Wednesday, September 13, 2017

If I Were The Potter

So many Christians have wrestled, most often unnecessarily, with the reality of God’s sovereignty and how that relates to our personal responsibility for our sin. And, it seems as though, no matter how many times we read Romans 9 and other scriptures on the subject, we keep coming back to the same questions. Why is that? Is it because we read what Paul wrote and forget it was breathed by God? Is it because we read God’s Word and don’t fully credit it as God’s Word? Is it because we resist the invitation to have faith? Or, maybe we read the answer in the third person missing the point that this is still God speaking? For most of my colleagues, I believe, it is this last reason. I recently confirmed this with a friend by reading scripture to them in the first person. I had an epiphany. So, I decided to do this in a blog post. In doing so, I tried my best to put myself in God’s shoes – which I know is impossible. But, bear with me. I put myself as best I can in His shoes and decided to elaborate as if I were the Potter. I immediately was convicted. I was not convicted because I oppose this truth. I was convicted because I too often am on the other side of the table, still wasting energy in arguments with my brothers and sisters about what should be accepted in faith. Below is my feeble attempt at imagining myself as the Potter and responding to the pot. Enjoy!

Romans 9 question:
In view of God’s sovereignty, you then ask, “Why does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?”

My answer if I were the Potter:
I spoke through Paul in Romans 9. And, I also answered this question adequately through Paul in Romans 9 as well as other scriptures. Since after reading this many times I find you are still asking the same question, I will elaborate directly with you.

For context, anchor yourself with the fact that you are like a pot and I am the one and only Potter - and God. It is impossible for a pot to evaluate its Potter. In fact, you, the pot, will never understand what it means to be a Potter - much less what it means to be the one and only God. That is because I created you, like all creation, with far more limited understanding than my own. And, while after your fall and re-surrender of your life to Jesus Christ I recreated you, you are still just a better version of the same pot – which is still very limited. And, I am still the very unlimited one and only Potter/God. Don’t bother looking around for reference as there exists no other person who will ever understand me and my designs because I am the only God – which means there are no other potters to consult either. That is why I gave you my Word, the Bible, and specifically Romans 9, to direct your faith. You need to quit trying to evaluate me with such questions – choose faith first and always. Otherwise, you can try all you want to force me into your small pot form, and evaluate me as you would another pot (which makes you an utterly foolish pot), but you will not succeed except in increasing your frustration. Still, I will try to help you if you are willing to listen. Keep in mind, however, that when I am done helping you, you will still be a pot that is entirely unable to comprehend me.

I will begin with creation - mine and yours. Not only did I create you, but I created morality. Moral law is my creation that bows to me much like you are bowing now. Moral law does not sit above me, or it would be God. Since moral law is my subject, I am not subject to moral law - or any law for that matter. Therefore, by default, all that I do is right no matter what I do because I sit above moral law and above all. I determine right from wrong, not moral law (and certainly not you) – because I author all moral law, not the other way around. So, when you question me as if there exists some moral law that you think my sovereignty seems to violate, you are foolishly addressing a fictional pot-like god of your own creation, not me.

Yes, your question is a soft form of a moral charge. It is a moral charge because your question seeks to challenge my declaration of truth in Romans 9 regarding me with reference to me finding fault in you inappropriately. In other words, if God is good and just, then according to you He would not find fault in someone who sins when God controlled it – which implies the inverse is evil or unjust. How dare you begin to bring even a remotely moral charge in my direction – have you lost your pot-like mind? All of the 10 commandments, the 2 new commands that Jesus gave you, and all of the morality of the Bible is my handiwork, not my ruler. For example, when I willfully take human life it is not murder, but when you willfully take human life it is. Do not attempt to measure me with any ruler - I am The Ruler.

That is bad enough, but you went further. Unwisely, you in your potly pettiness, have created a new law which you suggest in my direction by your insolent question (I say insolent because your question addresses me as you would another pot). You question the morality of the One who is sovereign by insinuating it is not moral to demand your personal responsibility for sin while I have 100% control over it – how dare you! First, that is not a moral law, as I am the only author of moral law – and I did not author such incompetent fiction. Second, even if that were a moral law, what makes you think I am incapable of rightly doing both? What evidence do you have of such an absurd assumption – none! Certainly a pot is not capable of doing both, but I am not a pot!

