Can Christians know and choose God?

I have been a believer for about 5 years and I thought I was making good progress; then, I watched the show West World on HBO. Some of you may be thinking, “he shouldn’t have watched such a filthy show.” My issue was not with appropriate and non-appropriate, but instead, I found myself really reconsidering God’s role as the creator. Why, if God loves us, would he create a situation and a world with so much devastation and hostility?

I know that the “what if?” game is not helpful, however, I can’t help but wonder why God has done what he has done and if I really even know this God I call Heavenly Father. We have Satan/ the devil because he is said to have rebelled against God due to his envy and jealousy. God is still in complete control though right? Christians answer, “yes, of course,” so if that’s true, God didn’t have to let him rule “the earthly realm” and instead he allowed it.

God could have created just heaven and not allowed for a fallen world (earth). Why angels in heaven and humans on earth? Why not angels and humans just in heaven? We could think that “well, it’s our fault because we rebelled.” Good old Adam and Eve! However, in Genesis, it talks about “We” creating. Christians think of this as the trinity. Jesus is thought to have always existed. With Jesus always existing, we can think of a premade timeline created by God. “I will create man, he will rebel, Jesus will have to be sacrificed, and then Jesus will come back and establish a new heaven and earth free of evil.” The story is already written and in that story, we sin because without it we wouldn’t need Christ.

As Christians, we take comfort in this and we take comfort in Christ. We renounce evil and sin and we just hold on tight and dearly to Christ. I am a Christian, but I’m not sure that I love God. In this life we have parents and there can’t be a child without a parent (however the sperm got to the egg as modern technology allows many ways). However, you do not have to love your parent (and yes, I have a good relationship with my parents). After everything the human race has been through, I cannot love God. I honor God and respect His authority just like I do with my parents. I do not deny his existence and I have faith in God being who he says he is; however, I can’t love Him precisely because of who he is.

I believe the Bible and I think it is an instruction manual that we should live by, but I can’t help but acknowledge that we are pawns in God’s game. God is all-powerful and no one can challenge him. We are born (into sin? If so, we never had a chance) and the only choice we have is to renounce ourselves and surrender to Christ. You have two options: “heaven or hell.” Is that really a choice? Will many people end up going the hell route because they are stubborn and for many reasons hate God? Yes. But if we think about it we don’t really have “free will.”

We have “free will” in a duality. “You can choose whatever you want, but at the end of the day its heaven or hell.” That is only two options. We think of free will as this huge open expanse of volition and as a blank canvas just waiting to be painted. It’s heaven or hell. From the beginning, the end was known. Is that really a story that excites us? Christians are just sitting around waiting to go to heaven and then worship God for eternity. Depending on your theology, something has to happen or so many people have to be saved, but at the end of the day, we believe that Christ will return and eternity will ensue.

I wish God would have created a third option where you go to just be. (Christians are thinking "He wants to be his own God! How dare him!) But wouldn’t it be nice if we could have an existence where we make choices based on learning and experience and relationships? An agnostic world where we make it however we all collectively decide to make it or struggle for ceratin “right ways” and “wrong ways” of doing. I am saying a world free of God and Satan. I imagine this is the world of the naturalist, but usually, they still fight against the idea of God. What if we didn’t have the idea of God or Satan to fight about?

In the Christian world, the answer is always God or Christ. Christ will save, heal, guide, inform, lead, perfect, and so on and so forth. That really takes out our role. A friend of mine likes to say “I can’t do anything for God, because he sustains himself.” We all believe this: that before there was a universe God existed and he didn’t need us, but he WANTED us.

I see this world as the game that he wanted. He wants to be worshipped. He wants his power acknowledged and feared. He loves us, but we only get to love him in heaven if we surrender our will. God always wins. I see no point in sin or rebelling because it only hurts me (yes, the bible says it hurts God and it hurt Christ, but they were always to remain in heaven no matter what. The same can’t be said for humans. Our fate is actually at risk and we aren’t automatically bound for heaven.

