Sometimes it seems if it weren’t for billboards I wouldn’t have any topics for this blog. Poor theology can be found anywhere, but especially on the roadside. I think this is the case because good theology cannot be condensed enough to fit on roadside signs that are read while you are driving 60 to 70 miles per hour. A good summary of the gospel would result in print too small and too much to read in the few seconds the billboard is readable before you pass it up. This is similar to Twitter. You can tweet a short statement that is true, but you can’t say all there is to say about a particular topic in 140 characters.
Why does God do what he does? What is his motivation for his plans, purposes, and actions? Is God motivated primarily by love? God’s love is certainly emphasized in Scripture. John 3:16, the most famous verse in the bible, speaks of God’s love.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)
Also, who doesn’t like 1 John 4:7-10, especially the end of verse 8 where it says, “God is love.”
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10 ESV)
I sometimes wonder if God is pleased with the way things are going. With all that is happening in the world it seems like he must be quite frustrated. Things started off so well in the Garden of Eden but went downhill quickly. He started over with Noah but that didn’t work out. Next he called out a people to be his own but, again, things went awry. Finally, God offered up his Son to provide salvation for the world (John 3:16). Second Peter 3:9 says God did this because he does not want anyone to perish but all to come to repentance. God wants everyone to be saved, but, alas, as before, man’s pesky free will keeps frustrating God’s wishes. Fortunately some do agree to take God up on his offer of salvation. At least Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross wasn’t for nothing. There are some of us humble enough to admit that we are sinners in need of a savior. In the end, though, God’s will that everyone be saved is held hostage by man’s sovereign will. God can only do so much. He was required to give man free will concerning salvation (and everything else) so we would not just be puppets in his hand. If we were puppets our love for him would not be genuine. Also, since God is omniscient he knew there would be those who would accept his offer of salvation so he chose them to be his. Even though he wants everyone to be saved, he really only wants those who want him. So God’s will that everyone be saved is subject to man’s willingness to accept his offer of salvation.
Let me begin by putting my cards on the table. I…am a Calvinist. Now, if you don’t know what that means, I encourage you to read the excellent and mercifully short book Five Points by John Piper. If you already know what a Calvinist is, and you also happen to call yourself a Calvinist, you may have noticed that it’s not always the most comfortable thing to acknowledge that fact. You see, all too often when we are asked the question, “Are you a Calvinist?” the conversation ends up going something like this…
- Random person: “Are you a Calvinist?”
- You: “Yes, I am.”
- Random person: “Wow! You actually believe that God is some monster who only chooses a few people to go to heaven and cruelly damns the rest of humanity to hell?! What kind of person are you?!”
- You (while the other person walks away from you in disgust): “What?! No! That’s not it at all! Give me just a second! I can explain!”
Of course, this isn’t always how it goes. I mean, every now and then we discover another Calvinist, right? Continue reading