Archive for the ‘God’s Attributes’ Category

DOES GOD KNOW?

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

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Does God Know? Does He Know Everything?

What a loaded question! Of course God knows. He knows what I think and what you think. If God has numbered the hairs on my head then of course He knows. In Luke 15:16 we read these words when Jesus was talking to the Pharisees: And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” No question about it, God knows. Jesus said that He knows our hearts, meaning that each belief we have and each thought that we think is known by God. We can’t run and we can’t hide. We can’t hold thoughts in our heads and believe that no one knows. God knows. That can be kinda scary. Scary because we don’t like others knowing what we think. We don’t like others knowing why we do things or say what we say. We resist others knowing about what is in our head. We don’t like “thought” police who patrol our mind searching for hate within. I’ve heard people say to me, “You don’t know what I’m thinking.” if I raised the issue of what is going on in their mind. (While trying to help people deal with major issues in life I needed to help them search their mind for thoughts that were not good for them.) Keeping one’s thoughts to self are the last bastion of freedom from being controlled by others. BUT God knows. A logical question to that thought is, “If He knows our thoughts then He can control us.” This is the age old question of “How responsible is man and how sovereign is God?” I’ll let you deal with that idea. I have many ideas about that but I don’t have enough space to deal with them now. Let me just say, “God is absolutely SOVEREIGN over His creation. You can take it from there.

Let me throw in the discussion another thought so here is a question. If you or I know something, I’m talking about knowing and not guessing, will what we know occur? Think carefully about that question. Notice I did not say what we know “might” occur or “may” occur. I said “will” occur. To me that means there is no possibility that it “will not” occur. There is absolute 100% probability that it will occur. By the way those words “possibility” and “probability” get confused in our minds. Possibility merely means it will or will not occur. If we say something is possible then it either can or it cannot. And to the best of my “knowledge” everything is possible. Probability is of great importance when discussing what will occur in the future. Probability is based on the percentage of something occuring. Now back to the question.

If you or I know something (could be anything) that is dependent upon the activity of a living being, will that something occur? Please be very deliberate in your thoughts. Now back to the original heading question. Does God know? Jesus said so and I believe Jesus with every cell in my being. GOD KNOWS. Will what God knows occur?

In Romans 8:28-30 we read:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (NASB)

Paul is talking to the Romans about the Great, Awesome Love of God in Jesus and if we believe and have faith in Him not one single thing can be against us because He is for us. The English word “know” appears in verse 28. This is a good point to talk about what “know” means. Know is connected to the word “knowledge” in our English.

Its roots are in a Greek word, cognition or cognitive, which basically means the process of knowing. The best definition I have ever seen is the one by Jean Piaget. Piaget was, to me, the greatest cognitive psychologist of all times. Here is how he defined knowledge. These are my words which shorten his concept of the cognitive development in children. (He devoted his life to studying how children develop their thinking and knowledge.) My paraphrase statement: “Knowledge is the process of reenacting the original process of knowing.” In simple terms this means experiencing our world and reenacting it as we interact with our world in the future. So just to read a book and puts some facts in our head is not knowledge. Unless we can perform mental acts which result in a behavior that can be viewed or seen we do not have knowledge nor are we knowledgeable.

Can you see where Paul is coming from when he says in verse 28 “we know”? He is not just saying that we have words in our mind. He is saying that we have experienced God’s marvelous grace and love through His Son, Christ Jesus, and KNOW. If we know then it will occur. There is no if, and, or but about Him being for us. There is no way that God will not be for us. There is an absolute 100% certainty. He is for us therefore NOTHING can be against us.

That thought takes my breath away. I become speechless when I think of that. Almighty, Holy, Sovereign, Righteous, Loving, Merciful, Just GOD in JESUS CHRIST is for us and nothing, I mean not one single thing, can be against me. What a feeling of security. No worry is mine. My anxiousness is gone. Jesus, God our savior, is for me. My future is secure. Whatever occurs and by the way things don’t “just happen” all things will be well within me. There is purpose in every thing. So whatever occurs in this life all is well. Not because of self esteem, not because of my knowing about the world, not because of some inate ability, not because I try to live a good life, not because I give to the poor, not because I go to church BUT because CHRIST JESUS is for me. WOW! FIREWORKS GO OFF! Now how can I know that? Think on Romans 8. Digest it. Savor it. Oh how sweet it is. Now what is my responsibility?