I am sorry this turned out to be so long, but I needed to get this out. I highly recommend West World to anyone interested in this idea of what a creator’s actions say about himself and what that means for his creations. I will continue to be a Christian that reads the bible, prays, and does my best to abstain from sin. I will share my faith because I do think that learning to free oneself from our sinful nature is more important than anything. I am not sure how not loving God will play out for me, but I’ll find out one day. I’ll have a lot of questions on that day if questions are allowed…

And to everyone thinking “he has been misled by Satan,” thank you for the insight, I do not think that is the case. God created us with extremely capable minds and I intend to use mine. God did not prevent us from examining him and questioning him. However, our examination must end in the statement “God is righteous and perfect” as we are not allowed any other answer. I do not want to be God or have his powers. I think sin is horrible and that evil is horrible. Please don’t confuse this as someone falling into Satan’s hands.

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Hi @Johnnyutah, thank you for sharing your thoughts and questions - I think you’ve asked some great questions which are really important. I think if we weren’t to ask them at some point, we’d be burying our heads in the sand. You’ve also asked some big questions :slightly_smiling_face: and I may not address all of them but will speak into what resonated with me.

Yes, I’ve seen Westworld and found it as intriguing as you (and sometimes confusing :slightly_smiling_face:). What spoke to me in it was the question of human consciousness and identity - what is it that makes us human?

Genesis 1: 26 - then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness”.

To think for a moment of what that actually means, can be difficult. We’re created to be like the God of love, of community and fellowship, of encouragement, of giving, of creating, of enjoying, of thinking and reasoning, of delighting and producing, of emotions and feelings…the list goes on. And each one of us is utterly unique, with our own DNA codes. This is what makes us human.

We were also made to know our creator. We can see evidence of him “since what can be made known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them” - Romans 1:19 and “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” - John 10:27

This is what is known as the Problem of Evil. Gregory E. Ganssle says:

we can figure out reasons that God might have for many (perhaps, most) of the evils in the world. For example, both human freedom and a stable , cause-effect universe are necessary for any meaningful action. Meaningful action, then, may be a reason that God allows various kinds of evil. Second, it is reasonable to think that God will have reasons that we cannot grasp for allowing evils in our lives. In fact, to think that we should be able to figure out God’s reasons for allowing every case of evil implies that we think God is not much smarter than we are. If God is the almighty creator of the universe, there will be evil for which we cannot discern.

A story in the Bible that helps us unpick this a bit is the story of Lazarus in John 11 who dies. Mary and Martha, his sisters, send word to Jesus when he is still alive and very sick. Jesus delays his visit and only arrives once Lazarus has died. Martha runs out to Jesus weeping, saying “if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died” and Mary repeats this later (How similar that sounds to our thoughts sometimes of “If God was real and loving, such and such wouldn’t have happened”). Jesus took the time to weep with her - his love for her moved him to be present with her in her suffering. However, he also was about to head to the tomb and raise Lazarus back to life again. Jesus knew more than Mary and Martha, and the resurrection of Lazarus brought glory to God. Before that, Jesus was able to show the love of God to those in pain. I believe that God was showing that natural events occur, that he is with us in the pain, that his love moves him to weep with us, and that there will be resurrection whether in this life or in the life to come.

Here are some other resources that might help you unpack this a bit:

I believe that what you describe is a real part of my life as a Christian anyway. We all make choices based on what we learn and experience. I won’t go into this too much, but just to say that I based a decade of my existence on making my own choices where I ignored much of my learning and stepped outside of the Bible’s teaching, forming unhealthy relationships and I ended in a mess. I had to come back to God and back to his word to get the mess sorted out. I know many people will have different personal experiences and thoughts regarding this topic, but that’s my personal experience.

