When God just can’t take it any more

Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.

Isaiah 1:13-14

God’s power is inexhaustible. When you reach a point in an action or attitude, that God, who is tireless and limitless in strength says, “I can’t take this… I’m weary of this…”

When God, who is love, who “suffers long”, who “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” says,  “I can’t endure this,” we need to pay attention. 

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. I John 4:8 NKJV

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I Corinthians 13:4-7 NKJV

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Salvation in the Unseen

Periodic table of the chemical elements Españo...

What does reality consist of?  What’s real to you?  What’s the world made up of?

What are you made up of?

Am I made up of the same stuff as a rock, a table, a chair?  A pair of expensive shoes?  A piece of technology?

Wikipedia says that “almost 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of the six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus.”

Every substance on earth is made up of molecules, which consist of atoms, which have different configurations of sub-atomic particles that form different elements.

Google defines an element as “each of more than one hundred substances that cannot be chemically interconverted or broken down into simpler substances and are primary constituents of matter. Each element is distinguished by its atomic number, i.e., the number of protons in the nuclei of its atoms.”

As far as we can see — there’s no further way of breaking down existence.

One university website says this about atoms:

“What is an atom?

An atom is a fundamental piece of matter. (Matter is anything that can be touched physically.) Everything in the universe (except energy) is made of matter, and, so, everything in the universe is made of atoms.” [Source]

Is that absolutely true?  Is everything in the universe made of matter?

God steps in to this picture and says no.  It’s not true.  There’s something more than matter, molecules, atoms, and elements.

In John 4:24, Jesus Christ said to the woman at the well that “God is spirit.”  You can’t contain Him in anything that exists in the periodic table.

In Spanish there’s a saying – every mind is a world.  There is great truth to that statement.  The way you see things in your mind is your world.  And in many minds, most people’s worlds are made up of only matter.  Physical, material existence.  What’s real is what is tangible, what can be sensed, tasted, and touched.

But God speaks into that world and defies it.  God whispers to us that there is more.  More than matter.  More than mere, mindless energy.  God declares that He is.  He exists.  He is real.

But many of us live in a world where the things we can see are the only things that matter to us.  Even as we claim to believe in God, the world of our mind is a godless one, a world where only the material matters.  We focus our attention on our possessions and our own gratification because they are what really mean something to us.  We live to mold ourselves to the world’s standards, and live like there is no God in our world.  Because if there were a God in our world, wouldn’t He come before all that stuff?  Wouldn’t He be our life?

No, all too often, if we really paid attention to ourselves and the choices we are making, we would see that we still live in a world where everything that exists consists only of matter.  By denying God entry into our mental world, we become idolators.  Are we not idolators when all we care about is what we can see?  When a God who is Spirit doesn’t figure into our daily lives or plans?  When our trivial interests matter more to us than His interests?

The apostle Peter says that a day is coming when the “elements will melt with fervent heat”.  What will become of our world then?  When the only things we truly believe to be real melt away in a supernatural blaze?

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:10-13.

The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”  Isaiah 40:6-8.

Are there things you care about more than you care about God?

When what you care about most are your material possessions, you don’t possess them – they possess you.

When the choices you make center around the opinions and acceptance of others, you have fashioned your own gods made of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Your gods are visible, and they leave no room in your world for the God who transcends the elemental, whose substance we can’t encode on a chart.

There is a cure for seeing the world like the university definition.  We find it in 2 Corinthians 4:18:

“… while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:18

To open our eyes to the world in which the invisible God dwells, He bids us to look at the invisible.  Focus more on what you can’t see than on what you can see.

The things that you can see are temporary.  They will pass away.  They will amount to melted, dissolved, disintegrated nothing.

It is essential, imperative, absolutely critical that you set your eyes on the things that you can’t see, for only those things are eternal.  Only in that world can you connect with the only true God, who is Spirit, who transcends the elements on the periodic table, who is invisible.

When your eyes are focused on the things that are visible, you have reason to fear.

When your eyes are focused on the things that are invisible, you have reason to hope.

