Our past is gone, our mistakes no more, we are free!

freedomI hope anyone reading this has been blessed since I was last on.  I have been busy teaching now that we are back in Canada and last time I preached was in August but I have felt inspired lately.  I have been reading the journals of John Wesley and have been looking at the concepts of free grace, and true freedom as a Christian.  I honestly believe I came to Christ all those many years ago but I do not think I fully regenerated as a Christian until a few years ago and I do not think I really came to appreciate what it means to be truly free from your past until recently.    So what does it mean to have freedom in the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor 3:17)?  In this sermon I call all who read this to salvation in Jesus Christ.  I call all those who are so ashamed of who they are, what they have done, and who they have hurt to call on the Lord and you will be saved.  It is life long processes of getting rid of the old and putting on the new which I did not fully understand until recently but I would like to reference 4 Biblical prophets and patriarchs who made horrible mistakes, and yet were called into eternal rest of God.  They span the thousands of years the Bible comprises and they lie in both the Old and New Testaments.  These men are murderers, adulterers, sinners, idolterers, wimps, scam artists, liars, and cheats; yet God loved them and us so much that HE gave HIS only begotten Son that whosoever believes in HIM will NEVER parish but have everlasting life.  The first person I would like to look at is the only Biblical figure named “a man after God’s own heart;” King David.

kingdavid2David was the golden boy; a young shepherd, favoured by both God and man.  Celebrated in all Israel as the one who slayed Goliath and was praised by King Saul!  David was blessed, pursued, eventually attacked by Saul, but eventually would become King of the Israel and Judah.  He had everything; riches, wives, power, and the blessing of the King of Kings!  But soon dissension began to stir in his heart.  You know the old saying, money and power do not bring happiness well King David was the prime example of this.  And soon his eye turned to a woman; the wife of one of his military captains.  Her name was Bathsheba.  He saw her on the roof top bathing and lusted after her.  He with full knowledge arranged to have her brought to him and he slept with her.  But to cover up what he had done and make it legal in the law he intentionally put her husband on the front lines that he would be killed but not directly by his hands hoping it would not break Judaic law.  He committed adultery and manslaughter; clearly he had backslidden from God.  There was a man I read about in a Christian magazine from Europe.  He was an avid church member, worked in many ministries, and by all accounts was a living and active Christian.  Yet a little by little sin started to creep in.  He would dismiss it because it did not seem so big and he figured that he could keep a lid on it.  Soon it turned to sexual sin (as it seems it does for most men); and eventually his sexual immorality turned from his personal demons to something he was in search for else where; eventually he fell into adultery.  When interviewed the man said that he never realized what that sin would bring upon him; guilt, disconnect from his wife, anxiety, fear for his health, and a losing of innocence he once possessed.  King Solomon (the son of Bathsheba and David) said that adultery destroys the soul.  When we have sex it gives a piece of our soul which we can only reclaim once we have been whole in Christ Jesus.  But maybe you might be thinking, “Well I am not that bad.”  Jesus said even when you look at someone with lust you commit adultery with them in your heart.  And breaking one law is just as bad as breaking them all God does not differentiate.  But how was a man like King David able to come back from that?  How was he able to be blessed after that?  He repented.  He wrote the 51st Psalm.  When the Lord confronted him, he begged for forgiveness and got a fresh start.  This world is filled with the sexually immoral.  But each new day we can wake up and have a fresh start, we can have the freedom to know that we are not the people we once were.  The world often remembers David as the adulterer but the important thing is how God remembers him.  How does God remember us?

tabernacle-priest-befor-the-arkThe second person I would like to look at, and this is not Biblical or chronological order but what is laid on my heart; is the first priest, Aaron.  Aaron was a priest, prophet, and brother of Moses.  He was to Moses what Moses was to God.  He was a good brother, he was a good Hebrew, and he was a good priest.  Except for the part where he bowed to public pressure.  When Moses had been called by the Lord to deliver Israel out of Egypt, he was given his brother Aaron to speak for him and act as his mouthpiece and in some ways the vessel with which God would work miracles.  Aaron had grown up without Moses but still knew because of God’s command he was meant to be the deliverer.  He spoke in Pharaoh’s court and as a member of the tribe of Levi was set apart to be a priest.  He was actually involved with the work of God long before Moses was and he basically set the entire religious culture of the Jewish and eventually Christian people for all time.  But Aaron had some pretty big flaws.  And because of those flaws he never got to see the Promised Land; there were consequences to his actions.  When the Children of Israel were waiting at Mt. Sinai for the 10 Commandments; they started to become impatient.  They worried that something had happened (it was over a month after all)!  They wanted a more tangible god, one that reflected what was important to them.  They pressured Aaron since he was a minister and a craftsman to create a golden calf for them to worship; this is called the sin of the calf.  Aaron had committed idolatry.  The Lord told Moses what happened and we know that the nation was punished and none of them saw the land flowing with milk and honey.  Now you would think that well “Aaron was under threat of death, what was he to do, he probably hated it and did not commit idolatry in his heart.”  I would say these actions speak to the condition of our hearts.  It was even worse because the tribe of Levi was the priests, they were the perfect example of what a Godly Jew should be and their leader (Aaron was the oldest Levite) was a coward and committed idolatry.  This would have taken time, planning, material collection; it wasn’t a one time quick thing, he methodically and intentionally planned it out over days.  The people we are examining in this message committed sins not just off the cuff, lesser sins.  They planned, probed, and executed their sins.  I read a story once of this famous pastor.  He had got his start traveling and preaching (not me haha!)  He became quite popular and eventually became a pastor of a mega-church.  By all outward glances, he lived, dressed, and acted like a businessman.  Money had become his idol (a very common theme in the Bible).  Then one day someone asked him to pray for them, they were hurting, suffering, they needed healing.  The pastor was taken aback but thought he would, it was part of the show.  The woman had a miraculous healing right in front of thousands.  The pastor was shaken to the core; he had been separated from God for so long did God just show up?  The preacher started hearing more and more from God, actual audible voices.  At first he thought he was insane, his wife/agent/manager thought he was too.  But as more and more miracles started occurring and as he heard from the Lord more and more, he found it harder and harder to live this life of idolatry.  One day he left it all, the money, cars, and the wife.  I have heard that he is now a pastor of a church that ministers to homeless in a burned out building in Detroit proper’s crack central.  Thou shalt have no other gods except me, the first commandment and Aaron broke it and he did it because he was too afraid of reprisal, to eager to accommodate that he compromised his principles.  In this day and age we do not see obvious signs of idolatry but we do see obvious signs of comprising our principles and as such sin, including idolatry sneaks up on us.  Pretty soon like Aaron you cannot tell the difference between us and the world.  We cannot compromise who we are, if you are reading this and you have made too many compromises I say stand up and say no more!