Interesting scenario - I wonder, without God or Satan, would there be any morality? I mean absolute morality? The Bible teaches us that God is holy and pure. He is the source of goodness (Leviticus 11:44). Likewise, Satan is the deceiver and destroyer , the source of evil (1 Peter 5:8)

I think that the fact you’ve identified things about the world that you don’t like and feel are wrong is a good suggestion that you understand what goodness and a good world should look like. Where does this sense of justice come from? I like a quote of Ravi Zacharias that addressed this issue:

nothing can be intrinsically prescriptively good unless there also exists a God who has fashioned the universe thus. Meaning and suffering are meaningful challenges for every life and we pursue them with moral connotations. The truth is we cannot escape the existential rub by running from a moral law. Objective moral values exist only if God exists. Meaning and purpose are real only if there is an ultimate purpose to life itself.

You might find this magazine article interesting to explore this particular issue further:

I’ll leave it there for now. I’m not sure I’ve answered your questions necessarily, but I hope I’ve been able to give you some more things to think about as you work these things out. I’m sure you’ll get some more helpful responses from others too. I think it’s great you’re trying to work out some of these things, and pray that God will really bless you as you do so.

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Alison,

First, I want to thank you and express my deep gratitude for your thoughtful and respectful response. Civil discourse and respectful “debate” are certainly on the decline and I’ll never be able to thank Ravi personally, but he was such a good role model in this area. Also, I just have to say the music in Westworld was fantastic!

I want to make clear that I do not doubt God’s existence in any way. I do think that the framework presented in the Bible is by far the best one for living life at peace with God. I wanted to say this because some reference material had titles like, “If God were real then he wouldn’t etc…” I am a Christian that has salvation to the best of my knowledge (Rom 8:38-39). I thoroughly enjoy all of Ravi’s books and arguments, using logic and reason, to establish just how real God is.

I struggle with being sure that we, as Christians, view God objectively and accurately. We surrender our minds to the idea that God is good, perfect, loving, just, and powerful. We do not go past that and we do not question “the nature of God’s reality,” my favorite line, paraphrasing, from Westworld. We settle for “the mysteries of God” and “His ultimate understanding” and never venture to think about why He does what He does and what His motivations would be. I think we view God in a perspective that is too simple and I think maybe we are afraid to dig deeper. I am interested in doing just that.

There are many complexities in life and faith, but when salvation is boiled down, it is very simple. Think about that. A human merely has to hear about what Christ has done and then profess faith and ask forgiveness. Now think about the pain and suffering, the war and strife, and the complexity of the Old Testament. In my opinion, Christians really fail to acknowledge that the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. I think all too often we only want to think of the very short period of Jesus’s life and only focus on those aspects of His character. Jesus lived for roughly 30 years. The God of the OT showed us over 1000 years of His character, but we only want to focus on the "last 10 minutes” of the four-hour documentary.

It is this contrast of simple salvation and utter devastation that points, in my opinion, to God enjoying a game at our expense. If we need to just acknowledge that God is the ultimate being and that we (by design) are limited and flawed; then, why not some simple revelation to every individual at the beginning of their life. I imagine many more people would go to heaven and we would reject God at a much lower rate. He could inform us of his existence without forcing our hand and just give the option to accept Him right then and there. It is precisely the process that God wants.

He wants to be chosen. He needs us to struggle in some since before we ultimately surrender. Christians usually view God as their victory over sin and death. We hardly think of God as just waiting to have victory over us. This idea repeats what I’ve already said, but essentially God has had victory and control from the beginning of eternity past (this is a play on words, but hopefully you get my point).

If we are limited by design, and I think we are, we would never be able to challenge or defeat God. The Israelites never rose above God and only suffered as a result of their rejection of Him. Satan can never defeat God and will ultimately be defeated for good by God. God has victory no matter what. It would seem logical that if he loved us he would live in harmony with us despite our flaws. It is hard to say that God gave us free will and then got mad when we made the wrong choice. If you have free will and aren’t perfect… you’re bound to mess up at some time (Romans 11:32). It hurts God for some of us to go to hell but we are created with the ability to disobey and so it’s almost inevitable that some will go there. If God’s complete power and control have always existed then what do our lives mean? Sure, God would like us in heaven, but if we choose incorrectly He is prepared. He made that place called hell just for that.

