God Worketh in You

The brilliance and wisdom of God is seen in His commanding us to do things which we ought to do, yet which we’re unable to do without His aid. He doesn’t command us in ignorance, unaware of our weakness, but as a way to engage His image in us, and work through us to achieve His purposes.

The fact that God is sovereign, in total control of all things, including us (Ep 1:11), suggests to some that we’re excused from engaging our will in obeying Him, as if to say, “I can’t do anything without Christ anyway (Jn 15:5), so why try?” The error produces passivity, an idleness of the mind and will, which turns out to be the chief basis of demon possession (Ep 4:27); if we don’t resist the devil he will retake in us the ground he used to have (Ep 2:2) and more. (2Ti 2:26)

So, though God is able to sanctify us without our engaging our cooperation, He is pleased to work in and through us (Php 2:13), inviting us into our sanctification as participants and enablers, workers together with Him. (2Co 6:1) This doesn’t jeopardize His plan in any sense, it magnifies His omnipotence, but it does seem to reveal something amazing in His agenda.

If we come at this from a Free Will perspective, thinking God won’t (or can’t) interfere with our freedom of choice, then His actions simply make no sense to us, and He appears rather unloving. The common Evangelical understanding of God would compel Him to present Himself openly to the world so as to effectively eliminate all deception about Himself. There should be no atheists, or Muslims, or Buddhists, etc. This is what any rational, loving soul would do who desired the salvation of the human race and thought the main problem was lack of good information. So, as wonderful as this goal seems, it must not be God’s.

God is about making us, all of His elect (Mt 24:31), like Himself, training us up as saints such that we think and act like He does. (Ep 5:25-27) He engages His image within us with the very life and mind of Christ to form Christ in us (Ro 8:29), reincarnating Himself in us (Col 1:27), calling us to act and strive and then working through our will: our willingness and intent to obey Him becomes the vehicle through which He manifests Himself.

He is putting us through the mill down here, so to speak, sort of like a boot camp, preparing us to rule and reign with Him. (Re 20:4) He will eventually give us unfathomable responsibility – like passing eternal judgement on the angels. (1Co 6:3) He wouldn’t let us participate with Him like this without utmost confidence that we’d call it each situation correctly, exactly like He would.

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Worthy of His Reward

The appeal of Communism and Socialism ultimately boils down to one thing – a willingness to trade personal freedom for free stuff, things we haven’t worked for. Whether driven by envy, fear or compassion, those who fall for shallow Marxian promises enable societal corruption and eventually suffer for it. The reason is simple: we’re motivated primarily by compensation for our own work, and this is by divine design. (1Ti 5:18)

The appeal of free stuff isn’t new; even when Christ was here we tried to use Him this way (Jn 6:26), yet God has benevolently designed us to work (2Th 3:10) and to be rewarded for it: He’s set up the entire spiritual and physical ecosystem around this principle. (1Co 3:8)

When governments engage in forced wealth re-distribution, they’re violating this basic life principle. Expecting people to act in a manner that’s inconsistent with how they’re compensated is to violate Nature itself. As we cease to reward people for their own labor, and let bureaucrats choose how we’re compensated and for what, we introduce incompetence and corruption on a massive scale. People simply can’t produce the same quality or quantity of value in such a system.

Best case, when those in power are wise, benign and just, and people are willing to work hard without regard to how they’re paid, we simply have an inefficient society — decreased productivity due to leveraging suboptimal competence and skill. Yet to the degree that those in control are corrupt, or people give in to irresponsibility and selfishness, such cultures degenerate into deception, alienation and slavery, crushing the human spirit.

The biblical model establishes a controlled free enterprise (monopoly prevention), enabling all to better themselves while providing a safety net which doesn’t reward irresponsibility and laziness; value creation opportunity is maximized while respecting human dignity and design. The basic means of production (in agricultural society it’s land ownership) is periodically (once in a lifetime) restored to a balanced equilibrium and crushing debt is forgiven. The tithe is set aside for the dispossessed who are unable to care for themselves, and able-bodied men who fall on hard times may indenture themselves for a season to pay debts, learn how to work efficiently and profitability, and get a fresh start.

