Posted in doubts

That Shadowy Idol called Doubt

Would you agree that to doubt is human? Doubting is a naturalistic response that is purely of human origin. Do you find anything about those statements troubling? Is there any error that has slipped in?

Let’s look at some instances:

“I doubt I will be able to win this foot race,” or “I have sincere doubts that I will be able to learn this language in one year,” or “I struggle with doubts over being able to finish this book and get it published,” or “I doubt my kids are telling me the truth about what temptations they face in their day-to-day lives,” etc., etc., etc.

What is being doubted in these types of situations? Human ability. We are finite creatures, which means we have natural limitations. Is it therefore wrong to have doubts in that sense? No, I don’t think so. I think those sorts of doubts are realistic, natural, and at times helpful.[i]

So, humanly speaking doubting is natural to us. At times, we ought to doubt our abilities. We shouldn’t think too highly of ourselves. Being a narcissist rarely helps anybody (if you can think of an example where it does, I would be eager to hear it).

A Troubling Trend…

Having said that, now I will tell you what troubles me. I hear it an awful lot by professing Christians, as it is lauded as a good thing: Doubting God and His Word. The reason it troubles me when Christians seemingly brag about their doubts regarding their “faith,” is because the Bible calls such behavior sin. To doubt God. To fail to take Him at His word is not something that the Bible praises, but rather condemns.

This is not to say that Christians don’t have doubts about such things. In fact, we have examples recorded in Scripture where true believers are shown expressing doubt in God and His word. And when such instances are shown, we see God coming right alongside of His frail little creatures helping them along.

Here are a couple examples:

1Kings 19:1-4

  • “Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah saying, ‘So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.’ Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under the broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (ESV (throughout); italics added).

Observations:

Why was Elijah afraid? Why did he say to the Lord, “I am no better than my fathers?” Because he doubted. He who formerly believed that God would send fire down from heaven and would demonstrate His sovereignty over the false gods that Ahab and Jezebel had led the people in worshiping, doubted that the Lord could preserve his life against the might of this evil queen. Thus, he admitted in his prayer that he was worthy of death, since he doubted God as his own fathers (i.e., people) had done.

Judges 4:6-9

  • “[Deborah] sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, ‘Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?” Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.’ And she said, ‘I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.’ Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.” (Emphasis Mine).

Observations:

Barak had been commanded by the Lord to fight against those who enslaved them— “Jabin king of Canaan” (Judges 4.1). Rather than take God at His word that He would give victory to Barak, he doubted and refused to go to battle without Deborah’s lead. The result was that the honor (i.e., glory) of the battle would go to a woman—a housewife, rather than a soldier.

Nothing to Be Happy about…

Our doubts are not to be praised, exalted, or heralded as a noble thing. When Christians laud their doubts around and congratulate each other for them giving the verbal pat on the back, they commit an egregious error. The Holy Spirit says that “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Heb 11.6). Well, to doubt God or to doubt what He teaches us in His word is the exact opposite of faith; of believing in Him. When you doubt the Lord in that capacity you are sinning and it needs to be repented of.

The professing believer “who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1.6b-8; cf. Eph 4.14). Which is the exact opposite of the person who is built upon the Rock of our salvation (Matt 7.24-25). Unlike the doubter that person can expect to receive from the Lord whatever they ask for, whatever they seek for…no door will be closed to them, for such a person will ask in God’s Name—i.e., trusting that He will keep His promises (cf. Matt 7.7-8).[ii]

When we doubt God, we are like those who struggle between two opinions (1Kgs 18.21). And we dare not assume that there is any dignity in that. For “whoever has doubts is condemned…For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom 16.23).[iii] Such a person cannot determine the right course of action, for they fail to trust in the One who is able to bring all things about to His Holy purposes. Therefore, as Christians we ought to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering [i.e., without doubts] for he who promised is faithful” (Heb 10.23).

That being said…

When we elevate our doubts as something to be congratulated, we have, perhaps unknowingly, erected a cherished idol. As human beings we all face doubts, and we should when they are directed towards our limited abilities. We cannot do anything we please, although arrogant people that we can be have sought to do that very thing in the past (cf. Gen 11.6). A problematic habit that has continued throughout human history.

