Determined to Believe: Chapter 20 - In Christ Alone (Final Post)

This is a book study on John Lennox’s book ‘Determined to Believe: The Sovereignty of God, Freedom, Faith, and Human Responsibility’. Lennox openly acknowledges that he has not provided definite solutions to these deep questions of the faith and that there is mystery involved. He clearly acknowledges that God is sovereign, but that we need to think carefully about what the word ‘sovereign’ means Biblically. This book, per my understanding, is an invitation for Christians to spend time thinking deeply about what the Bible means when it describes God as sovereign.

Greetings fellow bookies (@Interested_in_book_studies) - we are now on our final Chapter! I look forward to hearing your favorite quotes and your reflections on the book as a whole. This will be the last post in this series.

My main takeaways were:

  • The issue of divine determinism will be discussed until the Lord returns
  • Ultimately, as long as we find our hope and joy and peace in Christ alone, that is the main point

Questions for Discussion

  1. How does Christ + nothing = everything?
  2. How can theological controversies prevent us from trusting God and loving others the way that we should?
  3. What are your biggest takeaways from the book?

Quotes

The key point is that this was no covenant between two parties in the usual sense. It was a commitment and a promise of one party to another.

It is also sometimes said that we are justified by faith towards God and we are justified by works towards our fellow men and women.

However, that is not the issue at stake, either in Hebrews 6 or in Genesis 22. The Hebrews passage says that God is not so unjust as to overlook your work (6:10 ESV). It is God here who is interested in seeing the evidence of genuineness in the lives of believers.

Trusting God plus anything else is dangerous, especially if security is the issue. Abraham needed to learn, as we who trust in God through Christ need to learn, that there is no real security to be had unless our trust is “in Christ alone”, as the beautiful hymn of that name says.

The use of the term impossible reminds us of when, towards the beginning of Hebrews 6, the writer spoke of it being impossible to get certain people to repent. They turned out not to be true believers. But now the writer is speaking of true believers whose security is guaranteed by another impossibility – that of God to lie.

They will be discussed until the Lord comes and tells us what we should really have thought.

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whew, we made it to the end. thanks for leading the book study. :slight_smile:

I think theological controversies can prevent us from trusting God, because we can start to lose focus on Jesus. The Christian faith is about a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ, ‘who loved us and gave himself for us’, ‘while we were sinners he died for us’.

Sometimes it is hard, when we come across passages and verses that don’t make much sense, or especially when there are passages that seem to contradict each other, or especially ones that challenge what we’ve learnt so far from Christian leaders we admire so much. It’s hard to stay humble, keep our focus on Jesus, and think things through carefully, and above all go back to the Bible and read things through again. Just a few things from my perspective…

My favourite verses of assurance are covered in this last chapter ; especially the one about our sure hope as an anchor for the soul - we certainly need one in life when things change so much. God cannot lie, and he promised that all who place their faith in Jesus will be saved.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest for ever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Lennox, John C. Determined to Believe: The Sovereignty of God, Freedom, Faith and Human (p. 348). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.

> Christ + nothing = everything! :slight_smile:

thanks again for leading the study…:handshake:

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@matthew.western Agreed - it takes a lot of humility and discernment to be willing to reconsider long held notions and grace to treat others who disagree with the love of Christ.

Praise the Lord that He ever lives and intercedes for us!

Thanks for coming along for the journey :slight_smile:

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Thank you for you all that you do in prep and in moderating the book studies. I do enjoy them. I would also like to thank all the fellow participates who have contributed and made this a very enjoyable time.

A few things that stood out to me and some comments:

  1. I was unaware of the deeper thought that went into the positions of theistic determinism. I knew the verses that usually are quoted but not the thinking behind them. I plan to do a deeper dive if time permits.

