Monthly Archives: July 2010

Lucifer’s Free Will And Predestination

When reflecting on the teaching about Calvinistic Predestination, I suggest that we go step by step.

Notice the following steps:

  1. Start with the axiom that God is holy and He is not the author of sin.
  2. Go back to the era when there was nothing except God.
  3. Bring your mind to the point when Christ who was a divine persona and this spirit persona created the invisible thrones, dominions, powers and authorities including the angelic hosts. See Col. 1:15-16. Among these angelic host was Lucifer who was perfect and beautiful. The angels possessed free will. They were moral agents.
  4. Read Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28; 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6. This is the rebellion of Lucifer wherein he  became Satan, he became the Devil. Lucifer willed to become ambitious, an ambition to become equal with the Almighty God.
  5. We ask this question: Did God will for Lucifer to rebel and become Satan or adversary?  (This question should be answered.)
  6. We ask this question: Was it Lucifer who willed to rebel and become the Devil, the accuser? (This should be answered.)
  7. Who willed and whose responsibility was the rebellion of Satan, the Devil? This should also be answered.
  8. Did God program the will of Lucifer to become rebellious?  (This should be answered.)
  9. Who is the author of the first rebellion which is Lucifer’s sin, God or Lucifer?
  10. Now we ask, “Who determined to commit the first sin, God or Lucifer?”
  11. Did God predetermine and predestine Lucifer to become a sinner?
  12. Did Lucifer’s  rebellion bring glory to God?

If the above are sincerely answered, your answers will help us conclude whether or not there is individual predestination. Our answers will help us conclude whether or not God allows the exercise of free will or not. This will help us determine personal accountability.  (Eusebio A. Tanicala , Ph.D.  7.20.10)

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Did Satan Empty Himself Of His Devilhood?

Some brethren in the Metro Manila area believe that Christ emptied himself of His divinity from the time of conception in 1 A.D. to 33 A.D. at His
crucifixion. Their contention is based on the term “emptied himself” in Philippians 2:7 and the lowly description in Isaiah 53 of the Messiah among others. This view is contrary to scriptures as we have shown in previous articles. In this article we want to ask if in the incarnation of Lucifer who turned Satan, he also emptied himself of his angelhood or devilhood.

We believe that Lucifer was one of the chief angels. He and the angelic host were part of that invisible dominions, powers, thrones and authorities
described in Colossians 1:15-16 created by the Lord Jesus Christ before the creation in Genesis 1:1. But his ambition made him a rebel and a sinner. He became Satan because he chose to oppose God. Being the instigator and chief of a coup d’tat mounted against Yahweh, it is inferred that he lied to the angels who followed him. The angels didn’t keep their proper domain, did not keep their habitation. They improperly occupied other realms. See Jude 6.

Then Satan entered the physical creation of God where everything was good. Originally Satan was a good angel, a spirit persona. After he rebelled against Yahweh, after he became Satan he remained as a spirit being. His nature, his original essence, his substance is that of an angel. Ang kanyang likas na kalagayan ay sa antas ng anghel. Mas mababa kaysa sa essence ng tunay na Diyos si Yahweh.

Good angel or bad angel, Satan had the same essence or substance of an angel. It was the level of angels. Lower than the substance of the true God. But higher than the essence of human beings.

Pero ang espiritung anghel na mabuti ay naging masamang anghel at naging pisikal. Ang masamang anghel na ito ay nagkatawang ahas. Ahas na pisikal na may buto’t laman. At dahil sa kanyang panlilinlang kay Eva, ang anghel na ito ay naragdagan pa lalo ang kanyang kaparusahan ayon sa Genesis. He was cursed. See Genesis 3:14-15. Nawala ba ang kanyang pagka-anghel noong naging ahas na buto’t laman? Hindi. Nawala ba ang kanyang pagka-demonio noong naging buto’t laman? Hindi. Nawala ba ang kanyang likas na kalagayan noong naging ahas na buto’t laman? Hindi. Did he lay aside his satanhood when he took the form of a snake? Hindi.