You can’t begin to understand my limitations by reference to your own long list of limitations – learn your place! Your narrow-minded question assumes a god who is limited by the fictional morality of a foolish and insolent pot – I am so above this such that you are not even able to see me even using the wildest and most powerful lens you can imagine. You don’t know me – you don’t even fully know other pots, much less the One who meticulously created all of them. You will never understand this because you will never be me. No matter how much I glorify you, you will always be a better form of a pot and you will never be a Potter. Maybe you should be questioning your lack of understanding as that is what is more obvious at fault in this conversation. The mere fact that you wrestle with this should point you to me not away from me. You are wrestling with Almighty God - good, but learn your place as you do. Therefore, while you wrestle, stay in a bowing position.

It is precisely because you will never understand this that you are required to have faith in me – faith is not required for something that you fully understand. For example, if you did understand my sovereignty, you would not need faith. But, it is impossible to please me without faith. That is because faith is required to accept this – to accept me. And, not accepting this is a form of not accepting me. So, your role as a pot in this wrestling match is to accept in faith that which you will never understand. Do you have a problem with this? If so, you have a problem with me – which means it is you who has the problem, not me.

I realize that it is a challenge to a prideful pot to yield to a holy God on the basis of faith, but what choice do you have, silly pot? You can’t change me, but you better thank me that I can change you! There is no such moral law that forbids me to hold you responsible while I control the processes of your life. As you sin, you are 100% responsible, because I being God said you are, period. But, if you have trouble with that, then just show me one of your sins that you committed against your own will – just one! Now, understand that I will always use sin to turn it back against the enemy and for your good – I have already won this struggle. This story is mine! You need to realize this and stop questioning your Potter as you would your child - it is you who are the child.

The beauty of embracing this faith in my designs is that my holding you responsible for your sin is not the end of how I handle your sin and your responsibility for it. I don’t leave you alone in this responsibility. I not only hold you responsible for your sin, but I also redeem it by having personally died for it. I bore your guilt on a brutal cross so you would not have to. Now, embrace my free gift of forgiveness as the first step in me using your sin to ruin our mutual enemy. And, I didn’t stop there either. I also placed my own righteousness over you, removing every sin you ever committed or ever will commit. Think about that – yes, I hold you responsible in concert with my sovereignty, but I also promise to give you 100% of my righteousness and control the outcome of your sin for your good – did your ignorant question begin to consider that? No! Not only that, but this faith that I require of you comes with far more benefits than your weak pot is capable of containing. I will re-create you, sanctify you, glorify you, adopt you as my own child, and I also make you co-heir to my entire Kingdom – is this not enough to place your trust in this paradox that exists only in your pot-sized mind?

So, to answer your question, I find fault because I can – I am God. You on the other hand, have no business attempting to find fault in me – it will never exist and I never gave you that right or ability. Stop wasting energy in pot-sized thinking and place your faith in the Potter who is entirely capable of answering every question that ever was – unlike you and your pot colleagues. I call you to have the mind of Christ, not that of an unChrist-like pot. That is why I came in the form of a pot so that you can see what it means to properly ponder me in a pot way. Follow Christ as He, in the form of a pot, honored the reality of the Potter – after all, He is also the Potter.

In conclusion, it is I and I alone who find fault in things – and I find fault in your question. Start there – with your repentance of doubting my Word by even asking this again and again.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What Love Is Not

Is sex love? Is rape love? Is marriage love? Is common law marriage love? Is “gay marriage” love? Is consensual bondage sex love? Is perverted intimacy love? Is a marriage that ends in divorce love? Is a relationship that ends in breakup love? Do I love my dog? Does my dog love me? At first, you might find most of these questions silly. And, they are. But, they are silly because none of these examples are in fact love, while we have distorted the notion of love to rope things into the definition for a fleshly agenda – thus these silly questions are begged. Our society and culture has so perverted the concept that we have no choice but to foolishly consider the silly results.

