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Gospel Espresso

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 30:18, ESV)

There’s SO much wonderful theology packed densely into these words. Forgive me for talking over some heads because it takes some background knowledge of the Bible to get through this, but I pray that I’ll make accurate sense, doing justice to God’s Word and that the Spirit would help you make sense of it, giving you discernment as to where I might miss something. I hope I’ll get more time to expand this a bit later. This verse serves as a proof of prophesy and the wonderful coherence of the whole Bible.

Here are some of the big topics I see mentioned in passing in this verse (yet not mentioned insignificantly).
-God of mercy and grace
-God of Justice punishing sin (see the context and the “therefores”)
-God waits to have mercy and exalt himself because he is also just.
-God who is jealous for his glory in order to show mercy.
-Wait for God and trust in his ultimate salvation.

The ultimate way this was fulfilled was when Jesus came
(The Messiah and the Teacher mentioned in verse 20)
after Israel’s long wait (about 700 years later than Isaiah)
to exalt himself in glory on the cross (John 3:14; 8:28; 12:32; 17:1)
to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice who does not let injustice be,
but punishes all sin, either on the cross or in hell, our choice.
Repent. Wait for him. He is coming again soon.

God can and does speak to people directly, but shouldn’t it go without saying that this is quite exceedingly rare? Why are there so many “prophets” today then claiming they’ve got a special word which is above and beyond his Word? Because, according to God, they’re deluded liars that give him a bad name.

And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.” (Jeremiah 14:14, ESV)

And that was said about people who were saying God would bless them with material wealth and peace! There is also the other problem where God is said by some to be evil or to be sending curses where he isn’t. Where God speaks to everyone is within God’s Word, the Bible. If we add to it or speak authoritatively about it (critics included), it can be equivalent to saying “thus sayeth the Lord” when he doesn’t sayeth. If we are going to speak authoritatively about God, we’d better have his Word right. If one is going to comment or quote an academic source, then one had better have read it well enough to have the right gist of it.

These days, we have many “false prophets”, but they’re not all in churches. Some of them are attacking the church by making exaggerated claims that the Bible describes a God who is immoral. If only we could just read for ourselves without adding our agendas as much as we do, then we might just find the grace which God has extended. Let’s make an effort to humble ourselves so that we do not keep arrogantly taking God’s name in vain like this. After all, Jesus died for deluded liars who misuse and abuse his name.

The Christmas Sequel: Revisited

Someday we will celebrate a New Christmas: “God with us” at the second coming of Jesus—The day of all days to remember.

He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:26-28, ESV)

And while they were gazing into heaven as [Jesus] went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10-11)

“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:27)

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. (1 Thess 4:16)

The high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:61-62)

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. (Rev 1:7)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14, ESV)

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:7-8)

Jesus-Heaven-and-Hell
Upon watching a forceful, honest, passionate display of emotion and straight-talking Bible teaching from pastor Mark Driscoll as he was answering a question on hell (56:50), I accidentally glanced at the comments section on Youtube, where I was watching it, and saw a familiar objection that went something like this:

“I could never believe in a God who is angry at us and/or sends people to hell for their sins.”

The comment was stated more forcefully and more passionately than my bare bones version above and added a current population figure. Mark was discussing his view based on the Bible, a Christian view about a Christian teaching. If Christianity isn’t true, the question would have no force at all because the Christian view then wouldn’t matter. But what was the commenter’s response based on? Was it based on the teachings of Jesus for a question about the teachings of Jesus? Based on principles of justice or mercy? Was it even based on a search for truth about the way reality is? None as far as I could tell, but simply based on what the commenter would not like to believe. For what does one’s preferences in the matter have to do with how reality is? He didn’t even consider all the people in history, just the population of today. Without saying it directly, he’s describing God as being unfair, but without offering up why any of us should think that his unoffered standard is better than God’s.

In answering this objection, I think my friend said it well: “I find it interesting how people can seemingly decide what kind of God they can believe in. It’s not like God can be determined by our beliefs.”

But perhaps this overlooks another side of the skeptic’s objection. Perhaps they “could never believe” not because they have an intellectual problem with it but rather a genuine emotional reaction to hearing that their unsaved family members and friends who have died are now . . . It’s understandably and unspeakably tragic. Christians too have friends and family members who have died without taking hold of the pardon God has offered. We too have to face whether there’s good enough reason to believe that Jesus was who he said he was and whether we should believe he historically resurrected to prove it. I don’t like hell, but in light of his qualifications I also believe Jesus really knew what he was talking about—which is why he went through the crucifixion to get me out of it or else I too would die in my sin and rebellion against God.