Was there an aspect of his angelhood or his devilhood that he laid aside or emptied himself of when he became a snake of flesh and bones? May be he laid aside his glory because angels are naturally of bright light. Satan can appear as an angel of light says Apostle Paul in 2 Cor 11:14. Good angels naturally appear in a glorious form. When human eyes behold this angelic glory it is “like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.” See Matt. 28:3. Good angels could also easily reduce the intensity of their glorious appearance for the sake of man.

Yahweh who is true God appeared to Abraham and Sarah as an ordinary, non-glorious man in Genesis 18:1-2. Yahweh’s two companions were angels who appeared as non-glorious man. Christ took the form of a rock that followed the Israelites providing water to the people for a period of  40 years, a form less glorious than human. This becoming less glorious is found in Exodus 17; Numbers 20; and 1 Corinthians 10:4. God being powerful can become what He wants to become. But his divinity, His deity will never be laid aside. It is the glorious appearance that could be diminished or increased as desired.

In the case of our Lord Jesus, he did not empty himself of his deity. It was his divine glory that he laid aside and took the form of a human being so that he could tabernacle with men. But during his sojourn on earth he put it on record in John 17:5 that it is his divine glory that he laid aside. That glory has been resumed as we may find in Daniel 7:9-14 and Revelation chapters 4, 5 and 22.

Comments and observations are welcomed.

– Eusebio Tanicala (6.15.10)

Bible Translators And Promoters

We continue to feature some people who have contributed to the production and easy enjoyment of Scripture message. From the Teacher’s Manual of  New Life Through His Word, 1990, published by 20th Century Christian we borrow the following:

“KING JAMES I. Best Known Name in Bibles. But he did not write the King James Version. He appointed 54 Bible experts to make a new translation of the scriptures in the English language. For 7 years these men worked faithfully, translating God’s word from Greek and Hebrew manuscripts into English.

“In 1611 the task was finished.  The King was pleased with the new Bible, commanded all the churches of England to use it in their services. It is often called The Authorized Version and has been the favorite of Protestant Bible readers ever since.

“The King James Version of the Bible is a masterpiece of English literature. Its rhythmic beauty will probably never be surpassed by any other version.

“King James I was the King of England who sent the Mayflower to America. His famous Bible is about nine years older than the first American colonies.”

RELATED IDEA

Some Bible teachers insist that the Greek preposition eis in Acts 2:38 should mean  “because” so they demand that the phrase should read “repent and be baptized everyone of you because your sins have been forgiven.” But the 54 experts appointed by King James I translated it “for” which has a forward effect. Even the New King James Version translates eis with the English preposition “for.”

Those who insist that eis should be translated “because” are not consistent. When we ask if they are willing to say “repent everyone of you because your sins have been forgiven” they are silent.  The original Greek puts “repent and be baptized” as prerequisites to “forgiveness of sins” but some people  insist that “baptism” should be placed after forgiveness of sins. (Eusebio A. Tanicala, Ph.D., 7.20.10)

Bagong Mabuting Balita Biblia

Dito naman sa atin, sa Pinas, noong nakaraang dekada, mayroon din tayong kapatid na nakasali sa paggawa ng Bagong Mabuting Balita Biblia, the latest update of the Tagalog Bible. He is brother Gideon C. Rodriguez. He was my student at Bible College many years ago. He was a member of the Tagalog Team appointed by the Philippine Bible Society to update the Tagalog Bible.

Last year I had the privilege of talking with the Translation Manager of the Philippine Bible Society and he revealed to me that he was very satisfied with the participation of Gideon Rodriguez. I also reiterated to the Translation Manager that we in the Churches of Christ are ready to help in whatever area we could be of assistance to bring the Bible to many people.  Gideon was in the Tagalog Team and Eusebio was in the Iloco Team. We are proud to be participants. (E.Tanicala 7:20.10)

God’s Sovereign Will, Free Will, Sin And Predestination

By Eusebio Tanicala, Ph.D.

