Christian, God’s not mad at you.

I run into so many Christians who are convinced God is mad at them. They will say “oh this happening because I did this and God is punishing me”, or “I haven’t been walking with the Lord and my life is a mess”. Admittedly, I have had similar thoughts. I have worried that I haven’t attended church enough or read my Bible enough or prayed enough or served enough and on and on. The reality is God loves us. God created us with a desire to have relationship with us. God sacrificed His own son so that the relationship between Him and us would be full and unencumbered. Think about it, would God really do all that He has done to reconcile mankind to Him so that He could be mad at them. It doesn’t make sense.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s His.

Romans 8:1-2
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

What the Apostle Paul is explaining to us is that those who are followers of Jesus have a transformed relationship with God. We are no longer on the outside of God’s grace, we are no longer the objects of God’s wrath or anger. Simply, God is not mad at us.

I think the challenge for most of us is to let go of the way we understand how relationships work. For many of us we think that we have to act a certain way and do certain things to be accepted in relationships. We are keenly aware of what to do and what not to do to make sure those we are relating to are happy with us or not mad at us. We can’t apply this formula to God. We have to look at all He has done out of love for us and learn to rest in the fact that there was nothing we did, good or bad, to cause Him act that way.

Finally, if I am powerless to cause God to love me, how could I somehow have the power to cause Him to be angry with me? Like I said before. It doesn’t make sense. Christian, God is not mad at you.

Father, thank you so much for your love and grace. Thank you Lord Jesus for your work of reconciliation and your example. Help me rest in the reality of your love and peace. In Jesus name, Amen.

Saturday Morning Poll – Do You Believe in Heaven and Hell

Hell has been a hot topic lately. No pun intended 🙂 ! Here is a pretty good video that sums up the current debate on the topic in evangelical Chrisitianity. There is a poll below. Let me know what you think!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Poll:

 

Ministers of Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

There was popular song in the 1990s by the band R.E.M called “Everybody Hurts”. It was a melancholy tune that set forth the idea that in this life there is no way to escape pain and suffering. I especially like the lyric below:

‘Cause everybody hurts. Take comfort in your friends
Everybody hurts. Don’t throw your hand. Oh, no. Don’t throw your hand
If you feel like you’re alone, no, no, no, you are not alone

Notice how this this lyric closely mimics today’s verses from 2 Corinthians 1. Reading these verse this morning I was struck at what the Apostle Paul was saying. I think many times I grasp the ideal that just as Jesus suffered that we must also suffer, but what I fail to grasp is just as Jesus was comforted so too shall we be comforted. What is truly interesting and what the R.E.M. song captures is that the comfort we receive when we are suffering will often come from those who have suffered before us. Notice how the Apostle Paul lays it out in verses 3-4:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God

He says the Father comforts us in our affliction, so that we may comfort those who are in any affliction. This is power stuff in that it demonstrates our position as ministers one to another. God has not abandoned to an isolated life of pain and suffering. He has put those of us in Christ into a harmonious union where we are able through our sufferings to comfort each other.

So what’s the application? For me the application is that I need to establish a correct view of the suffering I experience in my life. I need to understand that as I share in the sufferings of Christ I also share in the comfort that comes through that suffering. I need to be more attuned to my ability to minister comfort to others. I also need to be more receptive to others who are ministering comfort to me.

Brothers and sisters in Christ we have an obligation to take care of one another. We do not suffer in isolation. Let us be on the lookout for those who need ministering to and may we be the vessel through which the suffering are reminded of the comfort and peace that comes from our great God and Father through Jesus Christ.

Father, thank you for this day and this opportunity to examine your Word. Father, I pray that you would open our eyes to those suffering around us. Empower us and motivate us to be ministers of your comfort. Help us in times of suffering to endure knowing that suffering allows us to minister comfort. Thank you for many blessings. We offer you praise. In Jesus name, amen.

God is in Us.

John 14:16-17 (ESV)

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

John 14:26 (ESV)

26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Ok, confession time. I have been trying to get this post started for 30 minutes and have yet to find a good way to begin, however the idea of not being alone because the Holy Spirit lives in us is really ministering to me this morning. I really just want to write a post that says read John 14 when you get a chance. There is a lot in there so read it slow and really think about what Jesus is saying to His disciples. The context of John 14 is it is getting close to the time when Jesus is to be executed and He is trying to get His disciples to understand the significance of their time together. The key things He wanted his disciples to get was that:

  1. He and the Father are one. If you know Jesus you know the Father and that none will ever know the Father except through Jesus. (v7)
  2. That to truly love Jesus you have to keep His commandments.(My mind immediately starts looking for a checklist of dos and don’ts but I don’t think that is what Jesus is talking about here. I think He is talking about applying His teaching to our lives with the love of God and others as the pinnacle teaching.)(v15)
  3. The Father will send the Holly Spirit to live in His disciples after He has returned to the Father so that each disciple will have the power and the guidance to do the will of the Father.

