#STRask: April 3, 2017

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Published on 04/03/2017

Brett’s on a timer and answers questions about God’s presence, polygamy in the OT, and total depravity.


  • What is the difference between the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit and God’s omnipresence?
  • Exodus 21:10 - I’m confused. Isn’t that polygamy? And if it is polygamy, why would the Mosaic Law demand something that’s unbiblical?
  • Since we were made in the image of God, why do some Christians think we are totally depraved? That we do not seek God?


Melinda: Hello there, folks. There’s that energetic music. It’s lively. It’s quick. It’s fast. It’s short. That means it’s the STRask podcast, because that’s the way we roll on this podcast.

I’m Melinda, the Enforcer, here at this time with Brett Kunkle, who won’t show us his haircut.

Brett Kunkle: Melinda, did you just say, “The way we roll?”

Melinda: Is that okay? Is there something wrong with that?

Brett Kunkle: No, that’s great. I just wanted to point out...

Melinda: I’m not that old!

Brett Kunkle: I just want to point out to the audience that Melinda is hip.

Melinda: Of course I am.

Brett Kunkle: And she’s up with the lingo.

Melinda: In my own square way. Oh yeah. That phrase is pretty old, though.

Brett Kunkle: Yeah. Well it came back in, and, yeah, I think it’s probably on its way back out, but you know...

Melinda: Well it was probably in when I was younger, out, you know, whatever. But you nicely sidestepped the topic of your haircut.

Brett Kunkle: I did get a haircut.

Melinda: He just has a hat on. Won’t show us. So, send us your questions on Twitter, using #STRask, the name of the podcast, and then usually Greg - this time it’s Brett - they’ve got four minutes or less to answer, and give not only an accurate, but a pretty substantive answer.

Brett Kunkle: We’ll see about that, but...

Melinda: To the extent you can in four minutes.

Brett Kunkle: And Melinda has you on timer. So we’re being timed.

Melinda: Absolutely. They are timed. They’ll get dinged if they go over. So let’s get going. First question comes from Carlo3999. I don’t know if that’s three upside down sixes, or six and six, but anyways. Carlo3999. What is the difference between the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit and God’s omnipresence.

Brett Kunkle: Okay. Well God’s omnipresence refers to His presence that fills the universe, and so one passage of Scripture that I think about with this is Jeremiah 23:24, where God says, “Don’t I fill both the heavens and the Earth?” So this is God’s presence everywhere, whether it’s felt or experienced. This is just the reality that God is omnipresent, that his presence fills the universe.

I think when people talk about the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit, they’re referring to the Holy Spirit when He manifests Himself, when he kind of shows up, or when you experience Him in some very real kind of way.

So I think the distinction here is that you have a reality, that God is everywhere, that He’s omnipresent, but we don’t necessarily sense that presence all the time. So the difference is between the presence and maybe the awareness of the presence, but there are times when, for whatever reason, the Holy Spirit does manifest in a way that we experience Him, or we feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, or we sense the Holy Spirit with us, where His Spirit ministers to our spirit.

Or maybe it’s in the conviction of sin. I think there’s a lot of different ways that He manifests Himself. So I think a lot of people, when they talk about that manifest presence, they’re referring to kind of that direct experience that we can have with the Holy Spirit.

Now, I guess, one thought I had here is just that you...I also want to, I guess, broaden it a little bit and help people to realize that it’s not...Those aren’t the only times you experience the Holy Spirit though. Because I think sometimes, that seems to be the hunger that people have is, I want to feel the presence...

Melinda: Have an emotional experience.

Brett Kunkle: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly.

Melinda: And generally, a positive emotional experience.

Brett Kunkle: Right.

Melinda: Conviction isn’t always positive, but...

Brett Kunkle: Yeah. Conviction of sin isn’t. Yeah. I’ll leave that one aside, but I’ll take the good, warm, fuzzy feelings. And then I think what happens is, it kind of shortcuts, maybe, their view of the Holy Spirit, or, what’d I say? Shortcut? I meant short circuit. Short circuits, maybe, some of their relationship with Christ, or experiencing the Holy Spirit, because I think we experience the Holy Spirit through His Word, through the work that He does in our lives through His Word. We experience Him, I think, through others. I think we experience Him in the church, in the life of the church, in the community.

So, while I do think that the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit is real, and I have experienced that at times, we certainly don’t want to say, it’s kind of that or nothing. There are other ways in which we experience the Holy Spirit too.

Melinda: Yeah. I was just thinking about your last point there. In Greg’s Decision Making and the Will of God material, very often, one of the responses people have is, “Well, if God’s not talking to me, if the Holy Spirit’s not giving me direction about decisions I should make, then what does He do?” They have a very stunted idea, and then when Greg talks about the wisdom model, yeah, Greg, God, same thing...