If asked, the vast majority of people would describe love as a strong, maybe even intense, feeling of affection. My dictionary has 20 definitions of the word, all of which are false. Not one definition for love in the dictionary reads, “God.” This is where the lie begins. To illustrate, all feelings known to man come and go, even within the same day. There are very few feelings that typically last more than a day. I am sure that not a day goes by that my wife does not become frustrated, even angry, with me. Thank God that does not last. If feelings come and go, they are by definition fickle. And, nothing permanent should be based on something fickle. Love is permanent or it is worthless. What worth is a “love” that comes and goes? Does anyone really want such fickle affection gestured towards them even if it is intense? Consider, the more intense the affection, if not permanent, the more damaging to the receiver. Don’t we all want and desire permanent, namely unconditional affection? Of course we do. That is why, whether we openly admit it or not, we all reject fickle affection, sometimes violently. Regardless of how the Hallmark Channel depicts serene breakups, such is fiction. We all want love. But, we all want more than fickle emotion. Very few people, if any, want temporary emotion instead of true love. Thank God, love is not an emotion.

Allow me to address just a few of the false notions of fickly love that results from society’s distortions. The first is sex. Sex, even today, is often referred to as “making love.” This phrase dates as far back to the peace-loving sixties when the phrase “make love not war” was overused. But, is sexual intercourse making love? Absolutely not! If sexual intercourse is love, then all of its perversions listed in the first paragraph are love, including rape. If you read that sentence and start to parse nuances in your mind in rebuttal, you might need some reprogramming on the subject. Even in a God-centered marriage, sexual intercourse is not love. In Godly marriage, it may be beautiful, but it is not love because God is love. And, some married couples never have sexual intercourse, yet love each other as much, if not more than the most sexually active married couples.

You won’t find a single verse in the Bible that says sexual intercourse is love. What sex (an invention of our Maker) actually represents is simply a symbol of marital union. And, it was designed by God for marital enjoyment and procreation. But, it’s most profound purpose is to symbolize marital oneness. Sex is not oneness but just a symbol of it. The intercourse is the two becoming one flesh. But, the physical act is just a symbol of the Godly reality that the two people are now one person or one spirit in God’s eyes – the profound mystery. Therefore, the symbol is a glorious celebration of the unity of two people as one person spiritually. Given that God is Spirit and, therefore, Spirit is the ultimate, what we celebrate in flesh is meant to point to the ultimate reality in spirit. It is the spiritual oneness that is marriage. And, it is a daily adventure and pursuit. The sexuality we enjoy is a blissful reminder in flesh of what we ultimately pursue and can realize in spirit. Sex is not the goal. Spiritual oneness is. And, sex is not even required to have spiritual oneness. In fact, it is optional for the married couple or in any relationship, for that matter. For example, the Bible describes David and Jonathan as being one in spirit (1 Samuel 18:1), yet their relationship was entirely spiritual and void of sexuality. This oneness is what we incessantly seek in marriage, but this is not love, because God is love.

But society and its perversions urge us to see a homosexual couple who define themselves by their sexual choices and call it love. This is where the deception comes to full birth. When we take God’s symbols (sex, marriage, even rainbows) and pervert them for our own flesh devices in opposition to His spirit devices, it is we who are on the wrong side of history, not God. We have bought the lie about what is not love and called it love. We are the foolish ones.

But, you say marriage is love. Once again, you will not find a single verse in the Bible that says marriage is love either. Like sexual intercourse, marriage too is a symbol of love, but not love itself. Marriage is a covenant of man and woman permanently becoming one person in the eyes of God. We do this to point as a symbol of the permanent union between Christ (groom) and the Church (bride) – God and man. But, the earthly symbol is not the ultimate; the heavenly reality is. Therefore, denying certain people to marry is not denying them love. For example, if we deny marriage to adult incestuous couples are we denying them love? David and Jonathan loved each other more than most married couples today. But, they were heterosexual friends who each had wives of their own. Marriage is not necessary to love. In fact, most of the people in my life whom I love dearly, I am not married to.