mosesAll life is precious in God’s eyes so when a man kills another man, even if it is to protect one of your people, it is still viewed as wrong.  I remember watching Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments” and the way he saved Joshua from Baka the slave master and accepted responsibility for killing him was almost honourable.  The real Moses was not that honourable.  Do not get me wrong, he was chosen to be the deliverer.  He was saved from infanticide, he was guided past dangerous currents of water, animals, and drowning to be brought to the best place for him; pharaoh’s palace.  But when he killed the Egyptian, he quickly shot around looking to see if anyone was watching then buried the body in the sand.  He did not take responsibility for his actions, he hid them and feared retribution.  I understand he was going through a difficult time, but nothing constitutes murder and vengeance.  Moses was born a slave and retaliating against overseers would at times seem almost appropriate; but I am reminded of another group that were enslaved for roughly the same length of time; Africans.  In university I attended a lecture on the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  We were looking at the history, culture, economics, all of that.  And we were told of an account that Booker T Washington recounted at a symposium a century before.  It was a reflection on the right slaves had to rebel against their masters, particularly the cruel ones.  The consensus was that an eye for an eye was appropriate for what had been forced upon these poor people.  But there was one man who spoke out; by the look of him he was a field worker.  He look and spoke like one without a formal education, which was not uncommon at that time.  It was later revealed that this man had been a slave under one particularly harsh maser named Jensen.  Jensen had died in a fire but not before this field worker tried to pull him out.  It was rumoured that when asked why, he said if I didn’t; I would be no better than him.  When we react, even if it is for the right reasons we forget that the people we hurt are still people.  Moses killed a man, granted he was a brutal man, but that man still had a family and the fact that Moses covered that up made it all the worse.  What have you done that you have covered up?  I have done heaps in my time, and it is stuff that still haunts me to this day.  You need to know that when we accept the gift of Jesus that no longer becomes an issue.  Our sins will not be brought to light that day only the good things.  But for those who hide in the darkness and never step into the light of Christ, one day all will be revealed!  I wake up every morning and it is a new day!  A pastor in Australia once said that “if you are hiding some deep dark sin from you and God bring it out to the open, bring it out into the light and deal with it!  Move on, and let it glorify God.”  Just accept the gift, be free!

11_saul-conversionThe last person I would like to look at is a New Testament individual; probably the worse of the worse, the bad of the bad, Paul Saul.  Saul was a Roman citizen, a Jew, born in Tarsus.  He had a sister, he was second to none in knowledge of the law and many modern scholars believe he was a member of the more extreme religious sects, not just the Philistines and Sadducees.  But Paul was also, a torturer, a murderer, and a liar.  He grew up in Jerusalem by his own writings; and pursued the new believers in Israel and across Palestine.  He would arrest them, beat them, burn churches, and commit all the acts that many Christians now experience in places like Lebanon, Pakistan, and North Korea.  Paul’s past was something he was always saddened by and because he was so notorious he was often distrusted by the other believers and rightly so.  But Paul never hid from his past but for every chance used it to glorify God.  He said see this is what I was; now I am this because of Jesus Christ.  Saint Paul is the New Testament poster child for conversion.  In this world we are faced every day with our past wrongs and we constantly are looking for ways to forget them and to gain forgiveness.  The most popular character archetype in writing and media is the anti-hero or the conflicted character.  The altruistic bad boy who longs to find redemption for his past sins is a character we always enjoy.  But Paul is saying in his life that there is a better way, accept Jesus Christ acknowledge your sin and move on; dwell no more, the book of Isaiah says past is past and God’s plans for our future are not limited by our past.  I love reading history, I love reading theology, but what I love most of all is reading biographies, particularly historic ones that can be corroborated.  I was reading one of a recent martyr by the name of  Ghorban Tourani.  This man was an Iranian muslim who converted to Christianity while working in Turkmenistan.  When he returned to Iran, at that time in the mid 90’s was purging Christians, leaders, and house churches left right and center began a Christian ministry that stands to this day.  Brother minister Tourani had many death threats against him and his family but he knew his past, he knew how badly his people needed Christ and he kept on, and like Paul inherited his eternal reward.  Ghorban was murdered on November 22nd 2005.  His murder was the first of many persecutions that would continue on but like Paul Ghorban could not ignore God’s call.  Do you ever feel it, when you are sitting by yourself, or perhaps driving?  You feel a pull, and that is the call of the Holy Spirit.  We all have a hole in our hearts; do not fill it with booze, gambling, sex, fill it with Christ.

So what can we learn from these 4 conflicted characters from the Bible?  We learn that there is no sin that God cannot forgive and that there is no past mistake that cannot be undone and there is no sinner that cannot still do great things.  Accept the gift of Christ and let the Holy Spirit do the rest, let’s pray!

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Healing and Our Call to Evangelism

ImageThis is a new day, today is a day for miracles, for healing, your past was left at the dawn of day and this is the day the Lord has made and we shall rejoice and be glad.  Today we are going to look at the three ways God heals us.  We are going to look at some characteristics that attach to each avenue of healing, we are going to look at the importance of evangelizing, what are some of the reasons to why we don’t evangelize, and how as Christians does God help use correct this issue.  So let’s start with healing.  How many of us have prayed for healing in some way?  I know I have, and I have prayed for others, indirectly, and directly; but how does the Lord heal us?  HE heals us physically (restored), internally (guilt, emotion, anger, anxiety-regenerated), and spiritually (forgiveness of sin, deliverance from Satan-reformed).

