Archive for the ‘God’s Sovereignty’ Category

How Big is Your God

Friday, June 10th, 2011
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How big is your God?

I was reading in the book of Amos very recently and the thought came to me that God in the Old Testament has revealed just how big He is. His power, mercy, grace, justice and righteousness, and compassion as a father is shown in working with a group of people He called His. Now don’t go thinking that I am minimizing the greatest event that ever took place in the universe. That event really showed His Bigness. The greatest show on earth was His Son and His marvelous grace and mercy. And how He could change the hearts of depraved people like me.

Amos is a short book and not difficult to read. It is addressed to Israel the Northern Kingdom primarily but also to Judah the Southern Kingdom. God shows in Amos just how He is in charge of history. It is He who determines the destiny of nations and us humans. Us humans think we are in control. Not so says He. Leaders of nations made deals with other nations and boast of what the outcome will be. But it is Almighty God who in His Sovereign Providence of His creation determines the outcome. In Amos we can read of how the destiny of those nations and people were told what the outcome of their turning from Him to their self centered life will bring on them. His people had slide down into the pit of self worship and lived lives of the fat cats. BUT Yahweh, God, is big enough and powerful enough to determine the outcome of all human plans and we will suffer His wrath if we do not fear and worship Him alone. .

I challenge you to read the Old Testament. There we get a picture of God’s bigness. Human words cannot paint a picture in our head of just how big God is. His sovereign control over His universe is awesome. The human mind cannot fathom the depths of His power, His love, His sovereign control, His justice, His wrath, His mercy, His righteousness, His compassion, His wisdom, nor His awesomeness as God. His show of Himself to us hopefully shows us just how little and helpless we are. But our pride makes us think of self as a super being and expands our ego to the point that we believe we are a god and in control of our life in the present and the future.

His bigness is further presented to us in the New Testament. We are pointed to the God Man, Jesus Christ our Lord, who came into the world in human form so that He could die in our place. A perfect sacrifice and substitute to save all who believe in Him as Lord. Human words that describe and appeal to our senses cannot present to our mind the significance of His birth, death and resurrection. Faith in the power of the Holy Spirit fills the void.

There we also see the final nail in the coffin of our pride as the nails driven into our Lord and Savior on the cross show us His death for us. Then the resurrection shows us the glorious God in Christ. Those nails that held Him on the cross until His last human breath speak volumes. Some may say, “This nail in the coffin of pride doesn’t make sense.” Well the best in the shortest way of putting it is the following. You and I are helpless as to the control of our future even though we take great pride in saying “I’ll do such and such tomorrow or the next.” “I’ll do this or that.” But we are not in control of the final verdict of our life. (James 4:13-16). The following is a serious example of His power put into His universe.

Part of our family visited North Alabama on the Saturday after a major tornado destroyed much of Phil Campbell Alabama on April 27th,  where my sister-in-law lives and the area where my wife and I grew up. I visited many sites of destruction on that Saturday along with my daughter and wife. We talked to rescue teams and some of the early responders. We observed destruction unthinkable which had occurred three days before. Instantly fine brick houses had been removed from concrete slab foundations into thousands of pieces which were scattered over miles and left the concrete slab clean. In one of those houses two people had breathed their final human breath. One was a pastors daughter. Bodies with missing body parts had been located that were scatted thousands of yards apart. Destruction took place in seconds, not minutes or hours. By the time one could say “I’ll do this or that.” their life was gone without forewarning. The weather service had warned of a tornado hitting Hackleburg Alabama and would most likely do the same to Phil Campbell within 15 to 20 minutes. But instead of minutes it was seconds in destroying much of the little town. The force of wind was beyond imagination. It shattered concrete. It lifted a pickup with a driver in it and set it down hundreds of feet away with the engine still running and the driver still alive. God’s power through His created universe is unimaginable and awesome.

So how big is your God? Does your god have a little “g” or a big “G”? Is He constructed in your image or are you constructed in His image? Please my dear friends make your god a big God who is able to create from nothing and big enough to shatter 4000 sq ft houses into millions of little pieces.

I am reminded of James 4:10 where he says, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” Also in James 4:13-15 we read this, ‘Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit. Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are [just] a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, [you ought] to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that’ (NASB)

Dewey Wise
June , 2011

Are We Free to Make Moral Decisions

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

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Are We Free Moral Agents?

In our bible study the thought was presented that we humans are free moral agents. I questioned that in my mind and shared that I did not believe that we are free moral agents. My thoughts put me to wondering how we humans really fit into God’s purpose and plan for His creation. So I want to share with whoever reads these thoughts about the concept of free moral agent.

I have heard in one form or another most of my life, I’m an old dude by the way, that we are free moral agents. I have never disagreed with that and believed it to the extent that I would go to bat for anyone to be free. While serving for over two decades in the military, I always saw the U. S. Constitution as a document that came from our fore fathers as my reason for being in the military. I wanted people to be free and govern themselves as a nation or community. People were and are precious and each has the right to be free from tyranny.

But how does the above fit into the idea of being a free moral agent? Does the U.S. Constitution gives us a right to be free moral agents? It only states in the preamble “. . . secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity . . . .” I don’t read in it that we are free moral agents. Maybe the Declaration of Independence will help here. It seems to be reflecting the right of people to govern themselves and not be governed by a despot or some other entity. Here is what I found. “. . .all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” I cannot find anything in that which indicates that man is a free moral agent. It does say that we have a right to life, liberty and a right to pursue our own happiness. God does not speak of us this way in His Word however. Notice moral is not mentioned at all in the Declaration. I suppose that a person could stretch or read into those statements something moral but I find nothing that alludes to moral freedom. It does speak of being free from control of others and being able to pursue happiness and one’s life as to be determined by themselves, not someone else. So all this does relate to freedom. But this seems to focus on a freedom that comes from only external control. Still the question is, “Is man a free moral agent.?”

