COMPATIBILISM

DEPENDENT RESPONSIBILITY

Peter’s words accusing his fellow Jews of crucifying JESUS:

“this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23 ESV).  “Though one may not understand fully how God’s sovereign ordination of events can be compatible with human responsibility for evil, both are clearly affirmed here and in many other passages of Scripture (cf. notes on 3:13-16; 3:17; 4:27; 4:28)” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2084, [Acts 2:23]).

“There are many instances in the Scriptures where the concepts of both dependence and responsibility appear in the same sentence or paragraph.” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p130).

“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain….” (Ps 127:1 ESV).

“Hundreds of passages…could be explored to demonstrate that the Bible assumes both that God is sovereign and that people are responsible for their actions.  As hard as it is for many people in the Western world to come to terms with both truths at the same time, it takes a great deal of interpretative ingenuity to argue that the Bible does not support them” (D.A. Carson) Justin Taylor (ref#295).

“…we are both dependent and responsible…Nehemiah…prayed and posted a guard.  He recognized his dependence on God, but he also accepted his responsibility to work…” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p131).

“God’s sovereignty is compatible with human responsibility.  Israel should have believed the gospel and trusted in Christ, but the majority refused to do so.  Still God’s saving promises will be fulfilled” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2174, [Rom 9:30 – 11:10]).

FATHER, as J.C. Ryle, this is what I believe: “I grant most fully that saving faith, like true repentance, is the gift of God.  I grant that we have no natural power of our own to believe on Christ, receive Christ, come to Christ, lay hold on Christ, and commit our souls to Christ.  But I see faith and repentance laid down clearly in Scripture as dutieswhich God requires at any man’s hands….(Acts xvii. 30; 1 John iii. 23.)  And I see it laid down with no less clearness, that unbelief and impenitence are sins for which man will be held accountable, and that he who does not repent and believe destroys his own soul (Mark xvi. 16; Luke xiii.3)” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p194).

“…what can be known about God is plain…his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse” (Rom 1:19-20 ESV).

COMPATIBILISM

COMPATIBILISM

“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD” (Prov 21:31 ESV).

“What is compatibilism?…God is absolutely sovereign, but his sovereignty never functions in Scripture to reduce human responsibility.  Human beings are responsible creatures—that is, they choose, they believe, they disobey, they respond, and there is moral significance in their choices; but human responsibility never functions in Scripture to diminish God’s sovereignty or to make God absolutely contingent” (D.A. Carson) Justin Taylor (ref#295).

FATHER, I desire biblical balance between the SPIRIT’s power and my effort. “…there is both preservation on God’s part and perseverance in holiness on ours, and the former is accomplished by maintaining the latter.  God does not deal with His people as though they were machines, but as rational creatures.  He sets before them weighty considerations and powerful motives, solemn warnings and rich rewards, and by the renewings of His grace and the reviving of His Spirit causes them to respond thereto” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p170).

“Paul said he had learned to be content…He worked at it.  But he knew that he could be content only through the Lord, who gave him strength” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p133).

 “Each member of God’s people is responsible to lay hold of…grace from the heart to believe the promises, to grow in obeying the commands, and to keep on doing so all their lives long” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p937, “Introduction to the Psalms”).

“’To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me’ (Col 1:29)” Jim Cymbala (ref#161, p51).  “He enables me to live a life pleasing to Him” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p134).

SCRIPTURE

MEDITATING ON SCRIPTURE

“…to pursue holiness with discipline, we must do more than hear, read, study or memorize Scripture.  We must meditate on it” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p99).

“One cannot stress too much the necessity of reading and meditating upon the Book…the Word of God is not like any merely human book.  There is a spiritual as well as an intellectual element in the apprehension of it….Therefore, we must always avoid mere knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but must allow the Spirit of God to make personal application of the Word to our own lives….God’s Word is intensely practical” Alfred Martin (ref#260, p123).

“Meditation of Scripture is a discipline” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p170).  “We must choose to meditate instead of thinking about other things, or listening to the radio, or watching television.  We simply have to decide which end of the influence continuum we want to live on and take steps accordingly” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p171).