Brett Kunkle: I’m moving away. I’m moving away right now.

Melinda: When Greg talks about the wisdom model, there’s lots of ways the Holy Spirit works, and I was just thinking about your last point. It’s very often not in emotional ways, but He leads us into understanding. He brings us good counselors. He gives us wisdom and insight as we read the Scriptures. Not just an emotional response to the Scripture, but actually insight into things, and so there’s...Sorry.

Brett Kunkle: Melinda did not silence her cell phone.

Melinda: No, I didn’t. I usually don’t. But, so, yeah, you’re right. That’s a really good point. There are a lot of ways the Holy Spirit works that really have nothing to do with emotions. It has to do with our mind. God is involved in our minds, too. Love God with our minds, heart, and souls.

Brett Kunkle: And I think from reading the book of Acts so much the experience of the Holy Spirit is in the context of biblical community and the church, and I think that is a vital part. So that’s why it’s so key, I think, to be plugged into the local church. That’s one of the central places you experience the work of the Holy Spirit, as other believers love on you, and you love on them, and you serve one another, and you forgive one another, and you have conflict, and you work through it, and in all that stuff, the Holy Spirit is present.

Melinda: Great, next question comes from...

Brett Kunkle: Was that under four minutes?

Melinda: Well sometimes, when we get into a discussion, we go extra time.

Brett Kunkle: All right.

Melinda: You’re limited to four minutes. I am not.

Brett Kunkle: Does Derek ding us, or do you ding me?

Melinda: Derek dings us.

Brett Kunkle: Oh. Okay.

Melinda: Next question comes from Barrios Kirsten. “Exodus 21:10. I’m confused. Isn’t that polygamy? And if it is polygamy, why would the Mosaic law demand something that’s un-biblical?” Well, of course, if the Mosaic law demanded it, it wouldn’t be un-biblical, but it seems unethical.

Brett Kunkle: Right. Right. Okay. So I think, kind of putting it, framing it in the larger context, God...That’s not the...I guess we don’t want to look at that passage as in isolation. Of course, we go back to the creation account. The creation account, I think, lays out for us from the get-go what God’s intent was. God’s intent was one man, one woman, male, female, for one life. That’s...

Melinda: There’s a blog post today that basically makes that point. Let’s go back to Genesis, and God’s original design. That alone, that Scripture alone, prevents same sex marriage.

Brett Kunkle: Yeah. And then, and Jesus...

Melinda: Or fornication, and all the other sexual sins.

Brett Kunkle: That’s right. That’s right, and Jesus affirms this in Matthew 19, right? So we have got intention in his desire, in his plan, clearly laid out. Now I think what you see in the Old Testament is, God also taking fallen man where he’s at, and dealing with that messiness. And that’s where I think sometimes, we want everything to just be clean cut and black and white. But there is this messiness of God taking the nation of Israel, in particular, where they’re at, and working with them to continue to bless all the nations of the world, and to be his light and his vehicle to reach everyone.

So His design is clearly stated, but then He’s got this context of working this messy, fallen, human people. So I don’t think what we have here is...

Melinda: Can you read the passage?

Brett Kunkle: Yeah. I’ll just read the passage. Exodus 21:10: “If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights.” There’s a context here of talking about buying the Hebrew slave. In verse 7, “If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she’s not to go free as the male slaves do. If she’s displeasing in the eyes of her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her. If he designates her for a son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters if he takes to him another woman.”

So even there, you see more things that you say, “Wait a second. What’s going on here?” But I think God is taking sinful, fallen human man, working with him where he’s at, and making progress, right? So is this God’s idea? Absolutely not. But he’s taking fallen man, and man’s desire to have multiple women, and then putting some boundaries around that. So it’s’s a reform. It’s still moral progress, and especially given the context of the ancient near east.

Melinda: And let’s, yeah, let’s remember, the purpose of the Mosaic covenant. It was for the nation of Israel. It was a civic law to make Israel different from all the other nations around them, not to just accept their practices as is.

Brett Kunkle: Right. Right. And so here’s actually, if you think about it, there’s protection here that’s being offered for women.

Melinda: Yeah.

Brett Kunkle: In this non-ideal situation, and a situation that isn’t God’s intention. But there’s still protection for this woman. He can’t reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. So there’s provision here, so there’s not this favoritism, or this treating of one lesser than the other, which is, of course, what is - when you see some modern day polygamy, you see that.

So, no, this is not a...

Melinda: Condoning.

Brett Kunkle: It’s not a condoning of it. I think it’s taking human beings where they’re at and making moral progress. And of course, again, context of Scripture is clear what is God’s intention, perfect intention.

