Image

Archive for God

The Way of the Lord

No one is comfortable with the thought of being born into slavery through no fault or choice of their own or being dead in sin through being connected to someone and something that happened thousands of years ago. There is little doubt that slaves will look for answers to get around being incarcerated, forever lost in slavery, dead in sin, and totally blind to that fact. 

 

It is far easier to believe and teach the songwriter’s words “Calvary covers it all” or “God’s love reaches to the highest mountain and it reaches to the lowest hell.” It is far easier to teach and believe that any slave to sin can at any time freely(catch that word) hear the gospel, freely believe the gospel, and freely trust in Christ, anywhere and anytime. If this is true, then our slavery is not a big deal at all; we are not blind at all; and we are not spiritually dead at all!

 

The truth of salvation is that God must make the first move, making the gospel known and removing the blindness, and making those who are born unwilling, willing to be saved. If God does not act, no one will be released from slavery – no one.

 

Many people believe that we are all locked in a slave market of sin, but not locked so tight that we cannot hear and believe the gospel. They believe that Satan is, in fact, blinding everyone’s mind to sin and death but that none are so blind that they cannot at least catch a glimpse of the gospel and be saved. Their thinking is that we are all born dead in sin, but not so dead that we cannot hear and believe. It is as though the Bible’s warning that Satan is sadistically blinding the entire world to the gospel is just not taken seriously. This is plainly stated in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, but many just do not really believe it.

 

Said a different way, the comfort zone of eternal salvation comes to many through a belief system that is overwhelmed with the truth that “God so loved the world that He gave” (John 3:15-16). And I get this! God is certainly said to love the world. In fact, God is said to actually be love (1 Jn. 4:8). God’s love is His strong motive for our salvation. “Herein is love, not that we loved God but that He love us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sin” (1 Jn. 4:10).

 

But for God’s love to trump all of His other attributes (Bible characteristics that make Him God), is just not true to the word of God. The entire fallen human race seems to require that God’s love stand as the pinnacle of truth that governs all His other traits. I personally admit that just the thought of this age-old passage of John 3:16 does wonders for me, and because of my personal feelings about myself, my wife, my children, my grandchildren, and their children; and all of my family members who have gone before, my neighbors and many personal friends whom I love who have left this world –this passage gives me a solid rock steadfast hope. And I use it most every time I present the precious benefits of the cross work of the Lord Jesus Christ and it (along with Ephesians 2:8-10 and 1 Jn. 5:13) are among the first passages that my grandchildren are encouraged to memorize.

 

Let’s just cut to the chase. God’s steadfast plumbline made up of His righteousness and justice should stand firm in every believer’s thinking.  God must remain faithful and true to this truth (Isa. 28:17).  He must be completely fair in His dealings with every member of the human race according to His divine standard of fairness, not fallen man’s sense of fairness. And God cannot overwhelmingly love at the expense of diminishing the value of any of His other attributes.

 

Not to belabor the point, but to make it crystal clear, let us revisit in a slightly different way God’s characteristics of righteousness (His rightness) and justice (His fairness).  God’s righteousness is mentioned in the Bible well over 200 times, and always within close proximity to His justice.

 

God’s righteousness and justice are cited together so often that they are called, “the way of the Lord” (Gen. 18:19). God’s love is never said to be the way of the Lord. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice (Prov. 21:3). The Bible never says that to do love is more acceptable to God than sacrifice. The Bible says that God loves righteousness and justice (Psa. 33:5). The Bible does not say that God loves His love!  

 

King David says twice that righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; Mercy and truth go before His face” (Psa. 89:14). “Clouds and darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne” (Psa. 97:2).

 

The foundation of God’s righteousness and justice upon which His throne rests must bear the weight of all of God’s other characteristics and this is only foundation for these characteristics to rest upon. The Bible never credits God’s love as the foundation for His throne. The Bible does not say that God’s holiness – and God is holy, holy, holy (Isa. 6: 1-3) – is the foundation of His throne, nor for that matter is His sovereignty, His eternal life, the fact that He is all powerful, and all knowing, and everywhere present. God’s righteousness and His justice stand alone as the foundation for His Godness. 

 

God’s love for this world, along with all that God is, is built on the foundation of His righteousness and His justice. God cannot exercise any of His attributes (including love) at the expense of any of His other attributes. This would not be right nor fair. It would not be righteous, and it would not be just.  And built upon that foundation of righteousness and justice – is God’s love. Nowhere does God limit the value of His love. It was God’s love that motivated Him to provide the God-Man as the eternal satisfactory sacrifice for our sin (1 Jn. 4:10).  Blessings!

