“You represent God as worse than the devil; more false, more cruel, more unjust. But you say you will prove it by scripture. Hold! What will you prove by Scripture? That God is worse than the devil? It cannot be. Whatever that Scripture proves, it never proved this; whatever its true meaning be. This cannot be its true meaning. Do you ask, “What is its true meaning then?” If I say, ” I know not,” you have gained nothing; for there are many scriptures the true sense whereof neither you nor I shall know till death is swallowed up in victory. But this I know, better it were to say it had no sense, than to say it had such a sense as this. It cannot mean, whatever it mean besides, that the God of truth is a liar. Let it mean what it will, it cannot mean that the Judge of all the world is unjust. No scripture can mean that God is not love, or that his mercy is not over all his works; that is, whatever it prove beside, no scripture can prove predestination.” — John Wesley
All Wesley does in this quotation is say that the Calvinist conception of God is worse than the devil, more false, more cruel, and more unjust. Taking that conclusion, he attempts to argue backwards by saying that, whatever evidence the Calvinist supplies, the conclusion will remain “that God is worse than the devil.”
As to his last statement, I will simply place Romans 8:28-30 and Ephesians 1:11, 12 for all to see:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.”
Anonymous asked: I've never told anyone this. But I have a fear of the devil. I know, it seems so weird because I know God is bigger and better and He watches over me, but I've always been scared of horror movies and stuff. I can't even watch the previews. So the idea of the devil and demons really freaks me out. It's a struggle I've had to deal with for years to the point where (at my worst moments) I'll be too afraid to go to sleep. And I'm 22. Your prayers would be great. But any suggestions?
Satan is powerful, he is cunning, and he is very dangerous. So are his demons. Both Satan and his demons are actual beings: not personifications of evil or any other nonsense like that.
I have had similar fears as yourself, and I’m 21. A few months ago, as I was trying to go to sleep, I saw a man standing in the doorway of my bedroom. For a few minutes, I stared at him. After he walked out of my view, I stood up, grabbed my gun, and went through my house to find him—to no avail. I have little doubt that this was a manifestation of a demon, as there was no sense of the Spirit of God or of peace throughout the encounter.
To say again, demons and Satan are dangerous, and they are real. You—and I—are in luck, because I just finished today a section on Satan and demons in Charles C. Ryrie’s Basic Theology. In it, he said about demons, “To sum up: Demons are not humans; neither are they God. But they are superhuman with superior intelligence and experience and powers. To deny the existence of demons is not skepticism; it only displays ignorance. To be unrealistic about their power is foolhardy.”
And about Satan, “In general we may say that Satan the adversary wants passionately to squelch the believer’s testimony. To accomplish this he prowls the earth like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). The word ‘devour’ is the same word used to describe the way to Red Sea swallowed up the Egyptians when they were pursuing the Hebrews (Heb. 11:29). It paints a vivid picture of Satan’s ultimate goal—to completely drown the believer’s testimony and usefulness.”
To sum all that up: Satan and his demons exist solely to oppose the spread of the Gospel and to (continually) enslave the world to its dying system.
But here’s the thing: they can do nothing without the permission of the Father (cf. Job 1:12, among others). And, if we know that everything the Father allows for the believer is for his sanctification (Ro. 8:28), then anything that a demon or Satan does to a believer is permitted by the Father and will be used for his sanctification. So, an ultimate blessing in the cursing of demon-annoyance.
Nonetheless, there are things that we can do to avoid and guard against being troubled by demons.
Ryrie points out, “The believer can live victoriously in Satan’s world through faith in Christ who Himself has become the victor over Satan (1 John 5:4-5: [‘For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?’]). No contingency is attached to the promise in these verses. Every believer, whether new or mature, has victory simply because he is a believer.” Being sealed in Christ matters in this fight, because Christ has already won.
Ryrie explains, “Effecting that victory will involved habits, defenses, activities, but it is our faith in Jesus that makes us believers and thus overcomers, sufficient to live Christlike lives in the satanic cosmos.”
We must continually examine ourselves to see if we are walking in such a way that (a) quenches the power of the Spirit within us or (b) immediately opens a door for demonic activity, through witchcraft or occultic practices, both of which (a and b) allow for demonic influence.
We must examine our lives for unconfessed sin and for idolatrous practices, rely on the power of the Spirit, and use the full armor of God, including the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word.
I will be in prayer for you, but trust this: Christ has already conquered the order of this world.
Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.
James 4:7, 8a
Grace and peace
Edit: As Asia-Lyn points out, “Prayer is the best way to fight the fear! I struggle with that as well.”
Prayer is a powerful, powerful tool against the demonic influences.
From Anthony David Jacques, “Why, according to the Bible, Satan is either more powerful or more intelligent that [should be ‘than’] God.”
