Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Woe to the Scribes and Pharisees

Matthew asked me to "post [on] that verse or story of scripture which is important to you, which you find yourself re-visiting time after time."

This selection from Matthew’s gospel, below, is like that to me. I never heard this talk from Jesus growing up in the Catholic church. I was so surprised that the “gentle Jesus” that I had heard about in Catholic school would say these things. They are so powerful. They are really important for us – it spells out that which God hates. More importanly, it shows how the LORD sees right into the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. We can compare our own attitudes to those of the Scribes and Pharisees, to check ourselves for rotteness. Also - in a real way, we can see into the LORD’s heart in this passage.

I am going to insert a few thoughts within the passage below. It looks like a long post, I know, but I am including the whole chapter 23 from Matthew. It is worth a minute to read today!

Matthew 23

1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples,

2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe,that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.
4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.
6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,
7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’
8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.
9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.

(no wonder the Catholic's do not read this to their charges)

10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.
11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Good principles for us in this dispensation.
Look out, here is where it gets really intense:

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

WOE! That is a serious charge! How does this mesh with the unalterable will of God? (just a side thought)

14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

Man! They go to all the trouble to "win souls" but then they teach them to be spiritually wicked.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’
17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?
18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’
19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?
20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it.
21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it.
22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.

They had a faulty foundation. Their precepts were off!

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

They were all about the outward show. We shan't be like that, brothers and sisters!

24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

Oh my! I find this humorous and cutting to the bone all at once. Our LORD really had a way with words. Is this the gentle Jesus of the Catholic church? No, certainly not. Here is a picture of a person fussing over a barrel of water or wine and trying to pick out a little dead gant floating on the surface because they don't want to drink something impure, but .... there is a giant animal in his beverage. The LORD gives this increbible picture of a man with a camel going 'down the hatch' - a man who was worried over a little gnat in his drink! Are we ever like that with our religion - with our theology? We gotta check ourselves.

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.
26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

The Wonderful LORD - he was even trying to tell these fools how they could go about it the right way. I hear such compassion even in the midst of this stinging rebuke.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,
30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’

They certainly patted themselves on the back, no?

31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.
32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.

Now He ratchets it up a bit.

33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?

WOE! HOW?

34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,
35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

How dreadfully sad that must have been to have had to deliver that message to those who were supposed to lead the chosen people. I feel the sadness of the LORD as I read that.
This is so moving:

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

God wanted ... they were not willing. How does the determinist deal with that statement? I have always wondered. Do any of you Calvinists want to explain?

38 See! Your house is left to you desolate;
39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’”

He turns to the Gentiles. After He is crucified, risen, and the Holy Spirit comes, the church is born - made up of Jew AND Gentile. But the church is not the end of the story. I see hope for Jerusalem. They will say "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."

The bloggers I am tagging for this meme are:
Jonathan
KC
Monk

37 Comments:

  • Good choice and great reflections, Rose.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 7/28/2007 12:17 PM  

  • Thank you Matthew for taking the time to read it. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/28/2007 12:45 PM  

  • Wow. Rose, that passage makes me so thankful first of all that this awesome Lord Jesus who so righteously made these statements is my Savior and not my Judge in the sense of being a lost sinner. But the Bema I fear will be no cakewalk. Thanks for your prayers. But thankfully once again, He is still full of grace & truth today! Thanks for posting this. God Bless.

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at 7/28/2007 2:47 PM  

  • God wanted ... they were not willing. How does the determinist deal with that statement? I have always wondered. Do any of you Calvinists want to explain?

    Rose, At the great risk of taking on too much at the one time (for currently in deep discussion with Deviant Monk) God does not will in Matthew 23:37 with the force of a decree.

    Here's a thought for you: If God wants something and gives it the force of a decree, but doesn't get, is He

    A/ Disappointed
    B/ Frustrated
    C/ Helpless
    D/ Other (please identify and explain)

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 7/28/2007 3:38 PM  

  • Thank you, Rose. This has been great affirmation of something I have been going through.

    Recognition of this idea of religiosity vs Christ like-ness is a key part of our faith journeys but it is a tough one.

    By Blogger Todd M, at 7/28/2007 3:55 PM  

  • Rose-

    lol...I just now noticed my name tagged here.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 7/29/2007 4:58 PM  

  • goodnight-

    God does not will in Matthew 23:37 with the force of a decree.