What about you? Are all things well with you?

In Him only is life,

Dewey Wise

September 15, 2009

Kindness and Tenderness of a Loving Savior

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

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A Battered Reed

I saw and touched a battered reed this morning.”

What comes to mind as you read those words? Is it of something that has very little significance in this big world where we live? Something very small that cannot match tall buildings in the largest of our cities or be useful for building a house. Something that will probably never be seen and certainly never win an award and be recognized at a banquet. Something that has no value and needs to be broken off and thrown away if it gets in our way. It offers no food for the hungry, no resting place for the weary, no beauty to be observed and no softness to the touch and no cover for the cold. It is just battered and should be broken off, removed from sight and be thrown away. Would you throw it away?

In Isaiah 42:1-8 (KJV) is expressed by God about the coming of Jesus, His Servant, these words.

1 “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.

2 “He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street.

3 “A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.

4 “He will not be disheartened or crushed Until He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”

5 Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who gives breath to the people on it And spirit to those who walk in it,

6 “I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations,

7 To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.

8 “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images”

Reeds are mentioned many times in the Old Testament and New Testament. They were of much significance and use. There were small reeds and large reeds. Some grew very tall and had broad leaves.

Notice verse 3 where God says through Isaiah that He will not break a bruised (battered) reed. What kindness, what gentleness, what sensitivity, and what concern He has for things we consider broken and insignificant. We give little thought to those around us who are poor, broken, troubled, and suffering. BUT, oh, the kindness and gentleness of God in His Son.

Have you experienced His gentle loving kindness?

In Him is Life,

Dewey Wise

August 25, 2009

The Absence of Good

Friday, July 31st, 2009

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The Absence of Good

What does good mean? This is a question that can take us on a long journey in our mind if we will let it. We think about good things and, in conversations with others, we many times will classify people, things, and events into “good”. The writer, that’s me, on many occasions, will say something like the following: “these are good people”, “something good happened today”, “it is good that so and so did that”, “talk about something good”, “that is sure good cake”, or “he is a good person”. So if we take the time to examine our thoughts and words, we’ll find that they are saturated with the word good. The issue on the table is to define “good” and think about the absence of “good”.

So the question before us is “What is good?” “Good is anything good”, may be a reply. (I hope you can see some humor in that sentence, good is anything good.) Of course that is no definition at all. It is only a way to ignore defining good by telling us about objects, people, things or events that are good. In reality the way that the question is stated can certainly plant in one’s mind that things classified as “good” define “good”. Not so!

Now to a serious discussion of “Let’s define ‘good’.” I must say there is purpose in this writing and that purpose is to bring to mind “What is the ultimate good in my life?” “Why?” you may ask—because the answer to that question is the difference between life and death. And the difference between life and death is the difference between the presence of good and the absence of good in our lives.

First it must be said that defining “good” is very difficult, as we will see from dictionary definitions. From Webster’s 1913 dictionary we read this:

Possessing desirable qualities; adapted to answer the end designed; promoting success, welfare, or happiness; serviceable; useful; fit; excellent; admirable; commendable; not bad, corrupt, evil, noxious, offensive, or troublesome, etc.”

Now looking at the word “good” in scripture I find there is only one Hebrew word in the Old Testament for good and that is TOWB with variations on it. This word means good in the widest sense such as prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare, etc. In the Greek language of the New Testament there are three words which are translated “good”. These are AGATHOS which seems to be the most common. It means a benefit to others in any sense. It means possessing moral excellence or virtue. It is used by our Lord and by Paul often. Then there is DOKEO. Its meaning is to be of reputation. And lastly there is EU which means to do right or to commend. This word is part of the English word eulogy which means to ‘speak well of’.