My belief is that God is getting some sort of enjoyment, pleasure, or fulfillment out of this game that humans have to play. I even think that it’s possible that God is enjoying curveballs along the way, that maybe somehow he sets up for himself (the trinity is three separate being so…maybe). Think of Genesis 6:5-8. It is this type of enjoyment at our inevitable and hardwired shortcomings that keep me from loving God. I still believe in Him and I live knowing that He has revealed His truth to us, and know that we must act on what He has revealed.

I do not say these things to cause hate or disbelief towards God. I merely want to share an idea and allow people to consider what implications if any, these ideas have for them. I’ll leave it here for now, but my big thing is that I think we should truly consider the nature and character of God that has gone unscrutinized for believers. It is easy to say God is horrible and therefore not real. It is a different thing entirely to believe in God but to also consider what all of His actions reveal about Him.

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Hi @Johnnyutah thank you for your reply. I apologise, I never thought you were suggesting the non existence of God, but I felt that within those resources there was some useful material to help you, even as a believer, untangle some of the issues you’ve described. Thank you for clarifying some of your thoughts for me.

You’ve articulated several thoughts that I’ve also had regarding what I’ve seen in mainstream church conversation. I think it’s so great you’re trying to bring together aspects of God’s character as a while using the entire Bible. I’ve only begun to explore some of these issues myself, but in my reading so far, I’ve found that the more I see of God’s awesome and powerful depiction throughout the OT, the more it helps me grow a respect and love of God as I’ve seen him depicted through the life of Jesus in the NT. My main problem is that my mind is not big enough to grasp who God is fully. I either think of him in OT terms, or in NT terms. Often, I’ve struggled to combine both aspects of his character at the same time for a fuller picture. However, the more I study the Bible, and of how the Jews perceived God back in the second temple era, helps expand my understanding. Like you, id love to see this explored more within church circles. I think the best way for this to happen is for individuals to work out questions and maybe some answers so that they can encourage others to consider them.

I think if God was like us humans, it’s very likely he would be playing a game at our expense. This is when I find it really helpful to remove my projection of what I expect a human to do onto God, and remind myself what the Bible says about God. If we know the Bible tells us God loves us (John 3:16), yet we see there is suffering and devastation, we also need to remember that God is not man that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind (Numbers 23:19). So, why the devastation if he’s not toying around with us? This leads onto the discussion on why a loving God would allow suffering? You may find the following posts in this thread helpful in exploring aspects of God allowing horrific suffering at times:

https://connect.rzim.org/t/ask-christian-hofreiter/396/8?u=artownsend

I believe that God has given us this revelation, but it’s whether we choose to receive it or not. Now, I fully appreciate that none of us receive God with the same thought processes and needs to be met. For my walk with God, I’ve managed to get through years of happy faith without asking many of the big questions. However, now that I am asking some of these questions, I’m exploring because it not only fascinates me but adds depth to my love for God. Other people will wrestle with huge philosophical questions and find their journey to God slowly over a long period of time. Whatever sort of mind and questions we hold, we each have a choice as to whether we accept God or not. This issue of choice is part of how God designed us and is a reflection of our heart to be in relationship with him, even when not all the questions are answered.

You may also find this thread helpful as you consider this question.

This leads onto another of your points:

I think this is a fair point to consider because this could seem like he’s set us up to fail and can then punish us. He is like no earthly person, there’s nothing malicious in him, he’s not waiting to watch us trip up. It’s also important to realise that if you offer the argument quoted above, you have to be willing to also consider that if we have free will, and aren’t perfect…and yet we still choose him, how much rejoicing this brings him.