“It is not necessary that we should discover new ideas in our meditation.  Often this only diverts us and feeds our vanity.  It is sufficient if the Word, as we read and understand it, penetrates and dwells within us” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#28, p83).

“Can we ever know positively that our understanding of Scripture is entirely correct?…we cannot.  But we can know positively whether we are seeking God’s truth in a manner that glorifies Him” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p132).

“’Lord, my sweetest privilege is obedience to Thee; my highest freedom is wearing Thy yoke; my greatest rest is bearing Thy burden…” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Nov 22nd).

SCRIPTURE

SCRIPTURE STUDY

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Col 3:16 ESV).

“…when God originally created man, the reason, the emotions, and the will all worked in perfect harmony.  Reason led the way in understanding the will of God, the will consented to God’s will, and the emotions delighted in doing it.  But…” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p125).

FATHER, now that I sit in sin-nature my reason is the first to dodge obedience to You.  I easily read Scripture wrongly.

“We somehow feel that consent to the teaching of Scripture is equivalent to obedience” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p72).  “The question is, do we really believe we are dependent upon the Holy Spirit to enlighten our understanding, or do we actually depend on our own intellectual ability in our study of Scripture?….What we are talking about here is not just acquiring more knowledge of biblical truth, but rather the development of Bible-based convictions by which we are to live”  Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p177).

“…our relation to the word of God must be based on simple obedience—on being hearers and doers—not on an analysis of the content of the word” Doug Newton (ref#166, p110).

“…we are more apt to…become proud over our ‘superior’ knowledge of biblical truth rather than humbled over our lack of obedience to what Scripture teaches” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p177). “Our tendency seems to be to equate knowledge of the truth, and even agreement with it, with obedience to it” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p182).

“…we should pray for knowledge of truth that will change our lives rather than simply inform our minds” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p178).

SCRIPTURE

THE BIBLE, GOD’S GIFT TO ME

“God’s Word has a claim…upon your attention because of its majesty and its condescension” Charles Spurgeon (ref#251, p47).

“Every word that God has given us in this Book claims our attention because of the infinite majesty of Him that spake it…God’s claim to be heard lies also in the condescension that has led Him to speak to us….Thou art so full of lovingkindness and tenderness that Thou wilt stoop out of heaven to converse with Thy sinful creatures” Charles Spurgeon (ref#251, p46-47).

FATHER, You did not speak Your Word to me just to increase my knowledge but that it move me to change my conduct. Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p187)

“…to make progress in all the good things that he gives us, we must have his Word so we may be built upon it and grow more and more through it.  To bring this about, we must be teachable.  From day to day , we must labor to seek help in the Word to strengthen our faith…” John Calvin (ref#164, Oct 12th).

“We don’t see ourselves with clarity, but we think we do, and we don’t know ourselves with accuracy, but we are convinced we do….” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, June 4th).  “…the mind was designed not to defend what we want, but to discover what is ultimately true….The purpose of the mind is not to rationalize subjective preferences, but to recognize objective reality and to help the heart revel in God” John Piper (ref#220, p261, underlining mine).  “Only when the Word of God is applied to a person’s life does he realize how deep and wide is his corruption” John Calvin (ref#164, Nov 13th).

FATHER, I am reminded again what a great gift Your Word is as the SPIRIT convicts me of utilizing my mind all too often to “rationalize subjective preferences.”  How refreshing it is to follow “objective reality” reading Your Scriptures, instead.

“…we all need help.  It comes to us in the gift of God’s Word…” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, June 4th).

SCRIPTURE

THE STORE HOUSE OF SCRIPTURE

“What informs your life?…We can allow a lot of things to supplant the proper role of scriptures in our lives…parents; friends; movies; music; media; scientific theories; teachers; professors” JD Blom (ref#276).

“…men and women, instead of taking the message as it is in the Bible, are imposing their own message upon it.  They are approaching it with their philosophies, their theories, their ideas, and their attempts to understand; and they are bypassing what is stated in this Book that is open before them in a language that all can understand” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, July 9th).

“The idea of much liberal theology is that Christian theology should be interpreted from the stand point of modern knowledge and experience.  Jesus is saying that this should absolutely NOT be the case.  The scriptures alone are the primary source for informing and guiding our lives” JD Blom (ref#276).