In the Bible we learn that after Jesus rose from the dead HE performed so many signs and wonders that there would not be enough room in all the world for the records of them (Jn 21:25) In the gospel of Matthew there are over five references to general physical healing, Mark there are over 12, Luke there are over 14, and in John there are over 4.  This was a large part of Jesus’ ministry.  There are three out of many key characteristics that came with healing that I would like to take a look at.  The first characteristic is FAITH.  In the Bible healing was either a result of faith or to foundationalize faith.  In Scripture it tells us that people were healed and they believed!  Jesus recognized that we are a people that unless our physical needs were met we would very rarely be able to focus on anything else.  Now there were instances of people trying to get to Jesus because they already believed that they would be healed if they could just get close enough; the woman with the blood disorder (now believed to be hemophilia) thought if I could only touch the hem of HIS garment I would be healed.  And what was Jesus’ response?  “Your faith has made you well,” right there we need to believe that God can physically restore us.  We do not always have to be the ones to reach out, often Christ would meet those in HIS travels and heal them and their faith would be solidified or restored for example the resurrection of Lazarus. So right there we see that healing was used as a tool to show God’s love to human beings, to restore humans to a closer version of the God-made image we were meant to be.   The second characteristic in healing, not just physical healing but this goes for internal and spiritual as well is compassion, Matthew 14:14 says that “when Jesus saw the multitude HE had compassion on them and healed their sick.”  When we are healed, or we pray for others’ healing or we are the direct tool that God uses to facilitate healing there must be compassion for the human condition.  “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is the second greatest commandment we are given; let compassion be that love!  The third characteristic I would like to look at is discernment.  It is an uncomfortable reality for those who pray for healing but are not healed and yet all of the other factors are in place for a great miracle; it just may not be God’s timing.  In Scriptures there is a man paralyzed on a mat and Jesus does not heal him right away but forgives him of his sins.  Did that mean that Jesus did not have compassion on this man?  Certainly not!  But at that moment HIS discernment was for something greater to show that not only could the man be forgiven of his sins but also healed which Jesus then did to astound those speaking against HIM.

The next portion I would like to look at is spiritual healing; the most important one in my opinion because everything else stems from this; spiritual healing, the reforming part of healing.  This was Christ’s primary mission that we might have a way to be reformed and restored under God.  This is also the type of healing we are to preach, because while bodily healing is important; spiritual healing is top priority.  In Matthew 10:28 Jesus said, do not fear those who kill the body but fear he that can kill the body and the soul.  I firmly believe and have seen evidence both personal and in others that sin is the most degenerative disease there is.  I read an account of a young man once who started as a young boy with lustful endeavors; an inappropriate magazine peak here, a lustful thought there- and as the years went by the sin began to degenerate him, little things began to turn into big things, what some would think inconsequential eventually turned into the criminal to the point where the now middle aged man was suffering from the effects of sexual sin that had destroyed everything in his life, like an addiction to heroin or another drug.  Addictions are considered diseases why not sin? Spiritual healing is the only way to treat that illness; and when Christ comes again that disease will be made extinct.  A theologian by the name of John Piper said this “Christ is walking among us. Not because we are so much fun to be with but because he loves to make house calls on patients who glory in his medical expertise. He is not partial to the healthy. But he has a special fondness for the homeliest, weakest, sickliest patients whose eyes sparkle when he enters the room.”  Jesus said it is not the healthy that need a doctor but the ill.  He was not talking about physical healing at that point but spiritual healing.  And like the physical healing section of this sermon I have three characteristics I want to address that come with spiritual healing.  The first is true repentance.  You have to be at your wits end and know that you cannot do it; you are not the great person all your friends think and that you need to face the darkest shadows of your heart and let God deal with it.  The second characteristic is readiness.  We need to be ready to change, to receive that spiritual healing.  A child will scream when you try to remove a band-aid to clean a wound but what they don’t understand is that it needs to be cleaned, purified, and exposed to the air to heal.  Psalm 23 says “HE restores my soul.”  Matthew 8 says “That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” Christ is willing, ready, and able to do all this and more but we must be ready to change.  Repentance literally means to intend to change; the disease of sin cannot be treated without a change in lifestyle.  The third characteristic of spiritual healing is dependence.  Once we are saved, it is not a one time deal; we need daily treatments, hourly treatments, and minute treatments until Christ comes again or we go to Glory.  A pastor in Australia, once told me when I was quite disheartened about the condition of my own spiritual healing that we will never get rid of all the garbage inside of us until Christ comes but as long as it is a little less each day and a little more of the light; then we are on the right path.  In a Christian magazine I read once a saved drug user was asked about how he dealt with withdrawal symptoms, how he beat his addiction.  He chuckled and responded, I just simply replaced one addiction that leads to death with another that leads to life.  And from that dependence comes the internal healing and our third topic. In the KJV Bible there are over 400 places where the word peace is mentioned.  It is included in the Fruits of the Spirit and it is a by-product of internal healing.  It may be immediate, it may be over a long period of time, but you and I will feel that peace, that internal healing.  The famous WWII theologian, pastor, and underground freedom fighter Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote that he felt only peace as his execution approached because it was not the end but the beginning.  This life in the grand spectrum of eternity will be only a faded memory of suffering if we make the right choices in Christ.  In Psalm 147 it says “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  What are the characteristics that go along with this internal healing?  First of all, spiritual healing must come first.  You cannot know the healing power of emotions permanently until you have been saved by Jesus Christ.  You may find things that can fill the void or your brain may overload to the point you feel numb and you think that is peace but it isn’t.  Internal healing is peace and only peace comes from the Lord!  The second characteristic of internal healing is acceptance.  We must accept that there are things that are out of our control; we must accept and give all things to God. “Trials, testing, and tribulation are part of life.  But all of it God uses for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes” (Romans 8:28).  The sooner we stop fighting and give it all up to God we learn to feel that peace because we know that our problems and our past are in the hands of HIM who is greater than he who is in the world.  The third and final characteristic of internal healing and overall healing in general is the evidence.  We all have our Christian salvation stories; The Bible said faith without works (proof) is dead, meaning that if God has healed you then you are the living evidence in your thoughts, words, deeds, and interactions and you cannot help but shout it from the rooftops how grateful you are to God-I know I couldn’t; but it took me a long time to really see what God had done for me, and it took me a couple of really close calls to realize that even when I fail HE does not.  This brings me to my next part; evangelism.

It is sometimes called the Great Commission, go out and preach the Gospel to all the nations of the world, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  It is called the Good News and too often as Christians we hold the good news and knowledge of our healing, whether it is physical, internal, or spiritual to ourselves.  In the Bible it says,    “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.   Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  (Mt. 5:14-16)  Now I am the guiltiest one of all; for years I was apathetic about my faith, too afraid I was going to offend someone in this PC world; but the thing is, truth is uncomfortable because it convicts us of something that we know we are missing.  One of the best articles I read on the importance of evangelism was written by a famous atheist.  Penn Jillett an avid atheist and magician wrote an article chastising religious people that don’t evangelize.  He said “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”  “I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward.  “I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”  Now that being said I have more issues with atheism than hairs on my balding head but if a person who believes in literally nothing gets this frustrated then how much more should we be frustrated when we don’t tell that coworker, that friend, that person crying on the street because of the sheer hopelessness of their life?