Just a little side note about where the founding fathers got many of their ideas.  They were mostly Puritans who left England in order to be free to worship God in Christ. Their belief in God had a major influence on the Founding Fathers but many of their ideas for building this nation came from John Locke. One of the major concepts that was passed on through American psychology to education was that the mind was a blank slate or “tabula rasa” at birth. He believed there was no original sin within the mind. It was blank at birth which is absolutely opposed by God in His Word. Locke did not believe in original sin nor the Trinity, which is a belief in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He seemed to be a cultural Christian. Now back to our reason for this writing.

Let’s define moral first. In my college teaching years, one hour of a course called Human Growth and Development, was devoted to ethics. Ethics and morals are closely related. Webster’s dictionary of 1911 defines moral as:

1. Relating to the practice, manners or conduct of men as social beings in relation to each other, and with reference to right and wrong. (In today’s society the concept of right or wrong is up for grabs. My words.) The word moral is applicable to actions that are good or evil, virtuous or vicious, and has reference to the law of God as the standard by which their character is to be determined. The word however may be applied to actions which affect only, or primarily and principally, a person’s own happiness.

(. . .reference to the law of God as the standard. . . . “ comes into play regarding man’s mental state of “morals” and discussed last in this writing. The question to be answered is: “Can man born in sin know what the law of God and right or wrong is prior to an internal change whereby one comes to know God?”)

So moral has something to do with conduct of a person in social relationships regarding right or wrong. A major consideration is that there must be a reference point for what is right and what is wrong. Is the reference in one’s self or others or laws written in books? Just where is the reference point. Is it inside or outside ourselves in a Supreme, Sovereign God? This point is where religion gets involved in a society. Is “moral” floating in the environment or passed on by parents? If so then what is right or wrong will change from person to person and over time. Is that good? The major point to be wrestled with is just who or how right and wrong is determined. There will be a point of reference always. Otherwise right and wrong will just float around with little certainty. We could say that relativism is a good example of right and wrong floating from person to person in that it is determined by each and having no relationship outside the person.

Maybe we need to examine the term, free, because each of us has a definition and it may differ from others. An assumption that I will make here is that when free is used in referring to the state of humans that one is considering that the person is autonomous which means to be self governing. I will agree with that. But in trying to define free the implication is that a person is not only self governing but has no restraints of behavior, period. This cannot be.

Webster’s dictionary gives a number of definitions in trying to explain what free means. Here is the number one definition.

“Being at liberty; not being under necessity or restraint, physical or moral; a word of general application to the body, the will or mind, and to corporations.”

Notice that the word, moral, is included here. So is Webster, in listing moral, indicating that society may restrain a person from making certain decisions and thus determining the freedom of a person? There must be of necessity limits on each person whether limits are imposed from without or those which come from within. Maybe we as individuals are not as free as we would like to believe.

Here is number five definition of free from Webster.

“Unconstrained; unrestrained; not under compulsion or control. A man is free to pursue his own choice; he enjoys free will.”

In this definition we have the concept of free will. Now for the definition of will from Webster so we can get to the heart of this thing called free moral agent.
Here is Webster’s definition of free will.

That faculty of the mind by which we determine either to do or forbear an action; the faculty which is exercised in deciding, among two or more objects, which we shall embrace or pursue. The will is directed or influenced by the judgment. The understanding or reason compares different objects, which operate as motives; the judgment determines which is preferable, and the will decides which to pursue. In other words, we reason with respect to the value or importance of things; we then judge which is to be preferred; and we will to take the most valuable. These are but different operations of the mind, soul, or intellectual part of man. Great disputes have existed respecting the freedom of the will. Will is often quite a different thing from desire.

Notice words such as judgment, understanding, reason, importance of things and preferred. Webster here admits that the concept of the will is a disputed human characteristic. In areas of psychology the will is considered an operation of the the mind where the reasoning, understanding, and judging of the person takes place. In those operations of the mind, what is good, bad and important are determined. All of these operations within one’s mind then determine choices or direction of motion. All of these operations of the mind; emotions, reasoning, understanding, and judging have not developed nor exist in a vacuum. Something outside the mind and something in the mind influences these operations. The good. bad and important in our thinking are not determined in complete isolation within the person. They are determined by our mental processes but their roots are from our past and have been embedded in the brain. We came into this world with a genetic foundation and then grew up in an environment. The genetics and environments differ but there is a common thread which connects them and determines how we would think and understand our world. I’ll get to the common thread later. We came into the world with a specific mental functioning foundation determined by genetics. The environment then built on that foundation due to the way we are told to think, reason, feel (that which sets us into motion), and choose. A simple question to help us grasp how the environment effects our thinking is, “What kind of food do you like? Would you choose shrimp where another would choose steak?” Our genetics keeps us from grazing like a cow for our food. These preferences are rooted in our past whether it be in early childhood or of an experience a month ago.

Now there is one other component that must be considered in order to decide whether we are free moral agents. By the way the word, agent, we have not defined. Webster helps us here in defining this word. It gives us three definitions and there is a relationship between them. The relationship is in having power to act or accomplish something.
Here they are.