FATHER, I confess it is so easy to pluck up sensible facts from trusted friends and plant them in my personal doctrinal garden.  Trusting the Bible to inform me is hard work that I naturally don’t want to do.  Therefore, help me continue the habit of enlightening myself with Your Scriptures on a routine basis.

“…holy and sanctifying are the nature and the effect of divine truth….It brings down and lays low the high thoughts of man by revealing to him the character of God; it convinces him of his deep guilt and awful condemnation by exhibiting the divine law; it unfolds to him God’s hatred of sin and His justice in punishing and His mercy in pardoning it…it implants new principles, supplies new motives, gives a new end, begets new joys, and inspires new hopes—in a word, diffuses itself through the whole moral man, changes it into the same image, and transforms it into ‘an habitation of God through the Spirit’” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Oct 22nd).

“Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces” (Jer 23:29 ESV)?  “God’s word shatters the sinful heart” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p1417, [Jer 23:29]).

“We are never the same after listening to the truth; we may forget it, but we will meet it again….A man may not grasp all that is said, but something in him is intuitively held by it” Oswald Chambers (ref#8, April 3rd).

“…there is still an infinite storehouse of understanding of the mind of God waiting for us in Scripture” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p175).

SCRIPTURE

INFLUENCE OF SCRIPTURE

“Our convictions and values will come from society around us (the world), or they will come as our minds are renewed by the Word of God.  There is no third option” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p167-168).

FATHER, like no other book Your words change my very nature.  Externally I conclude, by the actions of the HOLY SPIRIT, that the Bible is unique in that every book in it agrees with every other book in it.  I also grasp the internal evidence.  I feel in my reading that it is Your Word explicitly.  The HOLY SPIRIT too, brings this to me. (ref#189, Dec 14th)

“The human task of thinking about God on the basis of his Word is the place where God ‘grants understanding.’  It is a gift….(Prov 2:2-6)” John Piper (ref#220, p285).

“…the word of God…performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thes 2:13 NASB).

“Many can bring the Scriptures to the mind, but the Lord alone can prepare the mind to receive the Scriptures” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Jan 19th PM).  “…the Holy Scriptures cannot be penetrated by study and talent is most certain.  Therefore our first duty is to begin to pray, and to pray to this effect that if it please God to accomplish something for His glory—not for yours or any other person’s—He very graciously grant you a true understanding of His words….You must, therefore, completely despair of your own…ability and rely solely on the inspiration of the Spirit” John Piper (ref#220, p291).

“The Word of God…is the weapon that God designs to use in penetrating the kingdom of darkness and gathering the children of light…His whole redemptive plan for the universe hangs on the success of his word…” John Piper (ref#220, p222).  “The great design…is to reveal the love of God to His people, and thereby recover their love to God, that they may love Him again who first loved them” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p128).

SCRIPTURE

THE POWER OF SCRIPTURE

“…’the Book’…is a fountain for spiritual thirst, food for the soul, a revelation of God, a living power and a two-edged sword” John Piper (ref#220, p292).

FATHER, the more familiar I become with Your Bible the more I approach it with respect and fear.  One read through cements the fact that it is indeed a supernatural book.  Ordinary books inform or entertain; the Bible changes my very nature.  UTMOST LORD, I thank You for providing the SPIRIT who guides me as I read.

I can easily fall back into reading with the mind of my flesh, using my natural “sense and reason without the Holy Spirit…” (Rom 8:6 AMP).  But by reading this way I’m only looking for information to help me.  Without the SPIRIT to help, Your Word is external.  It does not change me inside.  It only gives me advice to act independently of You.

“…the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12 ESV).

“…the ‘word’ is pictured as God’s personal utterance, living, active, sharp, piercing, and discerning…with eyesthat expose….The Word of God then acts as God himself, so that one’s innermost thoughts and intentions are exposed.  This happens constantly in Christians’ lives” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2367, [Heb 4:12-13]).

If the ESV translation is hard to understand, try the Message: God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what” (Heb 4:12-13 MSG).

