Tag Archives: Position

Marked by the Almighty

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the LORD had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.
Whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him. (Exodus 34:29–35 ESV)

God instructs Moses to cut two stone tablets (like the first ones that he broke) and to bring them up the mountain (Exodus 34:1) for their second face to face meeting.  The people feared God and appointed Moses as their mediator (Exodus 20:19).  Once Moses had climbed the mountain, the Lord descended from heaven and passed before him and revealed his majesty and glory to Moses (34:5-7).  The result?  Moses bowed his head and interceded on behalf of himself and the people (v8-9).  Moses worshiped and pled for mercy.  Being in the presence of the Almighty always brings a sense of awe, reverence and personal smallness.

Interestingly, when Moses descended from the mountain with the tablets, he was glowing.  His face literally shone with the glory of God.  It caused the people to be fearful so he wore a veil over his face.  He would remove the veil when he met with God and he would replace it when he met with the people.  The glory of the Lord was too much for them.  Moses had been marked by the Almighty.  His experience with God marked him – spiritually, emotionally & physically.

Being in the presence of the sovereign God of the universe always marks us – it leaves us changed, transformed.  Think about Isaiah’s experience with God in Isaiah 6.  Think about Psalm 73 where the psalmist wrestles with the prosperity & blessing of the wicked.  He wrestled with what he saw, “but when he thought how to understand this, it seemed to him a wearisome task, until he went into the sanctuary of God; then he discerned their end” (Psalms 73:16–17 ESV).  Though the psalmist wrestled with real world questions, he was marked by meeting God in His sanctuary and, as a result, his perspective changed.  David is another example.  In psalm 51:1-12, David is wrestling with his sin and being laid bare before a perfectly holy God.  Something interesting happens in verse 13, though – David is so marked by the forgiveness that he has received that he vows to “teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you” (Psalms 51:13 ESV).  David had been so marked by the forgiveness of God that it changed him to the core.  When Job encountered the Almighty face to face, he proclaimed “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you” Job 42:5.

The same was true of Peter and John when they were gathered before the elders in Jerusalem.  Luke tells us, “now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13 ESV).  They were filled with the Spirit (4:8) and His presence marked them, transformed them and empowered them.

Let us goto out bibles intent on seeing God. Let us not search for trite formulas to make our lives work better in order to cope with living in this fallen world; let us not primarily focus on what we must do until we have spent plenty of time focusing on who He is and what He has done to forgive us, save us and adopt us into His family.  Let us seek to see Him and beg him to show us His glory.  We far too often approach the bible as a way to fix our problems, rather than a story that reveals a powerful, just, merciful God that redeems a rebellious people.  How we read our bibles matters.  Lord, help us to see you and savor you as supreme.  Help us to believe that “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalms 16:11 ESV).

 

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Thoughts from Jude (part 1)

“To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” (Jude 1:1–2 ESV)

Jude writes to those who are called – “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:30 ESV).  Don’t miss the string here – or elsewhere in scripture – there are no human fingerprints on it!  God called us to be His BELOVED (those are familial words) and He will KEEP US in Christ Jesus.  He predestines, He calls, He justifies, He keeps & He glorifies.  We are along for the ride as we ACTIVELY contend for the faith.

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4 ESV)

Ungodly people had crept in and perverted the truth.  These were designated for destruction – they did not catch God off guard and they did not cause God to have to figure out what He was going to do!  They were unnoticed because they acted like Christians, but were not.  They talked it, but did not walk it.  They perverted grace and made it cheap grace, which is no grace at all.  Cheap grace always produces license – sensuality.  They ultimately denied Christ by their actions and unwillingness to submit to His commands and obey Him.  We may be able to talk a good talk, quote bible verses, walk aisles & pray prayers, but ultimately if we are not willing to walk in joyful obedience to Christ and submit to Him then we prove ourselves to be on shifting sand.  This is perhaps the greatest risk in our modern evangelical churches.  We don’t know what we believe, we don’t teach it and people have a very weak view of God and His grace.  God is nice, but He is not compelling.  Unless one has been deeply moved by the sovereign majesty of God, he will not understand the grace that has been given to him – He will not be moved to worship or obey.
  This is why Jude starts with God calling, God loving & God keeping.  Most in our midsts today would not deny Jesus explicitly, but deny Him by the way that they live.  He is not important to them, He is not the hub that their lives revolve around, He is not adored or served, He is just One of many gods in our lives.  This should scare us all!

