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New Horizons

December, 2009: Looking at Christ's Coming

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Contents

Christ's Coming

Surely you are familiar with Charles Dickens's beloved story, A Christmas Carol. It is the story of a stingy miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who is transformed by his encounter with three Christmas spirits—the spirit of Christmas past, the spirit of Christmas present, and the spirit of Christmas future

Titus 2:11–14 is breathed out by a different Spirit, but it likewise points to the past, present, and future in relation to the coming of Christ. It is Christ who transforms—who transforms by his coming in the past, by his coming in the future, and by his ongoing interim coming through his Word and Spirit.

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The Repentance of God (Ex. 32:14)

One great Reformation truth is that Scripture is perspicuous (clear) in matters of faith and life. Yet this does not mean that it is equally clear everywhere. Some less clear passages speak of God repenting or relenting, such as Genesis 6:6, Exodus 32:14, and 2 Samuel 24:16. How can God change? In these passages, it seems that God was going to do one thing, but then changed his mind and did something else.

There is a religious movement today called Open Theism. According to Open Theists, God is open to change, learning as he goes along. In the words of Terrence Fretheim, "God adjusts to new developments.... The future is thus not locked in by a word that God speaks" (Exodus, p. 66). Interestingly, Mormons teach a similar doctrine, that God always progresses. This essay is a Reformation answer to that heresy. The historic teaching of the church is that God is immutable (unchangeable); this is also a confessional truth of the Reformation (as stated, for example, in the Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. 7). Read more

Spiritual Improv

Dear James,

I am late in welcoming you home for the holidays. Before I could see you, your parents whisked you away for a skiing vacation. Perhaps we can catch up in person before you begin your final semester. Read more

 
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