Confusion results when God’s sovereign will, free will, sin and individual predestination are lumped together in a discussion. It is difficult to piece things together harmoniously. It is like giving a picture puzzle of 100 pieces to a Grade 1 pupil. For the Grade 1 pupil to understand and grow up, a teacher has to start with sticks numbering 1 up to 10. Believers in individual predestination love to use Romans 9:14-21 to promote God’s absolute sovereign will and justify individual predestination. Using Romans 9:14-21 should not be applied when discussing sin and salvation.

Predestinarians say that God directs all the events acted by man and all the flow of human history including the decisions of some men to disobey God.It is claimed that God’s sovereign will over rides man’s free will. On the other hand they claim that God is not to be blamed for any sin committed by any individual because it is the human individual who acted out the sin and not God. This kind of reasoning obviously is not logical

May I submit two basic lessons to understand God’s sovereign will and its relation to free will. Before any Bible student launches into the deep ocean of God’s sovereign will, free will, sin and predestination, Deal ONLY with the case of Lucifer who became the Devil. I appeal that the following questions should first be sincerely answered.

LUCIFER’S FREE WILL

1.Christ created all the invisible and visible dominions, authorities, powers and thrones including the  angelic host where Lucifer belonged (Col. 1:15-16). Was Lucifer before he sinned given free will? My answer is “Yes, he was given free will.”

2. Perfect, beautiful, cherub Lucifer willed to forsake and leave the defined abode for him (Ezekiel 28:14-17; Jude 6, 2Peter 2:4) which was a gross disobedience. Was it the Sovereign Will of God that moved Lucifer to disobey or was it Lucifer’s own free will that made him disobey God? My answer is “Lucifer’s own free will led him to disobey and sin against God.”

3. Lucifer willed to forsake his defined abode and had an ambition of lifting himself up to an equality with the Most High Yahweh God. Was this ambition willed by the Sovereign Will of God or was it Lucifer’s own free will? My answer is, “Not willed by God’s Sovereign Will but willed by Lucifer’s free will.”

4. When Lucifer exercised his free will and he willed to disobey God and thus sinned against God, was Lucifer’s decision willed by the Sovereign Will of God? My answer is “No, not willed by the Sovereign Will of God but willed by the free will of Lucifer.”

5. Was it God’s will that Lucifer contradicted and disobeyed God’s Sovereign Will? My answer is “No, God’s Sovereign Will did not will that Lucifer disobeyed God, but it was Lucifer’s own free will to disobey God.”

6. Lucifer decided to harden his heart and free will to be the eternal adversary of God thus he became Satan (adversary), was it God’s pleasure to harden Satan’s heart and free will so that God would have an adversary? My answer is “God’s Sovereign Will did not harden Lucifer’s will but it was Lucifer’s own free will to harden himself in his rebellion and God permitted him to go the direction he wanted.”

7. Was it God’s Sovereign Will that predestined and hardened the free will of Satan to eternally oppose God? My answer is “No, it was not God’s Sovereign Will that predestined Lucifer to become Satan; rather it was Lucifer’s own free will that willed to become an adversary of God.”

8. Is it God’s Sovereign Will that wills Lucifer’s free will to remain an eternal Satan? My answer is “No, it is not God’s Sovereign Will that determines Satan’s disobedience, rather it is Satan’s own hardening of his free will to eternally oppose Yahweh God.”

9. Free will has a corresponding responsibility. When Satan was judged as a disobedient sinner, was it God’s Sovereign Will that carried the responsibility of Lucifer’s disobedience and sin? My answer is “No, God’s Sovereign Will is not answerable for the irresponsibility of Satan, rather it is Satan’s free will that is answerable for his own irresponsibility.”