1. An actor; one that exerts power, or has the power to act; as, a moral agent.
2. An active power or cause; that which has the power to produce an effect; as, heat is a powerful agent.
3. A substitute, deputy, or factor; one entrusted with the business of another; and attorney; a minister.

Notice the words moral agent in the first definition. That seems to fit in with, We are free moral agents.

Now to the one other respect as mentioned earlier and one that, I believe, comes from God’s Word. What does God have to say about our being free. The concept by the way, free will does not appear in God’s Word. The question remains, “Are we free moral agents?” I think we’ll find the answer in God’s Holy Word. I’ll give some scripture here and if you believe in God’s Holy Word, (All of us called Christian should), you decide whether we humans are free moral agents.

Just to set the stage let’s refresh our minds regarding God’s creation of man and then go from there to see what He says about our freedom to choose and function in this world. In Genesis 2:7 God says this:

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (NASB)

What a paradise! Man was given a garden to tend and eat and live a life of Riley. He had a “help meet” and all the food he needed and all he had to do was take care of the garden but one restriction was applied. “Don’t eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil or you will die.”, God told Adam. At this point in man’s existence the question of moral or moral freedom did not exist. Good and bad did not exist in the head of Adam for him to even consider making choices that required him to think of the goodness or badness of some choice. There was no social relationships except with Eve and he still was a companion with his Creator, God, in the cool of the evening. But God plants a thought in Adam’s mind about something he is not to do. So what did Adam do?  He did eat of the tree. And this was rebellion (sin) against God. Adam then got acquainted with good and evil of life and things. At that point things changed for the human race. Man (Adam) then lived in a world that was cursed and his slavery to sin was absolute. Adam could not escape the curse. Because of Adam we humans have no escape from sinful thoughts and decisions as a person. Why? Adam passed sin to us through his genes. God’s Word tells us that we have sin in our physical body. It tells us we are born with sin and that the flesh is sinful. Our minds now are bent toward sinful (rebellious) thoughts against our Creator and we cannot do otherwise. Where is the freedom?

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. (Ps 51:5  NASB)

Question: If we are born with sin as part of our genetics, how can we be free moral agents?

Lets go to the New Testament and see what is said there about the moral state of man. In Ephesians and Colossians we find that we are dead in our trespasses and sin before we are born into Christ and in order to throw off this sinful state we must be born again (born from above).

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, (Eph 2:1  NASB)
. . . even when we were dead in our transgressions, (God) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (Eph 2:5  NASB)
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions. (Col 2:13  NASB)

So we are told in the New Testament that us humans are dead in sin before we are regenerated in Christ Jesus. Dead means we have no moral aliveness. We are not a free creature. We cannot make a moral choice. Now you and I know that people make choices regarding behavior but scripture says we either make choices while dead in sin or alive in Christ. There is no total, abosolutely free state from any influence. We are either influenced by the sin within that came from Adam or the righteousness of Christ imputed to us.

If that is true, ( I believe with all my being it is.) then there is no way that we can be free moral agents. Every thought that I think and every decision that I make is tainted with my sin state. I am born with that state of mind in my nature. It is in my genes. I got it from Adam. I am a slave to my state of mind. All my thinking, reasoning and choosing will be tainted or shaped by sin. Paul makes clear in Romans chapters 1 and 2 the state that we are in before becoming a believer in Christ Jesus. And then we read this:

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned– (Rom 5:12  NASB)

Now I am not saying that an unbeliever cannot make some good decisions because most do to some degree based on what they learned from their environment as a child and by God’s grace in the providence of His creation.  Graeme Goldsworthy says there is something called by Christians,common grace. He says this,
“. . . non-Christians have an understanding of meaning and a sense of right and wrong which is the result of the goodness of God and of being created in His image. The fact that the non-Christian repudiates such a notion is not the point.”1

The point that I am trying to make is that just because a non-believer can have some knowledge of right and wrong does not make them a free moral agent. All truth of right and wrong resides in God not man. Thus unbelievers are still enslaved to sin and dead in their trespasses unless they know God. Paul in Romans 1 makes this very clear. He says:

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Rom 1:21)
For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.  (Rom 1:25)

(In Romans 1:21 above, the word, knew, in the Greek can have many meanings as in English also. As used here it means an awareness of God and not an apprehension or knowing God. It is a knowing of or about and not a knowing in an intimate fashion.)

In Ephesians 2:1 we read, “And they were dead in trespasses and sin.” Paul is talking about the soul/mental state of the Ephesians before they were born again or regenerated by God.

Jesus tells us that we will only be freed from the sin state when we know the truth. He is the truth. Knowing Him (intimately) is knowing the truth. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is what we will know in Christ our Lord.

John tells us of our Lords glory, truth and grace in 1 John 1:17.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14  NASB)
For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17  NASB)

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32  NASB)
In the above statement Jesus is saying that we are not free before we come to Him to get the truth. We are enslaved until know Him intimately and cannot be a free moral agent until we do come to the truth  that resides in Jesus, the God Man.

The question remains, “Are we a free moral agent?” Can we truly make decisions that come from an unbiased and completely neutral state of mind? Some will say “Yes we can even though our mind is biased toward or saturated in badness. We don’t have to be a new creature in Christ. We are free from external influences and constraints.” I will concede that we may emote (have an emotion) and do make decisions toward external objects (people, places, things) without some external influence or constraints but the internal influence does not allow freedom of our mind unless we have the Truth which makes us free to make moral decisions.