    How does one adjudicate between what God has willed with the force of a decree and that which God has just 'willed?'

    If God wants something and gives it the force of a decree, but doesn't get, is He

    A/ Disappointed
    B/ Frustrated
    C/ Helpless
    D/ Other (please identify and explain)


    Since you have admitted that there are some things that God wills but doesn't get, (due to God not willing everything God wills with the force of a decree) I'm wondering if you would answer the question in regards to what God wants/wills but doesn't do so with the force of a decree.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 7/29/2007 5:08 PM  

  • Hey Monk,

    I would be interested in his answer, too.

    By Blogger Antonio, at 7/29/2007 9:07 PM  

  • DM asks: How does one adjudicate between what God has willed with the force of a decree and that which God has just 'willed?'

    We do not adjudicate anything at all. We discern rather than adjudicate. That which comes to pass has been decreed by God. I assume that you agree with this, at least in kind if only to a lesser degree. Unless He is but an interested spectator on the sidelines - or a reactionary who moves as information becomes available to Him - then He knew what He do in any given situation and decreed to do it.

    It is evident that God's desire to save sinners does not extend to actually saving them, otherwise we must embrace Universalism. Yet, God reveals Himself as One who has no delight in the destruction of any sinner, but has evidently stopped short of decreeing their salvation. Why did God not decree to save every last sinner? Answer:- For reasons best known to Himself. Sinners are lost when they remain in their chosen unbelief (John 3:18-19) and there we must put the emphasis. Sinners are saved when they are effectually drawn to Jesus Christ, through faithful gospel activity, and therefore we give God, not the deciding sinner, the glory of salvation.

    Therefore, none of God's attributes, ever include defeat, frustration, disappointment, or helplessness. Maybe, you disagree?

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 7/30/2007 8:56 AM  

  • David,
    Thank YOU for visiting, reading, and for your comment.

    Goodnight!
    Where does the Bible spell out this difference in "God wanting" and "God decreeing" - just curious.

    If God wants something and gives it the force of a decree, but doesn't get, is He

    A/ Disappointed
    B/ Frustrated
    C/ Helpless
    D/ Other (please identify and explain)


    How can I answer that - I have not stipulated to yor idea of "decree". I will rephrase it for you.

    If God wants something but doesn't get, is He

    A/ Disappointed
    B/ Frustrated
    C/ Helpless
    D/ Other (please identify and explain)


    There. That is better. I think the answer is right before us. After all, Jesus is God, is He not? I think He shows us exactly the answer to your question. He says "How often I wanted to gather your children together" - so we know He wanted that. And there are myriads of Scripture that could be used to show that He wanted Israel to follow, obey believe etc.... Luke 19:41 shows that he was "angry" adn "greived" about this. Mark 3:4-6 also shows that He was grieved over their lack of faith.
    You list
    A/ Disappointed
    B/ Frustrated
    as though these are impossible for God. Why? Ephesians 4:30

    We know that God gets angry. Why would He be angry if everything was exactly as He "wanted" it to be? Is God's anger just for show?

    Look, I don't have all the answers about this, but I don't think you do either! :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/30/2007 12:02 PM  

  • Todd,
    I am glad it was an encouragement for you. I am in Ohio too! I can't tell what part of Ohio you are in.

    Monk,
    Thanks for participating.

    Antonio,
    You did not greet me! You must follow my rules, my dear friend! (heehee) :~)

    Goodnight,
    Again, why is it that God is sometimes angry and grieved?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/30/2007 12:11 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    I think the verse at hand that started off this discussion (Matthew 23:37) is a case in point where the difference must be made. If God is going to do something, then He was always going to do it. In other words, there was no point in time, when He decided "Yes! I'll do that!" but rather He was always going to do it from eternity past. In other words, He decreed that such a thing would be done in the time of His choosing. Such a decree cannot be overthrown and therefore is invincible and infallible. If such a desire towards Jerusalem extended to the decree, then He drew the whole city to Himself in salvation, because what He decrees, He gets. If He doesn't get what He decreed, I think we may drop the teaching that He is Almighty and Omnipotent etc., because it certainly doesn't suit. That's frightening. (Of course, it may be that the whole of Jerusalem as specified in the cry of Matthew 23:37) did actually flee to Him as the chicks to the mother, but I don't know of any commentator who believes this to be true, and I seriously doubt it.) We are faced with the idea then that God had gracious enough thoughts for Jerusalem, but that they were not seen through to the point of that city in its entirety being saved. We are left therefore to conclude that He desired, but not with the force of a decree. I hope that this is clear.