All of these words, English, Hebrew and Greek, can only be defined from context. But they do have something in common. Look carefully and you will see that each has to do with our reputations and with the state of human life whether it is happy or troubled, whether it is well or ill. Life is celebrated when speaking of something good. So the very heart of meaning for “good” is life itself in all aspects. We see this when Jesus is responding to the Pharisees regarding healing a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. In Mark 3:4 Jesus says, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?” Something good promotes or saves life. Good as it relates to all aspects of life is a comparative term. It is used in the relationship of one thing to another. The essential quality of good is how it is used in thinking about the good or bad of life activity, the life of us humans. Only we creatures on this earth can think of good. No other creature has the ability to process comparative information as to how decisions and activity affect our well being in the present and future. They do not have the language ability, which is the vehicle for thinking that has been given to us who are made in the image of God. So to further define “good” we must make comparisons between self, others and God. I recall that in my public school days in English I saw on the black board the words “good”, “better” and “best” many times in learning how to use words in a sentence. It seems from the dictionary definition and the fact that good is a comparative qualifier of our life state that we have to define it by examining relationships between self and God, who is the final end of good. God’s Word tells us that only God is good.

Jesus in Matthew 19:17 says this: Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (NASB) Mark says it like this in Mark 10:17. “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” Paul in Romans 3:10-12 when talking about the condition of man says, “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.(NASB) (my underlining)

So here in the New Testament a bleak picture is painted of man in relationship to God and even in relationship to man. Here is the comparison and contrast between man and God. God is good and all good comes from Him, while man on the other hand is sinful to the very marrow of his bone and can do no good. We are totally depraved in our being. If we put our thinking caps on and we believe God’s Holy Word then we will arrive at the conclusion that for me and you to do good then any good that we do MUST come from God and Him alone. You may counter this with, “But non-believers or non-Christians do many good things.” I will not disagree, but I say in return that is only because God shows favor to His created world. Scripture tells us in Matthew 5:45 that the sun shines and the rain falls on the just as well as the unjust. It is through God’s marvelous providence and rule that any good that exists in His created world is because of Him. Now let’s connect this to the Ten Commandments.

In Exodus 20, God spoke the Ten Commandments to Moses. These commandments showed to the Israelites the very essence of God. (Remember, only God is good.) He wrote these on tablets of stone and gave them to Moses to take to the people. Read Psalm 119 to get a mental picture of how David loved God’s laws. How good they were for David! They were the essence of God to him and showed the very heart of God to him. They were to David his salvation. They were life. They were GOOD. Stop to think about the absence of truth, which is lying, the absence of care for our fellow human, the absence of love, the absence of life, the absence of friendly relationships, the absence of any civil discourse with our fellow human beings, the absence of God. The Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites for their spiritual, mental and social good. They were to help God’s people live in harmony with Him and each other. They were given to them as a means of good. Now let’s turn to some things good that God does for us.

In Jeremiah 5:23-25 we read these words. ‘But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and departed. ‘They do not say in their heart, “Let us now fear the LORD our God, Who gives rain in its season, Both the autumn rain and the spring rain, Who keeps for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.” ‘Your iniquities have turned these away, And your sins have withheld good from you.’” (NASB) God is telling Jeremiah that in His Sovereignty (He controls the weather), He is going to bring judgment on Israel and Judah because they no longer fear Him as their God. They have closed their eyes and no longer see Him or listen to Him. Thus they will no longer get the good rain from Him for their crops so that they will have a bountiful harvest. No more rain will come, which is life giving. Without water all things die. In the Old Testament we read many references to God saving His people. In the New Testament we read many accounts of the God Man, Jesus, healing the physical ailments and forgiving the sins of people. Only good comes from God, and only God saves. Only God gives life and we can have no claim to power over life. The presence of good means life. The absence of good means death. And where did death come into the picture for us humans?

