Category Archives: Christian Living

“The Wind blows where it wishes”

The other day I checked in on a Bible Facebook group that I sometimes follow and in the comments was an interesting request.  One member, perhaps passing through, indicated that he was an atheist and would like for someone to provide a convincing argument that a divine entity existed.  Now, it’s at this point I must say I don’t know what compelled me to message him, nor had I prepared any sort of conversation.  I was just honestly wondering what might have persuaded him to be an atheist, where his beliefs came from, and what convincing argument he was looking for.  I’ll also quickly mention that as Christians we should care for each and every lost soul and I still pray that Christ might reveal himself to this young man, perhaps even through this site as I recount our conversation.

When I first mention a conversation with an atheist, the initial thought might be to take an apologetic route.  I don’t claim to be an expert on atheistic issues, but I felt like I should try to find out what his beliefs were and admittedly to determine where his thought process fell, i.e. relativism.  I asked questions along the lines of “Do you believe we are born with the ability to determine right from wrong” to which he answered no.  I then followed up attempting to probe deeper into those thoughts, but each time I was thwarted in MY efforts.  At this point I prayed, “Dear Lord guide my steps, my thoughts, let my words be Your words” and the young man’s next response was essentially let’s stop being so apologetic and cut to the chase.  And then it hit me and with all the sincerity of my heart I replied with:

Ahh I see, well forgive me. I was merely trying to understand where you were coming from. Without apologetics, you’re left with one thing standing in your way between understanding whether a divine entity exists or not.

See where apologetics fails is that it presumes that all things can be broken down into logical concepts, arguments if you will, that prove or disprove one point or another. While on the surface this makes sense, as it appeals to the very intellectual nature of our being, it lacks a key, necessary component and that is faith.

We can banter back and forth about relativistic points of view, to establish morality or whether a divine entity created the earth or not and that is all well and good, nothing wrong with that at all. But at the end of the day, without faith you and I are the same person. We both do what we want, when we want, and live each day doing the best we can.

Without my faith in the only One and True living God, I am an atheist. Without my faith that God loved His only Son so much that He sent Him to die on the cross for me and all of my disgusting sins, I am an atheist too. But I have that faith. And through my faith I am saved from those sins. And through that faith I have eternal life through my Savior. And that faith is all I need. Because if I’m wrong and everything I believe in is wrong, have I lost anything? No, you and I would end up in the same place after we die. But if I’m right and my faith is all that’s needed in this world, then that’s a big difference isn’t it?

At the end of the day that’s the separation between us <name>, it comes down to faith. Neither of us were granted a higher knowledge over the other or have seen some great revelation that leads us to our beliefs. I have faith in my Savior Jesus Christ and perhaps you want proof so that you can believe in a higher power, but in the end it’s faith you are searching for. But I’m afraid you won’t find it by searching, no one is going to provide you with the answer you’re looking for, it’s within you already and it’s up to you to believe.

“So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” Romans 10:17

I’m sure it’s easy to look back on that and say, well you should’ve said this or that or phrased your response this way, but that’s the way it came out, so that’s the way it is.  Why is it that some have the capacity to have faith while others, like my young friend, seemingly do not, or at least not yet?  See what my friend, and so many others who are searching, long for is a god to mold into what they want.  What Christians have is a God that molds us to what He wants.  That’s the difference and it’s big.

In John 3, Jesus is approached by Nicodemus who says, “…Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” John 3:2 ESV To which Jesus replies, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 ESV Ah, if only I had remembered this encounter before mine with my young friend, because here, it is Jesus who cuts to the chase.  He wastes no time in witnessing to Nicodemus.  He doesn’t even wait for him to ask the question, before He has already stated the answer.   Nicodemus is no fool, he understands the figurative language that Jesus is using, but nevertheless he asks, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  John 3:4 ESV He knows that his question is not a possibility, but as he’s picked up on Jesus’ analogy, he inquires more.  Jesus replies, “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.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.'” John 3:5-7 ESV Jesus reemphasizes His figurative language by pointing out the spiritual cleansing and Spiritual rebirth necessary for salvation and essential to entering heaven.  It should be noted that being born of water in this passage does not refer to baptism, but rather the spiritual cleansing through being born again.   As though He was perceived the potential next question from Nicodemus, Jesus follows up by explaining the root of this rebirth does not come from man, but from the Spirit Himself.  “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8 ESV

That last sentence of Jesus’ statement is so important to understanding our previous question of why is it that some people come to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, yet others don’t.  It’s this passage that so clearly points out that it’s not a human decision.  Meaning it is not within us to “make a decision” without the power of the Holy Spirit moving in our lives and in our hearts.  As Jesus indicates, the Spirit moves where He wishes and we never see Him, never know from where He comes, nor where He is going, but we see the impacts.  We see the impact on the lives changed by His presence.  Spiritual rebirth is as much or more a miracle than our original birth from the womb.