    When God is said to be angry, He is angry with sin and even though He ordained the sinful event to take place, (as in the Cross: Acts 2:23) yet He has every right to be angry with those who sin in that event. He is not angry because His decree wasn't followed out, but that wicked men break His law, which is sin. We need to always remember that we are guided by the word of God and not the decree which lies largely hidden to us. Likewise, the Spirit of God is said to be grieved when Christians sin against God i.e. against that which is written.

    We know that God gets angry. Do you think that He gets frustrated? Is He then the Most Frustrated Being in the Universe? I get frustrated at times. My little plans fail because of lack of knowledge, lack of wisdom, lack of resources, lack of passion etc, on my part. What must it be like then for God who has a million more plans than me, spanned over a longer time than I will ever be on earth? Can the Devil frustrate God? Is the Devil then more powerful than God? Should I try and make peace with the more powerful Devil? When Nebuchadnezzar said, "Who can stay His hand or say unto Him, What doest thou?" (Daniel 4:35) do we have the answer that negates the commonly held idea that this is rhetorical question?

    I know that you do not have all the answers. Neither do the Calvinists, but I still think our position poses a lot less problems than any of the alternatives.

    I enjoy discussing these things with you, as ever, Rose.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 7/30/2007 12:29 PM  

  • Goodnight,
    I have been thinking on your comment and the whole discussion.

    We are left therefore to conclude that He desired, but not with the force of a decree.

    I just don't get it why you keep going back to this. All you prove (I use that word lightly :~)) is that some things are sure to happen and God will see to it and ensure those certain things, but other things are up in the air and may be "dissapointing" or "frustrating" to Him ... or maybe not work out according to His perfect desire - like it seems Jesus may be saying in Matthew:
    "How often *I wanted* to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!"

    You won't stipulate to that, will you? :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/31/2007 9:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose!

    To keep it short, I am willing to run with your words: "How often *I wanted* to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" although I think they do need to be explained (as I have done) to give the full picture as presented in the Scripture.

    Will you then stipulate that God, because He often fails to get what He wants, being unable/unwilling to decree otherwise (due to what is commonly called man's freewill) most be the most frustrated Being in the Universe?

    Lastly, did you give the Lord thanks for the last meal you ate? If so, why? Perhaps it had nothing to do with God at all, but was left to blind random chance i.e. was one of those things that was up in the air as you put it. Should the poor Jew in the parable praise God for the Good Samaritan…or just praise the good Samaritan?

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 7/31/2007 1:35 PM  

  • Colin,
    No I won't stipulate to God being the most frustrated Being in the universe. Why would I? Like I said before, I don't have all the answers. I don't think you do either when it comes to this. I do think you are skirting the issue.

    The issue is - if He is angry, then people must not be acting according to His perfect will.

    If people are not acting according to His perfect will, then they must have some kind of a will of their own - that He has soveriegnly allowed them to have.

    You have to stipulate to this or else you have:
    1. God crying and angering over His own will
    and
    2. Men molesting children because God willed it.

    Am I missing something?

    Lastly, did you give the Lord thanks for the last meal you ate?

    yes.

    If so, why?

    Because He provided it.

    Perhaps it had nothing to do with God at all, but was left to blind random chance i.e. was one of those things that was up in the air as you put it.

    I don't believe that it was. I believe in predestination. I am not who I am ... nor am I in the country I am in .... by chance.

    Should the poor Jew in the parable praise God for the Good Samaritan … or just praise the good Samaritan.

    He should thank both, but only give his praise to God.

    :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/31/2007 3:12 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    If God desires something, but doesn't get it, because it is largely out of His control (having willingly and effectively) passed that control on, then either He is going to be frustrated or He doesn't care. That is the logical outcome of your position. My God shall supply all your needs, but yet He cannot supply His own (?)

    Re: the anger of God: Was He angry with the Jews for crucifying Christ? Stephen accused them of murdering the Son of God, and the women were told not to weep for Him, but for themselves and the Jews were greatly arrayed by Peter on the Day of Pentecost for their part in the crucifixion, indeed their hands are described as wicked hands, yet the Crucifixion was according to God's will, for Acts 2:23 along with Acts 4:27-28 clearly says so. So God can be angry with men who carry out His will. He describes the Babylonians as His servants and used them to punish the Jews, but later on punished them for doing what He used them to do in the first place.

