Questioning God

“Are you not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, you have ordained them as a judgment, and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof. You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he? You make mankind like the fish of the sea, like crawling things that have no ruler. He brings all of them up with a hook; he drags them out with his net; he gathers them in his dragnet; so he rejoices and is glad. Therefore he sacrifices to his net and makes offerings to his dragnet; for by them he lives in luxury, and his food is rich. Is he then to keep on emptying his net and mercilessly killing nations forever? I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.”  (Habakkuk 1:12–2:1 ESV)

Habakkuk’s theology is correct – God is eternal and He has sovereignly chosen the Babylonians for judgement over His people.  But Habakkuk’s head and his heart are disconnected.  He wants to know how an all powerful & good God could allow sin to go on unchecked.  Furthermore, how in the world could a just and holy God use the wickedness of the Babylonians to punish His own people for their disobedience?  Judah was indeed less wicked than the Babylonians, though only slightly!  Have you ever been there?  Have you ever questioned God and despite the fact that you know that He is in control of all things, you can’t seem to figure out why things have turned out the way that they have and where He is in the midst of the darkness?

Habakkuk’s main argument is that God makes all things and the current state of affairs seem as if He is absent from the equation.  This is deistic thinking that resides in all of us that needs to be put to death!  Habakkuk wants to know if God will sit idly by and allow the Babylonians to sweep across the world conquering, subjecting and treating people wickedly?  Where is the justice in that?  In 2:1, Habakkuk throws down a direct challenge to the Almighty.  That’s scary!  He is going to the watchtower to wait and see How God responds to His direct challenge.

We rarely challenge God directly & out loud like Habakkuk is doing, but aren’t these thoughts swimming around in the back of our minds?  Don’t we question where God is and why He seems absent from certain situations?  We seem to, by nature, gravitate towards believing that God set up the world but now just let’s it mostly run on its own.  Nothing could be further from the truth, He is intimately involved in this world – whether we can see it or not.  He holds all things together (Colossians 1:7 & Hebrews 1:3).  We must battle this unbelief because it never leads us to worship.  This is why when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His word.  Let us lean upon one another to build our belief; let us walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

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The Sweet Sovereignty of God

““Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own. They are dreaded and fearsome; their justice and dignity go forth from themselves. Their horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves; their horsemen press proudly on. Their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swift to devour. They all come for violence, all their faces forward. They gather captives like sand. At kings they scoff, and at rulers they laugh. They laugh at every fortress, for they pile up earth and take it. Then they sweep by like the wind and go on, guilty men, whose own might is their god!””

(Habakkuk 1:5–11 ESV)

Habakkuk had been complaining to God that He seemed distant, disconnected and slow to respond to the wickedness of the people.  But God responds that He had already been acting – though Habakkuk could not see it.  God is always at work, but we rarely see what He is up to.  That is why we are called to walk by faith (trust) and not by what we can see (2 Corinthians 5:7).  God was bringing the Babylonians to punish His people for their wickedness.  What?  Wicked Babylon will punish God’s wicked people?  That certainly was not the response that Habakkuk was expecting.  Verse 5 is far from a coffee cup or t-shirt verse (“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told” ESV).  Habakkuk did not have anywhere to file that – how could a loving and just God use such wicked people – people more wicked than the Jews – to punish them?  This did not fit in Habakkuk’s (or our) belief system.

The next verse (6) tells us that God is raising up the Chaldeans (Babylonians).  What?  God is the One who is raising up Babylon?  The sweet sovereignty of God comes into crystal clear focus in this verse.  God sovereignly rules and reigns over the earth – all people (even the most powerful rulers) are His servants.  God guides history, it is not randomly unfolding.  He orchestrates it to accomplish His purposes.  He calls Cyrus His servant (Isaiah 44:28) as He determined to use him to deliver His people.  Indeed, “He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” (Daniel 2:21 ESV).  God’s answer to Habakkuk:  The Chaldeans (Babylonians) which He calls bitter & hasty are the tool of judgement that HE IS RAISING UP!  God orchestrates all things for His purposes.  He knows their traits and uses them as His tool of judgement.  When you are God you get to do whatever you want and what you do is always good, just and right!  We aren’t God, but we want to accuse & complain as if we were sovereign.