God’s design works best because healthy individuals know their own skills and needs better than anyone else does, and are also in the best position to satisfy them given the needs and capabilities of those in their community. This positions everyone to work most efficiently and productively to generate value and improve everyone’s lot as a whole, creating a prosperous and sustainable society. Secondarily, it enables us to be charitable toward our neighbors (Ep 4:28), those in our community who we know to be conscientious, to assist them as needed without enabling laziness or irresponsibility. God’s design is best for everyone, yet only works well for a God-fearing people; no society works well for a wicked people.

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What Thinkest Thou?

Jesus Christ, knowing all things (Jn 16:30), is always asking questions; it’s not because He doesn’t know the answers: He’s giving us unique opportunities to understand, leading us to new insights and answers.

For example, when Simon Peter is pondering whether he and Christ are obligated to pay the temple tax (Mt 17:24), Christ leads with a question: “What do you think, Simon? Do kings tax their own children, or strangers?” (25) The answer is obvious to Peter: “Strangers,” yet it’s the same question. Since the temple is God’s house, Christ’s own Father, He and the disciples are exempt. (26) Why is the question more effective than just telling Peter the answer?

In the Garden, as He’s being betrayed, Christ asks Judas two penetrating questions — as Judas is in the very act of committing the greatest crime in history: “Friend, why have you come?” (Mt 26:50a) Christ knows perfectly well what Judas is doing (46), so why the question? How is this better than just confronting Judas and accusing him?

The second question: “Are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Lk 22:48) The deed is done, but really? With a token of affection and loyalty? You thought this through?

Judas doesn’t answer either question, which is telling. He’s been deceiving himself, and is fully committed to walking in darkness. These questions were light in his darkness, showing himself to be what even he himself could not tolerate, (Mt 27:3-4a), and likely brought Judas to the end of himself. (5)

When Christ is exposing Simon the Pharisee, He tells a simple parable and asks Simon to interpret it. (Lk 7:41-42) Again, the answer is unmistakably obvious (43), and Christ agrees. Yet the parallels to their present relationship are undeniable, forcing Simon to face the coldness of his own heart, revealed by his own confession.

Christ asks us these kinds of questions because we need to consider them and look inside for answers. We know a whole lot more than we might think; if we’re seeking hard truths about ourselves, God reveals them to us through our own spirits. (Pr 20:27) When we ourselves come up with the answers it’s much more natural to accept them.

So, how do we emulate the Master here? How do we help folk find answers to the toughest, growth-spurring questions rather than spoon-feeding them? Perhaps by loving others enough to really care about helping them understand, rather than impressing them with our own knowledge. Perhaps by investing, taking time to get to know our audience, to understand them, listening, studying their strengths and weaknesses, asking God for wisdom to use common sense in illustrating spiritual reality.

And we must understand what we’re talking about, well enough to ask the right questions, surgically pointing others to God’s answers. We must study to show ourselves approved, not to men but to God. (2Ti 2:15)

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Better Not to Have Known

There’s great responsibility involved in how we respond to truth; God’s very concerned about how we receive truth and what we do with it; He holds us accountable.

God’s wrath is revealed from Heaven against all who hold the truth in unrighteousness (Ro 1:18), who have the truth but turn from it and don’t obey it. It’s worse to disobey the truth once it’s revealed than to disobey in ignorance.

