God’s Attributes

Our foundational theme is: God is in control, God has absolute authority, and He has promised His Presence with us forever [see: A Simple View of God].  These three tenets form our belief that God is LORD of all, including us.  In order to know Him better, God acts through miracles, providence, creation, and His authoritative decrees.  This may all be a little abstract for you, but hang in there with me.  Because God doesn’t want us to just study theology, He actually wants us to KNOW Him personally.  He has also revealed His attributes through this whole process.  Each of these attributes correspond to the three tenets discussed already.  The ATTRIBUTES which demonstrate control, authority, and presence are:  LOVE, KNOWLEDGE, and POWER.

Today we’ll focus on LOVE.

John the apostle wants there to be no mistake…

1 John 4:8
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:16
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

John is emphatic:  God is LOVE!!! [He wrote it twice in 8 verses]

The Old Testament uses many different terms to describe God’s ethical characteristics including: goodness, grace, covenant faithfulness (Hebrew: hesed), righteousness, justice, and finally, yes, LOVE!  All these terms have nuance within the passages where we find them.

When we find God’s love, we see: allegiance, affection, and ACTION!  Isn’t it fun that these reflect our basic tenets about God as LORD [control, authority, presence].  Allegiance demonstrates God’s loyalty to HIS OWN WORDS of promise.  Affection is simply God’s emotional fondness for His creation [think John 3:16].  And action is God demonstrating His own love towards in that while we were still sinners Jesus died for us on the cross.  [Romans 5:8]

Here’s the thing…

God loves all His creation, and His creatures, even those who hate Him (His enemies).  Have you ever noticed the point of these verses:

  • Matthew 5:43-48
  • Genesis 18:25
  • John 3:16
  • 1 John 4:8-10

What each of these verses make very clear is that while we deserve death, that is not what God offers us.  In His death, Jesus got what we deserve, and when we trust Him as Savior and LORD, we get what we DO NOT deserve… HIS forgiveness, and life everlasting!  This is God’s love, goodness, grace, and righteousness in ACTION bringing us to salvation and redemption.

That said, it is also clear in the Bible that God is a wrathful God… a God of judgment.  You may not believe this but it actually says that God hates some people (the wicked: Leviticus 20:23; Deuteronomy 25:16].  In fact until we trusted in Jesus, this would describe us as well [the wicked].  Paul says, [Ephesians 2:3]

All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

About now you might be thinking… “How can God hate people if He is love? That makes no sense!”  Look at it through the lens of what we’ve already believed as basic tenets of faith.

Because God is LORD of ALL, He has the RIGHT to expect us to be faithful to Him, to do as He instructs, to keep His commands, and to receive His grace in Christ.  When we do not do this, we invoke God’s wrath.  And while God IS LOVE, don’t mistake that to mean that He is obligated in some way to distribute this love equally to all.

While God gives everyone sunshine and rain [Matthew 5:43-48], God has the authority to reserve His best blessings (forgiveness and grace) only for those who believe in His Son, sent to save mankind from their sin.  It is only when we receive Jesus that He calls us His own family, His children, with the rights and privileges of grace and redemption.

John 1:12
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–

God is love.  This love commands, and demands, that we believe in His name… the person, Jesus!

 

Next time, the attributes of Knowledge.

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Gorge: The Deep Divide

gorge-1

The two images, set side by side above, were taken within moments of one another.  While taking the Royal Gorge Route Railway Tour a few years ago, I was struck by the deep gash into solid rock, punctuated by a river at the bottom of the gorge.  As we stood on the flatbed railcar to take photos of our trip, I was able to gain some perspective of the moment, and of my life. And while looking up at the people standing on the bridge high above us, some spiritual clarity descended into my mind.

Here’s a great description from the website for this tour:

West of Canon City the Arkansas River cuts through a high plateau of igneous rocks forming a spectacular steep-walled gorge over a thousand feet deep. At its narrowest point shear walls on both sides plunge into the river creating an impassible barrier.”