“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” (Jude 1:5 ESV)

Jesus saved a people out Egypt.  Wow, Jude is saying that Jesus is God!  Powerful.  Those who did not believe were destroyed in the desert – that should really scare us.  These were people that experienced the miraculous deliverance God had provided them from Egypt, His commands at Sinai and His ongoing deliverance and guidance.  And yet they did not believe and were destroyed for their unbelief.  Our battle is for belief!  Those who did not endure in belief did not see the Promised Land (1 Corinthians 10:5; Hebrews 3:16–19) – and neither will we unless we endure.  Judgement awaits those who persist in unbelief!

“Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.” (Jude 1:8–10 ESV)

These false teachers had come to rely on the subjectivity of their dreams instead of the objectivity of the scriptures.  Revelatory dreams still happen, but they should always be subjected to the authority of scripture. These people pollute the flesh and defy authority. They blaspheme the glorious One.

We do not know what Jude is referring to in verse 10, it has been lost in history. Won’t it be a glorious day when we can see more fully what we only see in part now!?  Michael understood his place in God’s created order so he did not tread on God’s authority. Lord, help us to learn from your authority!  Michael left the devil to God’s authority.

These false teachers operated on their instincts (like an animal) instead of on the authority of scripture.  We must subdue our instincts, feelings and sinful thoughts – they must be engaged by the grace of God and wrestled into submission by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.  All that these people knew was how to follow their instincts and feelings regardless of whether they adhered to God’s moral decrees or not. This is dangerous – this is how people end up in the weeds and destroy their lives and the lives of others.

“Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.” (Jude 1:11–13 ESV)

These false teachers were motivated by coveting and greed because they were dissatisfied with the position that they currently occupied. He uses examples of Cain (Genesis 4:5-8), Balaam (Numbers 22:5-7, 2 Peter 2:15) and Korah (Numbers 16:1-3, 31-35). How often do we get derailed by being dissatisfied with where we are in life? We need believe that our deepest satisfaction in life is found in an abiding relationship with Jesus alone.  It is not found in the next accomplishment, relationship or position in life.

These false teachers are like hidden reefs because they are suffering no immediate consequences for their sinful behavior. This is sad! Like a ship sailing on the open water thinking that things are OK until they strike the reef just below the surface. These people live openly depraved lives and experience no consequences for their sinful behavior. They do what they want and are largely unchecked. Why is this? One can only speculate, but I wonder if this is because we don’t like conflict or because we feel like we are being ungracious by judging or confronting someone else?  It is not ungracious or unloving to confront people in their sin – it is what is required to help people see the light of day, though it is incredibly difficult!

Angry hearts aren’t free hearts

‘You shall not murder.” (Deuteronomy 5:17 ESV).

This is the immoral, careless killing of another (murder), but also includes the death of another because of negligence or carelessness (manslaughter).  This verb is never used when describing killing in war so apparently there is a distinction.  The bible prohibits murder because we are image bearers (Genesis 1:26–27; 9:6); we have special status as being reflectors of God’s glory in a unique way.  So murder is, in a way, an attack on God.

The polar opposite of murder (fueled by hate) is love as highlighted in Leviticus 19:17-18:  ““You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”

Loving our neighbor is repeated in the New Testament by Jesus, Paul & James:

  • Matthew 22:37–40:  “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.””
  • Romans 13:9:  “For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • Galatians 5:14:  “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word:  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”
  • James 2:8:  “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.”

