Thinking about the Faithful God

Hebrews 10:23IMG_0722

Theology is the study of God; it is the proper study of God’s people. He is the starting point of our world and life view. Since we are in a personal relationship with the Maker and Preserver of all things, we seek to understand what he has told has about himself. As we grasp his majesty, we are capable of making better sense of ourselves and the world he has placed us in. So we can say that the study of God is one of the most practical activities that we can engage in. The writer of Hebrews has told us in this great paragraph to hold fast our profession. The second part of verse twenty-three tells us of the motivating force to obey the command in the first part of this verse. Why should we obey? “For he who promised is faithful”.

Remember some basic ideas about our faithful God. When we talk about the living God with people in our generation, we need to define what we mean by the word “God”. Don’t assume that your neighbor has the same ideas that you have. They will define “God” according to whatever their religious philosophy is—Hindu, Buddhist, Islam, pagan, new age, religious existentialist, etc. Let’s think about two truths concerning the true and living God that relate to our subject.

God is personal. We need to listen carefully to what God has said about his nature and what people say about their “god”. God is not an impersonal force to be manipulated by people. God is a tri-personal being. Yes, he is infinitely greater than we are, but he is personal as we are. We must accept God as he reveals himself. We cannot recast God to conform to our opinions. God tells us that he is Father, Son and Holy Spirit; one God in three persons. Certainly this is very difficult to understand, because we know of no other being like him. But our lack of comprehension does not give us the right to reinterpret reality according to our whims. There are many parts of higher mathematics that the average person does not comprehend. That lack of comprehension doesn’t alter the reality of mathematics.

God is a communicator. God speaks to us in language we can understand. He could have spoken in a way that no human could understand, but that would not have agreed with his purpose to make himself and the way of salvation known to us. To speak to us clearly, God chose three human languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic) and the thought forms, idioms, and qualities of each of those languages. In doing this, the living God was able to make known the truth about himself and how to know him.

God gives us statements that we can rely on. For example, he has told us that he is eternal, all-powerful, and compassionate. This provides us with confidence in him when we grieve over departed loved ones, feel the weakness of our human flesh, and feel miserable. The Lord God makes promises to us out of his desire to draw us to himself that we might experience the wonder and joy of who he is. For example, Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 HCSB). We might feel helpless and hopeless, but Jesus’ words encourage us that he will rescue us from the guilt and punishment due us for our sins.

So then, God’s revelation about his nature, fuels our confidence in the faithful God. If we follow God’s example in talking with our neighbors in this way, then we can share with them the promises that God makes to people who will turn to him and trust in him through Christ.

Grace and peace, David

What in the World Is God Doing? (Part One)


Revelation 5:1-14

Even a brief consideration of what is happening in the world is enough to chill the strongest heart. What do we hear of every day, every week, every month and every year? It is the same ugly story—war, violent crime, terrorism, suicide, famine, deadly diseases, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and fatal accidents. In one sense it is not surprising that people try to escape from reality by drugs, alcohol, orgies and other forms of distracting pleasures. And it should not surprise us when those who are not fully committed followers of Christ look at the world, then listen to us talk about the God who is in control of all things, and then challenge us by saying something like, “If your God is in control, then what in the world is God doing?” Or, “what kind of God would be in charge and allow all this?” Perhaps you even ask such questions yourself.

Part of the answer is that the ruin in this world comes from human sin. God never tempts or impels anyone to sin (James 1:13). If you and I sin, that is our choice. We think it is a superior choice, prefer the pleasure it offers, and so willingly choose it. But human sin is only part of the answer, because obviously the God who is in charge could easily stop all this ruin immediately. Therefore, we must seek from the Bible the answer to this important question!

A problem was announced in heaven (5:1-4). A challenge resounds from God’s throne (5:1-2). What is the scroll? It is the message of God’s eternal plan. It reaches from eternity to eternity, proclaiming God’s purpose to reveal his glory—in judgment to his enemies and in grace to his chosen ones. So then, God issues a challenge to all creation. He asks everyone, who can open up my plans? (Think of a rolled up set of blueprints.) Who can make them known or bring them to fulfillment? Who can show my surpassing significance or worth?

The Holy Spirit tells us of the inability of creation to meet the challenge (5:3-4). A search of everything in creation revealed the complete unworthiness of all creation. No one has the capacity to disclose and develop God’s great plan. You cannot explain reality by starting from yourself. You are a created being. You are too small; you lack power; you are unworthy.

John’s response was to weep and weep. I do not think he was weeping out of frustration of not being able to know the future, but out of a sense of loss of meaning and purpose and destiny. This is the condition of many in our world. People have been smashed by modern and postmodern ideas. Humanity is nothing. There are no morals, no destiny and no hope. Go ahead and manipulate people, or fabricate news stories in the media. You are free to satisfy your cravings for whatever you feel the urge to communicate or to do! If you understand this sad state of affairs, weep. Yes, weep for people who have no ultimate meaning or significance.

However, the living God does not tell us this in order to abandon us to despair. He speaks so that we can understand our insufficiency. Perhaps then we will desire to listen to him, not for entertainment, or not out of religious obligation, but out of desire for his perspective and plans. As you begin a new work week, listen to what God communicates to you.

Grace and peace, David