In Genesis 2:17, God tells Adam that when he eats of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he would die. Here is the first indication that the absence of good would be death. You may be asking, “Well how come Adam and Eve did not physically die when they ate of the tree?” That can bring on another discussion about what death is. But suffice it to say that death is not just the mere stopping of breathing where we are declared dead. It is not that simple. It is a state where we humans are cut off from our Creator. Now that is death in the purest sense of the word because God gives life. Actually God was telling Adam “when you eat of the tree all vital phenomena within you will cease to be, and you will not be capable of any relationship on your part with Me your Creator. Life will no longer be possible for you. None of my essence or goodness will be available to you.” Pay careful attention to what God was saying. He did not say when Adam would physically die. In Genesis 3:19, He tells Adam about physical death and when it would occur. It was part of the punishment for violating God’s command. (Romans 5:12) God’s righteous judgment was a death worse than physical death. That was spiritual death which was the cessation of interacting with God until a rebirth took place. God rejected man and put him outside the garden. Adam would no longer have a life line connected to God his Parent. There are those who say that after physical death God will just annihilate us and we will not exist in any form so we will never know or have the awful sense of being separated from our Creator. God in His Word does not teach this. Did Jesus experience death? Did He experience a complete and utter separation from the Father? Did He go to Hades for a period of time? Why did Jesus in praying say, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” in Luke 22:42?” (Now things get kind of scary here when I think of that.) There is that word (“Hades” or “Hell”) that is seldom preached, taught or talked about except in profane language. It seems to be used by unbelievers often, so it MUST be part of their belief system. But in teaching scripture we tend to stay away from it.

Hell, the Bible teaches is real. Read Mark 9:43,45,47 for what Jesus says about Hell. Hell is a fire that will never be quenched. It is a place separated from God. There is no longer a connection to the only GOOD in the universe. Good is GONE. Those who go to hell will experience the ABSENCE of GOOD forever and ever. How can they avoid this ABSENCE of GOOD. By throwing themselves on Lord Christ’s great mercy and begging for the forgiveness of their sins (rebellion against Him). Jesus puts it this way in John 3:16 when He was talking to Nicodemus came at night to Jesus and was asking questions of Jesus. “so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” The only way we can experience the Goodness of God is to throw ourselves at the feet of our Redeemer, Christ Jesus, and experience eternal life. Hell will become real if we don’t and the ABSENCE of GOOD will be our reward.

All of us have an imagination, It is one of those wonderful things that God gave us so I would like for you to use yours. Imagine that good is not in your life, period, Zip, Zero. It ain’t there. No rain, no truth, no love, no compassion, no car, no house, no food, no smiles, no handshakes, no appreciation, no one to depend on, no trustworthiness of things or people around you. Nothing of GOOD exists in your life, period. You have been rejected by all people. There is only bad and evil. You cannot escape the bad or evil that surrounds you. There is no way out.

Now these words I have used are very incomplete and poor at painting a mental picture of the absence of GOOD, and our imagination cannot create a picture of nothing good in our life because we experience some good. (Our minds cannot deal with nothing nor create nothing. It only deals with something.) I cannot paint a picture of the AWFULNESS of “Absence of Good.” It does not exist in this world because our Great, Almighty God is in charge of this world and His love is all around us. Notice I did not say “in us” because whether good is in us is determined by His redeeming us. So good could be around us or in us. BUT there is a place where GOOD does not exist. God’s presence will not exist in Hell and there will be no good there. And it IS a place. Where there is a presence or absence of something then that is a place. The most accurate statement I can make is the “place is you or me or some other person”. That is where God is or is not. And, if you and I do not give our being to Him in worship for His Glory on this earth then we will worship the absence of Him when we physically die. That worship will be directed to the ABSENCE of GOOD (no God). What a horrible thought, the ABSENCE of GOOD. I tremble at that thought and cry out, “Precious Lord never leave me or forsake me.”

We can throw ourselves on His mercy and surrender all to Him while physically alive, or beg Him for a cup of cold water after we cease to exist on this earth. But the sad, frightening, thought that He cannot respond to us is terrifying. We won’t get a cup of water in Hell. Read Luke 16:24-26. Our Lord Jesus says when talking of Abraham’s response to the rich man in verse 26 these words. “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.” Please dear friend go to our Wonderful, Loving, Compassionate, Kind, Righteous God of the universe and beg for mercy for life eternally. Believe in the goodness alone that Christ Jesus can give. A LIFE everlasting can only come from Him. Run to Him.

ONLY GOD IS GOOD!

Sola Deo Gloria

In Him alone is Life,

Dewey Wise

WRATH

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

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Wrath of God

What a scary thing to talk about, wrath. Let’s get the shallow and trite things out of the way and then talk about the serious and meaningful aspect of the thing called wrath. When the word, wrath, is thrown around in a personal conversation we, you and I, get pictures that are frightening because it implies a violent, emotional outburst from a person with the intent to be destructive and harmful. Here is the way Webster’s dictionary of 1913 (which by the way is one of the best dictionaries published) defines wrath: 1.Violent anger; vehement exasperation; indignation; rage; fury. 2. The effects of anger or indignation; the just punishment of an offense or a crime.