The Babylonians were wicked and had no common decency and in their lust for power and dominance they abused their power and oppressed those under their rule.  They were strong, swift and skilled warriors that could conquer opposing nations before they knew what hit them.  Their violence exceeded that of the Assyrian’s and they had no regard for weaker kings and kingdoms.  God was telling Habakkuk that this was what He was bringing to Judah – His chosen people.  This was His tool of judgement.  He was going to use a wicked people to judge His people for their wickedness.  Only God gets to do that!  We read this story separated by 2500 years in three chapters and it is easy for us to digest.  Sit & think about what God is doing and what that would have done to Habakkuk.

Verse 11 tells us that their strength is their god.  Most nations “depended” upon their superstitions and gods for victory, but the Babylonians were such proficient warriors that they had come to rely upon their strength to overthrow their enemies.  Self-reliance on our strength or abilities (ones that God gave us) makes us glory thieves.  There is nothing that we have that we have not received (1 Corinthians 4:7).  Are smart, successful, compassionate, moral, wealthy, driven, entrepreneurial, patient, technical or __________?  Those are things that God gave you. Don’t be a glory thief (Psalm 18:32).

If you find yourself wrestling with where God is in the midst of a difficult season, preach to yourself that He is never distant, disconnected or slow in acting.  Wrestle through it, but walk by faith and not by what you see and feel.  He is in control, He is working and He is doing good for His children.  In the dark night of the soul, these are the truths that we need to preach to our downcast souls (Pslam 42) and beg God to awaken them!

When God is Silent

“O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.”(Habakkuk 1:2–4 ESV)

Habakkuk opens this short book asking, “how long shall I cry for help and you don’t hear our cry for deliverance and you not respond?”  Sound familiar?  It does to me.  Wickedness is happening around him and Habakkuk can’t understand why things are turning out this way and where God is in the midst of it.  Habakkuk uses the covenant keeping, personal name for the LORD here indicating that He believes God is not absent, but is struggling with where He is and why He seems to be silent.  Have you ever been there?  I have.  These are times where we have to walk by faith and not by sight – times when we believe the unbelievable (2 Corinthians 5:7).  Simple, but certainly not easy!

Habakkuk surveys the wickedness, moral bankruptcy & spiritual disconnect and He cannot understand why it seems that the Lord is sitting “idly” by and is not judging the perversity.  This sounds like us – “where are you God, why do you seem to be so absent, why are you slow in acting?”  This is a common theme in the Bible, Peter addresses the same line of thinking when addresses the scoffers that are among them by saying that God is not distant, disconnected & slow in acting (2 Peter 3) God rarely acts on our timetable and yet we feel compelled to accuse Him of being distant & disconnected, as if we were sovereign.

The laws of God are being completely ignored and the people are doing whatever they please.  The law was not impacting their hearts.  This is a familiar refrain:  “everybody did everything that was right in His own eyes.”  Life was hard for the remaining faithful & righteous remnant.  It was easy for Habakkuk to feel alone – like God had abandoned Him.  We find ourselves in the same shoes at times.  All Habakkuk could see were the trees, but God is going to help get his head above the trees so that he can see the forest.  Despite the fact that Israel only occupied the promised land for 530 years, God was still faithful to them and to His plan.  They were slaves for 400 years in Egypt, lived in the land as a combined kingdom for 530 years and then were under the rule of the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans.

Today we can see how God was working out a beautiful plan of rescue for His elect.  And yet when we go through hardships for a day, week, month, year or lifetime we want to cry out to God – “foul, where are you, why are you silent and not acting!”  God never promised us ease, comfort or prosperity – He gives us something far greater:  Himself.  The pain is real, for sure.  But our crying out and accusations must ultimately land in a place that says, “not my will, but yours be done,” because we are not sovereign – He is.  If you find yourself suffering, struggling or hard pressed, cry out to God.  He can handle your questions & accusations.  If you will walk in this and trust that God is indeed sovereign and that He is indeed good (and does good [to you]) then you will find that He is enough regardless of whether deliverance comes.  The most gracious thing that God could do for us is to give us Himself, which is the very thing that He does at the cross.

