Posts Tagged ‘God’

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I don’t know about you, but I have been CRAZY busy lately! Finals, midterms, papers, oh my! Not to mention the usual mommy and wife responsibilites. But in the midst of chaos, God provides His peace and mercy. I am so unworthy of His loving-kindness and yet He lavishes His grace upon me. Just a few personal thoughts this morning to go with your Cup-o-Joe.

Lately many of the people (adults and kids) I have spiritual discussions with are struggling with spiritual warfare. What is it? Who is Satan? How do I fight? Many years ago I wrote a curriculumn for adults on spiritual warfare. I don’t have a lot of time to devote to writing anew these days, so forgive me while I recycle. This is a list of scripture detailing who our adversary is and what his limitations are. In any battle the first rule is know your enemy. I hope this helps in your understanding of the enemy. Blessings to you!

1Pet 5:8-9 says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Job in Chapters 1 and 2, is allowed to be tested by Satan, note that he has to ask permission from God and he is limited in what he may do.

Zec. 3 Satan is our accuser.

Matt 4 Satan is the tempter and perverts the scriptures.

Mark 4:15, Luke 8:12 Satan snatches the Word that is sown in the hearts of men who do not receive it with gladness preventing them from being saved.

Mark 8:33 Satan is mindful of the things of man not the things of God, which is very important, when we are discerning choices and making decisions for our families.

Luke 13:16 Satan has the power to bind those who are not believers.

Luke 22:31 Satan desires to sift us as wheat, but Christ intercedes on our behalf praying for us to remain strong in our faith.

2Cor 11:14 Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

1 Thes 2 Satan hinders the spread of the gospel.

2 Thes 2:9 Satan is the lawless one.

Rev 12:9 Satan deceives the whole world.

Rev 16:14 Satan works lying wonders.

1Tim 3:7 Satan ensnares the wicked who do his work.

1 Tim 3:6 Satan is proud and will use pride in Christians to cause them to fall.

Eph 2:2 Satan is the prince of the power of the air at work in those who disobey.

James 4:7 Satan is a coward, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.”

John 8:44 Satan is a murderer, hates truth and is the father of lies.

Acts 13:10 Satan is the enemy of all that is good perverting the truth.

Eph. 6:16 Satan throws fiery darts or wicked thoughts into our minds, but he cannot read your thoughts.

I found this helpful summary to clarify our understanding…

The devil is not all powerful – He can only function within the permissive will of God.

The devil is not omnipresent – He can only exist in one place at a time.

The devil is not all knowing – The devil does not know your thoughts.

The devil is not the adversary of God – He is the adversary of man.

The devil is not the Antichrist – The Antichrist was only a man.

The devil is not the author of sin – Sin exists independently of the devil.

The devil is not the negative element in a dualistic theology – The nature of evil does not necessitate such a dichotomy.

The devil will not rule hell – Hell is the devil’s punishment, he fears hell.

The devil cannot possess a Christian – Christians are possessed by the Holy Spirit. The devil is not permitted by God to possess the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.

Evil does not represent the devil – The devil represents evil, not the other way around.

The devil is not always the cause of misfortune – Misfortune occurs naturally as a result of our fallen nature. The devil is not concerned with your success or failure.

The devil is not at war with God – There is no battle for souls between God and the devil. The battle is between man and the devil.

What about those who never heard about Jesus; will they be saved?

December 20th was the night of the first lunar eclipse visible in the United States since the Salem Witch trials. That night I stayed up with my teens till 12:30AM waiting for the event. We cuddled in the den with only the lights from the Christmas tree illuminating the house and talked for hours. I love nights like that. We discussed everything from girlfriends to politics and everything in between. I especially appreciate their discussions about faith. It confirms for me that they are not blindly accepting everything they hear. They are analyzing beliefs for truth value.

Sometimes I am surprised by their questions, or some of their beliefs. Their mother is an apologist so explaining and defending the faith is part of our daily conversation. My twelve year old made a statement eluding that all religions basically worship the same God. While I remained calm, cool and collected on the outside, inside I was shocked! Haven’t we covered this before?

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. One conversation cannot outweigh the daily assault on the biblical worldview their parents are establishing for them. Everything they watch on television, many of their conversations with friends, most information they receive from news media or the internet screams relativism. And if a child is not a naturally critical thinker, they will not recognize the inconsistencies within this view and will blindly embrace all that goes along with it. So I am grateful for the opportunity to revisit this topic with my kids. If I don’t give them answers to their pressing questions about faith, I become one more reason for them not to believe.

Over the last 150 years or so relativism has gained most of the philosophical ground in our culture. Dogmatism or fundamentalism is viewed as intolerant. (Isn’t the relativist claiming relativism is true being dogmatic?) People are open to the idea that there is no such thing as absolute truth. What’s true for me is true for me; what’s true for you is true for you. (Isn’t that an absolute truth claim?) And since there is no such thing as absolute truth, then there cannot be one way to God; that is, if He even exists in the first place. So America embraces Universalism with open arms.

Universalism embodies the belief that everyone will be saved and go to heaven. There are two claims that must be true in order for Universalism to work. One, truth depends on choice. I can choose what is true. And since in this great country we are free to choose what to believe, the best choice would be the one that allows for all choices to be true. Anything less would be intolerant and intolerance is bad, very bad. Second, it must deny universal damnation. After all, a good God would not condemn people He loves to hell, right?

