Saturday, June 25, 2016

160626 The God Who Is

Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Everyone, everywhere are born with a deep sense of God in their being. Everywhere we go the people we find already have an idea of God. This idea is explained in the Bible. Yet, there are many people who have rejected the idea of God. The apostle Paul talks about them in the book of Romans chapter 1, verse 21: “although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” He goes on to say that they became fools. More than 1000 years before Paul the psalmist said, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’”. (Psalm 14:1)
Children are willing to accept the concept of God without question when they are born. As they confront the world’s philosophies, taught in school and society in general, their concept of God is eroded and, in many cases, is abandoned. The world is opposed to God for the simple reason that it is ruled over by Satan. He is, according to the Bible, the God of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). As such, at every level of society he leads the charge in opposition to God. He does this by undermining faith and encouraging wickedness. And…
The wicked person chooses against God. Let’s see what the psalmist had to say Psalm 10:3-4. For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
We can see from this passage that some people deny the inner sense of God. They’re caught up in self-centered desires. They are greedy for gain. They curse and renounce God! They go beyond even that. Not only do they not seek God but in their mind they reflect the concept, “There is no God”. There’s a very simple reason for this and it’s often overlooked. Living the kind of self-centered life of those who oppose God the absence of God is needed. You see? If there is a God then there must also be a sense of “right” and “wrong”! And if there is “right” and “wrong” they are in danger of the judgment. I can assure you that is true! There is without question a real right and wrong based on the word of God and His abiding character.
I remember once being confronted by a man who boldly stated, “I don’t believe there’s a God”. My simple answer was, “If I lived the way you do I would want there to be no God”! If God exists, and is the God revealed in the Bible, then all those who reject him are in serious trouble. All have sinned and the wages of sin is death. For those unbelievers there is no hope of life beyond the grave. The Bible tells us in many places…
They suppress the truth that they were born with. Let’s turn to Romans 1:18. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Here, God has defined for us the problem of unrighteous mankind. In their unrighteousness they suppress the truth. The consequence, for them, is crushing! When they turn against the truth that they were born with then they enter into a condition where they face the wrath of God.
We should not be surprised at the term “wrath of God”. God loves all that is right and good. All that is right and good conforms to His moral character. If anything does not conform to His moral character then it is subject to His wrath. God’s wrath means that he intensely hates all sin! And when the truth about Him is suppressed by man there should be an expectation of God releasing His wrath against the ungodliness and wickedness of men. Repeatedly, in the Bible, sin is seen as the target of God’s wrath. As man chooses to deny God there are very negative consequences.
Because of this choice “God gave them up”. Let’s look ahead to Romans 1:24-32. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
For the fools who deny God and make themselves subjects of His wrath there is a process that should be very frightening.
Three times in this first chapter of Romans the words appear “God gave them up”. First, in the lusts of their heart they are given over to impurity. They have denied God and traded the truth for a lie. They have worshiped the creature rather than the Creator.
Second, they are given over to dishonorable passions! What today is called an alternate lifestyle is known in the Bible as sin! Women becoming homosexual as well as men following that lifestyle. I am not “homophobic” I am simply relating what the Bible says. God says that they receive the due penalty for their error. I will not attempt to define that further.
Third, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to done. And then we see a list of unrighteous acts: envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. All of these things are characteristic of the lifestyle of the average person today. One has only to turn on the evening news or watch the popular programs on TV to see that these unrighteous acts have not changed through the centuries. What needs to be done about this?
When Jesus began His preaching ministry he used the same message as his cousin, John the Baptist. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17) We desperately need today to acknowledge that same message. There needs to be wholesale repentance! As a society, America has become corrupted in every possible way.
There can come a change…