We don’t do it because Christians are better than people; we are still sinners, we will still sin until the end of days.  We evangelize because we are the living evidence of hope in this world.  When a young Christian chooses Godly living over the world that’s proof; when coworkers shun someone because they are different and we go out of our way to love them that’s proof.  And when we say I had this physical illness, mental disease, or crippling emotional void and it is gone because of the love of Christ Jesus that is proof!  But why don’t we see these mass conversions and revival meetings of old?  Where are the days of Pentecost, if we have been healed mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually should we not be going at all costs to the lost?  When I was living in China I heard of an underground house church that had the most interesting of locations to meet, it wasn’t in some hidden attic.  It was not in some backroom of a shop.  It was out on the streets.  They would sing, pray together, and then go to serve the poor and destitute and while serving them whisper the Gospel to these lost souls.  Why are we not seeing more situations like that?  I believe it is for a few reasons; the first reason is we are afraid of offending people.  We have become nervous of preaching in a nation founded upon Christian ideals when there are Christians disappearing in Iran.  What is the counter measure?  Don’t care, I would rather have someone dislike me for my faith than like me for the lie I was living and when you are not living as the same person in private, in public, at work, and at church you are living a lie.  The second reason is that as Christians we believe evangelizing is something mystical, set aside as a gift of the Holy Spirit; and yet it is simply inviting your friend, or as we say in Aus your mate to church; you tell them you believe they’ll like it; if they respond that it’s not really their thing, you reply that they have not tried all the churches and don’t know all the Christians, give it a shot!  I know I am making it simpler than it often is but that is how we should view it, simple, we are told that to inherit the Kingdom we must be like children, simple!  The final two reasons I believe that we are not evangelizing is that we expect mass and immediate results, and we often worry about not expressing ourselves properly.  Often times we go out on a limb to witness to someone only to be shot down, even though Christ told us that this would happen; “many are called but few are chosen”; HE said that very few could walk the straight and narrow path.  Often times when we witness we are sowing seeds for others to harvest but don’t worry for the harvest is ripe, we have crops to harvest whom other believers have planted; but they may take seasons;  lastly I believe we do not evangelize as a spiritual people because we are afraid we will not express our message clearly.  This is why we are told to live the proof; I am reminded of Moses; by his own admission he was not a very good speaker, modern historians and theologians theorize he may have had some sort of speech impediment; but the Lord God gave Moses his brother Aaron as a speaker and miracles to show as evidence.  See God is not limited by our circumstances; HE is only limited by our choices.  When will we as a people become so excited about the healing work of the Cross that we cannot sit idly while others announce to the world that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we have risen with HIM to new life.  And if you are worried about your past don’t be God’s purposes are not limited by your past HE is only concerned about your future.

I am going to finish off with a paraphrased quote by the famous evangelist and healer Smith Wigglesworth.  Smith was a minister who in the later half of the 19th century, early half of the 20th toured around the world, as far as New Zealand evangelizing and healing.  He was a crude speaker with a thick British accent, he was uneducated, a simple plumber, a man of meager denominational training; and yet he healed hundreds by direct contact, mass healings, and even anointed handkerchiefs.  He used it as a blessing to show the love of God demonstrated through the sacrifice of HIS Son Jesus Christ.  Smith said “The Lord has saved me to do ‘is work, I ‘annot sleep until I have lead at least one person to the Lord.”  Smith at times would often be found wandering the streets witnessing until he found that one; the Lord healed him mentally, emotionally, physically, and he wanted no, he had to pay it forward by spreading the Good News, let’s pray.

The Incorporeality of God

prin3This is a very simple sermon this week. Forgive me for my late writings. After my sermon on James I had to prepare to go on sabbatical and move country and have currently moved to Canada, not sure where God will put us next, perhaps a stint of short term missions trips; while we were not officially working under the banner of a church as missionaries we tried to be domestic missionaries in our work places as Christ called us to be. This online message deals with a topic that is generally accepted by all those of the Abrahamic faiths; the lack of a corporeal nature to God. To have a corporeal nature is limiting, it is finite. As one priest once said when you have something with a body, you can escape from it; it is trapped. Truly people who have witnessed loved ones trapped in an ailing body consider it a gift or a blessing when they are freed from it. But what does it mean for us as Christians that our God is without form, as the Old Testament says is unseen, and is in all places. We will be looking at this in 3 parts, the first being what is said of God’s lack of physical nature in the Old Testament even when it describes Him in the way of feet and hands. The second part we will look at; seems to be the exact contradiction of God incorporeality, being Christ Jesus, and the third part the concept of the Holy Spirit, and what does the Bible say about Him?

As I write this message I am struggling to find work. It seems that there is always unseen forces against me, but on the other side I am reminded of the verse in Isaiah when Elijah is looking for the Lord and he finds Him in the mountain as a still, small voice.  When I was traveling through Europe I arrived at Westminster Abbey.  And in Westminster it states what is its principles, one of which being that God is a Spirit without form whether it be physical or material.  In Judaism they believe that God is neither physical nor spiritual but a third option that we are not yes familiar with.  Reference to God appearing as a spirit or His Spirit is referenced at least 20 times in the Old Testament, beginning in the book of Genesis.  What is interesting is that God forbids creating an image of Him as He communicates through a pillar of fire to Moses.  The Holy Spirit itself is mentioned several times in the Bible, specifically the Old Testament; but as a kid once asked me at church if we were made in God’s image doesn’t he have a body?  In the Old Testament the prophet even says that he saw God face to face; and as early as Genesis we have written examples of the hand of God, His feet, what do these things mean?  Saint Augustine said it best and I am paraphrasing, I do not think about you o Lord as one who has feet and hands and the anatomy of man but am aware that you are a spirit.  However we also recognize that to communicate to man is sometimes beneficial as a man.  This brings me to my next point, the corporeality that is Christ Jesus.

Often times the reason Christianity is rejected is because our two Abrahamic cousins take exception to idea of a Son of God.  Even denominations in our own religion take exception to this concept as Jesus being begotten and not created by the Father.  The question arises why if God is a non-corporeal being would He come to earth as a man in a backwater town in Palestine?  Now in Judaism they say for example God walking in the garden of Eden would just be figures of speech, in the same way we are made in God’s image we do not physically represent the face of God.  But why then would Christ come?  I believe there are several reasons for it.  First being that since God the Father is out of time and space as mentioned in previous sermons He could not go against Himself and change His nature.  In Hebrews it says that Jesus is the exact representation of God.  I believe that God knows what man needed for this gap to be bridged, a human body; was Christ really sitting at the right hand, perhaps that is a figure of speech but we do know that we needed a human sacrifice, a perfect man to atone for our sins; but only One is perfect.  But the nature of God that is Christ again started off as a Spirit as well so it is not actually contradictory with the unseen God; it would be contradictory if Christ became the anointed Son of God after His conception, like some sects believe when he was baptized; then this would be going against the incorporeal God.