In other words, we’re better off not to have known the way of righteousness than to turn away from the holy commandments given to us (2Pe 2:21) There’s mercy when we sin in ignorance (1Ti 1:13), but no mercy for presumptuous sin. (He 10:26-27)

And it’s not just the truth we actually know, but it’s all truth which we have the opportunity to know, which we could know if we love the truth and pursue it. (2Pe 3:5) This is how all will be judged. (Ro 1:20-21)

So, we should consider carefully the example of our Lord Jesus, how He was very selective in who He revealed truth to, and when. He deliberately hid the truth from those who were superficial in their interest, speaking vaguely in parables and riddles. (Mt 13:13-15) His pattern was to reveal Himself only to those who were seeking truth, and He often required significant obedience before giving them much revelation at all.* He didn’t cast His pearls before swine, and encourages us likewise. (Mt 7:6)

This isn’t cruel or unloving, to be careful with truth, thoughtful in who we speak to, strategic in what we tell them and when. It’s the most loving thing to do with those who hate the light, which is most people. (Jn 3:19-20) If we shine bright lights into the eyes of the wicked, they won’t respond well; it just reveals their hatred of the light and makes them more culpable. Then they get angry with us. Not good for anyone.

There’s Hell to pay, literally, for missing Christ, so we might reason that it doesn’t matter much if people don’t respond well and are more guilty as a result of our witness; perhaps we should just shove everything we know at them and hope for the best: they might get some of it. Yet we must remember that there are levels in Hell (Mt 11:22) as well as in Heaven; it’s not one-size-fits-all. (Mt 5:19) Spray and pray isn’t the example of Christ or of Paul (Ac 17:31), and we should soberly consider this.

We must also think carefully and soberly about ourselves, those of us who have found Christ and are following Him the best we know how: are we living in such a way that honors what we know, that gives it the heart, flesh and bone it deserves? Do we buy the truth, and sell it not? (Pr 23:23) counting it more precious than the trinkets of this world? Does our joy in God reflect His majesty? Does our love for others reflect His? Are we walking worthy of God? (1Th 2:12)

Is there anything we can do today that might move us closer to God? Anything at all that might align us more fully with His Way? Let’s ask God to show us the next step (Php 3:15), and then do this. Let us draw near to God, and work out our deliverance from the coldness and lifelessness of dead religion with fear and trembling (Php 2:12), for our God is austere, a consuming fire. (He 12:29) He has chosen us to obedience (1Pe 1:2), and is able to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (Jud 24)

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*See comments below

Be Merciful

Mercy is that quality which finds no pleasure in pursuing justice to the full, in seeing the wicked destroyed; it doesn’t require all wrongs to be fully righted and paid for by the offender; it’s willing to forgive and let things go rather than seeking revenge. It’s a disposition of compassion, sparing a sinner the full penalty they deserve, with a view to seeing them healed and restored. (Ps 145:8) It’s grounded in benevolence, good will, and charity.

Mercy is only relevant in the context of transgression and sin, when someone has violated God’s Law. Mercy refrains from imposing the full penalty someone deserves as punishment for their crime. By definition then, mercy cannot be demanded, expected as a right: mercy is undeserved.

God delights in being merciful (Mi 7:18), especially towards those who fear Him (Ps 103:11), who are seeking Him and trying to obey Him. (Is 55:7) When one falls into sin, even against us, and then repents, we should rejoice in seeing them forgiven and restored, just as Father does. (Lk 15:10)

God commands us to be merciful (Lk 6:36), and promises mercy to the merciful. (Mt 5:7) This follows from the fact that God commands us to love our neighbor (Ja 2:8), and failing in mercy is failing in love; it’s preferring others suffer fully for their sins rather than repenting and being restored, requiring them to pay their sin-debt in full, and deriving satisfaction from their suffering.

Being unmerciful reflects a basic lack of understanding of and appreciation for how much we each need to be forgiven. (Mt 18:33) It is also a presumption of certainty in discerning what others deserve, and it is typically rooted in feeling morally superior to others, which is pride. Those who neglect mercy as a manner of life are thus revealing that they themselves are unforgiven, and shall in the end receive no mercy from God. (Ja 2:13)

God’s ultimate purpose in our lives is to reconcile us to Himself. (1Co 5:19) Whenever mercy serves that end, helps us draw nearer to Him and enjoy Him, enabling us to become more like Him, or gives us an extended opportunity to do so, we can count on His mercy. We should reflect God’s love for others in this way, and love mercy like Father does.