When we believe we begin to know God. Let’s turn to Romans 8:15-17. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
In the life of a Christian an inner awareness of God becomes stronger as we initiate our belief. Salvation is found when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ! In the world of Christianity today people are called upon to “accept Christ” when they should be called upon to “believe in Christ”. The Bible tells us that if we believe in Him we will be saved along with our family (Acts 16:31).
As a result of our belief we come to know God. We enter into his family by adoption. Then we see God with a new attitude. We are able to call Him “Abba! Father!” A term of familiarity and family relationship. The Holy Spirit reveals to us that we are children of God. We are joint heirs with Christ.
When we know God we began to grow spiritually. Let’s turn to Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-19. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Christians should often be prayed for us and our brothers and sisters in Christ! We desperately need to be strengthened with the power of Holy Spirit. We need to be internally changed resulting in an eternal change! As we believe we begin to grow spiritually. We are no longer driven about by the winds of the world’s philosophies because we are rooted and grounded in love. We are able to understand the vast love of God shown to us in Christ. According to the Bible nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39). We have come to believe that God exists and more than that “whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
It is impossible to believe in the goodness of God without first believing that He exists. Our belief in Jesus Christ gives us the ability to see that…
Everything around us acknowledges God. Let’s turn to Psalm 19:1-3. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
It is difficult for me to imagine looking at the sky above and after that not believing in a Creator. Even Richard Dawkins, one of the leading atheists in the world, had to admit that he cannot prove that God does not exist. He even changed his position to that of an agnostic. The idea he prefers is life having been brought to earth by intelligent beings — aliens. It would seem that he would say that those aliens had been planted on their world by other aliens. If that is true, where did they come from? Remember, the FOOL says in his heart “there is no God”!
Without question, the Bible teaches that God created the universe. The scenario in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 shows God speaking everything into being. At the end of each day God observed his creation and said it was good.
God created mankind, male and female, in His own image and after His likeness. Therefore every person on earth is valuable and should be treated with respect. No matter how twisted their character might be they are still in the image of God. When God created the earth, the universe and mankind He created everything good. In fact, after God had created everything, including mankind, he said that it was “very good”. There was no evil in the world. Only after Adam and Eve rebelled in the Garden of Eden did evil come into the world.
The very creation itself speaks to us about the existence of God. The universe does not tell us everything we need to know about God but it does point us in His direction. The reason every society on earth began with an idea of God is they are surrounded by the evidence of the creation.
As a result, everyone is without excuse! Let’s turn back to Romans 1:20-23.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Clearly, the power of God and the nature of God are seen in the creation. God has made it plain to everyone that he exists and that he rewards those who believe in him. Even though all societies and cultures began with the knowledge of God they soon turned away from God. Even unbelievers who have no written record of God’s laws still have, in their consciences, some understanding of God’s moral demands. All people groups everywhere have some sense of right and wrong. The knowledge of God’s laws when seen through nature is incomplete. At the same time it is sufficient to give an awareness of a God who gives the rain and the seasons to everyone and is therefore a loving Creator. There is a general revelation of God that comes from nature and from observation throughout history as well as through the inner sense of God’s existence. Everyone comes into this world with an emptiness that can only be filled by God.
All over the earth in every culture and every people group the existence of God is obvious. Every leaf on a tree and every star in the sky — everything in creation cries out the existence of God. Everything in Scripture and everywhere in nature God’s existence is not just assumed but also is proven. Our belief in the existence of God is not some kind of blind faith. It is a decision based on overwhelming reliable evidence from God’s words and God’s on work! Have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? That is the way to salvation.