 

The last point I would like to address is the Holy Spirit.  God’s incorporeal nature is summed up in the Holy Spirit.  Many writers say that the Old Testament is the record of the Father, the Gospels were the record of the Son and the letters were that of the Spirit.  The Spirit is not only God but it is the portion of God that lives in us.  In all other religions where the God has a material body they are not able to penetrate the very heart of the believer but God’s Spirit does.  It’s nature is truth, conviction, and regeneration.  God could not do that if He was purely a corporeal being, Christ is just one of His natures.  Well I guess it is time to wrap this up.  I have decided to take a break from the attributes of God series.  I feel that I am on a different spiritual journey and so I will put apologetics on the back burner and work on sermons focusing on more emotionally heavy issues.  If I feel God calling me back to this I will begin writing sermons on theological issues again.  But if you are reading this I encourage you to investigate deeper the nature of God and other such issues.  Well that’s all for me, I am signing off for now.  I will begin a new sermon series this week called “The Still Small Voice” focusing on different scenario’s God speaks to us on.  God bless you.

Where does your wisdom come from?

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This week we are looking at James 3: 13-18.  James is questioning where does our wisdom come from?  In Proverbs we read that the beginning of wisdom is fear (respectful awareness and awe) of the Lord.  But that can be accused of being a very vague statement.  One of the reasons I love the epistles is that the apostles were so explicit in their teachings.  So we are going to separate and examine the verses in 3 different sections, the first being verses 13-14, the second being the 15th-16th verses, and the third being the 17th-18th verses.  The first section of these verses is what I call the “Challenge.”  James’ blunt nature and frank discussions calls Messianic Christians on their behaviour that he has been seeing since the recent formation of the Church.  The 2nd section I call the “Warning” section.  Here James is laying out plainly what the wisdom from below looks like, what it can do to us, what our motivations are, and warns that the followers of Christ have the potential for both the wisdom from heaven and the wisdom from hell!  The 3rd and final segment and section of this scripture is the “Exhortation and Encouragement” section.  James has shocked the Messianic Christians, he has warned them, and now he gives them hope.  Human beings are extremely hard headed people and it is only when we are stripped and broken down that we are open to the refining fire of the Holy Spirit and that is why St. James has written this portion of the letter in this way.

 

So let us begin on this journey together, let us look at verses 13-14, the “Challenge.”  In Biblical and modern culture we have people who are called “pharisaic.”  They speak in one way when watched and act another in private; we may call them hypocrites.  When James wrote this letter to the Church they were still so young, and older beliefs, customs, and religious sects were infiltrating the pure message of the Messiah, leading them astray.  James says to us that if you claim to have this heavenly wisdom you need to show it.  Not just in public but in your private life.  My friends’ wife had a grandmother was a devoted Christian all her life and who she was in private was the same person she was in her public and professional life. And James challenges us, he says that if you are not like this; if you have sinful, personal motivations, and are a slave to evil desires do not be happy about this; do not boast about how you have been these things, and certainly do not lie about it.  James is telling the Messianic Christians if you have sin, hidden, deep dark sin, do not hide it, bring it to the light of God, confess it, and face the truth!  When I was a younger man I used to justify and hide the wrong things I did, while you may be forgiven by God for those sins, you never mentally recover completely this way and are certainly never able to move on!  Our society teaches us this this hide and dash trick and the results are often hidden sins, disgraceful shames, and empty searches for meaningless idols to fill the hurting holes in our souls.  

Our Lord Jesus commanded honesty and bravery, even if facing our darkest desires strikes fear into our hearts.  And this is the central theme behind James’ challenge

The second section of the scriptures this week focuses on what I call the “Warning.”  The “Warning” is very much the effect of the cause and effect relationship that results from sourcing one wisdom instead of another.  In our relationships we have results that come from whichever wisdom we follow.  Now we need to be clear as Christians, we do not subscribe solely to one wisdom or the other but often times as humans bounce between both.  But often in our relationships when we indulge the wisdom of hell, the consequences can be disastrous for our relationships.  James says every evil can come from this demonic wisdom and disorder, chaos is the natural effect to follow.  In the original Greek the word for wisdom that James uses is the same word we would associate for life change or the philosophical path one may follow; so it is not a concept that is abstract or distant, it is very much an idea we should adhere to, follow the ways of God and His wisdom, or commit idolatry and follow Satan’s wisdom.  A mate of mine was once married; he’s been divorced now for several years.  There were mistakes on both sides of the marriage, but his wife had done something pretty severe; and my mate is probably one of the most forgiving men I’ve ever met but he couldn’t allow himself to forgive her because she kept trying to justify what she did, she kept trying to shift the blame.  As my wife calls it, sorry with a “but.”  Here’s the danger, if we cannot admit what we have done and ask for pure, unbridled forgiveness we have not humbled ourselves and as James says, we are not peace loving, humble, or submissive, and we are then not reflecting the true nature of Christ.

How are we feeling?  Sombre? Low? Humbled?  I was when I really began to study this passage.  However the younger brother of Christ offers us a hand, just like his Brother did.  He guides us into the section I call “Exhortations and Encouragements.”  He shows us what we need to do to gain that heavenly wisdom and to demonstrate that we have gained it.  He tells us brothers and sisters’ heavenly wisdom is pure, if it isn’t pure, it isn’t from God!  It is also peace loving, submissive, humble, considerate, full of spiritual fruit (meaning that God’s good works are evident), impartial, and sincere.  James is saying if you consistently source wisdom from God that this is the bi-product of that wisdom and the effect of this cause is that you will sow a harvest of righteousness.  See this was the difference between what Christ offered and what the other “saviours” of the time did. He offered-and his apostles continued that teaching, a way out of hell.  Many “saviours”, self-helpers, guru’s, and religious enlightened ones will always tells us of what we are doing wrong, what we’re not supposed to be doing; Rules, regulations, and a possible hope for a select few; but Christ Jesus and the Spirit of God, the Great Councillor warned us like all the others of our sins but unlike any of the others showed the right true path without partiality and with most sincere love.  And that is what James is doing for the Messianic Christians right now in this text; what he is calling them to, and it is what the Spirit of the Lord is instilling in us now.  