As far as the symbol of marriage, it is God’s symbol and not ours. How do we know this? The proof is that if you study all eras of history on this subject across  all tribes of people on every continent, they all with few deviant exceptions, honor the institution of marriage (one man plus one women for one lifetime). How can that be if we evolved somewhat separately with different sets of morality and cultures? It is this way because God’s word accurately describes history. The concept of marriage between one man and one woman for one lifetime is universal. So, is the disdain for divorce universal. Such symmetrical universality can only be explained in God.

Lastly, our society fools us into thinking that we can fall in love, like someone accidentally falling into a pit. Again, at its core, this is a fickle analogy. When we fall into a pit, we don’t stay in it. We get out. We don’t fall in love and we don’t fall out of love. Falling out of love means we never chose to love. Because true love is tested by time. 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “love never ends.” That is expressed again and again throughout the Bible in numerous ways. Therefore, if what we are feeling and/or expressing comes to an end, what we were feeling was not love. Love that is not true, is not love at all. And, true love stands the test of time. That is because love is not a feeling or emotion, it is a decision, an eternal commitment or covenant. It is the most profound decision. An emotion that only lasts for 20 years or less and is unwound, is worthless in comparison to a permanent and unconditional decision. Love is a commitment that says I will love you no matter what you do. Even if you cheat on me and divorce me, I will love you. Why do I know that is love? Because that is what God does for us every day that we cheat on Him, which happens to be every day.

So, sex is not love and marriage is not love. So, what is love? The definition of love is God. And, we only exhibit love when we perfectly mimic Him. 1 John 4:7-21 is a treatise on the fact that God is the definition of love – there is no other definition, period. And, Romans 5:8 describes that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” When we show this same true definition of love towards others, we are loving them, no matter who they are. This also goes for our love towards homosexuals. We don’t condone their “marriages.” And, we love them unconditionally. We pray for them. We wash their feet. We tell them the truth in a manner as Jesus would. We love as Jesus would. But, we never distort the definition of love as that distorts the definition of God. And, we are always devoted to God over man.

Christian, in conclusion, we must live and learn above the distorted and perverted fray of our sin-bent culture. Our definitions must be God’s definitions. We must not allow the culture to define God or define us. Both are the exclusive right of God alone. Be very careful what you call love. After all, is what you call love what you want to receive?

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Why Would God...?

I was discussing with some friends the weight of the Creation account regarding the origins of all things. One of my rather astute friends challenged the group, “So, why did God even put that tree in the garden?” Of course, the conversation went on for the longest time from that launching pad. And, we all contributed some heavy scriptural answers. But, after all was said, we all realized that our answers were entirely lacking. It was a good question to start a conversation. But, given who we are, only God can truly answer the question since He was the Planter of that tree and the Commander regarding its forbiddance. Over the course of our conversation, some of our partial answers were troubling. Some of them were semi-enlightening. Some of them were pure blanks. It was a near constant struggle. But, God has no such struggle. We realized that in light of man’s limited understanding, our struggle is not logical evidence that a true struggle actually exists. Therefore, our ultimate answer to the question that we all agreed upon was more of a question than an answer: Couldn’t God have adequate eternal reasons beyond our understanding to put the tree there both respecting His determinative sovereignty and our responsibility for our choices? We all concluded that the answer is 100% yes, and with full confidence. It was the most confident conclusion we had made all day. Shouldn’t that be enough for someone of faith?

Many a philosophical or religious question begins with the words, “Why would God…?” It is certainly acceptable to ask all such questions as long as the intent is noble. In fact, even Jesus on the cross asked, “My God, my God, why…?” But, the intent of Jesus in doing so was both prophetic and noble. Jesus was not insulted by the notion of God and what God does. He is God. And, Jesus was not judgmentally questioning from a self-vaulted position of higher ground. Rather, Jesus was asking from His humble flesh, all the while aware that God, His Father, had an answer to the question. For example, have you ever made an unintended change to something only in hindsight to ask yourself, “Why did I do that?” Of course, when you ask yourself the question, you know the answer. By asking yourself the question, you are not doubting the answer, but affirming it.

