Sinfully delicious

October 24, 2008

Here is a random post that arose out of a question at our Life Group. The question was, “How do you define sin?” The immediate response was, “Disobeying God.” And everyone seemed content with that. But is it so, I would suggest not. So let me throw a definition at you that comes from my seminary training.

SIN IS THE ONLY THING THAT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE!!

As we unpack this, the first thing that comes to mind is a challenge, one that I lay out to you and that I have been thinking about off and on for these past 30 years or so — can you come up with one word that defines sin in a positive way. The only way that sin can be described in is negative terminology. It cannot be described in positives, because it is the only thing that is not supposed to be here.

Second unpacking is this, everything else is supposed to be here, water, earth, food, mosquitoes, yes even them. God created them, they have a function in this creation, although like everything else, it is screwed up because of sin. As you look around, as you think about it, everything is supposed to be here, except sin. All that our great God created is groaning in expectation and anticipation for the children of God to be revealed.

Finally, we can ask the question, what about disobedience. It is only one aspect of sin, it is one of those negatives that describes sin. To limit sin to just one aspect, we limit the severity of sin, the all encompassing power of it. But even more, we severly limit the grace of God given to us in Jesus Christ.

So think on these things my children.


Misquoted Scripture: Introduction

September 11, 2008

Before I begin to look at what gives me the heebie-jeebies, Scripture that is misquoted, I want to spend a little time in some introduction. This will give you a basis for why I call these Scriptures misquoted and more than often misused.

First of all, I have to say with complete conviction that all of the Bible is God’s word. Every word in the Old Testament is just as viable and true for today as the day it was written. In fact, I have a hard time when people deliniate the two testaments. To me there is no Old Testament or New Testament, it is ONE Testament. It is God’s ONE and complete Word. So bear with me when I get impatient, if that is the word, with those who will only use the “New” Testament. It does not matter whether it was written in Hebrew, Greek or whatever, it is God’s word, it is one word, and it is truth. Does that mean I will blindly accept it: God said it, I believe it, that settles it is a head-in-the-sand way of thinking. God said it, I believe it, let’s talk about it, let’s explore the depths of it, let’s have on-going, sometimes heated arguements about it, is more what I have in mind. Pastor Rick Warren said that too often Christians check their brains at the door of the church. If you study history you will find that some of the greatest thinkers were Christians. So let’s look at this ONE Testament that God had written by over 40 different authors, over the course of 1500 years. And let’s see if we can keep it all in perspective.

Secondly, let us keep in mind that this ONE Testament was written to God’s people. It was not written to the world, but to God’s people. Does that mean that nothing in this book applies to the world? Of course not! But what it means is that we as God’s people have an obligation to obedience. For this is God’s word to us. It does not become God’s word to us until we are born again. Once that happens we are under an obligation to obedience. We cannot hold the world to the same standard as we. Does that mean that things like the Ten Commandments have no meaning for the world? Of course not! Let’s take the commandment, Do not steal. For the world this is at most a legal thing, with maybe a little morality thrown in. For us as God’s people this has a legal obligation, a moral obligation and a spiritual obligation. There is a depth to our obligation that the world will never understand and can only understand when born again.

It is from these two perspectives that I will look at heeby-jeeby texts. I hope we can have some fun with this as well as some really good discussion. I will write again soon,


The final one

September 4, 2008

It has been a while since I last wrote. I am sorry for that. But today I want to finish my thoughts on CHOICE. We looked the fact that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that is when our salvation HAPPENED. Then we looked at the miracle of the cross and ressurection, that is when our salvation was ACCOMPLISHED. Then we looked at the choice set before us, moved by the Holy Spirit, we make the choice to have our salvation become EFFECTIVE. Today I would like to end this thread of discussion and talk about two subjects, our growth in salvation (SANCTIFICATION) and the finalization of our salvation (GLORIFICATION).

I could spend pages and pages on our growth in salvation. Needless to say, it is a huge subject. Briefly, it is simply moving to be more like Jesus Christ, to become the person that He wants us to be, the person we were created to be. Thank God that this is not a cookie cutter shaping. Our God is incredibly creative. We see that all around us in creation and in the variety of people that He has created. Our job, so to speak, is to discover who we are created to be and to become more and more that person. And that is beause each one of us has a job to do that only we can accomplish. I love the way Paul puts it in Ephesians 2:7-10; Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. God created each one of us to do something and in discovering who we are and what we are to accomplish, we become more and more like Jesus. That sometimes takes a lifetime.

The last part of this is really short. It is the finalization of it all, when we shall stand before our God in all His glory and in all our glory. We wait for this in eager anticipation. Paul was so in touch with this that he was willing to say with conviction, (Philippians 1:21-24) For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

My next post will be one that Joey challeneged me to do, the Top Ten Bible Verses Taken Out of Context. I will be researching that. Have a good day.


Making sense of choice 3

July 6, 2008

In the last two posts, we looked at when salvation happened and how it was accomplished. Today I would like to spend a little time with how salvation become effective in our lives. As I researched this a few years ago, I came upon an AHA moment. Because I had always struggled with the reality that God has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world. If He has chosen us, is there anything left for us to do? If God has chosen His people, why do we have to do evangelism, outside of the fact that we are being obedient? But there is a reason for evangelism, a very important reason. And as individuals, we have an important and vital part in this whole process.