Notice definition number 2 from Webster. “the just punishment of an offense or a crime.” Here we have a different meaning than we normally think that “wrath” means. Our society and the media present only one side of wrath to us which is almost always that it means destructive behavior. Remember that it can be destructive, and the news recently shows us how wrath can be destructive. In the last 3 to 4 weeks at least 35 people have been shot dead here in this United States that lives by law and order—or did. It seems all deaths have come from the wrath of a person and showed the destructive side of wrath and not the constructive side. Most folks have never heard of the constructive side, which is a just punishment of an offense. When we read of the wrath of God in His Word we are dealing with the definition of wrath that deals with a just punishment of an offense. Never, never does scripture present a picture of God’s wrath which is an unjust punishment. Now some folks are going to disagree with my take of God’s wrath. And when I say some folks I’m talking about not just the average person who believes that wrath is always unjust against us humans. I’m talking folks who claim to be theologians who study God’s Word.

First let’s examine the statement about wrath being constructive. How can wrath be constructive? This is not easy to tackle but let’s see how it can be constructive. Do you remember what I said about “love”? Remember the definition I applied to it. If not, check it out. To refresh your memory here is a shortened version. “It is the will to extend oneself for the good of someone.” Remember it is not a good feeling and a sense of feeling sorry for things. One of my grandsons approached me a few days ago about one of our dogs having a skinned place on his (dogs) ear and wanted me to do something. I responded that I could not at that moment. He asked me if I cared about the dog. Now that is an interesting question and it implies what? It implies that I must care for my dog the same as I care for people who, when they are injured, we respond to immediately. Are we to care for animals the same as for people? We say we love them. It’s something to think about. Our society implies that we are to love all things equally and feel sorry when we see trees being destroyed, (cut down) or turtles taken out of water. Can you see how feelings get into this thing called “love” and our judgment becomes very clouded, and reality along with truth takes a back seat to our “feelings”. Please be careful as you read these words and do not create something in your mind that I have not said because you may not see how the example fits the idea of a constructive wrath. All I’m trying to do is point out that we are a VERY FEELING SOCIETY, and feelings cannot make good judgmental decisions. Let me give you an example of how our feelings take precedence over thoughts of reality. Pay attention to how people express themselves when they have an opinion about something such as the color of curtains or the best car to buy. Rarely will you hear them say “In my opinion we should get this or that.” and give reality reasons. What you will hear is “I feel that we should do this or that.” Now how in the world can you get at what they mean when they say “feel”. Feelings are very personal and cannot be described because each person’s feeling are unique to the person. Have you ever said to a person “I know just how you feel.” when you see someone grieving and they tell you why they are grieving. Now the reality is we cannot—and I emphasize—we cannot know how another person feels. I have heard grieving folks in counseling say to me, “They don’t know how I feel.” You can see how we as a society are more “feel” oriented than “reality” oriented. Feelings are internal and reality is external. If you define “love” as a feeling then you are focusing inward to self. If you define “love” as a will to extend yourself for the well being of another, then you are focusing outward and not concerned with how you feel. I hope this explanation helps in grasping how the concept of love and feelings don’t really fit together. So please just quote me. Over the years I have said many times to students, “Don’t interpret me just quote me.” Now back to the idea of wrath being constructive.

In order to see wrath as constructive we’ll have to lay our feelings aside and even opinions of how love is a feeling. Let’s take an example and see where we can go with it. Suppose a child is being attacked by a person or an animal. Do we attack and hurt or even destroy whatever is attacking the child? What was our action? Was it wrath? Of course it was and it was constructive. Did we feel sorry for the child at the moment and think how much we “loved” him or her? I hope not. I hope that we would see a great wrong regardless of what we “felt” and attack the aggressor by seeing a wrong done that would harm the child. I hope we expressed our sense of indignation through wrath. I hope we had the will to extend ourselves for the well being of the child. I hope we had the kind of love that God has for that little person and that He has for us. Now this is a poor example of God’s LOVE but I hope it gets us to think about wrath being constructive. Can you see how love and wrath can go together? In fact if we can’t see the two relating maybe what we call love is not love. Maybe it is just a desire to appease our feelings so we will feel good and not bad about the world around us. Now I need to talk about God and His wrath. My prayer is that in all that I say I will honor and bring glory to His Holy Name because I know that I am very ignorant and limited in my knowing God.