We must always remember or think about external influences also because we are never free from them. We are influenced by our peers, parents, fellow workers, politicians. news media, and all the things from our society that we take into our mind such as TV, church, school and work.

Are we humans moving through life as a free moral agent on this planet from conception to death? Do we come equipped at birth with the freedom to always choose what is good? To think good? Can we be free from any influence upon our decisions and choosing? I think of it this way, “No Virginia there is no freedom in our sinful social and moral state.” You decide!

Here is what I have decided. I cannot find anywhere in God’s Word that I am free unless I am in Christ Jesus. That is where real freedom lies. BUT I do find in God’s word many times that I am accountable to our Great, Almighty God for what I think and how I behave. How we live our life whether a believer or unbeliever is commanded by Holy God. Therefore we are accountable to Him. Along with that accountability I have a grave responsibility to Him who created me. Accountability and responsibility were given to me starting in the Garden of Eden. There is a Creator/creature relationship that falls under the providence of God which does not allow us humans to be autonomous. However we were from the beginning given self awareness and reasoning ability to know reality in order to live a life that would honor the Creator.

Here are God’s words:

Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 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.”  (Gen 2:15-17  NASB)

God does not discuss freedom with Adam. You may see the word freely in the above BUT this is not in the Hebrew. The word, freely, is the exact same Hebrew word as eat in the above translation. The best translation is the ESV or English Standard Version which says, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but . . . .” The literal translation of the Hebrew would be “eating you do eat.” Nothing is said about freedom. God is giving permission to eat except of one tree’s fruit. Responsibility and accountability are given to man. The responsibility to be productive and care for what God had given him. He is held accountable to God the Creator for choices of what he eats. Adam had no control over the consequences of his choosing. If one has no control over consequences how can one be free?  We are like men/women on board a raft floating down a river where we have no means of determining where the raft goes. We only can determine where and how we move around on the raft. If we can’t see the river we believe we have a lot of freedom. If we see beyond the raft we know we are trapped. So where is the free moral agent to determine the future of one’s existence? Adam was not in control (free) to determine what consequences he would experience. God had given him permission to choose but the consequenes of his choice were determined by God. I am not in control of the outcome or direction of my life. I may think I am. My wife will tell you that I think I am because I have a “bent” toward  controlling  all that goes on in my life. My thinking comes from a belief that I can control my life. But I live an illusion if I am not in Christ. To live an illusion is to be a slave to one’s illusions especially the illusion that humans are not influenced by forces we cannot see, hear, smell or touch.

I recall a statement made by a pastor over 40 years ago that fits with the idea that we are free moral agents. In a sermon he said, “God has a vote, satan has a vote and you’ve got the deciding vote.” I’ve heard that statement many times since then and I’ve said that because it sounded so good at the time I heard it. It was brief and to the point which I believed. It indicated the freedom of us to make our choices for God. Since 2001 I’ve come to another conclusion based on God’s Word and not human driven assumption. We don’t have a vote in the matter of being free to make choices for or against God. We are born in sin and that is where we’ll be and continue unless God Almighty through Jesus Christ whom God in His counsel tells us we are His. Ephesians 1:3-12 tells us that God in His Great Majesty chose believers before God created the world and then made it known to us.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.  (NASB)

May the Sovereign God of the universe through His Son, Christ Jesus, touch your inner being and set you free. Free to live as a FREE person who is loved by Him for all eternity so that you can love freely yourself and others. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Soli Deo Gloria

In Him,

Dewey Wise
Mar 1, 2010
(All underlining is mine.)

1 Goldsworthy, Graeme, Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), p. 17.

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

Relating to God

Monday, August 10th, 2009
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Who Am I Before the Living God?

Have you ever wanted to do something good for God? Now that seems like a question that is commendable and probably is. If we love Him who first loved us then why should we not do something good for Him. Now let’s raise the bar a notch. Have you ever thought of doing something good for God? Now we’ve gone from wanting to do something (wanting to perform an act) to thinking about doing something good for God. We are just thinking at this point without any plans but letting thoughts run through our head about something good that would benefit God. (clue here: How can I benefit God?) But let’s go on and see where this takes us. To further raise the notch we can raise another question. Have you ever thought about doing something good for God and thought of what good thoughts He would have about you for doing something for Him? Now when we get to this point let’s pause for a moment and think about what we have thought. Do you ever do that? Do you ever think about what you are thinking? In Proverbs 23:7 we read these words, “As he thinks within himself so is he. . . .” This last question is calling on us to examine the person we really are. It is asking us to look within. Raising the notch to the top level we now ask “Who am I before the living God of the Universe? How does He see me?” Or better still, “How do I see myself before the Holy, Righteous, Loving, Merciful, Just God of the universe who created me?” This is the ultimate question when examining self. When I get to this question in my personal life I find that I am in deep trouble if I think about this question.

This is human thinking. This kind of thinking is the way we humans relate to each other. We humans think about how others will think about what we do for self or them. We want others to think good thoughts of us so we analyze our relationships to be sure, or fairly sure, that what we do will be looked at as the best whether in school, work or some deed. We may deny this when ask about the reason for doing something but deep down inside we want others to think good about us. Look at children. We praise them once and they’ll come back for more. We give them a reward as a snack and they’ll ask for more. You see, they know how to manipulate us so we’ll like them. Us parents start training them at birth to look for our pleasure in what they do. At this point please notice I have not put a value on this kind of thinking. We need to think this way in human relationships to a degree.

