Category Archives: Current Issues

The Love and Just Anger Of God

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Introduction

“The love of God in our culture has been purged of anything the culture finds uncomfortable.  The love of God has been sanitized, democratized, and above all sentimentalized…” – D.A Carson in “The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God.”

In our culture the love of God is often exalted above the Holiness, Justice, and Righteousness of God.  Most Christians are comfortable enough to tell unbelievers that God loves them, but not to tell them that He hates sin.  The love of God has been so emphasized, and diminished to human standards and imaginations, that even many Christians cannot answer questions such as: “How can a loving God send anyone to Hell? “ or “If God is loving why is there so much suffering in the world?”

As much as the “love of God” is preached from pulpits, we lack foundational understanding about what the Biblical love of God truly is.  Not only this, but the lack of preaching God’s equally as great and worthy attributes, gives us an imbalanced view of God’s character and frequently causes men to distort the gospel.  The “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, so simply accept Him into your heart,” gospel, is directly related to men’s feelings that telling people about sin and Hell is unloving.  In his book “If God is Good” Randy Alcorn accurately states “If we imagine it unloving to speak of Hell, we imagine Jesus to be unloving.”

The cross is about love and justice.  When justice is left out of the message, the gospel is incomplete and powerless to save anyone. 

On the other side, there are many Christians who embrace “Reformed” theology, who like me are concerned and at times agitated by the misrepresentation of God as a God of love only, and man as a creature deserving of that love.  When a Christian discovers that popular teachings are erroneous, it is so common and natural to swing as far away from that way of thought as possible, until you end up at the total opposite extreme.  For example, a person irritated by the “sentimentalized” gospel might de-personalize God, making Him seem like a God far-off and hesitant to draw near to sinful people.  Where one man overemphasizes the love of God, he will preach almost exclusively that God is “angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11).”  While one preacher makes it so easy to come to Christ that a sinner needs no sorrow over sin nor willingness to commit their life to Him at all, another preacher overly stresses that the way is so hard and so narrow, you cannot come ‘till you have unceasingly agonized over sin and made certain that this reluctant God is actually letting you into Heaven.

It has been my experience, reading the Bible, that every attribute of God is way beyond human capacity.  He is extreme in every way.  What I mean is this: He is not extremely just and angry, but only a little bit loving and merciful.  Nor does His love overcome Him so much that He lays aside or forgets that He is also extremely just and righteous.  So here is my attempt to think Biblically and preach accurately about the love of God.  To truly do this requires a foundational understanding about the anger and justice of God.

Lord Help Us

Lord, help the mothers

Late at night

While buried in distress and fright

Who’ve just learned they now carry life

Lord, not to be deceived.

 

Lord, help the counsellors

In their schools,

Or in Planned Parenthood counselling rooms

While they play God and offer schemes

Lord, help them for they are deceived.

 

Lord, help the doctors

Who with their hands

Bring death, help them to understand

This is no money making game

Lord, help them to feel their shame.

 

Lord, help the child in the womb

Now as he blossoms and he blooms

Into one created by your hand

Who helpless rests and waits for day

Lord, let his life not end this way.

 

Lord, help the children in the world

While learning lies in their classrooms

And on TV, that it must be

We are only part of a natural plan

Of selection, so the weaker die

Lord, open up the children’s eyes.

 

Lord, help young teens

Who believe the advice

Of adults passing condoms out

Without thinking twice

Who tell them it’s normal

To explore, and leave all risks at the door

Birth control will keep you safe

But where are these people

When the kid’s hearts break?

 

Oh Lord, help the teens

Like only you can

By giving grace in Jesus Christ

I pray before they wreck their life.

 

Lord, finally help this nation

Of sinners, taken and foolish

Like I was, for we’ll surely perish

Lest you have mercy on our souls

How far will this madness go?

 

One day we’ll stand before your throne

To give an account

We’ll stand alone

All human wisdom will fall to the ground

Only those trusting in Jesus will be found

Accepted and forgiven

No matter their crimes

Lord, help them before they run out of time.

Your Standard: The World or Jesus?

I have observed that in our Western Christian culture holiness is not a hot topic.   Then again, neither is sin.  Well some of us might shed our opinion on “big” issues like homosexual marriage, abortion or current scandals in the media, when it comes to matters of personal holiness we have a lot less to say.