Before I specifically talk about God and His wrath, I must say that there are many people in the Christian church who take God to task for His wrath, especially in the death of Christ on the painful cross where God poured out His wrath on a perfect Jesus who took our sins on himself and suffered a horrible death so we might live eternally in the presence of the Great God of the universe. Some have called it “cosmic child abuse.” Some deny that God had to pour out His wrath in order to be appeased. All of this gets deeply involved in theology but the denial that God is a wrathful God denies scripture and in the final analysis denies God’s love for mankind. In dealing with the concept of love and wrath always as opposites are in view. We live in a world of opposites. This means that an abstract idea can only be defined by its opposite such as black can only be defined by white in the human mind. In our society we talk of love and hate. These are opposites. One defines the other in our lives. When we are told what hate is, we cannot even imagine what it is unless we have experienced love. God in His Word says He is light. How can we know light unless we have experienced darkness? So opposites help us define each abstract idea so that we may understand and have a sense of their meaning to us. God presents in His Word opposites for His created rational creatures (that’s us), so that we may know Him. Do such and such we are told. No, you better not do such and such. See the opposites here. My challenge to you is to search His word and observe the opposites. Scripture is full of opposites. Find the first opposite. (Hint: It is in Genesis 1.) God reveals Himself so that we may know Him and what can or cannot be. Take away from us an understanding of God’s wrath and we do not have an understanding of His love. So now, read some of God’s scripture regarding His wrath and His love.

The first command given by Holy God to created man is in Gen 2:15. Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (NASB) Here we see the first indication that God has the power to punish and will not tolerate man becoming god unto himself. God had created man in His image and all creation was good. God blessed man. Love is not specifically mentioned in the creation story but if read carefully God’s love is revealed in it. God was and is going to supply all man’s needs we are told in Genesis. All that God created was good, which means it was orderly and would be in harmony for the good of all His creation and that He was glorified in it. Nothing about death was mentioned until God mentioned it as a punishment if man violated the Creator/Creature relationship of dependency and trust. If man had eaten of the forbidden tree then a crime would be committed. A crime against who? The Perfect, Righteous, Jealous God of Creation who had a right to demand man’s dependency so that a proper relationship would exist. Suppose God had created the universe and all in it and after creating a rational, thinking being who was limited to a small space on earth without the ability to know beyond himself that He stepped back and said “Have at it. You’re now master of your universe and anything goes.”. Or better still if God had given Adam a command not to eat from the forbidden tree and said, “But it will be okay even though I’ve said don’t eat, and after you eat of it nothing will happen to you because rules are made to be broken. No punishment! No wrath! Just do your own thing because my word does not mean anything.” Think of how cruel that would be. That would be the height of cruelty to mankind. Man would have nothing in his mind other than the ability to “if it feels good, do it.” to direct his life. Compare that thought to setting a newborn out in the street and saying, “You’re on your own now.” That is a horrible thought. A loving God could not and would not allow a finite, small rational being created in His image exist without His perfect directions through His commands given to man. BUT that would mean that He WOULD NOT AND COULD NOT TOLERATE man’s violation of His commands. If He did tolerate man’s violation then cruelty would have been shown to man and not love. What would have been the outcome in His universe? What would have happened to finite man without directions to live by? So where does wrath fit. It is that aspect of God’s love that will not let man off the hook when man becomes his own god by going his own way in life. Without the wrath of God being a tool of His love, created man would glorify himself and dishonor Holy God’s rightful glory. In the process he would have cut the only life line to an eternity with the only Love Being in existence, our Lord and our God, Christ Jesus.

