Genesis 12:2-3, Genesis 22:17-18
As Christians, it is easy to read the New Testament and understand God’s plan for the world. He wants to save people from sin through Jesus Christ.
Sin has corrupted everything. Not only is the punishment of sin to go to hell, it brings hell into every area of life. You cannot live your purpose of imaging, serving, and glorifying God while under the curse of sin. So it’s no wonder God seeks to reverse the effects of sin and make us into new creations. But as we read the Old Testament, things can get a bit murkier.
The short and very sufficient answer to “How can I be saved?” is this: Put your faith in Jesus Christ. If you remember nothing else, remember that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
2 Corinthians 3:17
Everyone wants to change in some way or the other. Whether it’s an addiction problem, a chronic rage issue, or a character flaw that is ruining your most significant relationships, there are areas in our lives we want to change but struggle to do so.
And more than this, the Bible makes clear we must change from sinful to holy if we hope to have a true relationship with God. So how can we do this? Certainly we can’t do this in our own power. True change comes only through the power of the gospel of grace. And to be ultra specific, when it comes to actually changing real, tangible things in our lives, the Bible makes clear that only the Holy Spirit can change us.
The Father appoints what he wants done. The Son accomplishes the work of the Father. And the Holy Spirit applies the works of the Son to people. But what specifically does the Holy Spirit change about us? Why should we seek to be filled with the Spirit throughout our whole lives?
Here are seven ways the Holy Spirit changes us.
Ezekiel 18:32, 2 Peter 3:9
If we don’t have tears in our eyes and a deep grief in our hearts when we talk about hell, we are not truly grasping even the smallest percent of its terror.
In my human limitedness, I despise the idea of people going to hell for eternity. But as Augustine said, “If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.”
The Bible clearly states that heaven and hell are both real and eternal (Deuteronomy 32:22, Psalm 9:17, Matthew 10:28, John 3:16, 14:2, Revelation 20:10, 15). Therefore if I choose to believe the Bible, I must also believe in hell, no matter how disturbing it may be to me.
As Christians, most of us accept the truth about hell and yet still struggle with the emotions triggered by this biblical reality. “Why, God? Why did you create such a horrible place? This seems so cruel, so unnecessary. An eternity of torture? I thought you were a God of love?”
Anytime you ask a question that starts with “Why does God . . .” you can always answer with, “For his glory.” Everything God does, he always does for his honor and fame. Therefore to answer “Why does God send people to hell?” we must actually ask, “How does hell glorify God?”
Christmas is not a word you will find in the Bible. But Christmas is all about the essential, core message of the Bible, which is that God sent Jesus to save humans.
You may not think “theology” when you hear the word “Christmas,” but taking a closer look at the theological implications of what we celebrate during Christmas will reveal how important the virgin birth of Christ really is to the whole of Christianity.
Gifts, trees, spending time with family, going to church, and singing certain songs are all things we love about the Christmas season. But when we look at what God accomplished through Christmas, especially in relationship to the virgin birth, we will not only love Christmas more but we will love Christ more for all that he’s done for us.
Man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty are often seen as opponents. But within the Bible, these two go hand in hand. The Bible does not try to explain how these two can coexist without violating one another. The Bible simply explains how man’s responsibility is directly tied to God’s sovereignty.
Problems arise amongst Christians as we discuss the relationship between man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty when we begin to put emphasis on truths that the Bible does not place emphasis on.
1 John 3:1
Why did God create us?
Well of course anytime you ask a question that starts with, “Why does God . . . ?” you can always answer it with the right theological answer, “For his glory.” Everything God does, he always does for his glory.
But how did creating humans bring God glory? To answer that, we need to remember what the glory of God really is. In short, one basic definition of the glory of God is when the invisible qualities of God are made visible or knowable.
With this definition, it’s not hard to connect the dots: If God is glorified through making his qualities visible, he would then glorify himself by making beings in his image. Because we bear God’s image (Genesis 1:27), we thus glorify God (Isaiah 43:7). Sin has marred this image, and thus the more we sin the more we “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The more we are sanctified and remade into the image of his Son, the more we glorify God as he originally intended (Romans 8:29-30).
But I’ve talked about all that before. Let’s take this a step further. How else did creating humans reveal God?
God revealed his love and fullness through creating humans just as a healthy marriage reveals its love and fullness through producing children. Let’s dig deeper into this idea.
Agreeing on one definition and explanation regarding the sovereignty of God is not going to happen amongst all Christians.
An Arminian and a Calvinist or a Charismatic Christian and Reformed Christian are simply not going to agree on the finer parts of theology, though we should all be united around the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There is one biblical truth, but in our sinfulness and limited knowledge, humans will always struggle with grasping God’s Scriptures perfectly, especially when it comes to difficult doctrines like the sovereignty of God.
While agreeing on all the finer points of how God’s sovereignty actually operates is impossible amongst different theological camps, a slightly easier task should be agreeing on a right response to the sovereignty of God. While the Bible is certainly the place to look if you want to form doctrines and beliefs, it is also the place to look when we need to know how to live and actually serve God with our actions.
The Bible not only teaches us about the sovereignty of God and what it is, perhaps more importantly, it also teaches us how to rightly respond to God’s omnipotence.
So here are 4 of the most common ways to rightly and wrongly respond to the sovereignty of God.
“And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, 12 then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13 It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— 15 for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.” –Deuteronomy 6:10-15
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” -Romans 6:1-2
Psalm 103:11, Isaiah 55:9
Why can’t we understand God completely?
It would be a great travesty if we were able to understand God completely.
Life is more than confusing. With all its twists and turns and movements without knowing where we are headed, it is no surprise that at times we wish we could fully understand what God is doing in our lives. If only we could know what he is up to, we reason, then we would be able to trust his love for us.