“God could have walked away … and started over.”
As I encounter topics for my site, or simply stumble upon errors like the one rebutted in this article, I am constantly reminded that the real enemies to the true Body of Christ are those who profess to be its members. By comparison, their attacks dwarf the attacks by the lost.
Doctrinal error is rampant and the mark of our age. There are two main reasons for this:
- It is borne of ignorance, (many times a willing ignorance!) rather than malevolence (best case!?).
- It is deliberate distortion and contempt for the Scripture (worst case).
The statement I quoted in the title of this article was found on the website for a local church, Prairie Creek Baptist Church in Plano, TX.
[As of the writing of this article, if you click on the Get Connected/Faith link on the site’s landing page you’ll be taken to a page containing an article entitled Follow Jesus. Within that article is the very foolish statement that titles this article.]
[EDIT Nov 2020: I checked to see that this page was still current; it is.]
I found this particularly interesting in view of the fact that they began a series in Romans beginning Feb 2020 which took them through Romans chapter 9 in early August; I reviewed these messages, since it seemed to me that they couldn't present a true, biblical exposition of this great chapter. They didn't.
In the first message on Rom 9.1-13, the summary statement was that election was essentially the promise that those who heard the call of the gospel are those to whom and upon whom "election" was applied. The preacher needs to read Dead or Alive: The Order of Salvation, in which the truth that the sinner is dead and can't respond to the gospel until he/she is made alive by the Holy Spirit through the "birth from above". Prairie Creek Baptist Church in Plano, TX is simply one of those churches that gets this great truth backward.
In the second message on Rom 9.14-19, the intro reiterated the sentiment above. After that point, during the first half of the message (vv. 14-18), the preacher struggled to avoid stating the full truth that "... and He hardens whom He desires." No surprise there. (And, no, I couldn't bear to listen to the rest of his "message" on Romans.)
There is no true, biblical definition of election for the God "who could have walked away and started over" as the article on the church's website maintains! Simple logic alone points out this stunning and hellish inconsistency.]
I truly hope that this article is an example of an expression made in ignorance rather than being a deliberate distortion of Scripture. Nonetheless, it is still heresy regardless of the reasons it was written.
[EDIT Nov 2020: After reviewing the Pastor's "messages" on Romans (above), I'm leaning toward deliberate distortion of Scripture...]
This occurrence of such an unbiblical expression shouldn’t be too surprising when you consider what the Lord Christ taught in His parable of the unrighteous judge in Luke 18:
And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
[Excerpts from the article appear like this.]
The Follow Jesus article brings the Lord's question into sharp focus because of its general carelessness and anti-biblical content. It appears to be an introduction to Christianity designed for a non-Christian reader who might be or might become interested in Christianity.
Portions of the article are excerpted with my comments interleaved.
What does it mean to be a Christian? The short answer is: to follow Christ. The longer answer requires the context of the message of the Bible about faith in God. We can use four words to tell the biblical story.
The four words are Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration.
The Bible begins in Genesis 1:1 with this statement: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The Bible spends no time trying to convince you that God exists. It merely points you toward the evidence of creation.
… God pronounced all of creation to be in keeping with his character, that is, good. In fact, very good. [emphasis mine]
So far, so good, But …
But by Genesis 3, something has gone terribly wrong. … It seems that God has created people with a free will to choose God's way or their own way, to love God and live according to his plan or to choose according to their own selfish interests. That's what the story of the first people tells us. Adam and Eve chose to reject God's perfect world, and their choice has affected their descendants—all of creation, in fact—to this very day. It's not a pretty picture. Are you living your life apart from God? [emphasis mine]
Doctrinal error begins to make its appearance here. Yes, God created Adam and Eve innocent, able to make the decision to commit to good or to commit to evil. In that strict sense only, Adam and Eve had a “moral free will”. However, it is serious error to state that “God has created people with a free will” [emphasis mine], the clear inference being that this “free will” is a current characteristic of all people since Adam.
That assumption is biblical error: Adam and Eve alone, in all the human race, are the only ones to ever have had the moral quality of "innocence". After the fall, except for the Lord Christ, there has never been a person who was born with the original moral innocence of Adam.