Let’s not mince words here, that idol—doubt—needs to be smashed and burned. It needs to be repented of. And if not, we will find ourselves choking on it in the end (cf. Exod 32.20).

That being said, because we are sinners by nature (Eph 2.3), we all naturally face doubts…yes even when it comes to God’s Word. Knowing that we ought never doubt our Creator and Savior we beseech His mercy and grace in repentance seeking His strength to overcome them. This occurs the more we realize that it is our dependence on Him, not our independence, that enables this growing faith.

In a nut shell that is the underlying problem with those professed believers who speak of their doubts in flowery tones. They strive for independence, rather than dependence upon the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May we all learn not to do that. God may meet us in our moments of weakness (our doubting), but let us learn to recognize that they are weaknesses and evidences of a struggling faith…not something to be praised.


ENDNOTES:

[i] A slight caveat: Doubts ought to caution or temper my decisions as a parent. What I want to avoid is being the type of parent that assumes my child is always innocent; they aren’t. Though we may experience such doubts in our personal relationships, they are not always helpful to voice. Being aware of them seems legitimate, but constantly pushing our doubts on those who share our lives with may do more harm than good if not pursued in the correct manner. Just for clarity I will give you a quick example of what I mean.

Having teenagers in our home, my wife and I realize that there will be some situations where they will experience peer pressure without our watchful eye regarding a variety of issues that they will face. I have logical doubts that they will always make the right decision. Granted our children are well behaved, have good manners, and a good work ethic. But they are still kids, haven’t fully matured, have temptations like the rest of us, have a desire to be liked (for some this is stronger than in others), and so I have my personal reservations.

Do I share every doubt with my children? No (well not all of them). Do those doubts sometimes effect my decision on whether or not they ought to participate in a suggested activity? Yes. Am I, always right? No, thankfully I am not. But my point is that doubting that they will always perform in the way that is right is not wrong; however, sharing those doubts of mine with them is not always helpful. There is a point that they need to learn to be adults, and that requires making some decisions without me hawking over them.

[ii] This does not mean wealth, health or any other personal gain that a person might seek by praying “in the name of Jesus” as if this was some magical formula to give you all you want. God is not a lottery ticket, or a genie in a lamp, or a leprechaun at the end of a rainbow for you to seek the desires of your own heart. The only desires that God will grant are those that are in accordance with His desires and will.

[iii] If this is true when it comes to choices over food, then what do we suppose will be the outcome on weightier matters?

Posted in Knowing God

God is NOT like Us

God is not like us. He doesn’t look like us. He doesn’t think like us. He doesn’t feel like us. He doesn’t act like us. He doesn’t speak like us. He doesn’t know like us.

We need to let that fact sink in—The Potter is not like the clay (Isa 29.19). Why? Because it will have a direct impact on what you believe about the Lord, about the Christian faith, and how you reason through the Scriptures effecting the way you live.

The problem arises when we give little thought to who God truly is. When we begin assuming that God is more of “a god,” rather than the Holy One, the Great I AM. Someone that has some power and knowledge, but in the end is not that different from you or I.  The Greeks and Romans had plenty of those sorts of gods. So did the Egyptians and the Canaanites. We could even throw in the Hindus, American Indians, and any other mythology that one might cling to.

I’m not mud slinging here, so please be patient. Many of the Jews in the New Testament were of the same mind. Thus, Jesus rebuked them for setting up idols[i] and supplanting the Word of God with their own “word.” The very same thing the apostle Paul does when he enters Athens.

(Hold on a minute. Before I go further, I need to let you know now where I am going before I get there. My goal is to deal with a misuse of Acts 17:30, but I need to do some contextual work first. This tends to make for longer posts. My wife is always getting on my case for that. So, the only solution I can think of is to break it up a bit. Point being, if it appears that I leave on a bit of a cliff-hanger. You know haven’t finished the job, so to speak. Know that I do plan on wrapping things up in my next post. Okay, let’s continue….)