10. Is it God’s Sovereign Will that wills for Satan to will that the great majority of the present six billion people’s will would will to disobey God and sin against God? My answer is “No, it is not God’s Sovereign Will that wills the disobedience today, rather it is the will of Lucifer that dominates the will of the billions of people in willing to disobey God.”

11. Did God’s Sovereign Will prevail over Satan’s free will during Satan’s rebellion? My answer is “No, God’s Sovereign Will did not prevail over Satan’s free will, rather Satan’s own free will and ambition prevailed over God’s sovereign will.”

12. Is God the absolute sovereign over His own creation from the beginning up to the end of time? My answer is “Yes, God is Absolute Sovereign but it does not mean that absolute sovereignty means complete dominance and complete control all the time. God’s complete and absolute rule comes in His own time, sometimes in a later time. God’s unlimited power could vanquish and banish Satan from the earth, but He would not yet. If God does not immediately punish Satan and his cohorts after the rebellion,  it should not be the Absolute Sovereignty of God that we put under question, not His omnipotence. Rather it is God’s own time that we ask when. We merely ask, “Lord, when will you make all angels and all humans  bow down and respect your majestic sovereignty’”

YOUR OWN ANSWER

After giving my answers to the basic questions above, the Bible student should now be able to formulate his own answer to the following question: “Was God’s Sovereign Will absolute and irresistible over the free will of Lucifer before and during the rebellion, and is God’s Sovereign Will absolute over the will of Satan today?” Additionally, we ask, “Did God predestine the perfect and beautiful Lucifer to become the pangit and lying Satan who seduces billions of souls that are all going down to hell?”

Be careful with your answers. Don’t make God the author of disobedience and sin. When one takes the position that God determines and directs every decision and move of a person and then curses that person in hell is not the teaching of scriptures.

Your observations and reactions are welcomed.

Singing In The Church Assembly

On May 30th I handled the Adult Bible Study class at the A-Hill Church in Baguio. I tried to make simple the presentation of five interrelated principles and reasons why singing is the music of the church. Or why it is sometimes called a capella. And why in the Churches of Christ we don’t use mechanical instruments of music during our congregational worship.

First, I told the class that reading Ephesians 5:18-19 and Colossians 3:16 is a weak approach of proving that church music is limited to singing or vocal music. Sa Filipino, maraming palusot, maraming lulusutan sapagkat iisang gilid lamang ang masasarahan kapag ang dalawang versikulo lamang ang offense-defense natin.  Kailangan ang limang prinsipyo o limang kadahilanan (o mas marami pa) na magtulung-tulungan upang masarahan lahat ang maaring lulusutan ng nagtatanong.

Secondly, I emphasized  the importance of the principles and reasons that should together be presented inter-relatedly which are the following:

  1. Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent.
  2. God is a God to be respected, honored and feared who expects obedience from angels and men.
  3. A specific item on a certain category, if nothing else of its kind supplements or amends it, that item becomes exclusive.
  4. Christ pointed to a shift from a lower to a higher level of worship in John 4:23-24.
  5. God’s law, including seemingly small items, should not be treated as trifling matters.

The above principles should be explained fully well. If these are not recognized as valid, then there is no defined basis for discussion. If one discards item #1 and #2 then there’s no use talking about religion.

Item #3 is difficult for many religion teachers to accept but it is a hermeneutical mainstay of Churches of Christ. If this item #3 is not honored then there is no limitation or boundary on any item of faith and practice in religion. This means that when one item is specified, and nothing else is mentioned on that same level, that which is specified becomes exclusive or the only one in that level. For example, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”  Among the Hebrews the day is specified and it was understood that there was no other day of the week that was equal to it. Any Hebrew dared not change the day. Pigeons or turtle doves (Lev 12:2, 8; Luke 2:24) are mentioned in a certain ceremony. No other verse supplements the kind of birds so those listed become exclusive. Geron, pipit, maya, chicken would be excluded.  On the other hand, in 1Tim. 2:5 one is mentioned acting as mediator, but in Romans 8:26 we are told that the Holy Spirit also intercedes, therefore, one supplements the other. Since the Bible does not mention the Virgin Mary or any beatified saint like Apostle Peter, it remains that only Christ and the Holy Spirit are to be recognized as intercessors.