I feel like I’m only scratching the surface of some of these thoughts you’ve shared, and I hope that what I’ve offered may contribute even just a fraction of help as you continue your search for answers.

And yes, great soundtrack to Westworld :grinning:.

Alison,

I thank you for continuing the conversation and I think you’ve hit on some great points. I think you should be careful about thoughts like, “My main problem is that my mind is not big enough to grasp who God is fully.” I am not saying that humans aren’t limited, but we have the entire Bible and extremely strong minds (all thanks to God giving us these tools.) We can’t know God entirely, but we can have a pretty good idea of what His character is. I think you are on the right track because many people wouldn’t even know about the different Temple Periods. It’s my opinion that American churches should not have moved away from Sunday School.

I am not a scholar by any means, but the more I explore Christianity and Judaism, as that is the essential foundation, I find that more secular sources and even Christian scholars open whole new worlds of understanding. I know and accept that some people are not going to go down that road and may not enjoy those endeavors. I stand by and affirm their right to have their own individual faith that is not bound to having a PhD. I think the NT particularly changes lives for the better even without these studies. Love, forgiveness, humility, and the attributes of Jesus stand on their own. I do think, however, that this begs the question of very different forms and understandings of Christianity being widespread. The Christian world and its theology is so diverse and expansive, again something not well understood or appreciated in American churches at least.

You cited Num 23:19. I would go back and read the passages before and after Num 23:19. What a scene that is unfolding around these passages! Quotes like: “There is no divination against Jacob, no evil omens against Israel. It will now be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘See what God has done!’ 24The people rise like a lioness; they rouse themselves like a lion that does not rest till it devours its prey and drinks the blood of its victims.” And in Ch 24: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth. 18Edom will be conquered; Seir, his enemy, will be conquered, but Israel will grow strong. 19A ruler will come out of Jacob and destroy the survivors of the city.”

It is precisely passages like these that are steeped in historical context, that without, we as Christians really won’t understand the history at play. It also hurts to read because of the graphic violence described and the implicit approval from God. Like Shawn Hart talked about, “… justice and love are intertwined.” But my question is “Why does our God design us to get such satisfaction out of killing?” Even if it is “righteous,” should we take joy and revel in breaking bones and crushing foreheads? Every superhero movie affirms this human nature at play and we speak of righteous battles and defeating evil in Christian terms. God is not human but He seems to play key roles in these battles and we cheer when He “crushes” our enemies. I am in the military and enemy deaths and the gruesome wounds we inflict on enemies is nothing foreign to me. But I wish human nature were not so. What the enemy does is horrible and the justice or correction that a “just” force must take is equally horrible. It brings good outcomes but this is not something we should enjoy. It is, as they say, a “necessary evil.”

One last thought that I’ll leave you with is Rom 6:18-19 and the idea of “slaves to righteousness.” I think Paul hits the nail on the head with this. This is how I see myself. You said “It’s also important to realise that if you offer the argument quoted above, you have to be willing to also consider that if we have free will, and aren’t perfect…and yet we still choose him, how much rejoicing this brings him.” This is exactly my point, but I don’t think you see it in the same light that I do. God wants us to surrender to Him and I think we mostly do have free will but it is caged. Our only good choice is to admit we are horrible sinners and give Him glory. We can have wonderful and enjoyable lives outside of sin but it always comes back to Him. Thank God for my wisdom, my finances, Your beautiful creation, and so on. He will get the glory as we struggle with sin, feelings of failure, our loved ones suffering health issues, and so on. The end of the story is heaven, where God is worshipped and glorified, and we are free from OUR sinful nature. Essentially we cannot HURT OURSELVES anymore. We are always the source of the problem and God will in the end be glorified.