Acts 17:16-34 Contextually Considered

What is the first thing that you will hear learned Christians say when they read Paul’s interaction with the Aeropagus in Acts 17:16-34? He congratulated them on being “very religious,” he even cited their poets, he did!  I’ve met quite a few that glaze over Acts 17:16,

  • “Now while Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that he city was full of idols” (italics added).[ii]

Paul got angry at what he saw in Athens. Just as angry as Jesus got with the Jews during His earthly ministry. Well, what got Paul so riled up? The Greeks were worshipping idols—the creative efforts of their own minds—rather than the God who made them. He highlights this in his speech before the intellectual elites:

  • “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17.22-23; emphasis added).

“Oh, he was so cordial and polite…he was!” “He was?” “Yeah…!” “Yeah?” “Yeah!”

Yes, Paul was cordial to his audience. He graciously said to them “Men of Athens….” He acknowledges who they were. He noted their status before others, but then he said this:

“You fellows are a bit ignorant. You have all these idols, all of these gods you worship and just to make sure you got all your bases checked you even add one to the ‘unknown god.’ Well, what you are ignorant of…what you think you worship, ‘I will proclaim to you.’”

Now you might not catch the weight of those words coming from the apostle’s mouth, so let me help. Who was his audience? They were the learned men of Athens. They were the intellectuals, the sages, the wise men of Greece. They were constantly seeking knowledge, and they assumed that they were the proper arbiters of it. Paul has not only told them they are wrong, but badly informed. They profess to have knowledge, but their knowledge of things is false.

Like the Hebrews in Isaiah’s day, these Greeks assume that the Potter is like the clay. And they’ve displayed this arrogance all throughout their city. Paul does not congratulate them, but rebukes them. Then, he corrects them. God does not “live in temples,” (v. 24) “nor does He need anything from you,” (v. 25) nor is it right “to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image informed by the art and imagination of man” (v. 29).

Essentially, Paul is saying this “Everything that you conceive in your hearts about God is wrong. God is not fashioned by you; He is to be worshiped and revered by you. You ought to have recognized these things, the evidence is all around you. He gives life and breath, and yet you grope around in the dark as if he is far, but He is near!”

And on the heels of this explanation, what does the apostle conclude? What does he say to the Athenians? This…

  • “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent…”(Acts 17.30).

In other words, God allowed this discrepancy on you part, but now the time of ignorance has passed. They are over. Now you are commanded to repent!

Two seemingly innocent assumptions are sometimes smuggled in at this point. What are they?

First, that this “ignorance” is innocent or accidental. It is not, it was purposeful, willful!

Second, that this “command to repent” is an invitation, rather than an edict from God. It is not, it is a binding demand.

If we only look earlier in the text, we see this notion identified in the charge against the apostles/disciples of Christ:

  • “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king, Jesus” (Acts 17.6).

Kings demand obedience. A King that calls for repentance is commanding the person(s) in question to lay down their arms in surrender, in submission. Do we dare assume that Paul’s command here is any less than this? He is an ambassador of the One God, the one true King, and the message is you are “commanded to repent!”

Invitation or Demand: Something that Needs Weighed and Considered

Why then do modern Evangelicals prefer to call Acts 17:30 an invitation to accept Christ, rather than a demand to surrender to Him? Because it’s less offensive? Because Jesus is called the Prince of Peace, so the idea must be “peace, peace” when we present the gospel? Because the Lord is identified as the “Lamb of God” do we then assume that means He is meek and gentle?

Is it due to the notion that God is a God of love, or that He’s good, or that He gets no joy over the death of the wicked? Do these concepts, which are certainly true of God—we could turn to the passages where they are drawn from—drive us to a misunderstanding of the true nature of God? Do many, unknowingly perhaps, make the Potter like the clay? In other words, do our convictions (assumptions/biases) we hold to be true of God, mislead us into making God like us? Thinking and acting like a human rather than the Sovereign Creator of all things?

To be continued…

ENDNOTES:

[i] Some might suppose what idols did the Jews have? How about the Temple, the city of Jerusalem, their namesake as a child of Abraham, the Law and the Prophets, circumcision, etc., etc. Idols do not have to be graven images made by human hands; idols are manifested in the heart—from the wellspring of evil. This means that even the gifts that God has given us when viewed disproportionately from their true purpose are turned into, and therefore, abused as idols.  There are several indicators in the Bible that point out this was one of the chief sins of the Hebrew people…but they are not alone.