Our role as Christians is to preach the Gospel and expose nonbelievers to the Word of God. Mark 16:15 In accordance with this, in order to be faithful to Jesus’ commission, we need to be well equipped with a strong knowledge of the Bible, because it is through God’s Word that seeds of salvation are planted in the hearts of nonbelievers.  We can make rational arguments through apologetic presentations, present emotional “seeker sensitive” church services, and even present biblical truths, but without the power of the Holy Spirit, no true regeneration or even a desire for one can take place.

Prayer: My prayer is that the Holy Spirit reaches out to our unsaved friends and family that they might realize their need for a Savior in Jesus Christ.  That the Holy Spirit might bring them to repentance and that they might openly and willingly respond when this happens.  That the Spirit of the Lord might put each one of us in the path of the unsaved and that He might guide our steps, our thoughts, let our words be His words that we might be useful vessels in conveying the wonderful truths of the Word of God.

Additional Study: I Corinthians 2:6-16 ESV “6Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”-

10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”

The Glory of God – Part II

I Corinthians 10:31 NKJV Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

In the last post, we looked at Exodus 33 and the impacts of Moses’ request to see the glory of God.  Moses wanted to know God more than anyone ever had and God partially granted this request allowing him to see the remnant of His glory.  God hid him in the cleft of a rock, covering Moses with his hand as he passed by.  We learned that due to our sinfulness no one is capable of seeing all of God’s glory.  However, scripture tells us we are able to see God’s glory manifested in everything He has created. Isaiah 6:3  We also looked at verses that said when God sent His Son Jesus to be flesh, God was glorified through Christ.  John 1:14 For those of us who have accepted Christ as Savior, we have Him in our hearts and therefore God’s glory is within us, Colossians 1:27 “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”   Keeping this in mind, we learned that just as Moses had to spend time with God to retain His glory on his face, we too must spend time with God in order to see His glory.  We came to the conclusion that we must seek God’s glory if we want to see God’s glory.  Finally, as we begin to seek God more earnestly with our whole hearts (Jeremiah 29:13) we become more Christ-like allowing God’s glory to be complete in us so that we can see His full glory when we are united with Him in heaven.

So what we begin to see is that God’s glory is so infinite that it’s easy to understand how death would be the outcome of looking directly upon it all at once.  This is why in the Old Testament, descriptions of the Meeting Tent, and subsequent Tabernacles/Temples, contained veils to shield the high priests from God’s glory in the Holy of Holies.  During Moses’ time we have the presence of two veils; to avoid confusion we’ll refer to them as the Big Veil, the one separating the Holy of Holies and the Little Veil, the one that we mentioned Moses wore over his face to hide God’s glory as it faded from his face.   It’s on these points that we’ll examine Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth. 

The Apostle Paul explains in II Corinthians 3:7 that if the Law (engraved on stones) that Moses received was glorious, so much so that the Israelites were unable to look at him because his face shone  the glory of God, then how MUCH more glorious is the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  What Paul is saying in this verse is that disobedience of the Law brought death, yet it had the glory of God.  But now, with Christ, through the ministry of righteousness, we have the Holy Spirit, which is so much more glorious than the tablets of Law.  The scripture goes on to say, “Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech- 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.” II Corinthians 3:12-14  The veil that Paul speaks of is the one that Moses wore and he refers to it as a veil of disbelief because, like we mentioned earlier, Moses wore it so that the Israelites would not see the glory of God fading from his face and would therefore believe that God was with them.  Those people who today do not believe in Jesus, that He is Lord nor have yet to accept Him as Savior, continue with that same veil over their hearts.  Just as Paul says in verse 16, when one turns to the Lord, the veil is lifted.  Paul’s last verse of chapter 3 sums up some of the things we pointed out in the last post.  “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” II Corinthians 3:18 Paul is concluding this passage by saying that those of us believers in Christ are able to reflect the glory of God, though it is imperfect due to our sinfulness (John MacArthur points out that in Paul’s day the mirrors were made of metal, thus presenting a reflection albeit slightly distorted).  With Christ who lives within us we are transformed in Him through the process of progressive sanctification or what Paul points out as “the same image from glory to glory.”