So, Christian, from that example, we are actually left with two types of “why” questions: noble and not noble. The noble question of asking God “why” from a human perspective, is asked in faith that God has the answer, even if we never will. The noble question is asked not insisting upon an answer, because the noble question presupposes humility on the part of the questioner. From that perspective, there are two types of humility, choice and positional. Choice humility is that like exhibited by Jesus, where He being God chose the low place (Philippians 2:5-11). Positional humility means that you are the lower place. As we approach God, choice humility is truly not an option. Because God is truly unapproachable in arrogance that rises above our station. But, if we are humble, God, like us, is very open to questions. In fact, when Jesus asked why from the cross, He more than had faith, because He knew the answer to His question. In many circumstances, we are not all that different. Sometimes we ask why when we can easily come up with a list of a few valid reasons as to why God would do something a certain way. Humble faith is our option in all circumstances.

Take Job for example. Job had a legitimate question of “why” to God. But, in a couple examples of Job’s many “why” questions, he crossed the line of talking down to God. In most of his questions, he was humble, but in others he was not. For an example of an arrogant Job question, in Job 7:12, Job asks, “Am I the sea, or a sea monster, that you set a guard over me?” And, an example of a humble Job question is Job 7:1, “Has not man a hard service on earth, and are not his days like the days of a hired hand?” The arrogant questions resulted in a fury of pointed questions back from God that put Job back in his place – back in his actual position. But, do you think Job today asks God why? Of course he doesn’t. In fact, not only would Job probably do it all over again if given the chance, even while he was still alive, all of his questions were gloriously answered and Job was honored above all others during his lifetime.

By the way, there are some “why” questions of God that only God can answer in eternity. Most of these questions usually come with agony and grief from love that is lost due to death, disease or other painful circumstances. Yes, here as well God welcomes the humble questions. And, only God can answer them. But, these types of questions too should be asked in the same level of humility that the reality of God demands. These questions too should be approached in faith that God will one day answer in a way that only He can satisfy. And, in such circumstances, we fellow humans are still woefully inadequate to address the questions. We should thus avoid taking God’s position by trying to be God in answering them. That is why in the Job example, his overstepping friends were more humbled by God than even Job was.

But, then there are the “why” questions that are entirely out of bounds – centered on the arrogance of pride. Who is man to demand God to answer anything? Who is man to demand that God’s children answer anything? Who is man to shake his fist at a God that gave man the freedom to shake their fist in reaction to their own evil fists? Upon what authority can man ever assume to ask a fully informed question of God? Can man ever truly ask a fully informed question at all? In truth, over the course of mankind, even though the questions of God are more numerous than we can count, not one single question is fully informed. There has never been a man who even began to understand eternity – except one, Jesus, who is eternal. So, how can any temporal man who uses only approximately 10% of his brain even begin to claim informed status or position? The human life is marked by constant discovery even by the smartest among us, because we know so very little. And, yet God discovers nothing. In contrast, all that man can and will discover is already determined by God. And all that man will discover only scratches the surface of God’s knowledge and intellect. In fact, Psalm 144:3-4 sets it in proper order when the Psalmist says, “O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”

Christian, when you begin a question with, “Why would God,” pause yourself. Make sure that you realize who you are and of whom you are about to ask. Feel free to ask God in complete humility and faith. Otherwise, your question will be ignored. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Romans 14:23b says, “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” That is pretty clear.

In conclusion, Christian, you absolutely should ask God why. When we ask humbly and in faith, God is pleased and will answer your question in due time. Therefore, the more you ask of God in humility and faith, the more you will learn and depend upon He who is the only truly dependable. And, usually, He answers every worthy question in His Word, the Bible. As we ask God questions, may the quantity of our consumption of His Word and its answers outweigh the quantity of our asking.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.