A Vaccine and Conscience

“I always strive to have a clear conscience toward God and men.” Paul (Acts 24:16)

How do you determine right and wrong? If you are a Christian where do you go if the Bible isn’t clear on a decision? Are we left with just our reason? What about Vaccinations and Covid-19 what do we do?

The answer, the conscience. I have been studying the conscience lately and have endeavored to apply it to the idea of Vaccination.


How to define the conscience? Some people refer to it as the small voice, or some feeling of right or wrong.

The Reformers all emphasized the conscience.

Martin Luther: “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.” (1)

John Calvin: “Therefore, in order that none of us may stumble on that stone, let us first consider that there is a twofold government in man: one aspect is spiritual, whereby the conscience is instructed in piety and in reverencing God; the second is political, whereby man is educated for the duties of humanity and citizenship that must be maintained among men. (2)

A simple working definition could be that; the conscience is the soul’s rational sense of moral judgement.

Every human being has a conscience since every human being has a soul. We also have a capacity to consider our ways (Hag 1:5, 7) which is one job the conscience does. It is primarily the rational part of our brain, to make accurate rational judgments the conscience needs knowledge to direct it.

The knowledge of God is there in the conscience (Rom 1:19-20) but it is suppressed (Rom 1:18). We recognize that like all natural knowledge our conscience is corrupted by sin and we have a faulty moral sense. Yet with a renewed heart in Christ, we recalibrate the conscience.

The Greek word used for Conscience in the New Testament is συνείδησις, εως, ἡ (συνεῖδον)(3).

Used most in 1 Cor (8x), Heb (5x), 1 Tim (4x)

If the conscience is, the souls rational sense of moral judgement, then it’s purpose is to distinguish right and wrong for the individual. It is not the infallible rule, but it is a guide or witness when making decisions. We can experiment thoughtfully and practically.


Paul in 1 Corinthians says the conscience provides help in making decisions about right and wrong. Primarily in areas that are not plainly laid out in Scripture, which some ethics and decision making also fall into this category. A test question we could ask is, “Do you eat food sacrificed to idols?”

It is not a sin by itself, but becomes a sin when your individual conscience and that of others is negatively affected.

What a gift the conscience is!

Let’s take a controversial topic that is in the news a lot today.


The Bible doesn’t say you should or should not get the vaccine against Covid 19. How do we determine if we should?

If I get the vaccination against my conscience I could be sinning.

If I don’t get the vaccination and my conscience convicts me I could be sinning.

What do we do? Well if 1 Corinthians is our guide then we should inform ourselves as much as possible about the vaccination. Get the medical information, look at benefits and risks, pray that God will give you wisdom as you explore it.

Then once settled, get the vaccination or don’t! It’s that simple!

Third Area:

Unfortunately we have a third area. Do I force it on others? The answer is no, you do not have authority to bind the conscience of another person. You can educate and inform and even encourage, just like the weaker brother or unbeliever who refuses to eat food sacrificed to idols, but you don’t force them (1 Cor 10:29).

Paul never instructs the Corinthians to force each other to eat meat sacrificed to others, instead he says abstain for their sake. He doesn’t say you can’t eat any meat ever again only that it is not something you insist on when eating with others.

There are areas that you should seek to bind a conscience is when they are in open rebellion to the Word of God. For example, a man that visits pornographic websites must be admonished with the Word of God.

The Westminster Standard Chapter 20, Paragraph 2, discusses liberty of conscience.

“God alone is Lord of the conscience,a and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in anything contrary to his Word, or beside it, in matters of faith or worship.b So that to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience;c and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.d

So are we obeying out of blind obedience or are we allowing for a liberty of conscience in our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Following posts will discuss more on the conscience.

Boldness and Conscience

(1) Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1950), 185.

(2) John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 847.

(3) William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 967.