Enemies of Christianity from Within the Church

There are many enemies to Christianity.  The greatest enemies come in the form of different ways we seek to save ourselves.  Every other religion is about things you must do to be saved, but Christianity is about what God has already done to save us.  What makes us Christian is our acknowledgement that we can’t save ourselves, and our confession that Jesus Christ did for us what we could not in coming to save us. Some of the biggest enemies of the Christian faith in the Southern United States are: Cultural Christianity, Moralism, and Legalism. Whether we look at the church as the organization, or the church as the people, both are promoting and pushing these enemies of Christianity as ways to be saved.

The goal of Cultural Christianity is doing religious activities to be saved. Cultural Christianity tells us that we are good with God if we do religious things for or to God.  Christianity becomes event and meeting driven, but doesn’t apply to other areas of my life such my work, family, marriage, friendships, time or resources.  We are saved by our church attendance, serving in some capacity at the church, how many bible studies we are involved in, or small group community involvement.  While these are things we do to worship and experience God, we turn them into an end in themselves as good works that save us.

The goal of moralism is behavior modification. In moralism, we seek to just be a good behavior to show we are a good person or Christian. We live by a certain code of goodness, whether defined some principles of Christianity, our culture, or even ourselves.  In their book Gospel Coach, Scott Thomas & Tom Wood address moralism and its dangers, “We rely on our own moral ability or on the way other people perceive us as good, moral people. Moralism leads to methods of behavior modification where we seek to change what we do without addressing who we are as sinful people.”  Being a moralist, we seek to save ourselves by our own goodness therefore God must accept me.

The goal legalism is keeping the rules. Self-righteously, we believe we can keep God’s rules. Legalism says we are saved by the grace of God, but here are the rules you must now follow in order to keep that grace or dare I say add to grace. The legalist wants everyone to just “be a better Christian” by following all the right rules, and forgets about the grace that saved them.

The goal of the gospel is freedom.  “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Acts 13:38-39” The good news is God sent Jesus is his love for us, and gave us grace in Jesus coming to save us.  The law could not save us, but is gracious in showing us we can’t save ourselves. We need someone outside of us to save us. It is good news because Jesus saves us from our sin by living the perfect life we could not.  He paid the penalty of sin, which was death. He willingly took our place on the cross dying our death.  He resurrected from the grave defeating sin, and now he is alive reigning and ruling with God.  We place our trust in what Jesus has done, and not what we can do to save ourselves. We believe the gospel frees us from sin and self-effort in trying to save ourselves.  Now we are freed to know God, to love God because he first loved us, and love others as God has loved us.

We respond to this good news of the gospel of Jesus in repentance & belief.  We repent of trying to save ourselves even in our good works whether church activity, good behavior, or trying to keep the rules.  Paul says, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. Galatians 2:21.” We nullify the grace of God when we try and save ourselves. So we repent of trying to save ourselves, and we turn in belief to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  There he meets us with grace, and makes us new people in Christ.  The gospel brings freedom, and we need to watch out for enemies of the gospel that spring up in the church.  There is only one gospel and it is found in who Jesus is and what he has done to save us.

Guest Post by Clay Adkisson (@clayadkisson)

Job & Noah’s Righteousness

“And the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it and break its supply of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast, even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord GOD.

“If I cause wild beasts to pass through the land, and they ravage it, and it be made desolate, so that no one may pass through because of the beasts, even if these three men were in it, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, they would deliver neither sons nor daughters. They alone would be delivered, but the land would be desolate.

“Or if I bring a sword upon that land and say, Let a sword pass through the land, and I cut off from it man and beast, though these three men were in it, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, they would deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they alone would be delivered.

“Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out my wrath upon it with blood, to cut off from it man and beast, even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, they would deliver neither son nor daughter. They would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness.