It is those two words “impassible barrier” that grab my heart.

Every day during this wonderful month of December, right up to the day we designate to celebrate the birth of Jesus, I’m reminded of why He came.  My SIN once separated me from God, like the bare 1,000 foot sheer rock divide of this gorge.  I had no way of crossing over to God, nothing I could do or say would change my condition or position.  But God.  Don’t you love those words?  Romans 5:8  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

The impassible barrier between God and me was overcome by Jesus coming to earth as a human baby, wrapped in cloths, and laid in an animal feeding trough.  I looked up and out of this gorge into the blue sky, and saw the bridge.  In my mind I saw the cross where Jesus died for me, spanning the great divide my sin had caused.

The birth of Jesus in inextricably connected to the cross of Jesus.  We can’t have one without the other.  For in this wonderful image we are saved by the Grace of God.

The gorge no longer has any power to hold me separate from God.  It has been conquered by the only One who could.

His name is Jesus, and He came to save us.

Hallelujah!

 

Gorge

 

Mythology and Make-believe

Daily Post:  Imaginary

imaginary

I know for a fact that truth is stranger than fiction.  All the tall tales about dragons and unicorns combined are not as strange as the continuing saga that is Hillary Clinton’s loss in the election.  People’s imaginations, including Hillary’s, have run wild, dreaming up all the reasons why President Trump won, and the list grows every day.  Two days ago Mark Steyn sat in for Rush Limbaugh and discussed how Hillary now blames the “Content Farmers” for her loss.  I thought He was making this up.  And in fact, he was being sarcastically funny, but the fact is she said it.  She’s blamed the Russians, the FBI director, the DNC, former President Obama, Anti-American “forces”, low-information voters, high-information voters, stupid Republicans, Bernie sanders, incompetent pollsters, rural women, misogynists, suburban women, the New York Times, Fox news, and fake news.  She blames social media, Facebook, Twitter, and yes, “content farms.”  At a tech conference in Silicon Valley on Wednesday this week she said, “The other side was using content that was just flat-out-false, and delivering it in a very personalized way, both sort of above the radar screen and below.”  Read the article, click here.  In the end she basically said if only stupid people had voted for her, she would be in the Oval.  Here’s the thing, I’m not stupid.

Do you know what a content farmer is?  Here is the formal definition in Wikipedia:

In the context of the World Wide Web, a content farm (or content mill) is a company that employs large numbers of freelance writers to generate large amounts of textual content which is specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by automated search engines.

I didn’t make this up.  There are real companies, with real people, who do nothing but sit at computers all day long, cranking out large volumes of articles a day, (4,000 a day is not uncommon).  The content of these articles is low quality, written with the specific intent of being discovered by search engines, to improve their rankings and move them to the top in rankings.  Hillary is suggesting that the DNC and Trump campaign used these companies to skew the election in some way.  Now that’s what I call a vivid imagination.

It’s always easier to blame someone else, or something else, for our failures isn’t it.  I find it fascinating that in all of this nonsense, and the huge list of people to blame for her loss, there is not one mention that it could even remotely be her fault.  It is beyond reason or imagination in her mind that she should have lost, so it had to be someone else who caused it.

Is there a lesson here for the common man and woman in the world today?  You betcha.

We all make mistakes, some bigger than others, some on a grand blunderous scale.  When you do, or when I do, let’s simply own it.  Let’s just admit, “my bad”, take our lumps and try not to repeat the blunder.  Imagining all the reasons or people to blame for our blunders doesn’t make it true.  This reasoning makes it mythology or make-believe.

Now for the truly frightening aspect of what happens when we don’t just ‘fess up.  We will someday stand before a Creator-God who will be all too well-informed with all our blunders.  He will have full knowledge of just how wrong we are, and when we try to make excuses, or blame someone or something else for our mess-ups, He will not have any of it.  Imaginary phrases like “the devil made me do it,” will not work with Him either.  Let’s at least be honest and admit what the Bible states all too clearly.