If you think you believe in God, but the choices you make every day reflect that you don’t care about Him in the least, you are focused on the things that are visible.  When God asks you to honor Him, and show that you love Him and that He is first in your life by keeping His commandments, you will be incapable of doing so.  When the day comes that the physical melts away, you will melt away with all the things you set your heart upon every day of your life.  You gave yourself to those things, to a world in which Spirit cannot exist.

The word of God tells you that you can choose what you will set your focus upon.  If you want to live in the world where the true God, who is love, dwells, change your focus.  Lift up your eyes.  Dare to look at what you can’t see.  Look for the invisible God.  Let Him in to your world each day.  Then, “when Christ, who is [y]our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:4.

Don’t focus on the things that you can easily see, taste and touch.  Remember that those things are temporary, but the Word of God, and those who abide in Him, moment by moment, will last forever.  “Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is… set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”  Col. 3:1-2.

If you choose to heed the Word of God in this, your destiny will not be tied to the destiny of the elemental things of this world; the day of fire will not harm you, and you will remain forever with God, even when all the elements on the periodic table are dissolved.

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:22-25 NKJV

Now that you’re married to Christ, what does your spousal commitment to Him entail?

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,   “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”  then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”  Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Hebrews 10:15-18 ESV

When we are saved and forgiven, God delivers us out of slavery to sin and condemnation and into this special relationship, this new state of being where we grant God access to our hearts and minds.  We submit both to Him, and He transforms our thoughts, desires, and characters. The two go hand in hand. This is the saving covenant relationship with God that we enter into when we accept Him as Redeemer and Lord.

The verse that says there is no longer sacrifice for sins is both thrilling and chilling: thrilling, because we can know that Christ’s sacrifice for us is completely, absolutely effective – chilling because as vs 26 and 27 clarify, if we go back to a sinful way of life after we come into covenantal relationship with God in Christ, there will be nothing left for us except a fearful expectation of judgment without Christ’s covering over us. The outcome of that judgment would be our eternal loss.

What is God’s Spirit saying to you through this text?

Do you really not need Jesus?

It’s hard for me to imagine how some people just don’t seem to desire a relationship with God. You feel happy about being a husband, a father, you take joy out of life without sensing any greater calling for your life. It’s interesting that you don’t desire the presence of God in your heart, and yet you couldn’t continue to be alive if He withdrew his power from your organism, for by His intentional and constant power all existence holds together. It’s funny that you could derive a sense of happiness and meaning from an otherwise godless life from the joy of being with other human beings and having, raising and loving children, when it is by God’s design that human life, and procreation, are possible. He is the inventor of marriage, the original Creator. The triune God is also the original social being.

You were made in His image – social, gifted with the capacity for pro-creating and loving and making your dreams and plans a reality (within certain bounds). You were made by Him. You exist as the precise individual that you are, only because before you came to be, He imagined you in his heart, He envisioned your face in His mind’s eye, He said, “Let there be you.”

So you get busy making a life for yourself and you make it as full and enjoyable as possible. But why don’t you recognize what has been made evident to you, that there is something more? In disregarding God, you’re disregarding not only the hand that feeds you, but the hand that made you, the mind that saw you before you existed and wanted you, the Person that willed you into existence; the heart that loved you aeons before you came to be; the arms that long to hold you even as you run from them; the soul that gave it’s life for you, before you could even be alive to appreciate it, in the hopes that one day you would choose to reciprocate His love, and accept His invitation to belong to Him forever.

How can anyone not seek to truly know the answer to the question, “Who is Jesus, really?”

It’s easy to think of talk of Jesus as empty. You could say, “Christians are silly little people who don’t have the strength of character to face reality.” But what if you’re wrong? What if the devotion of millions to a Savior they’ve never laid eyes on stems not from foolish denial, but from the gratitude of a healed heart? What if He really did die for you? What if He really lives now, and will truly one day assume the throne of the entire universe and reign over all existence, and you rejected Him when He offered you His hand in friendship? What place will there be for you in that everlasting kingdom, the only one that really matters?