[In fact, this error is known in church history as Pelagianism, the notion that Adam's sin does not unconditionally corrupt human nature, that the human is born with a free will still able to choose good.]
Demonstrating that the person, as descended from Adam does not have a "free will" is very easy, if one takes the time to read and believe what the Scripture teaches:
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
[cf., Rom 3.9-23!]
The contrast the Apostle draws is between those who are “in the Spirit” with those who are “in the flesh”. It is a clear distinction between those truly saved and those born (and still lost) in sin.
Do you see the clear declaration that to be “in the flesh”—the moral state of all people from birth as physical descendants of Adam—is to be in the state of “not able to subject itself to the law of God”.
The presumably provocative question, “Are you living your life apart from God?”, is worse than gibberish. It would require extensive edits to enable it even to begin to appear merely insipid.
“… the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God …”
By biblical definition, the “mind set on the flesh” does not have a moral “free will”; this is the clear declaration of Rom 8.5-8. The silly question should instead have been the powerful and very clear statement:
“By nature and from birth you are the self-declared and active enemy of God and His law. Your will is not conformed to His will and can't be in and of yourself.”
What is likely the most egregious error in the article, and the title of this short article, occurs in the next paragraph:
God could have walked away, given up on humankind and planet earth, and started over. But he didn't. It seems at one point he came close, but he decided he would redeem his fallen creation ... [emphasis mine]
While the remainder of this section is “ok-ish”, this initial statement is serious doctrinal error—heresy, in fact. The “God” presented here is worse than a joke. He was able to speak the creation into existence, but then was blind-sided by Adam’s rebellion to the extent—according to the unmitigated ignorance and hubris of the author(s) of this article—that the LORD thought about starting over!
Hmmm… That doesn’t sound “… good. In fact, very good.” to me. (Gen 1.31) It sounds like the LORD is an amateur, unworthy even of our pity and certainly not worthy of our praise based on what we've all observed of human corruption. Frankly, He sounds pretty pathetic for an Almighty Creator, if the foolish author(s) of that article is/are to be believed!
Let’s see how the Bible describes the LORD of creation; you’ll note that it is very different from the banal and pathetic “god” (lower case ‘g’ deliberate) presented in this article. The LORD of the Scriptures is One who plans and acts to accomplish His will, not One who merely reacts to something that, somehow, didn’t go as He planned:
Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.
But He is unique and who can turn Him? And what His soul desires, that He does.
The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.
But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.
For I know that the LORD is great and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.
The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand ... For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?”
Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; yes, let him recount it to Me in order, from the time that I established the ancient nation. and let them declare to them the things that are coming and the events that are going to take place. Do not tremble and do not be afraid; have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none.
Remember this, and be assured; recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure‘
I declared the former things long ago and they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. Because I know that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew and your forehead bronze, therefore I declared them to you long ago, before they took place I proclaimed them to you, so that you would not say, 'My idol has done them, and my graven image and my molten image have commanded them.'
As you can see, the Bible tells us that it is impossible for something to not go as the LORD planned.
The LORD described in the texts cited above (and there are many, many more throughout Scripture!) is great, powerful, certain, unwavering, grand, majestic, wise and unthinkably powerful!
It is impossible to resolve these declarations against the spectacularly inept and heretical declaration penned by Prairie Creek Baptist Church that:
God could have walked away, given up on humankind and planet earth, and started over. But he didn't. It seems at one point he came close, but he decided he would redeem his fallen creation ...
Moreover, here are just three of the Bible’s declarations of the LORD’s sovereignty over mankind:
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.
Many plans are in a man's heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand.
The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,
The LORD alone determines the course of all things, including those of all mankind and which span all time! If you take even a moment to think about, you must realize that that sovereignty would have applied to Adam as well!
But, the article continues…
He set in motion a plan of redemption. [emphasis mine]
The clear inference of the article is that the Plan of Redemption logically followed the fall of Adam as a reaction to “fix what broke”. But, this church has this backwards (most likely the unconditional result of a willing ignorance of Scripture).
What does the Scripture say about the real LORD, in contrast to the pathetic “god” presented in this short article? Here are just two examples:
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 would be holy and blameless before Him.
