Archive for July, 2013

A Problem of Perception

July 29th, 2013

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins …

Ephesians 2:1

A deep, pervasive spiritual blindness has taken captive millions of hearts today, and I personally seem to see it in an increasing measure. This blindness is the attitude and perspective that removes all responsibility from humanity and places all blame for our problems on God. This attitude is specifically against God, not a true denial that He exists, but rather a refusal to acknowledge Him as God – the attitude that because of what “He has done to us” He does not deserve my acknowledgement, and certainly not my obedience.

That this is more attitude than concept should be clear – not a denial of God based on logic, but a refusal to acknowledge Him based on personal issues with authority or blame or responsibility. This is “logic” is similar to that of a person in the direct line of attack of a charging bear who refuses to acknowledge the bear because he does not think him a very nice bear – the attitude of an immature and angry spouse who pouts and refuses to speak to their mate, or acknowledge their existence because of some hurt feelings. This has nothing to do with reality, or even perceived reality, but rather blame, shame, and guilt.

Of course, God is not like a charging bear or an insensitive spouse. He is much more frightening than these. He is God Almighty, holy, awesome, but also loving and merciful. There is no safety in numbers here, for this God, The God is not afraid to condemn the whole lot of us. He holds us accountable, not just as individuals but as a race. In the West our extreme individualism and low power distance makes us want to disassociate ourselves from every other person and claim our right to existence based on our personality or our being alone. We make ourselves gods in our minds, and imagine that we created ourselves, invited ourselves and have no one on earth or in heaven to thank for our existence.

To me this is a very powerful proof of the truth in the verse above, that we are as a race dead in transgressions and sins. Something within us that was originally created to know God, to commune with God, to hear His voice and to recognize His speech, that thing has died and all we have left is a spiritual corpse in each person born on this planet. The guilt has spread through the race, seeped down into the life of each of us, and God holds us all accountable. Our biological solidarity cannot be broken. We are not independent agents, rather we are members of the race, products of parents, and we carry with us the common shame adn the common blame. We are by our nature objects of wrath, and we have no hope in ourselves of changing our circumstance.

This is simple biblical theology on the fallen-ness of humanity, on the doctrine of sin and its result. But there is another part of the story as well, that despite our sin God who is rich in mercy has acted to redeem us and to save us. He, the One we have ignored and tried to blame, has willingly taken on Himself the sin of us all, died in our place, and now offers forgiveness and new life. Is this salvation an admission by God that it really is all His fault, after all? No, this is not admission of guilt on His part, but rather an expression of love.

God who has every reason to condemn our entire race to an eternity without Him, has chosen us in Christ and promises us life and eternity. “By grace are you saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8). And there is the good news. The matter now is whether or not we will believe in our fault, in our need, and in His answer to our need, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Daily Devotions, Doctrinal Studies , ,

Our Dwelling Place

July 26th, 2013

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.

Psalm 90:1

Human beings have always been on the move, migrating from one place to another to find a better life.  If you trace your own family history you will probably find this to be true. Today we go where the jobs are and the pay is better, but before people moved where the farming was better or the wild game more plentiful. When we have built homes, even castles and kingdoms, they erode very quickly. Give them just a few years, a few decades, a few centuries and they turn to dust. Is there no eternal home for us? Are we merely destined to roam the earth for all generations building what will fall apart, working at a company that will one day go out of business, contributing to societies that will one day end in moral decay and spiritual neglect?

I think of the founding fathers of the nations – and every nation has its heroes – whose lives of service created great nations. Then the nation falls into disarray, political parties in conflict, race relations at a low ebb, no one able to create a majority or to lead the nation. This is unfortunately the history of civilizations. No matter how great their shining moment was, it was, after all, just a moment in the story of mankind.

But our inspired psalmist already knew that. He had been taught by God the wonderful truth that humanity does have a home, a home that each of us can make our eternal home. It is none other than God Himself. Moses, we are told, was the author God used for this psalm, and he lived in a time of great migration of his people – from slavery in Egypt, to the wilderness wanderings, to the entrance into Palestine. He had the vantage point of knowing how temporary earthly life was, how fragile our hold on it, and how the things of this earth that we so deeply desire have a way of sifting through our hands like the desert sand.

The eye of faith was keen and sharp. He realized that God is our eternal home. Jesus certainly had this in the back of His mind when He proclaimed the truth to His disciples on the night of His betrayal and arrest, “I go to prepare a place for you … that where I am there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). There is our eternal home, not here on this earth, but in the presence of God, the spiritual home that He has prepared for us.

We are not foolish to prepare our homes on this earth. We are, in fact, most wise if we do so, if we seek to make a difference for future generations with our lives today. The psalm ends with the prayer, “Establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:17), and this should be our prayer as well, that what good we do on this earth will last beyond our lifetime. But we must realize that this too will be fleeting. The only things that we touch here that are eternal are the word of God and the souls of people who we come in contact with. So these should be our focus, even more so than earthly accomplishments. If we build a house, strengthen the economy, invent a new mouse trap, those are all fine things, but none of them by itself will be transferred into God’s eternal home.

If we introduce someone to Christ, if we encourage a fellow believer, if we commit to memory His Word, if we pray for doors to be opened for the gospel, if we take time to encourage a child about life, letting them know that God loves them – this is the stuff of eternity. The Lord will establish the works of our hands if we will focus on those eternal matters.

Evening Devotionals ,