The Fall of Afghanistan and Trusting God

Anger, frustration, disappointment. These emotions pour out of me as I watch the news about Afghanistan this week. I remember when we pulled out of Iraq and watched ISIS develop in the leadership vacuum. The heartbreak that I feel alongside other veterans was only matched by the fear and devastation that the people living in the country were experiencing.

I know the people of Afghanistan have been betrayed by the American people. The burden of guilt does not lay on those who served faithfully for years in a combat zone only to watch Saigon 2.0 happen. The guilt is on America, on the last several administrations who failed to go the distance. The guilt of the coming rampage in Afghanistan is on the current administration who failed to act, failed to prepare, failed to do anything. But I have no control over that, only what I do with these emotions?

As my heartbreaks where do I turn?

Where do we find hope and comfort?

No simple blog post will cover everything that needs to be said. In many ways tragedy, war, destruction, sickness and pain all ask one of two questions.

Is God good? or is God able? In both of these at the core the real question is “Can I trust God?”

Can I trust God when vicious people seem to succeed?

Can I trust God when there seem to be no good?

Can I trust God when my earthly efforts seem to be worthless?

Can I trust God?

It is not easy to trust God in times of adversity. In times like this week watching what is unfolding in Afghanistan watching what good men worked for and died for over the last 20 years fall to pieces. My heart is heavy and I ask “Why O Lord?”

How do we trust God then?


We must look on this with the eyes of faith not sense. Faith to trust God comes from His Word, applied by the Holy Spirit. Only the God of the Bible shows us that God has a relationship with us and is involved in our painful circumstances. Only in Scripture do we receive grace to trust in God.

Two truths about God.

God is in control (Lamentations 3:37-38)

37 Who is there who speaks and it happens, 

unless the Lord has ordained it? 

38 Do not both adversity and good 

come from the mouth of the Most High? 

God is perfect in love (Psalm 9:9-10)

9 The Lord is a refuge for the persecuted, 

a refuge in times of trouble. 

10 Those who know your name trust in you 

because you have not abandoned 

those who seek you, Lord. 

“God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about.”-Jerry Bridges, Trusting God

The ultimate example of God’s love is the atoning death of Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus His only begotten Son as propitiation for our rebellion. This is the God we cry to.

Armed with this perspective we can begin steps to trust in God when it seems overwhelming.

I will be spending time meditating on Psalm 9. My only hope is found in God, the God of justice.


9:title For the choir director: according to Muth-labben. A psalm of David. 

1 I will thank the Lord with all my heart; 

I will declare all your wondrous works. 

2 I will rejoice and boast about you; 

I will sing about your name, Most High. 

3 When my enemies retreat, 

they stumble and perish before you. 

4 For you have upheld my just cause; 

you are seated on your throne as a righteous judge. 

5 You have rebuked the nations: 

You have destroyed the wicked; 

you have erased their name forever and ever. 

6 The enemy has come to eternal ruin; 

you have uprooted the cities, 

and the very memory of them has perished. 

7 But the Lord sits enthroned forever; 

he has established his throne for judgment. 

8 And he judges the world with righteousness; 

he executes judgment on the nations with fairness. 

9 The Lord is a refuge for the persecuted, 

a refuge in times of trouble. 

10 Those who know your name trust in you 

because you have not abandoned 

those who seek you, Lord. 

11 Sing to the Lord, who dwells in Zion; 

proclaim his deeds among the nations. 

12 For the one who seeks an accounting 

for bloodshed remembers them; 

he does not forget the cry of the oppressed. 

13 Be gracious to me, Lord; 

consider my affliction at the hands of those who hate me. 

Lift me up from the gates of death, 

14 so that I may declare all your praises. 

I will rejoice in your salvation 

within the gates of Daughter Zion. 

15 The nations have fallen into the pit they made; 

their foot is caught in the net they have concealed. 

16 The Lord has made himself known; 

he has executed justice, 

snaring the wicked 

by the work of their hands. 

Higgaion. Selah 

17 The wicked will return to Sheol—

all the nations that forget God. 