    Re: the molesting of children, it was another (Deviant Monk) who raised this issue in your other posting, but he has since gone to ground because (I believe) ultimately his own cries against my position fall back upon him. The original posting concerned Joseph and his claim that God had brought Him via his brethren's great wickedness into Egpyt. This event was clearly ordained of God (which is why He got the glory) but it involved the constant use of man's sin to accomplish His will and yet Joseph's brethren still stand fully indicted.

    Re: predestination. Where do you step in and deny that somethings happen to you outside God's will?

    Enjoying this discussion with you.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 7/31/2007 4:03 PM  

  • We do not adjudicate anything at all.

    If you say so.

    That which comes to pass has been decreed by God. I assume that you agree with this, at least in kind if only to a lesser degree.

    No, I would not agree with this.

    Unless He is but an interested spectator on the sidelines

    Seeing as God created and sustains the universe, one could hardly meaningfully call God merely an interested spectator.

    or a reactionary who moves as information becomes available to Him -

    Such a perspective would presume epistemological means for God that are on the same level as finite beings.

    then He knew what He do in any given situation and decreed to do it.

    Such a statement actually negates the divine decree. Since what comes to be is eternally part and parcel of the divine decree, then there is no room for potentialities. If there could be other 'situations', that would necessitate that those situations be actualized by divine decree, which, presumably, they weren't.

    It is evident that God's desire to save sinners does not extend to actually saving them, otherwise we must embrace Universalism.

    Perhaps if one can only think of God in terms of over-power, which is precisely how you have engaged speaking of God this entire time.

    Yet, God reveals Himself as One who has no delight in the destruction of any sinner, but has evidently stopped short of decreeing their salvation.

    You have essentially created a self-negation within God, where God desires the salvation of sinners yet also desires and decrees their destruction. If God has eternally decreed the destruction of sinners, then their is no potentiality or room for God desiring their salvation, for such a desire could only operate under the potentiality of their salvation which has been negated eternally by God's decree.

    Sinners are lost when they remain in their chosen unbelief (John 3:18-19) and there we must put the emphasis.

    Why? Why limit the emphasis to this? In fact, by doing so you are ultimately taking glory away from God, and engaging (according to your framework) in blasphemy, since you are ascribing an action to humans that is properly actualized by God's divine decree.

    Sinners are saved when they are effectually drawn to Jesus Christ, through faithful gospel activity, and therefore we give God, not the deciding sinner, the glory of salvation.

    One would wonder, based upon the inevitable logic of the divine decree, exactly what they are saved from.

    Therefore, none of God's attributes, ever include defeat, frustration, disappointment, or helplessness. Maybe, you disagree?

    I don't disagree, but more than likely not for the same reasons as you.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 7/31/2007 10:56 PM  

  • Rose, Mat 23 is certainly a difficult text. Good observations.

    The texts that I go to time after time are probably 3: Romans 9 for the sovereignty of God, Psalm 51 for confession of sin, and Revelation 5 for the glory of Christ.

    By Blogger Jonathan Moorhead, at 8/01/2007 12:04 PM  

  • Colin,
    I enjoy it too.
    Back up a sec, though, will ya?
    Why was Jesus weeping over Jerusalem? I just want to be sure of your answer.

    Jonathan, Thanks. Will you do the meme?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/01/2007 2:47 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Unfortunately, I opened up a second front with Deviant Monk and (as you know) posts like this seldom grow shorter!

    Christ wept over Jerusalem because of her impenitence and unbelief. He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/01/2007 5:13 PM  

  • Thank you for your answer, Colin. So everything that God ordains does not bring Him pleasure?

    Enjoying this discussion still.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/02/2007 9:08 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked in the sense of sadistic delight, such as despots have. This goes against His nature which is Love (1 John 4:8). Damnation flows from sin, the very principle which the sinner willingly embraces to the exclusion of the gospel offer. We know that grace outbounds sin (Romans 5:20) yet there are cases where it is not so. We rightly put the blame in these cases on the stubbornness of the sinner. Man seals his own doom. Yet we might also ask, why does God not intervene in their souls to the extent that He did with others? Left to ourselves, none of us would seek the Lord. We conclude that, for reasons best known to Himself, God is pleased to leave some sinners in their stubbornness (and therefore their doom) while, in other cases, He is pleased to have grace overcome their stubbornness and draw them to Himself for salvation.

