The God Who Acts

I finished reading Isaiah yesterday. While spending some time reflecting on the major themes of the book, I found this question coming up over and over again: What is the major difference between the God of the Bible and other “gods”?

The God of the Bible — The Father, Son & Spirit — acts.

He calls (Isa. 41:4, 41:9, 42:6, 43:1, 43:7, 48:12, 49:1, 51:2).

He carries (Isa. 46:4).

He speaks (Isa. 7:7, 10:24, 22:15, 23:16, 29:22, 37:6, 38:1, 43:1, 43:12).

He purposes (Isa. 14:24, 19:12, 23:8, 44:28, 46:10, 48:14, 54:16, 55:11).

He judges (Isa 59:18, 65:6).

He saves (Isa. 25:9, 30:15, 33:22, 35:4, 45:22, 49:25, 63:1, 64:5)

He redeems (Isa. 29:22, 43:1, 44:22, 44:23, 48:20, 50:2, 52:9, 63:9)

There is no other god who emphatically states, over and over again, “I save. I judge. I purpose all things.”

Only the God of the Bible.

Only Jesus.

This is the message that Isaiah came to preach. This is the message that Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection, proclaim: There is a God who acts to save His creation and He will redeem us.

We cannot save ourselves and all other “saviors” are folly. There is no hope in a god that cannot act.

There’s no hope in TV. Sex. Sports. Bands. Education. Self-Esteem. False-Religion. Vague Spirituality.

There is only hope in Jesus.

So let us put our hope in Him.

From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him (Isa. 64:4).

Breathed Out by God

“All Scripture is breathed out by God…” says Paul in 2 Tim. 3:16. Honestly, if you have ever had any doubt about this, you need to look at a passage like this:

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you” (Proverbs 25:21-22).

It’s such a bizarre concept, isn’t it? This concept of loving your enemy.

This is not an idea that people could come with on their own. The best we can come up with on our own is “don’t fight back.” Don’t retaliate. But Jesus went so much farther than that, commanding us to repay evil with good:

To love our enemies.

But why? Why should we do this? Why not just seek justice (or more correctly, vengeance)?

“[S]o that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1 Pet. 3:16-17). [Read more...]

The Arrest

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Matthew 26:36-56

Today, millions of Christians around the world will celebrate the brutal murder of Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sins. Betrayed, denied, mocked, beaten, and ultimately nailed to a Roman cross—all because of us. And by us.

Let us not make light of the seriousness of sin, particularly as the new day dawns. The cost was high to make God’s enemies His friends. May we worship with hearts filled with thanksgiving as we celebrate our suffering Savior, who cried “It is finished” (John 19:30), and put an end to the curse of death.

And may God bless you as you do.

Spurgeon: Jesus Didn't Die Because We Were Worth Saving

“Jesus did not die for our righteousness, but He died for our sins. He did not come to save us because we were worth saving, but because we were utterly worthless, ruined and undone.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, All of Grace, page 90 (emphasis mine)

We have a great God and Savior. Praise Him for the men who remind us of that.

10 Things We Don't Mention in Worship Songs…

A while back, Abraham Piper wrote about “10 Things we don’t mention in worship songs but that I’m happy God saved me from.” I liked it so much that I’m blatantly copying him, although not his 10 things.

Here’s my list:

  1. Rage
  2. Children out of wedlock
  3. Divorce
  4. Adultery
  5. Pride (though I struggle with this constantly)
  6. girls with low self-esteem
  7. Self-esteem
  8. Satan (long story)
  9. Candy and things that taste like candy (again, I struggle with this constantly)
  10. Emergent theology

What’s yours?

Blogging the Psalms: Psalm 10

For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, “There is no God” (Psalm 10:3-4).

His ways prosper at all times;
your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity” (v. 5-6)

The helpless are crushed, sink down,
and fall by his might.
He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it” (v. 10-11)

Psalm 10 centers around the prosperity of the wicked. This theme appears a number of times within the Psalms: Why do the wicked always seem to escape judgement? Why do they prosper when the righteous suffer?

[Read more...]