Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Christianity is in real trouble...

For the most part I am a positive individual. I tend to look at things from a Christian world view which permits me to see God's providence at work even in great trials and adversity. But I am continuously alarmed at the growing illness which has plagued the body of Christ in our Western Culture. Salvation by faith alone in Christ alone has been replaced by salvation through church attendance. Hopefully in this article I will be able to articulate my concern...

What is "trending" these days that concerns me is not necessarily a Twitter topic. I'm more concerned with the trend of new language that has infected popular Christianity in America. We seem to think a discussion about Christianity can not take place without tossing around certain terms such as community, culture, multicultural, relevant, radical, non-threatening, and last but definitely not least, UNCHURCHED. It's the term "unchurched" that has raised my theological warning antenna, and brought a great deal of concern to myself and many others who truly are concerned for the souls of men.

Why am I concerned? I mean, doesn't it make us more "relevant" and "non-threatening" to use the term unchurched? After all, saying that people are lost or unsaved is offensive and we are well aware that the Jesus of 2013 is never offensive, never confrontational, and wants everyone to feel special. In our "multi-cultural communities" it is the cool and "radical" thing to say when speaking of people who are on the threshold of eternity, and are facing the wrath of a Holy God who pours out eternal indignation on those who don't know Christ Jesus as Lord. Our priority should never be a straightforward explanation of their condition and the solution found in Christ alone, should it? sarcasm

By the using the term "unchurched" we have sent the message to the lost world that their only problem is their lack of church attendance or membership. The direct result of that is a generation of lost men and women who now think salvation is found by being "church'd." I personally see it on a daily basis. When I converse with people about their spiritual condition they immediately respond with, "Oh, I go to ___________ church!" Their language is horrific, their lifestyles are ungodly and wicked, and they have absolutely zero commitment to Christ whatsoever. In further conversation you find them to be casual drug users, borderline alcoholics, sex addicts, supportive of homosexuality, abortion, partying, the worship of other gods, and no idea of the Biblical doctrine of salvation. But in their minds they are safe, secure, and heaven bound! Why? Because they are no longer in the "unchurched" crowd, they now attend a church occasionally. The church has become their cross, and their membership has become their empty tomb. The greatest threat to the salvation of sinners in 2013 has become the institution of the church itself. What a frightening thing. 

The church is called the "pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15), and yet she has become the entity by which truth is viewed as offensive and the enemy. Our mission is NOT to "relate to and relevantly reach the unchurched" and thus grow our assemblies into large "multi-cultural communities." Our mission is to equip the Saints in order that they might go forth into the world and share the Gospel truth with lost sinners before it is eternally too late. My prayer and hope is for a commitment from churches everywhere to re-commit to discipleship, re-commit to faithful Biblical study, re-commit to obedience, and re-commit themselves to sharing the truth of fallen man's condition, and the truth of fallen man's only hope... Jesus Christ. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

SERMON: 2 Timothy 2:5 "Follow the example of the greatest athlete"

On Sunday mornings we've been studying the subject "How To Grow Spiritually." This Sunday's text was 2nd Timothy 2:5 in which we are instructed to imitate the example of the greatest athlete. I chose Kurt Angle as an amazing illustration of the greatest of Olympic athletes. Hope you are encouraged!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The selfishness of Man versus the Preeminence of God

The Selfishness of Man versus the Preeminence of God

Ephesians 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Dr. John MacArthur rightly asserts, “Preeminence implies supreme standing, picturing one who excels over all others in a particular quality or achievement. There is no one more preeminent than God. You were redeemed and granted an eternal inheritance that God might be glorified. Certainly you benefit greatly from salvation, but God's glory is the primary issue.”

After a careful examination of the sociological characteristics of selfishness in our culture, I have been captured by the influence of hedonism within our own Christian community. Understanding hedonism as the doctrine of self pleasure and self satisfaction as a way of life, I believe a careful examination of the three major doctrines of the Christian experience will reveal that we tend to approach them from a very self centered view (sin, salvation, and glorification). While sacred writ holds as its general foundation the idea that man must forsake himself and seek a life experience that exalts God preeminently, we have somehow manufactured an interpretation of the text that allows for our greatest good at the cost of God’s glory.