    To answer then your question, God is pleased to ordain things which might lead, in passing, to that which cannot please Him (i.e. any sin) but which, overall, will bring Him glory. Thus, while He has no pleasure in the sin and consequent death of the wicked, yet He purposed to pass certain of them by, and by doing so shows forth the glory of His justice. I trust this answer is clear as well as short?

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/02/2007 12:43 PM  

  • Hi Colin,
    So We rightly put the blame in these cases on the stubbornness of the sinner.

    Man seals his own doom.

    Well, there you go - you believe in free will. If there is no will to do a thing, there can be no blame for doing it.

    Can you stipulate to that? :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/03/2007 8:33 AM  

  • That man is free to follow the dictates of his heart - in this case, wicked - yes. Calvinists have always believed that.

    No surprises there, surely?

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/03/2007 8:47 AM  

  • Free to follow dictates?
    Hmmm.... that sounds like a contradiciton in terms.

    You have a couple of problems. :~)

    If man is 'free to follow the dictates of his heart' and this means only free to do evil ....
    and ....
    God is not frustarted, but always gets what He wants just as He wants it....
    then you have God wanting man to do evil.

    Is this right?

    Second problem. If man is only 'free to follow the [evil] dictates of his heart', what do you make of a text like this:

    for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, *by nature do the things in the law*, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law *written in their hearts,* their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them (Romans 2)

    Is the law evil spoken of here?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/03/2007 9:00 AM  

  • Rose,

    It is no more a contradiction than when Christ said:

    Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. (John 8:34)

    Can a man with a freewill (if you define it in a less restrictive way than I do) be the servant of sin? How can a man be free and in bondage at one and the same time?

    Re: Romans 2, any good that the wicked do is only by comparison i.e. good by their own standards, or by divine help. In the sight of God, strictly speaking, "There is none that doeth good, no not one" (Romans 3:12) The argument of Romans 2 is that the wicked have enough within to condemn them - even their own consciences.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/03/2007 9:13 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Being that I'm not so eloquent as is Colin, I'd like to direct you to this teaching.

    Click right here.

    It's also in transcript form.

    This sermon, by my own pastor Matt Chandler, is by far the single most helpful teaching I've heard in getting a grasp on the sovereignty of God. It's right in line with the discussion here, and appropriately titled, Are There Two Wills In God?

    By Blogger Gayla, at 8/03/2007 10:51 AM  

  • The argument of Romans 2 is that the wicked have enough within to condemn them - even their own consciences.
    I think there is much more to the argument than that. Look again, my Ulster friend.
    What about Paul's idea that these people sometimes do what is right because it is *written in their hearts*?

    Doesn't that complicate your statement 'free [only] to follow the [evil] dictates of his heart'?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/03/2007 12:51 PM  

  • Thanks, Gayla :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/03/2007 12:51 PM  

  • I know I am late to this and may be late to follow up. Great post Rose and really good comments.

    My first thoughts reading through the comments

    someone said:

    "Should the poor Jew in the parable praise God for the Good Samaritan…or just praise the good Samaritan?"

    My questions after reading these questions are; Should the poor Jew praise God for the robbers who left him to die also.... or just praise the robbers also?

    Logically speaking if God decreed the Samaritan to help the poor Jew he also decreed the robbers to rob the poor Jew and leave him to die. Because he couldn't have decreed the good Samaritan if he hadn't decreed the robbers to do the robbing.

    I just don't want to complicate life anymore than it is. Jesus said He wanted to gather them and they would not.

    I just believe they would not. If we love our neighbor like the good Samaritan then why should we or our neighbor try to put God in a box and say "He decreed it so".

    None of us have all the answers and none of us has the "best" theology much less "perfect" theology either. 'Woe' to us if we think we do. :)