I praise You, LORD, that Your Word “is a sifter…of the reflections and conceptions of the heart” Kenneth S. Wuest (ref#37, p519, [Heb 4:12]).  Its energy seeks to get into and stay with me. It has the ability to stir me and work in me to a degree that I can’t get away from it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#28, p83)

“We are being drawn more and more under the transforming influence of Scripture, or we are being progressively drawn into the web of an ungodly society around us” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p171).

HOLY SPIRIT

BABES IN CHRIST

“…make certain about His calling and choosing you…” (2 Peter 1:10 NASB).

FATHER, it is not that You commission me to work hard so that You choose me.  No, You have already chosen me and I need to convince myself that You have chosen me.  What pleases You and proves to me that fact is my complete submission to the HOLY SPIRIT. Thank You for the joy that fills my heart when I obey.

“Religious enterprise that has not learned to rely on the Holy Spirit makes everything depend on the human intellect—‘God has said so-and-so, now believe it and it will be all right’, but it won’t.  The basis of Jesus Christ’s religion is the acceptance of a new Spirit, not a new creed,…” Oswald Chambers (ref#8, Sept 10th).

Christ had unfolded to His disciples an infinite system of truth, but it lay cold and dead in their memories. He deposited precious seed in the soil; but the soil lacked the warmth and sunshine that the Spirit of God alone could give. Compare the difference between the disciples before and after Pentecost. When the Spirit of God is in you you have spiritual

  1. Life.
  2. Satisfaction.
  3. Power.”

(D. Thomas, The Spirit With You and In You,[John 14:16], (New York, NY: The Bible Illustrator, 1905-1909, https://www.studylight.org/commentary/john/14-16.html)

“…we cannot transform ourselves.  Only the Holy Spirit can do that….we must bring ourselves under the transforming action of the Holy Spirit.  This means…that we must continually submit our minds to the Word of God, which is the chief instrument the Holy Spirit uses to transform us” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p172-173).

“The greatest test is that the true Spirit always glorifies Christ.  Christ is always in the center….The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of order, not of disorder,  Doctrine and love are required; experience and power, intellect and mind—the whole person is involved and functions as this perfectly balanced body with no schism, with no rivalry and competition, but with the whole manifesting and ministering unto the glory of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Make sure the Spirit of God is in you” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Nov 5th).

CREATION

MAN IS IN THE IMAGE OF GOD

“The fact that man is in the image of God means that man is like God…”Wayne Grudem (ref#63, p442).  “The expression refers to every way in which man is like God” Wayne Grudem (ref#63, p444).

“…when God originally created man, the reason, the emotions, and the will all worked in perfect harmony. Reason led the way in understanding the will of God, the will consented to God’s will, and the emotions delighted in doing it” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p125).

“…we are still in God’s image—we are still like God…but the image of God in us is distorted;…” Wayne Grudem (ref#63, p444).

“…with the entrance of sin into man’s soul, these three faculties began to work at cross-purposes to one another and to God.  The will has become stubborn and rebellious and will not consent to that which reason knows to be the will of God.  Or, more commonly, the emotions get the upper hand and draw away both reason and will from obedience to God” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p125).

“These faculties were all implanted in man’s soul by God, but were all corrupted through man’s fall in the Garden of Eden.  Our reason (or understanding) was darkened (Ephesians 4:18), our desires were entangled (Ephesians 2:3), and our wills perverted” (John 5:40) Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p124).

“…the goal for which God has redeemed us is that we might be ‘conformed to the image of his Son’ (Rom 8:29)” Wayne Grudem (ref#63, p445).  “…redemption in Christ means that we can…progressively grow into more and more likeness to God…(Col 3:10)…” Wayne Grudem (ref#63, p445).

“With new birth our reason is again enlightened, our affections and desires redirected, and our wills subdued.  But though this is true, it is not true all at once.  In actual experience it is a growing process.  We are told to renew our minds (Romans 12:2), to set our affections on things above (Colossians 3:1), and to submit our wills to God (James 4:7)” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p124-225).

FATHER, thank You for the opportunity to work out all Your redemption has put in me. You give all I need, through CHRIST’s work, to gain back more and more of Your image.

“God’s highest aim in dealing with His people is in developing Christian character” E.M. Bounds (ref#64, p64).