18 For the needy will not always be forgotten; 

the hope of the oppressed will not perish forever. 

19 Rise up, Lord! Do not let mere humans prevail; 

let the nations be judged in your presence. 

20 Put terror in them, Lord; 

let the nations know they are only humans. 


 Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020), Ps 9:title–20.


We must turn to God in prayer.

Pray for the people of Afghanistan pray for Christians that are likely to experience and already are experiencing great pain.

Pray for veterans who feel as if 20 years of war was wasted.

Pray the words of this song to God.

How are you trusting to God during this time?

Mighty Oaks invited me on their program to talk about it here in this YouTube video.

Sin is a Cancer

It is no surprise that I love the Puritans and a lot of their written works, while dense, they often provide keen insight into the heart of man. Not only that, they have many biblical remedies that they have systematically taken from Scripture and applied to life.

Thomas Watson is one such Puritan. He wrote a book called Repentance, I took the principles and formulated a cheat sheet to better help me and other remember his teachings on this. I hope you find it helpful.


Definition: “Repentance is a grace of God’s Spirit whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and visibly reformed.”

Chemotherapy for Sin, 6 ingredients to kill the cancer of sin in your life. 

  1. Sight of sin: You must first see your sin before you can repent of it. You have to see it for the cancer that it is, a cancer that will only get worse. Get it diagnosed. 
  1. Sorrow for sin: We must have sorrow for the sin. Inwardly, a deep heartfelt sorrow (Acts 2:37). As the heart is the main actor in sinning so it must be the main actor in sorrowing. This sorrow needs to address it at the root, at the very first evidence even before it blossoms into an action. A true Christian is one who is sorrowful at the heart sin more than just the action. It is also sincere sorrow, sorrow that the sin is against God first and foremost, not sorry just for getting caught. This sorrow isn’t without hope, but it is mixed with faith in the cleansing power of Jesus Christ.
  1. Confession for sin: We must confess our sin rightly and honestly. See next section for Confession. 
  1. Shame for sin: Just as the prodigal son in Luke 15:21 was embarrassed of his actions so also are we to be ashamed of our sin. This shame is a preventative to further sin. “As for you, son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, so that they may be ashamed of their iniquities. Let them measure its pattern,” (Ez 43:10)
  1. Hatred for sin: To really eliminate the cancer of sin you must hate that which makes your conscience sick. Christ is never loved till sin is hated. Why embrace the sin that killed your friend Jesus? Why do the sin that Christ had to die for? 
  1. Turning from sin: true repentance is turning away from sin. Just like rust eats away at the iron chain of sin, so does turning away from. Weeping and turning are put together (Joel 2:12) It is a forsaking of sin (Isa 55:7) just like a man forsakes the company of a criminal or abuser. Dying to sin is the life of repentance. It is a heart change, a heart of solid stone turned to flesh, from unfeeling to feeling. It is also a change that is visible to others, a change from darkness to light (Eph 5:8)

All 6 are needed for full effect of remission of this cancer of sin. Just like if you were diagnosed with life threatening cancer, so you must be diligent to take your medicine. Inject your heart with the chemotherapy of repentance. 


Adapted from Thomas Watson, Repentance and Confession

1) Confession must be voluntary

Like the prodigal son in Luke 15:18 who came to himself and realized his own sin; “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight.”

2) Confession must be with great regret

David’s was burdened in confession of his sins: “as a heaven burden they are too heavy for me” (Ps 38:4)

3) Confession must be sincere

Our hearts must be moved with our confession. “I now rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death.” 2 Cor 7:9-10

4) Confession must be specific

See how Israel was specific in their confession of sin. “so they cried out to the Lord, saying, “We have sinned against you. We have abandoned our God and worshiped the Baals.” (Judg. 10.10). The prophet Daniel recites the very sin which brought a curse with it: “We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, leaders, fathers, and all the people of the land.” (Dan. 9.6).