But those who seek mercy merely to avoid the consequences of sin, who haven’t repented and changed their minds about rebellion, who remain presumptuous and committed to their sin, who are not seeking to be restored in their relationship with God, will be sorely disappointed; such will receive ultimate justice from Him. (Ro 2:8-9)

God’s basic requirements for each of us are simple: do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him. (Mi 6:8) Mercy is central; having our lives marked with justice, a right treatment of ourselves and others, while also loving mercy, is godly maturity and wisdom. God’s calling us to be like Himself: both just and merciful.

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An Austere Man

In the parable of the talents, Christ suggests that God is austere, hard (Mt 25:24), severe, stern, harsh and rigid. The wicked servant makes this accusation (Lk 19:21), and his master evidently agrees with him. (22) The Greek is austeros, from which we get austere. What do we make of this?

If we happen to think of God as a doting old grandpa, a Santa figure who never gets stern or angry, who’s extremely lenient, primarily interested in our happiness, finding out that God is austere might be troublesome. The fact is, He’s not at all like a gentle old grandpa, and this turns many of us off.

It’s actually a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (He 10:31) He’s extremely strict (Ps 119:4); He won’t by any means acquit a guilty person. (Ex 34:7) We’re to serve Jehovah with fear, rejoice with trembling (Ps 2:11), and work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. (Php 2:12) He scourges all his children (He 12:6); it’s incredibly painful and grievous. (11)

Even when we’re trying our best, and doing quite well following Him, God may choose great affliction for us for a season, offering us no explanation, comfort or ease, and for no other reason than to teach us a little more about Himself and His ways, and to glorify Himself through our response. He even tells us to rejoice in this (Ja 1:2-3), and to count it a privilege to suffer for Him. (Php 1:29)

This is, in fact, exactly what God did to Job, and He didn’t apologize for it. When Job complained and challenged God, He answered Job quite roughly … out of a tornado! (Job 38:1-3) Even after Job apologized, stunned into silence (Job 40:4-5), God continued to challenge Job in the most stern, confrontational and intimidating manner. (7-8)

Christ Himself rebukes churches, even those working diligently for Him, threatening to remove them unless they repent of their coldness and return to the love they initially had for Him. (Re 2:4-5) He ordains sickness, and sometimes even death, for partaking unworthily of The Lord’s Supper (1Co 11:29-30), and commands the church to excommunicate us if we don’t peaceably and fully resolve our offences. (Mt 18:16-18)

And if one of His elect ever chooses to sin, deliberately and willfully, God becomes very angry, and sees to it that we deeply regret defying Him (He 10:26-27); He arranges punishments far worse than death. (28-29)

I’ve actually heard people say that if God’s like this, demanding obedience, rigid, stern, not primarily concerned with our happiness, austere, they don’t want anything to do with Him. This is wicked, arrogant presumption, and it’s also extremely unwise: there are no good options once we turn away from God.

We must learn to worship God both in His goodness and also in His severity (Ro 11:22), meditating on and rejoicing in all His ways. We’re either seeking God as He is, to worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:24), or fashioning idols for ourselves. Either way, we’ll all eventually face Him exactly as He is: a consuming fire. (He 12:29)

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Vessels of Mercy

Predestination and election are difficult to understand until we diligently consider the context — the dreadfully sinful human condition: Man’s Depravity. Apart from carefully integrating this concept throughout our theology, many fundamental precepts of Scripture appear hopelessly irreconcilable.