Let us first turn to the doctrine of Biblical anthropology. Scripture is abundantly clear that our nature is that of opposition to God, tainted with sin, transgression of His law as the expression of our nature, and rebellion against the Almighty as our most basic instinct. We often define sin only within the parameters of what it does to man…
  • We tend to view sin just within the parameters of its negative effect on such things as our families. We will focus on such rebellion as the sin of adultery, and focus on how it has lead to the destruction of many American families. We emphasize how it destroys trust, shatters emotional stability, and it leads to painful difficulty with the children and the extended families of those involved. While all of these things are true, this is not the supreme difficulty of adultery.
  • I have heard many a discourse on how sin destroys the body. Much emphasis is placed on how many illnesses, diseases, and deaths are caused because of our wicked indifference to Biblical mandate. Consider just a few “amen” statements that are frequently used from the pulpit…
    1. HIV and other diseases are spread rampantly because of sharing needles. Therefore intravenous drug abuse is wrong.
    2. Sexually transmitted diseases are spread when we live immorally. Therefore homosexuality, promiscuity, and all forms of sexual sin are wrong.
    3. God has instituted civil government as a means of punishing the wicked, and rewarding the righteous. When felonies are committed such as theft, murder, and rape, the individual’s civil liberties are then removed, thus limiting his opportunity for freedom. Therefore, the sin of civil disobedience leads only to imprisonment and loss of personal liberty.
    4. Liver failures, heart failures, cancer and so forth come from alcoholism, gluttony, and drug abuse. Therefore excess is wrong.
Once again we should agree with the warnings coupled with each of the above scenarios, and all those warnings are supported by scriptural text. However, those consequences are not the supreme consequence and reasoning behind the scripture forbidding such activities.

We must learn to look beyond selfish concerns of this temporal life, and realize what sin truly does: It offends a thrice holy Almighty God.
  • We are separated from Holy God because of our sin. Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
  • God’s purpose for reaching others through our testimony of righteousness is destroyed by our transgression. Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
We tend to view sin only in how it affects us personally, or as a community. In reality we must view sin as an offense to our Creator and Sustainer. Our motivation to forsake sin and the manifestation of sinful activity should be birthed from a reverential fear of how that wickedness affects a righteous Deity who “is angry with the wicked every day.” To be lavished with the blessings of life, opportunity, intelligence, free moral agency, abundance of supply, and the many other gifts afforded by our Creator, to offend Him should be enough motivation to abstain from rebellious behavior. Yet, our own selfishness is manifested as we simply see sin as that thing that brings ruination to our personal comfort and happiness. If sin is best defined as “missing the mark” then we have sinned on the matter of sin.

We turn now to the matter of salvation; perhaps the most endeared doctrine within Christianity. When it comes to a presentation of this doctrine we tend to focus on what salvation offers to us from God. Take a moment and ponder these great Biblical truths…
  • Salvation offers us freedom from the wrath of God. Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
  • Salvation offers us freedom from the bondage of the law in order that we might live our lives by faith. Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
  • Salvation offers the most blessed truth that all of our sins are forgiven. Psalms 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
  • Salvation offers the most marvelous teaching that God has eternally secured us in the love of Christ. Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  (39)  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Most lectures, teachings, and sermons focus all their attention on bringing the listeners to the understanding that salvation offers all the above. But we rarely focus on the aspect of salvation in which we are to forsake all selfish wants, and commanded to turn to a life of self-sacrificial obedience toward God. Consider now these truths pertaining to salvation…
  • We are told in scripture that in order to enter that eternally secure love relationship with Christ we must enter with a heart of total obedience to His commands. John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • Rarely is it mentioned that salvation means complete and total submission to Christ as Absolute Lord of every aspect of the human life. Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.
  • When was the last time you heard a lengthy discourse reminding fallen humans that salvation means forsaking everything and everyone else for Christ? Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
  • Where is the Charles Spurgeon of our generation to gently remind us salvation means we must die to self completely, and crucify ourselves in order to be pleasing to God? Matthew 10:38-39 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  (39)  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
The aspect of salvation that entails complete and total selflessness is as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth. We would much rather focus on the human benefits of salvation, rather than the God honoring sacrifices commanded by Him in salvation. This has birthed the age of seeker friendly evangelism, easy believism, and modern antinomianism, all of which are an affront to the holiness of the Almighty.  