  2. Before the study I was convinced that the controversy was a modern-day argument and I still maintain that position. I do find a parallel in the 1st century with the discussion around who was a “true” son of Abraham, who was in, who was out and how did you stay in that chosen group? Jesus dealt with it and Saul lived it. Paul’s issue as I see it was not who believed but what did the new believers feel was allowable to be practiced or observed from the old way of life and how much weight did it bring to bear on the efficacy of Christ. Christ + dietary law? Christ + holiday observance? Christ + temple (Jewish or Pagan)? I just don’t see any debate about which came first, faith or regeneration, granted there are plenty of verses that we reference today and maybe that’s part of the problem, we have a complete text. On Paul, I have not changed my mind his message was grace for all who would believe regardless of your past life, think Galatians 3:8. A grace that would be recognized by its expression of gratitude to the Giver and by their public acknowledgement of its worth and its availability to all who would receive, this new life in Christ.

  3. I have read John (Book of Believe) many times before but Lennox showed me a new way to look at John 7-10. I have always known that in Isaiah God says let us reason together but for some strange reason it never clicked in John. But here we have God in the flesh reasoning with his creation in a loving and inviting way, this is not to say that he is pulling any punches when the occasion demands, but he is meeting people at where they are in their life and their situation. This is a whoso ever will moment for them.

  4. I think that the subject of assurance is the real crux of the concern for all believers myself included. I was somewhat surprised to find that even the staunchest advocate for theistic determination had lingering doubts as I personally know some “chosen frozen folks” who know that they know, and I am happy for them. I have had a period in my own life where I was sure of my membership based on my profession of faith but I had a preacher that pointed out that we should not presume upon the Lord that to do so was not scriptural and it would better serve my walk to stay close to Jesus even thought we were in his hands and he was in God’s hands we still need to cling to him even though he gave us this “freedom”. The prodigal son also gave me pause as I always thought of myself as the prodigal but realized that I had turned into the older brother who was sure and proud of his station in life. Not a comforting thought.

Let me say again that this has been a great study and I hope that you fire up another one soon. And last I want to again thank all the contributors who have taught me so much.

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@Jimmy_Sellers Thanks for all of your insights and your good humor brother :slight_smile: It’s been fun to wrestle with the issue of divine determinism and certainly hope to dive into some more good studies.

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Sorry for not sticking it out until the end. I’ll be going to university to study English Literature this fall, so I decided to take time in the summer to read the books I’ll have to study in my first year. I finished John Lennox’s book about a month or so ago, so I don’t remember enough to contribute here. Thanks for this book study, it was fun while it lasted!

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@O_wretched_man Enjoy english lit! Lots of great authors to dig into… Glad you joined along while you were able :slight_smile:

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@SeanO

Just curious. Are there book reviews on books written by atheists or non-believers? Would love to read through a Dawkins, Harris, etc book and discuss the flaws and shortcomings in those books. Would love the support of Christian community to discuss while reading through one of these books.

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@kelelek I expect there are, but I am not aware of any that I would be able to recommend. I expect you’ll get the best results if you search for the best review you can find for each book individually. Different people have different areas of expertise.

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Not sure if you have read them, but some of Lennox’s earlier books are written in direct response to Dawkins and the new Atheists, in particular ‘Gunning for God’ and ‘God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?’, and also ‘God and Stephen Hawking: Who’s design is it anyway?’. His recent one ‘Can science explain everything?’ is an introductory level one which covers the same issues and refers the reader to his earlier more in depth books. thought it might be worth a mention. :slight_smile:

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Matthew, I have not read them, so appreciate the info and will be looking to pick up these books!

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no problem; also the debates during that time used to be only available for purchase, but now have been published in full for free. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zF5bPI92-5o&list=PLwf5gb75VtnKtr4HYsfFbOfiLYTYsb-2h The Lennox vs Dawkins ‘The God Delusion’ was one of the first ones I watched .

Watching the Lennox debates and reading his books led me to RZIM (and RZIM.Connect) where I discovered Ravi as well, and completed the core module (the love of Christ was clearly evident to me in both men)… Great stuff. :slight_smile:

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Ok, these are going to be great! Thanks for sharing. Road time listening. :slight_smile: :purple_heart:

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