The Impeccability of God

impeccable      We are continuing with our sermon series on the “Attributes of God.”  I apologise to online parishioners and readers for being so absent but other responsibilities kept me away from sermon writing, I am definitely behind where I wanted us to be in our journey through this but what can you do?  I pray that everyone is doing well and wherever you are in this world you are blessed and you feel the love of God in you, around you, and on you-because God loves you.

This sermon we are looking at the impeccability of God; Impeccability meaning, perfect, without flaw or error.  I believe that this attribute best defines what God is, for no being can claim to be God without being perfect.  No being would want to worship a God who was reactive, made errors, and sinned.  One of the main tenets of Christianity is that Christ was fully man and sinless but He was tempted and as such we can have victory over sin because of Christ we can say we will be perfect.  The Bible says “be perfect as Christ is perfect.”  The last sermon I wrote was on the impassibility of God, and as I have said before God’s attributes cannot be divided.  You cannot have one and not have the other.    I don’t know about you but not only do I find it comforting that God and thus Christ is perfect but that there is no possibility of sin and because of that impeccability.  We are going to be looking at God’s perfection in 3 ways, first the proof that God must be impeccable because He could be nothing but, secondly that Christ is impeccable because He is the incarnate God, and third what does that mean for us as Christians, devout followers of Christ.

People often think God makes mistakes.  I was driving home one day and on a billboard of an Anglican church it said “many people want to serve God but only as advisors.”  The reason people have trouble giving up control to the Lord is because they cannot trust because they are afraid He will make a mistake!  Psalm 18:30 says that God is perfect!  He does not make a mistake.  In ancient societies the gods of old could be swayed and often made choices that human beings were disgusted with.   Often times these ancient deities required sacrifices that were extreme and the legends of their conduct read like a rated r movie!  A god should never be more sinful that their creation.  In today’s society the three Abrahamic religions fight over many things but we thing we do not fight about is that God is perfect.  As the Bible says that no one has goodness in them all goodness comes from God (Ps.16:2).  If something is the source of all goodness it must be perfect.  Rene Descartes posed this logical proof for God’s perfection and existence.  He said that God must exist for we are aware of God’s perfection:  He is the greatest (most perfect) being, it is greater to exist than not to exist, and thus God exists.  Another proof of God’s perfection is His holiness.  God is referred to many ways  in the Bible but the top two ways God is referred to is as a God of mercy and firstly a God of holiness.  God does not break His word even when we make mistakes, thank Him-even at personal cost to Him.  But the relationship we enjoy with God is not evidence of His impeccability but that of Christ because if God had sent a mere man to pay for our sins, he would have come up short in the bill but we needed an impeccable man-we needed someone who had His foot in both worlds, the human nature and temptations we endure and yet the perfect nature of the Father; we have that combination in Christ.

We must be careful not say that Christ started life with a clean slate nature and struggled to avoid sin lest He would fall under His Father’s wrath but it was a struggle and almost lost it a few times.  Christ is sinless because He was possessed and made up of the Father’s holy nature.  And it was so intrinsically part of His being that while the enemy tried to tempt Him He could not sin because it would go against His very nature.  In the Bible there is no evidence that Christ even thought about sinning.  Christ is the physical and evidential human proof of God’s impeccability because as the Lord Jesus says “the Father and I are One.”  So let us look at the proof that Christ and thus God is perfect.  Well let’s go right back to the beginning, no not Genesis-too far, I am leaving lets leaf through the pages of time to just over 2000 years ago, roughly 2040 years ago-in Galilee, Nazareth should be good.  This farm girl is sitting, resting from her day’s work.  And an angel comes to herald good news of great joy.  The Holy (perfect) Spirit of the Most High will come upon her and overshadow her.  In the gospel of Luke the angel calls the Christ growing in the Virgin’s womb a “Holy thing”.  This should not be surprising since the Son of God must be holy since He is holy.  A son will always have the attributes of their parents-why should the Son of God be any different and since He is perfect and claims to be from God as the angels confirmed then logic dictates God is perfect.  But what evidence do we have of the impeccability of Christ’s character during His adult life?

The perfection of Christ has been one of the most hotly debated topics in theology since the Lord’s ministry.  But one of the most powerful passages Jesus claims His own impeccability without putting Himself about the Father is in John 14:30; “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.”  Jesus says plainly and humbly that Satan, the root of evil has nothing in Him or near Him so thus He has no sin.  Earlier in the gospel of John Christ is so sure of His impeccability He challenges people to find one iota of sin in His life.  He lays it out in the open as He did throughout His entire ministry; but He did the same with human beings.  “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  Jesus put Himself on our level and as such He said since my life and all my personal little moments are open to you, yours are open to Me.  Another proof of His perfection is the fact that Christ did not suffer illness, physical or mental.  Illness is a result of man’s fall from grace as is death and Christ did not taste either naturally.  Medical researchers say that based on the information at hand and historic analysis Christ should have died from His injuries and blood loss hours before.  The final point I would like to look at is how God through Christ’s perfection is cause for extreme joy for us.

One of the core arguments people give for not accepting God’s gift is because they claim that they hate the thought of being judged and they feel extreme pressure because God is perfect they would feel more comfortable with a deity who can connect more to what they are going through.  This would be a valid argument if Christ did not come but the fact that Christ, came, ministered, died and rose again.  In 2nd Corinthians 5 verse 12 it says For he (God) hath made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, who (Christ) knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”  One of the most obvious examples of Christ’s impeccability in that famous event, His temptation by Satan in the desert.   And this brings me to my third point, why His perfection is cause for joy on our part.  The purpose of Christ being tempted in the desert was not as some people believe purification but a necessary part of His incarnation, the same way He was cold, or hungry, or had His hair grow.  But the reason we should cheer at His perfection is that Christ overcoming temptation blots out an error from the beginning of time.  The last Adam did what the first Adam could not.  Jesus Christ has often been referred to as the Last Adam both Him and the first Adam are direct sons of God, one being completely human and a clear failure and the other the older, perfect brother.  Dr. John McCormick summed it up best;

“The First Adam was tempted in a beautiful garden, and fell in utter defeat. The Last Adam was tempted in a barren wilderness, and was victorious.   The First Adam was given a “helpmate” to strengthen and encourage him. The Last Adam stood alone.  The First Adam was not tempted directly by Satan, for his inducement to sin came from the very one who was appointed to be his helpmate. The Last Adam was tempted directly by Satan.  The First Adam’s defeat brought guilt and condemnation to all his posterity. The Last Adam’s victory brought grace and cleansing to all His posterity.  Thank God, He who faced the Tempter in the wilderness was no mailed soldier with a toy shield defending Himself against paper arrows! He was the Last Adam, standing in the position of being the federal head of a new race, and winning for them the victory over the Tempter from the very beginning of their new existence!”