As with all relativistic beliefs, this one too is wrought with self-contradiction and self-defeat. Let’s deal with the claim that I can choose what is true. Another way to phrase this is “I can determine what is true.” If I believe it is true, then it is. If you believe the opposite is true, then it is. This subjective view of truth is fully dependent upon self rather than any objective standard. But does this belief correspond with reality? Can I live consistently with this belief? Let’s test it.

Jack and I are standing on top of the Eiffel Tower. I turn to Jack and claim, “I believe gravity does not exist.”

Jack looks at me and claims, “Well, I believe gravity does exist.” According to relativism, both claims are equally valid and equally true. We smile and nod accepting the validity of the other’s belief, proud of our liberal tolerance of opposing claims.

I decide to put my belief to the test and jump off the Eiffel Tower. Since Jack is a tolerant relativist as well, he quietly allows me to take the plunge. At some point during my descent I discover that both claims are not in fact true. Gravity does exist, there are consequences to our ideas as we live and die by our beliefs. I can neither create nor sustain my own existence. How arrogant of me to think that I can determine truth. At best as a fallible being with incomplete understanding I can discover truth. Wouldn’t it be in our best interest and the interest of others to discover what is absolutely true and live by that? Are you willing to die for a lie? Is it tolerant and loving to quietly stand by like Jack as the people around you live and die by a lie?

If all belief systems make contradictory truth claims about God, they cannot all lead to the same true God: one or none, but not all. So if we are seeking a true “religion” we can rule out anything that embraces contradictory claims as all true. This eliminates Universalism among others. But what about universal damnation, that doesn’t seem very loving . . . or is it?

How can a good God condemn people to hell? Let’s look at this from another perspective. If God saves everyone and allows them into heaven as Universalism claims, what exactly is God saving us from? A universal salvation requires universal damnation. If heaven is to be in the presence of God, then hell would be a state of eternal separation. The Bible is very clear that all of humanity is perishing in sin, condemned already (Rom. 3:23). Salvation comes by grace through faith alone in Christ (Rom. 3:24). The work of salvation is wholly God’s, we the condemned are the unworthy receivers of this grace. However, if I am offered a gift and reject it, I do not receive the gift. Regardless of the universal offering, the Bible is clear that the gift of grace is not universally received. God does not force anyone into His arms; it is only in agreement with our will that we are sanctified (Rom. 2:4). As with any gift, grace is freely given, freely received or freely rejected. So is God just in allowing us to live and die by the consequences of our beliefs?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

God is love, all Christians believe this including Universalist. But what is love? Love persuades, it does not coerce. Forced love is by definition, not love at all. To yield to the presence of the Almighty is not to embrace a loving and holy God, but to allow Him to embrace us; for we are the mere creation and by what power can we approach the Creator, but by His power alone. Unlike Jack, God does not stand silently on the sidelines allowing us to destroy ourselves. He pursues, He persuades and at times He wrestles us to the ground. (Gen. 32:28) God desires that no one perish, but it does not follow that no one will perish.

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Cor. 1:18

Mom and Dad, encourage your kids to evaluate their beliefs for truth value. Be prepared to give an answer for what you believe and why. Don’t become another reason for your child not to believe.
If you have questions, this site is a safe place to ask them. Together we can seek the truth in all things.

Obedience is evidence of faith. God’s call to the Israelite nation to trust and obey permeates the book of Joshua. To receive the promise, they must trust and obey; they must exhibit evidence of faith. When Israel trusts Yahweh, she triumphs regardless of the circumstances or however formidable the foe. God established Israel as a testament to the nations of His power and faithfulness.

“For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all of the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” Joshua 4:23-24

Whether we war against physical enemies of life and well-being, or we war with sin in a spiritual battle; the battle belongs to God. The victory is His. It is in the area of spiritual warfare that the book of Joshua is applicable for the church today.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

Peter Kreeft wrote, “The life-or-death battles in the Old Testament, especially in this most warlike book, are apt symbols of the no less life-or-death spiritual warfare of the New.” While God gives us promises, He does not relinquish His people of responsibility. We are called to obey as evidence of our faith. God ties obedience to success in warfare. We learn much from this handbook of warfare:

1. The church has received a promise and a responsibility to partner with God in His Kingdom work to fight the good fight. Joshua 1:6 and 1 Timothy 6:12

2. Our enemies are defeated before us and God will cause Satan to flee as we resist him.. Joshua 1:5 and James 4:7

3. The Lord will be ever present for us and will never forsake us. Joshua 1:5 and Matthew 28:20

4. All who receive salvation are called to obedience. Joshua 1:8 and Hebrews 5:9

5. We receive blessings by grace through faith, including the blessing of salvation. Joshua 8:33 and Romans 4:16

Indeed, it was the call to trust and obey that were the last words of our savior before he ascended to the right hand of the Father.

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

As believers we cross over from death (the Jordan) into life (the land of Promise). The Book of Joshua is a handbook of warfare to guide us as we continue to battle the enemy until we are called home. The book’s geographical and historical background show us how even as we live life, it is not our own. This is God’s story. Yahweh is salvation. As we imitate Joshua in his commitment to faithful obedience we too can experience victory in life as we are transformed into the likeness of the glory of Christ.