2 The 2.13
But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
When the Apostle Paul states (by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) “God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation …” it necessitates the Fall as part of the plan of redemption.
Consider: if there is no Fall there is no need to be “chosen before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1), to “be chosen from the beginning” (2 The 2).
I know that modern “Christians” regard as offensive the thought that the Fall was a necessary component of the LORD’s (only!) plan. But, this is yet another unconditional result of ignorance of the Bible's teaching of the true LORD of the Scripture combined with the self-indulgence of a humanistic view of “justice”.
But, there is something else to consider: why should I have any confidence that this new plan—perhaps we should we call it ‘Plan B’?—would work any better than the original plan?
Mistakes tend to produce yet more mistakes: it is very difficult to get the genie back into the bottle…
To state that the LORD somehow “messed up” (my characterization of this foolish section) after such a stunning display of wisdom and power in the creation would mean that the LORD is capable of not only unthinkably great works of power but also of the equally unthinkable lack of foresight.
I would be very foolish to trust this so-called “god” with anything since He erred in such a spectacular manner!
The remainder of the Redemption section is a mixed bag of “OK” and "not-so -OK” thoughts, though to its minor credit it does mention repentance (though without details, then moves immediately to "love"!):
He called people to repent of their sins and return to (1) loving God and (2) loving their neighbor.
One of the stunningly naïve comments is:
In spite of persecution and martyrdom, more and more people believed in Jesus and began to follow him. As they began to love God and make their enemies into neighbors, the movement took off until today there are some two billion people who call themselves Christians. [emphasis mine]
The number of people on the planet is estimated to be more than 7 billion. That means that Prairie Creek Baptist Church assumes that nearly 30% of the people of earth are Christians! However, this doesn’t agree with the Lord Christ’s clear declarations:
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Moreover, at the Judgment of the Nations (which takes place when the Lord Christ returns) , so-called “Christians” will find themselves on the Lord’s left hand, about to be eternally condemned to the Outer Darkness/Eternal Fire:
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
Then again, as I re-read the highlighted phrase and apply it in a way they obviously did not intend, it nicely aligns itself with the Lord’s words above in Mat 7.21-223:
… there are some two billion people who call themselves Christians …
Right... "call themselves"... Maybe Prairie Creek Baptist Church had it correct after all. (I'm being sarcastic, of course...)
The last section is Restoration:
People continue to follow Jesus. He has begun the process of redemption in the hearts of those who have trusted in him, transforming everything about them from the inside out by the gift of his Holy Spirit. We live with the promise of eternal life.
This opening of this section is OK, but the remainder of the section devolves quickly into confusion:
We believe that one day, God will bring about a new heaven and a new earth. We believe that Jesus will return as King of kings and Lord of lords, and that creation will be restored to God's original intent.
While I don’t formally rebut the confusion of this very short section here (that will be a future, lengthy and detailed series), there is the apparent conflation of “a new heaven and a new earth”, “Jesus will return as King of kings and Lord of lords” and “creation will be restored to God's original intent”.
The first point, “a new heaven and a new earth” occurs chronologically after the second point “Jesus will return as King of kings and Lord of lords”. It won’t be until the completion of the Millennium that the creation of the new heaven and earth take place. So, the ordering in clumsy at best and misleading at worst.
The third point, “creation will be restored to God's original intent”, is biblical error (as stated). Notice this from the closing of the NT:
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
There is no inference here of “restoring” the “[old] to the original intent”. From the details provided in Revelation chapters 21 and 22, the new creation is vastly different from the current creation.
If the “new” creation is the old creation merely “restored to God's original intent”, how can it be declared “new”? The adjective would cease to have any real meaning.
“Refurbished” would be a much better word choice for this defective and heretical reasoning. Of course, it would still be error; the thinking expressed here can't be fixed without a major rewrite, one that actually opens and believes the Bible instead of just assuming and regurgitating unbiblical nonsense.
Overall, this “introduction to the seeker” (my characterization) is convolved, careless and misleading. The “god” (lower case 'g' intended) presented could not reliably be trusted to save anyone since He had to “fix” the result of being blind-sided by the human(!), Adam.
It is yet another example of just how far the modern so-called “church” has turned from the truths of the Bible—ignorance or not!