We’ve Moved!

Since WordPress insists on inserting video advertisements into my posts (their good right), I’ve decided to finally move on to my own domain and website.

This blog will not be updated any more.

Please visit us at http://www.omnipotentgrace.org

Advertisements

Why Is There Evil and Condemnation?

So often do we hear this…why is there evil in the world? Why does God condemn people if He is love? Why is there hate, and darkness, and  bad people and sin? we then see manipulations and mental gymnastics to try and explain things away. All too complicated, if you ask me.

The answer is right there, staring us in the face, right at the beginning of the Bible.

How do we know love, except in the context of love versus hate? Or salvation, except if it is contrasted with damnation? Or how about goodness, if not set against the bad? If the negative does not exist, we have no possible way of grasping the positive, and vice versa.

That is why we read:
Gen 2:9  The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The very object that describes life, the “tree of life” was there, right next to the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil“. The contrast is right there, from the beginning of creation, as a part of life. So when we become mortal, and exist in a state of sin in the fallen creation, this is as a result of: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Is there any possibility that Adam and Eve did not already know that God was good? Clearly they were in a state of moral innocence, since they did not know the difference between good and evil. If they did, then maybe they would have been able to resist the temptation. Instead, we read “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise…”, they went ahead and succumbed, because they desired to be wise, to know the contrasts inherent in creation and morality. And just as we inherited that original sin, we also inherited the ability to see both good and evil.

Did evil exist before then? Yes, it did, since the temptation came from a fallen angel that had already done the ultimate evil, namely rebel against God, which we are reminded later is the unforgivable sin. So this was not the start of evil, but the start of our ability to see the contrast between good and evil.

As we read on, we see “Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.“. Mankind could at that point see and understand the full counsel of God and His otherworldly creatures, and had no more excuse, and no more reason to not come into judgment, as Satan and the other fallen angels had. Since we understood now, and that understanding came from being disobedient, we entered into judgment.

To this day we retain the ability to distinguish between good and evil. But as we have seen, that wisdom came at a price, and not only that, good has no meaning if we don’t also recognize evil. As a result, God judges all of us because we understand good and evil, and we know not to do evil. God is just, but He is also loving. He knows that if all of us are adjudged guilty, we are all damned as fair punishment for knowing good from evil, and doing evil. By His grace and love  He then delivered His children by sending the second Adam to negate the punishment.

That sacrifice, that negation, is meaningless if not seen against the alternative, the judgment and deserved punishment.

2Th 1:8  in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
2Th 1:9  They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

That is also why we read God uses both good and evil to accomplish His purpose, for how are we to understand His mercy, grace, love and glory if not graphically contrasted against judgment, our fallen nature and sin, God’s anger and the humiliation of Christ on the cross? We would simply have no concept, and be like Adam and Eve, desiring to be wise but not have that wisdom. We simply would have no understanding of the magnitude of Gods love and power, we would remain ignorant of His greatest characteristics. God’s creation would not know God. God would not be glorified.

That is why God is glorified in all that happens, as it all points to God and His character. Therefore, don’t be confused or alarmed about what happens in this temporal state of existence regarding evil, it is all to God’s glory.

Thankful for the Gospel

Around this time of the year, there is a lot of talk about thankfulness. We hear how people are thankful for many things, like family, abundance, good friends, prosperity and many other blessings. We should rightfully live a life of thanks for our earthly blessings.

But the biggest thankfulness should be reserved for the Gospel. In the letter to the Colossians, we get both a succinct description of the Gospel, and the effect of the Gospel which results in thankfulness.

First, the apostle summarizes the gospel:

Col 2:13  And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
Col 2:14  by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Sinners, who are dead in their sins and unchanged in their hearts as a result of it, are changed by God. The debt owed to the righteousness of the just God is canceled. The trespasses we knowingly and unknowingly commit before God, which create a debt that can only be negated by judgment and punishment is forgiven, written off and set aside. Those debts, all of them, past, present and future, were nailed to the cross with the atonement and sacrifice of Christ, so that we may stand before God, innocent upon the appeal to the cross.

The negation of our pervasive sin is not through anything we did or ever can do, but through the work on the cross. “…God made alive…” is such a great short description of the gospel. God did it. All of it. There is nothing about our faith, merit or any other attributes. There is nothing about some obscure theology or forced interpretation, something that needed to added on to this short line. God did it, gave it to us as a gift, and that is the end of it.

Later on in the letter, we read more about the effects of the gospel, and what God did. These are the fruits we expect from being made alive by God, and the Spirit to which we submit. It tells us to be thankful for these things. Thankfulness is the natural response to a gift. The extent of the gift of eternal spiritual life and blessings is unmeasurable, and require a thankfulness that transcends a single holiday. Our thankfulness for that should be a life of thanks.

This passage describes in more detail what a life thankful to God for the gift looks like. Can we live this type of life without having been made alive with Christ, by God?

Col 3:12  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
Col 3:13  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Col 3:14  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Col 3:15  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Col 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Col 3:17  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

As the ones chosen to receive the gift from God, we show the world the fruits of that transformation of having gone from death to life. We change from being worldly, impatient, arrogant and self-centered to being focused on emulating the character of Jesus. Since we have been forgiven, we should forgive others. Since God shown us His love, we show the fruits of love, being kind, compassionate and holy.

Knowing our future, knowing that our sins will not be held against us, as a result of the gospel, we are thankful. Knowing that we have been changed forever, freed from the scourges of unchanged flesh, united in the body of believers in Christ, we give thanks to God. It brings transcendent peace and wisdom, subject to the rule of Christ in our deepest being.