I’m just asking.

Devotional: Rooted and Grounded in Christ

From the Heart

January 9, 2011

Rooted and Grounded in Christ

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree.  Ps. 92:12.
He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.  Ps. 1:3.

These texts describe the happy state of the man or woman whose soul is rooted and grounded in Christ.  Bur there is always danger that souls will not anchor themselves in God, but be content to drift hither and thither, the sport of Satan’s temptations.

Are you beginning to see the defects in your character? Do not feel helpless and discouraged.  Look to Jesus, who knows your every weakness and pities your every infirmity.… It is no disgrace to confess our sins and forsake them.  The disgrace rests upon those who know their sins but continue in them and grieve the dear Savior by their crooked paths.  A knowledge of our wrongs should be more highly prized than a happy flight of feeling, for it is evidence that the Spirit of God is striving with us, and that angels are round about us.…

In true contrition for sin, come to the foot of the cross, and there leave your burdens.  Come exercising repentance toward God because you have broken His law, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ to pardon your transgressions and reconcile you to the Father.  Believe what God says; take his promises to your heart

See the weary traveler toiling over the hot sands of the desert, with no shelter to protect him from the rays of a tropical sun.  His water supply fails, and he has nothing to slake his burning thirst.  His tongue becomes swollen; he staggers like a drunken man.  Visions of home and friends pass before his mind as he believes himself ready to perish in the terrible desert.  Suddenly those in advance send forth a shout of joy.  In the distance, looming up out of the dreary, sandy waste, is a palm tree, green and flourishing….

As the palm tree, drawing nourishment from the fountain of living water, is green and flourishing in the midst of the desert, so the Christian may draw rich supplies of grace from the fountain of God’s love and may guide weary souls, that are full of unrest and ready to perish in the desert of sin, to those waters of which they may drink, and live.  – Signs of the Times, June 16, 1884.

From the Ellen G. White devotional book, “From the Heart”.

Rebuttal: “Does the Bible Teach Eternal Security…?”

 

Grafting of olive tree (Olea europaea) Mallorca.

Image via Wikipedia

 

I came across a blog post promoting the concept of eternal security, or “once saved, always saved,” and I wanted to share my response with our readers. I gave other biblical evidence to support what I believe to be the true biblical position on this topic here.

I think a lot of the verses you mentioned do indicate that a person must abide in Christ in order to remain saved. Just as entering into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ requires a choice on our part to give our hearts and lives to Him, each day we must choose to remain in that relationship much the way a married person must choose each day to remain in that relationship and honor the vows they made on their wedding day. It’s a commitment which lasts a lifetime, so long as both people choose daily to honor the commitment.

Consider Christ’s use of the vine and branches in John 15 as an analogy of our lifelong relationship with Him. I pose that all the branches who are connected to Him are saved. How can a branch who is drawing his or her life from the Vine, Jesus Christ, be anything but saved? Indeed, Jesus says in verse 2, “Every branch IN ME that does not bear fruit, He [the Father] takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” Thus the people who are branches are people who are *in Him.*

And yet, even though they were once saved – connected to the Vine – Jesus says,

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” John 15:5-6.

What does abide mean if not to remain in Him?  And we me must already be in Him in order to remain in Him.  Once we are saved/connected to Him, we still have a choice: remain in Christ, or don’t remain in Christ. If we choose not to abide in Christ, we are cut off from the Vine, apart from which there is no life as per John 15:6.

Consider also Romans 11, in which Paul uses the imagery of the grafting in of branches into an olive tree to talk about salvation (verses 17-23):

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.

You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”

Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.

Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

Paul said we were grafted in (saved) by our faith (this is the same concept of righteousness by faith taught by Paul in Romans 3:22, 24-25, 28). “Do not be conceited, but fear,” Paul warns. He’s saying, don’t be haughty, don’t be presumptuous, but fear – for “if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either”; if we do not “continue in His kindness,” we will be “cut off”. If we later lose our faith in Christ, we will *not* be spared. This shows a clear picture of how a saved person can choose to stop abiding in Christ, to separate him/herself from His kindness, and in so doing, lose his/her salvation. For there is no salvation apart from Christ.