In fact the world has made some cliché statements to brand conservative Christians, and unfortunately much of the Christian culture has chosen to adopt the terms also.  When someone upholds a high moral standard, abstaining from sins some consider common, and especially if they exhort others to do the same, they will quickly be labelled as “holier-than-thou,” “self-righteous” or “legalistic.”  It tends not to matter how humbly they express themselves, or how biblical their claims are, if they stand against status-quo Christianity they risk their reputation and in many people’s eyes their credibility.

The implication is that if a Christian chooses to rise above the average standard for holiness in our nation, they must consider themselves somehow better than other Christians.  A Christian who won’t listen to the same music, watch the same movies, or engage in immoral or gossipy conversations, must consider themselves superior and have a condescending view of others.

That being said, is a true pursuit of holiness really worth it?  Well that depends.  Are we trying to please God or are we trying to please man?  You decide.

What is holiness?  Vines dictionary describes holiness as a “separation to God, and the conduct befitting to those so separated.”  Holiness is fitting to a person who claims they are a Christian, while continuing worldliness in a professing Christian displays that they are not truly born of God.

With so many “Christians” getting divorced, becoming alcoholics, attending rated R movies, and acting in sensuality, I have to wonder what was their motive for coming to Christ?  A person needs to come to Christ for something that they do not have: Holiness.  Jerry Bridges said that “No one can trust in Jesus Christ for true salvation unless he trusts in Him for holiness.”  In other words, if you came to Him for something OTHER than holiness as your primary motive, you did not come to Him at all.

Ephesians 1:4 says that the reason he chose us of the world was so that “we should be holy and blameless before Him.”  With so much modern preaching urging men to come to Jesus for a happier life, fewer problems, physical healing, and the mending of a hole in your heart, over and above coming to Jesus to be cleansed of sin, made Holy, and reconciled to God, it is no wonder that much modern day Christianity looks little different from the rest of the world.

Paul Washer accurately said: “I want you to know that, when you take a look at American Christianity, it is based more upon a godless culture than it is upon the Word of God… when they (professing Christians) look around at others who profess to know Christ and see those people also just as worldly as the world, and they compare themselves by themselves, nothing troubles their heart.  They think, ‘Well, I’m the same as most in my youth group.  I watch things I shouldn’t watch on television and laugh about the very things that God hates.  I wear clothing that is sensual.  I talk like the world.  I walk like the world.  I love the music of the world.  I love so much that’s in the world, but bless God, I am a Christian.  Why am I a Christian?  I don’t look any different than most of the other people in my church. Why am I a Christian? Because there was a time in my life when I prayed and asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart.’”

Dear friends, I know it might sound harsh but this is exactly what is going on right here in Chilliwack BC.  We need a revival.  We need God to have mercy on us and open our blind eyes.  Jerry Bridges makes a similar claim in his book “The Pursuit of Holiness.”

“Many Christians have what we might call a “cultural holiness.”  They adapt to the character and behaviour pattern of Christians around them.  As the Christian culture around them is more or less holy, so these Christians are more or less holy.  But God has not called us to be like those around us.  He has called us to be like Himself.  Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God.”

We are not meant to measure ourselves by our friends, or even our pastor, but by the character of God Himself revealed to us in the Bible.  Our lack of Holiness is as much a result of poor gospel preaching and a lack of emphasis on sin, as it is a result of our negligence to read and obey the Word of God.  I have seen people more fanatical about worldly philosophies and principals that they have imagined to be exclusively “Christian,” than I have about what the Bible actually says.  People get more excited about miracles, healings, signs and wonders, than they do about Martyrs oversees dying for the Glory of God.  Set apart living?  Prayer meetings?  Worse yet, that divisive and dreaded word doctrine?  Boring.  But a good worship service with bright lights, smoke, and an awesome band- that people have an easier time getting excited about.

But God says: “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word (Isaiah 66:2).”  He doesn’t esteem you by your health, your job, your car, your social status, or your role at church.  The one He esteems is the one who trembles at His word.  This verse paints a picture of a person who has realized that God is infinitely wiser and greater than himself, that He is a God to be feared, and a God to be obeyed.  This person believes that living by God’s word truly does matter, so much in fact that as he analyzes his life in light of scripture he begins to tremble.