All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

160619 The Real Father

 Romans 8:12-17 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Father’s day is a great opportunity for us think about the relationship that we have with our real Father. Our Heavenly Father!
It saddens me to think about the condition of the family in the world today. A very common problem found in all social levels is the absence of the father from the home. It may be that sometimes the father cannot be in the home due to his work, such as a member of the military. But that is certainly not the majority of the cases. The biological family that we could depend upon in the past is rapidly disappearing. There needs to be a new emphasis on our adoption into the family of God.
We needed to be adopted spiritually because we were born into the family of Adam and Eve. They decided to rebel against God. When they did, all of their unborn children died spiritually. Therefore…
The natural condition of man is “children of wrath”. Let’s look at Ephesians 2:1-3. And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
God’s wrath is frequently mentioned in the Bible. Basically, God’s wrath is a hatred of everything that is opposed to his moral character — He intensely hates all sin! The Bible tells us that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men” (Romans 1:18). If God did not hate sin He would not be worthy of worship. The gods who are invented by men seem to either be delighted in sin or, at least, are not troubled by it. Sin ought not to exist and we should delight in the fact that our God stands against it. We cannot, in our own strength, deliver ourselves from the power of sin. We must have the strength of the living God on our side. Yet we are born sons and daughters of Adam and Eve and as a consequence subjects of the prince of the power of the air. Not only are we born children of wrath but also…
Jesus called those who rejected Him sons of the devil. Let’s look at John 8:42-44. Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Jesus had just told the Jews who believed Him that they must abide in His word. Then they would know the truth and be set free. They rejected the idea that they were not already free. Jesus quickly pointed out to them that the practice of sin, common to all mankind, is spiritual slavery from which we must be delivered. Those Jews believed that, as natural sons of Abraham, they were free already. Many people today believe because they started life in a Christian family and followed the church rituals from their childhood they are free of sin. Jesus then spoke our text. He pointed out that they were repeating the work of their father and that father is not God but is instead the devil who is a liar and the father of lies.
We are born children of wrath and sons of the devil. There is no way “out” of our problem apart from believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
By faith we are all sons of God. Let’s look at Galatians 3:23-26. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
Having been born in sin and choosing to follow in sin causes all mankind to be imprisoned until faith arrives. We are born separated from God and subject to death and hell. The only way out is through belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, His death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead.
There’s a common error in our world today. It is called the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God. Physically, since we descended from Adam, we can say that God is our Father. But only by believing in Christ Jesus are we spiritually sons of God.
We, like Nicodemus, must be born again (John 3:1-15). Jesus is very clear! Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God! We must be born of the Spirit in order to be set free from the bondage of our flesh. Once a person comes to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith he or she enters into a new relationship with God.
The Holy Spirit witnesses to our new relationship. Let’s look ahead to Galatians 4:4-7. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
We should rejoice in the fact that our Heavenly Father established a process whereby we could be redeemed and become adopted as sons.
Repeatedly, in the Bible, the term “sons” is used to refer to all people of a particular class. Ladies, please don’t be offended!
When God created man, he created both “male and female” in His image (Genesis 1:27) men and women are made equally in God’s image and both men and women reflect God’s character in their lives. There are abiding differences between men and women and those differences should be respected. I, for one, rejoice in those differences.
We are born into the family of man and when we believe on Jesus we are born again by adoption into the family of God.
Our adoption makes Jesus our older Brother. Nowhere in the Bible is the term “older brother” used for Jesus. However, in a number of places we find references that encourage us to think that he is indeed our older Brother. Let’s look at Hebrews 2:14-18. Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
This is just one of many passages that tell us about the “children” that He became like in the flesh. This passage, along with many others, also referred to “His brothers” that He had to be made like in every respect. He did this so that he could turn aside the wrath of God against us caused by our natural birth. Jesus fully understands our temptation since He, Himself, suffered when tempted. He is able to help us with our temptations as a result of his experience. As our older Brother Jesus is able to teach us. One thing Jesus taught us was how to pray.
Jesus taught us to pray to our Father. Let’s look at the beginning of the model prayer in Matthew 6:9. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Jesus tells us to pray to our Father! And John had begun his Gospel by telling us that “to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12). Since we are children we have a Father who loves us and cares for us.
No matter how good our earthly fathers might be, or might have been, they do not compare to the heavenly Father that we have when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. We were born in sin and by faith are adopted into God’s family.
Our adoption into God’s family shows His love. Let’s look at 1 John 3:1-2. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
Our God loves us so much that He calls us his children! As such, we are like our older Brother! When He appears we shall be like Him. He is coming again to take us to be with our heavenly Father where our older Brother is seated on the throne. God showed His love for us by sending Jesus to die on the cross so that we could believe in Him and be adopted into His family. By adopting us God shows us His love. Also…
Our adoption gives us a Father who cares for us. Now let’s look at Jesus’ words in Luke 11:11-13. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Jesus compares, or contrasts, our heavenly Father to our earthly fathers. Our fathers in the flesh, if they are normal, would not give us something that is dangerous to our health. If we ask for food we would expect to receive something nutritious and perhaps even tasty. Jesus uses the example of a child asking for a fish and his father giving him a snake. Or the child might ask for an egg and would be given instead a scorpion. Then, Jesus puts us into the correct category by calling us “evil”! And even though we are evil we know how to give good gifts to our children.
I realize that is not always the case. Not every earthly father gives good gifts to their children. The one thing we can be sure of is that our heavenly Father will give us always good gifts along with the Holy Spirit!
James, the Lord’s brother, tells us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)
Not only does God care for us in every way He proves His love in discipline.
Our adoption causes God to discipline us. Let’s look at Hebrews 12:5-7. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
Here the writer of Hebrews is quoting from Proverbs 3:11-12 to show us that discipline is a high indication of God’s love. Now I don’t recommend choosing to sin but when we do we are quickly disciplined by God! If you can sin and get away with it that is probably a clear sign that you are not a child of God. Just as our earthly fathers discipline us for our good our heavenly Father will always discipline us so that we may share His holiness. Praise God, He will not leave us alone nor will He leave us in sin!
Everyone on earth is either a son or daughter of God or a son or daughter of the devil. We either have a Father or a slave master ruling over us. In Jesus Christ we are no longer part of the family of Adam and Eve. We have become a part of the family of God. Our God has demonstrated His love for us by Christ’s coming to earth to bear our sins on the cross and give us life — life eternal. We now have a Father who disciplines us in love. Human fathers always fail to one degree or another. Our Father God never fails! Put your trust in Him.

All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.