We are sinners and I accept that and Christ being the ultimate sacrifice. My point is that we are stuck with three absolutes. We cannot escape sin, God has to and will be glorified (angels do even if we didn’t), and if you do not accept God then hell is the only other choice. I feel trapped and oppressed by this just as a slave is oppressed. The freedom to only do one thing (glorify God) does not really feel like freedom. Yes, I could choose hell but I am biologically programmed to avoid pain at all costs so…. no thanks. I am free to only make one good choice. Proverbs 1:7 sums it up for me. I surrender to God because I have no other GOOD choice. I don’t feel I can love God when He set up that situation. He ALLOWS for certain evils. That sin that He allows GUARANTEES that we all will be “infected” with it and God only created one vaccine i.e. Jesus. I do not see much room for my say in this construct. Because of this I declare myself a Slave to Righteousness.

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@Johnnyutah wow! That is a wrestling. What are your thoughts on 1john? The passage that keeps coming to mind specifically is 1john 4:16. But in a lot of your writing I just think all of 1 John.

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Abbi,

I glanced at that verse and skimmed through 1 John to remind myself of the main theme, and I’m still not sure what you mean. If you could elaborate a little more, I may be able to comment on your association of 1 John with my conclusions.

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I guess what I am wondering is what’s this definition of love you are referring to? 1 John clearly states that we are not love, God is. That we don’t have the love of God in us if we are not obeying Gods commands, and loving our fellow brothers. From what you make it sound like, you obey Gods commands, but yet your claiming you don’t love God? These seem contradictory according to 1 John.

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The fact that God is disappointed in our choices, does not minimize the value of our free will! The reason that Jesus came into the world is to pay the price for when we get it wrong on our journey towards living our lives for God! It is the notion of forgiveness! Sure, God is disappointed when we isolate ourselves from Him, but through reflective repentance and sincere asking of forgiveness of our sins, God moves on! Jesus has paid the price for all our sins and God knows that we will fall short of the mark, but forgives us when we keep “getting back up on the horse” even when we fall off. God shall not be mocked… He knows when we are trying to journey towards Him and lest we forget … God’s commandments are not about Him, they are for us as guidelines in terms of what He desires for us… We know God is not a respecter of persons, we either choose life or we choose death. .It remains our free will whether we choose God ways or not…whether God is disappointed with our response, does not eliminate our free will to choose. Part of the reason we sin is we are born with original sin which is the propensity towards sin, however, another reason is we don’t quite comprehend what eternal life in heaven or hell quite implies. If we had undeniable images and perspectives of heaven, we would realize that anything we can have on earth is no where near comparable to what we can have in heaven, and we would thus live our lives differently. Because we lack what the eternal tortures of hell will be like, we can often minimize our sin. I believe that if each one of us could see hell first hand, the remainder of our lives on earth would be lived much differently with spreading the word of the gospel with clear and concise purpose…

Hello Claybourne,

I just wanted to talk through a few points that you had made in your post.

I would say that it is a great deal more than God being disappointed with our sinful choices. To say that He is disappointed would indicate that He is not all-knowing, or that He was not sovereign over all things. How could He be disappointed? Nothing happens without His first ordaining it to pass. It would not make sense for something to have happened, such as our choice to rebel, without His knowledge and His sovereign ordaining of it. For God to have been disappointed, He would have had to have been expecting a result other than the one He got. This would not at all be consistent with God’s character. God is not some wrist-slapping yet generally gentle and loving grandfather figure who can’t see what we are really doing, or going to do. He is the sovereign and holy God of all creation, and nothing happens that is outside of His control.

The Bible goes into great detail to explain that God is not disappointed with our sin, but that He is righteously furious with our sin. Jeremiah 30:23 describes Gods wrath in this way, “Behold the storm of the Lord! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked.”
Nahum 1:2 describes it this way, “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.“
It is far more than just disappointment. God is angry, furiously so, at us and our sin. As Psalm 5:4-6 teaches, “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.”