Jesus’ teaching on this in the Sermon on the Mount gets to the real heart of the problem:  anger.  ““You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:21–24 ESV).  If you are angry, then your heart is not free.  Jesus knows that if He gets our hearts under control then our actions will follow.  He is restoring His image within us so that we actually are becoming more human (as God designed us to be).  We can’t kill anger any more than we can produce love on our own – we need outside assistance!  Let us place ourselves in proximity to God’s grace by our spiritual disciplines and let us plead with Him to change our hearts, motivations & affections.

Talking to yourself, developing desire for God and our need for Grace

How do we develop a desire for God?  How do we fight spiritual apathy and foster affection for God?  Why do we need grace, are we really awed by it?  Here are some great articles and resources to help answer those questions:

This God is BIG

God made them, God chose them, God will be their deliverer.  This God is BIG.  The size and scope of the Almighty is beyond our comprehension.  God provides satiation for our souls – like the dry parched ground of the desert soaks up water.  His people will be enthusiastic about Him, His grace and His people.  God reminds His people that He alone is God, unchallenged, unequaled.  There is none like Him – He is unequaled, He is faithful through the ages.  It seems that in the midst of oppression and difficulty God knows that we don’t need a “pull yourself up by your boot straps” talk or “dig deep, take the hill” speech.  God proclaims His majesty and might instead of focusing on our abilities and responsibilities.  Our courage and encouragement is not found in our abilities, strength or savvy, but in the might of the Almighty whom has set His affections upon us and called us His children.  Once you grasp this, you will be FREE.

““But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen! Thus says the LORD who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams. This one will say, ‘I am the LORD’s,’ another will call on the name of Jacob, and another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’ and name himself by the name of Israel.”” (Isaiah 44:1–5 ESV)

Your plan or His

““Ah, stubborn children,” declares the LORD, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my direction, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation. For though his officials are at Zoan and his envoys reach Hanes, everyone comes to shame through a people that cannot profit them, that brings neither help nor profit, but shame and disgrace.”” (Isaiah 30:1–5 ESV)

Judah sought protection from Assyria by entering into a pact with Egypt for protection.  But God had promised to protect them.  They were a stubborn people who carried out their plans that was not His and they they had not sought His wisdom or insight on.  They made an alliance for protection that was not fueled by the Spirit – all the while, true protection was found in yielding to God and casting their cares upon Him.  When we make our own plans and execute our own agendas, the ultimate result is always disgrace and failure – there is a way that seems right to us (and may go well for a time), but in the end it always unravels.  When we reject God’s plans and do not earnestly consult Him for wisdom and direction then we are really rejecting God then judgement and one sin following another happens.  Let us never abandon a practical trust in the living God and seek His will and way in our lives, let us not lean on our own understanding or press our own agendas.

God Centered Perspective: Position

God Centered Perspective:  Position.  One of the best places to start our discussion of position is in the book of Job; Job is a difficult, yet encouraging book that is theologically rich.  We see the opening portion of the book describing Job as “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil,”1 who even offered sacrifices on behalf of his children, just in case his “children [had] sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.”2  Surely, if there was a man that deserved God’s favor and protection, then it was Job!  The story, however, takes a jarring turn when God recommends Job (two times) for the job of suffering.3  Catastrophe strikes!  Job’s wealth is taken, his children are killed, he is robbed of his health4 and yet the bible tells us that “in all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”5  He even attributes his situation to God by saying “naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”6  The only thing that Job had left was a nagging wife that encouraged him to curse God.7  The bulk of the chapters that follow are comprised of Job wrestling through his feelings and emotions regarding God and his current situation, and this is accentuated by some of the worst friends in history who are “counseling” Job!  As the book progresses, Job is pressing for an audience with God because he is convinced that he could argue his case that his treatment was unjust at the hands of the Almighty.  This opportunity is finally afforded to Job in chapter 38 and God begins what ends up being a monologue on his eternal power, perspective and Job’s woefully limited understanding of things.  Job begins to understand that he is limited in his understanding and tries to stop the conversation8, but God is not done “talking” with Job.  God spends four chapters asking Job questions like, “where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth,“ “have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place,” “can you send forth lightnings,” “do you give the horse his might,” and “is it by your understanding that the hawk soars.”9  God informs Job that “whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.”10  Job understands that he was presumptuous in thinking that he could bring his case before God.  Job’s response is a good pattern for us:  “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”11  There is no indication that Job ever knew the entire drama that was played out in chapters 1 & 2.  Job realized that he was limited in his understanding and that God was infinite and eternal; that their perspectives were worlds apart.