BUT what about the way we think about GOD, the Creator of the universe? Should we think that way about Him as just another person who we relate to? You may say, “Of course.” Many believers think this way. I was taught that God created us to have a relationship with Him. That He needed a relationship. NOW that is not in His Word. His Word tells us that we were created to Glorify Him.(Isaiah 43:7) There is a major difference in thinking about the reason for existing is to have a relationship with someone and thinking about my existence to glorify a person. If I see my existence for a relationships then I will tend to see all others in the “same boat”. We’re to negotiate to have peace. We’re to do things to relate. I do for them and they do for me and hopefully we can get along. They are dependent on me and I’m dependent on them. We talk that way especially in marriages.

How will I think if I am to glorify a person? Now that thinking takes on a whole new radical approach. We have to change completely in the way we think. First we must think, “I’m not in the same “league” with the other. They are “top dog” and I am nothing.” “Whoa!” You may say. “I am somebody. So don’t tell me that I am not equal.” Can you see where thinking about someone else being better than me is radically opposed to our American democratic system and where the self-esteem movement taught that each person is to esteem themselves. BUT when it comes to our Great God and King of the universe, we are not in His league. We are absolutely a “no body” and we are not looked on as having merit. God told the Israelites that it was not because they were “somebody” that He chose them. We are totally depraved sinners which separates us from the King, the Ruler, Our Great God and Creator. He made us and we are owned by Him. The property of an owner does not relate to the owner as an equal. The owner does as he wills with the property. The property is subservient always to the owner and is used to honor the owner (king). To make the owner shine before others is the goal of property. (Now these thoughts my bother you because of belief in human rights and equality. But please think.)

Now what does glorifying Him and being a “no body” have to do with the question raised at the beginning? Here is the question. Have you ever thought about doing something good for God and thought of what good thoughts He would have about you for doing something for Him? Reflect upon this question. Where does the question come from? Does it come from a relationship oriented person or does it come from a totally depraved sinner person who is created by God for His Glory? In my life it comes from a relationship oriented person. AND THAT MY FELLOW BELIEVERS IS SIN. That kind of question just reinforces who I am as a sinner before my Creator and Redeemer. I’ll let you think about how it is SIN.

I write these things not as a judge but a sinner before God Almighty who is Holy, Righteous, Just, Love, Mercy and Grace. Oh how I must always throw myself on His Mercy and beg for forgiveness daily.

In Him alone is Life.

Dewey Wise

August 10, 2009

God’s Sovereignty over Our Existence

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

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Why do I exist?

I’ve been thinking this week much about our country or nation as we call it; America the beautiful and under God as has been said by many for many years. It was founded on the basis of a group of people who were God centered in their life and hope for the future. They came here from a foreign country so that they could carry on a life dedicated to God in all that they did.

In my thinking I recalled that in the middle 1970’s I walked across a parking lot at Pease AFB, New Hampshire wondering in thought: “Why do I exist?”, “Why am I here?”, “How am I benefiting other people?”. At the time I was assigned to the Air Force Office of Investigation as a technical investigator. We looked for things that would bring harm to our nation from those we knew as our enemies so that our country could ontinue to exist as it was constituted. A nation of people dedicated to working together for a common good. Yes I’ve been thinking, but the thought that was foremost in that thinking was, “Why do I exist?”. Have you ever ask that question? I suspect you have at one time or another. Probably in difficult times especially. It certainly has in my mind.

I believe that all of us look inside ourselves at times and wonder why we are on this earth. We live life day to day. We get up in the morning and get ready for the day. Maybe we are getting kids ready for school or preparing for what we know will be a long day at the office, or maybe we had a fight with parent or spouse yesterday and we still are dealing with that. We may get around to wondering, “Why in the world am I here?”. I just get tired of all this dealing with people and life—things necessary for existence. See, there is the old “Why do I exist?” thought. The “Why do I exist?” thought is probably the most important thought of one’s life. As a teenager or young adult, a career choice supersedes almost everything in our life except choosing a mate. But within seeking a career is the “Why do I exist?”, because vocation is wrapped up in our person hood. Goals and dreams rest upon the desire to be worthwhile. One’s “worthwhileness” comes out of why one exists. In the late 1960’s and 1970’s a philosophical approach to life was existentialism. Existentialism comes from the question “Why do I exist?” Much energy was expended by the hippie movement in discovering meaning (existentialism) in life. I heard the statement “I’ve got to find meaning.” or “I need to find myself.” After hearing these statements, I thought how ridiculous it was—the idea of finding one’s self. Sometimes I would say, “You’re here so you are not lost,” as a little humor, and hopefully the person would think about what they had said. I share this to point out that ever since life was created by God, the question of “Why do I exist?” was in the human mind. Whether we consciously or unconsciously raise the question, the question is always there.

As a young person and Christian I grew up wondering why God created me. That thought is closely tied to “Why do I exist?” I asked church leaders, theologians, teachers, and pastors why God created us. The answer I always got was “To have a relationship with Him.” Even at seminary I got the standard answer, “To have a relationship with Him.” And for almost fifty years that was the standard answer I would give to others when they raised the question. Theologians wrote books on the reason we were created. They said we were created to have a relationship with God. Being a God of love, He needed someone to relate to Him. Children would be told in Sunday school, and still are, that they were created to have a relationship with God. My life was based on trying to have a relationship with God. I had to do all the right things to have an intimate relationship. After all a relationship requires equal effort on the part of two peoples who mutually strive for the goal of relating. That is the way I saw life with God. It was just a relationship.

