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April 13, 2010
Hello Elaine! In this issue
FROM THE EDITOR
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This edition of Christology continues with the next installment of our series on "Four Spiritual Interventions." I hope it makes you think! Please click the article link to post your comments and feedback.
I am your brother,
by Chip Brogden
"And God said, 'Let there be light',
and there was light" (Gen. 1:3).
he first spiritual intervention undertaken by God on our behalf occurred at Creation. The Book of Genesis describes the earth in chaos and covered in darkness. What a graphic way of illustrating the spiritual condition and need of the world today. God called for Light to come forth. Since the sun and moon were not created until later, we know that the Light in Genesis 1:3 was not a natural light, but was a spiritual Light: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it...the true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world" (Jn. 1:5,9 ESV).
The significant thing to be seen in Creation (and the encouraging thing to us spiritually) is that God, being God, could not and would not, permit this chaos, confusion, and darkness to continue indefinitely. His nature is to bring order, coherency, purposeful intention, and Light int0 the world. We owe our physical life to the fact that God acted upon the chaos that existed in Genesis 1 and commanded Light to come forth. And we owe our spiritual life to the fact that God acts upon the chaos and darkness of our lives and commands His Light to come forth.
The calling forth of Light out of Darkness is a spiritual principle that teaches us the ways of God. See how He sets aside Darkness with only a single command: "Let there be Light." It is even more simple in the Hebrew: "Light: BE!" And so it was. During each day of creation, God declares His Will with a simple "Let there be..." Creation bows to that Will and we find that in every instance "it was so." It was precisely and exactly as God ordered it to be.
God has a Purpose: "For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord, and there is no other" (Isa. 45:18). What is a Purpose? A purpose is a vision of an end result. God knew exactly what He wished to do, exactly the outcome He wished to achieve, and exactly what needed to be done in order to have what He wanted.
WHAT WE LEARN FROM THIS
1) God is not random. God doesn't "do" random. He doesn't act without a Purpose, without a Plan, without some big Universal Goal. He is not haphazard or accidental. As much as a writer envisions the completed book before he begins to write it, and as much as the artist envisions the portrait in her head before she begins to paint it, God sees what He wants and "all things work together for good... according to His Purpose" (cf. Rom. 8:28). Creation bears witness to a purposeful, intentional Creator and so do we. Just as the days of Creation unfold and we see a progressive revelation of the heart, intention, purpose, mind, and will of God taking shape in Creation, you can rest assured that through successive ages God is bringing about His Will, not just in the physical world, but in the spiritual world.
2. God does not make mistakes. Insofar as everything happens according to His Plan, it is impossible for the infinite, all-knowing God to err, choose badly, or be surprised. What about Evil? Well, what about it? Evil is permitted for a season. When it is has served its purpose then it will be forever removed. The purpose of Evil, and why God permits it to endure for as long as it does, is debatable. But Evil was not a mistake. Evil was not something that took God by surprise. "Oh no, I didn't expect that to happen. What shall I do about it? I know, I will send My Son as a sacrifice for sin..." That would make the story of redemption and the Cross of Christ some kind of cosmic "Plan B" that God had to resort to when Creation got away from Him. To believe your teenage children will always be perfect little angels and will never rebel against you is to be an incredibly naïve parent. God is not naïve. He knew that bringing Man into His Creation and giving him the ability to make his own decisions would create huge problems. But He did it anyway, and made provision for overcoming all difficulties with His great love. Unlike us, God has yet to confront a problem too complicated for Him. He is not afraid of obstacles or difficulties. "But Jesus looked at them and said, 'With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible'" (Mk. 10:27).
3. God does not need our permission. "But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?'" (Rom. 9:20). God no more requires our permission to perform His Will than your parents required your permission to conceive you, or a potter requires the permission of the clay pot before, during, or after he forms it. I went to a pottery once and watched the potter form a lump of clay into a jar. He demonstrated the technique and in his skilled hands the jar began to take shape. But there was something about it that was not quite right, something a little off. I didn't see anything wrong with it, but the potter did. So he just crushed the whole thing back into a shapeless lump like it was no big deal and started again. Notice that he did not throw the lump away and say the lump was no good. Nor did he blame the lump for not turning out correctly. Nor did he get angry, frustrated, or upset. It was just easier for him to start over with the lump and work with it until it was perfect. Well, that was encouraging to me! The lump really couldn't do anything to help itself get any better, or make itself more worthy. It was just a lump, yielded to the potter's hands. My point is that the potter didn't ask the clay for its permission to be molded or crushed or fashioned in any particular way.