Melinda: And to your point, I think Jesus makes that point when He’s talking, I think, to the Pharisees. The Pharisees, where He says, Moses basically gave you this command about adultery because of the hardness of your heart, because you were going to get divorced. Because you were going to get divorced anyways, so He’s at least trying to put some controls around it.

Brett Kunkle: Yeah.

Melinda: He wasn’t condoning divorce. It was saying, okay, you’re doing this anyways, so...

Brett Kunkle: Yeah. I think this says something more about us, and the hardness of the human heart, then it does about God.

Melinda: Yeah. That’s sad.

Brett Kunkle: Yeah.

Melinda: And it’s...

Brett Kunkle: But, and you see, over time, God continuing to work through humanity, and making more moral progress, so...

Melinda: That’s how He does with us as individuals, too.

Brett Kunkle: That’s right. So what’s revealed is His mercy and His gracious...

Melinda: Patience.

Brett Kunkle: Loving kindness and patience and all that good stuff.

Melinda: Thank goodness. Next question. Since we were made in the image of God, why do some Christians think that we are totally depraved, that we don’t seek God?

Brett Kunkle: Okay. So the image of God refers to something that’s essential about us. So we...If you are human, you are made in the image of God. You have these capacities that are similar to God. You have a rational mind. You have the ability to experience emotion. You have volition. These kind of things.

So that, to be human means you are made in God’s image. But human fallen-ness is distinct. It’s not an essential...Our sinfulness is not an essential property of human beings. Of course, you had Adam and Eve, who were sinless at one point. So that’s not something that’s essential to us. So I think there’s a distinction here between image of God and fallen-ness of man. Both are true about human beings, but one is essential. The other isn’t.

So why do we think we’re totally depraved? Because that’s what Scripture teaches. I mean, read Romans. “No one is righteous. No, not one.” And so we’re depraved, or we teach that we’re depraved, because that’s what Scripture affirms as well. So...“that we do not seek God?” Yeah, that’s what Scripture affirms.

So there’s no, I guess he’s...It sounds like maybe implicit in this question is that, well, there’s a...

Melinda: Contradiction?

Brett Kunkle: Contradiction between these two things, and there’s no contradiction between being made in the image of God and being fallen, sinful human beings. There’s no contradiction there. It actually, I think it actually gives us the best, most plausible account of human beings and human nature. There’s nothing like the image of God that makes sense of human dignity and worth, and of course it was so transformative in western civilization. That idea revolutionized western civilization, or played a formative role in western civilization.

But then, so this explains the incredible beauty, the incredible goodness that human beings can produce. But then, the fallen-ness explains so well the other side of it, where those same people who can create such beauty and make such wonderful things can also do such evil, such horrendous evil. I think I just linked on Twitter to this report about China...

Melinda: I saw that.

Brett Kunkle: And how many hundreds of millions of babies have been aborted, and you just think, the gravity of evil, and, well, here’s the most plausible account of fallen-ness, the depths of the fallen-ness of man, the depravity of man. So there’s no contradiction between those two things.

Melinda: And part of the reason God had to come Himself to save us is because we were never going to seek after Him. We were never going to find a way to Him.

Brett Kunkle: Yeah.

Melinda: He has to come to us.

Brett Kunkle: And maybe what’s had this part of, maybe what’s at the heart of this question is that, maybe value. We’re made in the image of God. That’s what grounds our value. It’s intrinsic. When we talk about being totally depraved, that doesn’t take away from our value.

Melinda: Yeah. That’s a good point.

Brett Kunkle: That has to do with our moral status before God, and so I think that’s an important distinction. When we say we’re made in the image of God, or when we say we’re totally depraved, that doesn’t mean we’re worthless, we’re not noble creatures, or anything like that. No, we have that intrinsic value because of the image of God.

Melinda: That’s a very good point. That’s why we have an obligation, even, to treat people who are still in rebellion against God as valuable image bearers, and even when people do do some of the very worst things, commit murder and all, they’re still image bearers. We’re not allowed to just do anything to them. We still have to treat them with justice.

Brett Kunkle: That’s right. I think every day, when I drive on southern California freeways, I put that, those theological truths to the test.

Melinda: That’s very true.

Brett Kunkle: Just, image bearer just cut me off. That looks like Derek.

Melinda: Okay. Good. Thanks a lot, Brett. Those are very insightful answers. Appreciate it. And so this is STRask. Send us your questions on Twitter, using #STRask. We post two new episodes every week. Short answers. Short episodes every Monday and Thursday. I’m Melinda the Enforcer, this time with Brett Kunkle, for Stand to Reason.