[ii] All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the English Standard Version (ESV).

Image by Phaidros Krugmann

Posted in Musings

Sobriety of Life: A brief discussion on our Economic Future

Today, I wanted to offer some further reflections I’ve had after reading about the life of a man who many people would assume was great; Alexander of Macedonia, the conquering king.  By the time he was 26 or 27 years old, depending whose historical accounting you read, this Greek man had conquered his own native country, had demonstrated his dominion into the Northern tip of Africa subduing the Egyptians, eventually defeating the mighty Medo-Persian Empire.  As time went on he began to set his sights further to the west towards India, but his men were war weary and no longer wanted to go further.

During this period of Alexander’s life (about 5-6 years), this once brilliant military tactician fell headlong into the swirling depths of every imaginable debauchery.  His treasure hoard was vast, and he spent his time and wealth pursuing various forms of indecent deeds.  As time went on his arrogance grew into an irrational paranoia fearing enemies even among his closest allies, men who had risked their very lives to save his own.

Alexander slaughtered those individuals, and then wept bitterly afterwards torn by his own conscience testifying against him.  He had been raised in a society that idolized the might of men, as well as the possessions of this earth; not just material possessions, but glory and power and authority.  And for a time this was granted to him from above, but in the end the idols that he bowed down to took his life.

Jesus of Nazareth years later taught a parable of a man who had been granted many of the things that Alexander had; namely, wealth, power and in some measure the glory of this life.  This individual, according to Jesus, thought to himself I have amassed much, but my current method of retaining this wealth is limited therefore, “I will do this…I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. Then I’ll say to myself, ‘You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself” (Luke 12.18-19).1 And yet, Jesus says that the verdict will be as follows regarding individual’s personal economy2: “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you.  And the things that you have prepared—what will they be? (Luke 12.20). The Lord adds, “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God” (Luke 12.21).

The problem is not with amassing wealth, contrary to the modern left-leaning ideology plaguing our Western society today.  The problem is rooted in the desires of the heart.  When this life—that is a life wrapped up in your own selfish pursuits, mindless of the God who created you—is all that you covet, then one day when the gavel sounds eternity will be nothing but mournful sorrow seated in regret.

Reality when boiled down is this…. Apart from the Triune Creator, mankind is left with a bankrupt economy.  No life. No love. No faith. No kindness. No mercy. No holiness. No righteousness. No knowledge. No wisdom, etc. That is the sum total of all people apart from God.  Who is, by the way only accessible through Jesus Christ (John 14.6), and this not by might, nor wisdom, nor wealth (1Cor 1-2), nor through the blood or the will, but by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit (John 3.1-8).  All we have apart from our heavenly Father is a meaningless void, an empty vacuum…all out emptiness.

For what is darkness, but the absence of God’s light; what is falsehood, but the absence of God’s truth; what is injustice, but the absence of God’s justice; what is unrighteousness (sin/evil), but the absence of God’s righteousness (goodness); what is hatred, but the absence of God’s love; what is unforgiveness and bitterness, but the absence of God’s mercy and kindness; what is unholy, but the absence of God’s holiness, etc.?  

Truly, what do you get if you gain the whole world, but do not have Christ Jesus? You lose it all:

  • “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul [eternally]? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matt 16.26; ESV).

Hell, defined as eternal death and not just the grave (Sheol), is the home of the “havenots.” These who thought they had it all while they were alive, but when that reality is brought to bear…it is then they know they had (have) nothing.  A sobering thought that we ought to be reminded of, even though we will go to great lengths to avoid the sting.  My hope is that you’d rather be stung now and do your crying here, than arrogantly assume that you will have anything if you don’t have Jesus as your all in all (John 15.5).

____________________________

ENDNOTES:

1 All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).

2 The usage of the word “economy” in this post is in the sense of individual/household management of affairs—i.e. life choices and motivations. See Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Def. 1.

