The mystery of the gospel: it promises effortless eternal safety, calling us to rest in Messiah knowing God will never charge anyone in Him with sin (Ro 4:6-8), yet it identifies all who willfully persist in breaking God’s Law as enemies (Ro 8:6-7) outside of His kingdom. (1Co 6:9-10) How can this be?
At the core of the gospel is a supernatural surgery — a heart transplant: YHWH replacing a dead, stony heart with one from another dimension that’s inclined to love and obey Him (Ez 36:26), and writing His laws into a renewed mind. (He 8:10) God is transformingsinners into God-ward, obedient saints (Ep 2:10), intermingling divine life with organic life. This is infinity engaging with and energizing the finite, each converted soul a unique incarnation of omnipotence, a spiritual conception and birth (Jn 3:6-7), a new kind of creation (2Co 5:17); it’s both a resurrection and an ascension into Heaven (Ep 2:4-6); it’s Christ in us, our hope of eternal glory. (Col 1:27)
We acquire this life by earnestly seeking it (Mt 7:7), pursuing YHWH until He gives us faith, supernatural confidence in His Son. (He 4:11) It’s a work that God both initiates and completes in us (Php 1:6), imputing perfect righteousness to us (Ro 4:22-5) and grounding us in assurance of eternal life (1Jn 5:13); it’s a state that cannot be forfeited or lost.
Those who claim eternal life apart from a posture of submission and obedience to God are liars (1Jn 2:4); those who depend in any fashion on their obedience to deserve or keep this life have never tasted its transforming power (Ga 3:10), or grasped the basics of their own depravity. (Je 17:9) Those who doubt their eternal safety(1Th 1:4-5), the fearful and unbelieving (Re 21:8) … are alienated from the life of God. (Ep 4:18) The redeemed worship God in Spirit and in truth, rejoice Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in their own goodness. (Php 3:3)
What’s the difference between Islam and Christianity when it comes to violence and intolerance? Jehovah calls us to hate sin, not to indifference. (Pr 8:13) Both the Qur’an and the Bible impose capital punishment on many of the same things. (De 13:5)
Yet when Christians become radical, following the Bible more earnestly, they become more loving, kind, just and pure. (Mt 5:44-45) So what’s the difference? Why aren’t we fighting Christian terrorists?
Most Christians argue that the violent Biblical texts, being in the Old Testament, are obsolete, but Christ explicitly rejects this view. (Mt 5:17-19) The key is that YHWH only permits lawful government to punish those who violate His laws (Ro 12:19-21); Allah lets us act in isolation, doing anything we like to enforce his laws ourselves.
This basic difference leads Christians to love their enemies and seek their welfare while praying for and encouraging governmental authorities to reflect God’s righteousness, and leads Muslims to persecute and destroy those who do not agree with them. The one system leads to societal health and harmony; the other to chaos.
YHWH is eternal, having neither beginning nor end (He 7:3): He inhabits eternity. (Is 7:15) He’s outside time and space, being ever present in every moment of time, and continually abiding beyond the boundaries of time. (Jn_8:58)
It’s difficult to fathom the nothing elseness of only God, when there was nothing but God … no time, no space, no light or dark … just the self-existent eternal Being. The instant of the beginning, the great I AM Who never began … created space and time, Earth and Heaven. (Ge 1:1) If we can say “before” this instant, when there was no space or time, the triune God was, and only God.
How does one not worship a timeless Being! Sit back in awe at One so majestic, so mysterious, so altogether immense and powerful! How can we doubt His wisdom, goodness or faithfulness? Getting lost in the infinitude of God, let’s feed on His majesty, finding all that’s worth finding in the grandeur of the timeless One.
Worship should be as natural as breathing; God commands us to be constantly talking and singing His Word into our minds and hearts. (Ep 5:19) This is one way we’re to take the sword of the Spirit, joyfully percolating in worship and praise (Ja 5:13), teaching and admonishing ourselves and others through inspired lyrics. (Co 3:16)
What’s important in our singing is the truth we’re driving into our minds, not how good we feel. The words we’re engaging with are much more important than the music itself. If we drop the tune, do the words themselves still move us deeply toward God, cleansing and feeding us?
Much of our worship today has a catchy up-beat melody but it’s shallow, evoking emotion that’s not rooted in truth; it’s imbalanced and warped. This isn’t worship; it feels good but it doesn’t edify our spirits, heal us, and free us in God.
God tells us what kind of lyrics we’re to be singing: Psalms, perfectly balanced, packed with God-oriented truth. They don’t deceive us and warp our focus; they point us continually to God’s magnificence and the beauty of His Way.
Like a bird that can’t help but sing, let’s be continually filled with inspired worship, tuning our hearts daily to sing His praise.
God describes spiritual strength in terms of endurance and tenacity; thriving under extreme difficulties with all confidence and joy. (Col 1:11)
The more we align with God the more we’re equipped to live according to our design: to enjoy Him as He is for Who He is regardless of our circumstances. In fact, the more trying our lives become the more opportunity we have to glorify Him, enjoying Him in the perfect gift of every moment, finding all our satisfaction and contentment in Him.
Trials then become treasures (Ro 5:3-5), precious opportunities to show God and others how delightful and amazing He is to us (1Pe 1:7), and also to further strengthen us, perfecting our endurance. (Ja 1:2)
In keeping our eyes on the Eternal One our light affliction works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory(2Co 4:17); we walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col 1:10)
Imagine … you have a beautiful, glittering sword, perfectly balanced and incredibly sharp. Etched into the blade are elaborate depictions of how it’s used in battle.
You’re fascinated by all the cool stuff you can do with it … pound nails with the handle … in a pinch it even makes a cool screwdriver. It’s great for hacking down weeds and digging holes, cutting hair, peeling apples and chopping up food. It makes a great baseball bat and golf club, and it looks awesome hanging over the hearth! When you’re bored you can reflect sunlight off the shaft or even lay it down and spin it like a top. The applications seem endless!
But when the enemy comes around and starts clubbing you down, beating you up and smashing your stuff, your sword hasn’t been much help. Butting him with the handle doesn’t work too well … the thing seems pretty useless in a fight.
Wait!! Those etchings on the blade …
God says, “take … the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ep 6:17)What does He mean? What does God actually tell us to do with His word? (De 6:6) How do people in the Bible use the Bible? (Ps 119:11)