In the NT “singing” is the music that is mentioned. The Greek term “psallo” as historically defined by the Thayer Greek-English Lexicon (page 675) gives this testimony: “in the N.T. to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song, James 5:13 … in honor of God, Eph. 5:19; Romans 15:9, … ‘I will sing God’s praises indeed with my whole soul stirred and borne away by the Holy Spirit, but I will also follow reason as my guide, so that what I sing may be understood alike by myself and by the listeners’, 1 Cor. 14:15.”  Since singing or vocal music is the one kind of music mentioned, and there is no supplementary provision on that same category or level, it remains that singing is the exclusive kind of music to be observed.

Learn also how the “specific item” when magnified and enlarged becomes a “generic term” in its implementation that would include or would branch into smaller parts. The term “sing” could be magnified/enlarged when implemented. How to implement the act of “singing” and still stick to the action of “singing” necessitates smaller actions but still under the act of “singing.” To use song books implements the act of singing but song books is not a kind of music that is of the same category as “singing.”  The pitch pipe is not a kind of music nor does it produce praise music ; it is used to get the proper pitch for the congregation’s guide to a proper implementation of the command “to sing.” Singing becomes generic and branches into singing the soprano, singing the alto, singing the tenor, and singing the bass. Any action that stems from the authority derived from a specified generic is authorized.

Emphasize the implications of Christ’s pronouncement in John 4:24. There’s a shift from the dominantly material kind of worship in the Mosaical Law (material tabernacle/temple, material altar, material incense, material animal sacrifice, exclusive Levitical priests, physical high priest inside the temple, physical Mt. Zion, material laver for washing, etc.) to the spiritual, heart centered, attitudinal level. From the externally based worship it moves into the higher, internally based worship. From the physically and externally observable kind of worship it moves into the attitude and heart centered worship which only God could discern. It is the spirit dominated human person that comes in contact with the spirit God. The physical body with its individual organs/parts is dedicated as a holy sacrifice. See Romans 12:1; 6:13 & 19; 1Cor 14:15.  It is this spirit dominated human person that vibrates, as it were like the musical instrument of the OT, that makes the music. It is done sincerely, truthfully, cordially.

Singing is mentioned in Matt. 26:30; Acts 16:25; Romans 15:9; 1Cor. 14:15; Ephesians 518-19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12 and James 5:13. Nowhere is mechanical instrument mentioned among first century Christians in their congregational worship.

No command, no instruction from the majestic, respected, honored, feared God should ever be trifled with.  God’s prohibited fruit at the Garden of Eden is a smaller thing than a harp or an organ, but look at the consequence upon Eve and the whole human race. Angels went beyond the prescribed habitation (Jude 6) and look at the number of evil spirits and Lucifer became a Satan. Onan’s withdrawal was a small thing so was the fire used by Nadab and Abihu, but they were punished immediately. Moses forgot the small matter of circumcising his sons (Exodus 4:18-23), but look at the anger of the Lord which almost cost his life. Look at the small instruction for Moses to talk to the rock  to bring out water, instead he struck it with his staff and God became angry for He considered it irreverent and disrespectful on the holiness of God. See Numbers 20:8-11. Previously in Exodus  17:1-7 God told Moses to strike the rock for water and it was all right. But 40 years afterwards “strike the rock” was changed to “talk to the rock.” This principle is applied in the use of musical instruments. Use of musical instruments was commanded and authorized in the OT, but it was changed, eliminated in the NT. Was it a small matter for Moses when he forgot to talk to the rock as commanded? Did he have the right to change into something that was more dramatic in striking the rock. Did not this small thing cost him not to reach the western side of the Jordan?