Now let us conclude the big three by turning to the doctrine of sinless perfection. By this I mean glorification, or simply put; arriving in heaven. When we think of heaven we too often return to thinking selfishly. The most popular of Biblical texts dealing with the doctrine of glorification is found in the Revelation of Jesus Christ:
Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
  • We rejoice in the idea of no more personal struggles with the flesh.
  • We rejoice in and emphasize the idea of no more sickness, death, and heartbreak as a result of our bodies of fallen flesh.
  • Too many of our hymns, poems, and promises focus on reunions with family and friends.
I recently heard a song entitled “Thank you for giving to the Lord.” The song depicted heaven as a place where those greatest affected by our lives would be singing songs of celebration for our service. Again, heaven in this popular song is depicted as a place where WE will be celebrated and rewarded.

In reality heaven is that place where we might be humbly presented to Christ, the Lord of heaven, in order that we might glorify Him for all eternity.
Revelation 21:2-3 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  (3)  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
In heaven Jesus Christ is the central theme, and not family reunions and personal bliss. He will be our all in all, and thus will be the object of eternal praise. Rather than singing “thank you for giving to the Lord,” the Saints will simply be singing “Thank you Lord!”

The Christian experience in this life is about growing into Spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is best manifested when we discover that God’s preeminence in all matters takes precedence over our own selfish desires and pleasure. When we finally reach the place in life where we are truly living for God’s glory it will be manifested in our daily living, and in the motivation for the simplest acts of Christian service.

  1. We should see ourselves making a priority of things like prayer and Bible study, rather than entertainment and slothfulness. Not that we might understand righteousness, and live free of the consequences of breaking of law, but that we might honor the Almighty and live for His glory.
  2. As we understand the true calling of Christianity is not service for personal reward, we will begin seeking a life of serving others for God’s glory. We are not called to serve in order to be blessed personally; we are called to serve because living a life of service best honors Immanuel.
  3. We should mature to the point that as we do everything in our lives, we do these activities while intensely considering whether or not God is glorified in the things we do.

In closing let us consider the simplest of Christian matters; attending a place of worship. Why do you attend? While many answers can be offered, a careful examination of the reasons people stop attending is very revealing. Consider just a few…
    • They switched from a more traditional worship service to a contemporary service. I just can’t stand this new music!
    • I don’t like the way people dress these days. I was raised with the belief that men wear suits and women were dresses. I just can’t stand to look at all those disrespectful people.
    • The service just lasts too long. If you can’t be finished by twelve o’clock, then I’m not going. I have things I need to do before returning to work on Monday!
    • They don’t have programs that best fit the needs of my family. I want specific class opportunities for each of my children, and if they can’t offer those then I’m not going.
    • It’s never warm in that building! I can freeze to death at home! What are they trying to do, hang hog meat in there?
    • It’s too hot in that church house. What are they trying to do, roast beef in that building? I just can’t stand that heat, I’m staying home!
    • Someone sat where I always sit! That meddling old lady did it on purpose too. She knows I like sitting there. I’ll just sit at home, and she can have that seat!
There was not one reason listed above that wasn’t based on selfish hedonistic comfort or preferences. The ultimate purpose of attending a house of worship is that we might seek to serve others, deny ourselves, and glorify God to the fullest. Yet, even in the simplest matter of attending church we tend to be completely selfish in our approach.