Second I would say this, I do not think that Jesus Christ came to pay for those times when we get it wrong. That would imply that there is ever a time that we really get it right in our journey to live for Him. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one my boast.”
We just don’t ever get it right. That is why Jesus Christ came to this world. He came here, lived a perfect and sinless life in total conformity to the laws of God, He voluntarily went to the cross, and then God laid upon Him all of our sin and poured out His wrath against our sin upon His Son. Isaiah 53:5-6 says, “But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Our sins were not simply forgiven, they were paid in full upon Christ as He hung upon the cross, until the wrath and justice of God was satisfied against Him. God is not simply disappointed when we we reject Him and the work of His Son to save us. His wrath and fury burn against us when we reject Christ and continue in rebellion against Him.

The point is that we don’t get it right. That is why we must cast ourselves upon on Christ. He is the One who got it right for us, and then took the punishment we deserved for our sins upon Himself.

God never moves on. Whether we accept Him or reject Him, we will all stand before Him in judgement, but He does not just let it go either way.

I would say that God’s commandments are indeed about Him. They are the guidance He gave for holiness. They reflect His character(Holy, Just, Sovereign, Perfect, and Good), and simultaneously show us how far fallen we are. The law does not show us what God wants for us, the law shows us what we desperately NEED from Him…a Savior.

The law serves to show us how sinful and far fallen we are, because we cannot measure up to it. Nor could the nation of Israel either. But even before the law was given to them, the prophecy of Jesus Christ’s coming as the Messiah was already given in Genesis as well as all through the Old Testament. Jesus Christ states this in John 5:39 when talking to the Jews, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” Jesus’ point was this: that they were so focused on trying to save themselves by the law, that they had missed the true means of salvation, Jesus Christ. The reality of the law is that it is not something we are capable of living up to, because the law is exactly about God, the law shows how Holy He is, and how far we are from attaining to that holiness, hence our desperate need for Christ.

I must disagree with you here. Jesus Christ told a story about a rich man, and a poor man named Lazarus in Luke 16. He tells it like this, “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Jesus tells us that if they will not hear the truth of Scripture, they will not be convinced, not even if one should rise from the dead. The truth of it is this, we DO have undeniable perspectives of heaven and hell…both are described in great detail in the Bible. But we still minimize our sin, we still suppress the truth, we still fail to live for God. Jesus preached more in His earthly ministry about hell than He did about heaven. Still many hated Him. We have some of the clearest depictions of both heaven and hell in Revelation, yet many still reject Him.

The whole point is that God could send a representative from eternal torment and have them appear in front of us, all ablaze, and we would still not be changed. We would still conceive of evil in our hearts. If we will not hear what He has told us in His word, we will not be convinced if anyone appears from the dead either. Our only hope is to put on Christ, to cast ourselves down before Him and repent. When we do this and place our faith in Him, He changes us. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation.”

He changes us, He takes us and reforms us, and makes us into an entirely new creature in Him. He takes our sin away, and He clothes us in His righteousness. It is not by anything we do, there is nothing we can do. All we can do is fall before Him in brokenness and humility and repentance. Psalm 51:17 tells us, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

I do agree with you on this Claybourne, we most definitely make much less of our sin than it truly is. We are all guilty of that. It should not be, but we have started to believe that sin is really not that bad, in many cases it is seen as normal, or even something to be approved of. Sin should not be something small or ineffectual to us. It should be the most horrible thing that we can imagine. To think of acting in absolute rebellion against the Holy God of heaven and earth should be enough to chill us to our bones, but it doesn’t stop there. We also have to confront the reality that God is angry, that He is growing every day in wrath, against our sinfulness. Only His divine mercy holds Him back from unleashing His just and holy wrath upon us. It is as if with one hand His mercy holds back His wrath, and with the other reaches out to us and calls us to Him. One day though, both hands are going to drop, and then we will see the fullness of how horrible sin truly is, whether in judgement of our sins against us, or in the glory of the payment that Christ has made to save us. But I believe you are absolutely correct, we should never minimize sin, it is not a minimal matter, it is an infinite matter, with infinite consequences.