The entire premise of this sermon is that God is perfect but above that God is perfect and we should be grateful.  This can be summed up finally and wholly in Hebrews 2:10, 14-18; 10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering… 14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 for surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

In each of these sermons we could analyze for years and write novels expounding on one topic.   When I start writing these sermons I always need to reign myself in and refocus myself.  But fortunately that is not hard, the question I always ask myself to refocus is, how does this point to the supremacy of Christ?  God is perfect, that really was never in doubt, but the reason people doubt Christ is because He is a man.  He is a perfect man, no; He is a perfect Son of God sent to erase the imperfection of a fallen species descended from another son of God-that is the joy of Christ’s impeccability.  May the Lord bless you this week, may He make His face to shine upon you and grant you peace.  May the Lord bless you and keep you.

The Impassibility of God

Does-god-care_wide_t-924x344We are continuing with our sermon series examining the “attributes of God” and today we are looking at His impassibility. This is one of the most controversial topics in Christian theology.  The impassibility of God system of thought came about in the middle ages from Gregorian monks.  It is the concept by definition that God does not feel pleasure or anger in response to His creation.  It has for the most part been rejected because one of the most common references in the Bible is to God’s love or His wrath.  As I said before I believe the Lord is impassable but it is a lack of theological understanding where people misrepresent God’s attributes.  In the original ancient Greek it is called apatheia (where we get apathetic from).  This makes Him sounds like a detached God, unconcerned by the situation of His creation.  This is often one of the major points of contention in the Bible, many people do not dig deeper and thus only take the Bible at a skin deep analysis and thus they get a bad picture of the true nature of God.

 

Even before the medieval church theologians’ became established ancient church fathers both from western and eastern systems agreed on impassibility before the schism.  One of the earliest fathers happened to be one of the biggest anti theologians out there, his name was Tertullian.  He also agreed that God was without suffering and passions.  One of the tenets of impassibility is the one we focus on as the primary tenet of impassibility; God is not controlled by emotions or swayed by moods but is does not mean He is devoid of emotion; God is passionate but also impassable.  How is this possible?  We will look at this in several parts.  We know of the Biblical references of God’s love and wrath but will have to dig deeper to look at impassibility.

 

Firstly, the language and grammar of God utilises the device known as “anthropopathisms”:  This is defined that God does not experience emotions as we do and the closest thing we can describe to what God experiences is the emotions that we associate with.  God does say His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.  We can all agree I believe that even if God has literal emotions as we do, His emotions are still a very different concept than emotions to us.  The anthropopathism extends to God’s physical nature.  The Holy Bible frequently references the eyes, ears, hands, and face of the Lord and that God made us in His image and yet the Bible clearly states that He does not have form; so the question is image of what? Another question to consider is what were our emotions like before the fall of man?

 

Secondly, in the previous sermon I spoke on the immutability of God.  Immutability and impassibility are not separable.  You cannot have a being that is unchangeable and also swayed by emotion and their responses to external forces.  See as David Schrock said, As a being of perfect character and temperament, his emotions are not swayed by the events of history. As a covenantal God, he blesses and curses, loves justice and hates sin, forgives and judges, but his holy attributes are not moody or manipulated. Though Christ, in his human nature learned obedience and suffered in the flesh (Heb 2:9-10), the divine nature of God never did.”

 

This brings me to my third and final point and probably my most important; God’s impassibility is demonstrated in the crucifixion of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Scholars and lay people may think that Christ was the example of how God is NOT impassible; but I believe they are incorrect.  Firstly let us jump to the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42) Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  Christ right there demonstrates that even though His human nature feels fear His divine nature is in line with the Father and will not be moved by that fear.  Let us flashback to the early days of the ministry.  Jesus and the disciples are at a wedding, they are out of wine and Mary takes the problem to her Son and what is His response.  Woman, My time has not yet come!  He is not swayed even in His miracles!  Praise God!  Could you imagine if Christ got rubbed the wrong way and took back one of His miracles?!?  I know this sermon has been short and sort of rushed to up to this point but in this attributes series sermons there is so much it is best to give a basic underlying foundation and then encourage the online parishioner to go and search for themselves as well.  But with this impassibility of God I really want to focus on Christ.

 

Let’s turn in our Bibles, phones, whatever to the New Testament, Matthew 26:37-38, My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”   See this conversation Jesus has with His discipline in the garden shows His suffering in Spirit, we know He suffered in body because aside from the crucifixion it says He sweat blood, it says He was hungry, and the Bible says He was subject to all the natures of man save one, sin.  So we can draw one of two conclusions from this, first of all, Christ was not the Son of God but a man, or secondly that Christ is evidence of God’s impassable nature living in a human nature in perfect harmony.  As I said before in an earlier sermon this is called a hypostatic union, the two natures living in divine harmony inside the being of Jesus.  Many Christian theologians in the past and some in the not so distant past have subscribed to the idea that Christ only felt sorrow and no joy and they had often used that as an excuse to rob people of their joy; to create sombre, solemn, almost stoic followers but this was also a danger too because of the realm of impassibility.  What I mean is that when we view Christ as detached, we belittle the very reason He became man.  As a different being God could not put Himself in our shoes but with the nature of Christ the essence of God was able to exist in both.  Now this comes to the evangelistic point in my sermon.  In my travels through Europe, India, China, and many more places I have encountered the biggest opposition to my beliefs when I met with other members of an Abrahamic faith.  Many believe that it is a sin to think God could feel anything for us or to even lower Himself to human existence.  Why?  We were created in God’s image!  We were given needs and wants, God desires a relationship with us, He doesn’t need it, but desires it for our benefit and yet if we reject Him while He will not be pleased it will not affect His existence.  See we have everything to lose if we do not accept God’s gift and everything to gain if we do; so in summing up here.

 

I am a firm believer in the impassibility of God.  I do not believe it is a contradiction; I do not believe God is a god influenced like those of stone and wood.  However I do believe God is a God who is aware of His creation and He is impassable and is so in the following ways:

1)    His emotions may be different from what we call or perceive as emotions.

2)    God is immutable (unchanging) so His impassibility is connected with that, most philosophers in ancient society do not even separate the two.

3)    God’s impassibility is demonstrated in Christ’s unswerving response, nature, and being, and love.