“For thus says the Lord GOD: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four disastrous acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast! But behold, some survivors will be left in it, sons and daughters who will be brought out; behold, when they come out to you, and you see their ways and their deeds, you will be consoled for the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem, for all that I have brought upon it. They will console you, when you see their ways and their deeds, and you shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, declares the Lord GOD.””

(Ezekiel 14:12–23 ESV)

These verses might strike us strangely because the bible overwhelming communicates that no one is righteous before a perfectly holy God.  We were dead, enemies, objects of wrath, rebellious and wicked (Ephesians 2:1-3).  So when we come across verses like these, it may seem like the bible is contradicting itself.  The bible always interprets the bible so there must be something else going on here.  The context of this passage in Ezekiel is regarding the severity of judgement that is to come.  Noah saved 7 additional people because of his “righteousness” and Job interceded for his moron (my interpretation) friends and God “heard his prayer” (Job 42:8–9 ESV).  But despite their previous ability to intercede on behalf of their friends & family, their righteous lives would not be enough to save anyone in light of how egregious the people’s current sinfulness was.

Neither Ezekiel (nor God) are trying to communicate that these men were perfectly pure or holy; the intent is to communicate that these men were morally upright & did what was right in the eyes of God and others.  They are like what we would describe as a “good guy” today.  We know what we mean when we say that someone is a good guy – faithful to their wife, honest, a hard worker, etc…Morally upright.  That is what the bible is communicating regarding these men.  Indeed, Noah blows it big time after the flood when he gets drunk and passes out in his tent “like a redneck on vacation” (Mark Driscoll’s commentary from Genesis 9:21 from On the Old Testament).  Job also had an overwhelming sense that he could successfully argue his case before God and win – does that sound familiar?  We know how that worked out for him!

Ezekiel is communicating that even though these guys were morally upright and that they saved others from judgement, the current sin was too great for them to save anyone but themselves.  When we see judgement in the Old Testament it is ultimately pointing to the destruction of the wicked at the end of the world.  This is most poignantly seen in the destruction of men, women & children when the Israelites take the promised land (that is a whole other discussion!).  How do we avoid this judgement & destruction?  By being perfectly righteous.  There are only 2 ways to be righteous – live a perfect life and obey all of the commandments all of the time or trust in Someone who would do that for you.

The most beautiful thing about this passage and ultimately about “righteous” Noah & Job is that God would accept the righteousness of another on our behalf.  It was Noah’s righteousness that saved his family.  Jesus is the true and better Noah.  It is by Jesus’ righteousness that we are saved.  So do we strive to rest on our own righteousness or are we grateful and rest upon the righteousness of Another.  This is seeing Jesus in the story of Noah.  The story of Noah points outside of the judgement & destruction brought by the Flood to the True Noah that would deliver many more than seven from the ultimate flood of God’s wrath & ultimate destruction.  Job interceded on behalf of his friends (Job 42:8-9) at the command of God.  Did God hear his prayer because he was righteous?  Yes.  The text points outside of itself to One who is truly righteous and intercedes on behalf of far more than just three friends.  Jesus is the true and better Job that sits at the right hand of God and intercedes on our behalf (Romans 8:34).

It is not through our moral striving and obedience that we are righteous and accepted before God.  Though we may be good compared to others, we are far from righteous!  It is by faith, belief that we are made righteous.  Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6 which is quoted 4 times in the NT:  Romans 4:3, 22; Galatians 3:6 & James 2:23).  It is beautiful to see that Noah’s righteousness was imputed to his family and Job’s intercession on behalf of his friends was heard by God.  We have a much better Noah & Job.  Rest on Him and not on your own righteousness.

The Lord is Patient Toward You

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”(2 Peter 3:8–10 ESV)

This is a very controversial passage of scripture around which many arguments have erupted.  This seems to be one of the primary passages that we gravitate towards when we want to place our own freewill at the pinnacle of the bible.  But, before we can come to any conclusions regarding this passage, we need to understand the context of it and what the Apostle was attempting to communicate to His readers.  Far too often, we grab a verse that sounds nice and begin to apply it without ever having a good understanding of the context and the author’s intent.