This matter of selfishness is not confined to the unregenerate. It is a massive problem within our Christian ranks. Its effects are overwhelming the Church with difficulties, and destroying the foundation of our faith. It is not a problem for the unbeliever to deal with. It is a problem staring you and I as Christians dead in the face. The question is now, what will our response be? If this article has made you as uncomfortable as it’s content made me, perhaps we have just been blessed by the Spirit of God with the revelation of our own selfishness. May the Lord grant to us now repentance. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christian Response To Today's School Shooting

Several people have asked me to offer a Christian perspective to today's tragedy. I am completely inadequate to do so. There are no words, no expression of compassion, or act of charity that can bring peace and understanding to the Moms and Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas, and close family members of those precious little children who were murdered today. There is absolutely no way whatsoever that I can even begin to understand the depth of their pain and heartbreak. 

What we as Christians must do is pray diligently for them, and be ready and willing to offer any support and help these families may need in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. Christmas is often a time of joy for most families, but the holiday season will never be the same for those families effected today. We often pray for and extend charity to the grieving in the immediate aftermath of such a tragedy, but we must continue to do so in the years to come. 

My heart goes out as well to the other little children who were subjected to this horrible day. It will no doubt be a traumatic day that will haunt and confuse them for years to come. The teachers, staff, and parents of the school will be faced with heartbreak, uncertainty, and emptiness. The first responders who walked into the aftermath will undoubtedly be effected for years to come. I can't imagine walking into such a heart stopping scene. The entire community needs prayer, encouragement, sympathy, and whatever charity is needed. We as Christians should respond with compassion, love, understanding, and a great willingness to help in any way possible. 

Days like today serve as a strong reminder that none of us are guaranteed another moment of life. What a beautiful and precious gift life is, and what a sobering reminder that death may come at any moment without warning. We should all be diligent today in making sure that we have made our peace with God by receiving Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. None of us are guaranteed another moment. Have you told the people in your life that are special to you just how much you care for them? Have you slowed down long enough to open a door for a lady, or help an elderly person load their groceries? Life is such a precious thing which is here one moment and gone the next, so we must use every moment to it's fullest. 

One question I was asked is, "Why would God do this, or why would He allow it to happen?" Friends, God didn't do this. A man who chose to rebel in the wickedness of his heart against every command of God to not do this, that man is the cause. God has given us free moral agency, and we are free to choose Him and His way, or to follow sin. We are not robots who are forced against our will to do horrific acts. Again, we are free moral agents and that is both the beauty and tragedy of our human existence. Sadly, many refuse to observe the moral laws set forth by a God of love, and in breaking those laws such as "Thou shalt not kill" they bring nothing but tragedy and heartache. If anything, these events should remind us that God's principles for human living bring about the very best in quality of life. It's when we as wicked people rebel that tragedies like today happen. However, God is ready even now to offer peace, grace, mercy, and love to everyone who needs Him in this desperate hour. 

Moments ago I heard a commentator smirk with the question, "Where was God today?" Must I remind everyone that we have told God that He is not wanted in our schools, He is not wanted in our government, and often He's not wanted in our homes. Maybe today will serve as a reminder of How desperately we need Him in our culture. 

My heart breaks today for all those who were murdered, and like most people I have a specific pain in my heart when I think about the innocent blood of the children that was shed today. Not only the currently reported 20 children in this school shooting, but the other 3,500 little children that will be murdered today before they ever have the opportunity to be held by loving arms, or to play with a puppy, or make friends at school. My heart breaks for the 3,500 little babies that today will be considered an inconvenience, or unwanted, or a mistake. The health of 3,500 new Mothers will not be threatened today, but they will make a decision to end their child's life. This breaks my heart every day. God may have already given us the next great scientist who would've created a vaccine for the AIDS virus, or the next great doctor who would have found a cure for cancer, or the next great preacher who would've reached the world with God's love, but they were an inconvenience and thus were murdered before ever having the chance to draw their first breath. This breaks my heart every day. 