God’s Plumbline

This question is now hanging in the air: Do we really believe that God is absolutely righteous and just in everything – everything that He has done and everything that He is determined to do? Do we really believe that His righteousness and justice are the very foundation upon which His deity rests?

Like Christ’s disciples learned so long ago, it does not take long as we navigate God’s Word for us to run into some savage, stormy headwind swells of what is often called by sailors “big water,” and sizable speed bumps that severely shake our faith. These are swells of strange Bible truths that will challenge what we truly believe about God’s goodness and fairness. And really what we truly believe about God. It is truth that may weed out those who are not really “in.” It is these truths that become the motivation for much of the world’s hatred of Christians.

New believers soon come to realize that God did not choose to eradicate our sin natures the moment we were saved. Though we become a new creation and are given God the Holy Spirit to teach us and to become our spiritual GPS, we are still sinners and we live shoulder to shoulder with millions of other sinner/slaves – all trapped in a slave market.  Our sin nature is so powerful that it touches and affects every thought that we think, every word that we say, every choice that we make, and everything that we do. One of my mentors said that evil touches even the good that we do. God’s Word wielded by His Spirit is the only real, unchangeable truth that we possess.

Not one of us is in the position to judge God’s righteousness and justice on the basis of what we may think is just and fair. For example, we must never think that an action of God is good, fair, and just according to our fallen standards of fairness, and that is why God wills it. Or said another way, we should never think that God wills it because we think it is right.  We must bow to the fact that it is just, good, and fair because God wills it. Why? Remember, He is the God who gave us goodness, righteousness, justice, and truth! God’s character rests on it! It is truth because He says it! It is right because He does it! It is just because He says it is! He is the Rock! All His ways are just no matter how they appear to our sin-fogged minds (Deuteronomy 32:4).

God’s righteousness is the plumbline for all righteousness. God’s justice is the plumbline for all that is just. If we are seeking true “right,” we must learn what is right from God’s Word. If we are seeking true justice, we must go to God’s Word. God’s Word is the unchangeable Rock of our salvation (2 Samuel 22:47). Blessed be our Rock! Let God be true and exalted and every man a liar.   

We must all give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His mercy endures forever (1 Chronicles 16:34). He is light and in Him dwells no darkness at all (1 Jn. 1:5). Jesus said that He had come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Him should not abide in darkness (John 12:46). John wrote, “In Him is life, and the life was the light of men (1 Jn. 1:4).

God created us to believe He exists and that He is the God that we are to worship! He created us with an eternal nature like His (Eccl. 3:11). God also stamped within every heart a belief that there exists an eternal right and wrong, and that all will be judged against this eternal standard (Rom. 2:14-15). God demands from us worship and praise (Psa. 33:8; 96:9). 

God says of Himself that He is always just and always fair. And here is the big idea, no matter how any of His truth may appear to us: If all the above is true, all should gladly worship and honor Him. He is truly a God worthy of our love and our worship. “Let everything that has breath praise this Lord. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6)!

But even with His eternal nature (His holiness) in mind, many do not choose to worship Him. The reason is clear. They apply their own human standards to Him. They desire to worship a God who would never choose to do anything that they themselves would not choose to do.

Jesus’ disciples recognized that no one had ever taught things like Jesus Christ. Following His miraculous feeding of the thousands with just the use of a small boy’s lunch of fish and bread, the people – His disciples included – were absolutely amazed. The disciples who had just been standing around suddenly became waiters, running back and forth feeding the people and returning to refill their baskets with a delicious fish and bread. The food just kept on coming. Wow! Some probably ate all they wanted for the first time in their lives. They loved that satisfied feeling. Their hunger was gone. Others saw the gravity of the miracle and said, “Surely this is the Prophet that God promised us.” Jesus reminded them of the miracle of the manna in wilderness that God the Father had given to them that they would not die. I get that! Then He told them that that the manna was speaking of Him. Speaking of Him?

This was a spiritual truth that had to be seen with spiritual eyes and heard with spiritual ears. This truth had never entered the minds of men before (1 Cor. 2:9).  Jesus told the crowd that He was the very bread of life, and if they would just come to Him by faith they would hunger and thirst no more (John 6:1-35). 

 

God is Righteous and Just

This tiny earth is filled with that which sheds light upon the glory of God. “Glory,” the Greek word doxa, is all that sheds light upon God. I have illustrated this by using a small flashlight shining it upon an object in the room. The light glorifies the object. So, God’s glory is all that sheds light upon Him. Everything we see with our eyes in this entire universe sheds light upon the creative genius of God – but most do not see it this way. To them it is the creative beauty of “mother nature.”