5) Confession must be at the root

David acknowledges his birth-sin: “Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me.” (Psa 51:5). We are ready to charge many of our first sins to Satan’s temptations, but this sin of our nature is entirely from ourselves; we cannot shift it off to Satan. “Be sure there is no root among you bearing poisonous and bitter fruit.” (Deu 29:18).

6) Confession must be against the sin in all its circumstances

Confess sins against knowledge, against grace, against vows, against experiences, against judgments.

7) Confession must take the full blame and not charge God with wrongdoing

“You are righteous concerning all that has happened to us, because you have acted faithfully, while we have acted wickedly.” (Neh 9:33)

8) Confession must be with the resolve not to repeat them

What king will pardon a man who, after he has confessed his treason, practices new treason? Pharaoh confessed he had sinned (Ex 9.27); When Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail, and thunder had ceased, he sinned again and hardened his heart, he and his officials.” (Ex 9:34).


Did anything surprise you about the process of Confession and Repentance?

Where do you struggle the most?

Do you think this is something you could use in your own life?

Effects of Sin and Biblical Counseling.

Sin impacts thinking. Eph 4:18 claims that the unbeliever is darkened, not just the unbeliever but all humanity is affected by sin and corrupts our thinking. Common grace gives all humankind the ability to know true things, but not all that is claimed by an unbeliever is correct. The area that unbelievers and secular psychologists are most in error is in relating to God.

It is possible for secular psychologists to know facts, but they are unable to know the most important facts (Rom 1:18-23). A secular psychologist that gets closer God and His purpose for humankind the more pronounced the noetic effect is.

Humans are interpretive beings. Even though secular scientists can see, study and learn facts they interpret it through a secular framework. This is why it is important to examine the evidence presented and interpret it according to the Bible. While there is much to learn from secular psychologists, care should be taken in the acceptance of all their conclusions.

Heath Lambert writes that secular psychologists have three levels of information available to them: observations, interpretations, and interventions. 


Observations come from careful study of the person and life in general. God’s common grace allows believers and unbelievers to know all manner of things. These observations are often compiled over many years. Depending on the level and type of area studied this can be some of the least effected by the noetic effect on human understanding. It is impossible to be absolutely certain if these observations are correct since they are still affected by the noetic effect of sin. Since humans are interpretive beings, they add meaning to what they observe they are not impartial observers. 


When information is observed psychologists seek to understand that information. This information gathered is then interpreted. Science moves from observation to interpretation. Observations are never un-interpreted, no matter how careful the scientist. When a secular psychologist makes observations and interpretations they do so apart from knowledge and trust in God. This knowledge and trust in God are the most important part of any human and is indispensable in the counseling process. These interpretations have drastic effects for the person being counseled. 


Interventions are the area where psychologists attempt to use the interpreted observations to develop therapies to help the person being counseled. Christians should be suspicious of therapies derived from these secular ideas and observations. Worldview has an impact on everything observed and interpreted. Christians should recognize the danger of using a distorted worldview to counsel. The information gathered should help biblical counselors in their efforts to help those in their care such as medical observations since humans have a body and a soul. However, healing must go beyond just the body. Biblical truth should always be a priority over that of secular psychologies. The Bible is the standard for truth and should be recognized as such. 

Common Grace and Biblical Counseling.

Common grace is the kindness and unmerited favor that God shows to all people. The reason it is common is because it is offered to all humanity alike. It is grace because it is the opposite of what humanity deserves. Heath Lambert discusses three categories to understand common grace. Due to humanity being totally depraved because of the Fall every aspect is corrupted. God provides grace in preventing humans from being as depraved as they can be. This saves us from an overwhelmingly horrible existence.

God Restrains Evil

In Scripture God restrains people out of kindness. In Gen 4:15 restricts people from harming Cain. 2 Thess 2:7 God restrains the man of lawlessness. This remarkable grace saves us from ourselves as we could be more depraved then we are. 