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Posted in Attributes of God, Beliefs, Christian Perspective, Communication, dialogue, Knowing God, love, Personal Testimony, Theology, Witnessing

False Ideas and the Idols we make: Witnessing to a Witness

Opening Thoughts…

Historically one of the first major heretics to arise out of the Christian faith was a man by the name of Marcion (2nd century; taught 140-155 A.D.). He denied many of the writings of the New Testament (hereafter N.T.) that seemed to share too much affinity with the Jewish faith of old. He took issue with the God of the Old Testament (hereafter O.T.) because he did not like the wrathful version of God he saw there. He looked at Jesus as the exact opposite; a person who was kind, good and loving. A version of this man’s teachings, based upon the same faulty assumptions, is still existent today.

When people read the N. T. this false veneer is presented on their interpretation of Jesus of Nazareth. He is portrayed as non-offensive and non-combative; a kind, loving, beggarly individual that would never say anything mean (he’d never want to hurt a person’s feelings) or sarcastic (he’d never want to cause contention with people). For many, the version of Jesus many people hold to today (even professing believers) is not compatible with what we read in the O. T. description of Holy God. It is often said, “Jesus loved everybody unconditionally.” Did he now? Is that really how He is described in the N.T.?

Witnessing to a Witness?

Yesterday, I had a forty-minute dialogue with a Jehovah’s Witness. He was attempting to invite me to a meeting they were having—a memorial service to the Last Supper. As he explained to me their position I politely listened. After he was finished I asked if he understood what the true meaning of the Last Supper was. “Well, to remember Jesus’ life,” he said. “Why is that important,” I asked? “What purpose did the cross of Jesus serve? What necessity did the blood of Jesus meet? To whom is His sacrifice applied, and what does it accomplish?” Besides his immediate detour on a discussion of whether or not the “Roman cross” was really a cross or “a stake,” he struggled with answering the questions I posed.

He said, “if you would only come to our meeting, then you would know our position.” In response I asked, “If I come to your meeting, would I be permitted to speak?” He shook his head and said, “no…you couldn’t do that, but won’t you be open minded, and just listen?” “If you did,” he added “you’d see the similarities that we have in our thinking.” Again I inquired, “Would you go to a seminar that atheists were holding and listen to them with an open mind?” Immediately, he said, “No, of course not!” “Why,” I pressed “for you would find that there are some things that you share in common with the atheist. There are things that they hold to that are common to all people.” He said, “But, they do not believe in God.” “Ah,” I said, “and herein lay our dilemma. You would suggest to me that I ought to go to your meeting to listen to what you have to say with an open mind. I could listen to what you have to say, just as I can listen to what an atheist has to say, because I am confident that by the Holy Spirit I can discern the truth from error. However,” I stated “if I were to offer you a similar invitation to my church to listen to my sermon, to hear my teaching, would you do so? Would you and your friends here be able to be as open-minded as you insist I should?” “Of course not!” he said. “That’s a problem,” I explained “for I see that you are not being very consistent .”

Trying to steer the conversation back to the reason why he came to my home he inquired once again, “Will you not come? I admit that I am not being consistent, but if you came to our meeting you would learn what we believe about this (the Lord’s Supper, what he continually called a memorial service) and in time might learn the truth.” Laughing a bit at his persistence I countered, “Why do you take communion?” (Now, I already knew that only the “anointed” in their cult were allowed to participate in taking communion at their memorial service, and the higher ups keep a running count of who claims to be of the “anointed class;” the 144,000 of Revelation 7:14; 14:1, 3). However, I had my own agenda at the moment and I wanted to make a point to a man that started off the conversation with me pretending to believe the Bible is the authoritative word on the subject of his beliefs.

He did not miss a beat in explaining to me that only the “anointed” could participate in the elements. I told him that I found that peculiar on two accounts. One, the Bible teaches that the disciples of Christ were to “do this in remembrance of [Him]” (Luke 22.19), and what we ought to notice if we read the Scriptures is that this rite was participated in by all members of the Christian community as seen in Acts (cf. 2:42, 46) and specifically in 1Cor 11:20-32. Two, on what grounds do you attempt to limit participation in what Christ commanded? From where do you get the designation “anointed” only, as the only class of Christians that may participate in the Lord’s Supper? Surely, the Bible does not teach this. Neither the Christ nor His apostles taught this, so why do you?