I’ll leave you with these last thoughts. Heaven is not a right that God owes anyone or else it wouldn’t be amazing grace to being with. What if instead he chooses to show his righteousness by punishing evil rather than forgiving it?

“But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world?”
(Romans 3:5-6 ESV)

Bigot!

Bigot: (n) a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance.

Tolerance: (n) 1 : capacity to endure pain or hardship : endurance, fortitude, stamina
2 : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.

So to “tolerate” something or someone means my views will differ from, even conflict with, the ones tolerated. So it doesn’t make anyone a bigot to disagree. It doesn’t even make someone a bigot to conflict against views that are really emotionally charged. It makes them a bigot to hate and be obstinate about it. It may even be possible to be a bigot while calling someone else a bigot, especially if they really aren’t.

Do I, in fact, hate God?

“We hate God.
Nobody really seeks him on their own.”

“I disagree. Some might hate him, but I don’t.”

“But, you are agnostic.”

“Yeah, but I believe in a God of Love.”

“So you don’t hate the God you believe in and/or don’t know about?”

“Of course not!”

“But what if that God you believe in is not real? Then could it be possible that you actually hate the real God?”

“No, because I believe we all basically believe in the same God, but none of us can know about him very well.”

“What about the God of the Bible specifically? If God were that God exactly, could you love that God?”

“Well, I don’t believe the real God is like that. . . .”

Have you ever had a conversation something like this where the person did not even want to admit the sheer possibility of something? I have and it makes me more and more convinced of God’s word. There’s a passage, a few of them, that I had a hard time taking at its word. For example, Romans 1 says that people refuse God because they are “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” to which I promptly responded, “No, that must be hyperbole. There are lots of sincere people trying to find the truth. I was one of them.” But are they? Was I? Is that really the condition I found myself in when God called me? Or was I rather delighted to stay in the apathy I had wrapped myself in and wait until I was old and grey before I sorted out and committed to the truth about God? In light of Romans 3:11 and 5:10, Tim Keller once said, “If you deny you are an enemy of God, then you’re really an enemy of God.” God took me, while still an enemy, reconciled me to Him and adopted me as a son and an ally.

If only more people would investigate Christ Jesus and the Bible more even handedly. If only they’d merely pose the “what ifs” of testing out the worldview of Christianity to see that it is sound rather than presuming that it isn’t when it doesn’t fit their own worldview (but does it fit what we know of the world on its own measure?). We have “uneven scales,” judging one worldview solely and only by another, and by so doing we’re unable to get away from our narrow cultural bias to think-test another point of view—to wear the other man’s shoes. If only more souls, when posed with strange Bible verses about, say, humanity’s spiritual deadness and hatred toward God, would react honestly with the Bible’s view of God in mind rather than their own god when they respond, “No, I love God. I just don’t agree with Jesus’ view of God.” Then they’d at least realize that if Jesus was speaking truly, they do hate God—the God of the Bible.

Jesus taught, “Whoever hates me, hates my Father also.” (John 15:23) And, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God.” (John 8:42)

So if your heart has convicted you and the Spirit is tugging at your soul to seek the truth about God, and if you desire forgiveness for breaking the most important moral commandment (to Love God), you may find yourself saying something like this: “Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we 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 33:10-11 ESV)

Image

It’s called the “god particle,” present surrounding all things, yet unseen.

Scientists yesterday revealed how they had discovered evidence to show the existence of the elusive Higgs Boson a particle said to be responsible for holding other particles together and thus giving mass.  That’s my rudimentary understanding of it.  This is certain to once again spark the debate as to whether the universe can be seen to have been created without the need of a creator – think Stephen Hawking and “The Grand Design” last year.

Yet, what one can observe here is a great amount of precision and planning in what seems to be a purposeful design.

and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. – Hebrews 1:3b (ESV)

How do I arrive at this?  Well I believe that this discovery by the scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland have made a significant scientific discovery.  I also believe that this discovery shows us great beauty in the design of the universe.  If this particle does as the physicists claim and grants mass to matter by holding it together, I can then understand that this is one way that God is upholding the universe with his hand.  Indeed, this discovery leads me to worship God all the more for his wondrous creation, and revealing how he is holding up his creation.  This discovery is helpful in understanding God’s design, and thus can lead us in to seeing God’s beauty, power and majesty all the more.

 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. -Romans 11:36

Thank God for science!

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