I remember a few years back my brother and I would get into these long discussions about God and the formation of the universe. I know there are quite a number of views even within evangelical Christianity but just so the record is set straight here, I tend to lean towards young earth creationism. In a nutshell, God created the world in six days, each consisting of 24 hours a day, he rested on the 7th and the age of the earth is roughly 6 or 7000 years old.
The thing about these debates I had with him was simply that I never walked away feeling like I won; I always felt defeated. That was until I took a class at college which specifically dealt with creation. If I remember correctly the class was, Creation Science.
While I am the first to admit that I don’t love science, I really enjoyed the class. The class provided me with a solid argument for young earth creationism. I have always tended to believe in that but I never really knew how to articulate it against all of the criticism which comes against it.
Then I remember going out to visit my brother one day. I had one objective: to argue and debate and win the case for young earth creationism. I met with my brother and we discussed a number of topics but never got into that debate. It wasn’t until I was just about to leave that the opportunity presented itself. We spoke for about an hour or so and with every argument he brought to the table, I was able to dismantle it.
As I said my goodbye and was about to leave, my brother said, “Good conversation. It lets me know you’re thinking and opening your mind.” I felt like I had won the argument. I know I made a solid case. That was the point.
Ever since leaving college though, things in my life have changed. I no longer read textbooks on a daily basis but I still study theology. I hope I always do. My views change though as I grow into a deeper understanding of God.
The End of God begins when I let go of everything and allow him to take his rightful place as Lord of my life.
Without a doubt, I struggle with an insecure relationship with my Creator. When I was a new Christian, I remember being told that whenever I sinned, my relationship with God was over. It became a broken relationship and I had to ask Jesus to forgive me for what I had done wrong and then and only then would my relationship with God the Father be restored. This shaped my Christian life for many years.
Here’s the problem I encountered. I sinned a lot and I mean A LOT!! So, from an early stage I always felt like I was fighting for my relationship with God. It was a constant battle and a constant struggle to keep living the right way.
The truth about our relationship is that, when we fall short and sin, our relationship with God the Father is strained. It isn’t broken and it isn’t over. Confessing our sins at that point, is to restore our fellowship with him and to cleanse us from the unrighteousness we have invited into our lives.
When Jesus washed the disciple’s feet, he was teaching them a lesson. First, be humble. Secondly, as we live in the world, our feet get dirty. We need continual washing, which comes from the blood of the Lamb, Jesus. This continual washing is not for the forgiveness of sins as it pertains to our salvation but the forgiveness of sins which places strain on our relationship with God. It is our temporal fellowship and Christ washes us that we may continue to abide in him.
The End of God begins when we allow our understanding of who he is to take precedence over his identity as defined in His Word.
Bad theology exists because we live in a broken world and despite the fact we try to understand God that sin fights against us. Make no mistake, the Word is clear: if we seek God with everything, we will discover who he is. (Jer. 29:13)
One of the “newer” (by that I mean, new to me) teachings I have encountered is “Hyper-Grace.” I’ve read quite a bit on that material and have been studying the teachings alongside Scripture. Recently, I read DR Silva’s “Hyper Grace: The Dangerous Doctrine of a Happy God” and Dr. Michael Brown’s “Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message.”
It is my own personal view and understanding that God is more accurately viewed by those outside of the “hyper-grace” camp than those within. The main flaw I see within the hyper-grace teachings is that God has one side to him-he is happy, good and nothing changes his mood. In addition, nothing can alter our relationship with him.
Grace frees us from the bondage and curse of the Law, not from obedience. Grace frees us to accept our position and standing before God as righteous because of Jesus. I fully believe that our salvation rests on “grace through faith alone.” Nothing more, nothing less.
I believe it is belief, confession and repentance (change of mind) that brings about salvation. The resurrection of Christ is connected to our faith and activates salvation. The Hyper-grace teachers believe that you cannot have too much grace. I believe you can and that is revealed in Jude 1:4, “I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous GRACE allows us to live immoral lives.”
I believe grace can be abused and in fact it has been abused. This past week, I read a blog from someone who refers to themselves as a radical grace teacher and in this blog mentioned that because Jesus has taken care of the sin problem, then sin should no longer be an issue in our lives; sin shouldn’t even be thought of. (Paraphrase)
Again, pointing to Jude 1:23 “Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” Jude wasn’t saying that sin shouldn’t be an issue, he was saying because it is such great issue and because of its consequence (both temporal and eternal) we need to keep it in check. We do this by fleeing from sin.