Where does Christ Jesus fit into the wrath of God? John 3:16 says that “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.(NASB) There seems to be no wrath in it but look closely. Implied in the verse is that we have another existence apart from God which will result in perishing unless we are rescued in order to have an eternal life. Notice the word “gave”. When something is given the meaning is that possession or ownership is given up and the gift now belongs to another. Within this verse is the whole gospel. True love is expressed and not some “feel good emotion”. But the stipulation is that a person must believe in order to have eternal life. It does not say that if we work hard or do the right things we can get eternal life. It even says, if we look closely to the words, that some folks won’t believe which means that they won’t have eternal life in a love relationship. So how does God deal with folks who don’t believe. Does He just say, “Never mind you who don’t believe, all is going to be well”? Now I ask again. How can that be love? NO! IT CANNOT BE. This one verse about God’s love in God’s Word could not exist if there was no wrath for those who did and will not believe. Love without wrath is no love at all. It is just a “don’t care attitude” which tolerates people destroying themselves and their relationships. No one will extend self for the well being of another if they don’t love. Remember what love is all about. Love is extending self for the well being of another.

In Chapter 1 of Romans, Paul is writing to the Roman church about the gospel and how God can justify (this means being counted as righteous before Holy God. Man must be righteous in order for God to accept him into His presence.) Here is what Paul says in Romans 1:16-20, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (NASB)

Notice in these verses that Paul is talking about God’s love and wrath. God’s love is shown through His gospel, (birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus) because He extends Himself, dying a cruel death for those who believe through faith. But to those who do not believe and are unrighteousness (crime against God), God will show His wrath.

Now for the grand finale. Jesus was born to die. His death was to be in our place and He took the wrath that we were/are to take for violating God’s command through Adam. God’s wrath had to occur or His love and His righteousness would be violated, so Jesus suffered God’s awful wrath that we rightfully should suffer to appease the Father so that we by believing may have eternal life. This is what some in Christiandom have said is “cosmic child cruelty.” (Peter in Acts says that Jesus was put on the cross by God’s predetermined plan.) But if that historical event had not occured, God’s Holy Perfect Love could not be experienced by us.

In mentioning that those who believe will have eternal life, I must clarify. The devil believes but certainly does not have eternal life in a love relationship with Holy God. This believing in scripture is the accepting all of God’s promises through faith. He gives us this due to our inability to initiate or generate it by ourselves. It is a gift of God. Look at the word “gave”, and think about it for your life.

I’m sure you have heard the expression, “My mind is boggled.” When I think of God’s love and His wrath and what He through Christ Jesus has done for a sinful, corrupt, despicable, cruel, loathsome, deceiving, ignorant PRIDEFUL me, I am overcome with a sense of sorrow, joy, and desire to throw myself at the feet of a precious Savior who died in my place a horrible death that I can only begin to imagine. I am in awe. I am in debt to my Lord. I am forever grateful. I cannot with my English express the awesomeness of my Great, Almighty Righteous, Judging, Wrathful, Loving God of the universe. How about you? Have you experienced His awesome love?

In Him,

Dewey Wise

Hope Fruit and Berry Farm

P.S. If you have endured to this point, I commend you for your patient endurance. If any good in your life has come from reading this, please praise God and give Him the Glory. Please do not give thanks to this sinful, corrupt student of His Word. He is my life.

Love as God Love’s

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009
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LOVE

I was reading a new book this week titled, “Pierced for Our Transgressions.” It is about penal substitution which is the theological term for Jesus being punished for our crimes and rebellion against God. Tied up in penal substitution is the concept of wrath which comes from His perfect judgment and love. The concept of wrath and love fitting together is unfathomable in our Western culture because we place a great value on feeling good. We just cannot see how wrath goes with love. Our emotions of feeling good about something takes precedence in our mind which we label as love. Therein lies the problem.

We in our culture cannot see how love and punishment fit together. Therefore we think of punishment as being cruel and bad. (And it can be unless it comes from a Perfect God) In the 1960’s and 70’s love was the rage of the day. Feeling good (good vibes) was the thing which has developed into a “feel good society”. We want heaven here on earth but we look to ourselves to get it. We look to our emotions to guide us into an earthly heaven that we call love. BUT love is not an emotion. WOW! Now you will probably reject anything I say after this point but if you continue to read please bare with me. Until we understand love and wrath we will not appreciate relationships with others nor God’s love. We certainly will not understand ourselves in relating to God nor man.