Was it a small matter for King Saul to offer the burnt sacrifice when Samuel came in late? God commanded King Saul to kill the disrespectful tribe of King Agag and all animals. Was it a small matter when King Saul spared the enemy King  and the fatted animals which he intend to show his people what great victory God gave them over their enemies? Is this not the same attitude in the use of instruments of music? To praise God say the instrumentalists. But they are like King Saul who intended something to be dedicated  to God’s honor which was not authorized. Did not God say “to obey is better than sacrifice”?

Was it a small matter when Uzzah extended his hand to prevent the Ark of the Covenant from falling down from a cart travelling along a bumpy road? God’s word says that only the priests were authorized to hold the Ark of the Covenant.  Uzzah was not a priest. He died immediately.

We could go on and on citing cases of small matters that greatly mattered to God. The small matters are meant to show man’s humility and respect for the awesome God.

Our Lord Jesus gives us the path of complete obedience. He became flesh and carried on to the letter all prophecies and promises intended for him. This idea is clear in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Even the matter of being baptized in water. He didn’t have any sin, but since it was a matter that enabled him to fulfill all righteousness, he had to do it. So he made the declaration, “It is finished” at the end of his earthly  life because he obeyed all things that were meant to be obeyed. Which is why  the writer of Hebrews says, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” (5:8) Perfect obedience from every creature is expected by God.  (Eusebio Tanicala)

“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”

This was a cry uttered by our Lord while at the cross (Matt.27:46 Mk 15:34) and lifted out from Psalm 22:1 which was King David’s faint expression while reflecting on his difficulties in life. There are several ideas attached to this passage by various Bible students which are the following:

  1. Jesus declared that there is one true God, the Father;
  2. Jesus Christ in the form of flesh lived the perfect life of the obedient Adam;
  3. Jesus as the NT anti-type of an OT typical Davidic trust in the midst of persecution;
  4. Jesus uttered this to further prove that He was the fulfillment of an OT prophecy;
  5. This is hell’s penalty for all humanity for billions of years in eternity abbreviated in three hours borne by one person, Jesus Christ, at the cross in Calvary.

To this writer, it is not an “either one or the other” of the five items above. It is all of the above and more particularly focused on item number 5.

Jesus as human needed the help of God so that he could bear the pain and suffering that should have been ours, yours and mine, to carry. Jesus as the second Adam, the perfect Adam, proved to God and to us and to the First Adam, that it is possible to obey God, with trust in God’s help, even in suffering.

In my long hours and years of reflecting on the passage, the idea of quantified sin heaped upon the human Jesus comes to me. In my hours of contemplation, I speculate on the weight one soul carries as a punishment in hell, and the amount of loneliness one feels in hell. Suppose the discomfort of a single soul in hell is equivalent to the discomfort of carrying the weight of 20 kilos of rice carried day and night. And suppose there were 100 billion souls born from the first Cain down to the last Cain the total weight  would be 2,000 billion kilos. And since the weight is not distributed throughout eternity, but concentrated in 3 hours at the cross, the weight would become heavier. Let’s say the weight increases to 200,000 billion kilos. Can anyone compute the degree of pain on the physical body when the weight of 200,000 billion kilos is dropped on a single person??? Anyone who is pressed down with that weight can’t avoid crying to God for help.  The human-divine Jesus cried, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He carried an impossible weight.

God allowed the Lord Jesus to carry that gargantuan load and pain for humanity. Divine justice demands the punishment of crime. Justice has to be satisfied. After three hours of suffering intense pain and discomfort, Jesus paid all the demands of divine justice. So he cried, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

To me the above explanation is most reasonable to give meaning to the cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

To INC preachers, this line is used to deny the deity of Jesus because the Lord recognized God’s existence. This was the human Jesus in pain. You may read the whole Psalm 22 and you find several expressions of Jesus’ humanity fulfilled anti-typically: verses 4, 9, 10, 16, 18. (Eusebio Tanicala)