All that changed in the year of 2001. As I read the Bible one day it was as though a ton of bricks hit me with the thought “We exist to glorify God.” Wow! I had never been told that. When that thought flooded my mind the release and relief were incomprehensible and joy overcame me. The pressure was off. No more did I have to sweat the relationship thing. All I had to do was make Him look good and not be concerned about me being seen as worthwhile. It was Him as worthy. It was Him all glorious. I could throw away the pride thing. I didn’t have anything to add to relationship. I could stop focusing on what I could do for a relationship with Him. In fact all I had to do was focus on getting to know Him and making Him look good. And the most wonderful thing about that was that He had the power to give me whatever I needed to glorify and bring honor to Him. Wow!! What a relief. No more trying to look good to other people so they would think I was Christian, but just getting up each day and saying, “Lord help me glorify you today.” I could stop thinking that I was somebody to be seen as having self esteem. All I had to do was to look to Him as my Creator who was holy, righteous, just, merciful, gracious, and loving. That is all I needed to see and think about. WHAT A RELIEF. God I saw was the supreme sovereign of the universe and I didn’t have to worry about a relationship. Just surrender moment by moment and focus on Him as the Provider of all things. Any relationship that I had with God had to be based on a Creator to created relationship. That meant a servant relating to a master, and He did not need a relationship with me. He was and is self sufficient within the God head of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit without the need for Dewey Wise. When I came to that, (I’ll give you some scripture references shortly), I stopped telling people we were to have a relationship with God. Now there is some truth in that but the reason for our existence is to glorify Him in all that we do or say. If our thinking is that we are supposed to have a relationship with Him then we will put ourselves on a level with God that He never intended. That level is called pride. We think that we have something to contribute to this earthly life, even to God, and we spend a lifetime searching for meaning (Why we exist). He made us for His glory and His alone and not ours. He is the Great Sovereign of the universe and I am only one little finite created being before Holy God. His glory and His alone is all that matters. When you and I come to that way of thinking all else in our lives will be OK and focused properly.

Won’t you join me in the joy of glorifying the Great King of the Universe that He has created?

To support all that I’ve said about why we exist, start with Isaiah 43:7. This is what God says in Isa 43:7: everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. Then do a word search using the words glory or glorify and the phrase name sake in the Bible.

Here is one statement from Paul in Romans regarding our purpose.

Rom 15:5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,

Rom 15:6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rom 15:7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God

And another in 1 Co 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Before I close may I make a statement and ask some of questions? We see many times the sign, John 3:16. I’m sure we can quote that without stumbling. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Questions: Does God love us humans because of some intrinsic worth? Does He need to love us? If He does is He God? Think about these.

May your life be blessed.

Soli Deo Gloria

In Him,

Dewey Wise, a sinner saved by His grace

March 31, 2009

P.S. I wrote a little paper a couple of years ago regarding God’s glory. It is about 9 pages so if you have a desire for it please let me know (email address: hopefruit@bayspringstel.net or deweywise@bayspringstel.net) and I will send you either a paper copy by mail or email it to you. I would get great pleasure from providing you with what His Word says and knowing that someone had a desire to Glorify Him who is our Great Redeemer.

God’s Sovereignty Man’s Responsibility

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

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A World of Opposites

Have you ever put your mind to the world of opposites? Our world is made up of opposites. Hot or Cold, black or white, rain or shine, love or hate, dictatorship or democracy, up or down, in or out, prison or freedom, sweet or bitter, good job or bad job— these are just some of the terms we have for opposites in our lives. In fact, if we listen closely in our conversations with others we will discover that we are continually in a comparing state of mind in some fashion. We talk about so and so doing something we like or do not like, or we talk about accomplishing a task that is different from another person’s accomplishment. By even thinking or saying something about another person’s actions or position at work, we are dealing with opposites. Our human tendency is to move toward one or the other (there are the opposites). “Why?” as my grandchildren would ask. Why? Why are we pulled to one position or pole? The very basic reason is that we cannot tolerate in our mind “opposites”. We want to make sense out of our world and we cannot hold opposites equally in our mind. We want the certainties that comes from being in one position or the other. Being in the middle is an uncomfortable place to be. We want to run to one position or the other. It is safe there. We want to stand on the solid ground of things being certain. When we go to see the doctor we want to know what is wrong with us and what the prognosis is. Uncertainties produce great anxiety. Even those who say that each person creates their own reality cannot tolerate opposites. They withdraw or fight to get their opposite view accepted. We struggle in our mind over things that are vague and not clear. We’ll ponder over what is going on with our friend or family member if we don’t have certainty that brings understanding. When we have that understanding we feel relieved because our mind is now at rest. We can put behind us the issues that are uncertain.

You may, by this time, have wondered where I’m going with this. I sure would if I was in your position. Why? I would read it as though this was a bunch of “gobbledy gook”. It would make me analyze something that is not easy to get a handle on and cause me to get out of my comfort zone of being at one pole or the other. You see, I’ve created some uncertainty already by not laying out specifics. After awhile you would probably get bored because it seems like I’m taking you in circles and you probably would give up on reading what I’ve written. You may be saying how senseless to talk and say nothing. We look for concrete cause and effect. “A causes B”, and not “A causes B causes C causes A”. As the old expression goes, “The dog is chasing his tail,” which means he is going around in circles. Well here is where I’m going. In God’s inerrant Word, the Bible, there are many opposites.