This does not mean that just because a saved person makes a mistake and falls, that they have lost their salvation. It’s only if they abandon the faith and start living a life of habitual sin with no more regard for Jesus’ commandments, and they completely grieve away the Holy Spirit, that their name can be blotted out of Christ’s book. If we taste the best that God can give, if we partake of the heavenly Gift, and then fall away (not meaning stumbling and getting back up, but again, meaning abandoning the faith), Hebrews 6:6 says “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance”, for “ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.” (Hebrews 6:7-8)

Lest anyone misunderstand, the Bible does teach that we can have assurance of our salvation. But we have no assurance of salvation apart from Christ. We must ABIDE in Him, and as long as our very lives are as intimately dependent on Jesus Christ as the life of the branches depends on the Vine, the Root of that divine tree, we have full and complete assurance of salvation. We just can’t trample Jesus underfoot (Hebrews 10:29) by abandoning our faith in Him and returning to an unrepentant life of brazen, abandoned, habitual sin and claim to still have salvation in Him. To say that because we once verbally accepted Christ we can now never be lost is tantamount to saying the same thing that the Jews said in Jeremiah 7:9-10:

“Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal and walk after other gods that you have not known, then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–that you may do all these abominations?”

The obvious answer is, of course not. Salvation is not a license to sin. And although I know that wasn’t your premise, can it honestly be said that the doctrine of eternal security doesn’t lead down a slippery slope that ends with just such a license?

What do you think?

(Note: The author of the above site deleted my comment without responding to any of my points.)

The Divorce of Love and Law?

“How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways.” Psalm 128:1, NASB

For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:9-10, NASB

“RT @OmegaFaith You cannot live the Ten Commandments, nor were they intended for you to live, they are a tutor to teach you your need for a Savior: Christ.”

Ok, I had to respond to this tweet by @OmegaFaith. I know it’s a reference to Galatians, and I know Paul says in Romans that we are not under law but under grace. However, does that really mean we aren’t expected to keep the Ten Commandments?

I’m afraid there are too many plain, straightforward, no-nonsense Scriptures that teach otherwise.

The law of God is always associated with love in the Bible. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commandments,” and, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” in John 15:10.

Just as by the law is the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20), by the law is the knowledge of love. We don’t know what love is until God defines it for us in the Ten Commandments.

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:2-3.

Here, John says that God’s commandments are not burdensome. But doesn’t saying that we cannot and were never meant to keep them logically contradict this verse?

What’s more, we see that the love of God requires keeping His commandments. Jesus said it is by our love for one another that the world will be able to identify us as His disciples (John 13:35). We therefore must understand that in order to keep the commandment to love each other with a divinely inspired love, we must also keep the Ten Commandments. (Or, is it really possible for me to love my neighbor while stealing from, lying to, and betraying him?)

In fact, Christ said that the whole law and the prophets can be summed up in loving God with everything we are and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:28-31). Loving God’s way and keeping His commandments are inseparable.

This is not to say we are saved by works, but rather that the verity of our salvation is demonstrated by our bearing the fruits of the Spirit, of which love is foremost (Galatians 5:2223). This point cannot be over-emphasized: we can NOT keep God’s law of our own efforts – we can do so only when we are in Christ. Peter tells us that God gives us divine power to walk in obedience (2 Peter 1:3; see also Ezekiel 36:26-27).

It is by His power, not ours, that we can love His way. We can only love His way by obeying His commandments; and only by putting our faith in Him can we obey them (Romans 1:5; 16:26).

The more we love God, the more His law will become our delight, and the more we will seek to please Him even in the thoughts of our hearts (Psalm 19:14). Our obedience becomes the ultimate love song to our beautiful Creator.

What do you think? Are you comfortable saying that God never intended for people to keep the Ten Commandments?