For some this sermon may be confusing and others it may be too short.  I apologise for both.  This and the one before it were probably the most difficult attributes in this series I have had to deal with.  But growth is good; we meet obstacles, respond to them, and grow from this.  Thank God we have a God that does not go through that but is perfectly impassable thus able to guide the way.  Our next sermon will be a continuation in this series focussing on God’s impeccability; stay tuned.  So let me finish off with the benediction:  “Be not conformed to this world:  but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  Romans 12:2

 

The Immutability of God

We continue in our 6th sermon in the series of the attributes of God. We took a brief pause to look at a couple of sermons on the book of James before other ministers took over the series and so we continue on with what I feel is a VERY important series but also a very difficult one. This is a time of lent as I write this. Lent to Christians, not just Catholics is about penance, sacrifice, abstinence, fasting, alms giving, purification, and deep spiritual devotion and reflection demonstrated by increased prayer, focus on God, increased church attendance, and association with Christ through self-imposed restrictions. Today we are looking at the immutability of God. In other words, the changeless and immovable nature God. In effect this is God’s PRIME attribute because of all of His others stems from this one. God is essentially according to one of the Anglican cardinals of faith “a spirit, whose being, wisdom power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth are infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.” When I was a child I loved and still do, learning about sharks. One I’m particularly interested-the great white shark. I remember watching “Jaws” as a child with my father, truly I remember doing many things with my father and in that time it was not only as father and son but also a chance for a father to teach his son about the world around him, and this was no different. I remember sitting on the couch and we were watching Jaws, and I was not frightened in the traditional sense; it was more so a fear in the same way I fear the sun or God; it is a fear of something that is greater than me, something that I should respect. As I watched in awe,

I asked about what ancient sharks looked like and was surprised to find out that the great white is in fact perfect. It has had no need to evolve. It has had no need to evolve. I stand in awe as well but in a VERY different way when it comes to an immutable God. God is infinite, and as an infinite God cannot be ever changing. I don’t struggle personally with the concept of God never ending but I do struggle with the concept of a being that never began and has not changed. It is not because I don’t believe that He is immutable but it is the fact that my pathetic human brain cannot handle it. There are dozens of Bible verses that support this attribute of God, some of them are listed: Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Ps. 102:26; Mal. 3:6; 2 Tim. 2:13; Heb. 6:17–18; Jam. 1:17. There is one text that stands out to me as evidence of God’s immutability, “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.” 1 SAM 15:29. But the traditional view of God’s immutability is characterised with the following precepts:

1) God is unchanging; He is not affected by anything or is swayed in any way, shape, form, or prayers.

2) God is without emotion and is not reliant upon an outside force to change His mood.

3) He needs nothings, desires nothing, and His immutable nature is connected to all other parts of His nature.

4) Nothing we could do could ever sways Him or makes Him take notice of us because that would imply that He was not aware of us before.

But there is another side of the coin, which is called the more open view of God’s immutability; or for lack of a better term a “mutable” God. This is a God who is swayed by our emotions, a God who feels anger and compassion and can be swayed by our prayers and our offerings can gain His favour. But wait this does not sound right either? This is a view that God sent Christ down as a permanent solution to a problem God did not see coming (the fall of man). I’m confused because I know the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not an unfeeling entity who does not even know or care about me. Even more in the Bible than God’s immutability is mentioned about God’s love. At the same time though I do not worship a God who can be swayed and overwhelmed by the needs of the world that He did not see. So which body of thought actually represents the true nature of God? It is the first, God IS an immutable God! The issue lies in how we view Him, understand scriptures, and ponder on His nature. So we will be looking at how these two conflicting views focus to one. God is unchanging, in Malachi He tells Israel that because God is unchanging and remembers His covenant promises they have not been destroyed.

See brothers and sisters we have been defining God as an immutable God by our philosophical definitions.  In fact the very concept of an immutable deity was first presented by Plato and Pliny.  We need to understand God’s immutability in the terms of the Holy Bible.  And so according to the Bible what are God’s immutable characteristics:

  1. God cannot change His actions.  Numbers 23:19 – “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent.”  God does not break His promises; but it does not mean God is inflexible.  God has never once been this inflexible rule breaker but at the same time He was never been a reactive God always trying to think up different behaviour strategies to correct our sin like some cosmic head master.
  2. God does not change in His nature.  Psalms 102:26 – “They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed.”  He was and is and is to come.  God does not age, or grow, or evolve in knowledge or physical nature.  He does not exist in our time but does not exist of it; he occupies all things in all ways and as such all things have come from Him He does not need to change because if He did it would not make Him God and then our faith would not matter anyways.
  3. God’s third immutable characteristic is that He does change in His reaction to sin.  Christ was always meant to come down.  Adam and Eve were always going to sin.  It seems to us that God reacts to us and puts plans into place.  This is not the case, when God comes to Noah and says oh I am going to wipe out the world and start clean; this wasn’t a recent thing but rather a plan set out that when it came time in human standards to execute this plan He did.  In Genesis 18 Abraham pleads with God for the lives of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah begging to begin with 50 people will save the city then it eventually whittles down to 10.  This is not Abraham convincing or moving God to change His plans but it is in fact a chance for God to demonstrate that He has mercy on the wicked city on earth; and this is carried over to a wicked generation and Christ’s salvations, that generation is us.

 

How is Christ a demonstration of God’s immutability?  People would say that Christ is proof that either God is either mutable or Christ is not the essence of God in flesh.  However like with all of God’s attributes and His nature at times it seems contradictory to us but with all His attributes what we may view as contradictory they are in perfect harmony.  It is called a hypostatic union; “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God… 14 and the word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:1, 14).  Both natures co-exist separately but temporarily in perfect harmony, adding flesh to a divine nature does not change the already divine nature.  Jesus was not a god-man; like a demi god from Greek mythology; these two natures are in communication with one another and both natures are connected to the single person; this is called “communication idiomatum” which means that both natures are in perfect communion in the being of Christ.  In John it says; “and now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.”  Paul says that in Him all the deity dwells in bodily form.

Theology is good and it is important but what good is knowledge if we do not do something with it.  What applications can we take to live in fullness in Christ for all time?

  1. We can live knowing that the expectations of God for us have been the same, are the same, and will be the same.  As a teacher I can tell you that students respond the best when a teacher is consistent in their behaviour and learning expectations for them.
  2. God’s emotions do not change; God loves us now; He always did, and always will.  When a person is lost to hell God does not stop loving them, and He will love and lament their choice for all time.
  3. The promises we have in Christ written in the Bible are complete!  There is no hidden book or secret code that will throw us for a loop.

These topics are very deep and difficult and as you read this I pray you feel almost like it’s a pilgrimage; particularly since it is the time of lent and coming of Easter.  God bless.