KNOWING GOD

Believers are usually pretty comfortable with revering God for his immortality, power, and perfection, and so we should be. He is the Creator, in whom we live and move and have our being. He is the Great I Am. But our connection with God will always be unfolding. If a person only focuses on the immensity of God, and on reverence for him, they will know little intimacy. If a person understands the great freedom we are promised in Christ but knows no reverence, they will be without foundation, To walk closely with God, we must be ever journeying, getting to know facet after facet of the divine nature. It is madness to think of him as less complex, less finely calibrated than ourselves.

God has sovereignly chosen to make himself vulnerable, in that he experiences difficult and negative emotions, along with great joy and delight, in response to earthly events.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” Genesis 6:5-7

Divine regret is a difficult concept, as it challenges our understanding of infallibility. We relate regret to either poor choices, bad luck, or lack of knowledge – ‘If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it.’ But God was fully cognizant of every one of his actions and choices, and still found himself regretting some of them. For God to feel regret, he must therefore be vulnerable to our choices. Free will must actually be free, and poor choices on our part can cause divine pain. The Lord gets upset and frustrated, just as He is pleased and delighted by us in turn. The only way I can make sense of this vulnerability is as a deliberate, sovereign choice. The Lord of All could have placed himself above such feelings, but instead, he chose a version of creation in which the choices of his children affect him.

We can see the breadth of God’s emotions at work in the life of Jesus. What do you make of the following passage?

‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!’ Matthew 23:37

Compassion, for example, drove him to acts of kindness and mercy, such as healing the sick.

‘And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick.’Matthew 14:14

Jesus knew ordinary, everyday emotions too, such as pleasure and friendship. There was a particular disciple he was closer to than any other, on a human level. John is referred to as ‘the disciple that Jesus loved’ on several occasions and was depicted leaning back on Jesus’ chest at the last supper to ask him a question. On the cross, Jesus charged this same disciple with looking after his mother, and his mother with looking after this disciple.

When Jesus, therefore, saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.’John 19:26-27

How human! How relatable! On the day of his death, he was concerned about those he was leaving behind, providing for their emotional needs by calling them, mother and son. How dear, how important, this must have been to Jesus, at that moment.

There was no time when the emotions of God were stretched like they were in the Garden of Gethsemane.

‘And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.’ Luke 22:41-44

At that moment Jesus was a man in torment, able to prevent his own suffering but choosing to embrace it anyway. He was desperate to escape the agony of the cross – not just the physical pain, but the spiritual horror of becoming all human brokenness, for our sake – and yet he bowed his head. This total mastery of self serves as a supreme example to us. If Jesus were not a deeply emotional person, mastery might have been easier, but being torn up inside and still submitting to God? That is staggering, to me, what about you?

Adapted from an article by Duncan Edward Pile, October 27th, 2021 “Hold Me Closer Cosmic Dancer” http://www.patheos.com

GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT’S ROLE IN OUR SALVATION AND IN OUR LIFE

“The Holy Spirit is how God quickens us to new life and births us from above.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.John 3:5-7

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11

The third person of the Trinity. All three have a role in your Salvation.

The Holy Spirit has a special role as He seals us for eternity. The Apostle Paul says,

In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.John 14:16-17

These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.John 14:25-26

But When He, the Spirit of truth, comes He will guide you into all truth” John 16:13

But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about me.John 15:26

I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7

It is the Holy Spirit’s role to convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgement. We cannot convert anyone unless the Holy Spirit has first convicted the person of their sin.

And when he comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:7-11

The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit in your life.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

He provides the gifts of the Spirit for ministry

For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another, the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another, the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another, various kinds of tongues, to another, the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills1 Corinthians 12:7-11

SUMMARY

He lives within you forever (John 14:16).

He directs your paths (Prov. 3:4-5, Romans 8:14, Acts 8:29, Acts 8:39)

He guides you into all truth (John 14:17, 16:13a).