May God grant you wisdom and may His Holy Spirit draw you nearer to Christ every day. God bless you and thank you.

Matthew

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Thanks, @Johnnyutah, I really appreciate the several points you’ve expressed here. There’s a lot in your thoughts and questions I can relate to but also I notice that I haven’t seen a section of life that you have with regards to your experience in the military. I find this a helpful reminder that each of our experiences will raise different questions in our hearts.

Do you think that if we hold a Godly sense of justice then we must also take joy in the breaking of others bones? Is it not possible to love the justice without taking satisfaction in the pain? You’re right that these elements are combined in super hero movies, but that’s because they are made by humans and represent human desires - as you say, human nature in play. Does God desire to see justice that’s also combined with affliction? Is he able to love justice and take sorrow at the affliction that comes with it? I will need to take time to think on these issues further, but these are the sort of questions that come to mind initially. Thank you for raising this issue to think through.

Just watched American gospel Christ crucified last night! Very well said!! I actually am surprised how much of the progressive church movement has infiltrated our home church, especially in the female circles of our church. How to help draw attention to God rather than ourselves, is something I have been trying to say for a couple years now, and yet it seems to be falling on deaf ears. Hoping as the ladies will maybe watch the show God will open their minds to the more fuller aspect of his character!

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Hello Abbi,

Yes I think that quite a lot of people would be very surprised to find out how much of an influence such movements as progressive Christianity and the NAR, along with many others, have begun to influence churches all around the world. When we build a view of God that is not scripturally sound, we leave ourselves open to an immensity of attack.

I believe Paul Washer said it in the Christ Crucified documentary that many preachers these days do not preach the Gospel as the Bible teaches it, and they do so because they care more about the size of their congregations than the truth and accuracy of their message.

The truth is that Christ did not come preaching an easy message. To accept Him is to fundamentally deny ourselves(Matthew 16:24). If you want to be a Christian, it is the end of you, you are an entirely new creature in Him, and if you do not accept it as His word teaches it, then you do not accept it. Christ talked about a people few in number, and a gate, narrow in dimension. Few will find it or accept it.

That is why it is so important that we present the Gospel as it was given to us. We cannot water it down, or make it easy to swallow. That only produces the next generation of false converts who will stand before God, but not be recognized by Him. I pray for people who teach these things, and anyone who wishes to share the Gospel, that they will not be tempted to try and present a message that will be appealing, but that they will present the truth of the Gospel.

This world does not need a Gospel about a God who is lackadaisically aware of our sin and wishes we would stop it, but will forgive us if we simply ask Him to. This world needs the Gospel that tells us who God is. It needs the Gospel that tells us about His ever increasing wrath that boils with smoke and heat, a wrath that darkens the sun with it’s presence, at the rebellious nature of mankind. Because that’s the only Gospel that shows how desperately we need to run to Christ and, not just ask Him for some forgiveness, but cast ourselves before Him in brokenness at our sin, and ask Him to make us a new creation entirely in Him. Only one of two things can happen to our sin, either Christ bore it on Calvary, or we will bear it on the day of judgement, but it will be paid for either way.

I pray that preachers will step into the pulpit who preach the Gospel, and preach it like lives depended on it. Now is not the time to tickle the ears of the people, now is the time to proclaim the only truth that can save them…Christ crucified.

Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. We can either show up to judgement clothed in the righteousness of Christ, or standing before God on our own merit, but the day will come when we do stand before Him. I only hope that many more will see the truth of salvation before that days comes.

I hope and pray that the ladies in your church will be touched by the message presented, and drawn closer to Christ Abbi. May God grant you wisdom and understanding as you grow in Christ, and work to share the truth with those around you. God bless you and thank you.

Matthew

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