The word love is the most abused, disused, confusing and meaningless word in the English language and human communication. I recall a brief conversation that I had at Pease AFB, New Hampshire in the 1970’s with a young airman. I was going to visit he and his wife who had a new baby. I was walking acoss the parking lot to their apartment and met him going to his car. I commented that I had come to visit and he said, “I’m leaving.” I then ask when he would be back. (I did not know he was leaving for good. I just thought he was going somewhere and would return.) It hit me when he said again “I’m leaving.” I said “I’m sorry.” and then ask about what was going on. He said I love my wife but I’m leaving. That started a life time of me trying to understand what is meant by the word, love and I discovered our society really does not know what love is. Mostly it is used to indicate one’s state of mind in just about anything where we feel good about something. It is used to indicate sexual attraction. It is used to describe one’s affection for dogs, other animals and humans. It is used to talk about one’s like for a particular food. You’ve heard “I just love apple pie.” (I guess that means something but I’m not sure what it means. You’ll probably respond, “Silly don’t you know it means a person loves apple pie.” (That is what my wife would say.) It is used to indicate one’s activity of participating in sports or political involvement. It is used to help explain to others how one chooses an automobile or cell phone for personal use. It is used in ways that I have come to distaste over the years. I distaste the word “love” because it is so meaningless in communicating what goes on in our minds. It has become meaningless because it is tied exclusively to one’s emotions even though one’s feelings cannot be conveyed to another person even through the word, love.

I hope this gives you some reasons why I dislike the word, love. But we cannot escape using the word. Especially since it is used by God in His Holy Word. We read in 1 John 4:8 “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” These two words, love, in this verse come from a Greek word which means strong affection or good will. In our English language it is agape. Agape has the idea of having a strong concern for someone with duty toward them. It is much more complicated than my short words express. M. Scott Peck in “A Road Less Traveled” said that love (agape) was “. . . the will to extend one’s self for the well being of another.” To me that is the best short definition of the kind of love that God is. It has the idea of respect, duty, to serve with fidelity, and benevolence. But I will add another thought and that is, “in the face of adversity” after “another”. So the definition then is stated, “The will to extend one’s self for the well being of another in the face of adversity.” This kind of “love” only comes from God. If we want it we must submit to our Great God and Savior. However there are two other words in Greek that we translate into love even in our English Bible. In John 21:14f we read of Jesus asking Peter “. . .do you love me?”three times. The last “do you love me?” is not the same as the first two. It is phileo a Greek word which means affection and friendship or as some have said “brotherly love” as in Philadelphia. It is certainly not as intense nor as meaningful as agape. The third is eros which is sexual love. Sigmund Freud, (we all know his name) said that kind of love is cathexis where emotional energy is invested in another. I haven’t found that in the Bible. Us folks who use English then take these words and reduce them to one thereby messing up the mind. Therein lines a problem for the way we think. Our thoughts then are not very clear because the use of love muddles our thinking so we are not clear in thought. In a little book by C.S. Lewis he gives a good word picture of “The Four Loves”. I highly recommend a reading of it.

We’ll save a discussion about God’s wrath for a future thought. How important this is should give us food for thought. God’s wrath and His love are presented frequently. Just something to think about. Maybe God is trying to tell us something.

Our Great Sovereign and Holy God is love. He did extend Himself for our well being in that He came to earth in the body of a man called Jesus to die for our well being. Jesus then was put to death on a cross so that we who believe with faith submitting to His Will could spend eternity in the presence of His love. Otherwise His judgment spoken of in Genesis 2:17 would result in His wrath against us and we would spend eternity in a place and state of hell. For He says in Genesis that we will surely die. Scripture says that we who do not believe are dead already. Which means that we won’t partake of His Love nor the life He gives. That is frightening and is no April Fool’s joke.

Oh the joy of knowing a loving and Holy God who loves. Why is there joy in knowing a Great Almighty God? Because you and I deserve hell and death. But He did something for us that is impossible for us to do and that is save us from hell so that we can live an eternity in the presence of Love. I also remember that I contributed nothing to my redemption. Now that is a joy that surpasses all understanding.

Praise God from Whom all blessing flow.

Soli Deo Gloria

In Him,

Dewey Wise

April 1 2009