God Restrains and Provides

God morally restrains our sin, but He also provides for our physical needs. Matt 5:43-45 is clear that God takes care of the just and unjust. Jesus is often urging His followers to be like God in kindness to others. Humans do not have to be saved to enjoy the sun and rain, or tasty foods. Jesus uses common grace when commanding His listeners to care for and be kind to their enemies.

God’s Intelectual Provision

The last category of common grace is divine intellectual provision. God’s common grace allows saved and unsaved people to know correct information and to process it. While worldly wisdom does not save good things can come from it. Hard work and wealth are useful lessons that unsaved people express (1 Cor 1:26). There are people with enormous intellect and skills. These same people though unbelievers can produce all types of wonders advances. The fact that we have cell phones made by believers and unbelievers is an incredible grace. We have a need to learn and both saved and unsaved can teach us knowledge. 

Why does it Matter?

This relates to the secular psychologists and their ability to know and learn true facts about the human condition. God has graciously endowed humans with brains that can discover cause and effect. As biblical counselors we can appreciate the fact that God’s common grace allows secular scientists to discover right and true things about the human condition.

This appreciation needs to be held in check with the knowledge of the limits of common grace. Common grace does not save a person, and an unsaved person retains the effects of the Fall more fully than a saved person. In the case of knowing and understanding God’s will a secular person may generally be able to discern but cannot fully grasp that knowledge. Often wrong conclusions come from presuppositions held by the unsaved individual.

Thus, it is important for the believer to examine with Scripture saturated eyes the work and results of secular scientists and doctors and seek to come to a right and God honoring understanding of the information given. 

What secular observations have you found useful?

What secular books have been helpful to you in understanding true observations?

What God said is Perfectly True!

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16

All the Bible is inspired by God. Or put another way, the Bible is the very Word of God.

At my undergraduate school, my professors did not believe in inerrancy, a term that simply means there are no errors in the Bible in the original manuscripts. So it is a subject I had to wrestle with quite a bit. My conviction about inerrancy led to my attending a more conservative seminary that believed inerrancy, so I found it helpful to articulate my thoughts about the whole thing.


Inspiration is the communication by the Spirit of God upon the minds of those writers chosen by providence to write the divine revelation. This divine revelation is interpreted only by the Holy Spirit who leads every honest reader and inquirer to salvation in Christ. The Bible is the very Word of God and is completely without error, that is to say it is inerrant. The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. The testimony of inspiration and inerrancy ensure a third aspect of Scripture which is its authority. Scripture has authority for all of life. Authority is the right to require obedience and impose beliefs (Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology).

The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.

Inspiration, Inerrancy, Authority:

The relationships between inspiration, inerrancy and authority are complex since they are each intertwined. It is helpful to view these three as a braided cord (Ecc 4:12). If one is abandoned or weakened, they might maintain integrity. However, when they are weakened there can be a functional abandonment of these doctrines. Inspiration if understood as verbal and plenary must be maintained in order to affirm the others.

Verbal Inspiration:

By verbal inspiration is to be understood that the words of scripture are inspired and not just the ideas (Frame, John, The Doctrine of the Word of God). By plenary it means that all of Scripture is inspired. Any other view will conflict with inerrancy. If the ideas are only the inspired parts of Scripture, it follows that there could be much in Scripture that contains error. This undermines the reliability of Scripture. 

The Verbal Plenary view of inspiration must be maintained in order to affirm its authority. Trusting that God communicates through the words of Scripture, this inspiration maintains its authority as the Word of God. God communicated His will out of grace, if we can choose the parts we think are inspired or not we place our own reason over that of God’s revealed will. A wise person will take heed to the words of his father (Prov 4:20).

A Three Fold Cord:

Photo by Jasper Garratt on Unsplash

If inerrancy is removed from the three-fold cord inspiration and authority of Scripture is weakened. If error exists in the Bible, it follows that either God lies or that mistakes were made in the transmission of truth. If God lies than we can not trust His authority, and if there are errors in transmission how do we know what is inspired or not? 