The major opposite is God’s absolute sovereignty over His creation and the absolute responsibility of man to His creator. This is the most difficult to accept in one’s mind from God’s Word. Many folks say they do believe in God’s absolute sovereignty, but in reality their mind orders a world that provides a foundation of behavior and thinking within them that does not deal with this opposite. Why? Here’s that old question of “why?” again. We want to make sense out of our world with us being the center of it, so we can be in control.

The whole of Scripture is about these opposites. Man constantly fights God when He says, “Do such and such.” We are prone to doing what our nature tells us to do. It all started with Adam. The sin nature handed down from Adam does not want us to believe that we are not in control of our destiny, so we fight God over His sovereignty so we can put ours in operation. The basic belief of us as humans is that we have the freedom to be completely in charge of self. In fact, it seems to say that in the U.S. Constitution, and we are told by others to “be responsible and take charge of your life”. So in God’s Word we are being told to submit to Him, but be responsible. To us, we think that means we determine our destiny and He stays out of our life, but then He tells us we are in deep trouble if we don’t obey because God is sovereign over His creation. That means He determines the outcome of our existence. Now that puts you and I in a position of total confusion or frustration, and we rebel. Again, “why?” Because of our inheritance from Adam. Here are some verses that help us see that God is sovereign and that we are responsible. In Psalm 139 is a song of praise to God for His sovereignty over His creation (That’s us).

1O LORD, You have searched me and known me.

2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

You understand my thought from afar.

3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,

And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,

Behold, O LORD, You know it all.

5 You have enclosed me behind and before,

And laid Your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?

Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;

If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

9 If I take the wings of the dawn,

If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

10 Even there Your hand will lead me,

And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,

And the light around me will be night,”

12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,

And the night is as bright as the day.

Darkness and light are alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts;

You wove me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Your works,

And my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from You,

When I was made in secret,

And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;

And in Your book were all written

The days that were ordained for me,

When as yet there was not one of them.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.

When I awake, I am still with You.

19 O that You would slay the wicked, O God;

Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.

20 For they speak against You wickedly,

And Your enemies take Your name in vain.

21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD?

And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?

22 I hate them with the utmost hatred;

They have become my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,

And lead me in the everlasting way.

We read in Job where Satan comes before God and asks permission to strike Job so he will curse God. We see Satan is even under the control of God.

In chapter 1 we read, “The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” 9 Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” 12 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.

From the New Testament I will draw one little verse to show our responsibility to God. In Romans 2:5 we read, “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God”.

Notice that God is saying that “You are storing up wrath”. We are responsible for any wrath that we suffer but in Job God allowed Satan to cause Job to suffer.

Therein lie the opposites. God is absolutely sovereign over His creation—us—and we are absolutely responsible for the consequences of our sin. “Doesn’t make sense,” someone would say. And “How dare God say I’m responsible if He is sovereign over me.”

SO WHAT DO WE DO? Accept, reject, rebel (fight) or run!!!! Well we can’t run. He is everywhere. We can rebel and fight—thousands of us have, but in the end we die because He is in charge of His creation. Maybe we can give up!

The Prince of Preachers, C. H. Spurgeon, of the 1800’s had this to say when questioned about the incompatibility of God’s Sovereignty and man’s responsibility in God’s Word.

I do not try to reconcile friends.” You see Spurgeon believed both and did not try to make one fit into the other. His belief was that God is sovereign and man is responsible and accountable to Him.

The bottom line is that we live in a world of opposites, and some of them we cannot control, so we must accept them or deny that they exist. If we deny they exist we are not living in the real world. In regard to the scriptural opposite, we can parse God’s Word so it will fit into our way of thinking or we can submit to Him our total being. I don’t know about you, but as for me, I like the submitting role. But of course I have to give me up for Him. Sounds like I can no longer be my own god but believe in and depend on HIS SOVEREIGNTY. My, oh my, WHAT A GREAT RELIEF!

May God richly bless.

Dewey Wise

God’s Sovereignty in Faith

Thursday, February 26th, 2009
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The way the word “faith” is thrown around in Christian circles has over the years puzzled me. I heard as a young Christian, 16 years old, that a person must have faith. I’ve heard statements such as, “Just have faith; everything will be alright.” And here is the biggie, “If I just had the faith that you’ve got.” or “I just don’t have the faith I should have.” I’ve wondered so many times how did the idea of faith fit in with being a Christian. Now I did not believe faith was unnecessary in the life of a believer, but the word became so over used that it just did not make sense to me. I even wrote a paper many years ago for a learned professor about how belief and faith related. As I look back I can see how I was so confused. The following is provided by the author in hopes that the reader can realize that we do not generate faith. My hope is that we don’t feel bad because we can’t initiate faith in ourselves. We can’t, but if we are not careful, we will give that impression—the impression that we can—to babes in Christ whether young or old especially the young.