At this point in our discussion, salvation is just sitting there, It is ours, we have it, but it is meaningless unless we do something about it. This is where our choice comes in. For that great gift that is ours, we have to make a conscious choice to activate it. Thhrougout the Bible, we hear that we must choose: Choose you this day whom you will serve; Now choose life, so that you may live; choose my instruction; If anyone chooses to do my will. Plus there are many places where there is the negative choice mentioned and the consequences of such a choice.

So even if we are chosen in Christ, we have a vital and important choice to make, to choose to make salvation an effective part of our lives. And may I be a bit of a heretic when I say this: Even if we do not make that choice, we are still saved!!! Because we don’t save ourselves, that is God’s work. What we miss is the life long experience of the joy of salvation.

Let me also say this, however, that the above little scenario will not happen. Because God will move us to that place where we can no longer ignore the choice we must make. The elephant will be in the room and we will talk about it. That is the work of the behind-the-scenes member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. He is constantly at work in the hearts of people, softening, leading, guiding to that place where it is inevitable we will make the right and only choice. Does that sound a bit manipulative? Well, I can live with that. And because of that, I really and truly live.

Now a little aside, one that I have had issues with over the many years of my life and ministry. In Revelation 3:20 we read; Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. For years we have seen this as an evangelistic verse and it has been used by many as an altar call. If you look at the context, Jesus is not talking to unbelievers, He is talking to the church. This is not calling unbelievers to make the choice, it is Jesus telling the church to get off its collective butt and get a life going. Just before this He says: Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. You wonder why I mention this at all? It is because I get the heebie-jeebies when verses are taken out of context and used for purposes other than what they were written for. I may make a whole study on those in the future.

So anyway, now we have looked at when salvation happened-before the foundations of the earth were laid; how salvation was accomplished- in the death and ressurection of Jesus Christ; and how salvation becomes effective in our lives-we are led to choose life, to choose whom we will serve. And there is more, stay tuned.


Making Sense of Choice Part 2

June 11, 2008

As I said in my first post, I tend to be more theological. Today I would like to continue my thoughts on “Making sense of choice.” In my previous post, I noted that our salvation happened before the foundation of the world. God in His eternal plan decided our eternity by choosing us in Christ, before the foundation of the world. So that is when it happened, but when was it accomplished. That is what I would like to point out today.

In John 19:29-30 we read, A jug of sour wine was standing by. Someone put a sponge soaked with the wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth. After he took the wine, Jesus said, “It’s done . . . complete.” Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit. (MSG) The question screams out to be asked, “What is done … complete?” The simple answer is, our salvation. Is there more to this than first meets the eye? I would not be writing this if it were not so.

In our imaginations, let us go back, before God began creating (as if we can limit God by time. But for the sake of this we will). Imagine Father, Son and Spirit sitting around the kitchen table, having an espresso they have just made on their espresso machine. They are talking about their eternal plan. They know what will happen, what hurt it will cause, everything. For nothing is hid from them. They so love Don, Joey, Ryan and Cam that nothing can stop them from going ahead with it. They desire a people so much that nothing can stop them even though they know what will happen as a result of this plan. Father and Spirit look at the Son with deep sympathy, for they know what He will go through. The Son looks back because He knows what they will go through. But for their people they will do it.

What is it that I am talking about? Think back with me to that Friday when the Son is hanging on the cross and He cries out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Do you wish to understand the depth of this? It is simply this, for the next three hours, (which must have been an eternity) there was no Trinity. For Father, Son and Spirit, this was hell. Father and Spirit absolutely, completely denying the existence of the Son and the Son experiencing that denial. We talk easily about the Son going to hell, but what about the hell that the Father and Spirit went through. Can any of us truly comprehend the depth of their suffering on our behalf? I honestly do not think so! All we can do is in humilty thank our God for what He accomplished.

Then three hours later, with a great cry, “It is done, complete.” What this means is that everything needed for our eternity was done. This is a cry of victory, for not only was the suffering of the Son over, so also the suffering of the Father and Spirit. The time of denial is over, now is the time of renewed fellowship, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

I can never fully understand the depths to which my God went, but everytime I really think about it, I weep, that He would love me so much as to deny His own existence for me. It is accomplished, completed and there is nothing that I can do to add to it or take away from it. It is especially the add to it that we all need to keep in mind. God’s desire for us is so awesome and deep, that He would not leave our eternity in our hands, for us to choose if we so desire. This is something He had to do, otherwise we would all be in hell.


Making Sense of choice

June 4, 2008

This being my first post, I want to begin with a brief caveat. My posts will most likely be more “theological” than pure “biblical.” In this way I hope to open some good discussion.

For my first post, I want to deal with the whole idea of choice. Do we choose God or does He choose us? Is there such a thing a Divine Unconditional Election or does God just leave it open to our choice? I have thought long and hard about this and if I may be so bold as to say, I think I have come up with an answer that says it is both.

When does salvation happen?. Undeniably it happens before we are even born.

Ephesians 1:4-5, 11

4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will… 11In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…

This goes along with so many other times in Scripture where it says of God, that HE chose. Let me just add a few notable times:

John 15:16

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

Matthew 11:27

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Psalm 33:12

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.

2 Thessalonians 2:13

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

And there are others. The Bible clearly states that we are chosen by God, and that for a reason. (See Ephesians 2:10)

So how does this square up with the many times we are called to choose, “choose you this day whom you will serve,” and “choose life that you may live.” That will be answered in later posts. For now I would like us to agree that God would not leave the wonder of our eternal salvation in our sinful hands. So He did something, He made a choice. Before we were even born, before creation was even began, He thought of us and put the whole thing together, so that you and I can with absolute confidence say to those around us, I am God’s child, He made it possible, he made it happen. Praise be to God