Divine authorship is the reason for Scriptures authority. It heralds Jesus Christ as Lord and Redeemer. Since God inspired the entire canon of Scripture, it cannot err, but remains authoritative in all of life. The reason for this we are told in Scripture. 

“That the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:17). 

Keep the conversation going:

How does this view of Scripture impact your faith?

What comforts you about this truth?

Where do you take issue with this truth?

Resources: https://amzn.to/3xNY9TX

Trusting in Christ Alone

We are saved through faith alone, but the object of our saving faith is Christ alone. More precisely, we are saved entirely on the exclusive identity of Christ. The perfect and complete, all-sufficient work of Christ and our sole mediator and representative.

This means that Christ is the subject, the author, and the medium of our faith. We have all we need now and forever found in Christ. Trust in the exclusivity of Christ for salvation and trust in the sufficiency of Christ for salvation are necessary to understand what it means to trust in Christ alone for salvation. Knowledge about the facts of Jesus are not enough, since people know God’s decree yet do not obey (Rom 1:32). Even the demons know who God is and the shudder (James 2:19).

So trust, dependence on this exclusive all-sufficient Savior Jesus, saving faith is trust in Jesus Christ as a living being for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God. The Bible uses the word trust in its relational sense in order to express how trusting in Christ alone is necessary for salvation. John 1:12 speaks of all who received him, like one receives a guest, or Jesus speaks of coming to Him (Matt 11:28-30).

Trust also grows, the more we get to know a person the more fully we put our trust in Him. At the beginning having a reliable testimony of someone and trusting in that testimony is the start of a relationship. With Christ we are given Scripture as a reliable testimony in which we gain the true knowledge of Jesus Christ (Rom 10:17).

By trusting in God, we are also turning from sin. Repentance is that combined with trust in God and turning away from our sins (Acts 3:19; 8:22; 26:18). As it is written in Mark 1:15 says repent and believe in the gospel. This behavior should be reflected in obedience to Him and His word (Acts 27:25). Trusting is also a continual process.

We are to grow in godliness and learning and pursuing Jesus Christ learning His character. Our trust in Jesus is a personal and relational trust, it is in the exclusivity of Jesus, the sufficiency of Jesus. The exclusivity of Jesus found in Him being the only way (John 14:6). The London Baptist Confession of Faith writes it this way; “Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith but works by love.”

The instrumental word as it relates to the question of trust, is resting on Christ. Nothing else leads to salvation, only resting, or more clearly trusting, on the promises of God that He makes through Christ. Only by God’s grace are we saved through faith in Christ Jesus.

Some Attributes of God with Practical Implications.

God’s wrath, the Bible expresses the concept of God’s wrath in several types of words. In Hebrew, ‘af, ebrah, haron, qetsef, hemah; In Greek, orgê and thymos, are used to describe wrath anger and fury. Jesus teaches in Matt 5:21-22 that being angry at one’s brother is in violation of the sixth commandment. Anger is often listed as sin in several passages (Gal 5:20, Eph 4:31, Col 3:8. 1 Tim 2:8, James 1:19-20). However, we see areas that Jesus gets angry, and God also acts wrathfully against sin. God’s wrath is in response to sin (Num 18:5, Josh 9:20; 22:20; 1 Chron 27:24; 2 Chron 19:10; 24:18, Matt 3:7). Understanding the wrath of God can be a practical help in the preventing of sin. Knowing that God hates sin provides a sense of seriousness to the sins that people commit. This seriousness is helpful in counseling to show that sin is not a matter of opinion but a very real and dangerous behavior to be avoided.

            Mercy is an attribute of God that is commonly connected with God’s goodness. The Hebrew word often used is chesed and racham and in the New Testament the Greek word employed is eleos. This mercy is often mentioned with the grace of God (1 Tim 1:2, 2 Tim 1:1, Titus 1:4). God’s mercy is often in combination with his judgment (Rom 2:4). God is merciful in the postponement of judgment. This attribute of God is useful when counseling a person that is concerned about a wayward friend of relative. While acknowledging the danger that person is in God’s mercy can be highlighted. 