 

There are many Biblical characteristics that shed light upon God: His sovereignty (Dan. 4:34-35), His eternal life (Psa. 90: 2), His love, (1 Jn. 4:8), His righteousness and justice (Psa. 89:14), and the fact that He is all-powerful (Gen. 18:14), all-knowing (Isa. 40:28), and everywhere present (Psa. 139:7-17), and He never changes (Mal. 3:6).  I have memorized these passages and pondered their meaning for many years. These are some of the characteristics that make up God’s holiness, His “set apartness.”

 

Just to say that God is righteous does not mean that God is really good, or even really, really good. It does not mean that God is by far better than any other being. The God of the Bible is the very essence of perfection. He is perfectly perfect.He is righteously right. He is right in every decision that He has ever made or will ever make. He is the God of absolute integrity. The apostle John said that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). He is light that contains not one tiny speck of darkness. Not one! The psalmist tells us that God’s work is honorable and glorious, and His righteousness endures forever (Psalm 111:3).

 

Two tandem characteristics of God are the scales, the plumbline, the measuring sticks up against which all of His characteristics must be measured. This plumbline is His righteousness and His justice (Isa. 28:17). They always appear together and must always remain in perfect balance.

 

Have you ever pondered where the concept for right and wrong came from? We inherently know it is wrong to murder, to steal, to lie, and to cheat. I remember as a ten-year-old attempting to steal a candy bar from our local grocery store. Did life from some faraway island, or Mr. Socrates, or green slime from the Nile River basin throw my young mind into an overwhelming sense of guilt? Did my knowledge of them raise my small heart rate or cause my palms to sweat? I think not!

 

Those of us who believe the Bible become aware that there is an ultimate right, a decisive right, up against which all standards of right and wrong must ultimately be held. This knowledge is in us because we are made in the image of our Creator (Genesis 1:27). His law is stamped indelibly upon every human heart (Romans 2:13-16). God’s righteousness and justice are in truth said to be His plumbline. It must remain standfast. God must always be true to His plumbline (Isa. 28:17).  He is completely fair in His dealings with every member of the human race according to His divine standard of fairness – His “fairness” – not fallen man’s sense of fairness.

 

God’s righteousness is mentioned in the Bible well over two hundred times, and always within close proximity to His justice. God’s righteousness and justice are mentioned together so often that they are called, “the way of the Lord”(Genesis 18:19). In fact, to do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice (Proverbs 21:3). God is said not only to be absolutely righteous and just, but He is said to love righteousness and justice (Psalm 33:5). Repeat! GOD LOVES RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUSTICE.

 

King David said twice that righteousness and justice form the very foundation of God’s throne (Psa. 89:14, 97:2).  The foundation is the part of the building that holds the structure’s entire weight. As long as the building stands, the foundation must hold. It is the Hebrew word macon. It means a fixed or an established place. The foundation of righteousness (being absolutely right) and justice (being absolutely fair and just) is the firmly fixed place upon which God’s God-ness rests.

 

God’s righteousness and justice must hold all of the weight of His other characteristics. He must always do right! He must always be right! He must always be just or fair. And He must always keep these two characteristics in perfect balance. He must always align Himself with His plumbline. He cannot change (Mal. 3:6). He must not change! He will not change! He is the Rock! The Rock that never moves. This means that His holy nature never wavers in the slightest degree.  It remains the same throughout all the ages. His work is always perfect (Deut. 32:4).  He never makes missteps or mistakes. There is never a flaw, not one. There is never an “uh oh” with Him.

 

All of these truths magnificently glorify the work of the cross. God made Him (the Lord Jesus) who knew no sin (His sinless Son) to become sin for us! God forever balanced His scales of righteousness and justice. He forever established in perfect place His plumbline of righteousness and justice – in Christ. How can we even begin to understand this? The question of the hour is do we really believe this? Blessings!

 

 

 

 

God is Not Like Us

Consider Solomon’s familiar words found in Ecclesiastes 3:  “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace” (v. 1-8). I want to hum, “turn, turn, turn.” Old fashioned, I am! I am impressed by the way Solomon finishes his point.  

What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?” (v. 9). A professor of mine often said that many spend their entire lives climbing the ladder of success only to discover at the end that their ladders have been propped against the wrong wall. To quote my grandson, “What a bummer!”

Solomon continued, “I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (v. 10-11).