God doesn’t care what you look like, or how many friends you have on facebook, or how relevant you are to your culture- He wants you to love Him, obey Him, and be Holy as He is Holy.

He doesn’t marvel at a church that overflows to the streets.  He is pleased if the people in it are coming for HIM and not for benefits, and that they are hearing truth and being soundly saved.

He’s after your heart.  This obsession with looks, possessions, media, and worldly things in God’s house needs to end if we want to be pleasing and useful to Him.  2Timothy 2:21 “If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonourable, he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

If you really don’t care about growing in Holiness, about making it your aim to please the Lord with your life, then there is ample evidence to suggest that you are not truly saved.  “Strive for…holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).”  2Timothy 2:19 “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

I do not mean that a Christian must be perfect, nor can he ever become perfect in this life.  But are you concerned about pleasing the Lord?  Do you care about growing in holiness, and becoming more like Jesus Christ?  Do you prefer your worldly entertainment more than time with Him?  Is the world your friend and your home, and do you set your eyes on it as if the glories of Heaven, Christ and His word are a lesser joy?  Have you found yourself mocking and scorning Christians who hold to a higher moral standard than yourself?

2Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?- unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

If your actions, thoughts, and desires contradict your Christian profession, then come to Christ.  You need to be born again.  Randy Alcorn writes “A false faith…deserves to be lost… Losing your faith may be God’s gift to you.  Only when you jettison ungrounded and untrue faith can you replace it with valid faith in the true God- faith that can pass, and even find strength in, the most formidable of life’s tests.”

If we truly know Christ than let’s not use those around as our standard for living.  Let’s base our lives on the Word of God, and live it out whether people want to call us self-righteous-fanatic-Bible-thumpers or not.  I’ll end with this incredible poem by CT Studd.

            [headline h=”1″]Only One Life, ‘Twill Soon Be Passed[/headline]

“Two little lines I heard one day, Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill, living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore, When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way, Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervour burn, And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say, ”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

Part 3: Exalting The True God That Natural Man Hates

The people of the world do exactly what the Bible said they would do and have “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (Romans 1:25)!”  Read Romans chapter one in entirety and you will find reason to tremble with fear for where our nation is headed.  The people have commonly become “futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts (are) darkened (Romans 1:21).”  One needs only to open up the science curriculum of every public school and you will witness the doctrine of a people who “claiming to be wise, (have become) fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles (Romans 1:23).”  They do “not see fit to acknowledge God (Romans 1:28)” and rather give glory to some cosmic explosion, primordial soup, and millions and millions of years of mutations.  This is not glorious.  If it didn’t make such a shipwreck of people’s souls I would be inclined to laugh, but instead I groan and shake my head in dismay.  This inglorious foolishness I do not wish to expound upon but rather the Glory of my Creator.

Continue reading

Part 2: Our Culture’s Critical Problem With The True God

God is indeed “separated from sinners,” and not just by distance but by nature.  What I mean is this: everything that God is the natural man hates, and all that comes out of the heart of man, God by nature must despise.  The Word of God teaches that in our natural human state we are all “alienated and hostile in our mind (towards God), doing evil deeds (Colossians 1:21).”  You might be thinking “but I love God,” and yet if you are not a Christian you do not yet love the true God and this I hope to prove to you in love and for your good.

Isaiah 45:5 “I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.”

Continue reading

An Appeal to the Modern Mind: Confronting Objections And Delusions About The Christian God

Part 1: Combating Universalism and Relativistic Thinking

There are two belief systems on the up rise today that often go hand in hand, called Universalism and Relativism.  A Universalist typically believes that each person can find their own way to God that is right for them.  They would say that most religions are based on similar truths and values, and therefore each path leads a person to God.  It might be a different rendition of God, but as long as the religion assents to a “higher power” of some kind, it is all the same thing to the Universalist.  Exclusivists who would say that their religion is the “only way,” would likely be frowned upon by the Universalist who seeks to include everyone in their view of heaven.