The glory of God is so immeasurable, so immense that we simply cannot process it.  It is everything that God is and therefore it is something to be loved and beheld, yet also feared.  As the prophet Isaiah points out in his recorded vision of God’s glory in Isaiah 6:5, “Woe is me, for I am undone!”  He knew his own unworthiness to look upon God.  All throughout the Bible all God has ever wanted is for the world to glorify Him.  He revealed His glory throughout the Old Testament and the people rejected it each time.  He revealed His glory once more with His Son Jesus and again the people rejected it.  This rejection of Jesus continues to this day as summarized in Romans 1:21, “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their hearts were darkened.”  As Christians all veils have been removed, both the veil of unbelief that Paul spoke of and the veil that separates God in the Holy of Holies. Mark 15:38  As such, we have the outstanding opportunity to share God’s glory with all those who will believe.  This is the last chance for it to be known to men until Jesus comes again, in full glory, but at that time He’ll bring judgment to all those that rejected God’s glory.

Prayer: Are you living for the glory of God?  The Bible directs us in *numerous areas in which to live for the glory of God.  It tells us to confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11), to confess our sins for His glory (Joshua 7:19), declare His glory among nations (I Chronicles 16:24), and even the most routine activities such as eating and drinking should be done to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31).  Everything that we do should end with the glory of God. Colossians 1:10 “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”  Pray that God opens your heart to His glory, to recognize it in everything that you do, and to have the chief end of all things be for His glory.

Additional Study: John 15:7-8     Philippians 3:21     John 17:24      Jeremiah 9:24

*For additional study on the living for the glory of God, see the sermon by John MacArthur at http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/80-337

Blessing and Cursing

Why is it so hard for us Christians to accept both?  We freely reach out our hands to God to accept the many blessings He bestows upon us, but let the first storm hit and we’re always quick to cry out, “Why me God!” or “How could God let this happen to me?”  How is it that we can receive the good and not the bad?  Well that’s the exact question Job asked his wife during his many trials in response to her comment of “Curse God and die”.  Job 2:10, “He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”  In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”  Picture it, this is Job, the man after whom we all look to as an example when facing various trials and tribulations.  In the midst of his great storm, perhaps the most fierce of all time, he responds with how can we accept blessings and not adversity.  What power and truth in that passage.  Actually what a wake-up call to us Christians who have become spoiled expecting only good, when truthfully what we need is adversity.  Because the adversities in our lives mold us and help strengthen us, faith-builders if you will.  Are you most likely to trust God when things are going great, when you may not feel like you need Him as much?  Or are you more likely to trust Him when the waves are crashing all around and you feel like hope is lost, then you refocus your eyes on Him.

The apostle Paul speaks on this very point in his second epistle to the church at Corinth.  He begins our passage with a sarcastic tone directed toward those false apostles of the church, but leads into a description of adversity and trials that is nearly breathtaking.  We begin in II Corinthians 11:23 NKJV, “Are they ministers of Christ?-I speak as a fool-I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.”  Here Paul is just beginning his description of what he’s faced all for his passion of sharing Jesus Christ with people.  He labors more, been beaten more, imprisoned more, faced death more.  But he continues:

From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness- 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? 30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.  II Corinthians 11:24-30

If I will boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.  All that he faced and he was still willing to boast that he had faced each and every trial because it glorified the Lord.  It magnified the power of God in his life and in his ministry.  With each trial, each brutal beating (even stoning), each shipwreck he became stronger, increased his faith in God.  But with all this God still sent him a “thorn” in his flesh that he might not boast of the things which God had allowed him to see.  After pleading with God three times to remove it God told him, “”My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  II Corinthians 12:9 NKJV God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, because it shows just how much we need him.  It shows how little we can do on our own and how reliant we must be on the strength of God.  Paul continues on in verse 9 leading to one of my favorite verses, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  For when we are weak, then we are strong in Christ Jesus.

Too often we think of adversity, trials, or tragedy’s as curses when in fact if we change our perspective from one of selfishness to one of focus on God as our center, then we can see that these too our blessings because of how they strengthen us.  Just as I alluded to in TRIAL BY FIRE, in nature fire is capable of bringing growth, so too is it capable of bringing growth in our life through the strength of Jesus Christ.

Prayer:  Whatever you’re facing in life Christian, God knows what you’re going through.  He knows your pains, your fears, your trials and tribulations.  But He also uses those to bring our focus back to Him, I’m testament to that.  It’s not within us to rejoice and welcome actual pain, but we can rejoice in the power of Christ that is revealed through us during these times and know that through it all God’s grace is sufficient.