I like how ADJ is attempting a ‘big picture’ understanding of the Bible here, without necessarily nitpicking on how the Old Testament law seems to contradict the New (which is what many atheists with absolutely no desire to understand biblical hermeneutics have too much time for). But there are some serious errors in ADJ’s understanding of the biblical narrative and God’s sovereignty over Satan, which led to his misguided conclusion that the joke is not on Satan but on the Bible-believing Christian. Below is a point-by-point critique.
1. “Because of original sin, man will go to hell.” (Romans 3:23, Revelation 21:8)
ADJ cites two relevant verses, yet he doesn’t expound on their full implications. Both verses are clear that it is not merely for the state of original sin that man will be judged, but also for the sins that were actually committed. All “fall short of the glory of God” because “all have sinned.” The biblical idea of judgment is one that falls on both man’s actions and their hearts. God is most concerned about the heart. (This is a crucial point, which we’ll return to later.)
2. “However, God desires that all men be saved.” (2 Peter 3:9)
This is true, and not only in 2 Peter but also in 1 Timothy 2:4 - God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Yet, what ADJ misunderstands is that God’s desire for all people to be saved is not the greatest of his desires, and therefore not part of his decretive plan (i.e. God’s infallible decree). As the ESV Study Bible explains, there are at least two possibly greater desires God carries: Arminians hold that God’s greater desire is to preserve genuine human freedom (which is necessary for genuine love) and therefore he must allow that some may choose to reject his offer of salvation; Calvinists hold that God’s greater desire is to display the full range of his glory (Rom. 9:22–23), which results in election depending upon the freedom of his mercy and not upon human choice (Rom. 9:15–18). God’s desire for all people to be saved is thereby governed by his greater desires for a greater demonstration of his goodness. The biblical narrative is not as centered on mankind as ADJ assumes, but this is where the unbeliever’s heart is revealed. The natural heart hates being dethroned from the center to the peripheral.
3. “In effort to save man from death and hell, God spent several thousand years developing a plan.”
The language here isn’t very clear, but I can presume ADJ to be saying something to the extent that God is unfolding his redemptive-historical narrative over thousands of years. If this is the case I have no qualms with it (though I’m curious why the wikipedia reference was used rather than a biblical reference). It’s worth noting once again that a man-centered hermeneutics is guiding ADJ’s reading of Scripture.
4. “This plan required a miraculous birth, 33-year life, and horrific death of his only Son.” (John 3:16)
The redemptive-historical narrative is certainly consummated in the life, death, and resurrection of the Son, Jesus Christ; but it’s also important to note how this narrative is really told not only in the four Gospels, but also in every page from Genesis to Revelations. But ADJ doesn’t seem to be challenging this particular point so I’ll leave this point at that.
5. “But this plan only provides salvation for a lucky fraction of all mankind who hear and believe.” (Luke 13:23-28)
By “a lucky fraction” I presume ADJ is referring to the elect, which ADJ correctly describes as those who hear the Gospel and come to saving faith. But it would be wrong for him to imply from the doctrine of election that the unbelievers today are therefore non-elect, because God is the only one who knows whether someone is elect or not (ADJ cannot logically claim that he himself is a non-elect). The fact is the door of salvation is still open to all by the grace of God (it is in this sense that God wants “all people to be saved”), and this was the main point of the passage in Luke. The command is to “enter.” ADJ need only read a verse or two further to realize this invitation is open to him as well - “And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:29-30) The very fact that this door is open to “all,” is a sure sign that Satan has not been victorious in bringing mankind to inevitable doom with himself.
6. “All of this is an attempt to undo what Satan accomplished with a single conversation… and it isn’t working.” (Genesis 3:1-4)
There’re quite a few misunderstandings here. For one, the only thing Satan accomplished in the Garden was setting an exact date for his eventual doom - when the Messiah comes from the seed of Adam. Everything that unfolded in Genesis and thereafter were part of God’s plan, which ADJ invoked in his third point, and it wasn’t so much of God’s undoing as it was about God’s continual outworking of his plan. Secondly, it’s worth pointing out once again that what’s supposed to be “working” is not the conversion of all mankind; as I argued above, universal election never was a part of God’s eternal decree. What was supposed to ‘work’ and has ‘worked’ is the salvation plan accomplished by the Messiah, as prophesied in Genesis, to the glory of God (not man). Thus, it was “necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory.” (Luke 24:26)
7. “Christians actually believe this.”
“This” simply is not what the Bible teaches, and Christians certainly will not believe it to be true.
8. “They believe that Satan is either much more powerful or much more intelligent than God.”
The attempt to reveal an inconsistency in the biblical worldview requires a proper understanding of the Bible in the first place. ADJ’s conclusion is not only illogical, it’s clearly unbiblical. But the real problem here, however, is that the unbelieving heart is by nature irrational and cannot come to a true understanding of God (much less his Word). Satan’s power and intelligence (though limited and irrational in their own right), are thus exerted most violently on the unbelieving heart. In other words, Satan’s power and intelligence is not greater than God’s, but they may be greater than ADJ’s.
The joke is still on Satan, but it can also be on those who fall under his puny authority.
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
Teehee. Get owned.