At this point he tried to show me Rev 21:17 where the text speaks of measuring the wall of the temple and its measurement is “144 cubits.” He then said, “This coincides with the 144,000….” I interrupted at this point, “You mean the 144,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel spoken of earlier in the book?” “Yes,” he said “this coincides with…” Again, I interjected “what’s a cubit?” “What?” he said. “Oh, well a cubit coincides with….” “No,” I stopped him “what is a cubit?” When he attempted the same song and dance I said to him, “A cubit is a unit of measurement isn’t it, similar to a foot?” “Yes, but it coincides with….” “the 144,000?” I finished. “Right, that’s right,” he told me without any hesitation.

I pointed out “Nope, that’s wrong. Rev 21:17 is speaking about a unit of measurement not a grouping of people. You are taking that text out of context and adding your own meaning to it, just as you do with the Lord’s Supper. Jesus told his followers to do this ‘in remembrance of him’ because it is His blood that paid the ransom price for our sinful lives. Jesus became a curse (cf. Gal 3.13), he became sin even though He never sinned, so that we might become the righteousness of God (cf. 2Cor 5.21). Jesus died to save His people from their sins (Matt 1.21),” I explained.

I continued, “The problem is that we do not believe in the same Jesus, we do not believe in the same God of Scripture—who is Triune in nature—for my God did for me what I could not do for myself. My works, my choice is not what saved me, my Lord saved me and I cannot deny my Lord.” He then attempted to adopt the same language as I had used for a few moments, but I ended up stopping him. I explained, “You use the same language that I use, but you do not mean the same things. The Father sent the Son into the world to die for His people (people given to Him by the Father), and the Son laid down His life for His people, and the Holy Spirit raises Christ’s people up regenerating them.”

With a look of confusion on his face he proceeded to say, “Though much of what you say Kris is true; much of what you say is ignorant and it comes from your ignorance.” Laughing a bit, I told him “Since you called me ignorant, I must ask have you not read? ‘God chose the weak out of the world, the poor out of the world and the foolish out of the world…’ (1Cor 1.27-28; paraphrased) you call me an ignoramus and that’s fine; God called me, I am His, and I cannot deny Him. He saved me from hell…but you my friend, you do not have this.”

Closing Thoughts…

About this point, you may have wondered if I forgot what I opened up with at that beginning of this post, but I have not forgotten. After my last statement my dialogue with this J.W. grew a bit animated. His disdain for the doctrine of hell became apparent. He identified my God as one who is wrathful and cruel. He said, “What sort of awful God would condemn a person like us, who lives what? Seventy or Eighty years to an eternity in torment! A loving God would never do such a thing, that wouldn’t be fair…seventy years for forever!?! God destroys those who do not faith in Him, who do not freely choose Him…He wouldn’t do what you suggest.” In the remaining couple of minutes in our conversation I asked if he believed God was truly holy and tried to explain the depths of our sin and need for Jesus as a substitute, but he would have none of it.1 He left in a hurry and I prayed for the man and the people who were with him.

This reaction of disdain and disgust is the norm when a person reads the commands of God, and the penalties that follow for our sin against Him. People have made God into an idol. They have elevated one or a few of His attributes, like love or goodness, above all others. The moment that God does not fit the mold that people have formed in their hearts of who they believe the God of the Bible should be, they offhandedly reject Him.

God is more than the supposed defining mark of love and goodness. He is also holy and therefore hates sin. He is Just and therefore, as judge delves out justice in all cases. God is many things, for many attributes are given in Scripture that accurately define His perfect characteristics (i.e. character/nature), but to elevate one over and above another gives a disproportionate view of who He is; and, is therefore by definition an idol. To do that with the God of Scripture is to take His Name in vain and blaspheme Him. This, ironically or not, warrants a penalty of a death sentence; to which (no surprise here!) people complain about, as being much too harsh. And to that kind of thinking I will respond with the words of the late R.C. Sproul, “What is wrong with you people!”

______________________________________________

ENDNOTES:

1 I also spent some time with him in John 12:37-41 and Isaiah 6:1-10 proving that Jesus was the one whose glory Isaiah saw in the past as Yahweh (Jehovah), but no matter how clear the text was before him (even in his New Word Translation—NWT) he was confused by what he was reading and hearing (cf. Acts 9.22).