The first question we need to answer is who the letter is addressed to?  Peter writes this letter from prison in Rome and knows that he will soon be executed for his faith (2 Peter 1:14-15).  The letter was written to Christians (2 Peter 1:1).  In the opening verses of this epistle, Peter affirms that there are no tiers in Christianity. He is an apostle – He walked with Jesus, personally – but, their faith is equal to his (1:1).  There is no varsity squad &  junior varsity squad in Christianity.  Their faith is equal to our faith. Our faith is obtained by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  This faith was obtained – we did not possess it on our own. It is a gift that was earned by the righteousness of Christ.  Peter calls Jesus God here which is one of the strongest New Testament arguments for the divinity of Jesus.

Why did Peter write this letter?  Peter is in Rome nearing his imminent execution (1:12-15) so what He covers in this letter is of utmost importance in his mind.  He covers such sweeping themes as God’s grace toward us and it’s centrality in our ongoing sanctification, the pursuit of holiness, the Lord’s patience towards us and He combats false teachers & scoffers who had managed to work their way into the church and were doubting God’s presence & faithfulness.

We want to gravitate towards the part of this passage that says that God “is not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (3:9b).  What is truly unbelievable is the preceding part of this verse that says that “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you” (3:9a).  That is spectacular!  Don’t run past it!  What we perceive as slowness is really God’s patient mercy.  If I were God, I would have ended it all at Genesis 3 or 6:5-6, so the fact that we have air, gravity, water, a planet to inhabit and enjoy is nothing but His benevolent grace towards His creatures that want nothing to do with Him; we want His blessings & gifts, but don’t really want Him.  All of us – believer & nonbeliever alike – are recipients of His common grace.  If this part does not wow you and cause you to worship the Almighty then you are missing one of Peter’s main points!

The broader context of this verse helps us because it is eschatological in nature. It is titled, “The Day of the Lord Will Surely Come (3:1–13).”  What Peter is combatting is what the scoffers have been saying in the church – that God is distant, disconnected & slow in acting (3:1-7).  There is much connection between Peter’s Jewish eschatological beliefs (see Habakuk 2:3) and the point that He is making here.  The Word Biblical Commentary is quite helpful in interpreting this section of the passage.  It says, “God desires all, without exception, to repent and escape damnation. But (“all”) is clearly limited by (“you”). There is no thought here of the Christian mission”  The author remains close to his Jewish source, for in Jewish thought it was usually for the sake of the repentance of his own people that God delayed judgment. Here it is for the sake of the repentance of 2 Peter’s Christian readers. No doubt repentance from those sins into which some of them have been enticed by the false teachers (2:14, 18; 3:17) is especially in mind.  We need not suppose that the author put the false teachers themselves entirely beyond possibility of repentance and salvation, but here he addresses his readers, who are distinguished from the false teachers (3:5, 8, 17).”

God takes not delight in the destruction of anyone that bears His image – even the most wicked.  He is connected to them and derives no pleasure in their destruction.  Though we have seen that the “all” in this passage is limited by the “you,” some will still use this passage to argue that it is the will of God that all people on planet earth be saved.  All people are clearly not saved so one of these must be true:
1) God is not able to save all people,
2) Some will not turn to God because their free will prohibits them,
3) Peter (and Paul) are lying, or
4) God has another purpose.

It is interesting that God seems to desire something that does not come to pass. He certainly has the power, so why not fulfill His every desire?  He desired that Adam & Eve would not have sinned and He desires that we walk faithfully to His revealed will.  We rarely walk faithfully, so God does not always fulfill His wants.  Some would say it is because He is is a gentlemen and will not force Himself upon anyone. This sounds nice to my flesh, but is contrary to the overall teaching of the scriptures. God has many desires that are not met (yet) because they all come under his ultimate desire – that He be glorified.  Some would disagree with this and teach that God’s greatest desire is for human free will.  If I’m honest, I like this because it appeals to my sense of control over my destiny, to my ability to choose, to my autonomy and control over my life (kind of sounds like the original sin, doesn’t it!).  But, if I’m intellectually honest – my free will has never been my friend, it has always been my enemy.  I always chose (apart from God’s regenerating my heart) what I saw as best and most beautiful – which was always me, my sin and my way and NEVER GOD.