Yet many who think this way are also Relativists, so it is not fitting that they should get very worked up about the exclusivist, since after all everyone’s truth is true for them.  But regardless, I have come across these people and have found they can be quite distraught by the Absolutist.  He is content with every kind of truth except for that which says that there is definite absolute truth, and that kind of discussion makes him feel unnerved.  So to be clear: Relativists absolutely believe that whatever you believe to be true is good and true for you and that there is absolutely no absolute truth.  What you believe is right for you, and what I believe is right for me.

Do you find yourself confused?  I sure do.  I cannot reason how to intelligibly write about a subject that defies basic logic.  I suppose I could argue against this from a philosophical perspective, and that would be good.  But instead, I am going to address this from scripture to explain to the reader why Christianity is indeed exclusive and to what extent.  Continue reading

Lovers of Self: Become Lovers of God!

True Christianity is under attack.  It is under attack in so-called churches and by so-called ministers of light; it is under attack by New York Times bestsellers, by the mainstream media, and the by popular philosophies that drive today’s thinking.  The world hates the true Jesus Christ.  There is for many of them a God in Heaven they love, who has made the exaltation of man His highest goal, but when faced with the true God of the Bible and His heart piercing Son Jesus Christ they will certainly cower.

Christianity doesn’t need rescuing.  Through all ages God has faithfully preserved His word and a remnant of those who worship Him in spirit and in truth.  I have no fear of God’s plans being thwarted by man’s cunning.  I do however fear when I think of the millions of lost souls who are puffed up under these false teachers, and encouraged by worldly philosophies to renounce what the Bible clearly teaches. Continue reading

Forsake All That Offends Christ: A Biblical Plea To Forsake Sinful Entertainment

Part 1:  My Cause and My Defence

 

Matthew 7:16 “You will recognize them by their fruits.  Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?  So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.  A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

 

I have had a passion stirred within me this morning to write about a matter that has been grieving me for a long time.  The matter is the movies that professing Christians watch that are corrupted by the bad fruit of blasphemy, adultery, crudeness, homosexuality, prostitution, grotesque violence, or any other imaginable sin.  I am not assuming that there are people know who watch these things; I have heard professing Christians talk openly, and unashamedly about sin that is in the movies they watch.  As I think about it my hands shake and I feel like breaking down in tears.  I say this so that you will know that I am writing from the heart, and that I am truly concerned and grieved in the Holy Spirit.

In writing this I know that two labels will come into the minds of many readers regarding me.  One, that I am a legalist.  Two, that I am self righteous.  Let me address this. Continue reading

I Was Once A Slave To Sin, Satan, and Music

Romans 6:20-23 “When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed?  The end of those things is death.  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Like everyone else I started life out worshiping one thing: myself.  This way of worship didn’t involve bowing down physically to myself, or even necessarily making loud boasts about myself, but was more like that of most people, an inward exaltation of my own ways and wants above those of others. 

As I got older I became deeply infatuated with music.  I suppose in my self-seeking way, I wanted to find something that identified with my own life experiences and feelings, whether they were good or whether they were sinful.  I found this experience in music. Continue reading

Racism and Abortion: Is There Common Ground?

 

Psalm 82:3-4 “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;

Maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

Rescue the weak and the needy;

Deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

 

 

Racism

I recently finished reading a historical, fictional series, based on events surrounding the American Civil War.  I began to realize that I was ignorant about the terrible events and treatment of the African American race.  My heart went out to the thousands of slaves who were considered to be as equal with the animals, too stupid to be considered worthy of considering.  Woman had their children taken and auctioned off on slave blocks, husbands and wives were ripped apart, black woman were sold into brothels, and several even raped by their white owners or commanded to reproduce with whomever their owner saw fit so as to increase a plantations slave population.  They were stacked in heaps beneath ships and branded like cattle.  Many who would try to escape, or who could not keep up with their expected work were beaten and even punished to death.  I suppose, I knew in part that these events happened, but I never considered the atrocity of it, or felt it as a real occurrence until reading these novels.  Amazingly, it has not been long since slavery was finally abolished through the whole country of the US in 1865.  And it is not as if the abolition of slavery ended racism.  It has indeed been a long, hard fight for African Americans to gain a widespread respect as equals. Continue reading