He teaches you all things (John 14:26a).

He reveals to you things to come (John 16:13).

He reveals to you the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:10).

He produces the fruit of the Spirit in your life. (Galatians 5:22-23)

He equips and empowers you for ministry. (1 Corinth. 12:7-11)

He freely gives you all things (1 Cor. 2:12).

He offers you the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).

You cannot live a Christian life without the Holy Spirit. It is impossible. Make sure you do not grieve the Holy Spirit nor quench His work in your life but follow Paul’s advice that he gave to Timothy, “fan into flame the gift of God“.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.Ephesians 4:30

Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19

For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.2 Timothy 1:6

KNOWING GOD’S WILL

Some things are crystal clear

When it comes to knowing God’s will, His Word makes many things clear. For example, we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and we are to love others as we love ourselves. We are to repent of our sins and believe in Jesus Christ as our Saviour. 

We are to worship God and be holy and set apart for His glory. We are to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. We are to do good deeds, witness to others, and make disciples. 

However, there are many circumstances in life in which the Bible does not give specific instruction. For instance, the Bible doesn’t say who to marry or where to work. When there is no instruction regarding God’s will on a specific topic, the Bible provides principles that will always lead you in the right direction.

If you’re not in the Word, the Word won’t be in you

God directs us to make “wise” decisions that correspond with His Word. Disobedience leads to disappointment. Before making an important decision, ask, “Is God truly guiding me?” If you’re not sure, then wait. And always remember: If you’re not in the Word, the Word won’t be in you, and your spiritual vision will be very cloudy.

Three keys: Pray, stay, obey 

One of the best ways to know if God is truly guiding you is to pray, stay, and obey — pray for direction, stay in His Word, and obey His principles. J.I. Packer has said, “God is more likely to direct me through wise teaching than through inner voices.” Packer isn’t discounting the work of the Holy Spirit, but he is cautioning against “inner voice”

Satan, the world, and our flesh all work against us. God’s leading calms your heart, but the flesh wants to rush. God leads, but Satan pushes. God calms, but the flesh obsesses. God encourages, the world discourages. God reassures, but the world frightens. God enlightens, Satan confuses. God convicts, Satan condemns.

The need to pray, stay, and obey is absolutely vital when it comes to knowing God’s will — partial obedience is the same as disobedience. Obeying the Word leads us in the right direction. Truth conquers deception and exposes sin; it prevents danger instead of leading us into danger.

Hearing but not doing

Often, we follow the wrong voice because we live in deception. We hear but do not do. 

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

Worshiping God and applying the Word saturates our spiritual lives just like a slowly dripping water source renews a dying bush. A plant that was once dead, barren, and unfruitful can once again be alive, active, and fruitful as the result of being watered. You too can hear God’s voice and regain lost ground by allowing the Word of God to saturate your heart and mind. 

Satan’s ultimate plan is to distance us from God, and “to kill, steal, and destroy”

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

The NKJV Study Bible offers these five points regarding how the enemy plants thoughts in our minds: 

1. Doubt: Makes you question God and His goodness. 
2. Discouragement: Makes you look at your problems rather than God. 
3. Diversion: Makes the wrong things seem attractive so that we want them more than the right things. 
4. Defeat: Makes you feel like a failure so that you don’t even try. 
5. Delay: Makes you put off doing something God wants you to do so that it never gets done.

The slippery slope of sin 

As noted earlier, sin is deceptive — it blinds our spiritual eyes and leads us away from God. It deceives us into a false sense of security while justifying poor choices. Sin excuses wrong behavior and prevents us from fulfilling the will of God, but obedience redirects us and brings clarity and joy to our lives.

Imagine how encouraging it will be when you saturate your mind with God’s Word on a daily basis and remove many of the distractions and discouragements of life. Begin today.