For example, how can God choose who will be saved while respecting Man’s Free Will? Similarly, How can a loving God be in total control when there’s so much evil and suffering? These are perhaps the hardest questions, and they aren’t peripheral; they’re fundamental spiritual bedrock. We can’t afford to dismiss them, yet resolving such mysteries seems impossible. Many stumble here, and go no further.

Yet God Himself gives us the key by addressing the problem directly, asking these same questions, and then answering them. God’s purpose in election will be realized (Ro 9:11) yet God will be totally righteous in it all (14), because God’s not obligated to be merciful (15) — by definition: mercy is undeserved, never justly required.

The reality is, if God didn’t elect anyone, choose anyone to be saved, and He let us all go our own way — we would: every last one of us would walk away from Him; we would not come to Him. (Mt 22:3) This would be fair, certainly, but then Heaven would be desolate (Lk 14:16-18a), and the world filled with even more evil and suffering than it already is. (Ge 6:5) This is what Depravity teaches us (11), if we listen. (Je 17:9)

So, if God chooses to intervene in a few of us, choosing us out from the masses and giving us new hearts and new wills that don’t run away, He’s showing mercy in election, not being unjust.

God never actually turns anyone away who seeks Him, or causes anyone to do evil; He controls by mercifully restraining us from acting out our full evil nature according to His sovereign purposes. (2Th 2:7) There’s nothing at all inappropriate about restraining evil; so, God’s in absolute control of all that happens (Ep 1:11), yet He’s also perfectly good, just and merciful; He’s righteous and holy in all He does. (Ps 145:17)

In giving us new hearts God doesn’t force us against our will; what He does in His elect is heal our will, displacing our love of lies, which moved us to distrust and despise Him, with a love for truth; He works in us to will according to His good pleasure (Php 2:13), such that we begin to want to do good. He works all this in us for our good and for His glory. (Ro 8:28)

The only remaining challenge here is: Why doesn’t God save everyone if He has this ability? The answer lies in God’s glory: He’s most glorified in fully revealing His nature, His wrath and power as well as His love and mercy. (Ro 9:22-23) If God didn’t let most all of His enemies act like enemies, and treat them as He does, we’d know much less about Him, so that’s exactly what He’s doing; God is perfectly revealing and glorifying Himself by only saving a few. (Re 15:3)

Rather than faulting God for being absolutely sovereign, and for choosing only a remnant to be saved, we ought to let all the blame for evil lie where it truly belongs: with sinful Man, and glorify God for His mercy. (Ro 15:9) Rather than complaining and running away, we seek God until we find Him (He 11:6), and discover that we’re indeed elect, vessels of divine mercy. (Ro 9:23)

And in being vessels of infinite mercy (Ps 103:11), undeserving recipients of God’s kindness, love and favor, we also ought to be merciful (Lk 6:36), to be compassionate toward those who are out of the way (He 5:2), esteeming others better than ourselves. (Php 2:3)

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Love Is Perfected

If we love one another, God dwells in us, and His love is perfected in us. (1Jn 4:12) God’s love is being perfected, or brought to completion in us, as we express God’s love to others. God is perfecting His love in us by loving others through us, for love is of God, from God: He is the ultimate source of love – the Author of love. (1Jn 4:7)

If we don’t love others then we don’t love God (1Jn 4:20), and if we don’t love God then we don’t know God. (1Jn 4:8)

It isn’t that we could ever earn God’s love by loving others; God’s love is unconditional: it can’t be earned. He loves everyone because He has made them in His image and chosen to love. We don’t grow in Christ’s love by trying harder and denying ourselves, but by beholding the glory of Christ as the Spirit transforms us from glory to glory. (1Co 3:18) As we behold the glory of Christ God reveals Himself in us and to us, until we know experientially His love for Man, filling us with all the fullness of God (Ep 3:19), enabling us to love others.

When we know and believe God’s love for us, since God Himself is love, and as we live each day receiving and expressing this love, we dwell in God and God in us. (1Jn 4:16)

Since love is so central, so fundamental in walking with God, He tells us clearly what His love for us looks like, and also what it means for us to love Him.

