In the last part of our series we looked at whether Open Theism is Confusion or Heresy, Ridiculous or Blasphemous. Whichever you choose, it doesn’t look good for Open Theism and the people who believe and teach it. Whether they are confused or heretics, ridiculous or blasphemous, the false teaching of Open Theists is dangerous and should be revealed and opposed.
How God Nurtures The Fallen
We’ve demonstrated that God is All-Knowing and knew everything that would happen in time and space before He created time and space. God knew that the humans He created would sin against Him. He knew that in Eternity before He created anything. God knew that His Son would die for their sins on a Roman cross by shedding His blood for them. He knew that in Eternity before He created anything. God knew that He would raise His Son from the grave and complete a spiritual movement that would eventually bless the nations of the world. He knew that in Eternity before He created anything. It was all according to God’s own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. 2 Timothy 1:8-9
… knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:18-21
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6
If we can agree that “before time began” and “before the foundation of the world” is before God created, then we can look at Genesis 1:1 with clear vision. God was in control of everything when He created. Open Theists don’t agree. They believe God took a calculated risk when He created the heavens and the earth “because God is not all-controlling” (Open Theist Thomas Jay Oord).
That is an absurd statement based on what God has told us about Himself (His Nature) and His Creation (His Works). We have only to read Job chapters 38-41 to see that God is all-controlling. What human can question God? It is the other way around. God questions man.
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: ‘Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Job 38:1-3
How did Job, a powerful man and leader in his community, respond to God’s questions?
Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further. Job 40:4-5
I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Job 42:2-3
Open Theists would be served well to respond to God in a similar fashion to Job. We all would.
In questioning Job, God was actually “nurturing” him based on God’s Nature. Job knew a lot, but there was much he needed to learn from the All-Knowing God. God’s nurture included an honest assessment of Job’s human nature and God’s Sovereign Nature. Job responded appropriately to God’s assessment and received a greater blessing.
Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. Job 42:12
Notice how God nurtured Job. God taught Job about His Nature, Job responded appropriately to the lesson about God’s Nature, and God nurtured Job. Nature/Nurture. God nurtures based on His Nature.
Nurturing Adam and Eve
Job lived a long, long time ago, but let’s go back even further in time .. all the way back to the beginning. How did God relate to the very first humans He created?
Open Theists would have us believe that God took a risky chance with Adam and Eve .. that He knew what He hoped they would do after He created the heavens and the earth, but couldn’t be sure because He didn’t know the future and wasn’t in control.
As for the hope God had with Adam and Eve and their descendants, Open Theist author and teacher John Sanders wrote this:
God entrusts responsibility to us and does not know for sure what we will do with this responsibility. Hence, God hopes that we will be wise and loving stewards of the divine gifts and calling. Also, God is patient with us when we sin, hoping that we will return home.
Okay. Let’s go with that for a moment. God creates the heavens and the earth. He creates Adam and Eve. He gives them an important responsibility, but doesn’t know what they’ll do with that responsibility. God hopes Adam and Eve will be wise and loving stewards of all that God created for them, but can’t be sure they will because there’s no way for Him to know the future. Even when Adam and Eve mess up and sin, God is patient with them and hopes they’ll return home.
Now, let’s look at what really happened.
God created a paradise for Adam and Eve. He put them in charge of His garden and warned them about not messing up His creation.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. Genesis 2:16-17
God commanded them and said they would die if they disobeyed? First, why would God command them if He was entrusting responsibility to them without knowing for sure what they would do with that responsibility? Second, how could God know they would die if they disobeyed Him if God doesn’t know the future and doesn’t control what will happen in the future?
The fact is that God did know what would happen in the future. That’s why God warned Adam and Eve about eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve did disobey God and they did die .. just like God said. God knew what would happen because He is ALL-KNOWING.
That’s one of the major problems with Open Theism. What they believe doesn’t comport with reality.
God did give Adam and Eve enormous responsibility. That responsibility included Adam guarding the garden and His wife and obeying God. Adam failed on both accounts. According to Open Theism, God could not know that would happen, but He did. According to Open Theism, God’s reaction to Adam and Eve’s sin would be to be patient with them and hope they’d return home, but that’s not what happened. Again, Open Theism’s premise fails because it doesn’t comport to reality. Here’s what really happened.
Adam and Eve realized they had disobeyed God. They were ashamed and tried to cover their nakedness. When they heard God approaching, they tried to hide from Him. God called them out for their disobedience and immediately brought misery into their lives.
To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you. Genesis 3:16
Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return. Genesis 3:17-19
So much for God being patient with them. How about Open Theism’s belief that God would hope they’d return home after sinning against Him.
Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:22-24
Instead of hoping Adam and Eve would “return home,” God drove them out of their home and made sure they’d never return to it by placing a big angel with a flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life. So much for Open Theism getting something right. Wrong again.
We see in the story of Adam and Eve the Sovereign Nature of God, but what about His nurture? Keep in mind that God is holy, just and righteous. He’s also loving, gracious and merciful.
God’s greatest single act of Divine Nurture is found in what He said to the serpent about the woman:
And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel. Genesis 3:15
God promised both “salvation” and “destruction” in one sentence. The Son of God would come into the world to save sinners and destroy the works of the devil.
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8
Genesis 3:15 and 1 John 3:8 connect perfectly. God promised that the Seed of the woman would bruise the devil’s head and the devil would bruise the heel of the Seed. That was God’s eternal purpose. The Son of God was manifested (revealed, made known) “that He might destroy the works of the devil.”
Genesis 3:15 also connects to all of the verses we quoted earlier in this article about what God purposed “before time began, before the foundation of the world.”
He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. 1 Peter 1:20
… who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 1:9-10
God knew the end from the beginning, even before the beginning. God revealed His eternal plan to Satan in the hearing of Adam and Eve. God revealed His eternal plan to the prophets.
Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into. 1 Peter 1:10-12
God is a revealing God. He is Sovereign, Holy and Just in His Nature and Loving, Gracious and Merciful in His Nurture.
In the next part of our special series, Open Theism: God In A Box, we will look at how Open Theism has missed the most important point of God’s Eternal plan and the spiritual problems it causes for its followers.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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