            The holiness of God can be viewed as a position or relationship between God and some person or thing. God is absolutely distinct from any of His creation. This attribute of holiness is distinct in nature to the other attributes because it connects with them on one level or another. Holiness is an essential aspect of God’s dealing with humans. While there is the nature of holiness there also seems to be an ethical aspect in Scripture. While humans cannot be separate in the same manner as God, they can be separate from evil and sin. This is to reflect God’s purity and holiness an aspect we cannot fully attain in this life. For counseling recognizing God’s holiness has several important ramifications. The holiness of God helps to provoke the feeling of awe and the transcendence of God. Revealing a profaneness in man who is not worthy to stand in front of the Holy One. This holiness is revealed in the moral law implanted on man’s heart and the law given to the Israelites to urge holiness. Christ is the ultimate revelation of God’s holiness and is the only mediator between God and man. 

            Omnipotence is the power of God to do what He wills even if that is not actualized (Gen 18:14, Jer 32:27, Zechariah 8:6, Matt 3:9). This attribute of God is helpful because God being all powerful reveals that nothing is to hard for God. This can be of comfort but also a source of concern for some that since God is able, He did not do what one wished. It is wise to combine God’s omnipotence with the rest of His attributes explaining His goodness along with His holiness, omniscience is the knowing ability of God. In Counseling, showing God’s all-powerfulness can be of great comfort. Knowing that God is on His throne and He works all things together for the good of His people. What greater impetus is this to motive someone to greater faith in Christ Jesus?

God knows all things. God knows all actual and possible state of affairs (Ps 147:5, 1 John 3:20). God’s knowledge of all things provides comfort for the confused and anxious about their future. While they may not know what will happen or could happen God does, this should help shift the focus from mans limited perspective to God’s infinite perspective. A helpful narrative in the Old Testament is that of Joseph and his response to his brother’s evil (Gen 45:6). The Power of God’s all-knowing character can bring great comfort since God is merciful and just, He sees all the evil and will repay accordingly. He can provide great comfort to those of His people who do not know what to do or what choices to make. 

Closely tied to His knowledge is God’s omnipresence that is God is present everywhere. This provides comfort to the hurting, God is not just a mystical being in the sky, but He is a God who is with us. God is present in times of good and times of trouble. God in His presence is living and active, He is with us in all of our trial’s troubles, in our hard times and good times. 

Continuing Revelation? Prophecy and Tongues?

It is my belief that the gifts of prophecy, and tongues have ceased. It seems that the revelatory process has completed resulting in the canon of Scripture. God continues to speak but only through His Word. He does not provide new revelation but illumination. The Spirit speaks to us through the Word. In short, I do not believe in continuing revelation but illumination.

Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

Drawing from 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 the spiritual gifts are gaining contemporary attention. Emphasizing prophecy charismatic groups have expressed it as a message from God to someone by means of a spokesperson. This communication comes from an experience. A vision, a dream or words coming to mind in which a person thinks God is communicating directly. 

This however is counter to the New Testament gift of prophecy and is not a restoration of this gift. Some charismatics claim that the modern manifestations of prophecy are a restoration of the New Testament model, as recorded in Acts 2:17-21. The prophecy from Acts is universal to the church and indicates the age of the Holy Spirit. 

While there is not a consensus on the exact expression of the gift of prophecy in the New Testament it is my belief that the prophecy is referring to proclamation, application of revealed truth. It is not referring to foretelling or prediction. A useful test of prophecy is those found in Dt 13:1-3 and Dt 18:22. Dt 13 is concerned with the doctrinal content of the alleged prophecy. Dt 18 is concerned with foretelling and fulfillment of any prediction. I read prophecy in the New Testament and the today as the proclaiming of God in a formal or informal setting. 