We might think loving God is a sentimental thing, a feeling of interest, pleasure or delight at the thought of God. While loving God naturally produces such feelings, it isn’t exactly the same thing, and this may be hard to fully grasp.

So, God explains that His love is much more than sentiment and feeling: His love is perfected in us as we keep His commands; if we don’t keep His commands we don’t love Him. (Jn 14:23)

Loving God is acting as if God is worthy, just and good; disobeying God is rejecting His authority, goodness and wisdom. In disobedience we’re despising Him, not loving Him; those who live like this don’t know Him (1Jn 2:4); it’s in obeying God that His love is perfected in us, accomplishing its purpose; it’s how we know we love Him and belong to Him. (1Jn 2:5) Earnestly obeying God from the heart is loving Him by definition. (1Jn 5:3a)

Torah itself is the perfect written expression of God’s love for us (Ps 19:7a), showing us how He loves us and unites us to Himself (He 8:10), how He transforms us to be in relationship with Himself (Ps 119:50,93); He gave us Torah for our good. (1Jn 5:3b) So, Torah defines both what loving God looks like, and also what God loving us looks like.

If we’re obeying Torah we’ll have no ill-will towards another (Ro 13:10), or envy or strife in our hearts (Ja 3:14-16); that’s not walking in love — it’s missing the mark altogether. (1Co 13:2)

While we harbor fear, fear of God’s displeasure because we’re willfully disobeying Him (He 10:26-27), or fearing and resenting His authority in our lives because we don’t believe He’s good (Is 33:14), or fearing what others might do to us because we doubt God’s sovereignty and justice (Mt 10:28), then we aren’t yet made perfect in love. (1Jn 4:18)

Obedience also isn’t merely about outward observance to ritual and mechanical rules; nor is it about honoring God with just our lips. If our hearts are far from Him, if we’re not in awe of Him (Ps 4:$), seeking His face, rejoicing in Him, loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, it isn’t obedience at all (De 6:5): it’s nothing. (Mt 15:8)

In living out God’s love, ordering our steps in His Word so iniquity has no dominion over us (Ps 119:33), the purpose of God’s love is accomplished, completed and perfected in us; this gives us boldness before God on Judgment Day because we’re living divine expressions, incarnations of God in this world. (1Jn 4:17) In so abiding in God we have confidence, and aren’t ashamed before Him at His coming. (1Jn 2:28)

Bringing all of these concepts together shows us God’s love has a purpose or a goal: to conform us to the image of Christ (Ro 8:29), the very goal of Torah. (1Ti 1:5) When we love God, we will want to be like Him (Mt 11:29), and walk as He walked. (1Jn 2:6)

Knowing God’s love for us enables us to walk in benevolence, mercy and love toward all, wishing ultimate good for everyone, as God does. (Mt 5:44-45) We don’t love because others are good, but because they’re made in the image of, and loved by perfect Goodness. (1Jn 4:21)

The more we behold and grasp the love of God, the more completely we’re able to display God’s heart towards others as He loves them through us. (Ro 5:5) We love Him, and therefore others, because He first loved us. (1Jn 4:19)

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God Omnipotent

God’s power is infinite; He is omnipotent – all powerful. (Re 19:6) There’s nothing He wishes to do which He’s unable to do, and since God is good, He will do what is good, everything which is appropriate for Him to do.

This does not mean every imaginable task which can be formulated is doable: no, God can’t make a rock so big He can’t lift it, because the task is inconsistent with the nature of omnipotence. Rather than being distracted by nonsense, we ought to focus on the revealed nature of God.

Clearly, in creating the universe, time and space, God tells us a bit about Himself. He spoke the entire universe into existence; Earth and Heaven, the sun and moon, creating trillions of galaxies, expressed almost as an afterthought. (Ge 1:14) What might tax His strength, strain Him, even in theory? It is inconceivable.