This a dark and tragic day in our nation. If your children came home safe today, then give them a hug and tell them you love them. Begin now raising them in the fear and nurture of the Lord. Make getting them to Sunday school a higher priority than getting them to ball practice. Set an example for them by living a life that builds up your community rather than tearing it down. Discipline them when they do wrong so they'll realize there are consequences when they do wrong. Teach them morality, virtue, and accountability, and do it by example. Pray with them, go to church with them, and teach them to read God's word by the example of you doing it. Love them, because tomorrow may not give the opportunity as today has so shockingly reminded us.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Put Some Clean Clothes On!

Ephesians 4:17-24 (17) This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,  (18)  Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:  (19)  Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.  (20)  But ye have not so learned Christ;  (21)  If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:  (22)  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;  (23)  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;  (24)  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Everyone who is a Christian has received a change of nature. We are literally brand new creations. Take special note of this passage. – 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Our new life is not a matter of adding something new to our old nature. We are literally transformed and have been made something new! - Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

We must however be constantly reminded that our new nature is wearing what Dr. John MacArthur calls, “my humanness--the smelly coat that my new nature has to endure until it goes to be with the Lord.” What God calls you and I to do is take off that coat. - Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts

Not only are we to take off the old sinful clothing, but we are to put on the clothing of Christ-likeness. - Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Perhaps this verse should be the driving force in a new direction for our lives… Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

In Ephesians 4:17 until the end of the Epistle, the Apostle Paul focuses on how you and I are to take off the clothing of sin, and live our lives clothed in newness after the image of Christ.

The Ephesians’ world was appealing to the clothing of sinful humanity…

  1. They had the largest bank in the world, and one of the wealthiest cities in the world.
  2. Ephesus housed a giant museum in the temple erected to the Greek goddess Diana which housed all types of art, including a multi-breasted beast representing Diana which became the trademark symbol of the wicked culture.
  3. The temple to Diana was filled with prostitutes calling themselves priestesses, and the religious practice was that of sexual depravity and drunken parties.
  4. The Christians there had a difficult time living separate from the wickedness of the city.
I think we can now clearly see that the culture of Ephesian living was not so much unlike our culture today. We still worship at the altar of humanism. We still pursue our gross sexual lust at all costs. We openly embrace every type of materialism as if success is measured only by wealth and power. We are a culture that refuses God, and accepts hedonism. 

Before we meet Christ, we are no different from the world system mentioned above. We are saturated in lives of selfishness and sinfulness as the scripture clearly states. - 1 Peter 4:3  For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

Yet, now we are clearly commanded to abstain from these types of wickedness. We are commanded to remove the old coat of sin and self. - 1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.

What we must remember as we look at this text that this is not the opinion of men, but the command of God! - Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord,

Now we want to contrast and examine the old life and the new life, the old coat and the new coat. In verses 17-24 Paul does this with four contrasting characteristics. We have to understand that this is a matter of the heart and mind. It’s not a matter of reforming our actions, but a matter of changing our hearts. It’s a matter of genuine repentance. - Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Ephesians 4:23  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

SELF CENTEREDNESS - (17) This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, - This speaks of vanity! Self-centeredness! Solomon had everything and concluded that all was vain unless you served God! Oh that we might have the wisdom of Solomon. What does it profit us if we gain the whole world and lose our very own soul?

IGNORANCE - (18) Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: - No matter how educated a man may be, apart from Christ he is blind and unlearned. Apart from knowing Christ, he knows nothing of eternal value. What a pitiful condition Christians are in today. It seems we are pursuing all forms of knowledge, but lacking a deep knowledge of fellowship with Christ.

SHAMELESSNESS - (19) Who being past feeling – This speaks of the inability to have concern over the consequences of one’s actions. This is totally shameless behavior with no thought, care, or concern with how it affects anyone else.