Adam & Eve were placed in the garden of Eden with a job to do and nothing was outside of their dominion12 – nothing, except God.  God had placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden, not to tempt the couple, but to serve as a constant visual reminder that they were still under the authority of the sovereign Creator.  The tree forced them to answer the question, “who is sovereign, who is ultimate, who is supreme, whose earth is this?”  When the couple took the fruit and ate it, they answered this question – they reckoned themselves to be ultimate, unlimited, sovereign and supreme.  And this has been the struggle of humanity ever since.  Our perspective, like theirs, is very limited and clouded – God sees from the beginning of time to the end in one glance, he understands all things while we are woefully limited in our understanding.  There is a battle that rages in the soul of all humanity for personal sovereignty; who (in our own mind) is ultimate and sovereign – us or God?  The reality is that we often times don’t really like the way God has decided to govern His universe, we have authority problems.  We aren’t God, and the truth is that we would make a sorry god, though we delude ourselves in to thinking that we are privy to how all of creation works.  We must acknowledge that “our God is in the Heavens and He does all he pleases.”13  There is a grounding effect that happens in our lives as we understand our place in the universe before the holy God.  God is not only our sovereign Authority, but also our greatest Treasure.  If He is only our sovereign Authority then our faith will be oppressive and marked by duty & obligation.  If we see Him as both, our faith will be marked by delight and joy; the latter is the picture the bible paints of authentic faith.  A deep heart level understanding of our position in the universe begins to produce authenticity instead of pretense; it produces an understanding that we don’t have to have it all figured out – it gives us the freedom to not be ok and the motivation to not stay that way.  It moves us to worship as we proclaim, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”14

Prayer:  Lord, please help us to remember our place in the universe – that you are Creator and that we are created; that you are sovereign and that we are not; that your perspective and understanding is eternal, infinite, and unlimited and ours is limited, finite and tiny.

Notes:
1“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” (Job 1:1 ESV)
2““It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.”” (Job 1:5 ESV)
3“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.” (Job 1:6–12 ESV); “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. And the LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”” (Job 2:1–6 ESV)
4See Job 1:13-20, 2:7-8
5Job 1:22, 2:10
6Job 1:21, see also Job 12
7“Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:9–10 ESV)
8 ““Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
“Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?” (Job 40:4–9 ESV)
9Job 38:4, 38:12, 38:35, 39:19, 39:26
10Job 41:11 ESV
11Job 42:2–6
12“And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.” (Genesis 1:28–30 ESV)
13Psalm 115:3 ESV
14Psalms 8:4 ESV

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God Centered Perspective Overview

This is the third post in this series.  The last post is here.