God is outside of space and time, defining and establishing all possible dimensions, and well beyond them. He fills all things. (Ep 4:10) Every aspect of His creation obeys Him perfectly (Ps 119:91), following the purpose He assigned and aligning with His decrees; He’s holding all of it together. (Col 1:17)

We rightly extrapolate from God’s limitless power in the physical universe to the metaphysical: God is unlimited in His ability to work in and through the human will (Pr 16:9): He is utterly sovereign. (Da 4:35) Nothing happens outside God’s control (Ep 1:11); it’s all by His permission, for a glorious, ultimate purpose. (Ro 8:28)

Our free will operates within this sovereignty as God restrains us according to His purpose. (Pr 16:1) Even the most brutal, torturous death of the one, perfectly innocent Person, the worst crime ever committed by mortal man … God Himself was the willing victim, and He ordained it for His glory. (Ac 4:27-28)

A key purpose of this doctrine, in addition to moving us to eternal worship, is to establish our hearts in trusting God, that we not be anxious, frustrated or fearful. Worry and fear is acting out the lie that God’s unable, or that He’s not good. If we’re able to pray for something, and it’s good for God to do it, God is able to perform it, and He will (1Jn 5:15) — no matter what it is. (Ep 1:19)

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Faith Toward God

Faith toward God is foundational in spiritual life, along with it’s twin and counterpart: repentance from dead works. (He 6:1) Faith is belief and trust, what we rely upon; it reflects our basic understanding of the universe, what’s trustworthy and what isn’t, and orients our thoughts and actions on every level.

As a child, we start out trusting; it’s instinctive because we must at first – utterly dependent. As we grow up observing our environment, our expanding experience begins to show us what we can truly count on, what’s stable, consistent, reliable and trustworthy.

As life unfolds and our trust is consistently violated, we become skeptical — what seems reliable on the surface generally isn’t in the long run. People are selfish, fickle and weak, sometimes even malicious and evil. Personal strength and intelligence fail us, our stuff breaks and our wealth bleeds away.

Finding what’s ultimately and perfectly reliable, if anything at all, becomes a journey in itself, one few undertake. Yet we remain vulnerable and dependent, controlling so very little, so we become cynical, anxious and depressed, acting out a belief that nothing and no one is ultimately trustworthy — violating our basic design — our instinct to trust.

To find rest, we must look beyond the physical, beyond personal relationships, beyond health, wealth and power. (Ps 62:10) God Himself is our only possible option here: if He isn’t both utterly sovereign, and also completely trustworthy, reliable, faithful and good, then there’s nowhere else to turn. (11) Our journey ends here, either way. (De 4:39)

The first step is coming to understand God’s utter sovereignty: all things work out according to His own perfect timing and will (Ep 1:11), everything in both Heaven and Earth. (Da 4:35) Yet the fact that His will permits evil and suffering moves us to question His goodness, and we fall short of faith toward God.

We may place our trust in powerful people (Ps 20:7), or turn to our wealth (1Ti 6:17), but it’s empty in a world where God’s ultimately in charge. (Ps 62:9)

Faith toward God is turning to face Him honestly as He is, and as we are; it’s taking that final step: submitting to Him, getting off the throne of the universe, humbling ourselves and admitting we don’t have either the right or the ability to ever doubt the goodness of God. (Ps 62:8) He permits evil and suffering according to a glorious, eternal purpose (Ro 8:28), which we may well not understand for a very long time. (De 29:29)

It’s OK, to not understand; but we can still trust Him, obey Him, love Him, and we should — we must. To come to God, to find peace and rest in Him, we must believe and act out the fact that He’s both sovereign, and also perfectly good: a rewarder of all who diligently seek Him. (He 11:6) This faith itself is the gift of God (Ep 2:8), enabling us to quench the fiery lies of the evil one. (Ep 6:16)

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