PERVERSION - (19) Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. – Let’s examine this perverse living…
  • Lasciviousness means, “Shameless wantonness and unblushing obscenity.” It was used to speak of sexual and violent obscenity. What drives our culture today?
  • To work with greediness means they literally make their living from evil, violence, and sexual misconduct. What drives our evil commercial marketing today?
  • The entire culture of Ephesus was built around making merchandise of and marketing everything sinful and wicked that appealed to the pleasures of men. Does this not sound like our culture today?

So now let’s consider what we are to do with those things?
    1. We are not like that anymore! (20)  But ye have not so learned Christ
    2. We are to make every exhaustive effort to abstain from wickedness. (22)  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man,

This passage stands as a strong reminder that we are to be different from the world. The sinful habits, perverse lusts, commitments to self and materialism, and indifference to serving Christ are to be a part of our past and not prevailing in the present. While the temptations to worldliness loom over head, we are to put on the new clothing of righteousness as we face each new day. Everything needed to in order to be suited with new attire has been provided: the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit, a new nature, the sacred scriptures, the local church, and the blessing of communion with God through prayer. To neglect dependency on any of these is to leave a portion of our lives unclothed and subject to be covered by the old attire of sin.

Prayer – Thank God today for making you a new creation in Christ. Praise Him for the great gift of salvation, and the gifts mentioned above which equip you for faithful living and committed service. Ask Him to examine your life and reveal any and every area in which repentance is needed. Plead on the behalf of other believers, and earnestly pray that He would do the same for them. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Through It All...

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

What a wonderful admonition from the Apostle Paul! Might it be the earnest expectation, and fervent labor of every genuine believer to have "the word of Christ" dwelling in us "richly in all wisdom!" However, it is the second part of this deep well of wisdom that I wish to pursue: Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.

As I examined this verse my heart was immediately taken to the night the Lord saw fit to begin a work of grace in my heart. Some many years ago, in the midst of a horrible Winter storm I wandered into First Baptist Church in Irvine, Kentucky on a Sunday evening. I wasn't sure what to expect or what would happen, and then I was completely overwhelmed by the Spirit of God! It was not when Pastor Sherl Thomas began his stirring sermon on our Lord's death and resurrection. Rather, violent conviction began when they opened the service with a hymn, "How Great Thou Art!" I well recall feeling so small, so sinful, and so wicked as God's people lifted their hearts and voices to heaven to praise the Great God of all creation. By the time Pastor Thomas began preaching, I was more than ready to hear a message of redemption for my wicked estate.

Thinking of the many great hymns that God has used to influence me, I often think of Trust and Obey. What truthful, and powerful instruction is found in this great hymn! "Trust and obey. For there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey." How often I have needed to be reminded that my disobedience was causing the discontent and sorrow in my heart. Then upon hearing these words I'm reminded that joy returns when I turn from wickedness and pursue righteousness with all my heart!

One of my favorite hymns is "Grace Greater than all our Sin." I love and cling to the words, "Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace. Freely bestowed on all who believe." How often I've struggled with those things left behind, and have needed the reminder of God's everlasting love and grace.

How could I fail to mention the great hymn of our Christian testimony, "Amazing Grace." That first stanza revealing the truth of our initial experience with God's amazing saving grace. Now I'm currently living the third stanza, "Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come. Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home." And oh how we long for the conclusion of our salvation when "we've no less days to sing His praise than when we first begun."

My favorite modern hymn writer is Andrae Crouch. I absolutely love "Through It All" and in moments of uncertainty and struggle, I often drift toward that great hymn for encouragement and reminder. Soon and Very Soon, The Blood Will Never Loose It's Power, To God Be The Glory... So many powerful and encouraging hymns from Andrae Crouch!

In closing, I thought I'd share one of my favorite hymns. I pray it encourage you as it has me!

Monday, July 5, 2010

God Knows Everything

In the scriptures, in order to help you and I better understand our God, certain attributes of God are described with anthropopathic and anthropomorphic language. Anthropopathic language consists of human emotions attributed to God in order to help us better understand Him. You might read, "It repented the Lord that He had done this." You might read "It angered the Lord." You get the jest. Anthropomorphic language consists of human attributes given to God to help us understand Him better. You might read "the hand of God" or "finger of God" etc.