Here are the points I am making. First, I agree with quite a bit about what the Hyper-Grace teachers actually present. I believe there is a lot of truth within the messages. Secondly and most important, I don’t know God the way I want to know him and because of sin, my pursuit of him in itself has its own flaws. What I want to do in this life is to present God as he is revealed in and through His Word.
J.C Ryle wrote the following:
“Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who as a heaven for everybody, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and broad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all.”
The End of God begins when we elevate our response to people over our response to Him.
There are two absolute truths within the Word of God which must be fully understood. First, the most important law that exists is love. Love God, love others. That is how Jesus responded when asked what commandment is the greatest. When we love God and love others, we fulfill the Law(s) of God.
On the surface level, that appears to be simple. A deeper look reveals it’s not as easy as you’d think. It is our response to people that can become an issue. Let me give a few examples of this if I may.
A little while back, World Vision, an organization that exists to feed and clothe homeless children, caused quite a bit of uproar in the Christian community when they announced they would allow same-sex couples to begin serving alongside them.
Many of the “bigger” name pastors and theologians came out with guns blazing, attacking this. The response to this attack was basically, “We as believers are no longer responding in love.” Why can’t same sex couples serve the homeless? Just because they have feelings towards the same sex doesn’t disqualify them from serving. We need to be more loving. We are sending the wrong message.”
I fought, tooth and nail, not to respond via the blog to this one. It was rather difficult. Perhaps now is a good opportunity to reveal what I believe to be absolute truth. The Christian leaders did the right thing by (1) Speaking out against World Vision and (2) Revoking their involvement.
Here is the reality check we all need. When we fail to respond in love, we are not fulfilling and not acting in accordance with our new nature. Now, that being said, should believers respond the way they did and revoke their involvement with an organization that left millions of children affected? That’s the main point-it is the children who would suffer because of this. That though is the point!
Why are there homeless children starving in the world? It’s an ugly three letter word, SIN! It isn’t because of what we are and what we are not doing; it is the simple reality that sin exists in our world. So, standing up against Sin (in this case, homosexuality) is the right response. It is the response to the Word of God and not to the cultural shifts.
Sometimes, we are more like Jesus when it appears we are acting less like Jesus.
Some believers who were for World Vision and against the backlash they faced, centered their arguments on the children who suffered. Thousands of children suffered for this is what their cry was. Yet, I wonder, how many children were saved because God was glorified by those willing to stand on His Word and not drink the cool aid?
The other question is simply, can homosexuals serve? Of course they can! They can help out; they can serve all they want. It needs to be said though that when sinners offer up their service, God doesn’t accept it.
In the end, the issue here is that we can and often respond to “loving others” against “loving God.” Jesus didn’t place loving God above loving people, he made it equal. When Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Peter continually said “Yes.” What was Jesus’ response to Peter? “Feed my sheep.” In other words, your love for people reflects your love for me. When believers lower their standards and fail to respond to God, then we do no longer love people. Loving God and loving people goes hand in hand.
In another example, I once served in a ministry where questionable practices were conducted. I raised the issues even prior to beginning the ministry but was subsequently ignored. I continued to bring it up and was continually ignored. Finally, I began to withdraw and felt led to speak with the leader in private. In essence, I was told that I was wrong.
To my knowledge, to this day, this “ministry leader” believes I was wrong and has even used social media to call me out in how I behave. Now, it was not long after the meeting in private that I left the ministry and I am glad I did.
The reason I left is simple-honor. I honored God because I responded to His Word and not to the leader above me. I honored the leader by being involved while I was there and by revealing my heart for the issue(s) that were present in the ministry. Honoring God should always be a priority.
As believers we need to be mindful of how God’s Word tells us to react. That is vital in this world. You see, when it comes to loving people, there are two elements which must always be present. First, we need to show unconditional love. Love, without condition, isn’t love. The second element is accountability. Love, without accountability, is indifference.
The End is Where it Begins
Thankfully God doesn’t have an end. We do though. And we need to be people who don’t put God in a box. We need to be mindful that God is bigger than us. Our story is part of His story. Our lives are hidden in Christ. Paul said it like this, “It is not I who lives but Christ in me.” (Gal. 2:20) Many times, we continue living as if Christ is a part of our lives rather than allowing him to be our life. Let God take over.