Open Theism is the theology that God does not know the future and he is, therefore, “open” in his relationships and dealings with people. Because of this belief, Open Theists claim that prayer can change God’s mind. Greg Boyd, one of the spearheads of Open Theism, says that this view of prayer helps God decide or change his mind, since he does not know everything. E.M. Bounds, the 19th Century Methodist minister, wrote, “Prayer affects God more powerfully than His own purposes. God’s will, words and purposes are all subject to review when the mighty potencies of prayer come in. How mighty prayer is with God may be seen as he readily sets aside His own fixed and declared purposes in answer to prayer” (my emphasis).

But is this true? Do we really serve a God who can be manipulated, persuaded, and influenced by human reason and emotion in prayer? I think William Barrick had it right when he said, “Indeed, if man is capable of changing the mind of God, then it might be argued that man knows more about governing this world than God. However, God does know what He is doing. The appearance of change is merely the fact that God had already planned to ‘change’ when His people have finally come to behave in the way He had anticipated they would in response to His words and actions.”

Instead, we can say that God uses people’s prayers as an avenue to bringing about his ultimate will. Prayer changes us. God uses prayer in our lives to pray in accordance with his will so that we are in alignment with what is on his heart and mind. We must remember that when God “changes” his mind, he already decided he would do that. We must remember that the God who seems to “repent” at times in the Old Testament does not repent like a man (see an article by John Piper for a greater discussion of this). We need to know that this the same God who “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11), “does whatever he pleases” (Ps. 115:3), and “works all things for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

We must submit to Romans 11:34-35 when Paul writes, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” Know that you aren’t changing the Sovereign, Almighty God when you pray. He is changing you from one degree of glory to another into a greater degree of Christlikeness.

Praying with you to be more like Christ,
james