With anthropomorphic language in mind, consider the following... In the 15th Proverb and the 3rd verse the wisdom writer declares, "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." What a humbling and sobering thought this invokes. Everywhere we go, and everything we do is seen by the eyes of our Sovereign Lord! In the 33rd Psalm the Psalmist makes the following assertion, "The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works." From God's heavenly throne He beholds every work committed by the hand of every man, woman, boy and girl. There's is absolutely nothing you and I can do that escapes the eyes of the Lord.

God not only sees the actions performed by every living being, He also knows the very thoughts, desires, and motives of every human being. Consider carefully the words of David in the 139th Psalm and the first 8 verses, "O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there."
A. God knew everything about David's daily living, including every thought he had.
B. Before David took any journey in His life's path, God already knew of that journey.
C. David understood that God's knowledge was far too great for him to ever comprehend.
D. David understood that there is no escaping God's knowledge. Every action, and every thought of man is clearly seen by God Almighty.

Not only does God know everything about human actions, and not only does God know everything about human thoughts, but God knows everything about everything! Note these words from the 147th Psalm and the 5th verse, "Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite." There is no end to God's knowledge of all things! Paul considered this great truth, and here was his conclusion of the matter from Romans 11:33-36, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."

We can sum this all up by stating the following: God is omniscient. Simply put, God knows everything about everything! There is no limit to God's understanding and knowledge of all things. He truly is the I Am.

Now, we might be curious as to how God can know everything about everything. How can God know with certainty what shall happen tomorrow, or what we will do tomorrow? The answer is profound, and actually causes this writer to live in reverential fear of this awesome Creator we serve. Here is the answer from Isaiah 46 and verse 10, "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." Consider those words carefully dear friend. God knows what will happen tomorrow because He sovereignly created and declared everything that will happen tomorrow, when He created the beginning of all we know in the heavens and the earth. I must agree with Paul that when contemplating God's knowledge it leads me to declare, "The Lord's ways are past finding out! To Him be the glory forever, Amen!"

What is to be our response to these things? How do we as finite humans respond to such marvelous truths about God's omniscience?
1. Since God sees every action we perform, we should do all things to the praise of the glory of His good name. Our daily manner of living should consist of holiness, righteousness, and obedience to His truth. Whatever we eat, or drink, or whatever we do should be done to the glory of God.
2. Since God knows every thought, we must seek to flee from wicked influence, and we renew our minds with the things of God. Bible study, prayer, fellowship with other believers, and filling our minds with things that are lovely and true should be our daily routine. We should also avoid watching, reading, listening to, touching, or even keeping company with anything that is wicked and would lead to the pollution of our minds.
3. When we as God's children truly believe God knows everything, and that He is in sovereign control of all things, we should take comfort in Him. Our faith should increase, our trust should grow, and our fears should fade. Note these words from Isaiah 40:28-29 "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength." Even as we pray Jesus reminds us, "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of even before ye ask Him."
4. I believe it was RC Sproul who said that for the unbeliever the thought of God's omniscience should bring a reaction of genuine terror. After the Psalmist asks in Psalm 94, "LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?" he continues on to mention the evil boasting of these same wicked men who say, "The LORD shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it." Yet the conclusion of the whole matter comes in verses 9-11, "He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know? The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity." The hearts of the wicked that think they can hide their words, actions, and thoughts from God are here reminded that God sees all they do, hears all they know, and even knows every wicked thought they have. Furthermore, a coming day of His judgment will deliver to each of them their just reward. The reward of the wicked is described by Paul as being a day of "flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." The wicked man's response should be fear, followed by repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ.

Consider these matters today. Pray about the matter of God's omniscience, and pray the Lord examine your heart and reveal if there be any unclean thing. What a great a mighty God we serve! He alone knows the depth of our hearts, and He alone is capable of cleansing us of all unrighteousness. Cry to Him today.