Belief in prophecy as defined as unique messages from God is functionally a rejection of sufficiency of Scripture. While many who believe in ongoing prophetic messages do not intend to reject sufficiency of Scripture by claiming special knowledge or messages outside of God it leads believers to seek out those who might have this gift to provide them with timely or relevant help.

Instead of relying on the Word of God read or proclaimed people seek out ‘a word from God.’ This form of functionally denying the sufficiency of Scripture is dangerous and needs to be prevented. If a person comes to me with questions about this gift of prophecy, I would endeavor to explain my position and the dangers to look out for. At the very least I would show them Dt 13 and 18 walking through the tests that God has put forth in His word. I would also add Ezek 13:1-3 which states, “The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’ Thus says the Lord God, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!”

What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment.

Four Surprising Insights into the Knowledge of God

Thanks to The Center of Baptist Renewal, I have been introduced to Herman Bavinck. On their 2021 reading list is the book The Wonderful Works of God. Since writing helps me think and remember, I started writing out information from the book and thought I would share. This is a paraphrase with my own thoughts interspersed with content adjusted and modified as I thought through it. My hope is that this helps you think through the Knowledge of God, its Origin, Object, Essence and Effect.

1) The Origin of The Knowledge of God

It is wholly owing to Christ. All other knowledge is learned by insight, judgement, reasoning, study, effort. But the knowledge of the One True God is given to us by Christ (Matt 11:27; 1 John 5:20). Jesus revealed God to us in all that He did, life, death, works etc. Only Christ Jesus knows the Father, He was with God in the beginning, saw Him face to face, is Himself God, the brightness of God’s glory, the express image of His person, the Father’s own, only-begotten and beloved Son, in whom was all His pleasure (Matt 3:17; John 1:14; Heb 1:3).

2) The Object of The Knowledge of God

All other knowledge revolves around the creature, limited to the temporal and can never discover the eternal. There is a revelation of God’s eternal power and godhead in the works of nature, such as order vs chaos. The knowledge of God derived from that source is slight and cannot reveal the personal nature of God, it is mingled with error. Imagine trying to understand complex mathematics with only a 1st grade understanding addition and subtraction. You are bound to misunderstand much! (Rom 1:20-23). How can we know God? We who are but vapor? Rom 10:6, Do not say in your heart, “Who will go up to heaven? The Word is already near you, in Jesus. 1 John 4:19, we see Christ in the mirror of His Word.

“God is known in proportion to the extent that He is loved”

Herman Bavinck

3) The Essence of The Knowledge of God

We are able to now determine the essence of the knowledge of God. In the high priestly prayer, Jesus speaks of knowledge that is not mere information, but is instead real knowing. (John 17:3) Real knowledge is not just reading a tour guide, but actually experiencing it. Knowing is mind, heart and volition. We could call it the knowledge of faith, it is not the product of the scientific method, or the study of specific information. It is like a childlike faith, a simple faith. It is not only a sure knowledge but firm confidence, in the personal remission of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation are freely given by God, merely by grace, only based on the merits of Christ (Matt 18:3, 5:8, John 3:5). “God is known in proportion to the extent that He is loved”-Bavinck

4) The Effect of The Knowledge of God

The effect of this knowledge is nothing less than eternal life! Creaturely knowledge may help us improve aspects of our lives. Having learned plumbing and waste management has improved the healthy of untold millions. The one who learns art or poetry appreciates certain works of arts to a greater extent. There is but only a difference in degree between the most distinguished scholar and simplest working man, both die, both experience emotional turmoil. The knowledge of visible things can enrich life, how much more will the knowledge of God enrich? Those that God has recreated after His own image and restored to fellowship, ie. born again, are raised above the level of death and mortality! Whoever lives and believes in Jesus will not die (John 11:25-26)

“Knowing God in Christ brings with it eternal life, imperturbable joy, and heavenly blessedness. These are not merely effects, but the knowing of God is itself immediately a new, eternal and blessed life.”

Herman Bavinck