The richness of the word of God helps us to help one another, to teach and guide each other. It helps us to unite in praise and worship of God, who has blessed us so abundantly. The fruit of of the gospel is in our behavior, in everything we do or say, that it may be to give thanks to God for making us alive in Him. That new life, allowing us to understand, to change for the glory of God, the ability to be honestly and truthfully thankful, is the effect of the gospel.

Thanks be to God.

Join the Thanksgiving Parade – Micheal Horton

“We need not wallow in our unworthiness, but join the thanksgiving parade that is already in progress, until one day we join our voices with the rest of redeemed creation. The vision of the heavenly kingdom in Revelation is a restored liturgy, with every part of creation performing its ordained role. It is a universal city without man-made walls or a man-made temple, for the Lord surrounds it in safety and the Lamb is its temple. At last, the symphony resounds throughout the empire: “Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!…Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the Lord” (Ps 148:3, 12-13).”

Read here: Join the Thanksgiving Parade

Missing the Really Big Picture

The full-scale assault on the rights of Christians continue with more aggression and hatred than ever before. Anyone who dares profess faith in what God actually says, and not what secular liberals demand, is labeled as a “religious nut”.

In one of the latest such assaults, volunteers at a Houston cemetery are prohibited from mentioning God or Jesus. (http://punditpress.blogspot.com/2011/06/va-cemetery-to-veterans-word-god-jesus.html)

Setting aside for the moment the political agenda of the people who make these decisions, do they even consider the bigger ramifications of their position and enforcement of anti-Christian sentiments? Do they even think through the bigger picture, or is it simply knee-jerk politics and liberal pandering?

What is the bigger picture? The bigger picture of course, is God.

If God exists, then there should be no question, ever, about acknowledging, respecting and honoring Him. The creator of all that is, the one that is the greatest love of all, and the ruler of heaven and earth surely stands above all man-made conventions?There can be nothing more important than God, in such a case, regardless of political correctness.

The question of God’s existence has been debated for as many years as mankind has had a mind capable of doing so, by many smart and educated people, and it is still being debated. Yet, some act as if the question has been definitively answered in the negative, that God does not exist, and that therefore, any mention of God is offensive.

That logic is, well, simply illogical. If God doesn’t exist, then why bother preventing any mention of Him? Surely it is only the small-minded that will be offended by the fictitious? You don’t hear these same people going around complaining about the mention of “The Force” as part of the Jedi religion, and preventing public expression of that. No, it is Christianity and the Christian God being singled out for this special treatment. Why is that?

The other part of the bigger picture is this, if God exists, then everyone will one day be held to account before Him. For Christians, that is a day of joy and victory when we can humbly bow before God and acknowledge His grace, love and acceptance through the sacrifice of Christ. But for those who are against God, things will not quite go so well.

What we can deduce from the actions of those that seek to prevent the free expression of the Christian faith is that they either have indisputable proof that God does not exist, which I doubt, or that they see themselves as bigger and more important than both God, and the eternal fate of others in the world. What other explanation can there possibly be?

If they should answer that we should not “force” our religion on others, then the simple question is this…what are we allowed to “force” on others, and why? No-one can be forced to believe anything, it is the result of their own free will. But of course their non-belief should be forced on everyone.

If the answer is that we should not offend those of other religions, then we are almost back at square one…has this specific person determined absolutely that all religions are equally valid and true? Have they engaged in a rigorous process of internal and external criticism of the different religions, and comparative religious study? Because if they did, then they would know that such a statement and belief is ludicrous. Religions, while they may have some broad common elements, are exclusively true. You simply cannot logically arrive at a point where they are all equally true.

That leaves just one option…these people think they are more important than God. They believe that they can make implied statements about His existence, launch petty little sneak attacks against Christians, and in the process, they deny Him before the world. Good luck with all that.

Love. Simply.

With all of the conflict, fighting and bad things going on in the world today, one tends to forget about love. The dictionary defines love like this: – a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. – a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend. I suppose that isn’t too bad. But for me, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Real love is not reducible to a warm fuzzy feeling. It is so much more. It is an attitude, it is demonstrable, it is active and alive, with a life of its own. It is unconditional…something that we so often forget.

The Bible has the best description of love:

1Co 13:1  If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
1Co 13:2  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1Co 13:3  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1Co 13:4  Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
1Co 13:5  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
1Co 13:6  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
1Co 13:7  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1Co 13:8  Love never ends.

1Co 13:13  So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Love is all of the best for the other. It is total disregard for the self, and total regard for others. Nothing is too good for love. It is the type of love that makes you sacrifice all, even your life, for others. This passage is such a perfect description of what Christ did for us. He endured all, and while He had prophetic powers, and total wisdom and understanding, it was only love that had Him lay down His life. And because of His love, we can be absolutely certain that love never ends, because God never ends.

In our daily walk, we don’t really do all that well with the love thing. I know I act in an unloving fashion often, even to those close to me. Yes, the standard is high, and we sometimes fail. But love ultimately cannot fail, and if we try and love in Biblical way all the time, surely we will get better at it, and with God, perfect it one day.

From the time that you read this, going forward, teach yourself what real love is from the passage above, and try to let love into your life, all the time. God’s very substance is love:

1Jn 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
1Jn 4:8  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1Jn 4:9  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
1Jn 4:10  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1Jn 4:11  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1Jn 4:12  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

Loving like God demonstrated and shared is as good as seeing God Himself. Will you love like that? Patient, forgiving, selfless? There is no greater thing you can do on this earth than to love those around you like that.