Solomon was saying that no one can climb high enough, even to the farthest expanse of the universe, and discover what God is really doing from beginning to end. But King Nebuchadnezzar discovered that God does according to His will – His choosing, and He does it in the invisible realm of innumerable angels and in the historic generations of human beings. And no one can stop Him from doing His will or even begin figure Him out (Daniel 4: 34-35).   

It is because God is not like us. Repeat! The Source of all things is NOT LIKE US! God said, “You thought that I was altogether like you, but I will rebuke you” (Psalm 50:21).  We would be wrong to even think like this. Very wrong!  God does not think like us nor does He act like us (Isaiah 55:8). This is why the pagans, earth lovers and worshippers, do what they do.  They fashion gods of their own liking. They worship earthly things. They fall deeply and passionately in love with the things of this world.

We would never consider the seemingly innocent things in which we are passionately involved as being “idols,” would we? God does! Anything and everything that robs God of His time with us and our worship of Him is idolatry – anything.Life is all about His glory, not ours. The apostle John says simply, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:15). Ouch! That is very clear, very broad, and exceedingly understandable.

Isaiah pondered the question, “Who would form a god or mold an image that profits him nothing?”  Yet the blacksmith fashions a god with the strength of his arms, but he goes hungry and thirsty from lack of food and water. The craftsman fashions an idol of wood. He plants and nourishes the tree, then cuts it down and makes a fire to warm himself and bake bread. With the rest, he makes a god to worship and falls down before it. God has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand.

This is absurd, yes! It does no good to mention a laundry list of all the ways that we today worship stuff or activities rather than God. The voice of the Holy Spirit is sufficient and shouts!

Isaiah concluded, “And no one considers in his heart, nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire. Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat and eaten it; and shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside; and he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Isaiah 44:6-20).

The idols have mouths, but they cannot speak. They have eyes, but they cannot see! They have ears, but they cannot hear (Psalm 115:5). The human race is like these idols. It is spiritually blind, living in darkness. But the living God both sees and hears to an infinite degree. God does not think like us. His thoughts are not like our thoughts, and His ways are not like ours. How far are His thoughts and actions from ours? They are as far as the heavens are above the earth (Isaiah 55: 9). That is an immense distance which is boundless and unfathomable. A distance that totally separates us from God – separates us that is, unless He deems otherwise. Blessings!

 

 

 

Pondering God’s Eternal Nature

 

Stitching the Lord Jesus’ one-thousand-year earthly kingdom reign together with His eternal new heaven and new earth has been no easy task for this writer. One has to climb to the top of the highest mountain if they are to experience the ultimate view. Most of the time the trails up to this view are steep and sometimes treacherous.

But the view from the top is often found to be well worth the risks. This writer believes that if one can catch a small glimpse of the end purpose of God, all the pieces of the process of achieving that end will more easily fall into place.

Every study of God’s Word should begin with more knowledge of God. The more that we know about this absolutely amazing, invisible Being revealed from His Word, through His Son, and from His creation, the more we grow first to admire Him, then to stand in awe of Him, and finally and hopefully to deeply love Him.

A good place to start is with God’s eternal nature. Said simply, God has always been. He did not have a starting place, and He will have no end. God could not have created Himself because there never was a time when He was not. He is said to be “from everlasting to everlasting (Psa. 90:10). From everlasting goes back throughout all eternity. God had no “starting place.” If we believe this, then all that is had to come from Him. He had to become the source of everything – everything.  

If this is truly the nature of God, then everything that exists, exists because God willed it to exist. Everything that is in time and space – including time and space itself – originated from Him. “For you create all things and by your will they exist” (Rev. 4:11). To everlasting means that everything that is to come must come from God. The future of this small planet, the coming kingdom reign of Jesus Christ, and the new heaven and earth must come from Him (Rev. 20-22).

Narrowing the character of God down, the seraphim’s words to the prophet Isaiah come to mind. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3)! The Hebrew word “holy” is kadosh meaning “set apart.” Simply put, God is not like us, nor is He like anything that He has created. He is the “Totally Other.”

He stands outside of all that He has made – every visible and invisible thing. He created it all and He sees it all in one glimpse: our small sun, moon, and the innumerable stars along with this comparatively tiny earth with all its inhabitants and all the countless heavenly beings. God is far bigger than anything that our puny human minds could ever imagine.

God must chuckle within Himself as He observes us attempting to box Him in and make Him like us. From just a casual understanding of what we know about God, it seems futile to even try. The shepherd boy says it, “Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him” (Psalm 2).

Thus all we can do is, as the song writer puts it, just stand amazed in His presence. Blessings!