    By Blogger Kris, at 8/03/2007 5:35 PM  

  • Hi Rose,
    Charles H. Spurgeon has some good thoughts on the passage you quoted in your post:
    ...[A]s the Son of God, ever loving the sons of men, ever desirous of the good of Israel, He could say that, in sending the prophets, even though they were stoned and killed, He had again and again shown His desire to bless His people till He could truly say, " How often would I have gathered thy children together! " Some who have found difficulties in this lament, have said that it was the language of Christ as man. I beg to put in a very decided negative to that; it is, and it must be, the utterance of the Son of man, the Son of God, the Christ in His complex person as human and divine. I am not going into any of the difficulties just now; but you could not fully understand this passage, from any point of view, unless you believed it to be the language of one who was both God and man.
    This verse shows also that the ruin of men lies with themselves. Christ puts it very plainly, " I would; but ye would not." "How often would I have gathered thy children together, and ye would not! "That is a truth, about which, I hope, we have never had any question; we hold tenaciously that salvation is all of grace, but we also believe with equal firmness that the ruin of man is entirely the result of his own sin. It is the will of God that saves; it is the will of man that damns. Jerusalem stands and is preserved by the grace and favour of the Most High; but Jerusalem is burnt, and her stones are cast down, through the transgression and iniquity of men, which provoked the justice of God.
    There are great deeps about these two points; but I have not been accustomed to lead you into any deeps, and I am not going to do so at this time. The practical part of theology is that which it is most important for us to understand. Any man may get himself into a terrible labyrinth who thinks continually of the sovereignty of God alone, and he may equally get into deeps that are likely to drown him if he meditates only on the free will of man. The best thing is to take what God reveals to you, and to believe that. If God's Word leads me to the right, I go there ; if It leads me to the left, I go there ; if it makes me stand still, I stand still. If you so act, you will be safe ; but if you try to be wise above that which is written, and to understand that which even angels do not comprehend, you will certainly befog yourself. I desire ever to bring before you practical rather than mysterious subjects, and our present theme is one that concerns us all. The great destroyer of man is the will of man. I do not believe that man's free will has ever saved a soul; but man's free will has been the ruin of multitudes. " Ye would not," is still the solemn accusation of Christ against guilty men. Did He not say, at another time, " Ye will not come unto Me, that ye might have life"? The human will is desperately set against God, and is the great devourer and destroyer of thousands of good intentions and emotions, which never come to anything permanent because the will is acting in opposition to that which is right and true.
    --From the introduction of a sermon by C. H. Spurgeon I Would; But Ye Would Not from The Treasury of The New Testament.

    By Anonymous VA ~Susan, at 8/03/2007 11:25 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    When did that word "only" get slipped in? Although I see that I let it go earlier. If you want a verse for sinners doing good, then a better one uses those very words in Luke 6:33. Where the sinner does good e.g. the Good Samaritan being the loving, helpful neighbour, then this is God both graciously restraining the innate wickedness of his heart and enabling him to do that good. What would this world be like to live in if God did not restrain the remainder of wrath that He is not willing to use for His praise? (Psalm 76:10)

    Do you think that when the Gentiles do by nature the things written in the law that they do them perfectly? We know that they don't and herein lies their condemnation, for where they fall short, that is sin. Natural man has enough light, given by God, to enable him to know right from wrong, but not enough light to save, hence the need of the missionary in Romans 10:14ff. How do you interpret Luke 6:33 (or Romans 2:15) in light of Romans 3:12? (They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.)

    To go back to your objection that man is free to follow the dictates of his heart sounds like a contradiction. It is a paradox rather than a contradiction. David said: And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. (Psalm 119:145) which is the same principle. Man is neither a puppet nor a robot, but is responsible before God for his actions. In that sense, we use the word "freedom". On the other hand, he is a slave to sin (John 8:34) and therefore not free to do good, unless enabled by the power of God overcoming the power of the Wicked one who otherwise holds him in bondage.

    I have still to get a good look at your new posting. Don't be surprised if I pop up there too. Enjoying (as ever) these exchanges, with you.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/04/2007 7:27 AM  

  • VA Susan~
    I appreciate "VA" Susan's comments.

    Any man may get himself into a terrible labyrinth who thinks continually of the sovereignty of God alone ...

    Thanks for your participation and the quote from Spurgeon.


    Goodnight!
    I think it is sort of funny how this discussion has unfolded. I certainly don't want to be in the position of arguing for the goodness of man, only his responsibilty in his condemnation. I feel that you Calvinists take away his responsibilty by saying that he can not, rather than, as Jesus says, that he will not,. That is the crux of what I am arguing about, but I see we have gotten off on a bit of a tangent.

