Archives for January 2014

Satan or not?

So today I read an article about how the Church of England will no longer be asking parents to repent of sin and reject the devil.  Also today I read an article about how a satanic group are working to put a 7 foot monument to Satan in the Oklahoma capital.  Talk about getting some things messed up.

Peter wrote to the Church to remind us that we are to, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 ESV)

I have often found that some of the greatest lines are found in fiction.  So to fiction I go:  “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” -Keyser Soze.

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
– Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:20


God calls us to a Selfless life

Less than six hours after giving an emphatic plea to the church, that part of the very definition of being a follower of Christ is to be selfless, I found myself hearing what I thought were very selfish words I almost did not believe.   Actually I did not believe them.  I convinced myself that I had misunderstood the words that were spoken and that I should be silent so as not to create a problem where none existed.

I had spoken just that morning on the cost of discipleship.  I had included Matthew 4:17-22, where Peter, Andrew, James and John all leave their jobs, their lives behind them to follow Jesus.  James and John even had to leave their own Dad.  In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 we saw, “… you are not your own, You were bought with a price, therefore honor God with your bodies.”  And then also Luke 14:33.

Those statements are pretty clear.  If you give your life to Jesus, then you have given your LIFE to Him.  All you have and are now belong to Him.  At least it seams clear to me.

Is it clear?  Does Jesus have supreme authority over all you and I have?  If so, why would we deny it being used by the church?  Do you have family?  Have they been taught to surrender all they have to Christ?  Do you have land?  What if the church needed even a very small section?  Could they use it?  Do you have a vehicle?  Do you have a heater?  Do you have clothes?  Do you have money?  What do you have that you have not received? (1 Corinthians 4:7)

This is hard even for me.  But I believe this is the call of Christ.  Nothing we have is our own.  It all belongs to Christ.  We were bought and paid for with the blood of Christ.  He gives us life.  Nothing we have is worth telling Him no.

“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
– Luke 14:33

God is Just

Many times people question is God a moral monster for his judgments on humanity. A good example here is how God dealt with the Jews in the book of Jeremiah. They were entering into judgment and most bible students could tell you that is because they entered into idolatry. Now you and I suffer from this world where betrayal is an almost everyday event in some way. So we need to consider how idolatry looks from this side of the super natural.

“For the sons of Judah have done evil in my sight, declares the Lord. They have set their detestable things in the house that is called by my name, to defile it.  And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire,which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind.”

– Jeremiah 7:30-31 (ESV)

Now simple minded thinkers might say, see religion is bad. And then conclude that any form of worship is bad. But what they are missing here is that it was humanity who had fallen into a devious practice of false worship of a false god.  It was God who intervened and stopped the slaughter of the innocents.  It is God who did the right thing.  His judgment is just here as it is every time.

The people involved in this practice didn’t know God was right before He stepped in. His actions revealed the truth to the people and hence he was not only just but also merciful.  Our judgments of God are so wrong.  We even confuse His judgment to be like our own.  It is not.  With absolute knowledge, goodness and power He has the ability to see what is really just and really merciful.  Not just one side of an argument (your side) but He sees the whole truth.  He sees the greed and malice of all sides of an issue.  He knows the flaws in my heart and desires as well as what is in the next person.  But he loves me anyway.  The Bible says it this way, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16, ESV) God is the one who loves.  He is the one who really loves humanity.

That love is shown on the cross.  God is just, and any complaining of ‘that’s not fair’ needs to be met with a quick understanding that fair means we all deserve His judgment, because we have all sinned (we have all acted selfishly at one point or another) we deserve death as a judgment the Bible says.  But God, in his mercy sent His own Son to take your place and mine under judgment.  That was what happened at the cross.  People may ask, why did God kill his own Son?  But the real question is why have I been so self centered that the Son of God had to pay my penalty so I could live?  I am not deserving of this gift that Jesus stepped in to pay.  But I am thankful for it.  And so I praise Him, I give Him my faith and my trust.  Knowing that where as He is just… He is also merciful.

God is Personal

Most of the people I know who have wanted to argue against the existence of God (or against His goodness) have wanted to make the argument external, non-personal.  But God is personal and our need for Him is personal, our sin is personal.  So when we talk of God and the conversation is not about why we would personally need God, we overlook the nature of the relationship and knowledge of God that was intended in the first place.

So my conclusion is that any real conversation about God needs to be about why you or I need God personally.  Conversations about whether God is good or does God exist in general, where as the question my be legitimate in the mind of the questioner, it is misleading.  The question needs to be ‘can I know that God exists?’ or ‘Can I know that God is good?’  When we consider a possible relationship with Him we need to ask ‘how can I have a relationship with God and is that reasonable?’

What this does is eliminate the hypothetical bologna that gets in the way of honest questions.  Instead of allowing my mind to question how God can judge something I don’t see as a problem in another person, I then have to ask how God could make peace with me.  And even if I don’t understand the law of God, each of us are aware that we have done things that are wrong.  When we face those parts of our life that we know we have done wrong, then we free to consider if God is real and how He will accept us.  That will reveal our need for a Savior, and that leads only to Christ.

If we fail to make this personal than we become guilty of the greatest form of sin and arrogance.  When we start evaluating God in a hypothetical, non-personal way, we wind up judging God based on our presumptions concerning His actions in situations that we do not fully understand.

Verses to consider:

  • 1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  (ESV)
  • Romans 3:21-26 – But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—  the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.  (ESV)