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 10:9-10
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Whatever you do, don’t be like Hillary Clinton, finding no fault in herself, and only blaming everyone else around her for her own failures.  Own it.  We are not perfect people and we fail miserably many times.  Admit to yourself and to God, you aren’t everything God designed the perfect human to be.  There was only one perfect human and we are not Him.  But He came, Jesus came, so we could be in right relationship to the God of the universe and our Creator.

Paul was more than just a low-quality content farmer.  His writings are more than just mythology and make-believe.  The apostle Paul was called to preach and teach and write the very words of God to us today.  Don’t be led astray by the mindless meanderings of those who think themselves God’s gift to the planet.

There is only one Gift – His name is Jesus.

 

 

 

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C, C, & A

via Acceptance

members-only

C, C, & A …  churches, country clubs, and acceptance.  Acceptance is important to almost all of us.  We all want to be included.  We all gain a great deal of our self esteem or self-perception from those who accept us.   Or, we take a huge hit personally when we are rejected.  It doesn’t matter whether it is churches, country clubs, a sports team, a club, a university, fraternity, sorority, or picking teams for Red Rover, we all seek acceptance.   Every game, team, or group has their own dogma, ideology, doctrine, code or creed to which we must adhere in order to be accepted.  We must accept and incorporate these beliefs into our fiber of life, or we are deemed unacceptable.  The paradox of acceptance, is the challenge to accept in order to be accepted.

One would think that joining a country club would be pretty simple.  Pay the initiation fee, commit to pay the monthly dues, and adhere to the club’s rules and you’re in.  However, while this may be true in some smaller clubs, the reality is that there is a selection committee who deems which of all the applicants are worthy of club membership.  These folks determine if the applicant is acceptable or not.

One would think that joining a church would be pretty simple.  While some churches make it extremely easy, others are virtually impossible to join even when compared to country clubs.  In this case most churches don’t require an up front initiation fee, but expect and often demand a financial commitment to support the church.  Indoctrination to the church’s beliefs is standard in many churches large or small today, known as “new member orientation.”  Often before a person can have a place of leadership in the church they must attend the classes and pass inspection so to speak.  I get it.  The church wants to make sure all their leadership is on the same page doctrinally, so they don’t confuse the churches message to guests or other members.

I guess my question is:  Is this how God designed it?  Is this how it was supposed to be?  Was there supposed to be some kind of acceptance process to be included as part of the church?  You only have to go to the book of Acts in the Bible to know the answer.

In Acts 15:1-35 the Council at Jerusalem were to answer a very basic question:  “What must a person do to be saved.”  Or put another way, “Who receives acceptance into the Faith?”  The question was raised because there were those not Jewish coming to accept Christ as Lord by the thousands as Paul and Barnabas went bout preaching the gospel.  So there was dissent in the ranks of the early church about who was acceptable.  The Jewish leaders wanted to impose “circumcision” on the Gentile men coming to faith, as a condition of acceptance.  In the end, the Council determined acceptance would be based on: abstaining from food sacrificed to idols, abstaining from sexual immorality, abstain from eating anything that was strangled, abstain from blood. [See Acts 15:19-21]  This was the first acceptance criteria for outsiders (Gentiles) to be included in the largely Jewish entity known as the Church.  For my more detailed bible study on this passage click: The Council at Jerusalem Acts 15_1-35.

Acceptance in the long run is not determined by the church.  Acceptance is determined by God the Father.  His terms for acceptance of any individual into His family (what we euphemistically call The Church), is more than clear in His Word.  Here are the terms of inclusion:

John 14:6
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8
God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

Romans 10:9-10
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

These passages are the entrance exam to be included into God’s family.  All who accept these conditions, commit to them, believe them dogmatically, and yield their life to these truths… receives acceptance from God.

No other earthly entity can add to these or take away from these and still be called a church.  If they do… they are a country club, social club, fraternity, sorority, or some such other thing… but not a church.  Is that harsh?  Maybe so.  But God will be straightening this out someday for everyone.  I hope it is pretty soon.