Hearing a familiar voice 

If you’re searching for God, I encourage you to look to the One who has the answers and surrender your life to Him. No matter what you have done or have experienced you can turn to Christ and get on the right track:

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be savedRomans 10:9

Once you know the Good Shepherd, then you will hear His voice and know His will. Jesus said,

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” John 10:27

One famous quote captures it well: “A true measure of a person is not who they were, but who they will become.” It’s all about Who you know!

 adapted from Christian Post article Feb. 20th, 2022 “How to hear God’s voice to know His will” by Pastor Shane Idleman

WHAT HAS GOD CALLED YOU DO?

A great message from David Platt of McLean Bible Church in Virginia. It is part five of his sermon series, titled “Following Jesus: Faith That Changes Lives in a World of Urgent Need, Can I suggest you take the time to view the sermon series, just click on the link.

‘What kind of Christianity have you bought into? Who told you that following Jesus would lead to greater comfort and ease in this world?’ Because that didn’t come from this Book,” said Platt while holding up his Bible. “That came from a very skewed version of this Book that’s being sold all across our culture.”

Platt said that many Christians need God to point them to the reality that “the ultimate need of every single person in the world is to be forgiven for their sins.” However, he said, in order to be reconciled to God, a person needs to first hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Platt emphasized the importance of Christians not being afraid of difficulties that they might face while spreading the Gospel to remote places because, he said, “there are 3 billion people in the world who have never heard the Word of God, and they won’t have their sins forgiven if they never hear the Gospel.” (My add) Moreover, if God has called you to go, He will guide and protect you.

“God made a way for humans to be forgiven for all their sin, to be reconciled to Him, to eternal life, through faith in Jesus, by what He did on the cross, His resurrection from the grave,” he maintained. “We have been commanded to show God’s love in a world of earthly suffering, and ultimately, we have been commanded to proclaim the Gospel to keep people from a second death (David said eternal suffering). “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The victor will never be harmed by the second death.

“Somebody has to go and tell them. If no one goes and tells them, they will spend eternity separated from Him. Do you see what’s at stake here? Do we see the need?” Platt asked rhetorically. 

UNDERSTANDING GOD

The Openness of God by Clark Pinnock, Richard Rice, John Sanders, William Hasker, and David Basinger (1994). The Openness of God presents a careful and full-orbed argument that God known through Christ desires a “responsive relationship” with his creatures. While it rejects process theology, the book asserts that such classical doctrines as God’s immutability, impassibility, and foreknowledge demand reconsideration. The authors insist that our understanding of God will be more consistently biblical and more true to the actual devotional lives of Christians if we profess that “God, in grace, grants humans significant freedom” and enters into a relationship with a genuine “give-and-take dynamic.” The Openness of God is remarkable in its comprehensiveness, drawing from the disciplines of biblical, historical, systematic, and philosophical theology. Evangelical and other orthodox Christian philosophers have promoted the “relational” or “personalist” perspective on God in recent decades. It was probably the first major attempt to bring the discussion into the evangelical theological arena.

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Christianity Today’s 1995 Book of the Year

God is everlasting, without beginning and without end i.e. God is eternal. God is not limited by anything outside of himself. However, Scripture reveals that God although omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, is not the “All” or the “Everything,” but He is a being rather than Being itself.

What do we read about God in God’s own revelation, the Bible? And what do we “see” in God-in-person Jesus Christ? We see a self-limiting God who grants His creation a degree of autonomy, freedom to go against and resist His will. We see a self-limiting God who enters into time and history and goes on a “journey” with His creation and especially with his covenant people. We see a God who can be deeply affected, grieved, made angry or blessed, by what his creatures do.

It seems that before there was a creation, God was not limited, but self-limitation out of love was potential within God.

Sure, philosophy can sometimes help fill in some gaps left open by the Bible, but we must be careful not to allow philosophy to overtake our thinking about God such that the God of the Bible is a mere symbol for something “more real” who is not really like the passionate, personal, historical, suffering, intervening, resistible God of the Bible. We Christians must begin our thinking about God with Jesus Christ and work our way out from there.