One of the overarching themes of the scriptures is God’s electing love. God chooses people to shower His affection on – not because they are worthy of it or because they sought it. God chose Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He chose Joseph over his brothers, He chose, David, the prophets, and Moses.  Men did not chose Him, they did not seek Him. God’s glory is most shown by redeeming a rebellious people. He is most glorified when He takes the heart of a dead man and makes it new, when He showers him with His saving love and that man comes alive. He is most glorified when He takes a dead heart of stone and makes it a soft, sensitive heart of flesh.  This is the power for us to love even when the love of others is not reciprocal.

Paul helps us with this in Romans 9:  “though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated. “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”” (Romans 9:11–26 ESV).

God gets no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:32 & 33:11) – indeed there is a sense of sorrow & remorse at the destruction of that which was created in His image.  The problem is that we lack the ability to come to God, apart from Him calling us. God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4).  Some will say, “yes, no one can come unless God calls” (Jesus said so over and over in the gospels, especially in John) so God calls some (or all, depending on one’s belief) and those who respond of their own free will are saved.  The problem with this theology is what the rest of the bible teaches; this is man centered, intellectually lazy & theologically shallow.  There are challenges with the sovereignty of God in election and salvation, but by far and away the continuous theme in the scriptures is one of God’s effectual, electing love.  We would rather stop short and avoid asking all of the questions. There are mysteries, for sure, but there are not nearly as many as we’d like to lazily believe.  When we face these mysteries, we must ask Who & what is ultimate?  God’s glory or ours?  If we are the ultimate determining factor in salvation then we are most glorified.

All of history is in the hands of the Lord and it is moving to the climax of Jesus’ return and restoration of all things.  Verse 9 is in response to the scoffer’s accusations in the immediately preceding verses saying that God is absent, disconnected, aloof and slow to act.  Peter says, “no He is delaying because He is patient with you – He is providing an opportunity for more people to respond to the Gospel by faith.”  God is indeed slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Exodus 34:6).  God’s patience is a central theme in the Old Testament and indeed it is a central theme in our own lives.  It is beyond me how the perfect holiness of God tolerates the continual rebellion and perversion of His creatures.  This is the definition patience.  Though He is long suffering, He will not tolerate it forever – His wrath will be spilled – and rightfully so!  He is patient, but His patience with sinners will eventually expire and all that there will be is His just wrath and judgement.  In the meantime, His patience are meant to lead you to repentance.  Will you repent & believe?

God Takes No Delight in the Destruction of The Wicked

“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?”
(Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11 ESV)

God derives no pleasure from the destruction of wicked image bearers.  But, because He is perfectly holy and just, He must punish sin.  It is amazing that the Creator of the universe feels sorrow over the destruction of those who have been made in His image – that is not how things were created to be.  Image bearers are to reflect the essence of God in physical form – that is what we were created for.  Like a shattered mirror or a really low resolution icon on your computer, we do not reflect Him well.  The good news is that the Holy Spirit regenerates the hearts of the believer, deposits believing faith and empowers us to better reflect God & His glory.  Instead of being glory thieves, like the wicked (which we once were), we now live for His glory.  This is not something that we manufacture on our own through our own hard fought discipline, but through an ongoing life of surrender and dependance.

Chosen to be trophies of His grace

The Gospel Centered Life

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (John 15:16 ESV)

“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19 ESV)

In case you have forgotten, the bible explicitly proclaims from Genesis to Revelation that He chose us, we did not choose Him.  He was the initiator, He was the one that sought us – we did not seek Him.  No one seeks God (Romans 3:11), we were spiritually dead (Genesis 2:17, Ephesians 2:1-10).  This means that if you are a Christian, then you were chosen according to God’s…

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