The verses that corresponds with point 3 are highlighted above and this is the point I will end on. Many times in my walk with Jesus I have struggled to not feel alone. Many times I am scared to act on my faith because I worry what the outcome will be or I worry that I won’t say or do the right thing. Worse than this there are many times where I will worry about the things of this life (job, bills, relationships) to the point that I completely miss what God is doing. The big reality is I am not alone. Not only has Jesus died in my place so that I may be reconciled and have a relationship with the Father, but He has also taken up residence inside of me in the form of the Holy Spirit. It is hard to contemplate that the Spirit of God who did all the works of creation and the work of salvation and reconciliation lives inside of me. He lives in me to teach me and to guide me and to help me resist sin and to be bold for the Kingdom and to empower me to do all things. This is the same Spirit that lived in Jesus when He was in human form and this is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. What an awesome reality it is to know that God lives in us. May we all grab a hold of this truth and live in peace with boldness for the Kingdom.

Heavenly Father, thank you God for your grace and your salvation. Thank you for your Holy Spirit. Thank you that you live in us and guide us. Thank you Jesus for your teaching and your peace. We praise you! In your name, Amen.

Soteriology – The Study of Salvation: Why it Matters

2 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV)

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Yesterday I started a series of posts looking at Soteriology, the study of salvation. I think it is important that before we get into the details of the differing ideas of what salvation is an how it works we should first take a moment to answer the question of why studying salvation matters.

As I mentioned yesterday many times my studies are to help me answer the question of how should I live. The idea is that post conversion after we have been saved we find ourselves in a new situation. We still physically live in this fallen world, yet our spirit has been regenerated and given citizenship in the eternal Kingdom of God. There is a tension and duality that now exists within us. The regenerated spirit is pure and holy while our old fallen nature still exists. We find in ourselves these two opposite entities urging us to act and behave in certain and often opposing ways. To me understanding the event that created this duality in me is key for understanding how to live.

Stated another way, I feel that studying salvation matters and is important because understanding God’s redemptive work in our lives effects all aspects of how we live post conversion. I feel like if we understand the initial work that God did in us then we can better understand the work God continues to do in us going forward.

What about you? Do ever think about salvation? Do you see value in understanding it?

Tomorrow we will look at what salvation is.

Heavenly Father, help us know you better today. I pray that you would open our spirits to receive revelation of your truth. Thank you Father for revealing yourself in the scriptures. I pray that we may be like Timothy and by studying your Word we may become wise for salvation though faith in Christ Jesus. We honor you. In Jesus’ name.

Soteriology–The Study of Salvation

Acts 16:30 (ESV)

30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Soteriology is the term that is used to describe the study of salvation. Yesterday was October 31st and while many celebrated this day as Halloween it was also celebrated as Reformation Day. Reformation Day marks the day in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his protest letter to the door of the Roman Catholic church in Wittenberg, Germany. He was essentially protesting the differences he saw in the way salvation was described in the Scriptures and the way salvation was being taught in the church at that time. Luther contended that the church’s teaching that salvation was obtained only if the individual did certain works or kept certain rules was inconsistent with the teaching of the Bible that salvation comes from faith alone. The result of Luther’s action in 1517 forever changed Christianity. The Protestant Reformation spawned the vast denominational church system we have today. What I hope to do over the next few days is look at a few key concepts in the soteriology debate. My goal is not so much academic as it is personal. For me I am always trying answer the question of how should I live. I think a foundational answer to that question begins in understanding my relationship to God in salvation. Let me preface this for any new readers by saying that I am not a trained theologian. I am just a guy doing my best with the help of the Spirit to study the scriptures looking for God’s revelation to me. Please feel free to jump in the discussion.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word and the chance to read and study it with others. I pray as we try to understand from it better how you work in our lives and how we should respond to you that you will give us revelation and insight. Father, ultimately, I desire my efforts and my time to be honoring of you. I pray that you would speak to us as we seek you. Thank you for your love. We offer you praise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Reading Grudem’s Systematic Theology – Chapter 2, The Word of God

We are moving right along in the Systematic Theology. This week was about the various forms that God uses to communicates with humanity. Here are the questions for personal application and the vocab words. I think the questions are thought provoking and answerable even without having read the material, so chime in!

Questions for Personal Application:

  1. Do you think you would pay more attention if God spoke to you from heaven or through the voice of a living prophet than if he spoke to you from the written words of Scripture?
  2. Would you believe or obey such words more readily than you do Scripture?
  3. Do you think your present level of response to the written words of Scripture is an appropriate one?
  4. What positive steps can you take to make your attitude toward Scripture more like the kind of attitude God wants you to have?
  5. When you think about the many ways in which God speaks and the frequency with which God communicates with his creatures through these means, what conclusions might you draw concerning the nature of God and the things that bring delight to him?

Chapter Vocabulary:

Decree – A decree of God is a word of God that causes something to happen.(Kindle, 1042)

Personal Address – when God communicates with people on earth by speaking directly to them.(Kindle, 1045)

Word of God – God’s words to humanity in all its various forms, including words of decree, words of personal address, words spoken through the lips human beings, and the written word.(Kindle, 1078)