    Let me ask you: someone brought up the heinous act of a man raping his daughter. Awful. Now, is that the decree of God or is it some other will of God that would bring this to pass. I am trying to get a grip on what you see as the difference between the decree will of God and the other type of God's willing.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/06/2007 12:17 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Re: "willnot" and "cannot" - the truth is that "both are true. Both are used in Scripture: John 5:40 and John 6:44/65. Man cannot of Himself come to Christ, because he is in bondage to sin and the Devil. Only the mighty power of God can enable him to come. It is not God that keeps Him back, though, but his own chosen sin and therefore he will not come that He might have life. When dealing with sinners, I like to emphasise their total and absolute responsibility in this matter. Such (under God) may be ysed to bring them to a realisation of their lost condition and need of Christ.

    Re: the scenario of a brutal incest, I see such as being against God's preceptive will (i.e. against the law of God as revealed in the Bible) but I would have to place it within the permissive will of God i.e. He knew that it would happen and by allowing it to go ahead, He evidently decreed that it would be so. Whatever terminology both of us choose to use, we are still faced with the reality that we worship a God who professes to be all loving and all powerful, yet often (but not always) stands back as exceedingly wicked things happen. To say that He merely allows them to happen is no answer. Whatever God does, He decreed to do i.e. planned before hand and by decreeing to stand back and let certain things happen, He Himself still has a part to play. And yet, the Bible reveals Him as One who can do these things without contracting sin. As in Joseph's experience which I referred to in my forst comment on this blog.

    In short ("Thankfully" says you)we might say that the incest scenario is against God's will and therefore sin, because it is the transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4) while acknowledging that it did not happen outside His knowledge or permission, and therefore was effectively decreed.

    As said before, I notice that it was the victim in Genesis 45:5-/50:20 (Joseph) who drew the greatest comfort from it.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/06/2007 1:31 PM  

  • There's another way to look at these particular verses of Scripture here:
    http://mdpmusings.blogspot.com/

    By Blogger Susan, at 8/06/2007 2:22 PM  

  • Hi Susan,
    I looked at your posting. Do you read this blog? I did not know.

    James White says:
    “A vitally important point to make here is that the ones the Lord desired to gather are not the ones who “were not willing”!

    That is a good point he makes. It would be easy to miss if one did not read the whole chapter.
    I actually don't see how his comments refute the plain sense of the text at all: the Pharisees were - by their own wrong choices - going against the will of God by hindering those who God wanted to gather.

    “Jesus speaks to the leaders about their children that they, the leaders, would not allow him to “gather.” Jesus was not seeking to gather the leaders, but their children. The “children” of the leaders would be Jews who were hindered by the Jewish leaders from hearing Christ. The “you would not” then is referring to the same men indicated by the context; the Jewish leaders who “were unwilling” to allow those under their authority to hear the proclamation of the Christ. This verse, then, is speaking to the same issues raised earlier in Matthew 23:13:

    “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”


    Interesting how James White looks at this. When Jesus said "How often I would have gathered" ... was He really speaking of the short time period during his earthly ministry? That is what it sounds like JW is teaching: The “children” of the leaders would be Jews who were hindered by the Jewish leaders from hearing Christ.

    This passage seems much bigger than that to me -it is going waaaaaay back with the Jewish leaders and their dealings with their God. It is going waaaay back to pre-incarnation issues, but James White says it is the Jewish leaders who “were unwilling” to allow those under their authority to *hear the proclamation of the Christ*

    I think he is hung up on refuting Arminians too much.

    Thanks, Susan! :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/06/2007 3:07 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    I think White himself recognizes that the issue goes waaay back as well, when he writes:

    "Jesus is condemning the Jewish leaders, and it is to them that He refers here. This is clearly seen in that:

    “1. It is to the leaders that God sent prophets;
    2. It was the Jewish leaders who killed the prophets…;
    3. Jesus speaks of “your children,” differentiating those to whom He is speaking from those that the Lord desired to gather together;
    4. The context refers to the Jewish leaders, scribes and Pharisees."

    Point 2 deals with Jewish leaders prior to the incarnation of Jesus.

    I don't think White is as "hung up" on refuting Arminians as he is at rightly dividing the word of truth.

    I'm glad you checked out the post. I do read your blog from time to time and had read this particular post and skimmed the comments to it with great interest. It was therefore striking to me that during my Sunday reading time, White referred to this very passage in the book I'm reading. Remarkable!

    I'm also starting RC Sproul's "Willing to Believe," which I'm sure will cover some of the same ground.

    Blessings,
    Susan

    By Blogger Susan, at 8/06/2007 4:07 PM  

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