Well, I hope to make some sense out of what faith is, as I never was able to over the years in my personal life. Why? How? Is it because I’m getting older and life seems to make a little more sense. Nope! I made sense about faith after coming to some understanding of God’s sovereignty over His created universe and an understanding that He alone is in charge of this world and all that goes on in it. Recently in a conversation with a very dear believer, he said that God is ultimately in charge of the political mess America is in, but that people make decisions not under His control. Now that muddies the water of Christian life. ONLY WHEN we conclude that His creation is under His providence can we have complete faith in Almighty God. As long as we believe that some things are not under His power and supervision will we waver in our faith. Why? We will have split vision. One eye will see God as sovereign. The other eye will see God as not sovereign over all His creation. When I think of that, I’m reminded of the term schizophrenia. The literal meaning of schizophrenia is split mind. When we don’t believe in God’s absolute sovereignty over all His creation, even the hairs on our heads, we will have a split mind. Job believed in God’s absolute sovereignty. He did want to question God, which is okay, but he believed in His sovereignty anyway. Read these verses in Job 1 below to get a picture of God’s absolute sovereignty. Have you ever thought about Satan having to get permission from God before he does his dastardly deeds? Have you ever thought about God and Satan having a conversation? Satan was in His presence and did ask for permission to put Job to the test. Read in Job:

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.
7 The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
8 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
9 Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason?
10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”
12 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. (ESV)

Read in Matthew how the God Man Jesus was taken into the presence of the devil, Satan. Notice who was in control. In Matthew 4:10, we read: Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'”

Every blade of grass and every ear of corn are supplied by God to His creation. Even the suffering of the believer comes under His control. God has a plan for His Creation and He alone has the power to carry out that plan. AND everything that occurs fits into God’s holy plan. By now you may be asking, how does His sovereignty fit together with our faith? Wonderful question. And a very simple statement is that faith comes from God. We don’t generate faith. Faith comes from God. There are two verses of scripture that are precious to me in getting a handle on faith and helping realize that I can’t generate faith in my head just to have faith. First make this connection, and then get the specific verses in mind.

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Mat 4:4)

This is Jesus talking to the devil but His statement pertains to you and me. Man (that is us) will live by the Word of God. Did you get how this fits into the idea of faith? Well hold on! Notice the emphasis is on HIS WORD. Let’s do some reasoning here. If we live on every Word of God and He is sovereign, then we are safe in His arms if we live on every WORD of His. That is how we are to live. HIS WORD. And what does John say about the Word? Now what is the connection to faith here? The first verse of scripture that is precious to me is in Romans 10. Paul was talking about the salvation of the Jews and he says the following:

13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Which verse is profound in knowing about faith? Of course it is verse 17. Faith comes through the “word of Christ”. What did Jesus say in Matthew 4:4? He said almost the same thing. We live by the Word of God. Paul said faith comes through the word of Christ. Now read Habakkuk 2: “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” This is repeated in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:7, and Hebrews 10:38. Is this thing called faith beginning to make sense? Do you have some understanding about why faith cannot be generated or initiated by us humans? God speaks to us. Faith is a gift and not generated by us. God does it all. We listen.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

We listen to Him and through the listening our faith and our salvation come. Faith is the channel of our salvation. Paul says salvation is not a one-time event. It is a continual process. So how does faith come? It comes by the ABOSOLUTE GOD revealing Himself to us through HIS WORD. Notice I said He reveals Himself, and that is by Him in the Holy Spirit as we listen those who expose His Word; we also are to continually study His Word. Faith now makes perfect sense to me. I don’t produce faith or make it happen, other than to listen (read) to His Holy Word that He has given to us in the power of the Holy Spirit.

My desire is that others can get a better handle on it. I believe that knowing what goes on in us regarding faith will open up a joyous relationship with our King and God; He will lead and bless in ways we cannot imagine. So where do we start? God’s Word is where we go.

God’s Word in His scriptures gives us a great definition in Hebrews 11:1. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (NASB) The King James Bible puts it this way. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Seems to me that both are valid, but the word assurance for substance is probably a better word to convey the meaning of what goes on in the mind. Regarding the word conviction vs. evidence, both words convey a similar thought because evidence will convict us usually, but not always. Jesus was continually giving evidence for His divinity, but the Jews did not believe. We must remember that when we deal with God’s Holy Word that understanding comes through the help of the Holy Spirit. In the natural world our understanding comes through a rational process of putting data in our head and fitting it into the meaning that we have stored there. Not completely so in the spiritual world of the believer because God is Spirit.

“That’s it in a nutshell.” I believe that with all my being that faith will not exist in me unless I’m buried in God’s Word. When we are buried in His Word He will make it come alive in our hearts because He helps us in our understanding. I hope this helps answer questions you may have about faith. Questions such as: “Where does faith come from?” “Do we generate it or does God give it to us?” “What are these things that are hoped for?” “What kind of evidence is needed and where do we find the evidence?” Faith cannot exist in a vacuum without an object. An object must exist in order for faith to exist, otherwise we are depending on blind foolishness. The One true Almighty Triune God is that object. In all His sovereignty, righteousness, holiness, love, justice, mercy, and grace, we are to look and listen; then we can know our future is assured if we believe. So many questions and all the answers are in God’s Word. It’ll be a wonderful trip to explore His Word so that we can live by faith. If we don’t explore His Word we won’t have faith to live by.

One last thought. If He is not absolutely sovereign over all things, including the devil, of His creation then even to trust Him would be useless and worthless. Belief in His sovereignty is the foundation for any trust.

Sola Scripture (by Scripture Alone)
Sola Fide (by Faith Alone)
Solus Christa (Christ Alone)
Sola Gratia (by Grace Alone)
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)

Those were the five solas that came out the Reformation begun by Martin Luther. The turning point in His life was wrestling with Romans 1:17 and God revealing to him what it meant.

KNOW GOD’S WORD AND YOU WILL HAVE FAITH. PLEASE REALIZE WE WON’T UNTIL WE DO KNOW HIS WORD.

Dewey Wise
Hope Fruit and Berry Farm
Feb 26, 2009