GOD CENTERED PERSPECTIVE
God centered theology sounds like an oxymoron!  Someone might interject and say, “of course we are God centered, we’re a church!”  Unfortunately, God is often the most assumed topic in our churches and we talk very little about Him.  Sometimes, we begin to view the bible as a self help guide designed to fix us rather than it being the revelation of God about who He is and His plans for His glory in His world.  We migrate to the bible being a field guide for how to make our lives “work,” which ultimately breaks down when life does not “work” according to our plan – which it never does1.  There is a big difference between these two points of view:  one puts us on center stage, the other places God on center stage2.  It is risky business when we make ourselves the focus because we rob God of glory and take that which is not ours to own; we become glory thieves.  Being at cross purposes with the God of the universe should strike a chord of fear in us because God says “my glory I will not give to another.”3  We need to be constantly asking ourselves, “who gets the glory?”
We must intentionally focus more on God and far less on us and what we must do for God (as if He needs anything from us4).  We need to be persistently reminded of the sovereign majesty of our Creator because we easily forget; this seems to be the pattern of humanity’s response to God in the scriptures.5  When this happens, we make moralism and the practical application of scripture our primary pursuits, brushing over the deep truths of scripture that provide the fuel for applying them to our lives.  Practical application is good and necessary, but when we spend the majority of our time on how to apply the scriptures and very little time on the God of the scriptures, we rob our people of the very Fuel that it takes to apply the scriptures to their lives!  The irony in this is that the more emphasis that we place on what people should be doing, the less people actually do the very things that they are being told to do!  Their lives aren’t truly transformed by the gospel of grace, they don’t live missionally, their souls are dry with no affection for God nor do they have any significant influence on the world around them.  This is because they are depending upon themselves to see their lives changed and obey God.  Instead, we need to be captivated with God’s goodness, love, grace, mercy and the wrath that He has rescued us from – these are the things that produce true spiritual transformation.  In a God centered culture, it is understood that proximity to Christ6 is what changes us, not our own efforts.  As we focus more on God’s character and nature we move from external behavior modification to heart level transformation and see spiritual sustainability established in the lives of Christians.
Everyone has a theology – a believe about God – it is just that the theology held by many Christians is not biblical, historically accurate nor orthodox.  For many, they are far more influenced by pop culture than by orthodox doctrine or theology.  We must have a steady diet of Christ centered, God exalting, biblical, orthodox teaching that forms an accurate worldview through which we view God, others, the world, pain & suffering and our place in this world.  Most Christians know what they should do – how they should act & feel – but fail to consistently pursue these things because their theology is man centered.  Our theological framework provides the foundation for everything that we believe, think, feel and ultimately do in life.  A strong God saturated theological framework answers the question of “why we live our lives the way the bible tells us to,” and provides us with the fuel to live our lives that way.   We need to develop a taste for doctrine, theology and biblical Christianity so that we are able to face many of life’s greatest challenges.  Theology and doctrine are not primarily academic or intellectual pursuits, but are the vehicle for us to know God more deeply and passionately pursue Him more fully.  We need good, solid God honoring doctrine woven in to the fabric of the culture of our churches in order to foster authentic pursuit of Christ.  This must be intentional or it will naturally devolve into man centeredness.  There are many ways to accomplish this, but whatever the method, it must be infused in the culture of the church by being intentional about what is taught and how it is taught.

NOTES:
1“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:18–25 ESV)
2When we say God centered versus man centered, what is meant is who do we focus on primarily in our study, teaching and practice.  In a God centered culture, the bulk of time and teaching is spent expounding on who God is and what He has done for His people.  In a man centered culture, the bulk of time and teaching is spent on who we are and what we should be doing for God.  This may sound subtle, but its implications are profound; one places God as the central cause of transformation and the other places transformation on our shoulders to pull off on our self disciplined efforts.
3“I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8 ESV); “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:11 ESV)
4“nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:25 ESV)
5The Old Testament is filled with narratives of God’s people regularly forgetting God and pursuing their own way, they are shifting from God centered to man centered and the consequences are always catastrophic.  The pattern we see repeated in the New Testament, especially by Paul in the epistles, is a systematic approach to reminding the churches that are being addressed of their inability, depravity, and place in the universe and God’s greatness.  There is a constant rebuilding of who God is and who they are before any application is mentioned.  We see this especially in Romans when Paul spends the first eleven chapters discussing the richest and deepest truths of our faith before he ever begins to address what our response is in chapter twelve.  The first three chapters of Ephesians is a systematic unpacking of the gospel and God’s grace towards those who believe before any application is mentioned in chapter four.  Philippians and Colossians both intertwine the gospel and the grace of God with how to live out the gospel in practical ways.  The entire letter of Galatians is about shifting from man centered faith (law) to God centered faith (grace).  Apparently, we need to be reminded on where our strength and affections lie.
6“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4–5 ESV); Jesus’ proclamation, regarding believers being the salt of the earth and the light of the world in Matthew 5:13-16 is a direct result of a person coming before God as being spiritually bankrupt (Matthew 5:3); “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13 NIV)

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