"But we are not lumps of clay, we are human beings, with a will of our own!" Yes, I know. You have a mouth full of boasting and a head full of grandiose thoughts and a heart full of vanity and pride; all of which gives you the illusion of being invincible and independent. But you're still a lump of clay, and there is a Will that is bigger than yours, and you can no more argue or fight against that Will than a lump of clay can win an argument against the potter.
4. God knows precisely what He wants. See how many times in Genesis God confirmed that what He had called forth was an accurate expression of His heart, mind, and purpose: "It is good - Yes, this is what I want, this has My seal of approval." And when it was completed, He sealed the entire work with the words, "It is very good." Mission accomplished. God knows what He is after, and He will not rest (literally) until He has it. We see this even in the tabernacle and in His instructions to Moses. Not a single thing was left to the imagination of Moses. Moses did not create or invent or decide upon the smallest detail. God knew what He wanted, and He gave instructions to Moses, and Moses carried them out. Every detail has a Purpose; it all contributes to the overall Plan, each fulfilling its own unique place and telling its own unique story.
We can know the Plan, but we cannot write the Plan. We can discern the Plan, but we cannot direct the Plan. "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority" (Acts 1:7). Who knows? "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mk. 13:32). How can we presume to know what even the Son doesn't yet know? It is enough to know that the times and seasons belong to the Father. With this confidence we can leave all the details to Him, knowing that He will act in the time and place and manner of His choosing.
5. God is never discouraged. "Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this" (Isa. 9:7). Discouragement is the feeling we have when we are tempted to quit due to unanticipated difficulties. Discouragement is oh-so-human. But God sees all things before they happen, therefore God is never surprised or disappointed. Since He is never disappointed, He can never be discouraged. Since He is never discouraged, we can be confident that He will accomplish, perfect, and complete what He sets out to do no matter how far off course or dark things seem to get. His Will and His Kingdom are not optional. His Will is not a mere wish or a hope. His Word is a statement of purpose, a foregone conclusion.
Since God created time, He is above, beyond, and outside of time; therefore, the passage of time does not diminish His Will one iota. He is as zealous for the accomplishment and fulfillment of His Will today as He was 2,000 years ago, and at creation. He does not tire, He does not become stressed out, He does not become unenthusiastic. We can always rely upon the zealous, persistent Purpose of God.[/size]
(To be continued in Part 2)
The way for the wind is the region of the greatest emptiness. The way for the water is the place of the lowest depth.
The way for the lightning, as science proves, is along the line of the greatest weakness.
If any man lack, there is God's condition for the inflow of spiritual understanding."
~ Lilias Trotter
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QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: What is your take on certain Christian(?) books and songs that make God seem a little too familiar, a little too "buddy buddy"? Something about it troubles me...
CHIP:There is a definite tendency to bring God down to our level and make Him more comfortable and familiar. It may be very comforting, for example, to think of Jesus as someone who likes to go bass fishing and walks on the water to get to His favorite fishing hole; or to picture Him as someone who lives in a "big, big house" where we can all eat at a "big, big table" and then go outside to a "big, big yard" and play football. But that is trying to know Him after the flesh, make Him more appealing to our emotion, and project our self-centered sentimentalities onto Him. These innocent little mischaracterizations seem trifling but they produce featherweight, limp-noodle followers instead of spiritually mature, overcoming disciples who KNOW HIM AS HE IS and can lead others to Him.
scripture says that "in the last days... men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy..." (II Tim. 3:1,2). One of the meanings of "unholy" here is "without reverence, treating as common." The issue of making God into our own imagination, bringing Him down to our level, and treating Him as common is exactly the kind of irreverence and familiarity that characterizes the last days, right along with loving yourself and blaspheming God. It's an overall attitude that treats holy things with a casual air - and of course we know it is referring not to the world, but to those who "have a form of godliness" (II Tim. 3:5). Their "God", like their godliness, is only an empty form; it is not a reality.
When we force God to conform to our image (instead of the other way around), the unintended consequence is that God becomes whoever we imagine Him/Her/It to be. That, in turn, weakens our testimony and hinders those who truly seek Him. HE IS WHO HE IS. True revelation and genuine prophetic utterance does not express God as we want, think, wish, or imagine Him to be; it simply proclaims Him AS HE REALLY IS - no more, and no less.
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